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Reviewer's Bookwatch

Volume 10, Number 7 July 2010 Home | RBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Amy Henry's Bookshelf Bethany's Bookshelf
Buhle's Bookshelf Burroughs' Bookshelf Carson's Bookshelf
Christy's Bookshelf Clark's Bookshelf Daniel's Bookshelf
Debra's Bookshelf Donahue's Bookshelf Edward's Bookshelf
Erica's Bookshelf Gary's Bookshelf Gloria's Bookshelf
Gondelman's Bookshelf Gorden's Bookshelf Harwood's Bookshelf
Hila's Bookshelf Janie's Bookshelf Karyn's Bookshelf
Logan's Bookshelf Margaret's Bookshelf Molly's Bookshelf
Nicole's Bookshelf Regis' Bookshelf Richard's Bookshelf
Riva's Bookshelf Sandra's Bookshelf Suzie's Bookshelf
Theodore's Bookshelf    

Reviewer's Choice

The Protestant Bible Correctly Translated
William Harwood, editor & translator
World Audience, Inc.
303 Park Avenue South, Suite 2440, New York, NY 10010-3657
9781935444299, $49.00,

G. Richard Bozarth

One of the superstars of early Christianity, Jerome, solo translated the Bible into Latin and it acquired a name: the Vulgate. One historian of Jerome's times called it "the greatest and most influential literary accomplishment of the fourth century."(1) That only proves how degraded culture in the Roman Empire had become by those good old days - and, because Christianity was the official religion of the Empire, that degradation would only get worse until Western culture was entirely submerged in the stagnant mire known as the Dark Ages. All of us today can rejoice that we live in a vastly superior cultural age, when no translation of the Bible, even a solo one, could earn such high praise. Nevertheless, Harwood's translation is an outstanding achievement worthy of honors and respect.

The Protestant Bible Correctly Translated is a huge book compared to other modern English translations like The Jerusalem Bible (Roman Catholic canon) and The New English Bible (Protestant canon - yes, that's right, after 2,000 years the Bible's contents are still being disputed). These are regular hardback book size - thick, but normal size. PBCT is about as thick as JB and NEB, but is a much more awkward size: 7 1/4" x 10 1/4". This is necessary because of the way many of the documents are presented to fulfill its mission as a scholars' Bible.

Harwood wants to liberate scholars from "the necessity of quoting from mistranslations" that "forced them to perpetuate the mistranslations' fraudulent propaganda" (p. vii). The propagandistic mistranslations have "the purpose of concealing that the biblical authors' beliefs were quite different from those of modern Jews, Christians and Muslims" (p. vii). How is that propaganda achieved? Harwood tells the reader immediately by the example that is the worst (p. vii):

"The most blatant fraud in all church-sponsored translations has been the universal rendering of the Hebrew word allahiym or ha-allahiym as a proper name, 'God.' Allahiym is neither a proper name nor singular nor unisexual. Al, sometimes transcribed as El, (as allahiym is usually transcribed as elohim), means 'a god.' The suffix -ah is a feminine singular inflection, so that allah means 'goddess.' The suffix -iym is a masculine plural inflection, while the prefex ha- is the definite article, making ha-allahiym a dual-sex generic plural, 'the gods and goddesses' or, in the common gender, 'the gods.' The practice of biblemakers mistranslating a word that means 'the gods' as 'God' stems from the doublethink that, because the translators considered themselves monotheists, the bible authors must have done likewise. They did not. The Jews did not become pseudo-monotheists, giving all gods but Yahweh such lesser designations as 'angel' and 'devil,' until long after the completion of the Hexateuch."

The necessity of the physical size of PBCT is made obvious with the Hexateuch, the first books of the Bible. There have been five authors identified in the production of these books: the Yahwist (J), the Elohist (E), the Priestly (P), the Deuteronomist (D), and the Redactor (R). Harwood divides up the books by these authors and presents the material in two columns. I can see the value of this to scholars, but what is lost is that truly outstanding story that is presented in the traditional first ten books of the Jewish Testament. This is the story that spans from the creation of the universe and Adam and Eve to the death of King Solomon. It is ranks high in the genre of fantasy fiction (that is, stories that include supernatural powers and entities). The way it is presented in PBCT prevents enjoyment of this wonderful story, and the same can be said of the fairy tales about Jesus. The two most entertaining versions of the Jesus myth, Matthew and Luke, are completely disrupted. Once again, I can see the value of Harwood's presentation for scholars, but what is lost is not worthless.

I've read the Bible three times in 61 years, so I wasn't willing to read the whole thing again. I selected the Christian Testament's Letters to read in PBCT to test the readability of his translation. I can't comment on the correctness of the translation because I'm about as far from being an expert on the Bible's languages as a person can be, but I'm confident I can comment of the appropriateness of at least some of the translations. None of the provocative, controversial translations that caught my attention seemed inappropriate to me, and most of them were obviously superior to me.

PBCT passes the readability test, though it does take a little while to get accustomed to the both it's style and the unfamiliar versions of many names ("Ioudaian" for "Jew" was the strangest to me). Harwood's purpose was to give the best rendering of names in the language used for each document. In his notes he uses the more familiar versions. In PBCT the first Letter is James, which provides an excellent example. Compare its first verse to other translations:

PBCT: Iakobos, a slave of the god and the Master Iesous Khristos, to the twelve tribes of the diaspora, greetings.

JB: From James, servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ. Greetings to the twelve tribes of the Dispersion.

NEB: From James, a servant of God and the Lord Jesus Christ. Greetings to the Twelve Tribes dispersed throughout the world.

Revised Standard Version (RSV): James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, To the twelve tribes in the Dispersion: Greeting.

King James Version (KJV): James, a servant of God and of the Lord Jesus Christ, to the twelve tribes which are scattered abroad, greeting.

Right away a reader might wonder how the Greek "Iakobos" became "James". Hardwood's introductory note translates it as the very familiar "Jacob", but doesn't explain how "Jacob" became "James". I wish it had.(2) "Slave" instead of "servant" might upset Christians because "servant" is less degrading than "slave" (which probably explains the preference for it in the modern English translations). However, the submission and obedience the Christian Testament requires Christians to give are what slaveholders have always considered ideal "virtues" for their slaves. "Slave" would best represent the New Testament attitude even if it wasn't the most correct translation of the word. "Master" instead of "Lord" is proper because of the theological distortion of the word "lord" that makes it a synonym for "god". When this letter was written (probably 48 CE), the Son of God myth had not been added to the Christian fairy tales about Jesus, which meant Jacob would never have called Jesus "lord" the way Christians later and still today call him "lord". Continuing to use "lord" would be perpetuating the propagandistic translations Harwood promises to eliminate. It would be like translating "Lord Byron" using a word that means "god" instead of one that means "aristocrat".

In the Letters "breath" is used where the other translations I have use "spirit". Romans 1:11 is a good example: "For I am yearning to see you, so that I can impart some charisma of the breath to you so that you can be strengthened." In the other translations "charisma of the breath" is translated as "spiritual gift", which does not convey the peculiar theological ideas the Letters' authors held. Theologically, "charisma" does not mean what most people mean when they talk about leaders having or lacking charisma. It means a superpower, such as the ability to perform miracles, bestowed on a person by a puff of supernatural breath from the supreme supernatural entity. The Letters' authors believed this supernatural breath was the pneumatos hagios, or the breath of sanctity. Harwood tells the reader in a note to 1 Thessalonians 1:5 that the term "was more than a century later misinterpreted to be a personified entity called 'holy spirit'." Later this imaginary entity was promoted to one of the person's in Christianity's bizarre Trinity. "Breath" best represents the Letters' authors' contemporary beliefs about the nature of the supernatural spirit.

Another term that will stand out for the average reader is "nuntupping". The other translations use terms that mean fornicating with prostitutes or harlots. In those good old days the working girls who earned money by selling sexual services were as plentiful as they are today and have been in all the yesterdays going back to when money was invented. That, however, was not the problem the Letters' authors were upset about. What was aggravating them was the same problem that aggravated pious Jews in the Jewish Testament days: worshipping a forbidden deity in the form of enjoying temple prostitutes (that is, pagan nuns), which were still flourishing in the 1st century CE. Harwood's translation of 1 Corinthians 6:16 makes it clear: "Are you unaware that by coupling with a fertility nun you become a single body? For it is written that the two become a single body." His note to this verse makes it even clearer: "The Priestly section of the Torah taught that the Jewish nation was Yahweh's spouse. Copulating with a goddess's priestess/nun, even as paid recreation, constituted false-god worship." The other translations fail to convey the specific problem the Letters' authors were trying to solve by turning their commandments forbidding nuntupping into ones that a nescient reader can only assume forbade enjoying secular prostitutes.

Where the other translations use the term "faith", Harwood consistently uses the term "credulity". Here is his translation of Galatians 3:25: "Before the arrival of credulity, we were restrained by the Torah, enslaved until the apocalypse of credulity." Compare that to NEB ("Before this faith came, we were close prisoners in the custody of the law, pending the revelation of faith") and JB ("Before faith came, we were allowed no freedom by the Law; we were being looked after till faith was revealed"). "Apocalypse" is the better term because of its association with eschatology while at the same time also meaning a supernatural prophecy or revelation. Like the founder of the Jewish cult that evolved into Christianity, the Letters' authors were all eschatological loonies who thought the end of the world would be happening soon (since Galatians was probably written in 57 CE, that puts its "soon" over 20 years after the Founder's "soon"). "Credulity" is superior to "faith" because it conveys better today the irrationality that was considered the supreme expression of True Belief in those days. A long and successful PR campaign has cleaned and polished faith until most people today perceive it to be some kind of superb, even rational virtue (see On Being A Christian). (3) Faith never was and never will be virtuous or rational. What the Letters' authors preached was the kind of degrading credulity best expressed by early Christianity's once-proud, now-infamous Credo quia absurdum (I believe it because it seems absurd).

Harwood's translations are always provocative, and occasionally he could not resist making them satirical. The example I like the best is Colossians 4:18: "May the force be with you." The other translations use "grace" instead of "force". If the reader knows some of the theology of grace, then she knows that grace is a force that the supreme supernatural entity can use to protect and/or reward a believer, or give the believer a power to use as a means to achieve an end the SSE desires. Translating the verse as the most famous saying in the Star Wars movies serves to remind the reader that believing the Bible's fairy tales actually happened outside human brains is as silly as believing the people in Star Wars actually did exist in a galaxy far, far away and the events in the movies are the true accounts of the history they made.

Harwood's notes, which he conveniently puts immediately after the verse or verses they apply to instead of at the foot of the page or in the back pages of the book, have one deficiency: there are not enough of them. Two excellent examples are in Hebrews. The first is for 2:6 ("It has been testified somewhere that someone said, 'What is a human, that you take cognizance of him, or the descendant of a human, that you watch over him?'"): "Jesus' description of himself as ben Adam, meaning in effect the second Adam, was distorted to 'descendant of a human' [the other translations use the famous expression 'son of man'] in Greek. In fact Jesus adopted the title in recognition that he could not call himself ben David, since he knew that he was not David's descendant." This is an important point because the Jews expected their Messiah to be a descendant of King David (see, for example, Isaiah 11:1), and eventually the Christians decided Jesus had to be the heir to David's throne (one of the purposes of the imaginary genealogies in Matthew and Luke was to prove Jesus fulfilled the descendant prophecies).

The second example shows the sharp edge of Harwood's style of analyzing religionism that his readers will find so familiar. 12:6 has this cheerful, uplifting good news for all True Believers: "The Master torments those he cherishes, and flogs every son he adopts." Harwood adds: "Reminder: The 'Master' here is the Christian god, not the Marquis de Sade."(4)

Hebrews 12:6, by the way, is the first of five gruesome verses that Harwood translates so that their ugly, vicious sadism is loud and clear. The other translations do their best to use terms like "discipline" (RSV, NEB) or "train" (JB) to dilute their atrociousness. The child-battering metaphors used in these gruesome verses are the product of the "moral" physical abuse that was considered the best way to raise children in those good old days. They are rooted in the infamous and cruel verses that preach the practice of child-battering in Proverbs. Add to them 30:1-13 in Ecclesiasticus, one of the Jewish Testament books accepted as canonical by Roman Catholics (see JB, or better, Harwood's Biblical Apocrypha: Books Excluded From the King James Version).(5) These malicious verses begin with "Someone who loves his son will whip him regularly, so that he can eventually derive pleasure from him" and end with "Discipline your son, and take pains with him, so that you are not humiliated by his folly." That is why the author of Hebrews used horrible child-battering metaphors to describe one way Christianity's deity proves how much he "loves" his children. How could he know that 2,000 years later people who are convinced that physical child abuse is immoral would read the Bible and condemn Proverbs, Eccleiasticus, and Hebrews for such disgusting (and now illegal in many countries) ideas about parenting?

The Protestant Bible Correctly Translated should be considered an essential book by all those who have professional or amateur scholarly interest in the Bible. All Atheists, Freethinkers, and Secular Humanists should have PBCT in their libraries and use it. Its one fault - disrupting the best storytelling books in the Bible - is minor (and the stories can be enjoyed in one of the other modern English translations). What it has to offer the reader abundantly compensates for that small fault. All of us in the Freethought Movement should salute Harwood's accomplishment, especially those of us who are Freethought writers.

1. Will Durant, The Story of Civilization: The Age Of Faith, Simon and Schuster, Inc., 1950, p. 54

2. An inquiry to Harwood was rewarded with this response: "The Iacobus of Jerome's Vulgate, from Greek Iakobos, became 'James' in Wycliffe's 1382 English translation, and has been rendered 'James' in all religion-authorized English bibles since, including the KJV."

3. Hans Kung, On Being A Christian, Doubleday & Company, Inc., 1976

4. Another exquisite and right-on zinger is Harwood's introductory note to the book of Jeremiah (p. 483): "While it merely hints that he was homosexual, it unequivocally reveals him to have been a pompous, conceited, fatuous, arrogant, pretentious, self-centered, theofascist son of a bitch, not unlike the right wing extremists currently campaigning to turn North America into a theocratic slave state." Harwood's fans love his Ecrasez l'infame! attitude.

5. World Audience, 2009, pp. 368-369.

Lancelot's Lady
Cherish D'Angelo
Cheryl Kaye Tardif
Imajin Books
Edmonton, Alberta
Scovil Galen Ghosh Literary Agency
276 Fifth Avenue, Suite 708, NY, NY 10001
978098653825 $TBA

Christina Francine

Romance, mystery, danger, black-mail, and twists and surprises, this tale contains them all. Readers can not help but be captivated while the main character vacations on an island around the Bahamas, while lives change dramatically, while the laws of attraction are fought off, and while danger brews.

We want order in our lives and yet, we crave adventure and love as well. For some reason it's hard to have them all at the same time. If we have order, we don't usually have adventure. We can however have love with order and we can have love with adventure. Sometimes finding true love means giving up order in our lives and this is when adventure begins. At times we make this decision and at others fate makes it for us. Fate made it for Rhianna. She found order after a tumultuous childhood. She also found love from her employer who felt more like a father. When he suggested she go on a vacation compliment of him, she resisted. Order and love is hard to give up, especially when she wasn't looking for adventure or romance.

Rhianna begins a journey where she will discover the truths about her employer, the closest thing to family that she's ever known. His dying wish is for her to enjoy a memorable vacation on an island in the Bahamas. Rhianna discovers more than truth though. She also discovers an awakening within herself she thought could never happen after the rape from her youth.

Rhianna works hard to keep love at bay, but tension brews between her and the chiseled Jonathon Tyler. She had looked forward to the gift of a vacation on a resort island from her employer. Instead, the green paradise is something else. It is Jonathon's personal hide-a-way. How could her fatherly employer have made this mistake?

Despicable intentions also threaten every character in this finely crafted tale of sweet tension too. Snakes always lie in wait around large sums of cash and one has camouflaged himself as an upstanding individual. His intentions are more menacing than anyone realizes. Rhianna's life, as well as the lives of those around her is threatened.

Lancelot's Lady is a non-stop romantic adventure combined with the agonizing struggle to not give in to the magnetism between two people with troubled pasts. Enticing. Fun.

The Heart Mender
Andy Andrews
Thomas Nelson Publishers
PO Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214
9780785231035, 18.99,

Mary Crocco

Be careful when you cut down trees in your yard! You may discover hidden artifacts from WWII. In this historical fiction novel titled, "The Heart Mender: A Story of Second Chances", Andy Andrews, as the author, does just that - he discovers a large, rusty old can with personal items belonging to a German submarine soldier from WWII.

Mr. Andrews shares his incredible journey with us during his research. He discovers the items belonged to a German U-boat soldier that attacked U.S. vessels off the coast of the Gulf of Mexico. The story enlightens the reader with WWII hidden historical facts that come to life while we enjoy the character's lives during this time. Once we are introduced to these complicated, yet simple, loving, small town people, we are entwined in their lives.

The events of the story resemble a love story and a murder mystery. It is a treat to read a book that not only entertains with unforgettable, strong characters, but also informs the reader with hidden WWII facts. It is a thought provoking story which has the reader question his/her own tolerance and level of forgiveness. Mr. Andrews conveys how we are not expected to forget our personal grievances, but we can be better people if we can forgive what we cannot forget.

I recommend this book to readers of all ages as a true historical fiction with personal growth inspiration.

Hammon Falls
David Hoing and Roger Hileman
All Things That Matter Press
Somerset, Maine
9780984421985 $18.99

Donald Schneider, Reviewer

In 1893 in the small town of Pameroy, Iowa, west of Fort Dodge, twenty-year-old Margaret Morrissey's young life once again collapses. After losing her mother and siblings to a typhoid epidemic two years previously, her family's homestead is destroyed by a tornado along with much of the town where Margaret's father had a thriving general store. Left destitute, Margaret, her father and emotionally distant stepmother head over a hundred miles east to the town of Waterton, a thinly-veiled representation of Waterloo, Iowa.

Shortly thereafter, Margaret's father dies from grief after one tragedy too many for him to bear, while her stepmother promptly abandons her stepdaughter to her fate after taking refuge in a cheap boarding house and turning to domestic work. However, Margaret proves resilient and has the good fortune of having the area's richest man fall in love with her after having taken the indigent young woman into his household as a laundress. Despite the fact that G. W. Hammon is over a quarter-century Margaret's senior, he marries her, oblivious to any potential gossip concerning his "gold digging" young wife. After all, the childless widower is the most prominent citizen of Johnson's Landing, an unincorporated township just outside of Waterton, owning a good chunk of it and of Waterton as well.

Margaret lives contentedly with her combination husband and surrogate father, bearing G. W. their only child, a son named George, until 1898 and the Spanish-American War. Despite his advanced age, Hammon insists on volunteering as an officer, having previously served as a teen during the tail end of the Civil War. Having missed combat in the earlier war, Hammon gets his opportunity and is mortally wounded leaving Margaret a very wealthy young widow, while the name of the township is changed to Hammon Falls in her husband's honor.

Seemingly unflappable, Margaret endures the loss and raises her son George in an environment suitable to her newfound social status. Despite being a devoted mother to her son, Margaret's aloof manner and insistence on instilling a proper sense of decorum within the boy causes George to doubt his mother's affection for him, engendering within him a rebellious streak that manifests at age sixteen with his seeking and accepting a menial job grooming horses at a local livery stable.

Promoted to driving horse-drawn cabs, George is charged with driving a seemingly spoiled teenage girl on a grocery errand. Picking her up at her house in the second best neighborhood in the Waterton area (inferior only to his own), George is confronted with a sulky, belligerent girl whom he strives to mollify in accordance with his responsibilities to his employer. After he soothes her to some extent and she apologizes to the boy for her attitude, prompted by her pique towards her domineering father, George finds himself attracted to her; feelings which are reciprocated by Cora Curtis, the daughter of Waterton's second richest denizen.

Orville "Luka" Curtis is a beer distributor with a reputation for ruthlessness and shady dealings. He's a self-made man with a penchant for crushing rivals and exhibition boxing at a local fairground which he engages in for the sheer love of its brutality. The only soft spot in his heart is for his daughter, his only child with his late wife. At first, he is happy with Cora's newfound beau, relishing the possibility of her future marriage into Waterton's most illustrious family and, more importantly, its richest one. However, after a youthful indiscretion renders Cora pregnant, Luka turns hostile and, living up to his reputation, forces a totally unnecessary shotgun marriage with the caveat that the scoundrel George never sees his daughter again; a happenstance that does not altogether displease George's mother but devastates the young couple.

The parents' mutual desire, however, is dashed when George and Cora disappear, presumably running off to live together. Despite efforts of both parents to find them with private detectives, no news of their whereabouts is forthcoming until Margaret receives word that Cora has died in childbirth, though her newly born son has survived, albeit with only one eye after the other had been lost to a massive infection. George has disappeared, seemingly abandoning his newly born child and his responsibilities along with him.

The remainder of the novel tracks George's odyssey from the battlefields of World War One, to the bohemian Parisian section of Saint-Germain-des-Pres, to the Emerald Isle and a quest to fulfill a commitment to a fallen fellow soldier; while all the while the American expatriate turned French citizen wonders about events at home. Urged on by a Gaelic-speaking Irish woman with whom he forges a soulful bond, a woman of a religion older than Catholicism, George finally returns to his native land seeking answers he has dreaded and avoided for many years. The reopening of old wounds portends the destruction of a family already teetering on the precipice of a chasm too stark and malevolent to close.

In place of chapters, the novel is broken up into usually short sections headed by a character's name, recounted from his or her perspective, and dates disjointed in time (ranging from 1893 to 2009), though not in a manner that impedes the smooth flow of the narrative. The writing is crisp which effectively holds the reader's interest throughout. Getting through this rather lengthy novel is not at all laborious. Indeed, upon finishing it, I rather wished it had gone on somewhat longer. Mr. Hoing is a veteran writer with short credits in myriad professional and semi-professional publications, while Mr. Hileman makes an impressive writing debut.

Hammon Falls reads like a Booth Tarkington Midwestern yarn in which Alice Adams climbs her way to the top only to find that the view is not all she had anticipated. Largely set in early twentieth-century Iowa, the novel presents the rise and decline of a family, bred from an unlikely and malevolent alliance of convenience, torn apart by greed, ruthlessness and a star-crossed love. Unhindered by the social restraints under which Tarkington toiled, the authors present an intriguing cast of characters set against a post-World War I burgeoning nation. From the flowing blood of the Somme, through the fringes of organized crime of the Capone era, to reflections from a contemporary perspective, Hammon Falls is a memorable and compelling American epic of a benighted family and age. I would highly recommend it to all with an affinity for heartland Americana fare with a gritty edge. Waterton is most decidedly not the River City of Meredith Willson's nostalgic valentine to his native state.

Twilight of American Culture
Morris Berman
W. W. Norton & Company
500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110
9780393321692, $14.95,

Elizabeth Imasa

In the Twilight of American Culture, Morris Berman, a former professor of various universities in the United States and author of several works (Social Change and Scientific Organization and The Reenchantment of the World) writes and brings up the probable reasons and signs of the decline of American culture. Kitsch, Bostock nation, and McWorld are appellations referring to global market capitalism, which immerses Americans. Consider Berman's simile where Americans are like fish who do not realize water/consumerism surrounding them. The author states the culture of consumption is the main factor that leads to the dilution of education, in part, affecting culture by causing its deterioration. Berman proposes one resolution that will ebb this detriment - the monastic option. The monastic option, according to Berman, is an action that promotes what is good in culture like the monks who transcribed Roman literature. As Berman states, what is considered "good" and "bad" depends" the eye of the beholder, n'est-ce pas?" (35).

Strengths of this text are that Berman contextualizes and supports his case with history and facts comprehensibly. Another strong point is that Berman explores different scenarios of how American culture might descend seen in chapter 5, Alternate Visions. The author states a number of arguments that illustrate American culture is waning, "...the gap between rich and poor is greater...the level of ignorance is so low as to render us something of an international joke; and the takeover of our spiritual life by McWorld - corporate/consumer values..." (159-160). These arguments stated above are good points but Berman's repetitiveness of these examples drag on; this text could have been shorter with the illustrations that the author made.

Another fault about Berman's book is that he does not define what composes American culture. Berman's text is more of a jeremiad on consumerism. The writer defines collapse, transformation, and monastic option; however, he does not define or state what the components of American culture are. Consumerism is part of American culture although this part of culture does not represent the whole. Based on anthropologist, Gary Ferraro's Cultural Anthropology (2006), "...all cultures are composed of material objects: ideas, values, and attitudes; and patterned ways of behaving...cultures are integrated...many parts are not only connected to one another...but influence one another" (28-43). Overall, The Twilight of American Culture argues and points out American culture will fall - the fall is inevitable and history is repeated. In Michael Taussig's Cocaine Museum (2004), "...the state of nature to the nature of the state is never complete. Each aspect bears the trace of the other...and [is] doubled back on itself" (132).

Ferraro, Gary. Cultural Anthropology. Belmont, CA: Thomson Wadsworth, 2006. Print.
Taussig, Michael T. My Cocaine Museum. Chicago, IL: The University of Chicago Press, 2002. Print.

The Manchurian President
Aaron Klein, with Brenda J. Elliott
WND Books
c/o Midpoint Trade Books
27 West 20th Street, Ste 1102, NY, NY 10011
9781935071877, $25.95,

Fern Sidman, Reviewer

American journalist, author and radio host, Aaron Klein, along with historian and researcher, Brenda J. Elliott blow the lid off the dome of silence surrounding the Obama administration as they boldly unmask the nation's 44th president in their latest chilling monograph entitled. "The Manchurian President: Barack Obama's Ties to Communists, Socialists and Other Anti-American Extremists" (WND Books - May 2010). Providing close to 900 footnotes and countless pages of documentation they reveal surreptitious ties to radical leftists of all stripes. If the title of this book sounds at all familiar, it is a takeoff on the 1959 political thriller novel by Robert Condon called "The Manchurian Candidate" in which the son of a prominent US political family has been brainwashed into being an unwitting assassin for the Communist party.

While Klein does not infer that President Obama is part of a Communist sleeper cell, he does present an exhaustive investigation into President Obama's background and his radical ties to pivotal figures in the Communist movement, both inside the White House and out who also happen to be major players in crafting legislation, including the economic stimulus package. This weighty tome weaves a complex spider's web of a narrative that is replete with a plethora of names and organizations of radical leftists, hitherto unknown by the public, who helped shape Obama's ideology and career.

Starting with Obama's childhood affiliation as a Sunday school attendee at the First Unitarian in Honolulu, a radical activist church that not only served as sanctuary for draft dodgers in the 1960s and 70s but had strong links to the even more radical Students for a Democratic Society (SDS), Klein embellishes on the movement that gave birth to the underground terrorist offshoot called Weatherman. It was through this organization that Obama liaison Bill Ayers achieved fame as a Pentagon bomber-conspirator and a notorious leftist student agitator. Ayers summed up the Weatherman ideology which he referred to as "an American Red Army" by saying, "Kill all the rich people. Break up their cars and apartments. Bring the revolution home. Kill your parents."

Klein informs us that Obama worked directly with Ayers in Chicago back in 1988, after Ayers resurfaced from his underground status amid multiple criminal charges related to his extremist activities. The charges were dropped due to prosecutorial misconduct. The two were introduced by Gerald "Jerry" Kellman, a Marxist acolyte of radical community organizer Saul Alinsky, and thus, a professional association was forged as Obama served with the Ayers' run community advocacy coalition called the Alliance for Better Chicago Schools, or ABC. When Obama launched his political career in 1995, the venue for his first fundraiser was the Chicago apartment of Bill Ayers and the two served alongside each other from 1995 to 2000 on a $100 million education foundation called the Chicago Annenberg Challenge or CAC.

Says Klein, "To underscore Ayers' radical mentality in 1995, while he worked closely with Obama, the unrepentant terrorist gave an interview in that year for author Ron Chepesiuk's book Sixties Radicals, in which Ayers stated, "I'm a radical, leftist, small 'c' communist."

Following the guidelines of Alinsky-like tactics of working within the system to overthrow the capitalist structure of American government, Klein speaks of Obama's direct links to the CAC's role in "disbursing money through various far-left community organizers, such as ACORN." Such Socialist led organizations and unions like Project VOTE!, the SEIU (Service Employees International Union), the AFL-CIO (the American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations), AFSCME (American Federation of State and County Municipal Employees) and the Apollo Alliance are also directly linked to ACORN and Obama cronies with "questionable" ties. Quoting from a 2001 book by Jarol B. Manheim, "The Death of a Thousand Cuts: Corporate Campaigns and the Attack on the Corporation", Klein says that "by 1986, ACORN had forged institutional ties with AFL-CIO Central Labor Councils in at least 30 cities" and that ACORN's "People's Platform" included such radical reformist objectives as "free medical care, a public defender system, the elimination of the state income tax for low income people and higher welfare benefits."

Obama's associations with the Nation of Islam, Black Liberation Theology and black political extremists are also revealed in nuanced detail, as Klein sheds light on the fact that Obama attended the million man march organized by Nation of Islam leader and rabid Jew hater, Louis Farrakhan. For over 20 years Obama attended the Trinity United Church of Christ in Chicago where Farrakhan gave guest lectures at the behest of anti-American extremist preacher Rev. Jeremiah Wright. Klein also uncovers the fact that the Nation of Islam was on Obama's payroll in the early days of his political career and that his senior advisor, David Axelrod also maintained ties to radical Islam through his association as a board member of St. Sabena's Church in Chicago which served as a haven for black nationalists of the Nation of Islam variety.

The backgrounds of other key Obama advisors and "Czars" such as Valerie Jarrett, Van Jones, Andy Stern, Cass Sunstein and John Holdren are also carefully scrutinized by Klein as well as their political leanings and the influence they wield in this current administration. Ghastly epiphanies proliferate, as Klein documents the fact that Communist Party member, Frank Marshall Davis who would become a mentor to the young Barack Obama in Hawaii worked closely with Vernon Jarrett, Valerie Jarrett's father-in-law in at least three communist dominated organizations in Chicago in the late 1940s. Former Green Jobs Czar Van Jones, who resigned his post in September of 2009, was forced out of his job by allegations of association with a Marxist group during the 1990s. Having been arrested several times during the 90s for political activism, Jones was quoted in a November 2005 interview with the East Bay Express as saying that while in jail, ""I met all these young radical people of color -- I mean really radical, communists and anarchists. And it was, like, 'This is what I need to be a part of.'"

"The Manchurian President" also exposes how Obama's health-care policy, masked by moderate populist rhetoric, was pushed along and partially crafted by extremists. Some of them reveal in their own words that their principal aim is to achieve corporate socialist goals and a vast increase in government powers.

Klein was recently quoted on FOX news as saying, "It is clear that Barack Obama has ties to an anti-American fringe nexus that was instrumental in building his political career from the beginning all the way through now." He adds that, "I believe this work is crucial to Americans from across the political spectrum, including mainstream Democrats who should be alarmed that their party has been hijacked by an extreme-left bent on permanently changing the party to fits its radical agenda."

This meticulously documented piece of outstanding investigative research is a must read for all good citizens of this great country who are concerned with the future of our cherished freedoms and values.

Braided Cord, Tough Times In and Out
Liz Kulp
Better Endings New Beginnings
6289 Brunswick Avenue North, Brooklyn Park, MN 55429
9780984200719 $24.95

Sara Hassler

Award winning author Liz Kulp brings another outstanding literary work of art to the market in her new book Braided Cord, Tough Times In and Out.

Liz Kulp is a 23 year old woman who was born with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder (FASD) as a result of her birth mother drinking while pregnant. As a child, Liz was in the foster care system and soon adopted at a very young age by Karl and Jodee Kulp and their family. Throughout her young life Author, Liz Kulp, kept journals and her new book, Braided Cord, is the published in-depth account of her life living with FASD. Her openness to share her feelings, her world and what the inside of her body and brain feels like is beyond brave. She is a modern day super hero who overcomes daily struggles to live in a society that does not see or fully understand her disability.

Liz Kulp takes her readers on an incredible journey deep inside the world of a sensitive growing teen and eventual mature woman who shares herself openly and completely. Fast paced, emotional and full of life lessons, readers can look forward to learning what it's like to live with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder from Ms. Kulp's amazing life experiences.

In order to help society change for the better, Author, Liz Kulp has stripped herself naked for all the world to see. She has stood alone, with her family, and before all of us, to teach us how important it is to not drink while pregnant. We applaud Liz. Kulp for her choices to persevere and reach out in order to save millions of innocent soon-to-be-born babies.

Author, Liz Kulp, pieces together diary entries in her book, Braided Cord, Tough Times In and Out. Dated logs from herself, her parents, life coaches, supportive partners and organizations make up her easy to read chapters. Reading Braided Cord is like stepping into Liz Kulp's shoes. To be a witness to a disability that you cannot see or touch and to understand another human being's world is a gift that Ms. Kulp delivers on. Kulp's audience has the chance to sit in a pampered setting as they spiritually travel her life path. Step by step, her readers are exposed to the disturbing effects that alcohol has on the human brain, the trauma it causes families, the pain it inflicts on innocent children and the burden it places on our society. Through Liz's life, we have a chance to learn, to grow and to be a part of saving lives. Her voice and written words are clear, exact and honest. Liz Kulp has made it possible for other children and families dealing with Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorders to open up, share their stories so they too can transition into the world as healthy and productive individuals.

Ms. Kulp includes an appendix with resource information for her readers to learn more. There is an enormous amount of instruction included on what Fetal Alcohol Spectrum Disorder is and how communities can help, schools can teach, people can understand and medical staff can identify it. Parents, Karl and Jodee Kulp, along with the support of their family, speak about the horrifying effects that FASDs has had on their lives, work and what their future holds. Every gut-wrenching stone has been turned and thrown against the wall in order to reach readers in a way that provokes positive change.

This is a book that commands attention and one that influences us to support speaking up in defense of the un-born. Braided Cord, Tough Times In and Out is a must read for professionals in the medical, social service and re-hab fields. Libraries who want to expand their reading programs and booksellers who are involved in book clubs will greatly profit from sharing this educational and inspirational book with their patrons and communities.

Alice and Greta
Steven J. Simmons
Illustrated by Cyd Moore
Charlesbridge Publishing
85 Main St. Watertown, MA 02472
9780881069761, $7.95

Lauren Hamaty

Alice and Greta is a delightful tale of two very different witches. While Alice and Greta both live on the same mountain top, they are exact opposites. Alice is always trying to do good deeds, while Greta is always trying to perform destructive ones. Alice and Greta is an engaging book featuring colorful illustrations. It teaches the lesson of right from wrong and uniquely reuses the saying, "What goes around comes around." This is a story where a little bit of magic and a lot of heart is sometimes all you need to get out of a sticky situation.

Gutsy Guys and Rattletrap Planes that Helped Save a Nation
or: What's a Nice Goy like You Doin' in a War Like This?
Evelyn M. Dahms
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9780595355976, $16.95,

Lois Wells Santalo

Most returning GIs from World War II longed to settle down with homes and children, but some harbored dreams of postwar travel and adventure. The group who called themselves the Cobbers, an Aussie term for friends and colleagues (they'd all been stationed together in Australia) had an unusual opportunity to do just that. As airplane pilots and mechanics, they were offered positions in what purported to be a newly forming airline--but was in reality a covert operation designed to bring planes to Israel.

It was 1948. Israel was fighting for its independence, while America remained, in theory, neutral. American planes, rotting away by the thousands in the Arizona desert, could not be sold to Israel. They could only be requisitioned under pretense that they were to go to South America or Czechoslovakia.

The author's husband, Fred Dahms, was a member of the group that had agreed to participate in the fake-airline project. Since the planes were no longer in flying condition, this meant a risky, harrowing, creaking flight out of the country--first stop, Mexico, for the more urgent repairs. Then on to the predetermined country for the real rebuilding which would make the planes safe and useful to the Israeli Air Force.

One plane didn't make it, and pilot and mechanic were lost. The others, while the wives waited and worried at home, went on to the prearranged work stations, so secretly the men could not even tell their wives where they were or what they were doing.

Concerned about her husband, baffled by the mystery, Evelyn Dahms set out for Czechoslovakia to learn for herself what was going on. But though his letters had come from there, her husband wasn't there, and no one was talking about his whereabouts. She struggled and pleaded, and finally learned the truth: he was in Israel. It would be difficult if not impossible for anyone to smuggle her into the country to join him. But she persisted, and in the end a covert flight was arranged for her. Following a long-delayed but happy reunion, she settled down in Israel where they promptly put her to work as a typist, and where, along with her husband and the other Cobbers, she spent the war years.

A great adventure story as well as a remarkable memoir, "Gutsy Guys and Rattletrap Planes that Helped Save a Nation or: What's a Nice Goy like You Doin' in a War Like This?" won a San Diego Book Award and is highly recommended.

Duty, Honor and a Loaf of Bread
Jan (Waldron) and Ed Votroubek
Eagle's View Publishing
A WestWind Inc. Company
6756 North Fork Road, Liberty, UT 84310
9780943604671, $24.95

Louise Leetch

Still Loving You and Missing You

Bill Waldron didn't have to go to war. As the town baker, he was exempt. In the days before industrial bakers, the local bakery was the source for bread and pastries. Newly married, Bill felt a need to contribute more. The letters between Bill and his wife, Marge, which make up "Duty, Honor and a Loaf of Bread: Portrait of an American Family in World War II 1944-1946", giving us a broad picture of the effects of the war. For security reasons, Marge's missives to Europe didn't survive as GI's had to burn letters from home.

When Bill decided that he must go off to war, Marge supported his decision. Like millions of wives over the last few millennia, Marge took over the family business without complaint. Newly pregnant, she supplied Waukon with their bakery needs. She kept her husband well informed with news from home while petitioning her congressman to affect his early release once the war ended.

Bill fought as a rifleman and advance scout from the Battle of the Bulge until the end of the war. The real untold story plays out after the war ended. There was nothing to do. Three million GI's had freed Europe and waited impatiently to be discharged. Life after battle was horrendous. They suffered not just ennui but terminal boredom, frustration, distrust of the army, homesickness, anger, a sense of abandonment, hunger for a decent meal, and desperate cravings for mail. In their frustration, they turned to movies, gambling, drinking to excess and "fraternizing". Some, in desperation, turned to theft, the black market, rape and suicide.

God and his angels worked overtime for Bill Waldron - with special urging from his wife and family. Bill never suffered from illness, frostbite or wounds. Towards the end, like so many of the casualties of war, he slowly succumbed to the ultimate disease of the soul: depression. His kindly attitude toward the German citizenry, whom he knew hadn't created this mess, deteriorated as he waited for his discharge. As his tour wound down, he had 60 days furlough coming to him, but he never used it. He just wanted to go home.

Jan Waldron and her husband, Ed Votroubek, have faithfully sorted her parents' correspondence and researched WWII history to produce a book that testifies to the transformation Bill and Marge saw as America sacrificed its small town lifestyle to the powers of the global stage. There are wonderful sidebars explaining references and current events. What needed no research was the devotion of Marge & Bill. They were resolutely faithful to each other & signed each letter "still loving and missing you".

Warning: Bill uses an offensive epithet for the German girls who gave their favors to the GI's.

The Forest of Hands and Teeth
Carrie Ryan
Delacorte Books
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
9780385736824, $9.99

Mark Van Fleet

The Forest of Hands and Teeth by Carrie Ryan is the page-by-page nail biter that will keep you at the edge of your seat until the very end. The story, from the new young adult author, is a post-apocalyptic, dystopian tale about a young girl named Mary who lives in a small, fenced in village about 200 years after the initial return of the undead. Although the story doesn't go into the detail of what initially caused "The Return" it makes it quite clear what happens once you are bitten by one of the unconsecrated: You die and then return as a flesh eating zombie hell-bent on infecting everyone you possibly can while feeding on their flesh.

In the story, Mary has lived her whole life (All of about 18 years) thinking that her village in a remote forest is the last stronghold of the living. At least that's what the "Sisterhood" and the "Protectorate" of the village has led everyone to believe. Mary's world is turned upside down after she begins to learn the truth about the village when she notices that a young girl about her age (who's still a member of the living) appears along one of the fenced in paths that lead from the end of the village into the forest. Turning events and Mary's search for the truth eventually leads her into the Forest of Hands and Teeth where she must make it to the Ocean where she believes she'll be safe.Or face unpleasant choices about her future as a member of the living.

Ryan does a nice job of combining some theories of how zombies would move. In her story, if at the time you "turn" and there are not enough other unconsecrated around you then you turn into what she coins as a "breaker". Breakers can move incredibly fast while the rest of the zombies who turned amongst plenty of their kind move at a nice slow pace, thus, only giving them strength in numbers (or against incredibly clumsy zombie slayer). This interesting mix allows for Ryan to balance the psychological fear created from the constant moans of the "slow" zombies versus the sheer gut wrenching fear of a breaker turning others to zombies faster than you can say, "George Romero".

Overall, this is a great first book of a Trilogy. The sequel, The Dead Tossed Waves was released in March of this year, and Ryan will be rounding it out with the Third installment, The Dark and Hollow Places in the Spring of 2011. In a future filled with uncertainty, I can tell you one thing for sure: If you read the first book, you'll run out and buy the second one as soon as you can, and will greatly anticipate the release of her third book next spring. The best part is that there's plenty of romance for the ladies, and blood and gore for the guys.

The Name of the Nearest River
Alex Taylor
Sarabande Books
2234 Dundee Road, Suite 200, Louisville, KY 40205
9781932511802, $15.95,

Jennifer A. Palombi

Raw and Gritty. I sat here for quite a while trying to think of the right descriptors for this collection of stories and these were the two that kept coming back to me: raw and gritty. I don't mean that Taylor's writing or style is raw. these are eloquently written and vividly "real" short stories. This is certainly regional literature: set in the backwoods of Kentucky and populated by some distinctly rural characters. Alex Taylor brings "hillbilly culture" to life in the pages of The Name of the Nearest River and I can almost smell stale beer and cigarettes as I sit and contemplate what I've read here over the past few weeks. While these stories are loaded with regional color - demolition derbies, rivers full of catfish, coal trains and fields of coyotes - the stories themselves will resonate with a much wider audience. That's where the genius in this collection lies: the settings and circumstances set forth may be distinct to rural Kentucky, but the emotions, motivations, biases, fears and longings portrayed within these stories are universal.

The characters aren't always likable, in fact they often are not, but they are sympathetic on some level and the reader can't help but be intrigued by this unfortunate collection of souls. The occasional character is a bit "over the top" (like the one who sits atop a bloated corpse and plays the fiddle. Wow.) Regardless, each story has its own unique set of personalities and problems. Many of these stories treat us not only to the characters' present circumstances but often to their memories. almost as if memory itself is an additional character in these tales: a character that lends perspective to the individuals whose stories we're reading. Central themes and settings are similar throughout this collection, yet each story is absolutely unique. The Name of the Nearest River should be read and considered in measured doses in order to fully appreciate the literary experience that reading this collection represents.

The Bottom Line: A literary dichotomy: grimy, ugly, often brutal tales that are eloquently and thoughtfully told.

Heart's Desire
Jessie Coulter
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200, Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781450580298, $11.00,

Peggy Tibbetts

When Skye's ex-boyfriend, Chris bullies her at school, the new kid Morgan steps in and rescues her. On the rebound from a bad relationship and the victim of her abusive alcoholic father, Skye immediately falls head over heels for the mysterious stranger. But all is not what it seems. At first Morgan is confused by his strong, protective instincts for Skye. He is aloof and often disappears. She suspects he's hiding something. Her instincts are dead on. Morgan is definitely a question mark. Has Skye's love life just gone from bad to worse?

Passion and teen angst collide in this fast-paced paranormal teen romance. Fans of the Twilight series will find the same smoldering forbidden love they long for. "Heart's Desire is a sizzling hot summer read that will keep readers turning the pages and wanting more.

The Complete Prophecies of Nostradamus
Mario Reading
9781906787394, $24.95,

Rose Glavas, Reviewer

Looking at this book, it is a large volume with a black cover and large, bold and gold lettering: this gives me the impression of some serious reading! My first impression proved to be right - I found this to be a bit of a heavy read, and to appreciate this book you really need a strong interest and background in the prophecies of Nostradamus (which I don't').

The author, Mario Reading, has a long history of involvement with these prophesies and is considered a groundbreaking expert on the topic and has written about the prophecies of Nostradamus twice in the past. This newest book, 'The Complete Prophecies of Nostradamus' promises a ground-breaking new analysis through an indexing system Reading has discovered hidden within the prophecies.

I have to say that I found it interesting to read this title, however, I am in no position to really be critical or otherwise about the contents, since it is the first book I have read about the prophecies. However, I do have to say that the writing style was a bit convoluted for my liking. I prefer information to be presented in plain English.

'The Prophecies of Nostradamus' is broken up into various sections. there are the usual Acknowledgements, then an Introduction and then some information about Nostradamus' life under Biographical Note (which I really enjoyed because it gave me a feel for who he was). Then the next section is The Retrospective Quatrains, followed by The Undated Quatrains; The Main Quatrains are next and these are broken down into the various centuries over history.

In summary, this is an in-depth book that obviously has a lot of work put into it that would suit a person who has a slight obsession with the work of Nostradamus! It wasn't a light read, however, I'm not sure how someone could turn this topic into something lighthearted. a great reference book.

The Blue Man Dreams the End of Time
Michael McIrvin
Bewrite Books
19897 56 Ave. Langley, BC, V3A 3Y1, Canada
9781906609344, $16.50,

Tim Smith

The Blue Man Dreams the End of Time is billed as noir thriller, but there is infinitely more to this book. Sonny, a former CIA agent in hiding for the last couple of decades for killing his partner to save a salsa singer the paranoid partner thought an enemy agent, is recruited by former agents to terrorize Mayan tribesmen so they will agree to sell their ancient trees to a timber consortium. His former colleagues' methods are anything but subtle and include murder, and Sonny has little choice on a few fronts: a dead girlfriend whose sister will be next and the not-so-small problem of a systemic concoction that has turned him blue, literally, and only the bad guys have the antidote.

On his way to noir-type vengeance, Sonny offers the reader a glimpse into his past, which includes murder and torture, and thus the CIA's methods at least since Viet Nam. The reader is also asked to think about terrorism, what it is in real terms and the third-worlders who resort to it, the role of the US in the political violence in Central and South America, the role of tribal cultures in history, the drug war and drug trafficking relative to powerlessness, the hero archetype as propaganda, state power and how the young are inculcated into the culture of violence McIrvin associates not only with nations but also with corporations, the awful means by which history stumbles forward, and much else (like modern art and industrial jobs and family and identity…).

McIrvin's novel is a hell of a read and a hell of a ride, through hell, actually. The story moves at the speed of light, but you will find yourself haunted by the world the book describes, our modern world, long after you turn the last page.

Amy Henry's Bookshelf

The War Lovers
Evan Thomas
Little, Brown
237 Park Ave., New York, NY 10017
9780316004091 $29.99

The War Lovers: Roosevelt, Lodge, Hearst, and the Rush to Empire, 1898 by Evan Thomas is beyond's downright scary. It is an extremely detailed telling of the events of Theodore Roosevelt's presidency and the Spanish-American War over Cuba.

It begins with the subject of Roosevelt himself, from his habits to friends to family life. His tough guy persona that needed women to soothe him, and his blistering desire to fight. Any fight. He was closely allied with Henry Cabot Lodge, a somewhat snobbish and whiny man that helped him frame his Presidential plans. Roosevelt wanted war, often considering if he could find an excuse to invade Mexico or Canada, and disappointed when one wasn't found. Cuba had been on his mind for some time before it became a realistic possibility.

Aiding Roosevelt, albeit unintentionally, was William Randolph Hearst, a genuine oddball who also wanted to see America fight (and gain) Cuba. His motives were more obscure: he wanted to sell more papers, and called his skill "the journalism that acts". War would help him make money and gain influence, influence he was eager to use in his political circles. At one point, even though no real threat from Cuba existed, he pondered ways to agitate Cuba. He had Tiffany's make a sword and engrave it with "Viva Cuba Libre", scheming that delivering the sword to Maximo Gomez would get a reporter inside for an exclusive scoop. This failed, and he later hired reporters Richard Harding Davis and Frederic Remington (the Remington) to go to Cuba as 'envoys'. Remington grew bored with the lack of excitement in Cuba, and sent Hearst a telegram stating he wished to return.

Hearst responded with the now famous line "Please remain. You furnish the pictures, and I'll furnish the war." Time passed and the explosion of the USS Maine in Havana harbor set in motion the path of war that Hearst and Roosevelt both eagerly anticipated. While the cause of the explosion was disputed even then, the facts were irrelevant. They had their war.

The book is amazingly researched and detailed, and illuminates many personality quirks that I'd missed in other readings of the time period. Thomas doesn't simply portray these men as hate-mongering bullies, but softens it a bit to tell us why they were driven to that end. He portrays both the cultural and political events of the era in a fast paced and almost gossipy read.

What makes it frightening is to recognize the parallels of then and now. Strong personalities, the advantages of wealth and power, and a quick-to-exploit media all are featured in our daily lives. In fact, many of the techniques and manipulations of the press that Hearst used are standard playbook policies now. When I first started reading this I thought, 'how could this be true?' Having completed it, I can say it is too true to ignore. We still have out-of-touch politicians who care little for the soldiers that fight for them, and huge media moguls still dominate the way we get information. This book is an excellent way to evaluate what we see now, in view of the past.

The writing style is accessible and quickly paced, and would serve as a unique high school or college supplement as well as for general history buffs.

The War Lovers: Roosevelt, Lodge, Hearst, and the Rush to Empire, 1898 Evan Thomas is beyond's downright scary. It is an extremely detailed telling of the events of Theodore Roosevelt's presidency and the Spanish-American War over Cuba.

It begins with the subject of Roosevelt himself, from his habits to friends to family life. His tough guy persona that needed women to soothe him, and his blistering desire to fight. Any fight. He was closely allied with Henry Cabot Lodge, a somewhat snobbish and whiny man that helped him frame his Presidential plans. Roosevelt wanted war, often considering if he could find an excuse to invade Mexico or Canada, and disappointed when one wasn't found. Cuba had been on his mind for some time before it became a realistic possibility.

Aiding Roosevelt, albeit unintentionally, was William Randolph Hearst, a genuine oddball who also wanted to see America fight (and gain) Cuba. His motives were more obscure: he wanted to sell more papers, and called his skill "the journalism that acts". War would help him make money and gain influence, influence he was eager to use in his political circles. At one point, even though no real threat from Cuba existed, he pondered ways to agitate Cuba. He had Tiffany's make a sword and engrave it with "Viva Cuba Libre", scheming that delivering the sword to Maximo Gomez would get a reporter inside for an exclusive scoop. This failed, and he later hired reporters Richard Harding Davis and Frederic Remington (the Remington) to go to Cuba as 'envoys'. Remington grew bored with the lack of excitement in Cuba, and sent Hearst a telegram stating he wished to return.

Hearst responded with the now famous line "Please remain. You furnish the pictures, and I'll furnish the war." Time passed and the explosion of the USS Maine in Havana harbor set in motion the path of war that Hearst and Roosevelt both eagerly anticipated. While the cause of the explosion was disputed even then, the facts were irrelevant. They had their war.

The book is amazingly researched and detailed, and illuminates many personality quirks that I'd missed in other readings of the time period. Thomas doesn't simply portray these men as hate-mongering bullies, but softens it a bit to tell us why they were driven to that end. He portrays both the cultural and political events of the era in a fast paced and almost gossipy read.

What makes it frightening is to recognize the parallels of then and now. Strong personalities, the advantages of wealth and power, and a quick-to-exploit media all are featured in our daily lives. In fact, many of the techniques and manipulations of the press that Hearst used are standard playbook policies now. When I first started reading this I thought, 'how could this be true?' Having completed it, I can say it is too true to ignore. We still have out-of-touch politicians who care little for the soldiers that fight for them, and huge media moguls still dominate the way we get information. This book is an excellent way to evaluate what we see now, in view of the past.

The Language of Secrets
Dianne Dixon
Doubleday & Company
c/o Random House
1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019
9780385530637 $24.95

The Language of Secrets is a tightly wound mystery, with a plot unlike any other I've ever run across. The entire story is unusual and grabs you immediately. The main character had moved to London to pursue a career, and remained out of touch with his immediate family. After many, many years, he returns to California and tries to reconnect. He finds his parents have died, and when he visits their graves, he sees another headstone next to them. His. Showing that he died at age four. Immediately he's bounced into a living hell of flashbacks, waking delusions, and disquietude that infects his own marriage. He has no idea who he is and what has happened.

Thus begins this twisted and complex tale that takes you through the lives of several members of his family. It is suspenseful and much so that I felt nauseated at times. Perhaps it was the suspense of the missing four year, nearly the same age as my own child, which made me anxious. All I can say is that this story fascinated me by just how off-the-wall it was. I read a lot, and running into an utterly unique premise is unusual.

That said, it's apparent that this is a plot driven story rather than built on solid characters. I felt a bit cheated that some of these amazing situations came from some rather superficial characters who seemed predictable despite the unpredictable plot. Some were so shallow that I could actually foresee their actions, and others exemplified tremendous character values yet no rationale for their behavior was given. It was the characters that detracted me from the story.

The story proceeds at a quick pace, and the only other "blip" that occurred was when one character's almost unimaginable actions were explained, in an 'aside' by the author, where she attempts to justify the actions in light of the socio-political values of the time period. It was only two paragraphs, but it didn't fit. She should have been able to show those details without such an invasive explanation. It felt a bit preachy, actually, and it derailed the pace. And while she tried to account for the actions, it wasn't sufficient to overcome the initial doubt about the behavior, and effectively made her argument less powerful.

This is a intriguing book, and one that I will share with friends. The minor flaws it has doesn't take away from this tremendous story and fascinating plot. As a debut novel by Dixon, it's excellent. It might be considered part of the realm of "chick lit" or "women's lit", but I don't think that label fits.

Bill Streever
Little, Brown
237 Park Ave., New York, NY 10017
9780316042918 $24.99

Cold: Adventures in the World's Frozen Places, Bill Streever
As I read this nonfiction title, I kept wondering why science in high school (or college) couldn't have been this fascinating. Maybe it's because school texts are so dry and politically correct. I have no idea, only that this book made me wish I had paid more attention.

Simply put, this is fascinating. Streever is a scientist/environmentalist/researcher who explores the science of weather, as well as the history of man's fascination with it. This book compiles a year of research. He begins outside of Alaska, studying a caterpillar that is so frequently frozen that it takes ten years to go from pupa to moth. Ten years! He has numerous anecdotal stories with some heavy science sprinkled in, such as how water molecules change amid temperature changes. The pace is fast and snappy and makes all the details easily absorbed, without feeling like it's dumbed down or too deep.

One especially fascinating aspect of Cold is the stories of men and their search for the North Pole. I'm not sure why, exactly, men throughout history have been so interested in traversing miles of brutal cold to get there. He goes through notes and journals of many of these explorers, most of whom are spectacularly unprepared and most of whom die on the way. So few actually did make it. What's amazing is the descriptions of their journeys. Death was always present and it seemed the life of their companions was pretty cheap, as they would just keep going as members died off. See, I don't get it. I'd be at the nearest plush hotel, with some hot cocoa and maybe brandy, in front of a roaring fire. Why the cold?

Streever weaves the unassailable facts of global warming into the book, never too preachy but not backing off with the clear evidence of disappearing ice and changing weather patterns. He clearly cares about the issue and knows what he is talking about, as his facts are not biased or partisan in any way. One caveat: this book is best read when you are warm, as the descriptions will have you chilled to the bone quickly.

The science is accessible and would appeal to anyone with an interest in the subject. By way of discussing not just the physical dynamics of cold but also interspersing global warming, anedotal historical details, and environmental issues, Streever keeps the pace quick and the reader engaged. This would also make an excellent gift.

The Confessions of Noa Weber
Gail Hareven
Melville House Publishing
145 Plymouth Street, Brooklyn NY 11201
9781933633374 $16.95

Winner of the Sapir Award for Literature and the "2010 Best Translated Book Award" by
Three Percent, a literary translation organization.

Noa Weber is a wealthy, single woman who late in life decides to write her memoirs. She's been a single mother and a successful novelist, but her life is most marked by her obsession with a Russian Jew named Alek. Their relationship is filled with complications and at many times is completely one sided on her part: Alek has a full life without her. Noa's life experience is more complex than most. Her attempt to recall her past motivations and experiences is problematic: "There's a kind of lie in this linear writing which does not encompass all the details" she explains.

The novel reverses from her past to present in varying chunks, not always in chronological order. The events of her life are complicated by the social and political situation in Israel, and events in Russia as well. She is an atheist while her daughter is an observing Jew. Her mysterious relationship with her daughter is a sideline that adds to her complications and also makes the reader ask questions if this, in fact, is part of her "confession".

The novel is beautifully written in an unanticipated way. She focuses only on relevant details to her story, so it proceeds at a quick clip that makes her seem self-absorbed. At times I found myself disliking Noa entirely, as she seemed so obsessively involved with Alek that she was completely heartless with everyone else, even to the point of neglect. She knows that too. His emotional and physical distancing from her doesn't shake her: she is hooked: "Perhaps it is not him whom my soul loves that I am seeking, but simply my soul." Yet her candor exposes more of her than might be shown if she presented herself as a more likable figure. In other words, her honesty is painful and risky. It's as if she truly is in a confessional booth, stating her sins and but refusing absolution. And that dichotomy is what makes the novel so fascinating.

For example, she is remembering Alek and points to the weather as being the trigger for her memories: the smell of the rain, the warm wind, the "sight of the softened light refracted from the stone". But she catches herself in her recounting, and in an aside, remarks "what did I just say? The warm wind and the softened light refracted from the stone in my longing? In the last analysis that's romantic bullshit too. Setting the feeling in the 'softened light of refracted from the stone' to make it more photogenic. I loved Alek under the ugly neon of the hospital too, and in all kinds of other lights that can't be poeticized." She counters her memories in other reflections that alternate with humor and bitterness.

Thus the novel is unique and compelling because of Noa's narrative voice. Never predictable and never easy, but worthy of the time and patience to find the truth between her memories and her reality. This would appeal to women but is not particularly a "woman's" novel. The complexities presented in political and religious channels may be fascinating to some readers.

This fiction novel was translated from Hebrew by Dalya Bilu

I Curse the River of Time
Per Petterson
Graywolf Press
250 Third Avenue N, Suite 600, Minneapolis MN 55401
9781555975562 $23.00

I Curse the River of Time is Per Petterson's newest title, and it feels different from his previous novels Out Stealing Horses and To Siberia. For one thing, there is a different feel to the words, almost a jagged and sharp edge to the prose. While Out Stealing Horses was almost dreamlike in its beauty and simplicity, this has more of an abrupt edge to it. That became apparent to me in reading portions of it aloud (a cranky baby was resisting sleep) and the words felt chunky and awkward, the sentences long and meandering. Given the subject matter, the complicated relationship of a son with his mother, I think this simply underlines just how talented a writer Petterson is. The style fits the story.

The novel begins with the illness of Arvid Jansen's mother, and her quick journey away from home to absorb her news. Arvid quickly follows. The telling is interspersed with flashbacks of Arvid's life, from incidents in childhood to more recent times with his impending divorce. His mother is portrayed as a distant but loving individual, with a strong personality and an aloofness towards Arvid that is never formally explained. It is very much centered on Arvid and his inner feelings as he perceives her, rather than her personal motivations.

Much of what makes this novel fascinating is by what isn't said: several significant events happen (a family death, her illness itself) that are not explored at all. Rather Petterson focuses on how those events affect Arvid and his mother. If he were to have explained every detail of those events a reader would likely be struck more by the tragedy and its details rather than by what Petterson is getting at, the more subtle change in relationships. It's really very clever to read it that way. It's almost as if those very dramatic events are secondary to who these people really are.

As a child, Arvid didn't fit in with his family, despite his parent's assurances of how much he was 'wanted' by them, and valued. On a dismal occasion when a stranger took him to be an outsider from his family, "But what I found out that summer.was that I could swallow whatever hit me and let it sink as if nothing had happened. So I pretended to play a game that meant nothing to me now, I made all the right movements, and then it looked as if what I was doing had a purpose, but it did not." There are allusions made to what might cause him to feel this way, and Petterson lets us wonder. As in life, he seems to want to tell us, there are no easy answers.

Arvid's life is more complicated than most, especially in his relationships with women. Three significant relationships are explored, and all of them seem to have him positioned still in the childish role of needing affirmation. In considering his divorce, he thinks ".there is just you and me, we said to each other, just you and me, we said. But something had happened, nothing hung together any more, all things had spaces, had distances between them, like satellites, attracted to and pushed away at the same instant, and it would take immense willpower to cross those spaces, those distances, much more than I had available, much more than I had the courage to use."

One of Arvid's great desires is to be a good Communist, to help the 'proletariat'; and he prefers that word rather than 'working class,' which infers he deems his calling in a more elevated sense than a true Communist might normally feel. While his parents had been in the working class themselves, his choosing it rather than pursuing college is his means to be different from them. A confusing choice for a man completely confused about who he is.

His feelings towards his mother are obsessive. He thinks of her often yet tries to appear distant and have her see him as distant: "There was a before and after now, a border which I had crossed, or a river perhaps, like the Rio Grande, and suddenly I was in Mexico where things were different and a little frightening, and the crossing had left its mark on my face, which my mother would instantly see and realize that we were standing on opposite sides of the river, and the fact that I left her would hurt her, and she would no longer like me and not want me." Yet despite the chasm he imagines, he actually still seeks her out, chasing her even, not wanting to miss a moment of her attention and hoping for any kind of approval.

The story is complex and requires a careful reading. Speeding through this one will offer no satisfaction, this one is to savor and unravel. One thing that jumped out at me, and it had to be intentional, was that the character of Arvid Jansen is the same name as the main character in In the Wake, where Arvid loses most of his family in a ferry accident (a horror suffered by Peterson himself). If that is indeed the case, then this book would serve as a prequel to In the Wake, and thus his story continues.

This book would appeal to a fan of literary fiction that is in no particular rush, who can enjoy the pace, and can understand the complexities of their relationship without having each question answered.

Amy Henry, Reviewer

Bethany's Bookshelf

Dirty Looks
Cheryl Follon
Bloodaxe Books
PO Box 7, Chester Springs, PA 19425
9781852248659, $18.95,

Love gives a wide range of feedback from the beautiful to the downright filthy. "Dirty Looks" is an exploration of love and its many avenues from Cheryl Follon, giving readers a fun and highly entertaining delve into the details. "Dirty Looks" is not a read to be missed, very highly recommended. "Couplet": Dirty muck, instead of king and queen/I'll replace you now with pea and bean.

Living with Less so Your Family Has More
Jill Savage & Mark Savage
16 East 34th Street, New York, NY 10016
9780824948016, $12.99

A little bit of savings here and there adds up in the long run. "Living with less so Your Family Has More: Redefining Your Priorities to Put Your Family First" is a guide for parents who want to have their dollar go further to help better serve their family's monetary needs in the long run. For either an emergency fun or a family outing, Jill and Mark Savage give plenty of tips on saving money for something greater. For any parent tight on cash, "Living with Less so Your Family Has More" is a fine and solidly recommended pick.

The Shape of Life
Eva Zeisel
Erie Art Museum
411 State St., Erie PA, 16501
9780982107218, $21.95

An elegance is found in sleek design, a style few can truly master. "The Shape of Life" is a look at the artistic career of Eva Zeisel, a sculptor and craftswoman who for nearly a century applies her own thoughtful and sleek designs that prove timeless, melding art well with functionality in the avenues when needed. With plenty of full color photos of her work as well as a quite the history, "The Shape of Life" is a fine and solidly recommended collection that shouldn't be missed.

Dale Carlson & Hannah Carlson
Bick Publishing
307 Neck Road, Madison, CT 06443
9781884158353, $14.95,

Too much of anything is a bad idea. "Addiction: The Brain Disease" discusses the challenges of addiction and how they took hold of people and take control of their lives. Defining addiction, its many varieties, the routes to recovery, and more. A complete and comprehensive analysis of addiction and the impact of these diseases, "Addiction: The Brain Disease" is an intriguing and fascinating read, and a core addition to any health studies collection.

The Witch Awakening
Karen Nilsen
Privately Published
9781451519693, $14.95,

What keeps her shunned may be what saves them all. "The Witch Awakening" tells the story of Safire as she finds herself an outcast, trying to keep her psychic powers a secret. But when faced with the troubles of nobility, she soon finds that her talents are not to be hated, but they can prove very highly useful. "The Witch Awakening" is a riveting fantasy, highly recommended.

Autumn Romance
Carol Denker
A-Shirley Publishing
1545 E. Montgomery Ave., Philadelphia, PA 19125
9780615314419, $29.95,

Love never goes away with age. "Autumn Romance: Stories and Portraits of Love After 50" is a collection of tales about how love can still burn strong, perhaps even stronger after the half century mark is passed. These couples explain how even after decades of experience and with each other, how they are more happy with love than ever, and how they have found love in the waning phase of their lives. "Autumn Romance" is an uplifting and charming read, that shouldn't be missed.

The Match
Beth Whitehouse
Beacon Press
25 Beacon Street, Boston, MA 02108-2892
9780807072868, $24.95,

To save one's child, one would risk everything. "The Match: "Savior Siblings" and One Family's Battle to Heal Their Daughter" tells the story of the Trebing family as they try to help their daughter overcome Diamond Blackfan Anemia, only curable by a bone marrow donor from a genetic match. To do so, they birth another child in hopes of creating such a match. Author Beth Whitehouse asks many questions, including the ethical nature of creating a life to save one. "The Match" is a both heart warming and thought provoking read, highly recommended.

Susan Bethany

Buhle's Bookshelf

Galloping Minds
Payal Sarin
0981494404, $14.99,

Flashcards are a fun and effective way for young minds to learn the alphabet, numbers, and basic words. The producer of premiere educational DVDs for preschoolers has now created "Galloping Minds: Alphabet And Phonics Flashcards", a 200 'postcard' sized set of brightly colored and illustrated, ultraviolet light protected cards that are laminated to minimize damage from mouthing and which are specifically designed to introduce alphabet letters and more than two hundred common words. The words are presented in uppercase and lowercase letters and superbly illustrated with photographs and drawn images. The phonics flashcards exhibit 36 blends which include consonant and vowel digraphs, initial consonant blends, and final consonant blends -- with each blend associated with a brightly colored image and a few thematically appropriate words. "Galloping Minds: Alphabet And Phonics Flashcards" is ideal for homeschool and preschool school curriculums, as well as being very highly recommended for use by any parent wanting to help their preschooler develop their vocabulary and basic language skills. Also very highly recommended from Galloping Mind is a 30 minute learning DVD: "Galloping Minds Presents Preschooler Learns Numbers And Counting With Animals" ($12.99).

Ancient Tibet
Yeshe De Project
Dharma Publishing
35788 Hauser Bridge Road, Cazadero, CA 95421
0898001463, $30.00,

Isolated by the Himalayan mountains through most of its history, the Tibetan people were able to create a complex and peaceful civilization that gave homage to nature and embodied their society in accordance to deeply held spiritual beliefs. "Ancient Tibet" is a 371-page compendium showcasing that history. Informed and informative, "Ancient Tibet" covers the formation and development of the Tibetan tribes and early kings (especially through the 8th and 9th century), drawing from Tibetan records, as well as the records of Tibet's neighboring nations and other historical sources. The result is an impressive body of work that provides an illuminating background to the development of Tibetan culture. Thoroughly 'reader friendly', "Ancient Tibet" is an especially recommended addition to academic and community library World History reference collections, and will prove to be of exceptional interest for the non-specialist general reader with an interest in Tibetan history and culture.

The Common Good
John Bower
Studio Indiana
430 North Sewell Road, Boomington, IN 47408
9780974518664, $22.00,

The seventh published book of his extraordinary photography, "The Common Good: An Indiana Heritage Built with Taxes, Tithes, and Tuition" by John Bower is a kind of memoriam and celebration of Indiana history as reflected in its now abandoned and decaying structures, buildings that once were the heart of their community's social, cultural, spiritual, and economic life. Each black-and-white photography is succinctly captioned and represents the fruits of Bower's expeditions up and down the length and breadth of the state in search of these rapidly disappearing structures that represent the varied history of an illustrious past. A 144-page compendium offering a nostalgic reminder of yesteryears now gone by, "The Common Good" is an especially recommended addition to academic regional American History and American Photography reference collections, Indiana community libraries, and the personal reading lists for anyone with an interest in the photographic preservation of American history.

Symbolic Dynamics And Geometry
Brian Guenter & Sung-Hee Lee
A K Peters, Ltd.
888 Worcester Street, Suite 230, Wellesley, MA 02482
9781568812809, $49.00,

The collaborative work of computer experts Brian Guenter and Sung-Hee Lee, "Symbolic Dynamics and Geometry: Using D in Graphics and Game Programming" is a 250-page instructional textbook on how to employ symbolic differentiation system D with respect to creating high resolution graphics computer game and engineering simulations running thousands of times faster in real time than Mathematica or automatic differentiation. Organized into three major sections: Tutorial; Procedural Applications; and Theory, "Symbolic Dynamics And Geometry" is enhanced with the addition of an extensive bibliography and a comprehensive index, Of special note are the chapters covering The D* Algorithm; Lagrangian Mechanics; and CSG on Procedural Geometry. Featuring a profusely illustrated text, "Symbolic Dynamics And Geometry" is an especially recommended addition to professional and academic library reference Computer Science, Computer Graphics, and Computer Game Development reference collections.

Jim Starr
11th Dimension Publications
9781450705509, $16.95,

How does one go from hating new age philosophy to fully embracing it? "Gangotri: Journey to the Source" tells the story of Jim Starr, a man with a serious injury and soon finds himself embracing spiritual teaching and how he made a pilgrimage to Gangotri, a small village in India, legendarily referred to as the source of the Ganges river. "Gangotri" is a fine pick and very highly recommended read for anyone who wants to read a journey into the new age.

So You Want to Hire a Contractor to Renovate Your
Hal Herndon
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781440151491, $19.95,

Renovation can be a costly yet highly successful thing. "So You Want to Hire a Contractor to Renovate Your House: A Manual Designed to Help You Survive the Process and Maybe Save You Money" is a guide for successful and cautious shopping around for contractors when one is trying to renovate their home. Author Hal Herndon is a contractor himself, and gives good advice for those seeking it. "So You Want to Hire a Contractor to Renovate Your House" is a top pick for those who want the titular subject.

Strategy Daddy
Michael Keesee and Ankesh Kothari
c/o Cardinal Publishers Group
2402 N. Shadeland Ave. Suite A, Indianapolis, IN 46219
9780984108619, $14.95,

A good plan can make a good business great. "Strategy Daddy: Marketing Strategies, Tactics and Case Studies that Can Change the Competitive Landscape of Your Business" is a guide to simple and effective marketing strategies aimed at the standard business that isn't a mega corporation. With plenty of applicable and thoughtful wisdom, "Strategy Daddy" is an intriguing and highly useful guide that shouldn't be missed by any business leader who realizes their company's limits.

Where is My Place in this World
Roya R. Rad
Trafford Publishing
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781426925191, $17.76,

One's place in the world is a question that drives many nuts about themselves. "Where is my Place in This World" is a spiritual and inspirational writing as Roya Rohani Rad gives readers the power to look inside themselves and find their own inspiration to uplift themselves and find where they belong and what they truly want out of life. "Where is my Place in This World" is a fine pick for anyone looking for inspirational collections.

Under the Moonlit Sky
Nav K. Gill
Napoleon & Company
235-1173 Dundas Street East, Toronto, ON M4M 3P1
9781894917995, $14.95,

Sometimes a new land makes the worst first impression. "Under the Moonlit Sky"tells the story of Esha, who on her father's last wishes, travels to India and in her arrival, she finds herself wrapped up in the violent upheaval following the assassination of Indira Gandhi. Fulfilling what her father wants seems to only get harder along the way. A riveting story of finding a new culture, "Under the Moonlit Sky" is a top and very highly recommended pick.

Planet Hibernia 3153 AD
John J. Shelton
Dorrance Publishing
701 Smithfield Street, Third Floor, Pittsburgh, PA 15222
9780805971453, $21.00

Some grudges never go away. "Planet Hibernia 3153 AD" is a science fiction novel look into the far future where the Irish planet of Hibernia faces the oppression of Britannia. A story of a future that is different yet the same, John J. Shelton makes some very intriguing statements about it all, making "Planet Hibernia 3153 AD" a fascinating and entertaining read, very highly recommended.

Willis M. Buhle

Burroughs' Bookshelf

Immigration for Shared Prosperity
Ray Marshall
Economic Policy Institute
1333 H. Street, NW, Suite 300, East Tower, Washington, DC 20005-4707
9781932066395, $9.95,

Immigration doesn't have to be a disease on the more prosperous country. "Immigration for Shared Prosperity" is a discussion of immigration and proposing a solution that can make all parties involved prosper and help not only America but the immigrants as well. Fair wages, labor standards and more, "Immigration for Shared Prosperity" is a thoughtful and scholarly look at this important issue.

Inspire Your Career
Patricia Barbato
Insomniac Press
192 Spadina Avenue, Suite 403, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5T 2C2
9781897178928, $16.95,

Desire and motivation divide a successful career from one that goes nowhere. "Inspire Your Career: Strategies for Success in Your First Years at Work" is a guide to the vital first years at one's place of work, as Patricia Barbato uses her own early career success and tells her story of how to get their own success, finding the right mentor, the right attitude, and much more. "Inspire Your Career" is a guide that shouldn't be missed for those who want good things ahead in their careers.

Career Planning and Development -- In Reverse
Carl M. Powe
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432745653, $22.95,

Plan ahead, plan your career. This wisdom is often heard when planning is impossible because you're already in the process of your career. "Career Planning and Development -- In Reverse" is a guide to career management for when your career is already in motion. Saying that reverse engineering one's career can be a powerful tool, as you set your goal and work how to get to it from there, as Carl M. Powe puts forth his own thoughts and ideas on how to make it work. "Career Planning and Development" is a thoughtful and practical approach to the matter, highly recommended.

Soccer and Philosophy
Ted Richards, editor
Open Court
70 East Lake Street, Suite 300, Chicago, IL 60601
9780812696769, $21.95,

The world has known it for awhile - there's more to soccer than kicking and headbutting a ball. "Soccer and Philosophy: Beautiful Thoughts on the Beautiful Game" looks into the thoughts and opinions behind the game of soccer, looking into why soccer has become the world wide phenomena it is and providing insight to how America has caught a bit of soccer fever in recent years. "Soccer and Philosophy" is a choice read for anyone who wants to better understanding the game that the world loves.

Home Production of Quality Meats and Sausages
Stanley Marianski, Adam Marianski
Bookmagic LLC
11771 Park Blvd, Seminole, FL 33772
9780982426739, $26.95,

One doesn't need a huge meat factory to make excellent meat. "Home Production of Quality Meats and Sausages" is a guide for the do-it-yourself individual who wants to make their own sausages and other quality meats to put their own spin on these classics. From making good cures to smoking meat and living up the USDA standards, "Home Production of Quality Meats and Sausages" is a top pick for anyone who likes making their own food.

Aspects Of Harpsichord Making In The British Isles
Darryl Martin, et al.
Pendragon Press
PO Box 190, Hillsdale, NY 12529
9781576471531, $56.00,

The fifth volume in the outstanding Pendragon Press 'The Historical Harpsichord' series, "Aspects Of Harpsichord Making In The British Isles" focuses on the 18th Century English harpsichords produced by Shudi and Kirckman, and other British Georgian era makers (including Ferdinand Webert who operated out of Dublin, Ireland). The collaborative effort of Darryl Martin (Curator of the Edinburgh University Collection of Historic Musical Instruments), Jenny Nex (Curator of the Museum of Instruments, Royal College of Music, London), Lance Whitehead and Grant O'Brien, "Aspects Of Harpsichord Making In The British Isles" is composed into three major sections: The Native Tradition in Transition: English Harpsichords circa 1680-1725; The Stringed keyboard Instruments of Ferdinand Weber; and Criteria for the Determination of Original Stringing in Historical Keyboard Instruments: The Cautionary Tale of a 1785 Longman and Broderip Harpsichord. Enhanced with four appendices (including an extensive bibliography), "Aspects Of Harpsichord Making In The British Isles" is a seminal work of extraordinary scholarship and an invaluable addition to academic library reference collections. Also very highly recommended are the four earlier volumes comprising this superbly composed series: "Reconstructing the Harpsichord" (0918728290, $60.00); "The Metallurgy of 17th and 18th-Century Music Wire (0918728541, $46.00); "Bartolomeo Cristofori as a Harpsichord Maker/The Identification and Authentication of Italian Stringed Keyboard Instruments" (0945193262, $52.00); and "Harpsichord Decoration: A Conspectus/A Fable Deconstructed: The 1770 Taskin at Yale" (0945193750, $54.00).

John Burroughs

Carson's Bookshelf

Year Of The Passover
John Hagan
Rauson Group LLC
2313 Lockhill Selma #138, San Antonio, TX 78230
9780982082805, $36.95,

A superbly researched, deftly written, exceptionally well organized and presented, "Year of the Passover: Jesus and the Early Christians in the Roman Empire" is the sequel to author John Hagan's previous work, "Fires of Rome: Jesus and the Early Christians in the Roman Empire" (9780982082812, $36.95). Once again, John Hagan takes the reader back into Roman antiquity and Jewish history to correlate events recorded in both Christian documents and the writings of the Jewish historian Flavius Josephus with the events and personalities of the broader Mediterranean world. The focus is on the crucifixion of Jesus and the relatively unknown role played by the Roman general Lucius Vitellius. Informed and informative, "Year Of The Passover" is a fascinating read, rich with historical detail and a wealth of memorable characters spanning seven generations as we are reintroduced to the early Christian era of first century A.D. Enhanced with the inclusion of a bibliography, an index, and extra features including tables featuring lunar and solar calendars; important descendants of Herod the Great; Empire of Alexander the Great c. 323 B.C.; Roman Empire Mid-First Century A.D.; Jewish East Mid-First Century A.D. (North); and Jewish East Mid-First Century A.D. (South), is a work of exhaustive scholarship and strongly recommended for academic libraries, community libraries, and personal reading lists for anyone with an interest in the historical origins and settings of the emerging first century Christian movement.

Ryan G. Van Cleave
Health Communications, Inc.
3201 S.W. 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442-8190
MM Book Publicity (publicity)
2817 West End Avenue, Suite 126-274, Nashville, TN 37203
9780757313622, $14.95,

One of the charges laid against video gaming is that its addictive nature can isolate susceptible players from developing or participating in relationships by substituting a virtual environment for the real world. "Unplugged: My Journey into the Dark World of Video Game Addiction" is the personal story of Ryan G. Van Cleave, a player in "World of Warcraft" video game who found that his addiction jeopardized his career as a college professor, his family life as a husband and father, and even his mental health and well-being. "Unplugged" is also the story of how video games have advanced in their technology -- and their grip upon their players. A fascinating read that is both informed and informative, "Unplugged" is highly recommended for both academic and community library collections -- and should be considered mandatory cautionary reading for anyone engaged in online video gaming.

No Good Like It Is
McKendree R. Long III
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200, Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781450580786, $15.99,

The pursuit of justice in lawless lands is one endeavor that never proves easy. "No Good Like It Is" tells the story of veteran soldiers Dobey Walls and Jimmy Melton as they travel the eastern wilderness and find that many problems that plague the eastern forests. Working for war widows, freed slaves, bandits, and more, McKendree R. Long puts together a fun read of old west adventure in "No Good Like It Is".

The Killing Mood
Robert Louden
Bookstand Publishing
305 Vineyard Town Center, Suite 302, Morgan Hill, CA 95037
9781589096929, $15.95,

The vengeance of a father is not something to underestimated. "The Killing Mood" tells the story of Dominic Pisa, father of a murdered son and his son's wife. To get vengeance, he must find Joco, a scummy drug peddler who is the one responsible. Along with a reporter out for a good story, Robert Louden gives readers a fun filled action/adventure novel, making "The Killing Mood" very much worth considering.

Kennedy Must Be KIlled
Chuck Helppie
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
Smith Publicity
1930 E. Marlton Pike, Suite I-46, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003
9781440185182, $30.95,

Patriotism sometimes means treason. "Kennedy Must Be Killed" tells the story of Patrick McCarthy, a CIA officer finding himself embroiled in a conspiracy to assassinate JFK, fearful that his political blunders will kill the country. A fascinating tale of conspiracy, the CIA, and so much more, "Kennedy Must Be Killed" is a choice read for anyone looking for a historical thriller.

Doubting Jesus' Resurrection
Kris D, Komarnitsky
Stone Arrow Books
138 East 12300 South, Suite C101, Draper, UT 84020
9780982552803, $14.99

The resurrection of Christ is the biggest leap of faith in Christianity. "Doubting Jesus's Resurrection: What Happened in the Black Box?" looks to explain possible realistic explanations of Christ's resurrection, discussing both the secular and Christian arguments for multiple sides of the argument. Thoughtful and intriguing, "Doubting Jesus's Resurrection" is a solid read for anyone fascinated by Biblical topics.

Rendered Invisible
Frank E. Dobson
Plain View Press
PO Box 42255, Austin, TX 78704
9781935514350, $14.95,

Race is still a hot button topic, and there are those who would exploit it. "Rendered Invisible" is a fictionalization of the .22 Caliber killing spree of Joseph Christopher during the 1980s. Christopher tried to ignite a race war through his actions, and Frank Dobson gives a personal take on the people he killed ad the lives surrounding them. "Rendered Invisible" is a thoughtful and fascinating read, highly recommended.

Falling Off the Bicycle Forever
Michael Rattee
Adastra Press
16 Reservation Road, Easthampton, MA 01027
9780982249550, $16.00

You can't just keep getting up forever. "Falling Off the Bicycle Forever" is a collection of poetry form Michael Rattee, an award winning poet with many works published in many publications as well as many of his own volumes of poetry. With a certain flavor all his own, "Falling Off the Bicycle Forever" is a choice and solidly recommended collection that shouldn't be missed. "A Walk in the Park": You see them walking/an old couple together/they are quiet as though/what was between them/was theirs a long time ago/and to speak now would only/consummate their loss/a sudden blare from the street/makes you look away/when you look back/there you are.

Michael J. Carson

Christy's Bookshelf

Storm Shadows
Caitlyn Hunter
L&L Dreamspell
P.O. Box 1984, Friendswood, TX 77549-1984
9781603182065 $15.95

Long ago, four Cherokee cousins were cursed by the Shamans to eternal life after violating the laws of their tribe. Matt, Luke, Marc and Jon Tassel also possess psychic abilities and each can shift into the form of the animal they are destined to watch over. For years, Marc, a cougar shape-shifter, has had visions of a woman with storm-colored eyes tending to him at his death, but sometimes, in these dreams, the woman dies instead. Betty Sue Corn grew up under the shadow of a beautiful sister and considers herself merely ordinary, with a tendency toward awkwardness to the point of constantly having bruises and cuts from her stumbles. When Jon inadvertently causes Betty Sue's suspension from her job, he offers her his cabin on Eternity Mountain, where Betty Sue hopes to chase a dream or two. When Betty Sue meets Marc by accident, the chemistry between them is intense. Marc, however, realizing Betty Sue is the woman in his dreams, tries to keep his distance from her due to his fear he may cause her death but finds this near-impossible. Betty Sue, tired of her prior timid existence, is not frightened by Marc's ability to shift or his vision of death, and is willing to risk her life to prove this.

The genteel cadence of Hunter's poetic prose draws the reader into a lively story steeped in Cherokee legend, filled with romance sweet and heady and tantalizing. The plot excels, along with characters strong and vivid and intriguing. Betty Sue is fresh and fun, and many women will identify with and root for her. The four Cherokee cousins are not only endowed with pulchritude but each has an appealing persona readers will love. This well-written paranormal romance, book 2 in the Eternal Shadows series, rises above others of its genre due to the author's unique voice as well as her prolific skill with characterization, dialogue and narration. Highly recommended.

Girl Gone Nova
Pauline Baird Jones
L&L Dreamspell
P.O.Box 1984, Friendswood, TX 77549-1984
9781603182041 $18.95,

Delilah Oliver Clementyne (Doc) is a genius whose expertise is making the impossible possible. Doc's secret name is the Chameleon and she fits this moniker well, being able to change herself at will to blend in with whatever situation she finds herself. Doc's aboard the Doolittle, in the Garradian Galaxy, waiting for instructions from her superior, when she meets Helfron Giddioni, leader of the Gadi. Doc is shocked at her attraction for him but there is strife between the Earth ship and the Gadi and war seems imminent. When Doc heads toward the small planet Kikk in order to try to access their weaponry, she is kidnapped by a band of aliens trolling the galaxy, collecting wives for the men on their planet. Doc manages to get away, only to find herself time-traveling with the Gadi leader, trying to avert a war that will destroy her ship and its people while dodging the leader of the wife-stealers, who is intent on having her as his own.

Jones is adept at creating kick-butt women characters who can give as good as they get. Doc is mentally quick and physically lethal. She's a woman who has never felt like she fit in until she meets Giddioni, whom she is instantly attracted to. But that doesn't stop her from doing her job, even if it means battling the Gadi leader and his minions. The action is nonstop, the suspense gut-wrenching, and the plot rollicking fun.

Bart Bare
Canterbury House Publishing
225 Ira Harmon Rd., Vilas, NC 28692-9369
9780982539644 $12.95

Although 14 years old, Loren Creek is independent enough to care for her terminally ill mother while maintaining their small farm. When her mother passes away, Loren fights for emancipation but is ordered into foster care. Unhappy with her foster family, Loren escapes to a small town in North Carolina. To avoid detection, she cuts her hair, dresses like a boy and changes her name to Lorne Land. Loren rents a small house from a mountain man who has little respect for the law and, at his suggestion, pretends to be his grandson. Guised as a boy, she enters high school, where she's easily accepted, and joins the track team her freshman year. Her sophomore year, she joins the football team, earning respect as a kicker. But life isn't easy for Loren; she finds her choice confusing and even dangerous at times and is aware her cover can be blown any moment. Even worse: her foster caseworker is tracking her, slowly getting closer.

Bart Bare has penned a heartwarming tale about a young woman's journey as she loses the only family she thinks she has and gains a more extended family, touching lives along the way. Loren is a wonderful character, an intelligent, independent teenager who is not afraid to live life as she wants and is open to new adventures and friends. The author paints a colorful picture of the people and mountains of North Carolina, further enriching a truly lovely story.

Christy Tillery French

Clark's Bookshelf

April & Oliver
Tess Callahan
Grand Central Publishing
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780446540605 $13.99,

April and Oliver is Tess Callahan's compelling debut novel. She has written for the New York Times Magazine, Cottonwood, The Stylus Anthology - 1950 - 2000, The Boston College Magazine, New York Newsday, and elsewhere.

Opening sentence: "Long before dawn on the morning of the funeral, a rogue wind enters April's apartment, clattering the shells of her wind chime, causing her to bolt upright in bed."

When the story opens, April is at the cemetery. She had just lost her younger brother in a car accident and is experiencing great pain when Oliver, her close childhood friend, comes back to town and tracks her down at the cemetery. He tries to comfort her as he always has been there to protect April.

After several years of separation, it is very apparent that these two people have become strangers and the tension between them is immense. Oliver, an engaged law student appears to be the responsible one and April seemingly stronger, has been involved in an abusive relationship that has made her emotionally unstable. Adding interest to the story, they share some hidden secrets and some unresolved issues between them.

The author is skilled in her ability to explore the complexities of young love and how when two people are brought together later in life, truth has a way of manifesting itself. Her characters are contemporary exuding love and compassion; however, they lack the ability to overcome grief. They do not recognize their childhood romance was not the same as adult love. Clearly, they demonstrate not knowing the significance of commitment as grown-ups.

Callahan has presented a drama-filled novel with a cast of infectious characters you will remember who are believable. You will get to know April and Oliver very well and they will keep you breathless. The sensual attraction for each other sizzles. Love triangles add additional interest to their stories and secondary characters are well-developed adding conflict which focuses more attention on the main characters.

April and Oliver are edgy and unpredictable characters who will entertain you with a flare of the unforgettable classic style reminiscent of Tracy and Hepburn. Tess is a gifted writer and has penned a lovely moving story of loss, longing and romance. This is a memorable experience that awaits the reader with a surprise ending which leaves you hanging and longing for a sequel.

Innocent: The Sequel to "Presumed Innocent"
Scott Turow
Grand Central Publishing
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780446562423 $27.99,

You saw the movie, "Presumed Innocent," you read the book 23 years ago, and maybe wondered what happened to the characters' lives in the span of time since then. Scott Turow in "Innocent" has brought you up-to-date in the lives of the main characters from his previous book.

Oh, you did not read that book? Never saw the movie? So, you do not have a clue as to what has transpired since "Presumed Innocent" because you were born after 1987. Have no fear; this latest mystery takes you back in the first 150 pages to times gone by. The characters are re-introduced, and some new ones are added. However, Rusty Sabich, the main character, who was a former attorney, is now the Chief Appellate Judge and is the main suspect in the death of his wife Barbara. His old nemesis, Tommy Molto, who unsuccessfully prosecuted him for killing his mistress decades earlier, is back with the aid of his chief deputy prosecuting attorney to weave another tale of suspense and mystery.

It is election time for Rusty who seeks a higher court. He has an affair with a former law clerk and also has a breach of judicial ethics by failing to contact authorities until 24 hours after the death of his wife which raises suspicion that he may have poisoned his wife.

Once the foundation is laid, in true lawyerly fashion, the pace picks up speed so that you are literally spellbound turning the pages eagerly to see new revelations. Updated with the use of today's technology, we explore DNA, computer manipulations, and some uniquely sophisticated forensics.

When you read this book, you will get an in-depth education as the up-to-date techniques employed by super-sleuth scientific experts and those seen on television will become more meaningful. The CSI and NCIS shows demonstrate only some of the things about how this new breed of crime solvers operates. "Innocent" goes beyond these popular shows with logical methodology and then very carefully, pulls the rug right out from under you when you least expect it!

What makes this book outstanding is that in true Turow fashion, the reader is entertained, mystified, and very surprised at the twist of events when finishing this book. As you could have guessed by now, this book is highly recommended as an excellent summer read.

The World According to Monsanto
Marie-Monique Robin
The New Press
38 Green Street, 4th floor, NY, NY 10013
9781595584267, $26.95,

Many years ago, "The Silent Spring" by Rachel Carson, evoked such shocking revelations with regard to our senses when it described the catastrophic possibilities by the continued use of pesticides, destruction of our environment, and downfall of the earth as we know it. Through the years there have been awards given for outstanding achievements in media under the Rachel Carson Prize name. "The World According to Monsanto" was a documentary film made by Marie-Monique Robin and took three years to research across four continents as she tied together many stories which exposed Monsanto's lethal product. It received the coveted Rachel Carson award in 2009.

Agent Orange was code named by the military and resulted in the death or disability of over 400,000 people and was recognized as being instrumental in the on-going problems of our servicemen who served in Vietnam. It was manufactured by Monsanto!

"Roundup" is a pesticide which is widely used in agriculture around the world. Genetic Modification of plants and crops was developed by Monsanto to make various seeds resistant to Roundup so that it would kill the weeds without harming the seedlings. Robin's book illustrates the failings of this giant chemical company by not testing or ignoring results of tests upon soil, contaminating nearby crops which were not using their patented seeds, and rendering fertile soil inert over a period of years.

One failing of "The World According to Monsanto" is that there is too much information provided. There are many different stories, many different products, and nations which are affected. Going through this carefully documented book will take time, but is well worth the exercise. It seems that many of the lawmakers in various countries had very little knowledge of the effects of the wonder modifications which made up the product line of Monsanto.

Milk from cows is modified so that it now becomes questionable whether to give it to your children. Many of the interviews conducted by Marie-Monique Robin indicated that scientists, lawmakers, and others with knowledge of how milk could be disastrous to health and well being would only use Organic milk that came from cows which had not been treated with Monsanto's chemicals.

Conflicts in the administration of laws here in the United States have resulted in some loopholes which have also been exposed by Robin. She points out that the Federal Drug Administration had relinquished some authority regarding food safety to the Environmental Protection Agency, when in fact they did not know enough about the genetic modification or drugs which were administered to animals or fused into plants.

Many of the troubles in the United States are repeated in South America, Europe, and Canada. Robin visited all of the places where there seemed to be problems; she interviewed scientists, professors, agency representatives and has developed a classic expose. Even if you do not fully grasp the impact of her revelations, this book will make you think twice about the food you buy at the grocery store. Becoming vegetarian or eating soy products is not necessarily the answer. Soy beans produced today which are genetically modified could be the cause of some concern when you feed them to your children or eat them yourself. Many products are only approved for consumption by animals and somehow they get into the human food chain.

"The World According to Monsanto" highlights a lot of concerns we face today. Mad Cow disease, contamination of food, recalls of some foods, and recent announcements regarding the serving of peanuts on planes. Enlighten yourself and examine this book which is highly recommended. Our family switched to organic milk upon completion of the part about what the Monsanto injections might cause!

The Girl She Used to Be
David Cristofano
Grand Central Publishing
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
978044658221 $13.99,

Have you ever wondered what it would be like to be in the Federal Witness Protection Program? What happens to someone when they lose their identity and disappear from society? David Cristofano takes us into the strange and confusing world of one woman's journey over two decades.

This is David Cristofano's first novel. He has earned degrees in Government and Politics and Computer Science from the University of Maryland at College Park and has worked for various branches of the Federal Government for over a decade. His short stories have been published in various periodicals. He was nominated for the Edgar Allen Poe award for 2010.

Written in the words of Melody Grace McCartney, we experience the secret life of a delightful character that captures your emotions as she grows up in a protected environment. At the age of 6, Melody, along with her mother and father, went into the Federal Witness Protection Program. They had witnessed a cold-blooded murder in an Italian restaurant. Subsequently, her parents were murdered. This is Melody's compelling story about her life from 6 years to 26 years of age as she reluctantly became dependent, powerless, and all decisions were made for her.

Melody was forced to move and acquire new names as she was in danger from the Bovaro family who were out to silence her. Federal agents used her as a pawn in their quest to bury the Bovaro family, but their main purpose was always to keep her safe. Protection required that she be given many different identities, move her to new locations and give her other trappings such as new social security numbers, addresses, and jobs. In addition, when she moved, she had nothing to take with her. She was not allowed any possessions beyond her usual T-shirt, a pair of jeans, underwear and an old pair of sandals. She knew that wherever they took her she would not like it there!

There are so many things Melody needed to give up. She could never acquire assets for fear of a money trail, never a chance of a career, never a family, and no friends. She could not marry nor have children for fear of being identified. Melody was a person who could not plan for the future like ordinary people. Her favorite place to go was to the Hallmark Store. Why? There she would be able to read cards and feel she was a part of someone's life that she would never have. This gave her a feeling of belonging.

After years of seclusion, Melody became bored with her life and created a false threat causing the Federal agents to move her to another location. The plot intensifies when someone calls her by her real name! Jonathon Bovaro had been sent out to find her. A strange, but intriguing relationship develops between Melody and Jonathon; this causes conflict for both the Feds and the Mafioso.

You will need to read the book to find out what happens. This is an astounding emotional experience in the saga of a young woman living in the Program that has not been openly exposed previously. The ending is a surprise! A fantastic first novel for David Cristofano and would make a great original and provocative movie.

This book is highly recommended as another novel to put on your summer reading list.

Clark Isaacs

Daniel's Bookshelf

Long Lost
Harlan Coben
New American Library
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780451229328 $9.99

I like different types of thrillers that don't necessarily follow a typical plotting, and story-line, and Harlan Coben ranks right up there with this paranoid thriller. About thirty years ago Robert Ludlum was the lead in these type of thriller, if my memory served me well. Coben does it with more class and definitely more wit in his dialog.

Myron Bolitar along with his friends including Big Cindy, Esperanza and Win (Windsor Horne Lockwood 3rd) are his support cast for his agency of taking on sports, and other problems for his clients. Myron receives a call from an old flame Terese Collins in Paris. She needs his help and expects him there to help with no questions asked. He makes the trip and learns a secret about a daughter that may be alive after a tragic car accident ten years ago. The daughter maybe linked to a sinister plot that has global implications.

Harlan Coben reaches the New York Bestseller's list on a regular basis, and this novel made it to the top spot once it appeared sometime on the list. Coben's next offering is Caught already released in hard back. I will attempt to get a copy soon.

Nine Dragons
Michael Connelly
Little, Brown and Company
c/o Hachette Book Group, Inc.
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780316166317 $27.99

I enjoy reading books by Michael Connelly no matter who he uses as his main character and this time it's Harry Bosch. Connelly witting falls under one of the best in this genre' and his stories have not only the quick wit and fast paced twisty plotting, but intriguing settings and locations to move the story. In this story he has to travel to Hong Kong to assist in his investigation as the story gets personal.

A liquor story in a tough L. A. neighborhood becomes the murder site and detective Harry Bosch has known its proprietor for years. He still carried the matchbook he got from the store with a motto, "Happy is the man who finds refuge in himself," and has been his guiding light through some of his roughest days. The murder of the store's owner John Li has been a sobering fact to Harry, and he promises the family that he will try to find the killer.

Unfortunately the world he steps in on this case is unknown territory, which leads him to an Asian Gang Unit for help with translation for not just the language, but of the cultural norms with expectations that helped guide Mr. Li's life. He uncovers a Hong Kong triad who are lethal and have a far-reaching crime ring. The crime ring follows many of the immigrants to their new life here in the United States.

This crime ring uses its far reaching connections to make the pursuit of Harry personal right down to taking the person he holds closest to his heart to use as persuasion to back off his investigation and pursuit of people involved in Li's death, because of the triad's collective power. Harry has to travel to Hong Kong and the adventure begins with explosive consequences. He has to go there to regain the person he lost, in the area known as Nine Dragons. As the city's Hungry Ghosts festival burns around him, Bosch puts aside everything he knows, and risks everything to succeed in a desperate attempt to outmatch the triad's ferocity. This story blisters at a fast pace to deliver a story that packs a wallop of quick action, and his conflict becomes the most personal to-date.

Michael Connelly is the author of the best selling Harry Bosch series as well as other best selling books like The Lincoln Lawyer, The Brass Verdict and The Scarecrow. He is a former newspaper reporter who has won numerous awards for his journalism and his novels. He has introduced Mickey Haller and Jack McEvoy along with Rachael Waling as main characters in recent and past novels. His next novel is The Reversal with Mickey Haller teaming up with Harry Bosch. I can't wait to get into that story with two good main characters and possible plot implications.

Daniel Allen

Debra's Bookshelf

An Abundance of Katherines
John Green
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor, New York, NY 10014
9780142410707, $8.99,

When John Green's novel opens it's the morning after high school graduation and Colin Singleton is bemoaning the loss of his girlfriend, the latest in a statistically improbably string of girls named Katherine who have broken up with him. His streak of exclusively dating Katherines--the latest, and most serious, was the 19th--is one of the things that has defined Colin. The other is that he is--or was, at this point--a child prodigy. His ability to remember minutiae is circus-freaky good, and he can anagram anything instantly. But child prodigies don't necessarily grow up to become geniuses capable of original ideas. And Colin is worried that for all his studying and smarts, he won't really matter in the end. If he's not a child prodigy, what is he? By way of dealing with both problems--the hole left by Katherine and his identity crisis--Colin and his friend Hassan embark on a road trip. Unlikely experiences and new relationships result. Eventually, Colin sees a way of dealing with both of his problems through, of all things, a mathematical theorem.

John Green's anagram-laced prose is clever and his story, if unlikely to keep readers up late, turns out to be very sweet. (My only complaint about Green's writing is his over-use of the Norman Mailer-inspired expletive "fugging," which becomes tiresome very fast.) The book is packed with interesting information--stuff Colin injects into his conversations because he doesn't know his audience well enough to keep quiet, but also stuff Green puts in the footnotes. (For example, we're told that Nikola Tesla was unusually fond of pigeons, and he reportedly said of one particular bird, "I loved that pigeon. I loved her as a man loves a woman.") If you have any smart YA readers in your life, this one may be for them.

Look Closely
Laura Caldwell
Mira Books
c/o Harlequin
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780778321835 $6.99,

Hailey Sutter is a high-powered attorney up for partner at her father's Manhattan law firm. An important arbitration meeting brings her to Chicago, not far from her childhood home, which she left abruptly at the age of seven after her mother's death. Her receipt of an anonymous note shortly before her trip leads Hailey to visit her old neighborhood and start asking the questions she's been afraid to ask before: how did her mother die, and why did her death lead to the dissolution of Hailey's family? (She hasn't seen her brother and sister in more than twenty years.) Hailey's investigation, meanwhile, stirs up some long-forgotten memories, but they are frustratingly incomplete. Throughout, Hailey's father, though mostly off-scene, looms as a menacing entity.

Upon reflection, having finished Look Closely, I would argue that the premise is hard to swallow. And Hailey's repressed memories--which so often bring her just to the point of grasping something important--are interrupted too often by noises or someone talking to her, so that the pattern of memory followed by interruption seems lazy. But while reading the book I was for the most part thoroughly engrossed. Caldwell does a great job of keeping us guessing about the bad guy and worrying about the truth that Haley is slowly uncovering. This one was a page turner.

The Clouds Roll Away
Sibella Giorello
Thomas Nelson Publishers
PO Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214
9781595545343, $14.99,

The Clouds Roll Away is the third installment in Sibella Giorello's series of Christian-themed mysteries featuring forensic geologist Raleigh Harmon. Raleigh works for the FBI and is stationed back in Richmond Virginia, her home town, after a stint in Seattle, where she'd been sent on a disciplinary transfer in a earlier outing. I've not read the previous two books in the series, and so had to glean what back story I could from this novel. It's not always perfectly clear, coming at it fresh in this third book, exactly what's going on. Raleigh lives with her mother, or in the carriage house of her mother's mansion. Her father was killed some years before this novel starts, and his death weighs heavily on the family. The loss may be what's behind her mother's strange behavior: depression, or dementia, or some kind of mental illness, though she seems to be capable of functioning for the most part. They have a boarder named Wally who has some emotional claim on the family, but it's not really clear what that comes from. There's also a love interest whom Raleigh seems to have mixed feelings about, and a superior who has it in for her. Professionally speaking, Raleigh has two issues on her plate in this outing, a hate crime committed against a big-name rapper, RPM, and a drug sting, with some overlap between the two. I like that Raleigh's specialty is forensic geology because it's not the sort of career one runs across often in novels, but her expertise isn't called upon as often as one would like. Her interactions with the local police and her colleagues sometimes seem to be delivered in shorthand, so that I wasn't always completely clear on what was going on.

Giorello's prose is laced with some nicely written, almost poetic patches. The character of Raleigh is reasonably well drawn, but I felt unconnected to everyone else in the story (though RPM is an intriguing character). The book counts as Christian fiction, and Raleigh's faith figures in the story intermittently. Sometimes the references feel a little out of place, however, as if they were added as an afterthought.

On the whole, a mixed bag: the prose is good but the story and characters are sometimes confusing. But I might have had a different reaction to it had I read the first two books in the series first.

Debra Hamel, Reviewer

Donahue's Bookshelf

Jury of Her Peers
Elaine Showalter
Alfred A. Knopf
c/o Random House
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, NY, NY 10019
9781400041237, $16.95,

This literary history, organized chronologically over 350 years of American women's literature, makes distinctions, selections, and judgments over this often overlooked segment of American history. The title is based on the 1917 short story by Susan Glaspell called, "A Jury of Her Peers". The theme of Susan Glaspell's short story raises the moral question of how a patriarchal world can fairly judge a woman's value. In the case of "Jury of Her Peers: American Women Writers from Anne Bradstreet to Annie Proulx", a woman's guilt is in question; but Elaine Showalter then extrapolates the theme to that of the futility of women writers being judged as writers by a patriarchal world of publishers and editors.

This 500-page, very-readable history is for those who love literature--especially American literature - and even more precisely, little-known women's literature. It unfolds and reveals a rich panorama of our history. How did the author approach such a voluminous task, and what distinguishes women's literature from literature written by men? Elaine Showalter clarifies that she is not basing her distinctions or judgments on biology or any sexual differences; but, rather, on societal pressures on women over these 350 years as opposed to the pressures and roles of men. From such a broad and sometimes obscure history, the author focuses her search for women who wrote for publication as opposed to women who wrote diaries, letters, recipes, etc. She also focuses on traditional literary genres - poems, plays, and fiction as well as popular fiction, girls' books, hit plays, and satiric verses. Negotiating the task of writing as a vocation with the
other daily tasks of women throughout our history is a constant challenge that runs throughout these writers' lives. And inviting us into their lives to see how they did it all was fascinating. How they all juggled their writing careers tells us something about the cultural changes constantly occurring.

This author identifies the first phase in women's writing to be analogous to all cultural history at this point; "the prolonged phase of imitation of prevailing modes…"; the phase of "protest against these modes along with its corresponding advocacy of independent rights and values"; and, third, the phase of self discovery". Or more bluntly put, "feminine, feminist, and female."

Whatever your reason for picking up this tome, you cannot help but be intrigued by all the authors names and want to rush to your community library. Susan Glaspell's story, "Jury of Her Peers," can be found on the Internet along with a few others. A truly grand accomplishment that is keeping literature alive and teaches us there is no end to learning.

A Chance Meeting
Rachel Cohen
Random House
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, NY, NY 10019
1400061644, $25.95,

If you have even the slightest curiosity of the lives of famous American writers, poets, artists, or otherwise cultural icons-this book is for you. How would you like to visit Mathew Brady in his studio in New York City when he photographs Walt Whitman? How about walking alongside Mark Twain in Boston as he enters the publishing office of William Dean Howells to thank him for a great review? Or witness the intersection between the lives of writer Katherine Anne Porter and tragic poet Hart Crane in Mexico in the early 1930s. Each chapter introduces a meeting between two or three famous figures ranging in time from the Civil War Era to the Civil Rights Era, over a period of 100 years. Alfred Stieglitz pops up in three different "meetings" as a central figure of importance to the avant-garde at the turn of the century. I also enjoyed the chance meetings between younger figures and their older mentors such as Willa Cather and her mentor Sarah Orne

Jewett, or Alfred Stieglitz and Edward Steichen. For humor, the story of the genesis of Marcel Duchamp's urinal "the Fountain" was well worth it; or Zora Neale Hurston's anthropological measuring of heads in New York City streets that made me chuckle. It turns icons into people and gives us a glimpse of what might have been. If you are looking for biography, this is not it; but you will end up a little richer in your who's who in American culture list. Each 'meeting' is the spark which brings the 'chance meeting', then the author interweaves short histories of the characters involved, to return again to the original spark of the 'chance meeting' in the first place. Each visit or encounter has notes in the back of the book, which explain where the idea germinated. All of these chance meetings are backed up with a smorgasbord of evidence, even more to the reader's delight to find an impressive and tantalizing bibliography for
further reading.

In "A Chance Meeting: Intertwined Lives of American Writers and Artists, 1854-1967", author Rachel Cohen researches and expands biographies to create 36 chapters, each depicting a hypothetical meeting among 30 well-known (at least to the student of American history) cultural icons. The author, Rachel Cohen, calls this "imaginative fiction." I prefer to call it "imaginative nonfiction." But, nevertheless, an interesting slant on biography for 30 American cultural icons. Grab a cup of tea and let your imagination soar.

American Literature's repertoire can use books with unique perspectives like this. Historical works and biographies can be too limited, too large, and too pedantic as a sole reading source for the literature lover. So I applaud this new perspective and the work it took to bring it all together. As a teacher, I would like to see more of this for the secondary marketplace to reach the imagination of students.

American Gothic
Thomas Hoving
Chamberlain Bros.
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor, NY, NY 10014
1596091487, $13.95,

A different kind of biography, Thomas Hoving opens the door to the general public in this enchanting synopsis of Grant Wood's painting, American Gothic. He greets us with a question as though holding our hands on an intrepid journey. He encourages us to look and "..write down what comes to mind in the first thousandth of a second, the blink of an eye, when looking at the illustration of American Gothic." We breath a sign of relief---we need only rely on our eyes. After all, greeted by the Director of the Metropolitan Museum of Art in New York City from 1967 to 1977, giving you a personal viewing of one painting can hasten the heart rate. But we are not expected to draw upon our minuscule understanding of an esoteric art form or offer up an historical analysis, but, rather, just use our eyes. ".to look at every millimeter of the work, front, back, and sides, and walk right inside the artist's mind." (page 15) Think of the author as
a docent, asking you for your own gut feeling about the work, followed by a near-erudite analysis of the piece, then, once again, back to yourself, "after you have peeled American Gothic apart like an onion." (page 126)

"American Gothic: The Biography of Grant Wood's American Masterpiece" moves on in this manner. We listen attentively without the over loaded jargon of an art historical analysis. This book is user-friendly which makes it so appealing. Only 122 pages of actual text, Hoving guides the reader on what to ask of a painting and what this painting has given to the American culture. Simple, down-to-earth language is in keeping with the style of this regionalist, countrified image.

Other than seeing this painting (at the Art Institute of Chicago) with a renewed eye, this little book is a pedagogical handbook on how to look at art written with the layperson in mind---"as connoisseurs..we're going to be primarily---even obsessively---interested in the simple reality of the work itself and how good or bad it is." Hoving covers everything; from the genesis of the painting, to the almost celebrity status of the artist, its short-lived demise, and finally to the renewed recognition as an icon of American Fine Art.

I love it for its brevity and its broad appeal, although I do wish the illustrations were a bit more extensive. Next time you are in Chicago, make sure you read this book before you go to the Art Institute.

Gay Donahue

Edward's Bookshelf

The Third Rail
Michael Harvey
Alfred A. Knopf
1745 Broadway, 10th Fl., NY, NY 10019
9780307272508, $24.95,

This novel, set in present day Chicago, opens with the murder of two innocent citizens by an evil tandem, Robles and Nelson. The Chicago Police Department is perplexed as the carnage continues.

Enter Michael Kelly, a former Chicago detective, now an independent P.I., drafted by Chicago's Mayor to unravel the mystery of these seemingly random crimes. Kelly quickly brings his skillset to bear on the murder spree and he is contacted by Robles and Nelson, and the hunt begins. Along the way, Kelly's girlfriend, Rachel Swanson, A Chicago Judge, is abducted and in great danger.

Author, Michael Harvey, relates a complex and compelling story fraught with violence. An added plus is his great knowledge of the seamier side of the city of Chicago. This crime novel is highly recommended.

Karl Marlantes
Atlantic Monthly Press
841 Broadway, New York, NY 10003
9780802119285, $24.95,

The year is 1969, the place, an isolated hill located between Laos and the DMZ in South Vietnam. A company of marines is readying themselves to patrol north to cut off the supply lines of the NVA, the regular North Vietnamese Army.

Enter Second Lieutenant Waino Mellas, Princeton educated, and new to the war. So begins the adventures of Bravo Company in the sweltering jungles of Vietnam.

Mellas reports to Company Commander Fitch and Executive Officer Hawke who assign him to lead their First Platoon. He is cautioned to let the sergeants direct combat activities until he gains his "sea legs." He accepts the advice, but later distinguishes himself in firefights with the enemy.

The author, a highly decorated Marine veteran of the Vietnam War, provides enormous insight into the risks and dangers, the violence and sudden death of men in combat.

This novel is believable and compelling; with a shattering climax that stuns the reader. Mr. Marlantes has crafted a day-to-day chronicle of one Marine company's sacrifices to win a war which, ultimately, could not be won.

The novel, Mr. Marlantes' first, ranks with the best Vietnam books to emerge from that conflict. I recommend this story to anyone interested in understanding the nature of Marines in battle and the impact that daily combat had on these warriors.

The Unlikely Spy
Daniel Silva
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor, NY, NY 10014
9780451209306, $9.99,

After reviewing Dan Silva's most recent novel, Moscow Rules, I set out to read his first novel, The Unlikely Spy, published in 1995.

Middle-aged, frumpy professor, Alfred Vicary, leaves his post at University College in May, 1940 without explanation. He has, in fact, been summoned by his friend, Winston Churchill, Prime Minster, to serve his country in England's Secret Service, known as MI5.

MI5, the imperial Security Intelligence Service, was housed in an office building at 58 St. James Street, London. The work of the agency, simply stated, was counterintelligence, which meant protecting England's secrets and, further, to root out spies, either turning them or executing them.

Just before the outbreak of war, the Abwehr, the Nazi Secret Service, sent hundreds of sleeper spies to England to be utilized after hostilities began. Vicary, now a major, whose primary job was to locate the spies and use them to send false information back to their homeland, had great success in finding the spies and utilizing them for counterintelligence purposes. One, however, Catherine Blake, who posed as a nurse in a London hospital, eluded their net.

The thrust of the story revolves around the allies' desire to keep the D-Day invasion planned for Normandy, France a secret. Vicary and his staff utilized brilliant chess moves to stymie the work of Catherine Blake and her Nazi handlers. She has started a love affair with an American Naval Commander, Peter Jordan, who is integral to the successful run-up to D-Day and, therefore, is a great source of invasion information for her.

The author presents an enthralling story full of plot twists and unexpected violence with a climax that will shock and thrill the reader.

Major Alfred Vickary, a confirmed bachelor, who dislikes wearing uniforms, may be the greatest spymaster, in fiction, since John le Carre' gave a thankful readership, George Smiley of Tinker, Tailor, Soldier, Spy, another quiet man who drove Russia's MKVD mad in the seventies.

In his first novel, Daniel Silva shows the promise that will be fulfilled in later books featuring Gabriel Allon, an Israeli superspy, posing as restorer of famous paintings. He is one of our top writers in the international thriller genre.

Edward Smith

Erica's Bookshelf

Eric Jay Dolin
W. W. Norton & Company, Inc.
500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110
9780393331578, $15.95,

Leviathan is a comprehensive chronicle of whaling in the United States from pre-colonial times to the early 20th century. The book is organized chronologically with sections devoted to each of the main periods in whaling history. Each part details the unique features of the period, both social and technical, such as changes in tools, ship design, hunting locations, key home ports, the laws and regulations governing the industry, uses for whale oil and bone, and the obstacles and dangers of whaling. During the 18th and 19th centuries especially, the world's leading countries vied with each other to dominate the best whaling areas in order to guarantee their own supply of oil and grow rich by selling it to others, making the industry an important political issue. Even earlier, the quest for whale oil motivated the colonization of North America. The book also contains many personal anecdotes from the lives of the unique characters involved in the whaling trade to supplement the broader narrative. Tall tales abound. Those who enjoy Leviathan might also try Mark Kurlansky's book Cod: A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World.

October Fury
Peter A. Huchthausen
c/o Wiley Professional/Trade Group
111 River Street, Hoboken, NJ 07030
9780471468844, $15.95,

Huchthausen tells the riveting story of the Cuban Missile Crisis from the perspective of the Soviet and American seamen who experienced it. A junior officer on the destroyer USS Blandy at the time, Huchthausen draws on his own memories and those of many others to reconstruct the events of October 1962. Generally ignoring the political side, he focuses on the moment-by-moment actions of the men on the scene, primarily the Soviet submarine commanders. Huchthausen admires and honors these men for their courage and skill but underlines the handicaps they were given by their government, which failed to properly plan or equip the mission and kept the submariners in ignorance of daily events. A sprinkling of humor is added from the author's own life on board the USS Blandy. Overall, October Fury makes for a great read.

Animals in Translation
Temple Grandin & Catherine Johnson
Mariner Books
c/o Houghton, Mifflin, Harcourt
15 East 26th Street, 15th Floor, NY, NY 10010
0156031442, $15.00,

The subtitle, Using the Mysteries of Autism to Decode Animal Behavior, only scratches the surface of this remarkable book. Grandin is both autistic and a PhD in animal behavior who has spent most of her life studying and analyzing both animals and autistics. While the main thrust of the book is understanding how animals think, learn, and feel, there are also fascinating sidetracks into the workings of the human brain and the differences in perception between autistics and other people. Not until college did Grandin begin to realize that most people thought in words instead of exclusively in pictures as she did. She then discovered that this gave her an advantage when trying to understand animals because they appear to be visual thinkers as well. Grandin writes in a straight-forward, conversational style that is enjoyable and easy to follow. She is also the author of Thinking In Pictures, which is more specifically about autism and her own life.

Erica Dorsey

Gary's Bookshelf

Quincy ME. The Television Series
James Rosin
Bear Manor Media
P.O Box 71425, Albany, Georgia 31708
9781593934545, $19.95,

This is another great book by Rosin that goes behind the scenes of the hit TV series. I was very impressed with how much input Jack Klugman had with the show. Most actors play their roles but have very little other involvement in the creative process. Rosin shows why Klugman was able to make the show work so well. There are episode guides, pictures galore, and lots of interesting things many of us never knew about the show.

Simon Wood
Leisure Books
c/o Dorchester Publishing Company
200 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016
9780843963670, $7.99

Stephen Tarbell gets a poor performance evaluation from his supervisor Gwen. Later after work he threatens her if she does not change it. Thus begins this great tense novel that races along with nail biting tension. This author is a master at taking a simple situation and making it suspenseful.

Steve Helling
Da Capo Press
c/o Perseus Books Group
11 Cambridge Center, Cambridge, MA 02142
9780306819506, $25.00,

Helling delves into the Tiger Woods' scandal and shows the real Tiger very few people really know. What emerges is that Tiger does what he wants and everyone is supposed to accept that. Helling shows the relationship of Tiger and his dad, his mother and Tiger's incredible rise to fame. I was very interested in this book by someone who had been in the inner circle of Tiger's press friends. The picture depicted is not very flattering and is sure to change people's perception of the world famous golfer.

Red Moon
Chris Berman
Xpress Yourself Publishing LLC
P.O. Box 1615
Upper Marlboro, Maryland 20773
9780979939817, $15.95,

China has taken over the moon in the near future and will not work with Russia, Europe and the United States. The first female president of the United States enlists the aid of a former NASA astronaut to end the Chinese domination. A team is assembled to stop the Chinese from going any further. At every turn the plan has complications the team has only sixty days to launch their offensive. At every turn they run into complications created by the Chinese. The plan must not fail. The novel is a fast read with believable situations and characters. The story is a what if situation based on our present course to now go back to the moon in the next few years. "Red Moon" is a Ben Bova type of science fiction novel.

Grammar Rulz!
Erik Ortman
Maupin House
2416 NW 71st Place, Gainesville, Fl 32653
9781934338650 $23.95

People are killing the English language every day by not speaking it properly. The populace make mistakes in tenses and words that should be used and many of them are educated with college degrees. This book though written for kids has a lot that adults could learn properly. The book is easy to follow and has a lot of sound advice to help solve the problem.

Robert Lusetich
1230 Avenue of the Americas NY, NY 10020
9781439160954 $26.00

This is a book about Tiger Woods, the athlete. Even with the subtle things the author shows about him readers, will come away with a totally different perception of Tiger Woods. Lusetich talks about Woods and how he tells off color and sexually explicit jokes on the course, he is not a big tipper in restaurants and he is possibly involved in a sickening tasteless contest with other golfers. Lusetich does reveal that when police went to talk to Tiger after his accident, he was not even in the state of Florida. For anyone who likes Tiger Woods, I suggest they read this book and the others to decide if they still like him.

The Baby Boomer Horror and Sci-Fi Movie Trivia Book
John Catapano
2249 14th St. SW, Akron OH 44314
9780692005385, $15.00,

This is great trivia book that is all about the movies of science fiction and horror from the 1950's and 1960's. The questions and answers are fun reading and will keep readers on their toes about these great movies. Oddly enough there is even a section of James Bond. It relates because many of the stars have been in many horror and science fiction films. "The Baby Boomer Horror and Sci-Fi Movie Trivia Book" is interesting reading for trivia buffs.

I'll Hold Your Hand So You Won't Fall
Rasheda Ali
Foreword by Muhammad Ali
Merit Publishing
5840 Corporate Way Suite 200, Palm Beach, FL 33407
16734313130, $14.95,

With "I'll Hold Your Hand So You Won't Fall: A Child's Guide To Parkinson's Disease", Rasheda Ali has written a book geared to kids that has a lot of information adults could use to learn about Parkinson's disease. There are numerous questions and answers in easy to understand language. There is a wealth of information that everyone can use to comprehend Parkinson's

The Art of Selling You: Your Edge in Life for the Art of Living
Jeffrey J. Halperin Life
9780976396086, $19.95

There are lots of books about selling on the market but "The Art of Selling You Your Edge in Life for the Art of Living" is very different because Life Coach and professional sales trainer Jeffrey Halperin talks about how what you learn from selling can apply to your everyday life as well. One of the things he tells readers is that in order to sell you have to be a good listener. This is the first book to demonstrate that aspect. He also explains the importance of appearance and having confidence. The author has a lot to say in a clear and concise style that is very helpful for anyone any age.

Hero at Large
Janet Evanovich
Harper Fiction
c/o HarperCollins
10 53rd Street New York, NY 10022-5299
9780061985942, $7.99,

Long before the Stephanie Plum capers, Evanovich wrote 12 short romance novels that quickly went out of print. Readers are fortunate that Harper Collins has re-published most of them. "Hero at Large" is the first of them and it is a fun tale that is a quick read that will have readers laughing out loud. The dialogue is snappy and the story moves along briskly with characters that are delightful.

Earth Strike: Star Carrier Book One
Ian Douglas
c/o Harper Collins
10 53rd Street New York, NY 10022-5299
9780061840258 $7.95

"Earth Strike" is the first of a science fiction series by Ian Douglas which launches a war that Planet Earth has to win. The Sh'dar an alien race of beings, is on a path to destroy anything in its way. Earth is just one of the planets that are to be its target. Humans know they are on the way because intelligence gathering organizations have relayed to the highest authorities that Earth is one of the objectives of this species. The situation is critical. Humans have only so much time to prepare for the onslaught of foreign beings

The novel appears to have everything that would make for an excellent science fiction tale. It's got military personnel, faster than light speed ships, aliens that are out to destroy anything in their path much like the Borg from "Star Trek"

What the novel does not have is human characters that you really care about. The story is filled with lots of people, and the writing races along but I found I really had no one that I really have a concern for. They are just military soldiers caught up in a war to save humanity.

I've not read anything else by this author and don't really want to because one of the complaints many readers and I have of newer science fiction is that the writers tell stories that are filled with great gadgets, lots of fighting, knowledge of science, but are lacking in characters that you empathize with. One of the reasons authors like Asimov, Clarke, and Heinlein are still in print today is they did not concentrate on the technology but rather how it affected the people in the story. The populace was also believable and if it was a war with any creature from outer space you wanted the humans to win. Here I really don't care what happens.

Chris Berman's "The Hive" is a much better read on the same type of situation because; you like and care about his characters as they face the alien menace.

Dennis Danvers
c/o Harper Collins
10 53rd Street New York, NY 10022-5299

College professor Erik Summers has a situation any person would love: two beautiful women competing for his affection. On the one hand there is his next door neighbor Alice White; on the second hand his recently divorced ex wife Debra. To add to his circumstances there are several female students who are also in love with him. As if that were not enough conflict, Alice is in therapy about a secret that she finally reveals to Eric.

"Wilderness" is classified in the horror genre and is easy to see once the secret is revealed why. The author fills the story with believable characters caught up in the web that is cast by Alice. The situation she is dealing with is real but no one believes her until her closet life is revealed.

What made the tale more interesting was the character Debra, who divorced Eric and wants him back just for the fun of it and to create a wedge in the relationship he has with Alice.

I found this novel to be one of the most fascinating novels I have read in a long time. What Alice does with dog food when she does not own one is very interesting and memorable as well as the way in which her underground life is revealed makes for a shocking revelation. What makes this more remarkable is that the people Dennis Danvers writes about are not so far fetched. They are realistic caught up in the some conflicts that are similar to ones we all face every day. Wilderness is a first class read that should be at the top of anyone's list who likes a good horror or fantasy page turner.

Gary Roen

Gloria's Bookshelf

A Thousand Cuts
Simon Lelic
375 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780670021505, $24.95,

The pivotal event in this masterful debut novel takes place in the opening pages, at first from the point of view of a 13-year-old schoolboy who was not even present when it occurred, "it" being a school shooting when a relatively newly hired teacher shot to death three students and a colleague before killing himself. An event readers may recognize in its similarity to others which have taken place around the world in the recent past with horrific frequency.

The p.o.v. switches to that of D.I. Lucia May of the CID [the only female member of that organization, a not insignificant factor in the unfolding tale], as she takes witness statements trying to come up with an explanation for the seemingly inexplicable. The shooting took place in an assembly hall where the topic of discussion was to have been Violence, and its close cousin [and something also much in the news of late], school bullying. The latter seems almost too innocuous a term for such a psyche- and soul-damaging practice, something thoroughly explored in this novel as it sheds a much-needed light on the subject.

Numerous other points of view are presented in the course of DI May's inquiries to offer perhaps some insight and perspective into the mind-set of the killer. London's oppressive summer heat becomes a palpable presence as she goes about the investigation, in the course of which she learns things she, and certainly her superiors, might have been better off not knowing. She, and the reader, comes to understand the desperation that culminated in the shooting. At times difficult to read, the novel will leave few untouched. Recommended.

Laughed 'til He Died
Carolyn Hart
10 E. 53rd St., NY, NY 10022
9780061453090, $24.99,

The 20th entry in this charming series brings back Annie Darling, proprietor of Death on Demand mystery bookstore, and her husband, Max, among other things proprietor of Confidential Commissions. One of Max's other interests is the Haven, a youth recreation center where he volunteers. The shocking death of a teen who frequented the Haven is quickly followed by the killing of Booth Wagner, a pompous, wealthy retired businessman who had been intent in replacing the Haven's director, Jean Hughes. The latter had pleaded with Annie and Max to intervene to save her job. When she becomes the prime suspect in Wagner's death, their efforts evolve into a murder investigation.

Wagner was a man who "saw most things as a big joke unless the laugh was on him," and the list of enemies he'd made is long and varied. Max is a man who always keeps his promises, and he promises Jean he will get to the bottom of things. There are many with motives, and he thinks "How could he judge what mattered enough to make one of these people kill?"

All the usual characters, human and feline, are present: Laurel, Max's empathic, much-married and libidinous mother, and her investigative-minded friends; Agatha, the plump black cat who rules the bookstore, and Dorothy L, the fluffy white cat who "reigns supreme at home." The book, as always, is replete with the names of worthy mystery authors, one of the many delights of Ms. Hart's series, as are the descriptions of Broward's Rock, the South Carolina sea island where the action takes place.

The writing seemed a bit padded and repetitious at times, slowing down the pace, but overall it is a well-plotted mystery with characters the reader can always look forward to meeting again, and it is recommended.

Going, Gone
Laura Crum
Perseverance Press
c/o John Daniel & Company
P.O. Box 2790, McKinleyville, CA 95519
9781880284988, $14.95,

Lovely descriptions of the natural world are only one part of the gorgeous writing. A wholly satisfying mystery is another part of the equation. But for me, only slightly exposed to the beauty of horses as a young girl, the most captivating part of the novel (as with the prior book in the series, Chasing Cans) was the love of and appreciation for the animals which were among the most fully realized characters in the book. Not to take away from the humans at all, I am quick to add. Gail McCarthy, 45-year-old veterinarian with a home near California's Monterey Bay, is very like her creator, surrounded by four-footed creatures - horses, dogs and cats as well as chickens - and her husband and young son. When they decide to visit Gail's old boyfriend, Lonny, in the Central Valley, upon their arrival they find him about to be arrested on murder charges.

Gail is convinced that Lonny is innocent of the crimes, though the evidence is damning: The gun that had killed Lonny's girlfriend and her brother, found on the floor near the bodies, belonged to Lonny, and only his fingerprints are on it. The deputy sheriff sent to arrest him is a childhood friend of Gail, and, unofficially, he and Gail set out to prove that someone else committed the murders when the detective assigned to the case is certain they've already got their man.

Wild chase scenes are ubiquitous in mystery novels, but none as wonderfully realized as the ones atop four-footed animals depicted here. Also typical of Ms. Crum's writing is this passage: "And here we were. For just this moment, in a perfect world. I stared down at the sunlight gleaming on Sunny's silvery-gold neck and glanced at Mac's happy, open face. I let my eyes drift around the wide spaces that surrounded us, a tapestry of hills and sea and sky. For a second my heart clutched. I want to hold us in this moment forever. Free and happy and whole, on our horses, on the roof of our world. But moments can't be held." The book is an unabashed pleasure to read, and is recommended.

Random Violence
Jassy Mackenzie
Soho Crime
853 Broadway, NY, NY 10003
9781569476291, $25.00,

Jade deJong, the headstrong protagonist of this terrific new novel, is a p.i. who has left her native South Africa, but following a ten-year absence has returned after, most recently, doing surveillance work in England. Her father, before his death, had been police commissioner in Johannesburg, described as a city filled with crime and brutality. The tale opens with the brutal murder of a young woman in what initially appears to have been an attempted carjacking, the first but hardly the last violent act in this novel.

Jade, thirty-four years old, has long-standing relationships with two men, who couldn't be less alike: David, a cop who trained under her father's mentorship and is now a Superintendent in the Johannesburg Central police headquarters, with whom she has a chaste friendship which she would like to see evolve into something more intimate; and Robbie, a small-time gangster whose own attempts at intimacy she rejects, but who serves a purpose. She has timed her return home with the expected release from prison of a convicted murderer who she blames for her father's death. Ultimately, her sense of justice, and her determination to see it done, provides her motivation despite some narrow escapes and the continuing jeopardy in which she finds herself.

The author, who was raised in South Africa, has written a debut novel which brings the country to gritty life, a fast-paced and gripping tale with memorable characters. Readers, including this one, can look forward to her follow-up entry in the series, due out in 2011.


Devil's Keep
Phillip Finch
Pocket Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Sixth Ave., NY, NY 10020
9781439168561, $7.99,

Bravo Cell One Nine was a covert team, a secret entity trained by American security and intelligence agencies, put together for the first time sixteen years previously. Raymond Favor, 28 years old; Arielle Bouchard, age twenty-two; Alex Mendonza, twenty-five; and Winston Stickney, thirty-one. Disparate personalities and backgrounds, each with his or her own area of expertise. The history behind the program? "Bravo sent teams . . . into foreign lands under deep cover to undertake the nation's riskiest and most sensitive tasks, the darkest of black ops: kidnapping, sabotage, assassination. Bravo agents were multilingual, highly intelligent, adaptable, and resourceful. They were also fully deniable." After five years of service, in a mutual decision, they all resigned. Now each financially independent, the team reassembles for what they believe is simply to "do a little good deed and then . . . just a vacation to . . . have some fun." But you know what they say about good deeds.

The good deed in question entails finding an eighteen-year-old girl and her twin brother who disappeared within days of each other. She had not been seen since leaving her village in the Philippines and boarding a bus to Manila, 22 hours away, for a promised job. Her close-knit family is unable to trace her movements since that time, and her brother follows her path to Manila when no word is received from her. What does not initially seem a very complex task evolves into a grim mission which endangers all their lives.

Favor is somewhat like Lee Child's Jack Reacher, down to the alarm clock in his head as well as his lethal capabilities, albeit with a difference. He has recently become introspective, and conflicted about the things he has done in the past. And he definitely is not a peripatetic loner who discards his clothing and purchases new apparel when the need arises.

This is a fast-moving, exciting thriller truly deserving of the appellation. Billed as "A Bravo Cell One Nine Novel," this reader will definitely look forward to the next one. Highly recommended.

The Deputy
Victor Gischler
Tyrus Books
1213 N. Sherman Ave. Unit 306, Madison WI 53704
9781935562009, $14.95,

The setting for this book is Coyote Crossing, a sleepy little town in western Oklahoma whose young people generally share a common desire: to leave as soon as possible. Toby Sawyer was one of those, but he has returned home at age twenty-five for the funeral of his mother, was bequeathed the family trailer, took a job as a part-time deputy for the police department, and married a girl who waitresses in a local diner after 'doing the right thing' when she became pregnant. He is given to referring to the toddler, Toby Austin Sawyer Jr., who he adores, as "the boy." The author describes the trailer park where he lives as "a dingy collection of twenty trailers all waiting for a twister to come along and put them out of their misery." Toby had never killed anyone, never been arrested. Never seen a dead body. But all that is about to change.

The novel is laced with humor, despite the fact that it opens on a hot August night with our hero standing guard over the dead body of a local man, one of a clan described as "a bunch of redneck hoods with a finger or two into every disreputable scheme within reach," who had been shot nine times. Told by the Sheriff to stand guard over the body, Toby manages to lose it - not a good thing for a young man hoping to make a career in law enforcement. Matters take a decidedly grimmer turn as the tale progresses.

While penned in a mostly light-hearted vein, the book swiftly evolves into a gripping page-turner. There are cameo appearances by a Doberman named Lucifer and a 96-year-old grandmother not to be trifled with. All part of a highly entertaining, wonderfully written novel, which is highly recommended.

[It should perhaps be noted that the book has also been released in hardcover, ISBN 9781935562016, $24.95].

The Sandbox
David Zimmerman
Soho Press
853 Broadway, N.Y., NY 10003
9781569476284, $25.00,

In his debut novel, David Zimmerman's territory, literally and figuratively, is the frequently discomfiting one of Iraq and the ongoing war there. The reader is immediately thrust into the conflict on the first page when Pvt. Toby Durant discovers the dead body of a naked child in the middle of the road while riding in a Humvee in a convoy in the 118 degree heat. But that sighting becomes the least horrifying part of the scene.

Durant, stationed in the desert which his buddies call "the sandbox," has learned to do without some of the basic necessities: ready-made cigarettes, toilet paper, coffee filters, making do with "trash when they don't send us the right equipment." But it's the sights and sounds that really get to him. In his mid-twenties and with a pregnant girlfriend back home to whom he is engaged, he is determined to "get through my war. Work on one thing at a time and only think of that. Then go on to the next thing." The reader coming into this book with certain convictions regarding the controversial issues of the continuing presence of foreign troops, and of war in general, will find nothing here to quell them. But that is only the starting point in this novel, as Durant uncovers pervasive corruption on a level and to a degree that only heightens the jeopardy confronting him and the men with whom he serves.

Not an easy book to read, it is, however, well worth the effort. Recommended.

Snakes Can't Run
Ed Lin
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9780312569884 $24.99 646-307-5560

Nominally a mystery, the main thrust of this novel is the Asian experience in the United States, more particularly in the Chinatown of New York City. The protagonist, Robert Chow, is a Vietnam vet and an alcoholic [sober for three months as the tale opens]. He is also a cop, now on detective track, formerly the "token" NYPD prop at various Chinatown community events, trotted out for photo ops at ribbon-cutting ceremonies and the like. He finds that "everybody largely avoided me, for a variety of reasons, including my race, my profession, and my past instability due to alcoholism."

This reviewer is somewhat abashed to admit that I, a lifelong New Yorker, was unaware of the distinctions instantly made among the Chinese factions within the community, an ignorance which I suspect is shared by most non-members of that community, one which won't cooperate with the police to report criminal elements, or events. Chow says "Chinese people are far too superstitious for their own good. They think that if you go see the doctor for a checkup, you'll get cancer. It you buy life insurance, you're going to die. If you visit a police station - - for any reason - - you'll be thrown in jail." A result of this is that no one will give him any information, although they all know something of what is going on.

As the novel opens, Chow and his partner are checking storm drains after a report of shots being fired; ultimately, two bodies are found with gunshot wounds, simply dumped under the Brooklyn Bridge underpass, the victims two Chinese men who it appears had been smuggled into the country by "snakeheads." The term gives rise to the book's title: The ones being smuggled in are referred to as the "human snakes." Chow asks, "Is it really better to be dead in America than alive in China?"

The city is in the throes of a terrorism scare, which took me aback as the book takes place in the summer of 1976. One tends to think of the time before September of 2001 as a more innocent age. But of course there were incidents in that era when a group such as the FALN, for example, was seeking independence from Puerto Rico and wreaking its own brand of terror, placing a bomb outside of Police Headquarters. All precinct detectives have been assigned to track down the perpetrators, the Fifth Precinct detectives in particular, because it happened in their jurisdiction. But when the bodies of the two Asian men are found Chow, despite the fact that he doesn't yet have his gold shield, takes this on as his own very personal mission, since it is a reminder of his own father, who entered this country illegally and found life far different from what he believed it would be. During the course of the investigation, all kinds of alliances are discovered, including one made many years ago when Chow's father entered the country, a human snake of another era, which had its own costs to be paid.

Gloria Feit

Gondelman's Bookshelf

A Killer Plot
Ellery Adams
c/o The Berkley Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780425235225, $7.99,

Welcome to Oyster Bay, North Carolina where the living is easy and murder is on the mind.

Olivia Limoges has returned to the hometown she left as a young girl. She is rich, stunning, suffering from a case of writers block and still a mystery to the locals, and often keeping only the company of her loyal poodle Captain Haviland. She also owns the local five star restaurant and has invested a lot in local properties, becoming landlord to many of the businesses around her. While having breakfast at the local diner she overhears some people talking "book stuff." Dixie, her friend and waitress explains that they are a group called the Bayside Book Writers and encourages her to join. She hesitates until she speaks with Camden Ford, the apparent leader of the group. She finds him witty, charming and impossible to refuse. Olivia decides that she is going to fix up the lighthouse cottage on her property for their meetings.

It looks like things are improving for Olivia, particularly in the friend department, until people start showing up dead. When one of her new friends winds up dead, with of all things a Haiku poem left next to the body, Olivia and her writer friends know they will do whatever they can to find out who is responsible for the murder. But can they figure it out before more bodies start to fall? Do the murders have to do with the gossip book one of their group members is writing about a well know family, the desire to push through a new housing development no matter what the cost, or something else no one could have possibly anticipated?

A Killer Plot is a fantastic start to a new series. The characters are fun, fresh and a bit on the eccentric side. There is Dixie, the roller skating dwarf waitress, Harris the computer geek who suffers from a serious case of Rosacea, and Millay the bartender, who likes to show up with her hair a different color each time they meet. These are just a few of the fun people you will meet in this charming first book of the Books By The Bay Mystery series. The characters are believable and the author gives the reader great insight into the world of a writer. With new friendships, possible romance(s) and promises of great things to come, A Killer Plot is one book you don't want to be caught dead missing.

Such A Pretty Face
Cathy Lamb
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
119 West 40th Street, Floor 21, New York, NY 10018-2522
9780758229557, $15.00,

I absolutely LOVED this book. There I said it. And would you like to know why? It's simple really. The characters are real, the places are real, the rulings are final - oh wait, that's Judge Judy! They are true, and they are believable. They are you, they are me, and they are your mother, your father, your neighbor, your cousin, or even your teacher. They are the people that are hiding from their pasts, that are struggling with day-to-day life and the people looking towards a better tomorrow.

Stevie Barrett is not the same person she used to be. After suffering a heart attack at 32, primarily caused by her severe obesity, she knows that it's now or never to get her life on track. So she makes the life-altering decision to have gastric bypass surgery and is now 170 lbs lighter. But this doesn't really solve all of Stevie's problems. Yes, it solves the weight issue, but not what caused her to almost overeat herself to death. She has many new challenges she must now face. She is grappling with a past that no child should ever have to live through, while at the same time trying to adjust to a life in her new body, deal with family issues, a moral dilemma at work, and, of course, there is that crush she's got on her gorgeous neighbor. There is also her obsession with chairs. Yes, chairs. Chairs that speak to her and tell her how they'd like to be designed. Chairs that fill her garage yet are kept hidden from the rest of the world. How is this a key to her past and how will it open the door to her future?

Stevie lived with her mother Helen, her baby sister Sunshine (whom she named) and her grandparents. We find out at the beginning of the story the tragedy that befell this family, the one that defines her life, and through flashbacks we learn more and more about what happened to Stevie and her immediate family when she was young. Aunt Janet was Stevie's mother's sister who, with her husband Herbert, and cousins Lance & Polly, Stevie went to live with when she was a young girl. Herbert (she refused to call him Uncle) was a tyrant. Aunt Janet was dominated by Herbert their entire married life and she has become a weak, shell of a person. Lance is a former football star who has made millions coming up with new business ideas and launching them (but only if his ankle twitched). Polly is a well known newscaster struggling with eating issues of her own. Cherie is Stevie's boss. She is the managing partner of the law firm that Stevie works in as a legal assistant. She is absolutely hysterical and adds the humor that Stevie needs in her life. Zena is her crazy co-worker who frequently finds Stevie outside on her way to work begging a piece of clothing with which to freshen up her night-before clothes so that it doesn't look like that she's just finished clubbing. Unfortunately Stevie is forced to work with a bitch of a woman on the case of a young boy permanently injured by a botched surgery. They are representing the hospital and refuse to settle with the family. Stevie finds some incriminating evidence against their client, but will she do the right thing and turn it over to the other side? Then there is Eileen, her BFF, who claims that Stevie cheated her way in losing the weight by having the surgery. She torments Stevie to no end. But what it really comes down to is that Eileen is overwhelmed with jealousy because Stevie is now thin. Can this friendship possibly survive the changes in both women? And then there is Jake, her hunky neighbor who Stevie avoids at all costs. She's known to jump a hedge or two when she sees him coming just so she won't have to speak to him. But he's on to her game and slowly the two form a relationship that might just provide Stevie with the happiness that she's looking for, and rightfully deserves.

This book is loaded with tough topics like anorexia, overeating, gay marriage, divorce, self-esteem issues, mental illness, abuse, and death. It is not for the faint of heart. BUT, it is also filled with love, hope, humor, honesty, devotion, trust and forgiveness. You will want to reach right into the pages of the book to comfort those who are hurting. Does being skinny and having a "pretty face" mean you have it all? Nope. As the saying goes - beauty is only skin deep. From an opening that will tear your heart to pieces to an ending that will sew it back together again, Such A Pretty Face will make you laugh and it will make you cry. It will make you feel. Because that's exactly what a great book does.

Lori Gondelman, Reviewer

Gorden's Bookshelf

The Illumination
Jill Gregory and Karen Tintori
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312365264, $7.99,

The Illumination is a fast action novel with a small touch of history and fantasy. The action is so fast paced and the evil protagonists so omnipresent that the story feels a trifle contrived. There are no real problems with the narration or the logic of the storyline so it is a very good read for a relaxing weekend. Jill Gregory and Karen Tintori are authors to keep an 'eye' on.

Natalie Landau receives an evil eye pendant from her sister Dana, a reporter in Baghdad. The New York museum, where she works as a curator and expert on Mesopotamian amulets and magical beliefs, is broken into and she is attacked in an attempt to steal the pendant. She soon discovers that her sister has been murdered. Jim D'Amato, a reporter who worked with Dana stops by her sister's funeral and tells her of the disappearance of Dana's cameraman, who brought Natalie Dana's pendant. Other attacks and attempted thefts of the pendant follow in rapid succession. D'Amato and Natalie take off searching for answers while trying to stay alive from the killers searching for it. Their journey for answers crosses the Atlantic and leads to a final confrontation in Israel.

The Illumination is enjoyment storytelling that breaks no new ground. It is a treasure on the discount shelves and a good fill in story for a lazy afternoon. The standard story, with no real surprises, places it solidly on the to look for level but not on the actively to search for.

Corsair: A Novel of the Oregon Files
Clive Cussler with Jack Du Brul
Berkley Books
Berkley Publishing Group
c/o Penguin Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780425233290, $9.99,

Cussler and company write action novels. The one nice feature is that all of their stories are built with the past as well as the present. The accuracy of the history or even the physics of the present are not integral in the storyline but both are at least acknowledge as being part of the story. This placement of the context of the story within a wider framework is something infrequently done in contemporary storytelling so finding it adds a nice sparkle to the tale.

The Oregon is a private contractor spy ship. It looks like a tramp steamer, which can barely float, but it is filled with millions of dollars in the latest technology and crewed by the best mix of mercenaries and spies in business today. The US Secretary of State is flying to a peace summit in Libya when her plane crashes. The US can't get involved with the search for the plane due to its delicate peace mission and the crash location within Libya so they hire the Oregon to find the Secretary of State and discover what happened to the plane. History steps into the story with a link to the past and terrorism in the form of piracy. A modern terrorist has patterned this modern action from the history of the Barbary pirates.

Juan Cabrillo, captain or chairman of the Oregon, must uncover the murderous plot and solve a two hundred year old mystery while keeping both himself and his crew alive. In every chapter, Juan and his crew must navigate a complex web of intrigue and death with a goal of saving lives and futures.

Cussler is a staple writer in the non-stop action genre and Corsair is a fine example of the best of this popular no-frills market. The fantasy goes beyond the possible but is within the realm of fictional forgiveness. When you need to escape to a place where the good guys win despite the odds, Corsair is story that can take you there. It is worth the full cover price so it is a must snatch when you find it on sale or on the used shelves.

S.A. Gorden, Reviewer

Harwood's Bookshelf

God & Human Beings, Voltaire
Michael Shreve
Prometheus Books
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228-2119
9781616141783, $18.00,

Voltaire's God & Human Beings provided the strongest arguments available in 1769 that the Christian religion is a mongrelization of beliefs that preceded the writing of the Jewish Tanakh by thousands of years. He was accused of being an atheist, and was consequently forced to spend much of his life in exile, since "heretics" were still being executed at the time of writing.

Voltaire was not an atheist. He was, like Washington and Jefferson, a deist, meaning that he believed in an omnipotent creator that wound up the universe and pushed its ON button, writing (p. 13), "Every construction which displays means and an end announces an artisan; therefore this universe ... reveals a very powerful, very intelligent creator," As S. T. Joshi writes in his introduction, "The atheists of his day did not really have a satisfactory explanation of this problem themselves, and it required Darwin's theory of evolution to overthrow the argument from design, at least as far as the development of life on this planet was concerned." But Voltaire believed only in a metaphysical intelligent designer that, since then, has no more intervened in the lives of humans than in the lives of the virus equivalents (if there are any) on the thirteenth planet of the star Betelgeuse.

But while Voltaire rejected the concept of a divine lawgiver whose most capricious laws must be obeyed because right and wrong are whatever the lawgiver says they are, he was as brainwashed as any present-day god addict that, without the fear of posthumous torture in an underworld Auschwitz, humans are incapable of being moral. To quote further from Joshi's introduction (p. 16), "If Voltaire could have overcome his prejudice against atheists as a band of libertines who practiced no morals at all because they refused to fear posthumous punishment, then he might have fallen into the atheist camp himself."

That may be so. But such a speculation is difficult to harmonize with Voltaire's (inaccurate) assertion (p. 43) that, "My only objective is to show that the great civilized people, and even the little ones, have recognized a Supreme God since time immemorial and that all great peoples explicitly admitted the after death persistence of what we call the soul, except the Chinese." So while Voltaire did not believe that a pope could sentence him to hell, he does appear to be confessing that fear of hell was the only reason he was not himself "a libertine who practiced no morals at all."

Despite his denigration of atheists, Voltaire won no support from the dogmatically religious with such statements as (p. 158), "It is utterly horrible and ridiculous to proclaim that God is like a crazy, little, barbaric despot who secretly dictates an incomprehensible law to some of his favorites and slaughters the rest of the nation for not having known the law." Since the god of every organized religion, then and now, plays favorites and authorizes the slaughter of outsiders, it should come as no surprise that Voltaire was not and is not lauded by believers for presaging John Wyndham's declaration that, "We've got to believe that god is sane."

Voltaire wrote before the Documentary Theory, that the Torah was composed by authors with incompatible perspectives over the course of several centuries, had been formulated. All he could do was offer reasoned arguments (p. 78) why it could not have been written by Moses. He wrote (p. 71), "Whoever the author of the Pentateuch was, or rather whoever the writers were who compiled it … the greatest certainty that the system of a future life, of an immortal soul is nowhere found in this book…. The lawmakers of the Jews … always said … that God would punish humans only while they were alive." That was as accurate as biblical scholarship of the time allowed.

His demolition of Judaism continued in such passages as (p. 79), "A multitude of writers … demonstrate that there is not one single page of the Bible that isn't faulty or counter to geography; counter to chronology; counter to all the laws of nature, of history; counter to common sense, honor, decency and honesty." He cited (p. 39) a history by a Phoenician, "of which there remains some precious fragments preserved in Eusebius. It is incontestable that this author wrote a long time before the eruption of the Hebrews into the country of Canaan." He argued that, if the conquest of Canaan by the Hebrews as described in Joshua had actually happened, "It is impossible that Sanchuniathon would have passed over in silence such events that should have interested him greatly."

And (p. 40), "Jerombal [was a] priest of Iaho in the city of Berytus. This name Iaho, which means God, is the sacred name that was long afterward adopted by the Jews." Further (p. 41), "The fable of Venus and Adonis is entirely Phoenician. Adonis or Adonai was one of their gods and when the Jews came into the vicinity much later, they called their god by the Phoenician names, Jehovah, Iaho, Adonai, Shaddai, and so one." Much of that passage is inaccurate in the details. But it made the point that the Judaism on which the validity of Christianity depends was borrowed from pre-Jewish sources. As Voltaire summarized (p. 96), "If you would like to take pains to compare all the events of fable and ancient Greek history, you would be astonished to find not a single page of the Jewish books that wasn't plagiarized."

From Judaism Voltaire proceeded to annihilate Christianity, a much easier religion to falsify, since its basic oxymoron of an undying god who died and came back to life could be found in so many competing mythologies, that Christian apologist Tertullian could only defend the Jesus version by resorting to time travel and declaring that Mithra, and by implication all of the other virgin-born resurrected savior gods who had preceded Jesus, constituted "the zeal of the devil impersonating the things of God."

Voltaire justifies his critical examination of the Jesus myth in the words (p. 103), "Only a fanatic or a rogue could say that you should never examine the story of Jesus with the lights of reason…. I put myself here in the place of a citizen of ancient Rome who was reading the stories of Jesus for the first time." He reports (p. 120) that, "For three centuries nothing was easier for Christians than to secretly multiply their Gospels until they had fifty-four of them." On the Christians' equation of Jesus with the god he worshipped, he writes (p. 116), "Only in the Gospel of John, which is probably the latest Gospel of all … do we find passages concerning the divinity of Jesus." And on the Christian Trinity cited in 1 John 5:7-8, he notes that, "It has been proven that this passage was added to the Epistle of John around the sixth century."

On the subject of biblical fairy tales (p. 107): "But as the Gospel tells us that Jesus sent the devil into the bodies of these pigs, in a country that never had pigs, a man who is neither Christian nor Jewish can reasonably doubt this."

Joshi describes Voltaire's objection to the reality (p. 14) that, "Jesus is not even mentioned in contemporary texts by other nations (especially the Romans)," by summarizing his argument (p. 15) as, "he was such an obscure figure that the Romans and others simply did not take notice of him." That is identical with my own conclusion that Jesus was a nobody who did nothing, and that his name has survived only because Paul of Tarsus arbitrarily chose him from the dozen recently executed messiahs to be the posthumous figurehead of Paul's gentile religion.

In the light of how much biblical criticism has progressed in the intervening two centuries, Voltaire's comments might be seen as an archetypal "before." Someone writing the same arguments today would be advised to take Documentary Analysis 101. But God & Human Beings did to god mythology in 1769 what The God Delusion did in 2006. Voltaire's writings can be seen as opening the door for the historians whose application to religious documents of the same methodology used to prove that Geoffrey of Monmouth's Brut was fiction, showed that the Judeo-Christian bible is also a product of the human imagination. The world of scholarship owes him a tremendous debt.

Good Without God
Greg M. Epstein
10 East 53rd Street, New York NY 10022
9780061670114, $25.99,

I had some problems with "Good Without God: What a Billion Nonreligious People Do Believe" even before reading chapter one. "What a billion nonreligious people do believe"? Is Mr Epstein buying into the religious propaganda that there are only one billion non-theists on planet earth? The true figure is 2.2 billion, more than Jews, Christians and Moslems combined. "Humanist chaplain"? Either he is a humanist or he is a chaplain, meaning a pusher of mythology. He cannot be both. "Secular humanist" is a tautology, and "religious humanist" is as much an oxymoron as "Humanist rabbi."

Nonetheless, Epstein starts out well when he defines humanism (p. ix) as "goodness without God," and recognizes the pretense that one cannot be good without God as "a prejudice." But he goes on to say (p. xi), "the nonreligious now represent approximately 15 percent of the population, or approximately 40 million Americans." Either he has not read Ronald Aronson's Living Without God, or he lacks Aronson's ability to analyze the polls correctly. Aronson shows that nontheists in America constitute 36 percent of the American population, and the Ockham's razor interpretation of worldwide polls is that the figures claimed by religious propagandists are equally fraudulent. The reason the masses believe the false statistics is that they are promoted by conscienceless god-fellating media such as the papal butt-licking Chairman of the BBC, an intolerant bigot who refuses to allow humanists to participate in his openly propagandistic "thought for the day."

"The Catholic Church, with its 1.1 billion members…" (p. 8). Just how gullible is this author? Since there are only 1.1 billion Christians and at least one third of them are not Catholics - you do see the problem? He rejects the RC claim that it speaks for a nonexistent Sky Fuhrer, yet he blissfully swallows its non-metaphysical Big Lies. He states (p. 8), "I vigorously disagree with what I see as the contorted, nonsensical logic by which Catholic doctrine seeks to suggest that evolution and the traditional Biblical creation story can both be true." And he recognizes (p. 9) that, "All the evidence suggests that creation narratives like that found in Genesis are neither literally true nor divinely inspired metaphors but simply the first flawed human attempts to answer questions for which we now have much better answers."

But he continues, "We do not claim to be able to prove that … there is no God." If he had referred to "gods" I would agree. But by capitalizing "God", he thereby singled out a god with the specific qualities attributed to it by three worldwide religions. And Victor Stenger's God: The Failed Hypothesis, while acknowledging that gods as a class cannot be disproved, does prove the nonexistence of that particular god. Epstein also claims that evolution cannot be proven. Does he seriously believe that the shared DNA of all terrestrial life forms does not "prove" common ancestry, even though it is sufficient to convince himself?

Epstein refuses to muffdive Mother Teresa, and rejects the Big Lie that a fanatic preacher against lifesaving condoms was "an example of goodness" (p. 30). But he cannot have read the books by Christopher Hitchins and Aroup Chatterjee that show her to have been a liar, a thief, a swindler, and a self-aggrandizing egomaniac who was a cross between Imelda Marcos, Leona Helmsley, and Bernard Madoff. As for his describing (p. 123) a chant Catholics call the Our Father as "the Lord's Prayer," does he have any comprehension how insulting that is to persons who do not regard a dead Jew (who happened to be a bald, hunchbacked dwarf psychopath) as their Master?

Epstein urges Humanists to live according to the immoral and impossible "golden rule." I would like Bill Gates to give me a few million dollars. How do I go about doing the same for him, as the golden rule demands? I would like a supermodel to rip my clothes off and have her way with me in blatant disregard for my own desire or consent. The golden rule says I should do the same to her. Does Epstein seriously believe I should do so? Somehow I doubt it. The so-called silver rule, "Do not do to others what you would not have done to yourself," was preached by some of the greatest humanitarians of history. The gospel author who put an inversion of the rule into the mouth of Jesus transformed a law that was perfect into an obscenity.

Epstein quotes from Rick Warren's The Purpose Driven Life, in order to identify Warren as the most influential of the "ignorant religious blowhards" who peddle the Big Lie that it is impossible to be good without taking one's values from the most sadistic, evil, mass-murdering psychopath in all fiction. Since his rebuttal of Warren (pp. 2-5) is self-contained, perhaps that explains why he made no mention of Robert Price's point-by-point demolition of Warren, in The Reason Driven Life. But he makes clear that, while Warren's actions differ significantly from those of Adolf Hitler, his preaching stems from the same pathological hatred of every sectarian belief other than his own. Catholic Hitler argued that, "I am fighting for the work of the Lord" - and so does Warren.

Epstein questions the judgment of Barack Obama and John McCain in appearing on the same platform as Warren, when they would not have considered doing so with Warren's mirror image, the head ayatollah of the Taliban. And on "the question of how to respond to Rick Warren's insult," Epstein concludes (p. 7) that, "a large part of the solution must be education." Anyone who disagrees must believe that all god worshipers are incurable. Certainly the hardcore religious right typified by Rick Warren and James Dobson are incurable, and belong in cages with padded walls where they cannot pass on their mind-AIDS to the uninfected. But not all believers are incurable, or I, Epstein, Harris, Dawkins, Hitchens etc would still believe, not only the relatively harmless Christian fairy tales, but also that right and wrong are whatever a morally-depraved Sky Fuhrer says they are.

Epstein's reference (p. 121) to "impressively intelligent Biblical interpretation by modern religious intellectuals" is already an oxymoron. But when he recommends the brain-addled, doublethinking apologist for unspeakable evil, Karen Armstrong, he destroys any pretence that his own doublethinking is less reprehensible than hers.

On pages 118 and 119, for the purpose of comparing religion-based laws with a secular equivalent, Epstein quotes the biblical "ten commandments" - not the only law code identified in the bible as a Decalogue, that of Exodus 34, but the lawcode of Exodus 20 that is not labeled Ten Commandments by any biblical author. And in offering his summation of what each commandment means, he demonstrates his appalling ignorance of what it really meant to the racist theologian who concocted it.

For example, he summarizes the first of the Big Ten as, "Do not worship any other god," ignoring the stipulation best translated as "before my face." Jews were prohibited from honoring other gods within the borders of Yahweh's land, where he would be subjected to the indignity of having to watch. But they were not expected to antagonize the gods of Babylon or Egypt by refusing them due obeisance in their own lands. As for the ban on metal godlets in Exodus 34 and carved godlets in Exodus 20, this stemmed from a competition for supremacy between priesthoods allegedly descended from Moses and Aaron that cannot be explained in the space available here.

Epstein accepts the evolved orthodoxy that the ban on misusing the god's name referred to irreverent language. It was a prohibition of calling on Yahweh to bear witness to a lie. He quotes only the portion of commandment 5 (Catholic 4) that says, "Honor your mother and your father," ignoring the reason for doing so. In fact Jews were ordered to worship their parents, thereby keeping their only immortal parts, their names, alive, the true function of ancestor worship, so that their own descendants would do the same for them. He quotes the prohibition of murder, stealing, and perjury, unaware that they applied only to fellow Jews. As the Talmud clarified, "One who, intending to kill a gentile, kills an Israelite, is to be deemed guiltless" (Sanhedrin 78b).

Likewise the ban on adultery applied only to impregnating the wife of a fellow Jew. Leviticus 20:10 made that clear, "stipulating that his adultery is with a compatriot's woman." Leviticus 18:20 spelled out the real meaning of the ban, "You're not to engage your compatriot's woman in carnal copulation in which semen is intromitted." Adultery was the crime of robbing a fellow Jew (and only a fellow Jew) of his right to pass on his inheritance to his biological heirs by fraudulently impregnating his wife. It was not a ban on non-procreative recreation. Epstein's summary, "Do not be unfaithful to your husband or wife," is a modern misinterpretation of a law that meant nothing of the sort.

He also fails to recognize that the ban on coveting was not simply a reiteration of the prohibition of stealing and adultery, but was composed as an endorsement of the validity of private property at a time when a pre-Buddhist concept of communism was starting to infiltrate Judea. (For a detailed analysis of the Big Ten, see the relevant pages in God, Jesus and the Bible: The Origin and Evolution of Religion. For the true meaning of biblical passages deliberately falsified in religion-authorized bibles, see the two-volume, The Fully Translated Bible.)

For all of his ability to escape his religious brainwashing and recognize that gods such as Yahweh, Allah and Jesus are the same kind of human inventions as Bertrand Russell's flying teapot, the Flying Spaghetti Monster, Mother Goose, and the Great Pumpkin, Epstein is as basically uneducated as any theologian, psychiatrist, sociobiologist (all practitioners of indefensible pseudosciences), or professor of education. Even so, if he is able to get through to persons who would not read the definitive debunking of religion by Dawkins, Dennett, Harris, Harwood, Hitchens, or Stenger, he is serving a useful purpose. While he falls short of being comparable with any of the above, his contribution to freeing the human race from a mind-crippling, antihuman delusion puts him clearly on the side of the good guys. May the Flying Spaghetti Monster - or the imaginary playmate of his choice - bless him. Nonetheless, Good Without God is a book that, on balance, I simply cannot recommend.

The Case for God
Karen Armstrong
Alfred A. Knopf
1745 Broadway, New York NY 10019
9780307269188, $27.95,

Immanuel Velikovsky sincerely believed that, if the only way fairy tales in his bible could be true was for a series of science fiction events that astronomers unanimously rejected as fantasy to have happened, then that is what did happen.

John Mack sincerely believed that any patient who fed him a tale about an alien abduction, a winged horse, or time travel, with a straight face must be telling the truth.

Alister McGrath sincerely believed that, if he looked in a mirror, described the intellectual incompetence, gullible ignorance, and infantile doublethink he saw there, and projected it onto Richard Dawkins, then he had rebutted Dawkins' evidence that 1 + 1+ 1 ? 1.

To that list of Manchurian Candidates who must have written their scientifically illiterate drivel in crayon, since Nurse Ratched would not have allowed them access to anything sharp, we can now add Karen Armstrong, a notorious apologist for Islam who wrote in one of her Muhammad-fellating books that, "Islam signified peace and reconciliation." Just what part of, "When you encounter the unbelievers, strike off their heads," did she not understand?

Stephen Jay Gould postulated the reputation-destroying doublethink that science and religion are "non-overlapping magisteria." Armstrong's NOMA are called logos and mythos (p. xi), but her rationale is the same. She pontificates that knowledge is a combination of reason and imagination that are not incompatible, because trying to harmonize them is a violation of her neo-Gouldian religion. As she puts it (p. 324), "There could be no question of clash between science and theology, because these disciplines had different spheres of competence." That a practitioner of science starts from evidence and reaches only conclusions that are compatible with the evidence, whereas a theologian, as described by H. L. Mencken, is a blind man in a dark room searching for a black cat that is not there - and finding it, is quite beyond her grasp.

L. Ron Hubbard invented a pretend-religion out of recognition that, "That's where the money is." I doubt that Karen Armstrong was similarly motivated. More likely, she really believes that religion and reality are non-overlapping magisteria, and lacks the intellectual evolution to grasp that "A" and "not-A" cannot both be true. It should surprise no one that there are as many one-star reviews of her book posted to by true believers who see her as their concept of a heretic, as by nontheists who recognize her as a fatuous ignoramus with delusions of competence.

According to Armstrong (p. xvi), "Atheism is therefore parasitically dependent on the form of theism it seeks to eliminate and becomes its reverse mirror image." And if she believes that, she should run, not walk, back to the Cuckoo's Nest before Nurse Ratched gives her bed away. Also (p. xviii), "We are seeing a great deal of strident dogmatism today, religious and secular, but there is also a growing appreciation of the value of unknowing." In other words, ignorance is the ultimate virtue. That explains why Armstrong has so much fatuous admiration for her ability to rationalize that black and white are "really" the same color.

Armstrong either has not read Paul Tobin's The Rejection of Pascal's Wager, or is impervious to logic and rationality. Her reiteration of the argument that a lifetime of masochism is a small price to pay for the certainty of not sailing off the edge of the world is an embarrassment even to other moral cowards.

Whether Armstrong really believes that The Case for God is an attempt to rebut the logical proofs that her god cannot and does not exist, or deliberately chose a title that carried such an implication in full awareness that her book is nothing of the sort, is unclear. Either way, it is a gigantic fraud that does not even attempt to live up to its title, let alone succeed in doing so.

Instead, Armstrong offers arguments for a kind of abstraction that she calls (p. 327), "the unknown and indefinable God." Nowhere does she pay any attention to the proofs offered by Richard Dawkins, Christopher Hitchens and Victor Stenger that "God," defined as a god with the mutually-exclusive qualities attributed to it by all pseudo-monotheistic religions, is as oxymoronic as a giant midget, a healthy leper, or an educated theologian. Indeed, she sees "God as a person," with clearly defined qualities that can be understood and rebutted, as a straw man set up by "new atheists."

Instead, she claims that the incomprehensible "non-person" god she has invented is a restoration of what was the god of traditional religion until a couple of centuries ago. She states (p. 324) that, "We have seen that far from regarding revelation as static, fixed, and unchanging, Jews, Christians, and Muslims all knew that revealed truth was symbolic, that scripture could not be interpreted literally, and that sacred texts had multiple meanings, and could lead to entirely fresh insights." That is not presented as a personal opinion. It is an unmitigated falsehood stated as a fact. Whether Armstrong also believes that the Flying Spaghetti Monster is a restoration of pre-fundamentalist religion, or that Karl Marx wrote an analogue of Alice in Wonderland that only after his death was taken literally, she does not say.

All of the quotations above are from Armstrong's Introduction and Epilogue, because those are the only sections in which she exposes her Orwellian brainwashing. The 317 pages in between say nothing relevant to the book's title, and constitute a long undergraduate essay that might have been written for Comparative Religions 101. Within reasonable limits (I draw the line at reading the arguments offered by Flat Earthers), a seeker of knowledge should always try to acquaint himself with opposing views. Despite the firewall Karen Armstrong has built around her brain to keep out any semblance of reality, many nontheists will see her sales figures as sufficient reason to open her book. My advice to such persons is to read the Introduction and the Epilogue first. After that, if you then decide to read the intervening twelve chapters, don't say I didn't warn you.

The Case for God provides no answers. But it does raise a question. How did the parents of "a literal-minded blockhead" (p. 325) as unteachable as Karen Armstrong ever manage to potty-train her?

Losing Our Religion: The Liberal Media's Attack on Christianity
S. E. Cupp
Threshold Editions
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
9781439173169, $24.00,

Richard Dawkins was not the first person to question whether there really is an Ann Coulter, and raise the possibility that she is a caricature created by The Onion for the purpose of ridiculing the theofascist Right for whom she pretends to speak. S. E. Cupp has long been spewing Coulteresque verbal diarrhea onto the same perforated rolls that glorify Coulter, and from such cesspools as Faux News's Hannity the Profanity. In doing so she has succeeded in winning applause from such embarrassments to primates as Michelle Bachmann, Mike Huckabee, Ben Stein, Newt Gingrich, and Rush Limbaugh's recurring substitute, Mark Steyn. So I cannot be the first to speculate that she too is a self-parodying phony who is pretending to be an atheist in the hope of creating the illusion that real atheists are the same kind of educationally handicapped, intellectually bankrupt, rationally deprived, intestinally challenged, morally depraved, unteachable evolutionary throwbacks that she is.

Cupp confesses that she is a conservative, a word with the intrinsic meaning of "evolutionary throwback." But it would not be going beyond observable reality to conclude that it has now come to mean "so morally retarded as to be at least borderline insane." And that confession is not a pretence. Cupp is a mirror image of Rush Limbaugh, Sarah Palin, and Bill O'Reilly, all of whom are about as morally evolved as a great white shark with rabies.

Cupp has a problem with President Barack Obama - and so do I. My problem is that Obama is NOT upholding the First Amendment and protecting America's 64 percent theists and 36 percent nontheists (Cupp parrots the Big Lie that nontheists constitute only 10 percent) from the Religious Right's conspiracy to impose "law[s] respecting an establishment of religion." Cupp's problem is that she thinks Obama IS upholding the Constitution, in violation of the rights of the theofascists she admires for their determination to overthrow the separation of church and state and turn America into a mirror image of the Taliban's Afghanistan.

Like the history deniers who are rewriting American history in school textbooks in Texas, Cupp likewise bases her book on a rewriting of history. She believes there is a conspiracy to create the kind of America the Founding Fathers sought to prevent - and she is right. The problem is that she thinks the conspirators are the moderate, pragmatic, middle-of-the-road liberals whose purpose is to maintain the equal rights and freedoms of all citizens, theistic and nontheistic both. She has no comprehension that it is the fanatics of the Far Right who are determined to abolish democracy and institute the totalitarian theocracy that the First Amendment was designed to prevent. (She thinks the Republic was founded as a Christian theocracy.) She has no awareness that religion has been the cause of ninety percent of all manmade evil for more than three thousand years, and that the biblical "God" is the most sadistic, evil, mass-murdering psychopath in all fiction. Instead she appears to believe that the humanitarians trying to free the human race from religion differ qualitatively from the public benefactors trying to free humankind from AIDS, cancer, slavery, misogyny, and priestly pedophilia.

As for the religion that Cupp blasts the "liberal media" for questioning, I can only wonder if she has any awareness that Christianity is the sickest perversion the undisciplined human imagination has ever concocted, combining the risen-god fairy tales of Egypt and Babylon with the masochism of Buddhism, the sadism of Judaism, and, at the height of its power, the pious massacres of all who resisted being enslaved by Montezuma's Aztecs or Mohammed's terrorists. Christians actually wear replicas of an execution stake around their necks, as if the glorification of a monstrous obscenity were something to be proud of. Persons like Dawkins, Harris and Stenger who are fighting to free humankind from the mindslavery of Christianity belong on the same page of history as the patriots who fought to free Germany from Hitler and the Untouchables who fought to free Chicago from Capone's Mafia.

Cupp denounces Barack Obama for showing respect to America's 100 million nontheists by acknowledging in his inaugural address that America is, among other things, "a nation of nonbelievers," and opting out of a National Day of Prayer. She denounces the way the anti-theofascist media focus on Sarah Palin's eighteenth-century religion. Admittedly Cupp's book was published before Palin belittled Obama's handling of the BP oil disaster and declared that a Palin administration would have reassigned the thousands of persons cleaning up the spill to the more productive enterprise of praying to their Sky Fuhrer to solve the problem. As Keith Olbermann noted, that is an unambiguous warning of what America can expect if that stupid woman were to acquire a position in America analogous to Tomas de Torquemada's status in Spain. It is also a warning of what would happen to a North America under such other Grand Inquisitors as Mitt Romney, Mike Huckabee, Glenn Beck, or Stockwell Day, and would have happened under George W. Bush if liberal activists had not succeeded in partly neutralizing Bush's submission to the Christian Taliban. For anyone who really wants to live in "one nation under god," there is a country where he can do so. It is called Iran.

Cupp ends her book with seven pages of quotations from media personalities who are either committed to preventing America from being enslaved by the Christian Taliban, or are less committed than she is to imposing a "my god can lick your god" theocracy. But before she is praised for showing a degree of tolerance and objectivity, it must be noted that she regards the quoted defences of the separation of church and state as "a worst-of list" of "lowlights." For example, she virtually apologizes to the unrepentant Nazi pope for the hard questions real journalists have the temerity to ask him. And even Katie Couric, a woman so Manchurian Candidate-ized by the god delusion that she to this day refuses to apologize for parroting the Big Lie that there are no atheists in foxholes, is singled out for Cupp's denunciation for asking an evangelist who accepted thirteen million dollars for a book deal, "How do you square your wealth with the tenets of Christianity?"

Anyone who thinks that Rick Warren's The Purpose-Driven Life is the most insane defence of the indefensible ever written has not read Losing Our Religion. No doubt Cupp's next book will start with an assurance that she does not believe in Santa Claus, and then launch into a vicious, intemperate denunciation of the morally evolved liberals (tautology) who are trying to free the human race from the crippling consequences of continuing to believe childish fairy tales. It will probably be titled, Losing Our Reindeer. Cupp should consider an immediate brain exchange with a cabbage - if she can find a cabbage willing to make the sacrifice.

There are two possible explanations for this ridiculous woman's 283 pages of lies, disinformation, lies, misjudgments, lies, masturbation fantasies, lies, paranoid delusions, lies, doublethink, lies, doubletalk, lies, psychotic ravings, and lies. One is that she is dangerously, criminally, incurably, certifiably insane, and should be permanently committed to the Cuckoo's Nest where Nurse Ratched can give her a much-needed lobotomy. The other is that she is a conscious, conscienceless, blatant, unmitigated, self-serving liar who should be appointed Secretary of Propaganda to the most antihuman liar of liars on this planet, Pope Joseph Ratzinazi. S. E. Cupp is an Atheist like L. Ron Hubbard's favorite shill, Tom Cruise, is an Ascientologist. If Keith Olbermann, whom Cupp denigrates for being sufficiently objective to recognize that the Far Right are so out of touch with reality that they could be considered not guilty by reason of insanity, could force himself to read Cupp's 283 pages of black widow venom, he would say, "That woman is an idiot." And he would be right. S. E. Cupp gives other self-inflicted brain amputees a bad name. I find myself wondering if her limited intelligence is sufficient to enable her to disrobe in the bathroom.

William Harwood

Hila's Bookshelf

The Red Necklace
Sally Gardener
Orion Children's Books
c/o Orion Publishing House
Orion House, 5 Upper Saint Martin's Lane, London WC2H 9EA, UK
184255574X, $17.99,

"He looked his murderer straight in the eyes as he lifted his white handkerchief. 'Fire!' The count pulled the trigger."

Yann is a fourteen-year-old boy living in the heart of Paris in 1789. He works in a theatre, using his gift of reading minds as part of an act with a magician called Topolain, and a dwarf-sized man named Tętu. They are payed well for their shows and are well known as good magicians. Yann is happy.

But all his good fortune changes one night when he and his fellow actors are called to perform privately in the home of a marquis. There, Yann meets the daughter of the marquis, a young girl named Sido, who has been hated and forgotten by her greedy father. And it is there also that the magician Topolain is murdered by a man known as Count Kalliovski.

Immediately Yann is caught up in the action as he plots to revenge his friend's death. But he soon learns there is more in danger than his own neck: he is playing a dangerous game with the count, and the marquis's daughter, Sido, is at stake.

All in all that sounds like a gripping story. But although the plot line was eventful, I didn't like the book. It was too predictable: the main character too perfect, the bad guy too evil. There were too many cliches, I didn't like being able to guess what was going to happen long before I read it on the page.

I would have appreciated the author to have developed the characters more. Especially the main character, Yann, because although we hear his thoughts and get his physical description, I didn't feel as though I really knew him as much as I wanted to, especially as he grew older. I think this was largely due to the fact that he was too flawless, so he seemed unreal, and there was nothing to grasp onto or connect with.

The Red Necklace was set just before the French revolution, and the historical aspect was the feature I liked best in this book. But even that was tainted when the author occasionally slipped out of eighteenth century language into speech we would use today. I also would have preferred more rich description. The characters and the surroundings would have felt more real if the author had spent more time picking out exactly the right words, instead of settling for the ones she did.

I was disappointed by the way the story was told, especially because it could have been good if the writer had just taken the time and effort to change a few things. It could have been gripping. It could have served as an amazing window into time. But instead, this book is just another example that sloppy writing does not pay off.

The Guinea Pig Diaries
A.J. Jacobs
Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY, 10020
9781416599067, $25.00,

A. J. Jacobs, read the Encyclopedia Britannica from cover to cover, and spent a year trying to follow the Bible literally. Both endeavors resulted in books (The Know It All, and The Year of Living Biblically). And now comes "The Guinea Pig Diaries: My Life as an Experiment", the third installment to his crazy collection of experiments, but instead of one big project, this time Jacobs embarks on a series of nine smaller experiments.

In the first chapter, Jacobs tries to find his two year old son's nanny a boyfriend by signing her up to an online dating site, filtering her response emails, and co-writing her rejections. In the second, Jacobs outsources his life to India, getting his team of workers to do everything for him, including arguing with his wife and reading his son bed time stories. In the third he tries his hand at "Radical Honesty," by constantly stating his thoughts.

Jacobs dresses up as a famous actor and goes to the Academy Awards, tries to be totally rational, even picking out the "most rational toothpaste," gets a nude photo shoot taken for the magazine he works for, and tries to live the lifestyle of George Washington. By the eight chapter he is feeling his life is too cluttered and tries "uni-tasking," and in the ninth he tries to be the "perfect husband" to his wife.

I found Jacob's writing to be funny, wacky, and in a few places, a little repulsive. His eagerness to try new things and humorous anecdotes, seem not only to coincide with, but be fueled by his quirks, vanity, and apparent ability to be a total jerk.

Some chapters I really enjoyed, like his endeavors to be totally rational, while others, like the one on his George Washington lifestyle, I thought were a bit pointless. Overall I thought the book compared surprisingly well to his others. I liked that each chapter was centered around a different topic, making it a lot harder to get bored, and although they were really all just essays, Jacobs tied them together nicely, and didn't leave a sense of scattered thoughts, or some experiments not fitting with the rest.

I would recommend this book as an interesting series of undertakings to think outside the box, and experimenting with lifestyles. I thought it came across as witty, entertaining, repulsive, and interesting, all the while seeming to drive home the point that even though we may never reach a certain goal, often it's still worth trying.

A Swift Pure Cry
Siobhan Dowd
David Fickling Books
c/o Random House Children's Books
1745 Broadway, 10-1, New York, NY 10019
0440422183, $8.99,

Fifteen year old Shell Talent's life hasn't been easy since the death her Mam. Her pious but alcoholic father collects "charity" money to subsidize his drinking habits, and leaves Shell alone to care for her two younger siblings, getting them and herself to and from school, and trying to scrape up enough to support themselves. But things go even more downhill when her best friend suddenly leaves without explanation, and she begins a relationship with Declan, one of her classmates.

Then Declan leaves her to go to America, and she finds out she is pregnant. Shell is faced with her toughest struggle yet, as she tries to conceal her pregnancy from the rest of the village, and block out the gossip and rumors about what ensues.

In-spite of, or perhaps because it was loosely based on two real life stories, each part in the novel sets its self up nicely for future events, while still maintaining a fresh unpredictability, even twisting the plot near the end, just when you think you know what will happen.
I liked this book because of the atmosphere, and Shell's character. Although there were some minor things I would have liked change, like some confusing gaps between chapters, and the very ending pages, overall I enjoyed it. The writing seemed to emulate Shells voice, and I liked hearing her story.

You could call it depressing, but I thought it was well told, with strong characters and a satisfying resolution. I would recommend this book to anyone interested in a coming of age story set in Ireland, and in the dynamics of small communities.

Hila Shooter

Janie's Bookshelf

Aaron's Wait: An Elliott Smith Mystery
Dorien Grey
Zumaya Boundless
9781934841402, $14.99,

I was thrilled when I got a copy of Aaron's Wait by Dorien Grey. It's the second Elliott Smith Mystery that began with His Name Is John. That book introduced readers to building contractor Elliott Smith who spends his days absorbed in the restoration of historic properties. Because of a head trauma, he becomes aware of another presence, a non-corporeal being named John. Elliott soon is drawn into solving John's murder with the help of his brother-in-law who is a police detective.

In Aaron's Wait, Elliott takes on a new building where Aaron Stiles once lived. He died of a congenital heart ailment, but one elderly resident felt that Aaron really died of a broken heart because his lover Bill disappeared. Aaron died before Bill's body was found, but Aaron's spirit is still roaming the building that Elliott is renovating. John helps by doing what he can on the other side to communicate with Aaron, but that goes as roughly as when John first communicated with Elliott. In the meantime, Elliott is conducting his own investigation into Bill's death by looking at the murdered man's business partner, his brother, and his past lovers--one of which is stalking Elliott.

As the investigation progresses, Elliott learns that his lover Steve may also have some ability to sense Aaron and to help. But Elliott doesn't want to completely disclose about John and his own personal experience with ghosts. Also, Elliott is beginning to think about a more permanent relationship with Steve but neither he nor Steve have really discussed it.

Returning to Elliott's Chicago with all of the historic buildings is always a homecoming. Not only because the author writes about areas of the city I've seen, but I especially enjoy peeking into Elliott's life, not only his private life but also the details of his building renovations. The mysteries are always challenging and the characters are vivid and real. Aaron's Wait delivers on all levels. It's a wonderful cozy mystery with characters who have become old friends to me. As a reader, I want more please.

Thrillers: 100 Must-Reads
David Morrell & Hank Wagner, editors
61 Paradise Rd., Ipswich, MA 01938
9781933515564, $27.95,

In Thrillers: 100 Must-Reads, David Morrell and Hank Wagner have pulled together a most interesting volume of essays from thriller writers who are commenting on their favorite thrillers. Many of these thrillers have not only become bestsellers but have made their way to the screen. Being popular wasn't the criteria that Morrell and Wagner used in their selection. What they were looking at were books that were not only entertaining but books that made a difference. Those selections began well before the printing press and ended with a hot read in 2003. Some of those who contributed also had works that were included in the list of one hundred.

The first story selected was Theseus and the Minotaur, written in 1500 BC. It was followed by Homer's The Iliad and the Odyssey (7th century BC). Beowulf, Shakespeare's Macbeth, Robinson Crusoe, Mary Shelley's Frankenstein, The Last of the Mohicans, The Count of Monte Cristo, Jules Verne's Mysterious Island, H. Rider Haggard's King Solomon's Mines, Wilke Collin's The Woman in White, and on and on. They range through King Kong, Dracula, Rudyard Kipling's Kim, The Invasion of the Body Snatchers, The Andromeda Strain, The Manchurian Candidate, The Bourne Identity, and many more up to The Da Vinci Code.

Not only do readers find insights into these important thrillers and this particular genre, but they also see some of their favorite authors expressing themselves in ways other than through a thriller novel. Each commentator approaches a particular thriller in his or her own way. Some offer a history of the work or why its important or its influence over the writer's own work.

In Thrillers: 100 Must-Reads is a most interesting collection of essays on the genre and one that thriller readers will want to come back to time and again. These are seminal insights from masters of the craft of writing. Highly recommended.

Janie Franz

Karyn's Bookshelf

Remembering Crystal
Sebastian Loth, author and illustrator
NorthSouth Books, Inc.
350 - 7th Ave., Rm. 1400, NY, NY 10001-5013
9780735823006, $14.95,

Perfectly reflective of a child's limited understanding yet not shying away from deeply painful emotions, author/illustrator Sebastian Loth tackles a young goose's loss of an elderly friend in "Remembering Crystal." A turtle named Crystal dies of old age but the story could be applied to the loss of any loved one as it largely focuses on the memories of the goose, named Zelda. Zelda's pain pulses throughout with her lowest point a night when she feels "very lonely and very sad." But she also has a rich stock of memories of her friend who taught her about art, music and the world. Ultimately, those carry Zelda through. With illustrations as gentle as the text, "Remembering Crystal" will help kids remember and begin to move on after a death. A wonderful stepping off point for a child who's ready to open up about their own loss.

The Quiet Book
Deborah Underwood, author
Renata Liwska, illustrator
Houghton Mifflin Books for Children
215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10003
9780547215679, $12.95,

Sudden quiet can come in a lot of situations - good and bad. In "The Quiet Book," author Deborah Underwood and illustrator Renata Liwska offer a series of moments in an elementary schooler's life that are quiet for the right and wrong reasons. Young woodland animals illustratively face moments of "others telling secrets quiet" and "last one to get picked up from school quiet." But there's also "lollipop quiet," "tucking in Teddy quiet" and "best friends don't need to talk quiet." A great range of emotions and circumstances, in touch with things kids actually experience and internalize.

Karyn L. Saemann

Logan's Bookshelf

Escape the Hezbollah
Pola Muzyka
Trinity Matrix
142 East Midland Ave., Paramus, NJ 07652
9780981783314, $28.99,

The fervent nature of some can intimidate even those who don't believe into following their cause, no matter how vile it seems to be. "Escape the Hezbollah" follows an American forced into this radical following, fearing for his and his girlfriend's life. Analyzing the real problem of the middle east, Pola Muzzyka tells a story that is riveting, it is also terrifying as his tale is not that far from the truth. "Escape the Hezbollah" is a choice pick for any modern fiction collection.

The Chapter's Due
Graham McNeill
Black Library
1525 Hulse Road, Unit 1, Point Pleasant, NJ 08742
9781844168613, $24.99,

For the Ultramarine, war isn't something they seek to end, but a way of life. "The Chapter's Due" is a novel set in the famous Warhammer 40,000 universe as Captain Uriel Ventris leads his Ultramarines against the genocidal Iron Warriors who seek to wipe out their homeworld at any cost. A grisly tale of war and fantasy, "The Chapter's Due" is a read that fans of Warhammer and fantasy in general will delight in.

The Remembrance Album of Harriet Pruden
Richard K. Pate
PO Box 2399, Bangor, ME 04402
9781609100339, $15.95,

A love story is not something that ever goes away. "The Remembrance Album of Harriet Pruden: 175 Year Reunion of the Seventy People Who Composed and compiled Their Verses for Harriet's Album" is a unique collection of poetry, prose, and a true story. In the nineteenth century, Harriet Pruden composed a keepsake album with her friends and family. Nearly two centuries later it's brought back with new touches and as a snapshot of history. "The Remembrance Album of Harriet Pruden" is a unique treasure and a fine addition to any historical poetry collection.

America's Army and the Language of Grunts
E. Kelly Taylor
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781438962498, $19.95,

The military is a brotherhood all its own, and has developed its own language. "America's Army and the Language of Grunts: Understanding the Army Lingo Language" is a glossary of military lingo, elaborating on the lingo of the military that has developed over the course of American military history, all the way from the Revolutionary War to the modern age. Countless terms explained, for anyone who wants to understand what comes out of a soldier's mouth some times, "America' Army and the Language of Grunts" is a choice pick that shouldn't be ignored.

Martha's Journals
Thomas Isaac Franklin
Xlibris Publishing
2 International Plaza, Suite 410, Philadelphia, PA 19113
9781436395212, $23.99,

The journey to womanhood is filled with things mature and not so mature. "Martha's Journals: Innocence to Woman The Uncensored Story of a Remarkable Woman's Life and Loves" is a dictation of the story of Martha as she makes the journey to adulthood, as author Thomas Isaac Franklin tells her story. "Martha's Journal" is an exciting and titillating read, not recommended for younger readers, but of interest to all others.

Tip of the Spear
S. D. Hatfield
Outskirts Press
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432757137, $18.95,

The next great wars will not be won with strength of arms, but strength of technology. "Tip of the Spear" is the story of Danny Pearson, and a war between US and China which ended in a technology devastation, which leaves Danny to help bring the world back to the internet age, which was lost in the cyber war. "Tip of the Spear" is a fascinating look into cyber warfare and what could result from it.

The Miracle of St. Genevieve
Woody Falgoux
Stockard James
1050 Canal Boulevard, Thibodaux, LA 70301
9780979292026, $27.95

The decisions of a city in Italy does not decide the faith of the millions around the world. "The Miracle of St. Genevieve" is the story of a Louisiana community converted an old warehouse to a Church of their own in the time shortly after Vatican II was passed in Rome. The story follows the small church as it fights to keep its faith alive faced with national scandal, and Church reform. A story of faith and how a sour top doesn't make the worshipers sour, "The Miracle of St. Genevieve" is a choice read for anyone looking for an inspirational read of the power of faith.

Carl Logan

Margaret's Bookshelf

The Last Moon
DeAnn Lubell
Xlibris Corporation
1663 South Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781450014434, $29.99 (hardcover)
9781450014434, $19.99 (softcover)

A riveting read from first page to last, "Last Moon Summary" is a novel set against the 1902 eruption of Mount Pelee on the West Indies island of Martinique that resulted in the death of some thirty thousand people and the seaport town of St. Pierre consumed by fire. An impressive historical novel, author DeAnn Lubell has paid careful attention to detail and accuracy with respect to historical facts including the Creole language spoken there, the culture, lifestyles, geography, and the geological phenomena that occur with respect to the eruption of a volcano. Against this superbly presented background is an engaging story of lust, greed, corruption, and murder, as well as friendship, love, sacrifice, faith, hope -- and survival. Deftly written from beginning to end, and available in both a hardcover and a softcover edition, "The Last Moon" is very highly recommended for community library historical fiction collections.

Expanding The American Mind
Beth Luey
University of Massachusetts Press
Box 429, Amherst, MA 01004
9781558498174, $24.95,

The concept of 'life long learning' was well reinforced in the 20th Century by the rapid expansions and advancements across the board with respect to all of the physical and social sciences. These advances in information expanded from the university into the general public through the publishing of non-fiction titles written by experts in their respective fields of expertise specifically for the non-specialist general reader. This popularization of academically generated data has led to an enduringly significant impact upon popular culture. In "Expanding the American Mind: Books and the Popularization of Knowledge", author and the former director of the Scholarly Publishing Program at Arizona State University Beth Luey examines the history of this phenomena, including a survey of the readers of popularized science books with respect to their motivations in their selection and evaluation process. A thoroughly 'reader friendly' book in its own right, "Expanding the American Mind: Books and the Popularization of Knowledge" is a seminal work of impeccable scholarship and a very highly recommended addition to both academic and community library collections.

Fairy Houses Of The Maine Coast
Maureen Heffernan
Publicity Director
Down East Books
PO Box 679, Camden, ME 04843
9780892727872, $14.95,

We have beside our home a 'fairy garden'. It's a raised bed dedicated to miniature flowers and occasionally tall but elegant plants that would immanently suit the needs of the wee folk for purposes of residence and recreation. So it was with great pleasure that I leafed through the superbly illustrated pages of Maureen Heffernan's "Fairy Houses Of The Maine Coast". It seems that the forests, fields, an shores of Maine are admirably populated with the fairy folk as evidenced by an architectural wealth of homes they and others (especially children) have made for them. Of special note is the wonderful poetry and the informative commentary enhancing the beautifully photographed examples laid out in this 80-page compendium designed for young readers ages 9 through 12 -- but is enthusiastically recommended for fairy enthusiasts of all ages!

Joyce Wieland
Jane Lind, editor
Porcupine's Quill
68 Main St, Erin Ontario, N0B IT0
9780889843219, $27.95,

Every great artist has to start somewhere. "Joyce Wieland: Writings and Drawings 1952-1971" looks at the earlier work of famed Canadian Artist Joyce Wieland as editor Jane Lind follows her early work, using her art to tackle various social issues facing Canada at that time, providing powerful messages alongside her art. "Joyce Wieland" is a fascinating read that is sure to give greater appreciation of this famed Canadian artist.

Photographs and Memories
Barbara Fifield
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432752385, $15.95,

When you're trying to support too many others, you find yourself in need of support yourself. "Photographs and Memories" is the story of Angela, faced with a deadbeat sister, her ailing parents, and more, it all seems like too much for her to handle. A story that will ring true fro many women, "Photographs and Memories" is a fine choice and very highly recommended.

Barbara Dinerman
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
9780595409303, $10.95,

It can be a shameful thing when it doesn't need to be. "H" tells the story of Joan Halprin, a woman dealing with her own herpes infection, leaving her feeling as an unlovable outcast of society, fearing that she'll be forever alone. Trying to go through her career in life, even with successes, it all comes to her herpes putting her in depression. Uplifting and honest about herpes, "H" is an inspirational novel, recommended.

700 Places to Volunteer Before You Die
Nola Lee Kelsey
Dog's Eye View Media
PO Box 888, Hot Springs, SD 57747
9780982549483, $24.00,

Volunteering is a key way to many great experiences in life. "700 Places to Volunteer Before You Die: A Traveler's Guide" is a volunteer's tour guide about great places around the world where you can volunteer and get a truly unique experience from the world. With tips from volunteers, countless places to go, what you can do, and making the world a better place by seeing it. "700 Places to Volunteer Before You Die" is a fine and solidly recommended pick for any voluntary traveler.

Ambushed by Grace
Shelly Beach
Discovery House Publishers
PO Box 3566, Grand Rapids, MI 49501
9781572932425, $11.99

To care for another is a task that is one that can be draining or fulfilling. "Ambushed by Grace: Help & Hope on the Caregiving Journey" is Christian and spiritual guide to caregiving, hoping to inspire and push readers to embrace the caregiving they must do for their one loves with greater furor and vigor, quoting scripture and drawing form her own experiences. "Ambushed by Grace" is a fascinating and very highly recommended read for soon to be caregivers.

Transforming Preaching
Ruthanna B. Hooke
Church Publishing
445 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10016
9780898696462, $16.00,

A preacher helps his congregation form that connection with god. "Transforming Preaching" is another edition in Church Publishing's The Episcopal Church of the 21st Century" series, this volume discussing the power of preaching and what can be done to keep a sermon still relevant in today's society. Everything from body language to the topics at hand to issues facing women preachers, and more, "Transforming Preaching" is a top pick for any preacher who wants to keep their voice heard.

A World of His Own
Arlette Gaffrey
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9780978889104, $13.95,

A promise of marriage can be lost over the years. "A World of His Own: In the Land of the Creoles" tells the story of Andre, a plantation owner and his complex romantic life. Winding up with an illegitimate child, he finds himself wishing for a girl a decade and change younger than him and unsure if he's good enough for her any longer. "A World of His Own" is a fine read of nineteenth century southern romance, highly recommended.

High School Stories
Mary M. Nyman
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
9781450215855, $8.95,

The problems that one faces in high school prepare one for the problems of the future. "High School Stories: Short Takes from the Writers Club" is a collection of short stories from Mary M. Nyman, showing the trials and travails of high school kids struggling to deal with the difficult challenges of their lives. Thoughtful and thought provoking, "High School Stories" is a treasure trove.

Margaret Lane

Molly's Bookshelf

Tarizon: Conquest Earth Vol 3
William Manchee
Top Publishing
9781929976652, $23.00,

William Manchee's Tarizon: Conquest Earth Vol 3 is the final work of the Sci Fi/Fantasy trilogy begun on the pages of Tarizon: The Liberator.

Conquest Earth opens with Leek Lanzia spending a few days of well deserved R and R with his wife and child. The battle to free Tarizon from tyrannical dictator Videl Lai has ended with Lai's death, it is time for Leek to take a little time for himself.

That respite will not last long.

On the pages of Manchee's Cactus Island; we first became aware that Manchee's writing was going to turn in another direction away from his successful Mystery series featuring Stan Turner and his family. Stan and Rebekah Turner's teenage son Peter was kidnapped and carried away from Earth to Tarizon where the inhabitants there believed an ancient proclamation telling that a Liberator would come to free them from a powerful dictator who was becoming more powerful and more tyrannical.

Peter's arrival to Tarizon aboard Earth Shuttle 21 led the reader into an amazing tale involving war, the CIA, an amazing repopulation program and intrigue, danger and conspiracy. It does not take long before Peter is made aware that HE is the liberator to lead the people of Tarizon to freedom against Videl Lai and his tyrant rule.

Captain Leek Lanzia as Peter is known on Tarizon; leads the 3rd Loyalist Army in battle against Videl Lai. With the death of Lai his adopted son Evohn Cystrom vows to continue his father's fight.

The war to liberate Tarizon has left the rightful government in precarious situation having little few armaments to defend themselves against Cystrom and his thugs. Evohn is determined to not only carry out his father's directive to attack Earth, but to retake the power held by his father for himself.

Decision to take one of the last usable Earth Shuttles to Earth in an attempt to warn the people of Earth that the impending invasion can be expected is accepted by Captain Lanzia. If they can somehow how slip away from Tarizon without Evohn realizing what they are doing will give the small band more chance for success.

Tarizon once again becomes a scene of battle, chicanery and dedication. On board the Earth Shuttle Peter/Leek is accompanied by his wife and child. Lucinda's reasoning is simple, if Leek should die; she will be by is side.

On Earth, Stan Turner is surprised to receive word from the CIA that something is afoot. Before long Peter/Leek is reunited briefly with his family. Evohn and his minions try without success to thwart Lanzia and his mission. Earth's citizenry becomes aware that space invasion has been averted, although with the CIA involved, the full picture is not revealed.

Lucinda and baby Tokin are welcomed by Stan and Rebekah. The visit is brief, Peter/Captain Lanzia must return to Tarizon.

Manchee continues to present highly readable, well written manuscripts peopled with characters who are thought-provoking, appealing and convincing. Manchee's turn from Earth and his human Stan Turner main character to the people of Tarizon has been skilled using originality and imagination to create a plausible group of characters, state of affairs and story line.

Dialog, as always, is fitting, filled with strength and not motivated with profanity or reference to capricious sexual innuendo designed only to titillate but add little to the storyline.

Manchee's story line entwining embraces artifice, ploy as well as a wealth of chicanery all depicted via nicely presented prose. Writer Manchee's situation are scrupulous in detail conveying the reader into the action.

Reader interest is captured during those first lines presented on page one of Tarizon: Conquest Earth and is held tight right down to the paragraphs. I have enjoyed Manchee's writing from the day I received my first Stan Turner Mystery to review. Author Manchee's leading actors continue gallant, even as his rogues continue to be blatantly wicked.

Manchee's skill as an author continues to advance, improve and fascinate. As Manchee has shown admirable propensity for setting down convincing mysteries, he is proving as proficient for crafting his fantasy/sci fi offerings also.

I find the Trilogy to be a stirring series, and Tarizon: Conquest Earth to be an stimulating read. Watch for red herrings and a surprise ending.

Happy to recommend Tarizon: Conquest Earth

For review I received an ARC from the author

The Revolutionary Paul Revere
Joel J Miller
Thomas Nelson Publishers
PO Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214
9781595550743, $14.99,

Joel J Miller's The Revolutionary Paul Revere does not begin with that luminary's famous ride to warn the colonists that the Red Coats were coming, rather, Miller offers a peek into the people who shaped the lad who would become one of the leaders of the events leading to the colonists rebellion and ultimate founding of the notion that American is what those early folk to our eastern shore had become.

In the prologue Miller sets the tone for the work as Revere takes pen in hand to send his thoughts regarding those early days of our nation to one Jeremy Belknap the secretary of the Massachusetts Historical Society.

Among 1716 arrivals to the eastern shore was Apollos Rivoire. The ragtag Boston settlement which exported 300,000 dried and salted cod to England in 1640 was now prosperous coastal city having a population of 15,000 persons. Apollos was a son of a determined Huguenot who baptized his son in secret and sent his son on the journey which would lead to Boston where religious freedom was promised. Indentured to goldsmith John Coney the teen was assured a future livelihood, it was the one which he would pass to his son Paul.

Revere's adventures began in childhood when he overthrew the constraints of rigid Puritan upbringing to form with a group of his fellows a Bell ringing guild wherein the lads would ring the bells, and lend an ear to the preaching at the local Calvinist led congregation.

His father's death in 1754 found Paul in possession of a functioning smithy filled with customers, molds, designs and tools. He was too young to take advantage of the inheritance, the law exempted widows from apprenticeship rules, thus Deborah Revere became the shop keeper while sons Paul and Thomas did the crafting.

It was a time of much commotion, turmoil and disorder including French and Indian Wars; prerevolutionary monetary problems filled with taxation, confiscation along with tumult and riots. The upheaval in the colony was quickly followed by military occupation of Boston.

Revere's part in infamous Boston Massacre trial; as well as his role in the Boston Tea Party were detailed in engravings Revere undertook to record the activities of that era. He married, continued his work as a gold and silver smith, became an express rider for the Massachusetts patriots; became a father, marched into battle, served as a waterfront spy, and mourned the death of his wife Sarah.

Few are not aware of the silver tankards crafted by this early patriot, I found most interesting that much of his daily wealth came not from large plate items or engravings, but rather from the thimbles, needles, buttons, buckles and the like he also crafted.

Revere's life is a rich portrait of a man who made little secret for aspiration to attain affluence and social standing. He made significant contributions to the events leading to the colonists' revolt against the British and served with the Massachusetts militia during the war. He faced the rigors of the times, be it threat of war, invasion, death of children or spouse or an outbreak of smallpox with the same grim determination and succeeded in overcoming each of them in turn to ultimately move from his role as silversmith plying his trade to an early manufacturing magnate.

Writer Miller presents an enjoyable peek into the man who was a soldier, husband of 2 wives, father of 16 children, few of whom outlived him, was a businessman, patriot who had a hand in the Massachusetts ratification of the US Constitution and left a legacy filled with engravings of times, places and people as well as items crafted for Freemasons, households and military. From jewelry to thimbles to cannon Revere was an integral part of the early days of the American nation.

Long a student of history who knows more of the 1860 era than I do of the Revolutionary period; I like chapter set up; short, easily read in a sitting, begun with a word title offered in an example of that early day script along with a quote to set the scene. The prologue leads into the tale, 26 pages of foot notes flesh details, and table of contents and index help lead readers to specifics.

Happy to recommend Joel J Miller's The Revolutionary Paul Revere.

Merryll Manning: The Health Farm Murders
John Howard Reid
Lulu Publishing
3101 Hillsborough Street, Raleigh, NC 27607-5436
9780557010066, $15.90,

John Howard Reid's Merryll Manning: The Health Farm Murders is a mystery thriller set against the tapestry of an invented health farm located in the petite Blue Mountains township of Blackheath of New South Wales, west of Sydney, Australia.

The Health Farm Murders is the second in a suspense series presenting Sergeant Merryll, Merry, Manning of the Miami Police Department.

It was Wednesday, traveling on board the train was a group of men set for a week of health and revitalization at Sister Susan's Happy Valley Health Farm. Sister Susan had booked the seats. No one realized a killer might be riding in the compartment with them.

The health seekers themselves were an interesting lot, from chubby minister to a retired film exhibitor, to policeman, accountant, government workers and even an astrologer the lot had little in common other than a desire, or need, to seek a little revitalization and improving of health.

The characters portrayed on the pages of the work are fictitious, however, the storyline has been adapted using a number of true-life incidents taking place in varied locales around South America.

On board the train this varied group of men meets and begins to appraise and irritate one another. Assignment to their various rooms only serves to continue the annoyance as the chubby minister complains there is to be no supper, the former movie house owner takes offense at the presence of the movie critic, the former sea captain talks non stop about his days at sea and the astrologer insists upon analyzing his compadres.

Three murders later finds Merry up to his ears helping to resolve the crimes. Merry's expectations for some rest and relaxation have been completely dashed as one fellow guest after another is found dead.

While The Health Farm Murders is actually a sequel, the work is readable as a stand-alone with no need to read the prior book to understand the main character. Merry Manning is not a formula gung ho copper, he is a little unconventional, urbane, and not particularly ego-driven or macho as is often seen in mystery, thriller genre. Manning sleuths his way between bouts of being bashed unconscious.

Before long he has found reasons to suspect each of his fellow R and R enthusiasts, Sister Susan, the Health Farm manager Jeff Caldecott, and even the local police sergeant.

Writer Reid paints vivid description of the locales to draw the reader into the action. His description of characters fleshes each to provide a good mental picture of each. I liked the lack of gore, violent outburst despite Merry's head bashes and restraint from either capricious sexual scenes or profanity.

I found interesting that setting for this particular work, on the other hand; uses geographical details relating to Blackheath and Govett's Leap area of Oz, are correct in physical detail, while the ambiance features of the town is made-up.

Happy to recommend John Howard Reid's Merryll Manning: The Health Farm Murders for readers who enjoy cozy type tales filled with trepidation, red herrings, some inconsistency, little overt violence, an absence of profanity all in addition to more than a little idiosyncratic humor.

Public Schools are Archaic
MR Ussery
Outskirts Press
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432758059 $11.95,

M.R. Ussery's Public Schools are Archaic is a short, 70 page treatise published by Outskirts Press.

Author notes regarding this writer states that Dr Ussery taught elementary school, secondary school and adult education classes in addition to writing more than 100 scripts for info and training films. Plus, per these notes, the author has received numerous awards for excellent for work as writer, director and producer of those training films.

Writer Ussery notes that the problem in education today is that most schools work under an obsolete curriculum, with students confined to follow a fixed path regardless of their aptitude; that I cannot argue with, and know of no educator who might. Those espousing lock step in education, I have found, are those who do not teach, but do proclaim often and loudly, that teachers don't teach and demand that they begin to do so, NOW. ie send everyone to college, IQ be ignored, personal desire be ignored and job availability or need for those college degrees be ignored.

I do ponder who will cook in restaurants, cut hair, drive a taxi, type medical reports, or fix my car when the day comes that everyone in the nation has a college degree and is now ready to, ummm, what?

Reading over the author's listing of students he has known reads as does the roster in most classrooms. There are those students who appear daily, have problems with reading or math, but are a whiz with their hands, can repair or figure out what makes anything tick. And, there are those who are often absent due to real or imagined illness, or other cause.

Writer Ussery notes the angry child who may be neglected, or tired due to lack of sleep as parents battle into the night, or hungry because there is no food and no money to buy any until pay day. He mentions the bright youngster who has little time to wait for classmates needing to hear instruction again as she/he gets it rushes forward.

He tells of the child who cannot see or hear and wears no hearing aid, or has old or broken, or older cousin's glasses to use. And, he tells of the child who is capable, but is not the class leader, and slaps anything on the page when he/she sees most of the class is nearly done with the lesson. Then he tells of the older student who rarely attends class, ditching and being caught are not his/her problem, mom gets called in, authorities may be called, but he/she is not the culprit, it is mom, or the system, or.

And there is the child who has given up, home life is so impossible for a number of reasons, he/she may be in the foster system, authorities are those to fight, fear or otherwise ignore. And, sad to say, these are students most teachers see each year beginning in kindergarten and continuing on through high school.

From this beginning filled with the details that most educators understand too well; the writer continues with more basic understandings including time is constant, learning is variable. For instance: Teachers have students about 1,000 hours a year, which means nearly 8,000 hours of that year; students will be influenced with the weight of family training, peer pressure, television, internet, reading materials, church or other organizations.

Writer Ussery forwards the statement that all students could benefit from having individualized instruction rather than lock step, same outcome expected curriculum.

From page 11 which begins with a statement concerning home school education which is legal in each state, and has typical rules for parents including students must pass a test for success at a job which is generally an 8th grade equivalency, must teach prescribed subjects, will bring students to their local School district Office to test achievement in prescribed subjects; Author Ussery moves to a discussion of Instructional System Development.

ISD is the process of developing learning modules. Ussery discusses, Philosophy of Education, Research, and Military Involvement - the military has used the ISD approach for decades, and states some of his own personal involvement with ISD.

The writer lists his work in a Traffic Safety training setting for the Air Force, notes his introduction to Criterion Referenced Instruction, and work in producing Audio Visual Training films for the ISD program. That work came to a halt when changes in how the Air Force regarded the whole program took place.

When writer Ussery retired he turned his attention to public education and whether he might apply his ISD training concepts to public education.

Writer Ussery does point out that State Legislators do frequently feel it is their duty to mandate curriculum and hours spent in study, but rarely are these mandates offered with funds or materials with which to implement the mandates. Self pacing for student progress is constricted by mandated semesters and grade level expectations.

The writer does point out that too often school budgets are spent for things, rather than education, that more and more is expected of teachers, curriculum at grade levels is not individualized, and that while most teachers in the lower grades are accomplishing a great deal using older methods or traditional grade levels; older students begin to need more individualized attention which they cannot get because teachers are constrained to follow a set curriculum.

Learn how and drill is the model of the old Boston Latin Schools and is how most young learners do accomplish learning reading, writing, and arithmetic.

Writer Ussery goes on to outline what he calls his Pilot Program for renovation of the present educational system which he would implement as students test at or about the age of High School Freshmen.

I found M.R. Ussery's Public Schools are Archaic to be readable, filled with much preaching to the choir so to speak, but then, I don't think he is directing his work toward teachers, but toward those who do not teach, but want quality education and don't really have a clue how to go about achieving that other than MAKE THOSE TEACHERS ACCOUNTABLE, while continuing to hamstring the teachers with insistence that all students must face exactly the same curriculum presented in the same manner using the same materials and etc and producing the same outcome.

Suggestion I might make to the author would be offer a little more information regarding himself, where he taught, how long, what his expertise is. Provide a website and contact information where those interested in his ideas can quickly locate via Google, and then email, etc.

Do I think Writer Ussery's ideas to be sound and workable, likely so. Do I think there is a chance in this world they might be implemented? Given the present tenor in the country with everyone an expert regarding what is wrong with public education from politicians, state, local, and federal, to admirals on ships, to the local dog catcher, taxi driver, or cook at the hamburger stand, but certainly not teachers or others actually in the field of education; no, I don't think his plan might be implemented.

Happy to recommend especially for those who believe that Teacher's are uncaring, not dedicated and cannot do their job.

Note: I cannot find anything in Google search regarding who this writer actually is, no first name, where he taught, or what this particular work hopes to forward. Having said all that; I did read the book and here is the review.

Without Hesitation
Mark Rosendorf
L&L Dreamspell
P.O. Box 1984, Friendswood, TX 77549-1984
9781603182126, $17.95,

Mark Rosendorf's Without Hesitation: The Rasner Effect II sequel to The Rasner Effect begins with a safety officer telling Clara Blue to relax. But, how? With his knee pressed against her temple, relaxing was not easy to do.

From that point we remember that the hired killers comprising Duke Organization left a trail of corpses behind when they freed her from Brookhill Children's Psychiatric residence. So how did Clara Blue find herself returned to the hateful place. One attempt to escape follows another only to be stopped by a horrifying security system and guards who have little tolerance for escape attempts or those who perpetrate them.

Clara's attempts to escape do not succeed sending her into seclusion time after time where she becomes progressively more delusional whilst trussed in a strait jacket laying in the padded cell.

Arrival to Brookhill of Jennifer Duke, daughter of the founder of the Duke Organization gives Clara hope. Surely Jen has come to take her out of this miserable place. But it doesn't take long for Clara to realize Jen has something else in mind. Working as a therapist Jennifer Duke is determined to regroup a Duke Organization and track down Jake Scarberry, Rick Rasner's old nemesis and the cause for both Rick's demise and the break up of the Duke Organization.

While Jake hides in a witness protection situation working as a bouncer, Jennifer fixates on her one goal: to kill Jake and Clara sets about to try to enlist recruits for Jen's revived mercenary troop.

Jake Scarberry, has been a living an ordinary life under the witness protection program. It is a life he enjoys and has no plans leave; if Jennifer Duke gets her way, Jake may have no choice but to return to the life he wants to leave behind.

Clara Blue and the band of murderous adolescents housed at Brookhill agree that Jen and her plan to get them out of the facility is something they all want. However, despite Jennifer's experience and a plan that sounds like it should work, nothing seems to go as it should.

Before long Jake is out of the witness protection program, Brookhill is in disarray, Rick Rasner is more than a memory, and Clara and a not so merry band find their lives entwining in a gore filled thriller.

Writer Rosendorf has again crafted a properly delivered spine tingling work filled with twists and turns, characters who appear as they are not, and others who perform as expected. Locales are well detailed, action is intense, red herrings are tossed in to create some unexpected situations and turn arounds. How they are to be resolved will no doubt be revealed in the next work which writer Rosendorf says is coming soon.

Happy to recommend Mark Rosendorf's Without Hesitation: The Rasner Effect II for those enjoy plenty of action, surprising outcome and just plain good writing filled with suspense, characters to hate and some to almost like and a keep 'em guessing quality. Not the book for a dark and stormy night.

That's Good! That's Bad!
Author Margery Culyer, author
David Catrow, illustrator
Henry Holt and Company
175 Fifth Avenue New York, NY 10010
9780805029543, $7.99,

Margery Cuyler - That's Good! That's Bad! Children's Fiction is a fun read in our Osage County First Grade.

A little boy went to the zoo with his parents where they bought him a shiny red balloon; that was the commencement of a good/bad set of adventures.

The balloon carried him soaring up into the sky, and that was good, ummm, no, that was bad because the balloon drifted a long time before it came to a jungle, where it burst as it touched the branch of a tall, prickly tree. And that was bad, errr, no that was good.

Thus the adventures proceeded from a plummet into a muddy river full of hippos to joining a gathering of 10 noisy baboons, to finding a hanging vine to snatch for his getaway, coming in contact with elephants and lions and a big billed stork; until finally the little boy is brought back together with his parents.

That's Good, That's Bad is a very good narrative about assumptions.

First Graders, as well as much of the population in general it seems; are prone to very black and white thinking, and never consider the grey that is reality most of the time. A dropped pencil immediately elicits cries of 'somebody stole my pencil', a child sitting and reading may be accused of taking the book of another despite the fact that the book he/she is holding is the one checked out by the reader, and so it goes. Teaching that assumptions, jumping to conclusions and conjecture are often wrong is an ongoing process beginning in Kindergarten and continuing throughout life.

Cuyler's quirky narrative is animated, filled with motivating exclamations Osage First Grade enjoys; WOW, PANT PANT, SSSSS, GLUG, SLOP, WHOOSH, ZZZZZ, PURRR, SLURP, YUCK, OOOOO, BOO HOO, FLAP FLAP, to encourage Little Listener Readers to chime in as the story is read.

Osage County First Grade swiftly grasps that each page is going to launch a new set of oh good, no bad, however, the transition to life has yet to begin.

Writer Cuyler's little boy and his misadventures are well portrayed by illustrator David Catrow's droll and clever graphics depict the little boy's sporadic respite and panic.

Child essential repetition, vivacious kid friendly illustrations and a jungle filled with capricious critters is one fun read for Osage County First Grade.

Writer Cuyler's That's Good! That's Bad! is a magnificently ingenious and delightfully illustrated escapade crowded full of untamed critters as well as extraordinary state of affairs. I like that children are introduced to the notion that everything does not necessarily turn out as first seemed, and that what may look like a disaster may well be a very good thing while what seems so positive at first blush may be anything but.

A real child pleaser, happy to recommend Margery Cuyler's That's Good! That's Bad!.

Beast Feast
Douglas Florian
Voyager Books
222 Berkeley Street Boston, MA 02116
9780152017378, $7.00,

Douglas' Florian's ' beast feast, poems and paintings' is a child pleasing compilation of 21 rhymes, odes and poetry spanning a wide gamut from The Caterpillar to The Kiwi and The Walrus to The Boa.

Odes drawing attention to Birds include The Pigeon, The Kiwi and the Rhea, while insects feature The Firefly, The Grasshopper and The Caterpillar. Eight Stanzas featuring mammals are offered along with three about sea life.

Each two page spread comprises verse on one leaf with a unique full page interpretation of the named critter.

Florian's brilliant imaginative notions set down in individual rhymes coupled with an dependable flair for alliteration is highly engaging. Osage County First Grade sit captivated, enjoying the flow of words and accompanying quirky graphics as we turn page to page to meet each new beast.

Artistic verse bring enthralled children to chuckles as they listen and view unanticipated enchanting images including energetic, multicolored and completely entertaining representations.

The Walrus; illustrated by a rust toned, long tusked fellow sitting, staring with unblinking eyes is a perfect foil to the four line ode:

The pounding spatter

Of salty sea

Makes the walrus


The table of contents catalogs a dandy feast of wondrous individuals from the grand to the diminutive, small as a mole or pigeon and the firefly; all receive attention. Short to tall, familiar to utterly odd; walrus and toad, bat and armadillo; they all can be found.

Oddities of nature fascinate, unite and dare children to learn more about the vast multiplicity found on our earth.

The Boa:

Just when you think you know the boa,

There's moa and moa, and moa and moa.

Is met with wide eyes and some trepidation, while

The Armadillo:

The armadillo

As a pillow

Would really be swell


For the fact

That it comes in a shell

Brings forth giggles and conversation about the small, nocturnal animal we see often in our area.
Writer; illustrator Florian's idiosyncratic, full page watercolors are as mischievous as his poetry. Florian's beast feast is an all around pleasing read.

Happy to recommend Douglas' Florian's beast feast.

Audrey Wood and Don Wood
9780152002176, $8.00

Audrey Wood's 'Piggies' opens with two full page spreads facing each other; a child's hands appear with thumbs extended and quirky little porkers perched on the thumbs. Thus begins one of the more enduring of children's works enjoyed by Osage County First Grade.

A small child's chubby hands become a means of daydream, flights of imagination and whimsy as each finger takes on the character of a piggy.

The finger on the right establishes a well got up porcine fellow; top hat, bumbershoot and tails, while on the other we find a diffident little, back up, rephrase, chunky gal armed with picnic fixins. What is more, the left hand discloses a forefinger extended with a rather bookish type at the apex; sitting on a tome, thick horn rims, he is pouring over a weighty volume.

As each leaf is turned we glimpse the preceding pigs and a growing number of comrades who are joining the fun. From elongated, to plump, to witty, to silly the assembly expands; the fellow with the top hat scrutinizes, while the reader maintains his reading and the picnic becomes a banquet of bananas, strawberries and even snow balls.

There are minute piggies, sizzling piggies, frosty piggies, spotless piggies, filthy little piggies, well behaved piggies, but not at bedtime when they 'skip down to my tummy, and dance on my toes'.

It is not long before the piggies run off to hide until the child puts jammy clad piggies in a line for kisses. And oh, those kisses. There are chubby kisses, tidy kisses, extended kisses, silly kisses and teeny weeny kisses.

Osage County First Grade loves books, all and any books, whatever the book I reach for brings an immediate rush of small people to the rug where they sit rapt, filled with anticipation, eyes bright; listening with every fiber as only small Listeners can do.

The well worn, taped together pages of Audrey Wood's 'Piggies' attests to the enjoyment modern Osage County First Grade receives from this old time tale. The cover is held together with duct tape, the pages have been taped and retaped back into the cover, individual pages have been lovingly turned and returned by countless Little Readers.

I like Don and Audrey Wood's Piggies too.

Just Listen - A Memoir
Jenna Young
Amazon Digital Services
B003NX7LU8 $8.99

'I made you, you have to let me. I can do what I want.'

Jenna Young's Just Listen - A Memoir is a persuasive account of one survivor of sexual abuse, depression and self injury including eating disorders.

Just Listen available as a Kindle download and paperback work from Lulu is a work comprising 14 chapters. I will detail Chapter 1 more heavily because it sets the tone, pace and understanding for the chapters following.

At age 21 Jenna Young found herself in a psychiatric hospital following ten depression years during which time Jenna had been bulimic was becoming anorexic and had resorted to self mutilation to help alleviate the pain she had carried for years after learning at an early age to hide her feelings.

The book opens just after Christmas as Jenna is recovering from a car crash which left her wearing a cast and walking on crutches, she had a job she enjoyed, friends and a life which seemed to be on track.

During a shopping trip another car crash taking place in front of her triggered emotions she was unable to stifle and ultimately led Jenna to a hospital ER where the nurse quickly noted the scars on her wrist, began to question and a volunteer stay at South Pines Psychiatric Hospital, psychological evaluation and the question, 'Have you ever been sexually abused.'

Able to at last face the awfulness of the ordeal, to begin talking about the experience, and receive the help and needed reassurance that all victims must have; Jenna began the long road to recovery. Eight days after she signed herself into the Hospital Jenna was released to first face the Confrontation she had to have with her abuser. She sent him an email. His response did not address the abuse, rather he told Jenna he had had a bad childhood. Jenna's predictable reaction to having no release to her own pain was more cutting, and a second go round at South Pines Psychiatric Hospital.

Jenna's recovery was a long hard walk filled with stress, learning to deal with the relentless of the past, able to face the stress, and talking two steps forward and one back as is experienced by most who have undergone repeated, ongoing anguish.

For a time during the six months Jenna experienced beginning with the first hospitalization episode, facing the abuse, dealing with stress, flashbacks and nightmares, more cutting episodes, suicide attempts and desperation plus more times spent in the hospital were the norm in Jenna's life, at last Jenna hit what she realized was ROCK BOTTOM and the long road to recovery could actually begin.

Interspersed within the sequence of events are narratives from Jenna's journals written during that period in her life as well as, poems, and letters and emails from her grandmother. Friendships made and lost, relatives who at first believe and then deny that the abuse took place are all a too familiar part of most survivor stories.

The last four chapter titles Starting Over Once Again. Falling Fast to the Ground, Picking Up the Pieces and at last A Whole New World sum up and round out the work.

'I was abused, but that abuse will no longer define me, it is not who I am.'

Jenna Young has written a compelling narrative filled with the denial of abuse, despair that accompanies such denial and the long road to recovery. Jenna's story is one that counselor's, teachers and others can recognize and understand. Familial denial makes recovery even harder, however it is no way negates the impact of the tale.

Today Jenna Young has continued her recovery to the point that she is now at a healthy weight, no longer finds solace in self mutilation, accepts that abuse, the friendships or relationships lost cannot dictate her future and has in fact found happiness in marriage and can plan a future filled with happiness, hope and children with a spouse who is understanding, patient and loving.

Happy to recommend Jenna Young's Just Listen - A Memoir especially for those who may themselves have been abused as children, for counselors, high school library and home book shelves.

A few typos noted.

Chapter titles include:

Chapter One: The Breakdown

Chapter Two: The Confrontation

Chapter Three: South Pines, Part Two

Chapter Four: The Silent Treatment

Chapter Five: South Pines, Part Three

Chapter Six: Deeper into Darkness

Chapter Seven: South Pines, Part Four

Chapter Eight: Falling Apart

Chapter Nine: A New Beginning

Chapter Ten: Wherever You Go, There You are

Chapter Eleven: Starting Over Once Again

Chapter Twelve: Falling Fast to the Ground

Chapter Thirteen: Picking Up the Pieces

Chapter Fourteen: A Whole New World

During her road to recovery Jenna Young learned:

50% of woman who were sexually abused later develop some form of an eating disorder; as an anorexic 5'6" 107 pound woman Jenna felt herself fat.

Who Stole My Soul
Vishwa Prakash
Synergy Books
PO Box 80107 Austin, TX 78758
9780982314050, $19.95,

Vishwa Prakash's Who Stole My Soul, a dialog with the devil on the meaning of life is an imaginative presentation of what might take place should a ' confused and directionless Vishwa in a world where good things seem to happen to bad people and bad things to good people' discusses the situation with 'the profoundly evil adversary of God and humanity.'

Who Stole My Soul is the account of Vishwa, became aware that his soul was perhaps permeated and then had been taken away by a forceful power far tougher than as been generally thought.

A manuscript addressing motivation and theology concerning body, mind and soul, Who Stole My Soul is replete with growing awareness that much of the counsel presented in the work comes about as Vishna begins to understand that human reluctance, disinclination or inability to recognize things as they actually are; is what leads to much misunderstanding regarding good or bad things and good or bad people.

Vishwa Prakash is a counselor, religious leader, and spiritual speaker who has come to believe that the power of laughter to mend the deepest wounds can be an aid leading to growing coping skills needed for facing many of the most serious challenges faced by humans in general. A trendy keynote lecturer who converses on a variety of subjects, spiritual and physical including corporeal illness and depression; Vishwa is a strong proponent regarding the curative and restorative benefits of laughter yoga and the role it plays in personal and social wellness.

As a religious speaker, Vishwa Prakash references Who Stole My Soul, a dialog with the devil on the meaning of life regarding learning to listen and understanding that listening to the inner voice we all possess can guide seekers toward an optimistic future.

Vishwa encourages all to discover the devil inside and how to come to terms with what he feels is human's worse half as seekers discover their inner purpose and meaning and take practical steps leading to greater spirituality and greater understanding of what he calls 'the Higher Self'.

Written in a witty, whimsical, droll manner, Prakash's narrator forwards fantasies and fears as being the principal adversary humans face in their search for peaceful living. Coming to terms with this notion takes a good bit of straightforward, sincere self-examination. It is Vishna's understanding that those who only look outside themselves are more dreamers while those look inward begin to awaken to self and those around them.

Throughout this 250+ page work regarding Vishwa's tete-a-tete with what he terms is the anti-God the writer is taken deeper and deeper within himself as he tries to reclaim his supposed lost soul. Facing the question of questions Vishna at last can answer; Who am I? What is my soul? Who or What is God?

The writing style employed by author Prakash is a conversation with the writer's alter-ego leading to the writer's personal spiritual awakening.

Who Stole my Soul encourages readers to consider a spiritual conversations with an eye toward the reader attaining greater insight and tools to enable each reader to discover their singular life purpose and how to attain their personal goals.

Well written, interesting, not for everyone. Those who find this type work to be questioning of dogma or theology will likely not enjoy.

Happy to recommend Vishwa Prakash's Who Stole My Soul, a dialog with the devil on the meaning of life for those who do seek to have better self understanding 'outside the box.'

Eight Days in Darkness
Angela Roegner, LCSW and Anita Wooldridge
Synergy Books
9780984076031 $24.95

Eight Days in Darkness, the True Story of the Abduction, Rape and Rescue of Anita Wooldridge is a narrative written following the events beginning on June 25 1998 when Anita Woodridge was taken from her parents' home and held for 8 horrifying days by a convicted rapist.

In 1998 Anita Wooldridge was a fiery tressed young lady, 1995 Taylor High School graduate, working, enjoying a serious relationship with the young man she thought she might spend her life with and living in her childhood home in Kokomo, Indiana.

She and her close friend and co worker were happily anticipating the wedding of her friend; Anita was to be part of the wedding party.

Anita Wooldridge's life was to forever change when Victor Thomas Steele, Tom, referred to by Anita as the mole in her book forced his way into the Wooldridge home where Anita was sleeping in, her plans to go over to the high school and help with the clean up taking place following a recent tornado had been cancelled due to a heat advisory.

Anita had a fleeting acquaintance with forty-two year old Tom Steele, he had come to the gym where Anita worked.

During the 8 days following her abduction Anita was forced out of her home, into the trunk of a car, to the farmhouse where Tom had an attic bedroom in his Mother's home where she was assaulted more than once, was transported to Wisconsin where Steele had grandiose plans to open a book store and have a loving relationship with 'his girl'. Anita kept in a locked cupboard Steele had laid upon the floor for most of the time, she was allowed out of the cupboard during the times Steele demanded sexual gratification and to cook or clean.

Her eight days of horror at last ended when the police in Indiana and the police in Wisconsin pieced together the truth, located the house and rescued Anita from her metal prison.

She had little knowledge then that her involvement with Tom Steele was not yet over. During his trial Steele served as his own attorney, demanded that Anita confess that she and the FBI has cooked up the whole story just to get him in trouble.

Anita has gone on with her life, but nothing will be the same, her relationships with men are still problematic, after years in therapy Anita feels strong enough to serve as a victims' advocate and travels throughout the US to tell her story and present the story of her successful rescue.

After nine years of appeals during which time Steele was never successful he has now brought civil suit against Anita and her attorney for a million dollars as payment for the suffering he has faced in prison.

Angela Roegner, LCSW, has penned a compelling, fast moving read filled many details detailing the excruciating fear, horror and awfulness of the Anita Wooldridge case. I had a vague memory of the case from news reports back at the time the matter was taking place. Reading first the news reports online and then reading Anita's story on the pages of Eight Days in Darkness I can only marvel at the pluck this girl managed to come up with to assuage her attacker's brutality, to keep herself alive and to return to life, not as it was but as it is now filled with more understanding and continuing faith in God in spite of all the horror of those eight days.

I find Eight Days in Darkness to be a compelling read and despite the misery Steele inflicted upon Anita, the story remains one of hope and is a tribute to the human spirit.

Told in straight forward manner, Roegner worked closely with Anita to produce this work filled with graphic sexual reference, gritty language and the pervading faith Anita clung to during the ordeal. Anita was taken by a convicted rapist, he assaulted her brutally and repeatedly, and the details offered are necessary to really bring the reader to an understanding of what one young woman was forced to endure, how she faced the misery, rose above it and determined that she would not forever be bowed by it.

Not for everyone, however happy to recommend Eight Days in Darkness, the True Story of the Abduction, Rape and Rescue of Anita Wooldridge for survivors of rape and assault, caregivers, family, counselors and the high school, and public library shelf.

A Salute to SPANISH POETRY 100 Masterpieces from Spain & Latin America rendered into English Verse.
John Howard Reid
3131 RDU Center Dr STE 210, Morrisville, NC, 27560
9780557269433, $12.50,

John Howard Reid's A Salute to SPANISH POETRY 100 Masterpieces from Spain & Latin America brings the reader an awareness of the works of some of the editor's favorite Romance Language Bards.

Commencing with Adagio, a work rendered by Argentine political idealist Leopoldo Lugones who took his own life in 1938, the reader is presented with an array of odes that inspire, bring a smile and others to stir memories.

Golden Springtime, translated from the Spanish of Nobel Prize recipient for Literature Juan Ramon Jimenez, is filled with the joy of spring and hope despite its setting of a cemetery.

Verses filled with pathos lead the reader to an understanding of the depth of Amor felt in the words of poet Ramon Lopez Velarde, lauded in Mexico as Mexico's National Poet, as he pens In the Depths of Twilight.

Moving from the depth of love the reader can also find a lament in the words They Tell Me I Must Marry translated from the Castilian of Portuguese lyricist Gil Vicente. The lady is not just having reservations, she is downright frank. They tell me I must marry, but I don't want a husband. No! and she goes on to explain that she likes her life and has no want to be the flower who marries a weed.

And finally Cuban national hero, Jose Marti pens the poignant She Died of Love as a young lady finds she cannot live without the young man who marched off to war. He returned, however, he was not the man who had left.

If you enjoy verses penned with style, wit and delicately wrought verse then you may well enjoy John Howard Reid's A Salute to SPANISH POETRY 100 Masterpieces from Spain & Latin America.

This work is a slim volume of 100 odes spanning nearly 140 pages. Included are some double leaf works, as well as some illustrated by the editor's photographic offerings in Black and White. The stark beauty of the photos illustrate well the at times stark verse.

Following the poetry is a comprehensive Index listing each poet, along with a short biography of his or her life.

John Howard Reid's A Salute to SPANISH POETRY 100 Masterpieces from Spain & Latin America is a compilation of a diversity of a group of excellent verse written by Spanish language bards some hailing from Spain and Latin America and others who while not born in the areas noted were fluent in the language.

Included in the listing of Poets are those from Uruguay, Portugal, Peru and Spain as well as Venezuela, Brazil, Cuba and Nicaragua, and finally Bolivia, Mexico, Chile, Argentina, and an American fluent in Spanish. Editor Reid has included the works of men and women, monks and Jewish, young writers and elderly, those who rail again government and those who speak of love.
Poets include Amado Nervo, Antonio Machado, Alfonsina Storni, Andres Bello, Cesar Vallejo, Delmira Agustini, Federico Garcia Lorca, Gil Vicente, Gabriela Mistral, Jose Juan Tablada, Juan Ruiz, Jose Marti, Julio Herrera y Reissig, Jorge Manrique, Joaquin Pasos, Leopoldo Lugones, Luis de Gongora y Argote, Manuel Gonzalez Prada, Miguel de Cervantes, Miguel de Barrios, Miguel de Unamuno, Rosalia de Castro, Ruben Dario and more.

Enjoyed the read, Happy to recommend John Howard Reid's A Salute to SPANISH POETRY 100 Masterpieces from Spain & Latin America.

Your Thoughts Can Trap You, a Sammi Evans Mystery
Jeanne L Drouillard
A-Argus Better Book Publishers, LLC
9780984134267 $18.95

Jeanne L Drouillard's Your Thoughts Can Trap You, a Sammi Evans Mystery is one of three Sammi Evans Mysteries produced to date by writer Drouillard.

Sammi Evans is not your usual investigative personality. She has a rare gift which enables Sammi to aid police with particularly thorny problems. Her gift is one that Sammi does not discuss or reveal to more than a very select few.

Your Thoughts Can Trap You opens with Sammi chatting with FBI agent Ben Collier who would like to enlist Sammi's help with one of those thorny problems facing him. That call is quickly followed by one from one of Sammi's old college professors. Sammi was instrumental to the investigation into the disappearance and subsequent return of Professor Harley's son some years back. Now he tell Sammi he may need to once again ask Sammi for some additional help.

From that beginning we follow Sammi, her police officer sweetheart, Detective Dave Patterson and a series of events centering on the disappearance of a group of several children. Dave is just recovering from the gun shot wound he suffered several months prior at the hands of a woman, a casual acquaintance, who professes her adoration for him before ultimately shooting him.

Included in the narrative we meet various of Sammi and Dave's friends, travel with Sammi to Reading, Pa as she spends a few days helping to check out the situation taking place in one of the branches of the bank for which she works, learn details of the auto crash as the car Sammi is driving is suddenly hit from behind by an 18 wheeler, learn more of Professor Harley and his need for Sammi's special talents, and discover the truth behind the disappearance of those children.

Writer Drouillard has taken a intriguing premise, use of a perhaps psychic who is able to discern thoughts of those nearby and use that talent to aid police as they unravel cases which might otherwise go unsolved.

While the use of psychics in actual police situations is something which has begun to gain some favor, and more than one movie, TV mystery and book have been produced centering on psychic ability; writer Drouillard has taken the notion, added her own slant, and created a likeable, at times somewhat bemused by her own ability, personality as her main character.

Following the good-natured, and at times bemused Sammi as she struggles to maintain her equilibrium as soon to be wife, bank employee, friend, and concerned citizen against the needs of the police and others around her for use of her ability to actually hear the thoughts of others and lead to solving of exceptionally baffling cases is set down in readable fashion by a new writer who has now produced three books, and surely as several more already filling her thoughts.

Drouillard's characters are nicely developed, completed with enough detail to make them very believable, with the nicer folk very nice and very likeable, while the rogues tend to be downright rascals. Hard hitting dialogue, is pithy, convincing, and spot on. Settings are filled with enough description to draw the reader into the setting, hold interest tight and keep the reader turning the page.

Your Thoughts Can Trap You, a Sammi Evans Mystery is an absorbing tale as we follow Sammi Evans across nearly 300 pages to a satisfying conclusion.

Not for everyone, those who prefer a situation begins, and continues right through to the last page will not be so fond of a meandering tale comprising several varying situations. Those who enjoy interwoven tales, as I do, will find much to like on the pages of Jeanne L Drouillard's Your Thoughts Can Trap You, a Sammi Evans Mystery.

Happy to recommend Jeanne L Drouillard's Your Thoughts Can Trap You, a Sammi Evans Mystery.

Remembering the Ladies
Ann Covell
Outskirts Press
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432754020, $18.95,

Ann Covell's Remembering the Ladies: a Century of U.S. First Ladies 1789 - 1889 is an enjoyable work chronicling the lives of what may be to many, complete unknowns.

Every child student in the US has heard the names of many of our presidents, on the other hand, few if any have even heard, much less know something of the President's wives or families.

Ann Covell's work fills a need to stir interest for these ladies who quietly marched into history for the most part and were quickly forgotten other than by a genealogist here and there.

I personally have a life long love of history, like people and have long wanted to know more about both. I Ann Covell's Remembering the Ladies to be very appealing as we learn a snippet or two regarding these quiet women who, time and place dictated, were to remain in the shadow of their husbands.

One interesting aspect I found on the pages of Remembering the Ladies is the fact that ugly, at times really untrue, mean spirited and frequently baseless disapproval of the President's wife is a very old political fixture; it began with the founding of the republic and continues to this day. Washington's gentle, unassuming wife was well received, not all wives were as evidenced by the criticism of Elizabeth Monroe following the election of her husband. Knowing nothing of her; popular opinion was that Mrs Monroe was guilty of snobbish social indifference rather than illness, timidity or perhaps other reason. Few were aware that during the days of the French revolution it was Mrs Monroe who achieved the release of Madame Lafayette from the gaol in which the lady was imprisoned.

Because it was a social faux pas to discuss child bearing other than in the confines of the home few realized Louisa Adams may have been facing total ill health and deep seated depression; she experienced eleven pregnancies during 21 years of marriage, during which the first seven pregnancies were miscarried.

Many of the President's Wives, openly expressed little desire to be the wife of the President, but once he was elected set about to fulfill the role which had not been clearly defined other than the spouse was to be the official hostess for the President. In the case of the widowed Jefferson and others daughters, daughters-in-law, and other relatives were called upon to fill the role.

Even what to call the spouse of the President Queen of the White House, Lady, Mrs President, and for Julia Tyler Mrs Presidentress, were used prior to President Taylor's noting Dolley Madison as The First Lady during her state funeral. That was the appellation that finally stuck.

I enjoyed reading Ann Covell's Remembering the Ladies: a Century of U.S. First Ladies 1789 - 1889 and learning something of these women who during the early days of our country quietly took their place beside husbands; often without really realizing what turn their life was to take.

The diversity of these women, well educated to just barely lettered, product of a multiplicity of backgrounds from abject poverty to a childhood as the beloved pet in a wealthy home filled with opulence, some fluent in several languages, and varied background from Dutch, Russian, English, German and other, having parents who were honest, unremembered today to those whose parents and grandparents are among the founders of the nation is a fascinating read.

During those early years of our country general education was not universal, despite that many of spouses were well educated, but expected to voice no opinion of their own.

Women in those days were expected to bear children without complaint, but to have no control in the rearing of the children, or ownership of their own inherited property. Women were to quietly defer to husbands in all things.

While a political figure might welcome the approval of his spouse, her disapproval was her problem, and he ran for office whether the white house was in his wife's hopes or not. Willing or not, healthy or not, she was expected to be the always pleasant and proficient hostess for all White House functions, whether private or governmental.

Washington society was, may well still be, incredibly arrogant and challenging, a supposed misstep, no matter how inconsequential, could, and still may be socially destructive leading to public ridicule and pillorying. Margaret Mackall Smith Taylor, a sophisticated Marylander born into a politically powerful family, whose wealthy tobacco farmer, father served the nation well during Revolution and was herself well educated for the time was portrayed during the election campaign as coming from a poverty stricken family, uneducated, and vulgar and was cartooned as a hill woman smoking a pipe.

Each woman, spouse, daughter or other relative who came to occupy the White House alongside husband, father, in law, or other relative brought her own style, signature and ability. Many of the wives were already deceased from child bearing, others were worn out and in health due to the near constant child bearing experienced by women in those early days.

Many, well suited both in temperament and intellect, embraced the role with vigor, style and grace, others held back allowing daughters, in laws and other relatives to take on the role, while there were those who were not at suited for the role into which they were thrust.

Beginning during the 1800s it became the norm for the Present's spouse to take on a socially important or charitable cause, not a political one, and that carries over into today.

One interesting point Ann Covell's Remembering the Ladies: a Century of U.S. First Ladies 1789 - 1889 clearly defines is the absolute brutal and ugly behavior of many in politics, society as a whole, and Washington DC social scene members toward the spouse of a President or presidential candidate. Education, upbringing, number of children, lack thereof, even hair style all are grist for the mongering.

I find Ann Covell's Remembering the Ladies: a Century of U.S. First Ladies 1789 - 1889 to be a well researched, highly readable work which fills in many gaps. While I personally have long read history, I found many anecdotes in this work that are new to me. I like expanding my knowledge.

I can see a real place for Remembering the Ladies in the High School library, for Home Schoolers, for history buffs and those who enjoy a well written work depicting some of the history of our country.

Happy to recommend, Ann Covell's Remembering the Ladies: a Century of U.S. First Ladies 1789 - 1889.

Disillusioned: A Stan Turner Mystery
William Manchee
TopPub Dallas, TX
9781929976669 $14.95

William Manchee's Disillusioned, a Stan Turner Mystery Bk 9 finds Stan as a law student at SMU, perhaps political aspirant, husband, father, and political activist.

Prior to his move to Texas Stan had thought a military career might be a good stepping stone for launching a political career. That notion was shattered when as a Marine Corps recruit he entered officer candidate school and within days was accused of the murder of his Drill Sergeant. While Stan was ultimately acquitted of that murder, his hoped for military career no long held any allure. Stan was granted a discharge and returned home.

Disillusioned begins on Saturday, July 3, 1976 as Stan and his wife Rebekah with friends Rob and Cindy Shepherd attended a BBQ at the home of a well to do Dallas business man, Brad Thornton. Rob was Thornton's handpicked candidate to wage what was hoped to be a successful Republican campaign against the seeming entrenched Democratic incumbent, Ron Wells. Not only had Thornton asked Rob to run for the office, but he was the chief monetary supporter.

The evening is a pleasant one for everyone attending.

That pleasant memory is quickly crushed. Headlines in the morning newspaper note that FBI agents have executed a search warrant at the home of one Brad Thornton. Within days Stan uncovers a potential problem regarding the past support, Rob receives a visit from FBI agents who exhibit more than a little suspicion regarding his involvement with financier Brad Thornton. Rob's chief contributor decides he must withdraw his support. Rob needs a campaign manager and Stan suggests political go getter, Kristina Tenison for the job.

Stan's arrival home following a bit of political maneuvering with local Democratic Commissioner Barnes who is ready to leave the Democratic party and join the ranks of the Republican finds Stan facing a visit from the same FBI agents who have exhibited little trust for Rob Shepherd. Stan too finds himself coming under the same disbelieving scrutiny.

A political fund raiser for President Ford again brings the Turner and Shepherd couples together for a second pleasant evening of fine dinner, plans making and renewed hope.

All of that is shattered quickly with a late night knock on the door.

Rob and Cindy Shepherd, their teen neighbor baby sitter and all three young children have been found dead. The coroner leans toward this being a murder, suicide situation.

Despite how the situation may appear to local police; it is up to Stan to sort out what is and what is not fact, try to clear his friend's name, and in doing so find out actually did murder Rob, his family and the baby sitter.

The dismay felt by Stan Turner is understandable as he battles against an open and shut case to locate what may be the actual murderer, tries his best to preserve his friend's memory as decent man, father and husband rather than murderer, finds himself facing more danger than he had foreseen.

The interwoven situations Turner must face as he works to determine the reality behind his friend's death, and the deaths of his family and the sitter who was simply in the wrong place at the wrong time, the driving force behind the situation, and eventual truth while juggling his own home and family circumstances, his schooling, his make do job selling insurance while putting himself through school, and the political contest that will continue with or without Rob Shepherd, or Stan himself, are cleverly produced in this bracing murder mystery.

Attorney and Novelist Manchee carries an awareness of the judicial landscape many do not have. He puts his knowledge to first-rate usage to craft another gripping narrative meant to hold reader interest as readers are afforded a quick look into the day by day lives of persons who are appealing and enjoyable and quite believable.

As always Manchee has peopled his work with a list of characters who are well detailed, creative and carefully planned. From the enigmatic Melissa Thornton, and her somewhat unfathomable husband Brad, to secondary players who hang around the edges not always behaving as expected to the FBI agents who seem to epitomize everything readers may think regarding such officers to Stan's wife Rebekah each is featured as altogether credible.

Disillusioned is the latest in a growing series of William Manchee's 'Stan Turner' mystery thrillers. Manchee has a history for producing more and more of my preferred type works filled with very readable writing peopled with nicely authentic characters and state of affairs.

Manchee works assure no inane affectation, no specious, graphic sex is added with a hope to simply titillate in order to simply sell the book or attempt to make up for a lack of writing skill in return for highly readable work sure to prove more than adequate for those of us who enjoy a dandy mystery filled with red herrings, determined, hard hitting dialogue, perceptive narrative and more than enough highlights and resonance and description to draw the reader into the setting and keep them turning the page.

I find Disillusioned: A Stan Turner Mystery to be a good option for those who enjoy mystery thrillers. It is a fine selection for the personal reading shelf, the high school library for those mature enough to enjoy the genre and for those who just like a good book to read.

Enjoyed the read; William Manchee's Disillusioned: A Stan Turner Mystery is highly recommended.

The Ladies of Low Arvie Living the Farming Dream
Linda Watson
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100 Lincoln, NE 68512
9780595358373 $18.95

Linda Watson's The Ladies of Low Arvie: Living the Farming Dream is writer Watson's account of what transpired when, at retirement age in 2002, she and her partner Richard bought a 20 acreage called Low Arvie in SW Scotland.

"Have you ever had a dream? A dream of living life to its fullest extent. . A life that means that when you are too old to work any more and you can only sit by the fire and re-live your yesterdays, all the memories will make you smile."

Watson first began a daily blog to recount the adventures she and Richard faced during their three year search for just the perfect farm where the pair could begin a rural adventure to carry them well into old age.

That search for acreage was culminated Saturday, 18th May 2002, and from that point, the pair began an adventure of a lifetime. I like Watson's down to earth, chatty memoir in which she chronicles, chapter by chapter, first how the pair came to locate the farm, make their bid, and begin the work to turn a neglected piece of land into both a thriving farm and a spot where wildlife critter, bird, insect and plant abounds in a protected environment.

I am a farmer's daughter and thoroughly enjoyed reading of the ventures and misadventures of the pair as they explore the system for purchasing a piece property in Scotland where; once the bid is entered, the buyer is committed to the purchase, if that bid is the one that is chosen. For a USA resident who is used to seeing land that is appraised prior to being listed for sale, marketed with prices listed on each piece of property, owners who are resistive to lowering prices, etc, I found the Scottish method of, make a bid and hope, to be fascinating.

Watson's narrative is free flowing, attention-grabbing, written in a breezy highly understandable mode as she relates the trials and mysteries of rural water systems, and the hurry up and wait so often encountered when purchasing property. Watson tells how once their bid was accepted, and with many things to do to get ready prior to moving they were told to wait for the word when to have the bid money ready only to be told days later that the money would be needed within a few days which mean scrambling to get the purchase amount gathered from various accounts and investments before the check might clear.

From worrying with perhaps needing to leave Writer Watson's aged mother in Yorkshire, to a stint at Strone House Bed and Breakfast where Watson and Richard fill in for the owners as they set off for a holiday in Spain which led to Watson's most opportune meeting the B and B guest who just happened to be an official with the Abbeyfield Society a care facility offering some care to total care of the elderly, to Watson's deciding whether to continue her Strathclyde University work with an eye toward a Postgraduate Diploma in Counseling; The Ladies of Low Arvie is a very entertaining, appealing read.

Watson's mother had lived in her own home during her adult life, Writer Watson had shared the home with each woman having their own apartment in the construction, Mom downstairs, Watson on the upper floor. Watson's mother was not at level to need total care, but trying to locate suitable housing where she might have some care and be close by was somewhat daunting until meeting Mr and Mrs Tickle.

On the 10th July, possession of the farm became a reality. Watson tells that she had lived in her small Yorkshire village for nearly the whole of her 54 years, had only live in 3 houses during her lifetime, and was now preparing to leave her previous life behind and begin the trek to a new area where she knew no one yet. That is a tad daunting for anyone at any age to contemplate.

Armed with the knowledge that her mother would be eligible to enter one of the Abbeyfield houses, chiefly the one in nearby Galloway was reassuring. Decision was made that Watson, Richard and Watson's mother would all be making the move just about the same time and would be leaving Watson's aunty Ethel who lives in a residential care in the home village behind until a nearby location could be found.

11th July 2002 found Watson, Richard moving van, trailer, and well packed little green car on the road from Yorkshire to Galloway.

Getting her Mother established in the village of Auchencairn while waiting for the room at Castle Douglas Bothwell House some ten and a quarter miles from Low Arvie to be readied and realizing that college must go on hold for a bit were tasks quickly settled.

Deciding on the breed of cattle to buy, Highlanders, Galloways, Belted Galloways all were possibilities. Learning the rules and regulations regarding farming and the dire consequences of missing due dates, clearing drains, ditches, reclaiming land for a ready made nature reserve, mowing grass and baling the haylage, remodeling the house, studying fertilizer, building habitats, applying for subsidies, becoming regulars at various farm and estates sales have become a way of life for Watson and Richard.

Watson soon learned that anything on a farm that can break, will; anything you need for working will need one more part to make the haying, digging or whatever go easier; everything will cost more than anticipated, rural water can be really iffy at times, and, learning to haunt farm sales can provide many of the necessities all farms need at a very decent price.

Attending cattle sales, and finally purchase of 'The Ladies of Low Arvie' culminated on November 20th 2002 when twenty five Galloway mothers and calves and Blondie, one mixed Galloway girl and her calf, arrived in three loads. After attending cattle auctions, Watson and Richard actually purchased The Ladies from a local farmer who wanted to sell his herd intact.

Worry for mad cow disease, hoof and mouth, TB and Brucellosis testing are now a natural part of their lives as is early morning rain followed by boggy land, winter cold and snow, keeping a diary of birds, and flowers, and critters out across the open areas of land, farm machinery, and calves.

Naming the calves became the focus for the Farm leading to the blog and the book to follow. Each of the Little Ladies was named Lady A, B, C through the alphabet. Calves were named for the women in the lives of Watson and Richard, her mother and his, her daughter and grand daughters, Linda's own name, all are now worn by one of the Ladies of Arvie.

"A farm, a small piece of land that we could call our own, where we could live out the second half of our lives in harmony with nature and at peace with the world, perhaps grow corn or rear cows, whatever the land we bought dictated. This was our dream. We were lucky. We found it and we live it."

I found Linda Watson's The Ladies of Low Arvie Living the Farming Dream to be well written, filled with notable personal quips, highlights and witticism. It is a moving recitation designed to instill the writer's love for the land, the critters and the world in which she lives. An altogether lovely aspiration for any of us, I suspect.

I like Writer Watson's command of language and while the narrative is at times humorous it clearly delineates what all farmers know; life and death and everything in between is part of the tale of all life.

While the reader does not need to be a farmer to find him/herself drawn into the narrative, I do suspect farming folk in particular will laugh, nod their heads knowingly or tsk in sympathy as Watson fills her work with the descriptive expressions needed to bring the words alive in this slice of life memoir.

I find Linda Watson's The Ladies of Low Arvie: Living the Farming Dream highly readable, most entertaining and well worth the read. I recommend The Ladies of Low Arvie for high school and all other library shelves, it will appeal in particular to the farming community as well as the public at large, and is sure to be a delight to all who enjoy memoir filled with light hearted, joyous writing.

Merryll Manning TRAPPED On Mystery Island
John Howard Reid
9781435720855 $12.50

John Howard Reid's Merryll Manning TRAPPED On Mystery Island is number 1 in the Merry Manning series.

When Florida Police Sergeant Merry, Merryll, Manning and his 20 something girl friend arrive for a a murder mystery weekend in an old Dominican priory on Cross Key Island complete with a throng, 16 in all, of captivating fellow guests who have paid a thousand dollar fee per person for the opportunity to attend, and perhaps win the $5,000 prize for correctly naming the victim, or victims and who has accomplished the dastardly deed of murder they are expecting nothing more than perhaps an interesting weekend, and maybe coming home a little richer.

In addition to the paying guests will be someone, a plant, an actor if you will, who will be playing the role of the victim, another one or two, maybe even three more actors who will fill various roles. Of course the paying guests do not know who is a paying guest and who is an actor.

The setting is perfect, an old monastery. The mystery weekenders are perfect and include a Catholic priest, two men who profess to be actors, another who says he is an attorney and one who is a semi retired businessman. Several are artists or artisans including craftspersons, and a novelist, while 3 hold positions in the Paradise, Florida, AVEPA Club. All in all they are a mixed bag and sure to add to the fun of the weekend.

To date; Mr Mystery, Clifford Yates, has conducted several of these murder mystery weekends.

The weekend begins as is wont for murder mystery dinner, weekend or what have you as the various 'guests' arrive aboard Clifford Yates boat. Passengers become acquainted, take one another's measure and formulate their idea as to the identity of the soon to be victim whose demise they are to ascertain as the first requirement for winning the $5,000 prize. The game is two part, first name to victim, then discover the murderer.

Soon the group individually tender their vote for identity of the victim before gathering for supper prior to the all important Reading of the Will. With group assembled for the reading of the will the first actor is revealed, he is the one playing the lawyer who will be revealing the contents of the will. And, the lights go out, when power is returned the lawyer lays dead with a rubber dagger to the heart, and no will, it has been pinched as has the second one to be ready only if --.

The second actor is revealed within minutes as a police Inspector takes over the situation; he opens the envelopes and it is found the only Merry provided the correct answer regarding identity of the first victim.

Grousing ensues immediately with various of the players insisting that Merry has an unfair advantage because he is a police officer while others insist no way Merry is a cop.

And the plot thickens. One of the guests goes out for a smoke break on the beach, and does not return, Merry discovers that while there are 16 guests listed there are actually some extra people on the island and Merry steps into what must be blood which leads him to an actual murdered victim.

And now, Merry has his work cut out for him. There is no way off the island until Mr Mystery returns with the boat at the end of the weekend, various of the guest are being conned by one of those extra players who wants to share the prize money for information he can impart, the phone lines are not working and everyone is suddenly fearful and suspicious of everyone else. Merry takes over the investigation until even Merry himself is thought to be the murderer by some.

The narrative surges forward, Writer Reid adroitly uses more than a little tongue in cheek bantering between Merry and various of the players to present plausible reasons for why first one and then another of the characters just may be the actual murderer.

Writer Reid provides the details, factors, and aspects to paint his scenes with realism, cloak his characters with credible traits and present a just plain fun read. I like the asides, repartee and diverse group of characters with which Reid peoples his works. While the launch work for the series, TRAPPED On Mystery Island is the second Merry Manning work I have read. Both have proven to be filled with the suspense, use of expression, parlance and idiom along with intricate stratagem needed to keep me turning the page.

Trapped On Mystery Island serves to introduce to the uninitiated the unmatched visualization of Reid's one of a kind leading character. On the one hand Merry is a rough, straightforward investigator who tends at the odd moment to lapse into moments of whimsy.

Providing splendid character growth, flamboyant scenarios, and an engrossing plotline serving to maintain and forward the flow of the tale Reid constructs classic cozy type detective novel certain to satisfy fans of well wrought unassuming mysteries.

All in all John Howard Reid's Merryll Manning TRAPPED On Mystery Island is an engrossing read sure to please those who enjoy cozy type mysteries. I look forward to reading more of this most pleasurable series.

Happy to recommend John Howard Reid's Merryll Manning TRAPPED On Mystery Island.

Molly Martin, Reviewer

Nicole's Bookshelf

Female Nomad and Friends
Rita Golden Gelman
Three Rivers Press
c/o The Crown Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780307588012, $15.00,

Connection is the self-proclaimed theme of Rita Golden Gelman's life. She hearkens back to a time of yore by calling herself a modern-day nomad. In Female Nomad and Friends, she is in hunter-gather mode collecting recipes from around the globe via submissions to her website. They are meticulously blended with real-life stories of 41 women who take a leap of faith and reach out to another human being - whether across town or across the world. Every hint of zest is appreciated and recognized in this culinary community of over 25 ethnic dishes.

Golden Gelman upped the ante even further by donating all of the proceeds of the book to a scholarship fund. It will enable high school graduates in the slums of India to attend vocational schools. The funds are being administered through a Maryland chapter of the Rotary Club. With a soul full of wanderlust, she may not have a permanent address, but Golden Gelman certainly does not equate the absence of hearth and home with a lack of responsibility.

The book is divided into five sections: Connecting, Mixed Messages, Language, Passion and Food. The recipes range from the familiar - Grandma's fried chicken - to the exotic - sun-dried worms. However, the downright peculiar are thankfully omitted (Filipino head of the dog, anyone?).

Among the accompanying stories, there are several stand-outs. One woman experiences the ultimate in hospitality when an elderly woman offers to carry her on her back across a flooded Vietnamese street. Another answers a want ad for a housekeeper and discovers a lonely Alaskan looking for a wife. A Swedish exchange student experiences her first Thanksgiving, Texas-style. An American schoolteacher in France is invited to the sumptuous table of her student's family. An orphaned Iraqi girl makes a connection with an American woman before and after the 2003 invasion. A visiting couple who miss their ferry stop are rowed upstream against the current by a kind native in Paraguay.

However, many dangers exist for women traveling alone, and these perils are not ignored. One woman is raped by a hotel manager in India and later returns home to discover that she is pregnant. Another drinks the water on a South Pacific island and succumbs to dysentery.

Overall, women the world over are made up of the same ingredients, it's how they are blended that mark who they are.

The Confessions of Catherine de Medici
C.W. Gortner
Ballantine Books
1540 Broadway New York, NY 10036
9780345501868, $25.00,

Reading the work of a truly talented author is a well-savored delight for a book lover. When it comes to the art of writing, C.W. Gortner's name can be added to the list of master craftsmen. He duly creates a riveting drama that is seamlessly blended into a litany of historical facts - that in the hands of someone less capable - could have become a tangled web. Instead The Confessions of Catherine de Medici draws the reader into the French court of the fourteenth century as if the protagonist herself was beckoning with her bejeweled hand.

The story unfolds as Catherine takes a look back at her life offering her confessions in the form of a tell-all memoir. Her now infamous surname - de Medici - is both a blessing and a curse. Having risen from the merchant class, the superfluous excess of Italy's wealthiest family makes her the target of the disapproving clergy and a capricious citizenry. Yet the name still bespeaks an implied wealth, and the second son of France, Henri, is offered in betrothal for her supposed riches. Only the joke is on the royal family when Catherine's alleged dowry fails to materialize.

Catherine arrives at court in much the same way that Sofia Coppola envisions the introduction of Marie Antoinette - she is stripped of everything pertaining to her native Italy and is instructed that she is now a daughter of France. As a teenager alone in a foreign land, her naivete is apparent. Her debut into the world of power and intrigue is as soft as a whisper. Luckily, Henri's father feels protective of the young girl, even if his son prefers the amorous company of his former governess. It is through the undue influence of this older rival that Catherine and Henri come together to produce an heir in the most unnatural of circumstances.

When Henri assumes the throne after the death of his father and elder brother, he comes to realize the inherent strength in Catherine's character. From her very core, she emanates the elemental qualities essential in a leader. The two may have been brought together in a marriage of wealth and power, but as their relationship matures they are able to view each other as partners, friends and even passionate lovers.

With Henri's unexpected death - foretold by the reputed seer Nostradamus - the kingdom is left in her hands. Her job is to safeguard it for her sons. The first is Francois, a child prince who is raised with the tremendous pressure of bearing the responsibility of being a leader in training. He marries Mary, Queen of Scots his childhood playmate who he views more as a sister. The two never consummate their union and Francois, who was always suffered from poor health, succumbs under the strain dying without an heir. The second is Charles who becomes so consumed with guilt for the blood spilled in the power struggle between French Protestants and French Catholics that he commits suicide. The third is Henri, the golden child who Catherine believes to be the king France so desperately needs. Alas, when it is revealed that Henri prefers the company of men to women, Catherine fears that he too will die without an heir. Will all of her planning come to naught?

Catherine was viewed by her contemporaries as the wicked queen mother. England's Queen Elizabeth is recorded as saying that Catherine was the only person she ever feared. Yet Gortner presents a softer picture of a mama bear protecting her cubs rather than a ruthless puppet master pulling the strings. Catherine ardently loved her adopted country of France and did everything in her power to maintain peace through freedom of religious expression. When deemed necessary, she arranged the marriages of her children to promote alliances that offered protection. She used diplomacy when dealing with the highly charged emotions of religious fanaticism. Yet if the only solution was the quick demise of her enemies, she did not hesitate to use lethal force.

As portrayed in the TV series, The Tudors, life at court is not for the faint of heart. In fact, Catherine's heart is the focus of Coligny, a leader in the French Protestant movement. It is a treacherous position to be in as the queen mother of a Catholic France. Does desire cloud reason? Are Coligny's feelings for Catherine heartfelt or simply a ploy? Are their passionate interludes appropriate as violence and terror ransack the land? Get ready as Catherine is ready to make her final confession.

Overall, the true heirs of wealth and nobility are often seduction, betrayal and a never-ending struggle for power.

Nicole Langan, Reviewer

Regis' Bookshelf

Stefan Zweig
Pushkin Press
12 Chester Terrace, London, NW1 4ND, United Kingdom
1906548188, $15.95

This short 106 page novella will capture your sense of Fear within the first two pages. The ongoing build up of guilt is relentless. It pounds and pounds at your conscience until you can find no way to escape Irene's infidelity to her loving husband and her children except for the dastardly plan she has conjured up for herself - suicide.

Irene has become bored with her humdrum life. She does not raise her children; nursemaids and servants fulfill that marital obligation. She does not complete house chores; servants do that for her. She finds release from her utter boredom through sexual involvement with a younger man who thrills her - drills her might be more appropriate.

Irene has chosen to sidestep her marriage vow of remaining faithful to one man, her lawyer husband. She risks all for a few minutes, a few lusty moments, perhaps only seconds of sexual release she obtains from a young attractive up-and-coming pianist. Who will know? What difference does it make? reasons Irene in her daily tedium of boredom.

By happenstance upon leaving her younger physically attractive lover, Irene is seen by a woman witness whose single simple sentence, "Oh, I catch you here for once, do I?" sends Irene on a collision course with her own conscience and ultimately her own death. Irene has been recognized as unfaithful to her husband and her children who truly love her.

The witness asks for blackmail money or she will spill all to Irene's husband and to any other interested parties. Of course, Irene's marital infidelity would ruin the career of Irene's lawyer husband who has sworn to uphold truth and justice. It would forever damage the love bond between her and her children and friends who see Irene as a happily married, fulfilled, wealthy woman.

Irene's blackmailer ups the ante. She asks for increasing amounts of lucre to hold her tongue. Author Zweig allows the reader inside Irene's head to view the ever-increasing naked Fear that Irene experiences as she attempts to reason out some way of dealing with her blackmailed predicament.

As a reader, you cannot help but feel Irene's desperation, her irrational fear, her obsessive guilt. Ultimately, the blackmailer arrives at Irene's home and demands her very engagement ring as payment to insure her silence. When Irene's loving husband arrives home, she makes a bland excuse for the blackmailer's presence in their home. To avoid a showdown, Irene pulls off her treasured engagement ring and gives it away.

What happens to Irene fraught with horrendous guilt, that begins on page 12 of Fear and finally comes to a possible suicidal climax on page 104, two pages before the end of the novella, is what keeps you, the reader, gulping down the pages. You must find out what happens to this woman who shares with you her unspeakable angst, a woman who sees ending her life as the only way to stop her mental torture.

Fear is a very short read reminiscent of Edgar Allen Poe's "Telltale Heart. It intrigues you mentally. It catches you morally. It obsesses you spiritually. I would recommend it for any reader because most of us have some experience in our lives we are ashamed of - an experience we keep deeply hidden within our subconscious mind, fearful that someone may find out. The novella, Fear, can serve as a liberator for your own pent-up hidden transgressions, or might even keep you from committing them.

The Age of Wonder
Richard Holmes
Vintage Press
1745 Broadway Avenue, 20th Floor, New York NY 10019
1400031877, $17.95,

"The Age of Wonder: The Romantic Generation and the Discovery of the Beauty and Terror of Science" by Richard Holmes, recreates for you the thinking, of the late 18th and mid 19th centuries. While the book clearly outlines the scientific thinking of those times, it also incorporates the poetic, artistic, political, and more importantly, the philosophical thinking of the Romantic Age.

It describes in detail the scientific explorations of Joseph Banks as he visited and explored the southern hemisphere. Banks was especially infatuated by a voyage to Tahiti around 1777, an island which he considered Paradise after his interactions with the simple beauty of its native folk. Yet, always, always, he longed to return back to England with news of his explorations.

I traveled among unknown men, In lands beyond the sea;
Nor, England did I know till then; what love I bore to thee. (Coleridge)

Then too, The Age of Wonder explains how Wilhelm Herschel devoted his life to the study of the stars and planets with optical instruments he himself had made. The discovery of both Uranus and Saturn are his. In addition, Herschel was the first astronomer to conceive of deep space. Studying a distant nebula, he concluded that what appeared to be hazy gases, were in fact, countless stars circling about a center. He predicted the concept that the universe consisted of countless suns--its Godly expanse enormous.

Onward they move, amid their bright abode,
Space without bound, the bosom of their God! (Erasmus Darwin)

Traveling from England to France by air was first done successfully by Blanchard and Jeffries on July 7, 1785. The era following this momentous occasion was not without casualties, but it did spark man's interest in travel to distant and remote places which at the present time was long, dangerous, and tedious. More often than not, ballooning was celebrated by both poets and scientists.

The calm Philosopher in ether sails;
Views broader stars and breathes in purer gales;
Sees like a map in many a waving line,
Round earth's blue plains her lucid waters shine. (Erasmus Darwin)

The Age of Wonder explains in great detail, Mungo Park's explorations in Africa ending with his mysterious death on that distant continent. Then It not only talks about but also gives vivid drawings of Davy's early lamps to minimize the countless explosions occurring in England's coal mines due to explosive gases uncovered while mining.

Equally interesting are the experiments done at this time with electricity. There were scientists and philosophers alike who considered "the electric" as the very soul of a person, imagining someday to be able to revive the dead who had lost or damaged this inner spark of life. Mary Shelley's cult novel Frankenstein, or The Modern Prometheus (1818) became the rage among people of all backgrounds--her imagined creature imbued with a new life thrilled its readers.

But these luxuriances only formed a more horrid contrast with his watery eyes, his shriveled complexion and straight black lips. (Mary Shelley)

But her book also became anathema to people who felt she transgressed religious teachings. Indeed, they thought it downright immoral.

Do not go to the Opera House to see the Monstrous Drama, founded on the improper work called FRANKENSTEIN!!! ? The novel itself is of a decidedly immoral tendency. (1823 leaflet about Presumption)

The Age of Wonder with its colorful diagrams, drawings, and artists renderings in so many ways is a true classic. It is historically accurate, it is scientifically accurate, and it is undoubtedly fascinating. This is an informative work that will stand the test of time to be found in libraries as an authoritative text on the Romantic Age. The book is easy to read because it does not bog down the reader with impertinent facts and mathematical formulae.

I would highly recommend this thoughtful book to philosophy, literature, and science buffs because it clearly shows how the thinking, the writings, and the accomplishments of any Romanticist worthy of note, inspired the thinking of that time. It was they who planted the seeds and grew the flowers that would prepare the world for the great Victorian age and the discoveries to follow in upcoming centuries.

To me the meanest flower that blows can give
Thoughts that do often lie too deep for tears. (Wordsworth)

Regis Schilken, Reviewer

Richard's Bookshelf

The Skinny on Credit Cards
Jim Randel
Rand Publishing LLC
265 Post Road W, Westport, CT 06880
9780981893549, $14.95,

Equipping the Credit Card User with a Deeper Understanding of Their Effective Use

In easy non technical layman's terms Jim Randel talks about the multifaceted issues associated with credit card funding. "The Skinny on Credit Cards: How to Master the Credit Card Game" gives the reader an understanding of how to avoid the pitfalls that often accompany credit card debt. He introduces keys what will help the reader use the credit card as a tool for enhancing their lifestyle.

Jim Randel uses Billy and Beth a typical young couple who find themselves in a dilemma. They have accumulated $25,000 in credit card debt. They illustrate the possible danger of credit card pitfalls and illuminate the reader with steps to finding peace of mind, while effectively using credit card debt.

Jim continues to use the familiar format of the "Skinny On" series. I always enjoy the illustrations created by Malinda Nass, which accompany the narrative using stick figure drawings, the witty dialog, and the quick rundown statements which provide concise, yet a comprehensive summation of the hours of research in accumulating the information. Quotes and references are well acknowledged and include a list of additional available resources.

I found the topics on protecting yourself against fraud very helpful. The chapters dealing with teaching the kids about debt and the one on selecting the right card are important and practical.

"The Skinny On Credit Cards" is must reading for anyone wanting to: Break away from credit card debt, improve their credit standing, reduce their interest rate, avoid fees, or spot credit company tricks.

By applying the principles introduced in "The Skinny on Credit Cards" the reader is equipped to use Credit Cards with a deeper understanding.

Tragic Treasures
Dianne Rosena Jones
Royal Treasures Publishing
P. O. Box 3136, Duluth, GA 30096
9781450703697, $15.99,

Highly Readable, Relevant, and Enlightening

"Tragic Treasures: Discovering Spoils of War in the Midst of Tragedy" is the story of Dianne Rosena Jones' spiritual journey. It relates many of her traumatic experiences. It describes her feelings of loss, pain and disappointment. Dianne tells of working through emotions of denial, fear, disbelief, and hatred. She tells of a life cluttered with psychological debris.

Jones relates how she was on the verge of suicide. She talks of being overcome by the despair, bitterness and depression. She shares the struggles, defeats and victories of spiritual warfare. She alludes to spiritual illumination, the process of release, and receiving divine guidance. She speaks of the need to surrender her pride. She goes on to tell how she embraced acknowledgement, acceptance, and forgiveness. She speaks of repentance and of divine encounters with God as sacred moments.

She describes her sacred moments in this way: "In those sacred moments I found myself spiritually naked and unashamed. It was there in His presence where my broken heart mended, my mind renewed, my soul restored, and my spirit lifted."

I especially appreciated Dianne's heartfelt prayers at the end of each chapter and of the thought provoking application questions accompanying them with suggestions for action steps and journaling.

Dianne's writing is open and transparent. I especially appreciated her candor when talking of mending relationships and restoring trust with her son. Dianne expresses how she was able to channel negative emotions into positive outcomes, transforming anger into passionate support for others, of exchanging fear for giving vigilant care for her loved ones, and of replacing her sorrow to with a sympathetic concern for the loss and suffering of others.

"Tragic Treasures: Discovering Spoils of War in the Midst of Tragedy" is a remarkable story of empowerment, of victory, and of promise. Highly readable, relevant, and enlightening.

Richard R. Blake

Riva's Bookshelf

The 9th Judgment
James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
Little, Brown and Company
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780316036276, $27.99,

The 9th Judgment by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro is the ninth installment in the Women's Murder Club novels. It is the first of the Women's Murder Club mysteries that I have read. I found it to be very interesting.

It is no surprise that Patterson and Paetro do a wonderful job with The 9th Judgment. As of the book's spring of 2010 publishing James Patterson holds the Guinness World Record for the most New York Times bestsellers. His skill in story-telling is superb and the book does an excellent job of drawing you in, even though you know all of the players almost immediately.

Part of what keeps you guessing is wondering what the "bad guys" will do. Knowing the identities of all the book's players does nothing to distract from the tension necessary in thrillers. Patterson and Paetro do an excellent job of developing the tension in the story. I read it in less than twenty-four hours, I found it so interesting. I truly didn't want to put it down.

Here is an excerpt from the Chapter One of The 9th judgment:

"She jerked away from him, dropping her phone into the foot well. She climbed halfway into the backseat.

Pete fired, the round whizzing through the suppressor, hitting the woman in the neck. She grabbed at the wound, blood spouting through her fingers.

'My baby,' she gasped.

'Don't worry. He won't feel anything. I promise," Pete Gordon said.

He shot the woman again, poof, this time in the side of her chest, then opened the back door and looked at the bawler, nodding off, mouth sticky with cotton candy, blue veins tracing a road map across his temple."

The Caterpillar's Flight
Laura Lester Fournier
Fairy Hill Farm Publications
P.O. Box 511, Rollinsford, NH 03869
9780692007464, $14.98

The Caterpillar's Flight by Laura Lester Fournier could be considered a self-help book, though she tends equally to look at peace, forgiveness, true love and grace. Fournier examines these issues from global, cosmological and individual viewpoints with the individual viewpoint being predominant. The Caterpillar's Flight is divided into acknowledgments and thanksgiving, an introduction, six chapters and one acknowledged post-script, though there are in fact two post-scripts, both Chapter 6 and Parting Thoughts serving this function. Chapters one through five deal with the journey, as well as the four sections mentioned above.

Ms. Fournier does a wonderful job at remaining gender neutral with both her writing itself and with her presentation of a deity. She does her best to present neutral prayers and to avoid favoring a particular religion.

Ms. Fournier has done a good job presenting her material, and her delivery is cohesive and coherent. If you want a starting point for beginning a spiritual journey, with just a touch of the rules behind the laws of attraction, then you would enjoy this book. If you have experience with the subject matter you will find it adds nothing new to the argument.

On the negative side Ms. Fournier fails to provide enough visualizations for the techniques she is trying to present. She gives examples from her life, but fails to lead the reader down an easily discernible path to the natural conclusion of a particular visualization. She envisions large-scale results without laying out the detailed groundwork it will take to get there. She sets forth the dream but not the affirmations, visualizations and actions it will take on a personal, community-wide, national and global level to realize her at times, grandiose dreams. She unfolds these dreams, but fails to acknowledge the uphill struggle they have against reality. This is not to say that she turns a "blind eye" to the reality. She acknowledges it and then passes it over as though her dream is sufficient to simply make it fade out of existence.

I found it hard to enjoy The Caterpillar's Flight by Laura Lester Fournier, this is probably because I'm well-versed in spirituality and this is a beginnner's book. Also I prefer to use visualization, deep meditation and shamanistic techniques when approaching new spiritual material, a process this book did not facilitate. In other words, another reader coming at The Caterpillar's Flight from a different background would probably have a very different experience than mine and may find they enjoy the book far more than I did.

Hands Of Flame
C.E. Murphy
c/o Harlequin Books
233 Broadway, New York, NY 10279
9780373803125, $7.99,

Hands Of Flame by C.E. Murphy was an interesting, but not engrossing read. The story is well populated with mythological creatures and conflict abounds. There is a different kind of paranormal romance - yes happily no vampires or werewolves as part of the romance - a diverting change, but the book simply seems to be missing a vital spark. I found it hard to stay interested in and it took me over a week to read the 441 page book.

Hands Of Flame has almost too much going on at once. The book is so populated with conflict between, and within, various mythological groups of creatures it is difficult to pick just one to really care about. Given the nature of the heroine, Margrit's, job as a negotiator for the "elder races", this may in fact be a deliberate move on the author's part. She may not want you to chose a particular group to care about more.

Murphy does some things that really broke the illusion of fantasy for me more. First, and for me the most annoying point, was Murphy's blatant overuse of cliche. I would finally start to get into the book only to find another cliche popping out and knocking me off the page. The other really frustrating habit, cute the first couple of times, but rapidly becoming old afterwards was her use of alliterative groups of three. I might have been able to read these groupings without being consciously aware of them but the author herself deliberately brought attention to them. After that they were extremely distracting. They may have occurred within the text prior to the point when the author drew attention to them, but if they did I hadn't noted them.

Overall, I was unimpressed with Hands Of Flame. I'd read some of C.E. Murphy's other work and was really looking forward to this tale, only to find it didn't live up to the excitement it had engendered.

The Innocent Man
John Grisham
Bennington Press, LLC
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780385517232, $28.95,

The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town is a true story in which John Grisholm terrorizes you with visions of what can happen when small town police fabricate evidence based on their preconceived ideas of what happened and then try those ideas in the local press. Ron Williamson is the local kid made good. Baseball was his ticket out of the boonie towns of Ada and Asher in Oklahoma. The women, the alcohol and the drugs prove to be a bit more temptation than "Ronnie" can handle, so his father is called in to help bring Ron back down to earth and to the responsibilities of a pro-baseball player.

Ron, or "Ronnie" as he is better known by friends and family, marries the town of Ada beauty queen and for a brief period of time it seems as though they have everything, but then Ron gets cut from three different teams in a row after sustaining a shoulder injury. He goes back to doing drugs and drinking, sinks into depression and his wife leaves him. These combined factors push Ronnie into a spiral into mental illness from which he will never recover.

Diagnosed with bi-polar illness (manic-depression) as well as schizophrenia Ron becomes a burden on those who love him most. He sleeps all day, smokes, drinks and other than his occasional outburst spends the rest of his time in a depression bordering on stupor. He is hospitalized several times and cannot work. He spend time in jail for many lesser, non-violent charges. He lives with his mother as he cannot be alone due to the degree of his disability. His only joy is playing a guitar his mother purchases for him.

Dennis Fritz befriends Ron. He feels a certain sympathy for him and they share a love of music. Together the two men enjoy making the rounds of the bars, not just in Oklahoma, but in nearby Texas. This grows rather old for Dennis who has a young daughter to care for. He puts some distance between himself and Ronnie after a few of Ronnie's exploits come a little too close to landing them in trouble.

Then, a young woman Peggy Sue Carter ends up dead just a few houses away from where Ron Williamson lives. Now the heat is really turned up. Given the fact everyone in town knows Ronnie is "strange" and the circumstantial evidence that Ronnie lives just a few blocks away from the deceased home, he becomes an instant suspect. The police have also independently determined that more than one person has perpetrated the crime. Now Dennis Fritz finds himself under suspicion for the crime, simply because he and Ronnie have been known to spend time together.

The Innocent Man: Murder and Injustice in a Small Town is a vivid picture of abuse of power, corruption of officials who have come to view themselves as the ultimate power. Additionally, the danger of trying cases in the "court of public sentiment" is highlighted. In this case an impartial jury was impossible to find, but the trial was not moved. Everyone had opinions about the victim and/or the defendants. It is frightening to think how easily you or I could find our self in the same position, given the right circumstances.

Normally, I excerpt part of the novel at this point, but I'm going to skip it this time as I've already given away too much of the story.

The Bronte Sisters Complete Novels Illustrated
CRW Publishing Limited
69 Gloucester Crescent, London NW17EG
9781904919742, $29.99

The Bronte Sisters Complete Novels Illustrated is a collection of the works of Emily, Anne and Charlotte Bronte. The only "work" missing is Charlotte Bronte's Emma. This is because she wrote only two chapters of the work before her death. The rest was finished posthumously by another author.

The Bronte Sisters Complete Novels Illustrated is a joy in that it has all the sister's works together in one place. It allows for easy comparison between the works and their styles. However, the volume is not without its flaws. It has no footnotes for phrases in French, or those which are out of date; the male characters speak in a manner so flowery and out of character one has to laugh at moments; a religious undertone runs through nearly all the novels, a hazard of both the times and the sisters being reared by a father who was a parson.

I am not going to quote any of the works here since it is a compilation and it would raise one author or work above the others if I were to do so. Let it suffice to say that if you can take into account the volumes petty annoyances, it is worth reading. The novels contained within it are classics and with the exception of their rather flowery speech very well-written. The characters come across strongly and are well-rounded. All-in-all The Bronte Sisters Complete Novels Illustrated is an enjoyable escape.

The 9th Judgment
James Patterson and Maxine Paetro,
Little, Brown and Company
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780316036276, $27.99,

The 9th Judgment by James Patterson and Maxine Paetro is the ninth installment in the Women's Murder Club novels. It is the first of the Women's Murder Club mysteries that I have read. I found it to be very interesting.

It is no surprise that Patterson and Paetro do a wonderful job with The 9th Judgment. As of the book's spring of 2010 publishing James Patterson holds the Guinness World Record for the most New York Times bestsellers. His skill in story-telling is superb and the book does an excellent job of drawing you in, even though you know all of the players almost immediately.

Part of what keeps you guessing is wondering what the "bad guys" will do. Knowing the identities of all the book's players does nothing to distract from the tension necessary in thrillers. Patterson and Paetro do an excellent job of developing the tension in the story. I read it in less than twenty-four hours, I found it so interesting. I truly didn't want to put it down.

Here is an excerpt from the Chapter One of The 9th judgment:

"She jerked away from him, dropping her phone into the foot well. She climbed halfway into the backseat.

Pete fired, the round whizzing through the suppressor, hitting the woman in the neck. She grabbed at the wound, blood spouting through her fingers.

'My baby,' she gasped.

'Don't worry. He won't feel anything. I promise," Pete Gordon said.

He shot the woman again, poof, this time in the side of her chest, then opened the back door and looked at the bawler, nodding off, mouth sticky with cotton candy, blue veins tracing a road map across his temple."

Go To Play Every Day & Call It Work
Bill Dueease
Aspen Business Group
15861 Dorth Circle, Fort Meyers, Florida 33908
9780977273904, $9.95 ebook,

Go To Play Every Day & Call It Work is a fascinating new book by Bill Dueease. In Go To Play Every Day & Call It Work Bill looks at how personal coaching has helped not only him, personally, but over a dozen of the people who have benefited from personal coaching through The Coach Connection. Bill could have given more examples from the more than 1,900 satisfied clients of TCC. It was for the sake of brevity that Bill hand-picked the wonderful examples of everyday people like you and I.

Bill Dueease writes in an easy and approachable manner that makes it seem more as if you are having a conversation with an old friend than reading a book. He is very willing to open up his life and show you what personal coaching did for him the two times he used it. He is also more than willing to share some of the outcomes of the difficult 17 years during which he was increasingly frustrated and unhappy, due, in large part, to the fact he had forgotten his earlier success with personal coaching.

Bill's first "personal coach", Lynn Bussey, didn't call himself by that title, though that is what he was. The concept of personal coaching would not appear until many years after Lynn and Bill became acquainted with one another. Still, through his open and accepting style, Lynn got Bill to open up about the things he really liked and disliked, helping Bill to keep from making a move which would have put him in the wrong career. His one-on-one coaching also helped Bill identify exactly the right job for him. Out of 250 companies who had recruited at Bill's college campus together they found one that was a perfect match for the position Bill wanted. Bill went to visit the company and his initiative and enthusiasm won him the position he wanted, even though the program he applied for was already full!

Bill got to "go to play every day and call it work" for more than 15 years. It was a happy and exciting time for him; doing jobs he loved in positions he had hand-picked for himself.

Bill forgot about his experience with Lynn Bussey. As I pointed out personal coaching, as such, wasn't in existence at the time. When Bill's position with a major petroleum company was phased out due to Wall Street taking over what used to be a physical transaction and making it a paper one, Bill was unsure what his next step would be. He used the techniques every person without the benefit of personal coaching does, trial and error, and selecting work positions to please others. Bill found himself making decisions that weren't right for him or his family, a process that continued for nearly two decades. Thankfully, Bill found a way out of this vicious cycle and you can too, with the help of Go To Play Every Day & Call It Work. Bill shows you, with real examples, how personal coaching can make a real difference in your life and the lives of your loved ones. Go To Play Every Day & Call It Work is a priceless resource to help you find your ideal income position and change your life for the better.

Return to Sender
Fern Michaels
MRK Productions
c/o Kensington Publishing corp
119 West 40th Street, New York, NY 10018
9780758212733, $24.00,

Return to Sender by Fern Michaels was a huge disappointment. Given the reputation of Fern Michaels I was expecting a wonderful story with great characters. I didn't find any of those things. The female lead of the story, who I think Michaels intended to be its protagonist, is so set on vengeance she sells out the scruples she has, but then only takes one action you could actually consider as "bad". Her attempt at vengeance is hollow and unreal and most of what she does is harmless. I found it hard to feel any real emotion for her character. I just didn't care what happened to her. When the story started to change enough for me to try to like her, I found I still couldn't bring myself to get truly involved in the story.

The poor guy the female lead is out to get vengeance on is dying from cancer and married to a conniving witch who wants him dead, so you can't help but feel sorry for him, even if he is a jerk. Makes the female lead's crap hard to take. Even though the guy's character is flat one (not deliberately) you can at least feel a touch of sympathy for him. You know the guy is deathly ill, but she doesn't. I guess there's a lesson about the foolishness of vengeance in all that, but it's lost in a bad storyline.

More than halfway through the book the book a promising love interest develops for the lead female character, but by this point, you're not sure if you really want her to have a "happily ever after". Problem is you can't like her, can't hate her, and definitely can't sympathize with her.

The characters in Return to Sender are not rounded out. They are totally lacking in any depth and for the most part fall into stereotypical categories. The female lead is the wronged woman looking for revenge. The son is a stellar student studying to be a veterinarian. The poor guy she's out to get revenge on is the hard-hearted, rich, CEO of a multi-million corporation and so on. Every last character is so stereotypical you are able to predict the end of the story from the beginning. Not something I wanted to waste my time reading. I advise you don't either.

Secrets She Left Behind
Diane Chamberlain
MIRA Books
c/o Harlequin
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9781615230624, $8.97,

Secrets She Left Behind by Diane Chamberlain is a stunning work of fiction revolving around the viewpoints of four main characters Sara, Keith, Maggie and Andy. Maggie, Keith, and Andy are all related because years ago Sara, who is Keith's mother, had an affair with Maggie's father. Maggie set a fire which left her half-brother Keith badly burned and extremely bitter.

Secrets She Left Behind is the story of two families whose fates are inextricably wound together. Burn victim Keith is hooked on pain pills and mixing them with alcohol in a family with a history of alcohol abuse. His mother is missing, but where is she and what happened to her? She disappeared the day Maggie got out of prison. Why didn't she take Keith with her. Keith's half-sister Maggie wants to try to make things better for him but can't even face him and the two siblings have serious issues they have to overcome in order to begin finding some common ground. Is it even possible for them to overcome the pain and terror in their way?

Add into this mix a stranger who arrives in town and befriends both Maggie and Keith. To Keith she claims to hate Maggie, but to Maggie, she becomes the only friend she has in a town turned against her. Who is she lying to and why?

What follows is an excerpt from the book written from Maggie's perspective on the first visit to her court ordered pyschiatrist:

"'What's it been like for you since Monday?' he asked.

'What do you mean?'

'Being out of prison? Being free?'


He waited for me to go on. I stared out the window with its view of the parking lot until my eyes watered. Then I looked at my ragged fingernails. He wasn't going to talk until I did. It was like a standoff. A war, but I had the feeling he could take the silence longer than I could.

'The reporters are everywhere,' I said finally.

'Ah,' he said. 'What's that like for you?'

I shrugged. 'I hate it,' I said. 'It's not fair to my family, either. If it was just me…well, that's bad enough, but I get why they have to be after me. I'm the story. But I want them to leave my brother and mother alone.'...

…I thought again about Andy walking to the school bus that morning, maybe trying to make sense of the reporters and their questions. Struggling to figure out how to answer them. Before I knew what was happening, my eyes filled with tears.

'You love your family very much,' Dr. Jakes said.

I nodded.

He motioned to the box of tissues on the table next to my chair and I took one and pressed it to my eyes. I did not want to cry here. I didn't want to give this old sloppy fat man the satisfaction of making me cry. But suddenly, that was all I could do. I cried, and he let me. That's about all I did for the rest of the session. He said that was okay. Good, even. I had a lot of pain inside me, he said, and we'd have plenty of time together to talk it all through."

Since reading Secrets She Left Behind I've been informed the story of these two families actually began in Chamerlain's Before the Storm, which I've never read. I found the Secrets She Left Behind to be more than capable of standing alone as a novel. I will read Before the Storm simply because I fell in love with the characters in Secrets She Left Behind and am so glad there is more to their story, even if it occurred prior to this novel.

Witch & Wizard
James Patterson
Little, Brown and Company
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
978031603624, $17.99

Witch & Wizard by James Patterson and Gabrielle Charbonnet is supposed to be a book for young-adults, although given the ages of the hero and heroine of the book, 17 and 15 respectively, middle grade readers would probably also enjoy the story. I know I enjoyed it and I am well into adulthood. There is no sex and I don't recall any offensive language, so there is no reason why it wouldn't be appropriate for both young-adult and middle-grade readers.

Witch & Wizard is the story of Whit and Wisty, a brother and a sister with magic in their blood. Whit and Wisty are a wizard and a witch, although neither of them is aware of their talents until they are kidnapped from their home in the middle of the night by soldiers of a new government, known as the New Order, or N.O. for short.

The night of their kidnapping, which takes place in front of their parents, Wisty's abilities as a witch begin to manifest. When she is accosted by the soldiers of the New Order Wisty suddenly becomes a human torch with fire shooting out several feet from her body until someone finally puts her out with a pail full of water. The soldiers are burned, but Wisty is unharmed. Wisty and her brother Whit are then jailed and put on trial for being a witch and a wizard. They plead not guilty but are not given a lawyer and don't have any rights. They are found guilty of witchcraft and general teenage behaviors and sentenced to be executed when they turn eighteen. Whit is only one month away from being eighteen!

I found this to be a thoroughly entertaining tale. I'll be looking forward to reading the next volume in this story when it comes out. I can't wait until my son comes back from a visit to New York so I can give him this book to read. He's going to love it.

What follows is an excerpt from Witch & Wizard told from Wisty's perspective:

"I used to think detention was kinda fun. A badge of honor, almost. Man, how quickly things can change.

This was the real thing.

My old life, and the days of recklessly skipping class, felt like a million worlds away now. I missed it, and our house, and especially our mom and dad, so badly that I felt like I was going to lose it.

I stared at the ceiling and daydreamed, remembering...

How Mom used to lie in bed with Whit and me when we were really little, and she'd laugh and laugh, and tell us that she was teaching us how to love laughter, because it was one of the very best things in life, maybe the best.


How Dad always said he had to be our father, not our friend-and that there was an important distinction between the two-but somehow he ended up being out best friend anyway."

Blood from Stone
Laura Anne Gilman
c/o Harlequin Books
233 Broadway, New York, NY 10279
9780373803095, $7.99,

Blood from Stone by Laura Anne Gilman was a very enjoyable urban-fantasy read set in modern day Manhattan. In it, dryads, giants and piskies makes an appearance, while the stage's main players are Sergei, a Null (non-magic user), "Wren" Valere, a Talent (a user of the magic force known as current) and P.B., a demon.

Valere is a Retriever, which is a nice way of saying she's a thief. In this story she does two retrievals, one for a client and one for her friend P.B. Both retrievals have their challenges for Wren. Both bring up unresolved issues from Wren's past.

Blood from Stone is the sixth novel in a series about Wren. I assume that her romantic interest, Sergei is in all, or most of those books as he was her partner before he became her romantic interest. No, I haven't read any of the other Retriever novels, Gilman is just a master at giving enough backstory to fill in the gaps in a reader's knowledge, and the Retriever novels are all listed inside the cover.

Blood from Stone was purchased through so i was expecting a run-of-the-mill randy romance novel. I was so pleasantly surprised when it turned out to be much more than that. The major players in the story are artfully, developed. The romance, while it burns hot where appropriate, is as comfortable as your favorite jeans. It has some very real challenges for the characters to overcome and most importantly it has a heroine who, though vulnerable, isn't waiting helplessly for someone to come along and rescue her. She is actively working things out, as is her love interest and together the two of them make a great pair.

Blood from Stone is wonderful to read. Once again I read the final volume of a series before I read the earlier volumes and once again it is an error I plan to rectify. I will absolutely read the entire series of Retriever novels. I'll re-read this volume when I get to its spot at the end of the series. I'll be looking forward to more of Wren and Sergei's adventures in the future, although I understand Gilman is taking a break from the Retriever series to pursue a line of novels focusing on paranormal investigations with one of the characters, also a Talent, who is introduced in the Retriever's series.

Here is an excerpt from the early pages of Blood from Stone:

"So why did you give the kid back?" he asked, not put off by her attempted change of topic, and not giving her a chance to dig further into his state of mental or emotional health. "Isn't the guy going to sell the kid again?"

"Maybe." She didn't seem too disturbed by the fact.

"Genevieve!" He only used her given name when he was really annoyed. Or scared witless, but annoyed pretty much did the job right now. "Do you know what happens to kids who-" He stopped himself. Of course she did. More, she knew what happened to Talented kids who ended up in the wrong hands. No matter her personal opinion of kids, which was usually that they were best served braised on a bed of spinach-she would not keep from protecting the boy if she thought there was a need.

He fixed her with a Look, brows lowered, eyes narrowed, lips downturned, trying to channel his father's best "come clean now" expression. "Genevieve, what did you do?"

His father's look had worked much better on a preteen Sergei. His partner merely showed him an evil little smile and poured herself some of the coffee, yelping when a drop of it hit her rather than the pot. She shook her hand to cool it off, but her expression remained smugly satisfied. "Nothing he didn't deserve."

Good luck you poor bastard, Sergei thought, managing to spare some sympathy for the client, whatever else he might or might not have done. Wren didn't just get even, she got ahead. Sergei suspected that if the guy even thought about being other than The Perfect Father for the next ten years, he would break out in a bad case of crotch-itch, or something equally attention-getting."

Gilman's sense of humor comes across repeatedly in Blood from Stone. I had several laugh out loud moments. I was glad no one was at home to hear me as they would have thought I was crazy. I was simply really enjoying what was a wonderful book.

Friendly Divorce: The Definitive Guide to a Stress Free Divorce
Rick D. Banks
Marital Solutions, LLC
9780557195114 $47.00

Friendly Divorce: The Definitive Guide to a Stress Free Divorce by attorney and mediator Rick D. Banks was an eye-opener for me. Prior to reading this book I would have thought the term "friendly divorce" to be an oxymoron, but after reading the book, I can really see how divorce can be a much less stressful, and possibly less painful process.

Friendly Divorce: The Definitive Guide to a Stress Free Divorce doesn't suggest you become best friends with your soon to be former spouse, but it does suggest you and your soon to be ex develop a solid working relationship that can make the divorce less stressful, and less expense for both of you.

Banks provides solid examples of ways you and your estranged spouse can work through both a trial separation and your divorce. He talks openly about the stages of grieving you will go through with regard to your marriage. He talks about some of the difficulties inherent in a divorce, like feelings of guilt or inadequacy. What's more he addresses the fact these feelings are inaccurate and counterproductive to your healing process.

In Friendly Divorce: The Definitive Guide to a Stress Free Divorce Banks leads you carefully through the different steps involved in filing for, and obtaining a divorce. He talks about things like mediation, court proceedings, custody, spousal support, distribution of assets and other matters of critical importance in divorces.

Friendly Divorce: The Definitive Guide to a Stress Free Divorce stresses the importance of maintaining good communication and a non-confrontational attitude during your divorce. It especially stresses how vitally important these skills are if there are children affected by the divorce.

I've been divorced twice and I really wish I would have had a resource like Friendly Divorce: The Definitive Guide to a Stress Free Divorce. I believe having such a book would have allowed for a better working relationship with my ex-husbands after the divorce was over. I believe it would have allowed issues like spousal support and the all important child custody to be settled without a long court battle. I believe it would have allowed for easier healing, on both my part and the parts of my ex-husbands.

The best advice I can offer anyone who is thinking about divorce is to read Friendly Divorce: The Definitive Guide to a Stress Free Divorce. Encourage your spouse to read it too. It will enable both of you to try to set clear boundaries, to try to keep communication open, even when it may be difficult and to try to act in a way that shows respect for one another and any children you may have. It will help make the divorce process as stress free as possible, though of course there will be some stress. It will help you to try to establish a healthy relationship with your ex once the divorce is over, something that is critically important if you have children.

The Way, Seven Simple Ways to Eliminate Stress and Live Your Life to the Fullest
Catherine MacDonald
JADA Press
Jacksonville, FL
9780984355839 $12.95

The Way, Seven Simple Ways to Eliminate Stress and Live Your Life to the Fullest by Catherine MacDonald is a refreshing look at spiritual transformation as told through the fictional tales of three women: Jenny, Lori and Melissa. Jenny is at the end of her rope, running emotionally on empty and has just tried to kill herself. Lori is a fifty-one-year-old alcoholic who has been in one treatment program after another. Lori's alcoholism has just cost her her job as a housekeeper in a Key West bed and breakfast - hardly the job for which her college education prepared her. Melissa is a soul deeply locked in grief after the death of her daughter a year before. Melissa's marriage is in serious jeopardy because she and her husband can't move past blaming each other for their daughter's death, and move onto the business of comforting each other and building a life without their daughter.

At a moment of crisis each of the women finds herself contacted by Christine Applegate, a representative for Wanda McBroom, a Washoe medicine woman. Christine tells them there is hope for each of them in a teaching known as "The Way". She promises each of the women that "The Way", if followed, has the key to their future peace and happiness. Each woman struggles with this concept, but in the end, having nothing to lose, they make the trip to just outside Lake Tahoe where the medicine woman Wanda McBroom lives.

Wanda comes from a long line of medicine women. Many years ago a teaching known as "The Way" was entrusted to Wanda's medicine woman forebears, along with a prophecy that the time would come when the world would be beset by the "hurry sickness". This time would come eight generations after the giving of the prophecy. Now, in her time, Wanda sees the fulfillment of this prophecy, precisely as it was foretold. Now with the time finally upon her, the teachings of "The Way" offer a cure to this "hurry sickness". This makes the teachings sought after by many people. The three women in our story are brought together at Wanda's home, Whispering Pines, where each of them finds the solace and transformation she needs for her life through the application of the teachings of "The Way".

With, The Way, Seven Simple Ways to Eliminate Stress and Live Your Life to the Fullest Catherine MacDonald reveals a deep insight into the spiritual and psychological pressures of today's life. She provides simple steps to help an individual experience greater happiness and spiritual fulfillment immediately. Additionally, if these steps are practiced over the course of an individual's life they will continue to bring peace and fulfillment.

Tracy M. Riva

Sandra's Bookshelf

Never Far From Home (The Miller Series #2)
Mary Ellis
Harvest House Publishers
990 Owen Loop North, Eugene, OR 97402
9780736927338, $13.99,

Emma Miller is a young Amish girl who has finished school. While she still has her chores to do, she also has her own wool business. Emma works hard as she knows her mom needs to have surgery. The Amish community relies on a central fund that they all donate money to in case someone needs medical help.

On a buggy ride to town to sell her wool along with her Aunt Hannah, Emma meets a young English sheep farmer named James. She finds him nice and is attracted to him. And he finds her attractive.

After seeing him twice on her 16th birthday she announces to her family she wants to take her full Rumspringe.

That is where things become hard for her as they fall in love with each other. She loves being Old Amish and can't imagine a life not being Amish. Yet James is English and heading off to college. He tells Emma to wait and he will find a way for them to be together.

But can young love endure all the challenges? Can James really find a way for them to marry someday? I would recommend this book to all who love reading about the Amish. Also for new readers who might decide to try a book to see why so many of us love books about the Amish.

The Secret of Lies
Barbara Forte Abate
Dog Ear Publishing
4010 W 86th Street, Ste H, Indianapolis, IN 46268
9781608444182, $17.95,

I have never read a book as intense as this book is. It is brilliantly written, and at times my husband swears I was saying, "No, you jerk, or don't you dare." That is how powerful this story line is. Eleanor twelve and her sister Stevie ten, leave their hometown of Callicoon, Pennsylvania to spend their vacation with their Aunt Smyrna and Uncle Cal at their summer home on Long Island, where the days are filled with swimming in the Atlantic Ocean and the sisters unending pursuit of an intriguing and mysterious boy.

That is until the summer of 1957…Eleanor is now seventeen and Stevie fifteen. What happened that summer is something that has to be kept a secret, or so Aunt Smyrna tells Stevie. Stevie is trapped in a vortex and it is not only destroying her teenage years but carries over into her adult life.

How many lives are altered by one moment in time, one decision made in that moment? How many moments does it take too completely and irreversibly alter one's life?

To tell you more will ruin what makes this book so great. It is a must buy for your own personal library. In our economy today buying a book can be a luxury. I would buy this book.

I would rate this book PG 13 but only because of story content.

Diamonds of Death
John Luck, M.D.
Five Star Publishing, Inc
POB 6698 Chandler, AZ 85246
9781589851009, $15.95,

Dr. Tom Slocum was a whiz kid at County's West Side Hospital in Chicago. His surgical skills made him well known. He was also called an arrogant S.O.B., when it came to yelling at nurses and berating young interns.

He enlisted in the military and was sent to Korea. While he was there it would change Dr. Slocum's life forever. He was assigned to a field hospital where conditions were horrific. The floors were nothing more than dirt and covered with blood. No time to change gowns or gloves before another patient was put on the surgical table. One day he operated on a friend of his who died. He lost all confidence and did not know if he had the nerve to operate again. His days and nights were filled with flash backs of what happened during the war.

He returned to County hospital with much trepidation. His first surgery was on a man who was shot in the stomach. Unbeknown to Dr. Slocum the man was a part of the Chicago Mob. What would happen next is for you to discover as you read this book.

I was surprised by how much I liked this book. It was not until the second chapter that I became really interested. This book took me for a wild ride that I never expected. It is a book that I would recommend to any friend.

But I would give it PG rating of 16 or older. There is a lot of violence in this book. But it is good.

Five star rating.

Sandra Heptinstall

Suzie's Bookshelf

Not Your Everyday Housewife
Mary Campisi
Wings ePress
9781597056199, $6.00 ebook; $11.95 print

Life has a way to not turn out as you anticipated it. Three women embark on a journey to escape their own lives. Will their escape be enough to deal with life's hardships?

Cyn Cintar feels as though her family takes her for granted. She is battling feelings of being a middle aged woman. She finds her restless spirit wants to break free of her routine lifestyle.

Money has never been an object for Derry Rohan; she has lived a life to the fullest. When she learned that she was unable to conceive a child, her and her husband Alec adopts a boy named Charlie. When Derry learns that Alec is Charlie's father she feels betrayed; she questions how she will ever be able to trust him again.

Shea Donovan is a nurse who is the primary bread winner of her family. Her kids are grown and are away at college. Her husband's real estate career is almost nonexistence. To complicate matters Shea finds out that she is pregnant.

Cyn, Derry, and Shea know they need a break away from their hectic lives. They decide to take a month long vacation together to rejuvenate their spirit. Will the vacation provide enough rest and relaxation they all need to be able to go back to their own lives and deal with their own problems?

Mary Campisi has written an award winning novel in Not Your Everyday Housewife. From page one you gain an immediate attraction to all of her delightful characters. What makes this book so special is how easy it is for a person to relate to the characters problems. Not Your Everyday Housewife is not your ordinary romance. This book presents three strong plots that are all tied together by a close friendship. It shows how a true friendship has the ability to weathers even the toughest storm.

The Soulmate Path
Monte Farber and Amy Zerner
Weiser Books
c/o Red Wheel/Weiser/Conari
65 Parker Street, Suite 7, Newburyport, MA 01950
9781578634712, $16.95,

Our soulmate is the one who makes life come to life.
~Richard Bach

Artist Amy Zerner and Astrologer and Tarot reader Monte Farber shares how it is possible for two soul mates to find one another. The Soulmate Path: Find the Love You Want and Strengthen the Love You Have is a book that will captivate you from page one as it shows that true love can actually be found.

The Soulmate Path: Find the Love You Want and Strengthen the Love You Have is divided into three sections. The first one shows how Amy and Monte was able to find one another. Their love story is the substance of a perfect romance movie. In the second section it reveals thirty six lessons that focus on attracting and developing a relationship. In the last section, it shows the importance of laughter and how it allows a relationship to grow and thrive.

The Soulmate Path: Find the Love You Want and Strengthen the Love You Have is the ideal book for anyone who is seeking their soulmate. This book shows how you how to attract and find your true love.

I feel honored to have found The Soulmate Path: Find the Love You Want and Strengthen the Love You Have for it has shown me that there is that special someone in life who is just waiting to be found. I feel equipped with this book; my true soulmate is very close to being discovered.

Buckland's Book of Gypsy Magic
Raymond Buckland
Weiser Books
Red Wheel/Weiser/Conari
65 Parker Street, Suite 7, Newburyport, MA 01950
9781578634675, $16.95,

"Magic becomes art when it has nothing to hide."

~Ben Okri

The Romani people are famous for their gypsy magic. For centuries, their carefree lifestyle has allowed them to travel the world spreading their gypsy magic. In today's society their spells and potions are still used worldwide.

In Buckland's Book of Gypsy Magic: Travelers' Stories, Spells & Healings you feel as though you are sitting at a campfire in the Romani country listening to a gypsy relate their magic spells. You gain am immediate appreciation for all the healing wisdom and magic that is woven in the Romani culture.

The knowledge in Buckland's Book of Gypsy Magic: Travelers' Stories, Spells & Healings is priceless. In this one book you will discover spells that will enable you to help become pregnant, attract a mate, and bring peace and harmony to your family life.

To say that I was impressed with Buckland's Book of Gypsy Magic: Travelers' Stories, Spells & Healings is an understatement. I found it to be filled with rich Romani history, it overflowed with gypsy magic, and healing wisdom of times past. This is one book that you definitely want to add to your occult collection.

Lemons to Lemonade
Addie Johnson
Conari Press
Red Wheel/Weiser/Conari
65 Parker Street, Suite 7, Newburyport, MA 01950
9781573244695, $15.95,

"When fate deals you a lemon, make lemonade".
~ Dale Carnegie

Life is a challenge in itself; it's an endless rollercoaster ride that puts obstacles in your path. How you deal with these challenging aspects often determines the pathway to your existence.

In Addie Johnson's Lemons to Lemonade: Little Ways to Sweeten Up Life's Sour Moments it offers a delightful spin on how to make the best out of whatever cards life deals you. This book presents a potpourri of quotes, tips, and delightful stories. Each one will renew your faith and spirit in troubled times.

What I found so unique about this book is its ability to see that there is light when the world seems so dark. It has the ability for a person to pick up the book and quickly find a passage that is assured to put a positive spin on whatever is troubling them. This is a tremendous benefit for anyone who is pressed for time.

Lemons to Lemonade: Little Ways to Sweeten Up Life's Sour Moments is the perfect form of inspiration. This one book will provide you the light in that dark tunnel, the peace your soul seeks, and the inspiration to do great things. Books such as these only come once in our lifetime; we must ensure that we cherish them and pass them on to future generations.

Suzie Housley, Reviewer

Theodore's Bookshelf

Hook, Line & Sinister
T. Jefferson Parker editor
Countryman Press
P.O. Box 748, 1206 VT Route 12, Woodstock, Vermont 05091
9780881508666, $23.95

This book is a collection of 16 short stories edited by Mr. Parker, each with a separate story ranging from murder to suicide, sex to subterfuge, but with one thing in common: fishing. Authors include Michael Connelly and Dana Stabenow, John Lescroart and the late William G. Tapply, among others.

The title was contributed by Ridley Pearson, so to him went the honor of opening with the first tale. And Parker, as editor, chose to conclude the volume. Only Connelly and Stabenow relied on their signature characters, Harry Bosch and Jim Chopin/Kate Shugak, the other authors creating their stories out of whole cloth.

All the authors have donated their royalties, and the publisher a portion of the proceeds, to two charitable groups: Casting for Recovery, which helps women cancer survivors to heal through fly-fishing, and Project Healing Waters, which provides the same to returning veterans.


City of Lost Girls
Declan Hughes
10 E. 53rd St., NY, NY 10022
9780061689901, $24.99

After ten years when Ed Loy got disgusted and broke off his close friendship with larger-than-life Irish-born movie director Jack Donovan, they meet again in Dublin, where Ed is plying his PI trade and Jack is now making a movie. It appears Jack has received several threatening letters, and he asks Ed to determine the sender. Despite his misgivings, Ed undertakes the assignment.

Meanwhile, three pretty young women extras go missing, and Ed remembers his time in Los Angeles when three young starlets had also gone missing. The similarity is uncanny, since the common denominator is that they all initially appeared in a Donovan movie. The potential culprit for what may turn out to be a serial killer includes Donovan and three close associates, the "Gang of Four," who participate in each movie.

Hughes writes suspenseful crime/noir novels. His Dublin settings lend themselves to a bleaker side of the human race. In this novel we are treated to a lighter side of Ed Loy, which raises the question of whether he is growing in character, or just going through a phase. It will be interesting to find out in future installments.


The Book of Murdock
Loren D. Estleman
c/o Tor Books
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9780765316004, $24.99,

Hard-hitting, hard-drinking deputy marshal Page Murdock has undertaken all kinds of assignments, but none so unusual as posing as preacher to break up a gang of robbers on the Texas panhandle. After a three-week crash course, he goes south from Montana to a little Texas town to deliver sermons from the pulpit and unmask the bandits.

Along the way, we are treated to a western adventure and deep insights into the lawman's character. The plot is really inventive and the story a treat. Not only do we read about the cattlemen vs. sheep herders, but descriptions of the hot and dusty landscape, the importance of the railroad and stagecoach in the building of the west, and most important of all, law enforcement on the frontier. All written with a flowing conciseness that is a joy to read.


Vienna Secrets
Frank Tallis
Random House
1745 Broadway, NY, NY 10019
9780812980998, $15.00,

A mixture of Freudian psychiatry, anti-Semitism and mystical religious background provides this latest Max Liebermann mystery with an unusual story. The year is 1903 and the setting, as usual, is Vienna. The blend of racist bigotry and the mysteries of Kabbalah lead not only to solving three murders, but also threatens Liebermann's professional life.

The first two murder victims are well-known members of a shadowy anti-Semitic group and attention becomes focused on the close-knit Hasidic community, with the theory being that a Golem has arisen to protect the Jewish population. But the third victim is a Jew, dampening the thought. All three victims were killed in a similar manner: their heads were torn off, requiring super-human strength.

Meanwhile, Max has to learn about his ethnic heritage and even travels to Prague, the city of origin of his family, visiting the ancient Jewish cemetery and the old-new synagogue, delving into ancient history and especially the lore about golems. Meanwhile, Max remains under a cloud, facing suspension and even loss of his position at the general hospital, resulting from attacks of anti-Semites for a professional act he committed in the interests of a patient.

The complexity of the tale is carried forth with an intensity surpassing previous efforts [which is saying a lot]. The prose flows with ease, and is supplemented with mouth-watering descriptions of food and beverages, snippets of early psychoanalysis, forensics, eugenics, music and literature. Tallis continues to provide enchanting accounts of Vienna at the turn of the century.

Highly recommended.

Donald E. Westlake
Hard Case Crime
c/o Dorchester Publishing
200 Madison Ave., NY, NY 10016, 800-481-9191
9780843963755, $7.99,

This novel, published for the first time, is the final volume the reading public will ever see from this author, since he died earlier this year. In it, he crafted a deep, innovative story about a young actor who loses his memory in less than honorable circumstances: He is caught by an irate husband while in bed with the man's wife in a small town while on tour with an acting company. Paul Cole is attacked by the cuckold and is hit in the head by a chair, ending up in a coma and in a hospital for several weeks.

When Cole awakens he remembers little of his past and only learns a few facts contained in his wallet: a New York driver's license, three actor's union cards and a laminated copy of his Army discharge papers. When he is ready to be discharged from the hospital, a detective drives Paul to the bus terminal with a strong warning never to return to the town. With only a few dollars, he travels only as far as his money will allow, ending up in another small town, where he rents a room and begins working in a tannery to save up enough to get back to New York City.

Of course, when he does return to his Greenwich Village apartment, the adjustment is extremely difficult with his memory still failing. This is the main thrust of the novel: all the psychological roadblocks to return to normalcy and whether it can even be accomplished, especially if his memory never improves. He encounters all kinds of failings in dealing with friends and attempting to return to his acting profession, especially the lack of money and his forgetfulness. Westlake wrote a penetrating tale, a wonderful story, and we can only regret his passing.


Murder on the Palais Royal
Cara Black
Soho Crime
853 Broadway, NY, NY 10003
9781569476208, $24.00,

The sights, sounds and smells of Paris were authenticated not only in the reading of this novel, but in actually reading it while in the City of Light. Thus, a double pleasure was experienced as we followed the adventures of Aimee Leduc along the streets and boulevards through which we both walked.

Aimee's troubles begin in this, the tenth book in the series, when her partner, Rene, is shot by a woman witnesses identify as Aimee. Compounding this situation is an unexplained 100,000 Franc deposit in her business account from a Luxembourg bank on the government's watch list concerning money laundering. Other complications (and murders) follow as well.

On the eve of his parole, a convict who Aimee helped send to prison is found hanging in the jail kitchen, an apparent suicide, after she had just visited him at his suggestion. He attempted to pass damning information to her but failed. Then his girlfriend attempts to accomplish the task, but also is murdered. To resolve these various situations and clear herself poses formidable hurdles and great risk to Aimee's life.

Following Aimee's investigation takes the reader not only through the streets and buildings of Paris, but also in criminal investigation techniques. And, as she progresses, the reader is kept on edge until a logical conclusion is unveiled. Written with zest and a taste for high couture, the book is recommended.

The Executor
Jesse Kellerman
G.P. Putnam's Sons
375 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780399156472, $25.95,

Joseph Geist is somewhat of an anomaly. One would not have expected him, based on his first 18 years, to be accepted into Harvard, much less to become a PhD candidate in Philosophy ands then waste the opportunity by dithering for seven years in attempting to write his dissertation. Moreover, he wastes his relationships with friends and his lover, who one day tells him to leave the apartment they share.

But as luck would have it, he answers an advertisement to provide "conversation" to an elderly woman, a part-time job that evolves into a deeper relationship. And that is the basis for the story, sprinkled with various philosophical questions and choices, based on "free will," the subject of his thesis.

To this reviewer, the plot seems forced, and the various elements seem contrived. On the whole, however, the novel is forceful and written with a careful eye to reach an appropriate resolution, and it is recommended.

The Lovers
John Connolly
Atria Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Sixth Ave., NY, NY 10020
9781439193624, $15.00,

There is always an element of the supernatural in John Connolly's Charlie Parker series, and this novel is no exception. It begins with Charlie's PI license being suspended and his permit to carry taken away. To keep a roof over his head, he's tending bar four nights a week, giving him time to undertake a personal investigation into his own beginnings.

Among the questions he needs answering are those to do with his parents, and who they really are; also, why his respected cop father shot and killed two young persons near his home one night and blew his brains out the next. In the process, he uncovers many more mysteries, some real, others supernatural.

As with other Connolly books, "The Lovers" is written with a firm hand and a tenseness that keeps the reader on edge. The complexity of the story and eerie quality of the tale probably defy the average person's imagination. But it is fascinating just the same, and highly recommended.

The Case of the Missing Servant
Tarquin Hall
Simon & Schuster
1230 Sixth Ave., NY, NY 10020
9781439172377, $14.00,

There are all kinds of private detectives stationed all over the world. But until Vish Puri made his debut in this novel, none of them operated in the Indian subcontinent. Calling himself the "most private investigator," Vish operates from New Delhi and, of course, has more than his fill of matrimonial cases.

And then he is retained by an honest attorney accused of murdering his maidservant. Using common sense and his cadre of operatives, along with centuries-old principles of detection, Vish travels from Delhi to Jaipur to the uranium mines if Jharkhand to discover the facts of the case. Meanwhile, he has to check out a prospective groom to determine whether he is worthy of marriage to the granddaughter of a national hero. In this case, Vish employs modern techniques, including electronic eavesdropping and time-honored snooping.

The author has created an irrepressible character who is both amusing and shrewd. The descriptions and observations about India are right on the mark. A sequel, The Case of the Man Who Died Laughing, was published in June, 2010, and is on this reader's agenda to be reviewed in the near future. We are looking forward to reading it with much anticipation, inasmuch as this novel is recommended.

Far Cry
John Harvey
Houghton Mifflin
222 Berkeley St., Boston, MA 02166
9780547315942, $26.00,

Ruth and Simon Pierce reluctantly allowed their daughter, Heather, to go on a camping trip with her best friend. She soon disappeared, her body later found in a shaft, the girl dead from a fall. The couple was divorced and Ruth remarried, soon giving birth to another daughter, Beatrice. Years later, this girl too disappeared, setting off a manhunt.

DI Will Grayson is obsessed with the case and he suspects a recently released child abuser as having abducted the young girl. He and his partner, DS Helen Walker, conduct deep investigations into all aspects of past and present crimes.

This is a police procedural at its best. John Harvey creates mountains of suspense, with enough twists and turns to keep the reader turning pages quickly. His command of language and character is flawless, and the plot impeccably constructed. The novel, 500 pages long, yet written with simplicity and economy, never bogs the reader down, and it is highly recommended

The Third Rail
Michael Harvey
1745 Broadway, NY, NY 10019
9780307272508, $24.95,

Chicago is Michael Kelly's home turf, and in the past two novels in the series, some historical incident is the basis for the plot. This, the third in the series, is no exception. In February, 1977, four cars on the El derailed and plunged to the street below and 11 persons died as a result. In the story related in this mystery, Kelly was on board the elevated train when a similar accident occurred when he was nine years of age and his father was the conductor. So much for similarities.

Chicago at the present time is terrorized by a sniper, who apparently kills at random. Then there are other acts seemingly aimed at the population in general and Kelly, a former cop and present pi, in particular. The Chicago PD and the FBI are at sea, and it remains for Kelly to unravel the mystery (or mysteries, since there appears to be more than one).

Harvey writes with a tough tone, reflecting the character of his protagonist. His descriptions of Chicago, and more important, its politics, is to the point. Kelly is one determined character. The novel is a quick and good read and is recommended.

The Ragtime Fool
Larry Karp
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. 1st Ave., Scottsdale, AZ 85251
9781590586990, $24.95,

This novel wraps up a trilogy about the life and times of Scott Joplin. The year is 1951, and the town of Sedalia, MO, is planning a ceremony to honor the ragtime king and place a plaque up on the wall of the "colored" high school. The only white pupil of Joplin, Brun Campbell, the old Ragtime Kid, who has lived as a barber in Venice, CA, for many years, playing his piano in his shop, wants to create a more fitting memorial to Joplin, hoping to play at the ceremony and induce the citizens of Sedalia to build a museum about ragtime.

Into this mix is a young 17-year-old New Jersey lad who becomes enthused about ragtime on hearing some tunes on the radio, the negotiations with Joplin's widow for a journal he wrote, the death of Brun's long-time friend and an assortment of complications, including members of the Sedalia Ku Klux Klan and competition among various persons to obtain control of the journal for a variety of reasons.

Entertaining in more ways than one, the novel, of course, as is the entire trilogy, is based loosely on historical fact and real and imagined persons. Well-written and constructed with an eye to keeping it suspenseful, "Ragtime" is recommended.

Nowhere to Run
C. J. Box
G.P. Putnam's Sons
375 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780399156458, $25.95,

After a long period of exile, Joe Pickett is a week away from returning home when he stubbornly puts himself in harm's way. He encounters a couple of very adroit twins on a mountain and gets himself shot full of arrows and almost killed, all over a fishing license. (Joe, of course, is nominally a fish and wildlife warden.)

This is an unusual story, pitting the forces of the government and powerful, rich people against ordinary persons, setting up Joe and his mysterious buddy Nate to have to make decisions more like a Hobson's choice. It is an extremely powerful tale raising all kinds of moral issues.

As in past novels in the series, descriptions of the wildlife and Wyoming mountains and lakes are both natural and beautiful. The characters are richly drawn and the dialogue taut, and the book is recommended.

This Body of Death
Elizabeth George
10 E. 53rd St., NY, NY 10022
9780061160882 $28.99 800-242-7737

In the 16th Inspector Lynley novel, we find him at home after having completed his wanderings around Cornwall trying to find peace following the murder of his wife. Still undecided as to what to do in the future, he is approached by the temporary department head, Isabelle Ardery, to return to Scotland Yard to help her make the transition to the post for which she supposedly is "auditioning." She is quite aware that the team of Lynley's co-workers resent her and Tommy can smooth the way for her to gain their support and even possibly their respect.

All too soon the body of a young woman is found, murdered, in a cemetery, and they all undertake to solve the case. There are plenty of suspects both in London and in Hampshire, where the woman originally came from. Ardery is like a bull in a China shop, and blunders regularly, Lynley a calming influence even if his status is undetermined. And to add to the reader's confusion is the regular recounting every couple of chapters of the ten-year-old murder of a two-year old tot by three boys aged 10 and 11. Not until near the end is the reason revealed.

The novel is quite long, some 640 tightly written pages, and for some could present a tedious exercise. However, the prose is smooth and the descriptions of the people and places skillful. The plot is well-constructed and it is very much worth it to have Tommy back. Recommended.

Theodore Feit

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

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