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Reviewer's Bookwatch

Volume 11, Number 7 July 2011 Home | RBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Aaron's Bookshelf Ann's Bookshelf
Bethany's Bookshelf Buhle's Bookshelf Burroughs' Bookshelf
Carson's Bookshelf Cassandra's Bookshelf Clark's Bookshelf
Daniel's Bookshelf Farrah's Bookshelf Gary's Bookshelf
Gloria's Bookshelf Gorden's Bookshelf Harwood's Bookshelf
Henry's Bookshelf Karyn's Bookshelf Katherine's Bookshelf
Logan's Bookshelf Margaret's Bookshelf Mayra's Bookshelf
Molly's Bookshelf Nicole's Bookshelf Peggy's Bookshelf
Regis' Bookshelf Richard's Bookshelf Riva's Bookshelf
Sandra's Bookshelf Suzie's Bookshelf Theodore's Bookshelf

Reviewer's Choice

Rowena Through the Wall
Melodie Campbell
Imajin Books
3715-14 Street NW
Edmonton, Alberta, Canada T6T 0H9
B00557Z2QU, $3.99

Betty Dravis

Wow--author Melodie Campbell is certainly versatile! Some time ago, when I read a short horror story by her in an Alfred Hitchcock magazine, I never thought I'd see her name on a thrilling romance novel. But what a pleasure it turns out to be...

Just as Campbell had me biting my nails till the end of her horror story, with Rowena Through the Wall she now has me panting for my own Prince, like a love-starved Cinderella.

This descriptive author hooked me from the first scene when the main protagonist, college instructor Rowena Revel, gets the shock of her life when a handsome hunk of a man appears in her classroom. He's dressed in medieval attire and carrying a sword... something out of the most romantic fantasy she's ever read. When she approaches him, he gets the shock of his life by the fact she can see him. When she speaks to him, he disappears right before her eyes.

Neither realize that Rowena's classroom wall is the magic portal that leads to the man's alternate world, so they are both baffled. Row starts having sexy dreams of gorgeous, tunic-clad men in a rugged country, but when they start walking through that wall at ease, her curiosity gets the best of her. Inevitably, when she begins investigating the wall, she accidentally falls through into an alternate universe where she is kidnapped, not once, but twice.

According to the book's pre-publicity "the stakes get higher as the men get hotter." Well, if that isn't a line to keep even the least romantic woman reading, I don't know what is! I tell you, this author is good!

Thus begins one of the most fabulous fantasy adventures I've ever read. Not only is this a romantic comedy, it's also a thriller with Row's future at stake. Besides the obvious sexual reasons, why do these handsome men need Row so badly? Why do they vie for her attention? How in the world does she "accidentally" marry her cousin Ivan? How does Cedric fit into the picture? Is his heart really as black as the magic he practices? And how does she feel about the most glorious male of them all--Thane the Viking?

As if that isn't enough, throw in a Goth-student who follows Row through the portal? Do her actions place her teacher in even more danger? If so, it's a good thing they can go back through the portal--or can they?

To find the answers, you'll have to read this top-notch book for yourself. I promise you a fun, sexy time fraught with enough adventures with gorgeous males to last a lifetime.

This is a hot, hilarious, romantic fantasy that enthralls you from the first line. If you enjoy Diana Gabaldon's Outlander series, you'll adore Rowena and her riotous romps in an alternate world...

What I'd like to ask this author is: Just where is MY wall? :-)

Reading My Father
Alexandra Styron
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
9781416591795, $25.00

Brent Spencer

He wrote only a handful of novels in his lifetime, yet they are some of the most influential of any of his generation. In fact, he shares with Joseph Heller and few others the distinction of having written a title that enters the culture as a term used by many people who may never have read the novel from which it's drawn. Heller's contribution was the notion of a "Catch-22," the constant moving of the goal line so it remains forever just out of reach. For William Styron, that term was "Sophie's Choice," describing the moment when someone must choose between two equally devastating options.

His daughter, Alexandra, has written a searching memoir about her famous father. Perhaps "yearning" would be a better word. As the youngest child in the family, she starts the writing of the book unsure about whether she can remember enough about him to fill a book. But quickly the memories come flooding in. What makes this book so poignant is how tightly she holds on to the memories of their happy moments together - father and daughter shared the same dark turn of wit. Of her father's rages and alcoholism, the yearning takes the form of trying to understand what drove him.

What specifically drove him was the desire to make a name for himself as a writer, a goal that kept shifting out of reach, made even more unattainable by circumstances. Reading My Father is touching, funny, and ultimately uplifting.

Dancing with the Velvet Lizard
Bruce Golden
Zumaya Otherworlds
3209 S. Interstate 35 #1086, Austin, TX 78741
9781934841266, $15.99

Carolyn Crow

One thing you can say about Bruce Golden's fiction, is that it always delivers something different. From such diverse novels as Evergreen and Better Than Chocolate to his short stories, you'll likely find something innovative and entertaining. No extended series or sequels, just new characters, new conflicts, and sometimes, new laughs. He's one of the best kept secrets in the world of speculative fiction.

Dancing with the Velvet Lizard, his first-ever collection of short fiction, includes a mind-bending 33 tales, with a fine balance of science fiction, fantasy, horror, and humor--more than one something for everyone. It's certainly the largest collection of such yarns I've ever come across.

There's no single theme to this collection. From the positively terrifying 'The Withering,' to the tongue-radiating-in-cheek 'I Was a Teenage Hideous Sun Demon,' to the chilling apocalyptic tale of 'Holiday,' Golden's work runs the gamut from dark to laugh-out-loud funny. No two stories are alike, and it's this variety that makes it well worth the reader's time. No one's going like every story in a collection of short fiction (a handful of these tales were just so-so to me), but I challenge you not find enough here to make it worthwhile--no matter what you paid for it.

Along the way, Golden explores the personal consequences of popping pills for better orgasms, and provides a "what if" to what might have really happened to America's beloved bandleader Glenn Miller during World War II. He visits a Native American shaman who sends the government a bill for making it rain, and a 119-year-man who drives his classic automobile into the middle of an insurrection, chased by flying cars. He asks if Little Red Riding Hood really lived happily ever after, and whether beauty is still in the eye of the beholder when that eye sees through an alien lens.

Dancing with the Velvet Lizard starts with one of the most powerful stories in the book. A tale that looks (not so far) into the future, when we begin to warehouse our elderly, and care for them with machines. This one made me cry.

Forget about steroids, in his story 'One of Nine,' Golden looks into a future where baseball players are grown in tanks, but don't have all the rights of "regular" humans. This tale has the same civil rights overtones as his novel Mortals All.

In the not-too-distant future of 'Profile of a Patriot,' a good American is someone who's careful about what he says, doesn't question authority, and is always ready to bear witness against his neighbor. He switches gears again for 'The Apocryphist,' to divulge how the art of story-telling began on one particularly feline alien world.

In his Firebrand Fiction award-winning story 'I Found Love on Channel 3,' Golden delivers a portrait of man who lusts after a sexy cartoon character, who then comes alive and makes his fantasy come true--or does she? Sex is also a dangerous element in another tale, where a young couple's orgasms are wreaking havoc with the fabric of time.

Admittedly, there are few happy endings herein, but if you like stories that make you think, that draw you in so you're rooting for the protagonist, so that you care, you won't be dissatisfied. However, just when you think you'll be enveloped by the darkness, the collection shifts gears, going from heartbreaking to hilarity. Golden revisits Dave and his computer friend Hal, but adds a Cheech & Chong twist; lets a late '50s B-movie monster relate his life story; sends an angelic censor to the game show from Hell; and shows us a seldom seen side of God, when the deity grabs a scribe from his heavenly ranks to write his biography.

Golden's greatest strengths have always been his ability to create vivid characters and craft uncannily true-to-life dialogue. As a result, his narratives are extremely character-driven and fast-moving. If you like to dwell in the land of purple prose and endless descriptive paragraphs, this book isn't for you. Golden doesn't spend much time on that. Instead he drops you into the middle of scene where things are already happening.

After each tale Golden includes a little epilogue that I found very interesting. He reveals something about the story's background, what inspired it, how it was written, places it was published (though some of the tales in this collection are being published for the first time). I found these tidbits fascinating because they also reveal a great deal about the author himself--his passions, his politics, his foibles.

If you dare to dance with The Velvet Lizard, you won't be disappointed.

Life Goes On
Linda Nance
9781453780138, $12.99,

Deb Hockenberry

John and Becky had a wonderful life until one day disaster struck. John was laid off at the factory and they all had to move into a rundown apartment building in a very bad neighborhood. Unknown to their children, John and Becky have received an eviction notice to vacate the apartment in ten days.

Their two oldest children were caught up in the neighborhoods activities. Bobby was learning the tricks of the trade of running drugs with the gang he considered his family. The oldest daughter, teenaged Donna, was caught up in the wrong type of crowd constantly partying, doing drugs and drinking. The youngest child, Stacy, was still a good kid but was beginning to following in her older sibling's footsteps.

It looks like all hope is gone for the family. Ah, but John has a plan. He secretly contacts a relative for help. The relative is more than helpful and offers John more than he could ever hope for.

Neither John nor Becky wanted runaway kids on their hands. They love their children too much and knew the life their kids would be running too. But John and his relative have a plan already in motion to prevent that.

I have to admit that at first I didn't like Life Goes On since there's so much attitude and disrespect from the kids. Although this is very realistic, it doesn't make a relaxing read for me. So, I started it over and was pleasantly surprised after I read on just why Linda Nance started the book the way she did. Soon, I couldn't put Life Goes On down.

I highly recommend action packed story for both adults and young adults. Life Goes On is a story about what real families can do in the toughest times. Even if the families are separated by states!

You can learn more about Linda Nance by visiting her blog at: You can also find out about Linda at her Amazon Page at:

To purchase this page turner just go to, (the Kindle store),, or You can also buy Life Goes On directly from the publisher at

Green Market Baking Book
Laura C. Martin
Sterling Publishing
387 Park Avenue South; New York, New York 10016
9781402759970, $17.95

Eric Freen, Reviewer

The Green Market Baking Book not only includes 100 delicious, healthy recipes, it just may change the way that you cook. Author Laura C. Martin is a strong proponent of slow food cooking - the replacement of highly processed ingredients such as sugar with natural alternatives. Like most chefs today, Martin also advocates using locally grown ingredients that are in season.

Martin is a prolific author with 24 books written over 30 years. The titles of these books are a testament to the author's many interests including cooking, arts and crafts, and gardening. Her knowledge and skill in all of these fields is evident as you read the Green Market Baking Book. In addition to providing information about gardening and food preservation methods such as freezing and canning, Martin also did all of the illustrations. The book's art work is extraordinary. In fact, you may want 2 copies of this book: one for the coffee table and one that you can "trash" in the kitchen.

Green Market Baking Book includes Laura's own recipes along with a host of talented chefs and bakers. These recipes are organized according to the season in which their main ingredients are naturally available. In addition, certain recipes include icons with dairy-free, wheat-free, vegan, and low-calorie designations for those with special dietary concerns.

Last weekend, I had the opportunity to try the 12 Grain Muffin, Honey Strawberry Jam, and Graham Cracker recipes from the spring section of the book. Although I had some difficulty finding a store that carried ingredients such as whole wheat pastry flour and 12 grain cereal, the recipes were fairly easy to prepare and they all tasted great. The most challenging recipe was the Honey Strawberry Jam which required me to do some canning (something that I had never attempted in the past). However, the section on food preservation was very helpful in this regard.

Overall, I give Laura C. Martin's Green Market Baking Book five stars out of five. All of the recipes that I tried were delicious, healthy, and easy to make. The book is interesting, informative, and a pleasure to read.

Tabloid City
Pete Hamill
Little, Brown & Company
c/o Hachette Book Group
9780316020756, Kindle & Nook eBook: $12.99, Print Book: $26.99

Marcia K. Applegate, Reviewer

Tabloid City: A novel by Pete Hamill . . . Hamill knows the newspaper business. He knows New York City, and the kinds of people who live, work and die there. In this short novel (214 pages in my Nook), he pulls together a dying NYC newspaper, its staff and its "murderers;", a cop and his son, a homegrown Muslim with terrorist dreams; an angry wheelchair-bound veteran; an aging artist; a wealthy woman with charitable instincts; a seemingly senseless murder, and a diverse cast of supporting characters so compelling and intriguing that I can't begin to describe them. But Hamill can.

His characters come to life on the page - corny as that sounds, I can't think of a better way to describe it - and they stay alive until they meet whatever end, good or bad, that he has selected for each of them. This is not a book about ordinary people living orderly lives. It deals with complex people caught up in a variety of messy situations, often of their own making, some of them agonizing, a few potentially horrific.

Hamill's writing is active and strong, vivid not only in color and clarity, but intensity. This is a tale that moves quickly, but builds each character and action in a measured, logical, almost what-else-could-he-do-under-the circumstances way. The intensity of the action on many fronts begins early on and doesn't let up until the last sentence. We see the characters make choices based on their perceptions, in some cases misperceptions, and it becomes increasingly evident where each is likely to end up. I say "likely" because I missed completely in one case, having decided too soon how one story line would end. I was wrong. And glad of it.

Another of Hamill's gifts is his ability to build a sort of rationality into seemingly irrational actions; furious as I was at a couple of the characters for the choices they were making when there were better options, I understood their thinking and, from their internal monologues, where their actions came from. He pulls no punches. At one point, when the NYC cop realizes what his son is intending, Hamill takes the story where it logically should go - to its almost inevitable sad end.

I spoke earlier of the newspaper's "murderers." I chose that term because the "World" newspaper was killed by a confluence of today's technological advances, and the times and culture we live in. A disgruntled former employee, fired by the editor, starts a website and uses it - effectively - to discredit the paper and does other dirty deeds. This in the midst of a recession and a continuing drop in ad revenue, increasing costs of printing and delivering, and the upward trend of electronic publication not only of books but of newspapers and magazines, and you see why the owner of the "World" elects to go to all-online publication. And to ask all the present staff to apply for e-jobs. No promises, though. Can't take 'em all . . . .

All that is background as the paper prepares its last gasp, its final issue, its complete transition from print to the electronic realities, played out side-by-side with the happenings in the lives of all the characters in the almost Naked-City organization of this gripping tale. Could anything in the journalism business be more current than what is happening in the "World's" world? While dealing with so many tangled lives, the tale works its way to a conclusion that is painful, maybe inevitable under the circumstances Hamill has set up for the characters, overlaid by the pressures and problems of trying to navigate the undercurrents of today's treacherous and scary world.

When the final issue is put to bed - maybe coffin is a better word - not wanting to allow their newspaper, their livelihood, their coworkers and competitors in the business pass from the scene unremarked, friends of the deceased hold a memorial service, maybe a wake, in the city room. Here's a taste of how Hamill describes the final party for their beloved and soon-to-be last afternoon newspaper in the City:

"He sits there gazing into the city room, which is full of rowdy laughter, people slapping fives, shaking their heads, telling lies and war stories and doing anything to hold back tears. A few are wearing the fake page 1 on their chests, held by tape or pins. Briscoe knows what he is seeing. A wake. He notices now that some of them are wearing black armbands.

. . . . Then he faces the dense circle of people that has formed around the city desk, more than two hundred of them, many sipping drinks, chewing pizza, some with arms folded, others with hands jammed in pockets. Men, women, some in the rear standing on desks, photographers making pictures, some old reporters taking notes from the habit of a lifetime. Briscoe clears his throat and begins to speak."

When all is said and done in Hamill's story, the characters are left to find their own way through the rest of their lives. Hamill makes clear that life goes on, that in reality all is not yet said and done for those with the courage and the desire to look ahead, see where their particular future lies. And go out to meet it.

Derek Haines
B004X6UMCS, $2.99

Mary Crocco

It's a mad world on Gloth as experienced through the eyes of Halbert Hoop, Hal to the reader. Hal is a well-developed character who gets himself into unusual and kooky situations. It's great fun for the reader to share Hal's strategies in unraveling and solving these situations.

Hal's adventures arriving and living on Gloth are unpredictable and fun to read. The characters he meets are as unique as the menu items he consumed in order to survive. Hal's quest to return to Erde, better known as Earth is driven by . . .

There is no way I will spoil the story, the unpredictability is the best part of the book!

I recommend Hal for readers who enjoy wacky characters and crazy places. It's an enjoyable story and once again, Derek Haines strength in developing his characters is terrific.

The Hardline Self-Help Handbook
Paula Renaye
Diomo Books
P.O. Box 21485, Hot Springs, AR 71903
9780967478654, $19.95,

Paul Lappen, Reviewer

There seem to be a million self-help books on the market. This one is different in that it takes a much harder line with the reader.

Most people say that they are willing to do "anything" to change their lives. Really? Are you willing to quit your lucrative, but unfulfilling, job to start on a new career? Are you willing to move to a different town, or different state, to advance your career? Write down five things you are not willing to do. Why aren't you willing to do them? (There are no right or wrong answers; this is simply to give you a better idea of what your subconscious is thinking.)

Everyone has "buttons" that are pushed on occasion. Do you really think that cursing, and giving the finger, to someone who cuts you off on the highway will really convince them to never do it again? Also, please remove the phrase "if only" from your brain right now. Your life will not suddenly become happy and perfect if only you get that big promotion, or if only your spouse stops acting like such an inconsiderate jerk. You cannot change or control other people; all you can do is change your reactions to other people.

For some people, forgiveness toward others is a near impossibility. Keeping that hurt inside will only injure you, not the other person. Don't try to minimize or justify it by saying something like "They didn't mean it, and I know they won't do it again." You don't know that they won't do it again. What you can do is acknowledge that it happened, and how you felt at that moment, and let the pain go. When your subconscious tries to bring it back, make it clear to yourself that it is done and over with, end of story.

Everyone knows someone who is a hypochondriac, constantly running to the doctor with imagined ailments, or is Mr. or Ms. Negative Attitude (perhaps that person is you). If they show no desire to even try to change their lives, then let them enjoy their corner of Self-Pity Land by themselves, while you go back to improving your life (If you have become some kind of self-pity addict, and don't want to "kick the habit," then please shut up. The rest of us are no longer interested.).

For those who are honestly willing to do the work necessary to change their lives, this book is very much worth reading. The chapters are short, and they can be read in any order.

Aaron's Bookshelf

Night Corridor
Joan Hall Hovey
B004NSV6TY, eBook: $2.99, Print $10.79

Caroline Hill, a fragile woman who's seen more than her share of heartbreak, has just been released into the "real" world by the Bayshore Mental Institution, an aging facility recently doomed to closure. Trembling with fear after nine years of incarceration, at the age of twenty-six Caroline is armed only with a handful of memorized phrases from her psychiatrist and a small bag of hand-me-down clothing. She shows up as pre-arranged to a rooming house with a nosy landlady and her marginally challenged nephew, Harold. Once settled, Caroline makes her entrance at Frank's, a local diner in the small town of St. Simeon, Canada where a dishwashing job awaits her.

Although the Bayshore institution offered safety and familiarity, Caroline is determined not to fail. The last thing she wants is to return to the place where she shared a room with a woman who clicked imaginary knitting needles 24/7.

Caroline's timing is unfortunate, because the day she arrives in town, a serial killer has left yet another victim for police. And it so happens, the first victim - an aspiring actress on the verge of a breakthrough - lived across the hall from Caroline's new room. Police and neighbors wonder - could the killer be someone in the rooming house? How did he gain access to the facility? How did he know the first woman? And the second? Both victims were pretty young ladies with brunette hair and blue eyes, Caroline's exact appearance.

The mystery and suspense in this novel is outstanding, truly top notch, in the vein of Mary Higgins Clark, but - dare I say - even better? What really struck me as brilliant was Ms. Hovey's ability to paint the picture of an innocent, a woman who'd been raised by an institutional staff since the age of seventeen, when a horrendous event tore her heart out and separated her from reality. Caroline's inner thoughts, her hesitant and sometimes awkward speech, the turmoil she feels with each simple step toward freedom, her frail courage...each of these felt real and authentic. I grew incredibly fond of this protagonist, and with each brave step she took, I found myself cheering her on.

When Caroline notices a man following her, she wants to tell someone, but what ex-mental patient wouldn't be afraid to share this news, knowing they'd probably classify her as paranoid and maybe send her back to Bayshore? She squares her shoulders and fights through the fear, soldiering on.

Against the backdrop of Caroline's painful yet courageous re-entry into society, the low growling drumbeat of violence escalates. More women die, and the pattern heats up. We are given glimpses inside the mind of a seriously sick killer, and realize his delusions stretch far into his past. When Caroline becomes embroiled in the middle of the killer's elaborate and insane plot to return to a chapter in his history where he was once happy, the action escalates and takes us on a heart-pounding rollercoaster ride to a satisfying finish.

Joan Hall Hovey has written yet another winner. I highly recommend it to any lover of suspense, mystery, romance, or thriller. You'll not only race through this book, but clamor for more works by this talented and polished author.

A Place to Die
Dorothy James
Xlibris Corporation,
9781450082709, Kindle eBook: $9.99, Paperback: $23.99, Hardcover: $34.99

A PLACE TO DIE is an intriguing story set in Austria, reminiscent of a good English mystery. I just finished reading it last night, and am already missing the characters. At first I was attracted to the book because it was set in Wien (Vienna) - I adore Wien. But then as I "visited" with these folks night after night (reading a little in bed each night), I grew terribly fond of them.

I was particularly rooting for American Eleanor Fabian, a woman of great depth who deserved much more in life than her annoying husband provided. I'm passionate about marriage and devotion in real life, I believe that once married one is duty-bound to stay married and devoted to each other, unless there's something truly awful going on. But Dorothy James convinced me otherwise with Eleanor.

I enjoyed getting to know the other characters in the Haus Im Wald, too. Each was colorful, deliciously unique, and memorable. Inspector Georg Buchner is a fun lead, likeable as well as clever.

Ms. James' vivid scene painting placed me smack dab in the middle of winter in Austria, and I felt as if I knew the Haus intimately by the end of the book. (I also craved Kaffee und Kuchen many times during the characters' dining events!)

As people start dropping dead in the Haus im Wald, the tension builds. But never did Ms. James relinquish her literary approach to the situation, providing a steady source of introspection balanced with action and character development.

The ending is most satisfying - a delightful and unexpected villain is revealed - and some of the sexual twists and innuendos were most surprising and added a bit of spice to the story as well.

Ms. James writes smoothly, with no annoying typos or needs for extra editing which seems to be more and more prevalent these days when books are converted to Kindle format. This book was beautifully formatted and of very high caliber.

I recommend this complex, highbrow-yet-addicting story, and look forward to future works by Dorothy James.

Aaron Paul Lazar, Reviewer

Ann's Bookshelf

Gillespie and I
Jane Harris
9780571275168, A$32.99

It is April 1933. Harriet Baxter is eighty, unmarried, of independent means and consumed with the urge to write of the time forty-five years ago, in 1888, when she was "friend and soul-mate" (as she puts it) of the Scottish artist Ned Gillespie.

It has to be said the Harriet is also a well-meaning busybody with a high opinion of herself. Although, as she notes, it was not hard in 1888 Glasgow for folk to demonize her, an outsider, as a well-off, interfering old maid from 'down South' who has designs on one of their men. And this, she claims, is what they did.

Harriet tells us right from the beginning of her account that she had "profound rapport" with Ned who, in her "humble opinion" was, at the time of his suicide, "about to reach the zenith of his creative powers". She also mentions "that silly white-slave business and the trial". So we, who are occasionally addressed in the Jane Austen manner as "Reader", know that she is about to reveal details of the "sequence of profoundly affecting events" which wiped out Gillespie's work, his life and their "most intimate of friendships".

Harriet likes to tease her readers with hints of terrible revelations. Some, such as her discovery of the potentially scandalous and damaging (to Ned's career) homosexuality of Ned's brother, Kenneth, she discloses quite quickly. Others, like what happened to Rose, Ned's youngest daughter, must wait. She implies early on that something bad happened to Rose, but just how bad and whether and in what way she was responsible, she does not discuss until much later. Even then, in spite of references to published reports and quoted testimonies, we have only Harriet's version. We must trust her memory and her honesty. So, by the end of the book you feel you may need to read the whole thing again, especially as she develops a habit of interweaving chapters into her account which relate her current suspicions about her resident maid, and one begins to suspect that she is losing her grip on reality.

There is no doubting that Harriet's first meeting with Ned Gillespie was accidental. Nor could she have engineered her life-saving intervention in the bizarre accident with false teeth suffered by Ned's mother, Elspeth. She did not at the time even know that this was Ned's mother and it was only at Elspeth's bossy, extrovert insistence that she visited Elspeth's Daughter-in -law's home for afternoon tea and unexpectedly met Ned again. However, as more visits take place it becomes clear that however much Harriet rationalizes her actions she is more than casually interested in Ned. It is his art, of course, which interests her and which she evaluates, encourages and admires; and naturally the well-being of his whole family's is of concern to her. Asking Annie, Ned's wife, to paint her portrait is a shrewd and generous move, after Ned has declined the commission; and confronting caricaturist, Mungo Findlay, about a scandalous cartoon featuring Ned and his brother, which is due to be published just before a meeting of the Fine Arts Committee at which Ned's suitability as a Royal portraitist will be judged, is a necessary intervention. Maybe Harriet's enrollment in Ned's art classes is a little suspect, but she is genuinely interested in art.

Harriet's own word-portraits of Ned's children Sibyl and Rose show that she has little experience of childhood jealousies, tantrums and mischief. She finds Sibyl difficult, sly and malevolent. But Sibyl, in fact, does perpetrate some awful deeds and she does become mentally deranged when her sister, Rose, disappears and she appears to have been responsible for this. And the whole of Harriet's story, her relationship with Ned and his family, ends with the events which resulted from Rose's disappearance.

Harriet's story-telling style is lively, wry, opinionated and often very funny. In her, Jane Harris, has created a character we can believe in and, although you may not much like her, you can understand her and are inclined to take her at her word. The effect is subtle and only the dramatic events towards the end of Harriet's account make you re-assess your trust in her. As, it seems, Ned did, too.

Only at the end of the book, too, are you likely to note that in Harriet's preface to her story she gives her reasons for not writing sooner. "Perhaps I needed to gain some distance from a sequence of profoundly affecting events", she writes. "Perhaps the act of committing this narrative to paper will free me of certain recurring dreams and (God willing!) diminish my eternal aching sadness about Ned Gillespie". "Fair enough", you think.

But then, in her penultimate chapter, she drops in a sentence about the recent publication of "a certain provocative little pamphlet" and offers a scornful but brief rebuttal of "Kemp's theory". Who, you wonder, was Kemp? Looking back, you find that Harriet mentions Kemp only once before as an "ink-slinger', an "intrepid newspaperman" who rented a room opposite the Gillespie's home in order to spy on them after Rose's disappearance. She describes him as "a sallow, reptilian creature" whose "horrid visage" became "a permanent fixture in the lodging-house window".

Was Kemp a despicable media hound or an astute journalist? Was he right about Harriet's cunning? As always, we have only Harriet's words on which to judge him and his accusations.

Gillespie and I
Jane Harris
9780571275168, A$32.99

It is April 1933. Harriet Baxter is eighty, unmarried, of independent means and consumed with the urge to write of the time forty-five years ago, in 1888, when she was "friend and soul-mate" (as she puts it) of the Scottish artist Ned Gillespie.

It has to be said the Harriet is also a well-meaning busybody with a high opinion of herself. Although, as she notes, it was not hard in 1888 Glasgow for folk to demonize her, an outsider, as a well-off, interfering old maid from 'down South' who has designs on one of their men. And this, she claims, is what they did.

Harriet tells us right from the beginning of her account that she had "profound rapport" with Ned who, in her "humble opinion" was, at the time of his suicide, "about to reach the zenith of his creative powers". She also mentions "that silly white-slave business and the trial". So we, who are occasionally addressed in the Jane Austen manner as "Reader", know that she is about to reveal details of the "sequence of profoundly affecting events" which wiped out Gillespie's work, his life and their "most intimate of friendships".

Harriet likes to tease her readers with hints of terrible revelations. Some, such as her discovery of the potentially scandalous and damaging (to Ned's career) homosexuality of Ned's brother, Kenneth, she discloses quite quickly. Others, like what happened to Rose, Ned's youngest daughter, must wait. She implies early on that something bad happened to Rose, but just how bad and whether and in what way she was responsible, she does not discuss until much later. Even then, in spite of references to published reports and quoted testimonies, we have only Harriet's version. We must trust her memory and her honesty. So, by the end of the book you feel you may need to read the whole thing again, especially as she develops a habit of interweaving chapters into her account which relate her current suspicions about her resident maid, and one begins to suspect that she is losing her grip on reality.

There is no doubting that Harriet's first meeting with Ned Gillespie was accidental. Nor could she have engineered her life-saving intervention in the bizarre accident with false teeth suffered by Ned's mother, Elspeth. She did not at the time even know that this was Ned's mother and it was only at Elspeth's bossy, extrovert insistence that she visited Elspeth's Daughter-in -law's home for afternoon tea and unexpectedly met Ned again. However, as more visits take place it becomes clear that however much Harriet rationalizes her actions she is more than casually interested in Ned. It is his art, of course, which interests her and which she evaluates, encourages and admires; and naturally the well-being of his whole family's is of concern to her. Asking Annie, Ned's wife, to paint her portrait is a shrewd and generous move, after Ned has declined the commission; and confronting caricaturist, Mungo Findlay, about a scandalous cartoon featuring Ned and his brother, which is due to be published just before a meeting of the Fine Arts Committee at which Ned's suitability as a Royal portraitist will be judged, is a necessary intervention. Maybe Harriet's enrollment in Ned's art classes is a little suspect, but she is genuinely interested in art.

Harriet's own word-portraits of Ned's children Sibyl and Rose show that she has little experience of childhood jealousies, tantrums and mischief. She finds Sibyl difficult, sly and malevolent. But Sibyl, in fact, does perpetrate some awful deeds and she does become mentally deranged when her sister, Rose, disappears and she appears to have been responsible for this. And the whole of Harriet's story, her relationship with Ned and his family, ends with the events which resulted from Rose's disappearance.

Harriet's story-telling style is lively, wry, opinionated and often very funny. In her, Jane Harris, has created a character we can believe in and, although you may not much like her, you can understand her and are inclined to take her at her word. The effect is subtle and only the dramatic events towards the end of Harriet's account make you re-assess your trust in her. As, it seems, Ned did, too.

Only at the end of the book, too, are you likely to note that in Harriet's preface to her story she gives her reasons for not writing sooner. "Perhaps I needed to gain some distance from a sequence of profoundly affecting events", she writes. "Perhaps the act of committing this narrative to paper will free me of certain recurring dreams and (God willing!) diminish my eternal aching sadness about Ned Gillespie". "Fair enough", you think.

But then, in her penultimate chapter, she drops in a sentence about the recent publication of "a certain provocative little pamphlet" and offers a scornful but brief rebuttal of "Kemp's theory". Who, you wonder, was Kemp? Looking back, you find that Harriet mentions Kemp only once before as an "ink-slinger', an "intrepid newspaperman" who rented a room opposite the Gillespie's home in order to spy on them after Rose's disappearance. She describes him as "a sallow, reptilian creature" whose "horrid visage" became "a permanent fixture in the lodging-house window".

Was Kemp a despicable media hound or an astute journalist? Was he right about Harriet's cunning? As always, we have only Harriet's words on which to judge him and his accusations.

Ann Skea

Bethany's Bookshelf

Victim Psychosis
Ethelbert W. Haskins
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432737245, $19.95,

Rebellion and assimilation are the choices that many minorities face in today's American society. "Victim Psychosis: in the Center City Ghettos" is Ethelbert W. Haskins discussion of the path Black America is taking in their society, and how Black America's rebellion against the established nature in many ways is causing more problems than it solves. "Victim Psychosis" is an intriguing discussion of Black America and the bigger picture behind it all, recommended.

Altamont Augie
Richard Barager
Interloper Press
9780983066101, $15.95,

The Vietnam War not only claimed thousands of lives, it also shattered a country. "Altamont Augie" tells of a couple split by the war. David Noble serves his country in terrible conditions, seeing the harsh brutality of the war first hand. Jackie, his girlfriend, has gained famed as an anti-war fighter on the home front, as love still lingers between the soldier and his radical peace pusher. Telling a story of a chaotic decade that was a social civil war in itself, "Altamont Augie" is a fascinating read of the harsher conflict of words on the home front and what they meant to the soldier.

Rediscovering the Gospel
Paul Pomerville
Privately Published
9781451522198, $20.00,

The lessons of faith are not taken straight from the bible, but instead through our culture. "Rediscovering the Gospel: Its Eclipse in American Culture" hopes to gain greater understanding of the gospel through understanding the cultural interpretations, both in America and in Jewish culture of Jerusalem two thousand years ago. Seeking a new breed of understanding for greater faith, "Rediscovering the Gospel" presents an intriguing study of it all, a top pick for Christians who want to understand culture and the Bible.

Toes in the Sand
Nena Jackson
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781456723705, $15.19,

Faith has more to do with your life than what you do on Sunday. "Toes in the Sand: How One Woman Discovered the Gift of Unwavering Faith That Changed Her Life Completely" is the recollection of Nena Jackson as she advocates the power of faith and what it had done for her life. Stating that faith gave her purpose she hadn't found before in every aspect of life, she advises others to follow her example. "Toes in the Sand" is worth considering for anyone else feeling lost in their life.

William Reynolds
Privately Published
9788190969314, $16.95,

When what you know is revealed to be lies, the drive to find the truth becomes formidable. "Sanctify" is a novel following a brother and a supposed dead man's fiance as they find that James' brother Jesus may not have died in Vietnam and may well be alive. Through military intelligence, James searches for the truth and finds that the truth is never easy. A riveting mystery and thriller, "Sanctify" is very much worth considering.

Better Than Ever, Again
Mitch Davies
c/o Susannah Greenberg Public Relations
9780984390731, $11.95,

When something is too good to be true, it almost invariably is. "Better Than Ever, Again" is a story of Ben Beck, who follows his dreams of sailing the South Seas despite having no nautical experience whatsoever. A crew filled with offbeat characters, plenty of danger, and Tahiti, "Better Than Ever, Again" is a quirky and fun read that will prove hard to put down.

Love is Strong as Death
Rick and Nancy Fleeter
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432729110, $14.95,

The bond of love when broken can leave incredible damage. "Love is Strong as Death: Our Walk Through the Valley of its Shadow" is a memoir from Rick and Nancy Fleeter as they discuss their encounters with death, and the struggles to keep it together through the worst of it all, trying to keep it together and facing the toughest of times. A self-described volume of human experience, "Love is Strong as Death" is a thoughtful compilation, very much recommended reading.

Before the Great Troubling
Corey Mesler
Unbound Content
c/o CreateSpace
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200, Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781936373154 $16.00

Pushcart Prize nominee Corey Mesler presents Before the Great Troubling, his latest free-verse poetry anthology distilling critical moments of time into crystallized reflection. From the discourse of memory between souls in the void, to the contents of a "nature jar" collected by a child, to the committee of conflicting thoughts debating within one's own mind, Before the Great Troubling keenly captures transient instants and promotes lingering reflection on their meaning. Highly recommended for poetry lovers everywhere. "Closer to Home": The backyard is bathed / in soapy moonlight. / The bean trees gather their / bugs and rattle like / maracas. In the time it takes / for me to step outside / the dog stops its singing. / I whisper from the stoop / the night's secret name.

Young and Dumb
Mitchell Bergeron
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432772635, $15.95,

Wisdom that comes with age may not be the best brand. "Young and Dumb" is a collection of poetry from Mitchell Bergeron, an eighteen year old offering his first dose of poetry. Offering his fresh thoughts to the world, there is plenty to consider for those looking for a young voice in verse. "Young and Dumb" is a unique collection, recommended. "Full Stride": I went out to sea/And found what I was looking for/But all that stood before me/Were false statements making me want more/But what follows I don't know/For like the seasons my mind does change/Sometimes faster, sometimes slow/Entangled by my thoughts overtly deranged/But now the ocean is clear/The water is calm/The shore is in sight, drawing near/But I continue to tick like a bomb/Will I hit the docks or sink the ship?/Will I hold on or have I slipped?/My mind is racing ever faster/It's gaining in full stride/On the wings of disaster/I take a breath and end the ride.

Susan Bethany

Buhle's Bookshelf

Daniel's Dream
Charles Riley & Robert Lynch
Plain & Simple Books
9781460920909, $13.95,

When you lose a child, the grief can ruin your life. "Daniel's Dream: The Founding of the Daniel Robert Lynch Art Education and Scholarship Program" tells the story of how two parents who lost their son to a wanton and reckless shooting dedicated themselves to their son's memory by furthering what he loved - art. A memoir of grief and a memoir of remembrance, "Daniel's Dream" should ring true with any parent who is trying to cope with such a terrible event.

We x Infinity
Charlie Pedersen
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432758899, $16.95,

As the world seems to fall more into part, people look for better answers to it all. "We X Infinity" is a collection of metaphysical studies from Charlie Pedersen as he presents a metaphysical fiction work as he shows 22nd century scientists sending something back and offering a glimpse of our future and what is to come, and what can be done. "We X Infinity" ponders our world, its problems and what we can do to try to make sense of it all, thoughtful reading.

Charlie White
Privately Published
9780578057743, $TBA print / $5.00 Kindle or Nook ebook

When you fail at one thing, try another. "Fatfingers" is the story of Etienne Gaspard, a carpenter driven from his home in Nova Scotia into the south. Finding his true calling as a chef, he finds something to be treasured in the deep south of his home. "Fatfingers" is a moving novel of historical fiction, recommended reading with author Charles White pledging profits to the New Orleans Red Cross.

James R. Templer
Black Rose Writing
9781612960203, $18.95,

Every power has its cost, and it may just be Richard Alexander's sanity. "Virion" follows artist Richard Alexander who through his art, can gain insight on those who have committed violent crimes. But when true evil enters the picture, Alexander finds his power has massive cost, first his family, and then maybe his life. "Virion" is an exciting thriller and paranormal adventure, very highly recommended.

How to Live the Good Life
Arthur Jackson
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Road -515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432767709, $18.95,

A good life is a concept that is quite hard to piece together with so many choices. "How to Live the Good Life: A User's Guide for Modern Humans" is a discussion of religion and philosophy from Arthur Jackson as he offers his own views on his religious studies, comparing traditional religions to the natural state of human belief. With plenty of pondering and wisdom, "How to Live the Good Life" Is filled with unique musings and plenty of thoughts on the many faiths of the world and what they mean in the natural order of things.

The Words That Shaped Me
Aliza Davidovit
WritEffect Productions
9780615377728, $15.00,

Words have power, over our world, and over our life. "The Words That Shaped Me" is a memoir from Aliza Davidovit who comes at readers through a walk through her own personal dictionary, describing how each of these many subjects impacted her life and would impact anybody's. With plenty of humor and a very unique approach, "The Words That Shaped Me" is quite the fun read.

Willis M. Buhle

Burroughs' Bookshelf

New Wave Facts About Flags
Black Dog Publishing
9781907317309, $15.00,

A flag is a symbol, and symbols can have quite the story all their own. "New Wave Facts About Flags" traces the history of many of the world's flags and their constant variations. From national flags, to the development of flags of a nation under political upheaval, to sports flags, to pirate flags, and so much more, the book presents an intriguing assortment of history and trivia about our worlds path. "New Wave Facts About Flags" is a fine pick for anyone with a strong interest in world history and the concept of the flag.

The Play Soldier
Chet Green
Privately Published
9781591136446, $17.95,

You can only play pretend for so long until it becomes reality. "The Play Soldier" follows Frank Warz who in his travels assumes many roles to get by, his luck allowing him to get by. But his luck is not infinite, and he will soon find the consequences of his lies. As he moves through Africa under the guise of a photographer, he learns quick the risks he takes. "The Play Soldier" is modern swashbuckling tale of sorts set sorts set in a near modern day conflict, a riveting read that will be hard to put down.

The Journey Into a Man's Broken Heart
Sabur Im
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781456733964, $14.03,

The broken heart of a man is not that different than a woman's. "The Journey Into a Man's Broken Heart" is a memoir of love and loss from Sabur Im as he recollects on trying to move on after love crushes them and the long road to recovery and finding love again after it all. "The Journey Into a Man's Broken Heart" is a touching story of the emotions of a man after romance falls and all that's left is pain.

The New Shogun
Malcolm Birkin
Sanford Ridge Publishing
9780620476072, $30.00,

Decades of war do not go down without a fight. "The New Shogun" is a novel of the end of Japan's Sengoku period following a banished General as he tries to piece his life together meeting an Englishman, brushing with romance, and it all falls apart again when he is pulled into a plot to kill the Shogun, splitting him between love and duty, his happiness and plunging the world into war once more. "The New Shogun" is an exciting work of historical fiction, well worth considering for fans of Japanese history and political intrigue.

Poetry Thus Far
Carlie Pendleton
Vantage Press
419 Park Ave., South, New York, NY 10016
9780533161270, $8.50,

As you stride from youth into adulthood, the reality of the world comes over your head. "Poetry Thus Far: A Girl on the Verge" is a collection of poetry from Carlie Pendleton as she offers his opinions and views on the world clear with some original and driven verse. "Poetry Thus Far" is a fine collection, very much recommended reading. "Cut": I slice the skin to feel the fear,/To numb the pain inside,/Blood is the soothing rush,/Tears that my flesh can cry,/But it always seeps back in the pores,/To torment with its silent sound,/Maybe one day the agony will be great enough,/To give me the courage to press down.

Robyn Salkow & Sherianne Angel
Privately Published
9780983144700, $19.95,

Your life may just be half done with before you realize who you really are. "Methuselah" follows Myrrh, who is torn apart by her family issues. When Methuselah enters her life, it gets turned upside down. Blending inspirational wisdom into general knowledge and life, "Methuselah" is a motivational, exciting, and thoughtful novel, highly recommended to both self-help and general fiction collections.

Think Like a Pro, Act Like a Pro, & Play Like a Pro
Isaac Byrd
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432759384, $15.95,

Being a pro is more than just playing a little bit better. "Think Like a Pro, Act Like a Pro, & Play Like a Pro" is a motivational guide for athletes who want to understand what's the difference between the minor and major leagues in many professional sports, discussing eight principles such as preparation, concentration, goals, and more that allow one to be mentally prepared and become the top of their league. "Think Like a Pro, Act Like a Pro, and Play Like a Pro" is a fine read with plenty of inspiration for the athlete who wants to make the move to jump that gap to being a major player in the sports world.

John Burroughs

Carson's Bookshelf

Who Will Drive the Bus?
Gerard J. Donnellan
Privately Published
9781456379902, $21.95,

A family business is not a business devoid of ambition and internal management issues. "Who Will Drive the Bus?: Guidance for Developing Leaders in the Family Enterprise" discusses the problems and crisis that family businesses often face, as Gerald J. Donnellan, a psychologist and consultant to family businesses. Offering much wisdom to family businesses and other close knit business groups, his ideas ask to embrace that closeness while not letting it destroy that family in the process. "Who Will Drive the Bus?" is to be strongly considered by any manager of a personally-run company.

Strange Fruit
Bryan David Hiltner
Vantage Press
419 Park Ave., South, New York, NY 10016
9780533157266, $22.95,

When a child is brutally murdered, two FBI agents find that race is a petty thing to put in the way of justice. "Strange Fruit" tells of FBI agents Daniel Pierce and Franklin Jones, who must investigate the lynching of twelve year old black kid and try to find the truth in a sea of racism and secrecy. A novel of facing deep racism in 1963, "Strange Fruit" proves to be an intriguing work of historical fiction about just how vile racism can be.

The Boomerang Effect
Nicola Bird
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781450287227, $13.95,

Life never goes according to plan, and your success all depends on how you react. "The Boomerang Effect: How You Can Take Charge of Your Life" is a motivational book from Nicola Bird as she advises readers to take control of their life within five minutes, empowering oneself for success and being in charge of the situation. With wisdom on dealing with the uncertain nature of live, beating your own weaknesses, and the power of perception. "The Boomerang Effect" has powerful wisdom that should be considered for anyone who tires of facing life on autopilot with disappointment.

The Boy Behind the Gate
Larry Jacobson
Buoy Press
News & Experts (publicity)
1127 Grove Street, Clearwater, FL 33755
9780982878798, $27.95,

The allure of world travel leaves much wanting to truly see it all. "The Boy Behind the Gate: How His Dream of Sailing Around the World Became a Six-Year Odyssey of Adventure, Fear, Discovery, and Love" discusses the adventure of Larry Jacobson who dropped everything and risked everything to go around the world and see what it had to offer. Telling the story of how he gained the courage to risk it all, the rough road to simply getting started, and what can be learned from it all. "The Boy Behind the Gate" is a fascinating and very much recommended read for anyone who has dreamed of seeing it all.

Acres of Bitterness
Debra A. Patrow
Privately Published
9781615842896, $12.99,

When your life is not even yours, it can be hard to gain the power to fight for it. "Acres of Bitterness" tells the story of Josie, a woman whose entire life has been laid out before her without her say. As she is faced with death by disease, she tries to come to terms with everything around her, and facing the life she never truly got to live. "Acres of Bitterness" is a unique work of fiction that discusses the importance of free will, highly recommended.

A Marked Heart
David George Ball
1663 Liberty Drive, IN 47403
9781462002146, $17.95,

One man can change the lives of millions. "A Marked Heart" is the story of one of those millions. David George Ball was pursuing becoming a pastor, but his meeting with Dr. Martin Luther King Jr sent him in another path of helping people, as a lawyer and politician. Telling of his journey through these careers and how God and Dr. King did much in his path, "A Marked Heart" is a poignant and thoughtful read, very much recommended.

Michael J. Carson

Cassandra's Bookshelf

Lee Krasner: A Biography
Gail Levin
William Morrow (HarperCollins)
10 East 53rd St, NY, NY 10022
9780061845253, $30.00,

Finally a real down to earth book on Lee Krasner's life and art by a first rate art historian. Gail Levin tells the heart-felt story of Lee Krasner's struggle to be seen as an artist in her own right instead of being folded into the Jackson Pollock legend she helped to create. I interviewed Lee in the 1980s and found her to be a warm, witty and intelligent woman willing to talk about Jackson Pollocks' life and art as well as her own.

She was a powerful artist in her own right who because of the art world's discrimination against women was not given her due. Gail Levin's new biography is a much needed corrective to the view that Lee was just the little wife painting in the bathroom who kept shinning up Pollock's tarnished image.

As this book shows Lee was an artist of some note before she ever met Jackson. She was the one who shored him up and helped him find his own style as well as introducing him to an art world he did not know.

What emerges from this biography is a fresh look at Lee Krasner as a woman from a Jewish family trying to make a name for herself in art. It shows her to be a devoted wife and friend to Jackson Pollock despite his drinking and abuse of her love into this volatile mix. Levin's strong writing style, her intimate knowledge of the for him. It details her struggles to keep the marriage together and somehow integrate her art artist and the art scene give us a moving picture of what it meant to be a woman artist emerging during the 1940s and finally getting some recognition because of the women's movement in the late 1970s.

This book is a triumph of scholarship and will stand the test of time and those who refuse to take a fresh look at this extraordinary woman.

Jackie O: On The Couch 'Inside The Mind and Life of Jackie Kennedy Onassis
Alma Bond, Ph.D
Bancroft Press
Baltimore, MD, 21209
9781610880213, $21.99,

"I came into the world on July 28, 1929, six weeks late. I haven't been on time since." So begins Alma Bond's Jackie O On The Couch Inside the mind and life of Jackie Kennedy Onassis. Bond is a psychotherapist, prolific writer, and familiar face to readers of the Midwest review. In twenty finely wrought and sensitively drawn chapters, Bond creates a voice worth hearing.

Her Jackie O is no cookie cutter card board creation. Not the stuff of tabloids or stoic first ladies keeping their chin up while their real voice goes unheard instead Bond gets inside Jackie's head and gives us a real flesh and blood human being with her own ambitions, desires, contradictions and a sensuality and psychology all her own.Right from the get go Jackie tells us that "life has always been more important to me than writing about it." Even so, Bonds insightful psychoanalysis reveals a Jacqueline Bouvier Kennedy Onassis we can hardly imagine. In this book she takes us on a star spangled, celebrity studded journey through a series of constellations that dare to go where few writers have had the guts to venture before.

Bond a practicing psychoanalyst with more than 60 years of shedding light on those dark corners of the mind that most of us dare not see brings to life a Jackie'O who is as hot blooded and passionate as the men in her life. Although Bond has fictionalized the likes of Maria Callas and Camille Claudel and is more qualified than most to put Jackie on the couch, her narrative reads like a suspense thriller and keeps readers on the edge of their chairs. Take Jackie's reflections in chapter 2 in which she tells us about her sister, Lee Radziwell. "Was it passive-aggressive of me to remain friends with and take the side of a man who had cheated on my sister, she wonders." Jackie goes on to dwell on how she betrayed her sister with Aristotle Onassis who ignited her passions as no other man had. (31) It is revelations such as this one that make this book a total page turner. We can hardly wait to devour the next course in this banquet Bond has put before us.

In giving us the unscripted moments of Jackie's inner most life, Bond makes us feel as if this highly ambitious, complex and driven woman is speaking directly to us. At last we begin to grasp the woman behind the celebrity. He dreams, hopes, disappointments and finally her triumph over the cancer that ravished her at the end of her incredible life.

Cassandra Langer

Clark's Bookshelf

American Tempest: How the Boston Tea Party Sparked a Revolution
Harlow Giles Unger
Da Capo Press
c/o Perseus Books Group
11 Cambridge Center
Cambridge, MA 02142
9780306819629, $26.00

When a group of people adopt the name "Tea Party" they have committed themselves to an American tradition. Speaking out for what they believe should be change in America based upon what the founding fathers did in the 1700's. "American Tempest" was written by Harlow Giles Unger, the author of "The Last Founding Father," "Lion of Liberty," and seventeen other books all relating to American history.

Harlow Unger writes with authority and documents each of his books with facts that are sustainable from the archives of libraries and individual collections. The reader can rely upon what he has written. Though it is somewhat trite to say "truth is stranger than fiction," it is certainly one of those truisms with the writing of Unger. Many times we find history books are dull and drab repeating many of the school child lessons concerning dates which have to be learned without meaning. When they are tied together with detailed actual events and they span a period of time which twines them together, it is then that the real meaning of what the Boston Tea Party did to spark a revolution.

Three ships were in the Boston Harbor when a group of patriotic activists dressed as Indians boarded the ships to destroy tea which had been bound for the usage of colonists. The protest was based upon a tea tax which had been levied by the British crown. The estimated value of the loss was 1 million dollars, but more importantly was the message sent. "No Taxation without representation." Tea Parties erupted in other cities throughout the colonies is a lesser known fact. The colonists believed that they should be recognized as a part of the crown's empire with full rights and privileges to be represented in decisions which affected them.

Many of the people who are highlighted are well known to students of history, but there were many who were not so famous which makes this book more enjoyable. Sam Adams, a brewery owner, orator Patrick Henry, John Hancock (the president of Congress when the Declaration of Independence was signed a mere two and a half years later) were among those who are well known.

Today's modern Tea Party has adopted the name of what started in Boston. A better understanding of what happened and the subsequent events which led to liberty are detailed in this book. This book is highly recommended and is a 4 star book.

Joy for Beginners
Erica Bauermeister
G. P. Putnam's Sons
9780399157127, $24.95

Erica Bauermeister is the author of "The School of Essential Ingredients" and co-authored "500 Great Books by Women" and "Let's Hear It for the Girls": "375 Great Books for Readers 2 - 14." Her second novel, "Joy for Beginners," is a moving story about friendship, overcoming fears, and a celebration of life.

After the main character Kate recovered from cancer she planned a dinner party at her home. She invited 5 of her friends to thank them for all they had done for her during her illness. Kate and her friends made plans for each to accomplish a task which would challenge them. Kate promised her daughter she would go white-water-rafting down the Grand Canyon with her, but there was one condition - she would choose a task for each friend to be completed during the next year before her trip and they all agreed. The scenarios went like this:

Caroline who is a used book buyer and hostess for authors who came in for book signings loved her job. She had been married for 25 years and was now divorced for 9 months. After work she would sit in her living room reminiscing about the past and starred at the wall of books her husband left behind. Her task was simple, but very effective for her.

Finally she gathered boxes, removed them from the shelves, and packed them away.

Daria, a single woman who worked at a pottery studio, found that working with clay was exciting. Daria thought she could create anything with clay. Her task was to make homemade bread. Why would she need to prove she could bake? Surprise! When introduced to her friend's brother who loved to bake, an intriguing relationship bloomed.

Sara discovered adventure was to be her challenge. She was to travel alone to Venice! How would she be able to do this while leaving a husband and three young children behind?

Hadley, a lonely, young widow, married for only one year, purchased a house with money from her husband's life insurance policy. She often enjoyed sitting on the couch, drinking tea and watching her garden get out of control. With help from her friends, they all cleared the backyard. Amazing beautiful flora and other vegetation was discovered. An unkempt overgrown garden was put to the test creating comfort and beauty for Hadley and her group of friends to enjoy.

Marion was a journalist, married 33 years with children grown and gone. She often thought about getting a tattoo when she was a teenager, but dismissed the idea. Her challenge was to get a tattoo. This would be difficult because she only wanted a special one that would express her.

Ava's mother died of cancer when she was young. She was not there to support Kate during her recovery even though they were childhood friends. She attended the celebration dinner and acknowledged her fears by finishing a 3 mile walk for cancer.

Was Kate able to overcome her fears about white-water-rafting on the Colorado River? You will need to read this delightful story about the importance of friends helping each other. Challenges which were placed before them built their confidences and enriched their lives. This is a well written book which will be well received by the female audience. "Joy for Beginners" is highly recommended and deserves four stars.

Jeff Abbott
Grand Central Publishing
9780466575171, $24.99

Jeff Abbott's credentials are as impressive like his stylistic writing. He has written twelve mystery and suspense novels which have been published in over twenty languages. Abbott is a three-time nominee for the Edgar Award and a two-time nominee for the Anthony Award. His novel "Panic" was a Thriller Award nominee for Best Novel and is also a past winner of both the Agatha Award and the Macavity Award for Best First Novel. He graduated from Rice University and lives in Texas.

"Adrenaline" is a thriller which flows rapidly from page to page. Starting with a CIA agent who is wrongfully accused of being a traitor, swiftly introduced is Sam Capra as that 'man.' Sam had been a respected and faithful CIA operative who was known for his intelligence, intellectuality, and as a man who had been married for three years to a co-operative who was expecting their first child.

Suddenly, all is swept away from him! His pregnant wife is kidnapped, his office is bombed, his fellow agents are killed and he is left to take the blame for all the misdeeds. Gathered up by the hierarchy of the CIA he is tortured, interrogated, and put on leave from the agency. Under surveillance, he heals and gains back his strength which had been taken from him by the interrogators in their quest to obtain admissions from him about his wrong doing. Finally, he is allowed a modicum of freedom, but always under the watchful eye of his superior and his operatives.

He gets a job as a bartender in New York City which not only provides him with some extra income beyond his agency salary, but also gives him the opportunity to put into motion his plan to solve his disrupted life.

Sam Capra escapes from being under the thumb of his boss Howell, and returns to Europe where all of his recent troubles began as he seeks to find his wife, their new-born child, and exonerate his dirtied name. His quest is stymied by many different underworld characters that block his path; he dispatches them by using his superior skills in hand-to-hand combat as well as using the old fashioned gun!

This thriller is definitely a page turner as the reader is clued into the many different faces that make up this engrossing tale. A skill that is deftly demonstrated is the ability to switch from first person narrative of Sam Capra to third person story teller, author Jeff Abbott.

This is an adult book because of the number of deaths and some language, but this is overshadowed by the wonderful descriptive writing of Abbott as he spins this yarn of mayhem. Your senses are often captivated by the smells, sights, and sounds which are described in excellent detail. "Adrenaline" is the first book in what shall become the series about Sam Capra as he battles evil doers throughout the world. Abbott's demonstrated ability creates a highly recommended 5 star book.

Clark Isaacs

Daniel's Bookshelf

Jeffery Deaver
Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americans
New York, NY 10020
9781439156353, $26.99,

I seriously believe I have read most of Jeffery Deaver's novels of crime fiction comparing the reads to my other different favorite genre' authors. He is one of a few consistent authors writing good suspenseful thrillers. His evil antagonist do battle against the protagonists Lincoln Rhyme and Amelia Sachs. That also would include main characters like his Kathryne Dance, John Pellman, and in The Rune Trilogy. His latest effort would be the first original James Bond novel (Carte Blanche) written in a contemporary setting since Raymond Benson in The Man with the Red Tattoo in 2002. Jeffery Deaver was commissioned by Ian Fleming Publications to do this new novel.

Agent Corte known as the shepherd has a mission to protect the Kessler family beginning with police detective Ryan Kessler and his immediate family. Corte works out of a U. S. security organization behind the FBI and CIA that is anonymous dedicated to intelligence surveillance covering the task of citizen protection. Kessler has become the target of Henry Loving, a seasoned ruthless "lifter" or one who uses leverage for his client to obtain or get information for the purpose of his assignment. Loving uses his leverage anyway he can to get the information with any means possible. That includes torture and holding family members at bay if they get into his custody. Corte has a grudge in his past knowledge of Loving where his friend was tortured and captured by him. So these two are involved in a dangerous game of wits and calculated risks. Corte shepherds the Kesslers to a safe house even with resistance from his own agency, to combat the moves from Loving to get them. He uses his sharp investigator Claire duBois, and his long-time buddy Paul Federicks to pinpoint where Kessler triggered his interest from Loving's client.

As the team works hard to keep progressing into the Kessler family to see what happened to put them in the radar of Loving, the family appears to be cracking under the strain of the pressure where the lifter gets closer and closer to them. Corte must decide which avenue to pursue either to protect his charges or expose them to the killer in his own personal agenda of a long awaited revenge on Loving.

Jeffery Deaver has written Twenty-Nine thriller novels to-date and three collections of short stories including the two Twisted and More Twisted thriller short stories. I am pleasantly surprised on his cat and mouse plotting, and I have enjoyed his twists at the end of his stories. I await his new James Bond as an interesting change from his efforts and I know he will do Ian Fleming proud.

Think Twice
Lisa Scottoline
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312380755, $26.99,

I picked up a copy of my first read of her writing with Look Again, and this selection of Think Twice at a Library fun raiser. I figured her fast pace story telling made it easier for warmer day book reading and I was right. Her style rivals ethical dilemmas of Jodi Picoult and the runaway train pacing of James Patterson. An easy page turner with this reader content, who likes to keep reading one book, and on to the next one when a certain mood strikes me. I do enjoy faster pace reading in-between my diverse interest of more complicated content with other authors. This way I am satisfied with a variety of a blended mixture of this genre'.

Bennie Rosato is an ambitious lawyer, and she runs a firm in Philadelphia. Bennie has as she learns a couple of years ago a sister Alice Connelly who is her identical twin. The twin's mother Carmela Rosato, who being a single parent had given birth to twins, but only could keep one. Bennie was chosen because her mother was broke and suffering from depression. Bennie received a call out of the blue from Alice who was charged with murder and needed a lawyer. Bennie has proved Alice not guilty and court, and didn't realize how much of a pandora's box she had just opened. Unfortunately Alice was resentful, and she was the evil sister in this twosome. Bennie does work on trying to make amends by finding a job for her, and she gets Alice established in a better life. Alice shows all this is not going to change her, and Alice becomes problematic for her. One shocking day Alice drugs Bennie, and she buries her alive. Alice takes over Bennie's life including her firm, and romances Bennie's ex boy-friend. Alice also fools her co-workers including people she does business on a normal business day to day. Bennie learns how to wage a new war in fighting for her life, and trying to recover what belongs to her she is more a mirror image of her evil twisted sister. She also has to do battle with Alice, and engage a new one with herself.

Lisa Scottoline has written books that have put her on the New York Times bestselling list and an Edgar Award. She has eighteen fiction books to her credit and her latest one is Save Me. She has two non fiction books entitled, My Nest isn't empty, It Just Has More Closet Space, and Why My Third Husband Will Be a Dog. Her books reach into questions about ethical moral convictions, and whether the bad things people do have in-bred tendencies. The stories are blunt, honest, and straight forward emotional thrillers with real characters one does care about. I will continue to explore her earlier offerings, and I do hope to pick up her latest book.

Daniel Allen

Farrah's Bookshelf

Mortal Instruments Book Set
Cassandra Clare
Margaret K. McElderry
9781442409521, $29.99

City of Bones Book 1

"Clary's first sight of the Silent City was a row upon row of tall marble arches that rose overhead disappearing like the orderly rows of trees in an orchard." Ms. Clare introduces to the world of Shadowhunters and Downworlders set in modern day New York. Clary Fray whose mother Jocelyne has dissapeared without a trace in the middle of the night, leaving their Manhattan apartment in total chaos. On the journey to find her mother, Clary will learn disturbing truths about herself and her family. Her world as she knows it will shatter. She will also make new friends and alliances and with Simon's help her best friend, she'll arm herserlf and loved one to fight Evil.

City of Ashes Book 2

"Day of Wrath, that the day of Burning,

Seer and Sibyl speak concerning

All the world to Ashes turning. (Abraham Coles)

With the Soul Sword now in enemy hands and Clary's mom in a coma. Clary must piece the puzzle together if she hopes to save her mom and everything she holds dear.Love. frienship and trust will all be tested in the seconf installment of the Mortal instruments.

City of Glass Book 3

In the third installment of the series, Evil seems to have sink its claws into Clary's world and needs but a to tug to pull it to shreds. In the battle for survival Shadowhunters and Downworlders must set their differences aside and join forces to combat a greater evil: Valentine.

The Rest Falls Away: The Gardella Vampire Chronicles
Colleen Gleason
9780451220073, $6.99 (Kindle)

Victoria Gardella is the third generation Venator descendant of the Gardella line sworn by oath to protect the innocent from from vampires and all things evil alike and bear the vis bulla. But at what price? Will she be able to balance the duties of her calling as a Gardella and love. As she masters her trade, Victoria will learn some painful truths.

Rises The Night: The Gardella Vampire Chronicles
Colleen Gleason
Reading Level : Adult (18 and over)
9780451221469, $7.99

In the second Installment, as Evil clutches the citizens of Rome Victoria must make stand and accept her new role as Illa Gardella. Alliance will be forged and Friendships torn asunder. A captivating red fro those who love vampyre lore.

Kushiel's Dart
Jacqueline Carey
Tor Fantasy
9780765342980, $7.99

Ms. Carey tell the journey of Phedre, a young girl sold into the service by her mother. Marked by Kushiel's dart, she will rise above her destiny as a courtesan under the tutelage of Anafiel Delaunay. Kushiel's Dart is the first novel in this series, full of adventure, intrigue. love and a lot of lust. This a read that will not disappoint.

The Devil Inside Me: Morgan Kingsley series book 1
Jenna Black
9780553590449, $6.99

Morgan Kingsley is an exorcist that has been possessed unbeknownst to her. Now with help of Lugh, the high demon sharing her body she will have to unravel the mystery of her possession.

The Coming Plague: Newly Emerging Diseases in a World Out of Balance
Laurie Garrett
0140250913, $20.00

What happens when the diseases modern medecine thought they had eradicated return in full force? the answer is that our health system becomes inept. In this book, Ms. Laurie Garrett exposes what can happen when we are out numbered and cornered when the same curative agents can no longer prevent nor heal our ailments.

Betrayal of Trust: The Collapse of Global Public Health
Laurie Garrett
9780786884407, $18.95

In a well thought and well research book, Ms. Garrett reveals the worldwide atrocities in the public health.

Emerging Epidemics: The Menace of New Infections
Madeleine Drexler
0143117173, $16.00

Ms Drexler provide a compelling discourse in a world infectious disease are running rampant. The book discuses H1N1 and H5N1 as well as SARS, the rise of antibiotic resistance disease like tuberculosis. If you want and easy comprehensive read into the world medicine and the diseases that plague us.

Secret Agents: The Menace of Emerging Infections
Madeline Drexler
National Academy Press
9780309076388, $24.95

This book take us into the world of superbugs, food frights and pandemic diseases. Ms. Drexler takes us to the frontline like of the battle Man vs disease.

Letters to a Black Boy
Bob Teag

(Only used copies are available on Prices ranges between $2.00 to $9.00 per copy)

I purchased this book at Miami Dade Public Library's Annual Book sale on December 10th, 2009. Initially, I chose it for leisurely reading but I was soon taken by Bob Teague's dexterity with words and his need to inform his son Adam affectionately named "Adam Smasher" of the woes of his time. Teague, a former NBC- TV anchorman, reporter and producer of 25 years discusses and illustrates the social, economical and political inequalities of the middle class African American in the 70s and wishes his son to rise above theses hindrances. He shares in angst, trials and tribulations. He voices also his concern for his son future. He mentions the emergence of a new attitude and social consciousness and attempts empowers his son with the tools to become himself a vehicle for change. He makes a desperate plea to his soon that radiates throughout the book, that of making his own choices and setting his own path in life: "Let no man sell you his battle cry."

This read is suitable for a general audience mostly young adult (ages 18 and up).

Bob Teague is also the author of "Adam in Blunderland" (1971) and "The Flip Side of Soul: Letters to My Son" (1990)

Farrah J. Jean

Gary's Bookshelf

James Patterson & Neil McMahon
Little Brown and Company
Hachette Book Group USA
1271 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9780316987369, $27.95

"Toys" is not the usual novel Patterson fans are used to reading. It is a science fiction novel in which humans are the target of extinction from man made beings that are out of control. The subject is reminiscent of "Logan's Run" and other science fiction novels that show what happens when technology is out of control. The problem with this one though, is there is too much confusion. It is a great subject but it is not handled very well. Toys" is a very disappointing science fiction novel.

The Confession
John Grisham
9780385528047 $28.95

Grisham has always told a good story but with "The Confession" he outdoes himself with a novel that is very timely on the issue of capital punishment. A death row inmate is to be executed for a crime he says he never committed. A man contacts a priest and tells him that he is the killer. The priest wrestles with what he should do because of his oath to the church that what is told to him is confidential. The inmate also has an attorney who will do anything for his client to prove his innocence. The novel races along with finely drawn characters and a tense pace to its final pages. "The Confession" is a commentary on a social problem as well as a great tale for any reader.

Long Lost
Harlan Coben
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780451229328, $9.99, www,,

Coben is back with "Long Lost" another rapid fire thriller. This time Myron Bolitar is roused from his sleep by a phone call from an old flame who is in Paris France. She tells him she needs him to come and help her. He meets with her and is told about her child she thought was killed in a car accident. She then tells him that she saw her daughter and they need to find her again. The story is a tense complicated weaving of generous doses of suspenseful situations that are resolved at the end of the novel. "Long Lost" is for anyone who wants a good suspenseful yarn that will keep the reader turning the pages.

Robert B. Parker
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780399157264, $26.95,,

"Sixkill" is the last Spenser novel written by Robert B. Parker. Unlike Donald E. Westlake or several other authors whose last works were very disappointing this one is a great one to leave behind. It has all of the elements that made this series so much fun to read. Parker was the master of snappy dialogue and interplay between Spenser and other characters. "Sixkill" is a good mystery to end the series of popular Spenser novels and any fan of Parker should be pleased.

I'll Walk Alone
Mary Higgins Clark
Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9781439180969 $25.99,,

In "I'll Walk Alone" Mary Higgins Clark delivers a tense nail biting thriller that races along to its final revealing ending that shows why she is the number one lady of the suspense novel. Clark tells a story of a woman who has lost a child but refuses to believe even after five year that her child is dead. The issue of identity theft is also a part of the novel that further complicated matters. The writing is fast paced with believable characters caught up in the web of suspenseful situations. "I'll Walk Alone" should please anyone who is looking for a good fast paced summer read.

100 Great Poems for Boys
Edited by Leslie Pockell
Hachette Book Group USA
1271 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9780446563826, $12.99,,

Some of the poems in this collection are "Paul Revere's Ride," "Old Ironsides," "The Charge of the Light Brigade," and "Richard Corey." The pieces are geared to a male audience and might get boys to read them because of the subject matter that might be more appealing to them. Poetry with boys has not been very popular possibly because of the way it has been taught in school. 100 Great Poems for Boys is for anyone who wants to read some interesting poetry.

100 Great Poems for Girls
Edited By Celia Johnson
Hachette Book Group USA
1271 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9780446563840, $12.99,,

"Fuzzy Wuzzy Was a Bear," "Jack and Jill," "The Bells," and "Little Bo Peep," are some of the poems in "100 Great Poems for Girls." The pieces are interesting and fun for girls to learn to appreciate poetry. "100 Great Poems for Girls" and "I00 Great Poems For Boys" are two great collections of poems for males and females of all ages to enjoy.

The Happy Hollisters On a River Trip
Jerry West; illustrated by Helen S. Hamilton
The Svenson Group, Inc.
2990 Northfield Drive, Tarpon Springs, FL 34688
978145650226, $9.95,,

Jerry West who also wrote many of the popular "Hardy Boys" series brought that same kind of writing to the Hollister novels.. "The Happy Hollisters on a River Trip" is another delightful story that moves along with great characters and fun situations. This time out the Hollister kids have to solve the mystery of why a friend of theirs ran away. They trail him and have many different adventures along the way. Also back is Joey Brill who once again is causing lots of trouble. "The Happy Hollisters on a River Trip" like the first novel "The Happy Hollisters," are bound to find many new readers young and old who want to read good writing and interesting plots

The Underwear Dare
The Nardini Sististers
Sorelle Publishing Inc
1026 Villa Drive, Suntree Fl 32940
9780615435107, $8.99,, 321-626-2381,

I don't know why writers feel they have to fill a novel, TV show, or movie with so much toilet humor. That is the case with "The Underwear Dare," too much off color bathroom subject matter and not enough story line. The authors have two boys in the fifth grade who for many years did not get along from single parent homes. Then the two parents get married. Now the two boys are forced to become step brothers. There's also the fact that one of them will take over a room in the attic that is being converted into a bedroom. To decide which one gets the room the two stepbrothers come up with several bets before it is decided. At least the authors have on the back of the book a warning to the reader of what is inside making their choice to pursue. Series like The Happy Hollisters, Wizard of Oz, The Kipton Mysteries, The Hardy Boys, Nancy Drew, and Harry Potter do not resort to this offensive subject matter because it is not needed to tell the story "The Underwear Dare" misses its mark of young adult readers because it is just too disgusting . I hope these authors do a better job in their next novel of these characters.

Portfolio Volume III
Jasmine Becket-Griffith
P.O. Box 470932 Celebration, Fl 34747-0932
9780557694068, $29.50,,

"Portfolio Volume III" picks up where Volume II left off with many charming pieces by a very talented artist. Most striking are two things: the remarkable colors and the eyes of the girl in each of the depictions that are all so different. Many of the pieces in the volumes also show up in her card series "Oracle of Shadows & Light" With the cards there is a little book inside the box of cards that tells a little more about the works. "Portfolio Volume II and "Oracle of Shadows & Light" are bound to please the Sci-fi/ Fantasy fans attending conventions who are always looking for different works of art to purchase.

Lucky's Collectors Guide to 20th Century Yoyos History and Values
Lucky J. Meisenheimer M. D.
Lucky J's Swim & Surf Inc
7300 Sandlake Commons Blvd Suite #103
Orlando Florida 32819
9780966761207, $29.95,,

"Lucky's Collectors Guide to 20th Century Yo Yos" is the place to learn everything you ever wanted to know about Yo Yos. The author talks about Duncan and every other company who make the toy. There are also price guides based on condition of each brand. I learned a lot more than I ever thought I could. "Lucky's Collectors Guide to 20th Century Yo Yos is for anyone who wants to know more about the kid's toy or for any collector.

L Ron Hubbard Presents Writers of the Future Volume Xxvii
Edited by K.D. Wentworth
Galaxy Press
7051 Hollywood Blvd, Suite 200, Hollywood, CA 90028
9781592128709, $7.99,,

When this series began, no one ever believed it would last this long. This twenty seventh volume shows that Writers of the Future program will be around for a lot longer. This newest installment continues the yearly collection of novice writers who for the first time get a chance to be published. Like all other volumes in the series there are also some great editorials by many noted writers in the field of fantasy and science fiction. Some are former contest winners themselves. Galaxy Press and "Writers of the Future " continues to be one of the biggest contributors to the field of science fiction and fantasy and carries out the mission author Hubbard set forth to bring new talent to the genre.

Abner The Clown
Jeffrey Breslauer
Illustrations by Linda Campbell
Helm Publishing
P. O. Box 9691, Treasure Island, Fl 33740-9691

The message in "Abner the Clown" is be happy with who you are. At the beginning of the book Abner is not so pleased with his name and wants to change it to something else. What he finds is that his is a special one and each is unique. Breslauer tells his story well and the boldly colored artwork by artist Linda Campbell adds another dimension to the delightful kid's tale. "Abner the Clown" has a new publisher and a much cleaner more professional look that should appeal to readers of all ages.

Face of Betrayal
Lis Wiehl with April Henry
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York 10010
978765366665, $7.99,,

"Face of Betrayal" is the first novel in a series by these two talented writers. A seventeen-year - old senate page goes missing while out walking her dog. So begins this tense complicated thriller that races along with believable characters and fast paced writing. "Face of Betrayal" is a sure fire hit for anyone who wants a tense page turner novel.

In Desperation
Rick Mofina
225 Duncan Mill Road Don Mills, Ontario, Canada M3B 3K9
9780778329480 $7.99,,

This time the story is personal for journalist Jack Gannon. His estranged sister Cora frantically reaches out to him to help find her eleven-year-old daughter who has been kidnapped. "In Desperation" is the best of the series of novels about Jack Gannon. The tale races along with believable characters caught up in a web of deception. "In Desperation is a page turner that will please anyone who is looking for a suspenseful read.

Diamonds to Dust, The Life and Death of Jayne Mansfield
Frank Feruccio
Outskirts Press Inc
Denver, Colorado
9781432712419, $17.95,,

Ferruccio delves further into the world of Jayne Mansfield in "Diamonds to Dust." There are plenty of pictures and more interesting things of her very sad life. Mansfield was always competing to be a number a #1 sexy bombshell actress. She worked so hard but just never seemed to make it. "Diamonds to Dust" should appeal to anyone who wants to read more about a tragic stars life.

A Turn in the Road
Debbie Macomber
225 Duncan Mill Road Don Mills, Ontario, Canada M3B 3K9
9780778329831 $24.95,

Debbie Macomber's "A Turn in the Road" is another delightful read from a master story teller who keeps getting better. Ruth plans to drive from Seattle to go to her 50th high school reunion in Florida. She takes along for company Bethanne Hamlin her former daughter in law and Bethanne's daughter Annie. The three women encounter many different and interesting characters along their trip to Florida that make the novel so enjoyable to read. The writing is easy and conveyed the same feeling of the TV show "Brothers and Sisters." Fans of Maccomber will love "A Turn in the Road."

How Can You NOT Laugh at a Time Like This? Reclaim your Health with Humor, Creativity, and Grit
Carla Ulbrich The Singing Patient
Tell Me Press Inc
98 Mansfield St. New Haven, CT 06511
978098165346 $14.95,,

What is most impressive about "How Can You NOT Laugh at a Time Like This?, is how the author uses humor to help her fight her condition. She says that medical professionals do not always know what they are talking about. She talks about how she is misdiagnosed. One says she has one kind of disease and another says something else. What she shows is that with humor you can help treat yourself more than any drug because they only treat the condition not the cause and they have side effects. Laughter and positive mental attitude are two very important things she shows. She also has out several CDs that are written in her book. They are Sick Humor the Lighter Side of Illness, Carla U. and Live From Outer Space. These three CDs give you a chance to hear her music that is the basis of so much of what she is talking about. They can be purchased at the author's website. The picture on the cover of two rabbit slippers is an example of how anyone's life can be happy or sad, you pick How Can You NOT Laugh at a Time Like This? " is for anyone who needs to know an alternative way to treat a disease. It is also for anyone who wants to be a more positive person

Fandemonium Selected Short Stories & Poems from Talented Facebook Writers
Outskirts Press Inc
Denver, Colorado
9781432770433, $16.95,,

Fandemonium Selected Short Stories & Poems from Talented Facebook Writers" is a first of its kind. Writers on Facebook were asked to participate and this collection is the end result. There are many talented authors with short stories and poetry that fill the pages of this book. Proceeds for this collection are being donated to the American Red Cross on behalf of Outskirts Press and its Facebook Fans.

American Due Process
Dr. Paul A. Jones
Outskirts Press Inc
Denver, Colorado
9781432770044, $10.95,,

"American Due Process" has a lot of interesting ideas on how to reform the criminal justice system of this country but I did not agree with any of the proposals the author presents. He wants to do away with many of the things that presently enable the process to convict many offenders. He also does not do much for the victims of crimes and his ideas are not as well thought out as they could have been. "American Due Process" is a book that courses of law and criminology should overlook because his ideas are too farfetched.

Gary Roen

Gloria's Bookshelf

The Night Season
Chelsea Cain
Minotaur Books
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9780312619763, $25.99,

In this, the fourth book in the series featuring police detective Archie Sheridan, Gretchen Lowell, the beautiful, sadistic serial killer who in previous entries shared the stage with Archie, is little more than backdrop, a recurring theme playing almost entirely offstage. Gretchen has now been in jail for six months [after having been recaptured]. This time reporter Susan Ward plays a larger role, working almost in tandem with Archie, the cop who lived to tell the tale of the Beauty Killer and has still not quite recovered. [For the uninitiated, Archie headed up the task force searching for the gorgeous psychopath for ten years before she caught him three years earlier. She had held him captive and tortured him in ways too lurid to be described here. It nearly cost him his life; it did cost him his marriage.] After spending two months in a psych ward, he is now, at 41 years of age, eight months clean of painkillers and six months out of inpatient treatment, and allowed to go back to work in the police department.

The killer which is front and center this time around is the swollen Willamette River in Portland. But it seems that a human killer is at work as well: Among those swept away by the flood waters are several who were killed before they were left to drown, poisoned by one of the most bizarre methods one is ever likely to find in a novel. As the cops investigate, one of their own is an early victim. There are parallels between the current fictional natural disaster and one which actually did completely wipe out another Willamette River city more than 60 years earlier.

Readers can be reassured that this book does not have any of the graphic descriptions of the pleasures in which Gretchen indulged in the earlier books. For those that miss the gore, the author notes in an acknowledgment that she will make up for it next time. With or without those elements the book makes for great reading, as did the others. It is another suspenseful entry in the series and, as those earlier books, is recommended.

Shatter the Bones
Stuart MacBride
77-85 Fulham Palace Rd.
Hammersmith, London W6 8JB
9780007344215 14.99 BPS,


Alison McGregor and her six-year-old daughter, Jenny, Aberdeen's huge favorites to win the competition on the hit tv show Britain's Next Big Star, have made it to the semi-finals. Suddenly they are kidnapped, and the ransom note soon received says they will be killed if an indeterminate ransom is not paid within fourteen days. Contributions are made across the country from their millions of fans. The police are stymied - there are no witnesses, and no trace of forensic evidence can be found on either the ransom notes or the gruesome videos which the police are examining, and there are absolutely no clues as to who is behind the crime. Needless to say, the media, and the public, are in an uproar, and the detectives are being hounded by both, as well as by the head of the CID and other investigative agencies.

There is a second story line dealing with a routine drug bust which goes seriously awry, with the drug dealer managing to escape despite handcuffs and the presence of numerous police officers designed to prevent just that from happening. The ramifications of this are far-reaching and brutal, and very personal for DS Logan McRae.

This latest entry in this wonderful series moves at a slower pace than I remembered the earlier books being, perhaps reflective of the actual way in which serious crime investigations happen in real life. But trust me, by the time the reader approaches the wrap-up of this well-written tale of celebrity culture run amok, the reader will be turning the pages swiftly to reach the suspense-filled ending as time is running out and the deadline approaches.

Logan McRae, his significant other, Samantha, and the cops on the Grampian Police force who readers have met in the earlier books are wonderfully well drawn. McRae is a very human and believable protagonist, and I can't wait for his return in the next series entry. Highly recommended.

So Close the Hand of Death
J.T. Ellison
MIRA Books
225 Duncan Mill Rd., Don Mills
Ontario, CA M3B 3K9
9780778329435, $7.99, US, $9.99 Can

This is the newest entry in the Taylor Jackson series, and picks up several threads of earlier books. At the end of the prior book, "The Immortals," Dr. John Baldwin, Supervisory Special Agent and Taylor's fiance, was about to attend a hearing into a case from his past, held at FBI headquarters at Quantico. The aftermath of that hearing resulted in his [hopefully temporary] suspension. But the tentacles of that prior case extend well beyond that, to threaten Taylor's career and, indeed, her life and that of those nearest and dearest to her. As the book opens, one of those is immediately apparent as Pete ("Fitz") Fitzgerald, Taylor's dear friend who has been nothing less than a father figure to her, has seen the love of his life, Sue, murdered, and now lies in a hospital bed, grievously wounded [something apparently called "enucleation," but you'll have to look that one up yourself]. Taylor, a six-foot tall Metro Homicide Lieutenant in Nashville, Tennessee, vows to prevent further fallout.

A serial killer, the self-styled "Pretender," learned his deadly craft at the feet of another character from past books, the Snow White killer, is responsible for 26 known deaths as the tale begins, and has in turn amassed several acolytes of his own, who at his behest have now begun killing sprees across the US mimicking famous, or infamous, serial killers of years past: the Boston Strangler, the NY killer known as the Son of Sam, and the Zodiac Killer. This is all part of a deadly cat-and-mouse game on his part, the ultimate prize being Taylor Jackson. His identity, and the motive behind all this, is the biggest mystery, beyond the fact that it is very, very personal.

In this novel the reader discovers that Baldwin has unsuspected baggage that is about to complicate his and Taylor's lives, but the emphasis is, of course, on identifying and stopping the serial killer who has targeted Taylor and those she loves, with the suspense increasing as the inevitable confrontation comes closer. I felt that the book could have benefitted from some judicious editing, but nonetheless found it a very enjoyable summer read.

Gloria Feit

S.A. Gorden's Bookshelf

West of the Tularosa
Louis L'Amour
Leisure Books
Dorchester Publishing Co., Inc.
200 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016
9780843964103 $7.99

West of the Tularosa is a collection of some of Louis L'Amour's early short stories. L'Amour is possibly the best Western and early American history novelist. He is a pulp writer who had to tell a story in as few words as possible so it could fit in one of the numerous pulp magazines. This makes his stories deceptively simple to read. But the writing is far from simple. In a few words or a single paragraph, a good pulp writer can communicate to the reader the same information that a typical contemporary writer would require a chapter to do. These early stories are a little raw in technique but they still have the ability to bring a reader into a world that both reflects some truths of the past and a mythic need to idealize a history that people feel should have existed.

The eight short stories in the collection are ideal to fill the short gaps in time the typical person today needs occupied between appointments or waiting for friends. The well written short story is generally missing from the bulk of written material produced today. This is a real failure of the publishing industry. Everyone can enjoy a few relaxing minutes enjoying tales by great writers.

West of the Tularosa is a great introduction to the genre for the typical reader today who hasn't had the chance to pick up a classic Western from the shelves filled with vampire and other supernatural tales. It will also bring real pleasure to the connoisseur of the Western because many of the minor storylines that fill L'Amour's later novels were first experimented with in the variety of short stores he previously wrote. If you haven't read a Western before, you will not be disappointed in picking up one of the collections of re-released pulp short stories that occasionally find their way to the bookstore shelves.

Outlaws from Afar
Max Brand
Leisure Books
Dorchester Publishing Co., Inc.
200 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016
9780843961805 $6.99

Outlaws from Afar is a set of three Max Brand short stories. The stories were written in the early 1930s. Brand wrote stories in multiple genres. His westerns are stories set in the Old West but unlike L'Amour the West isn't a joint character in the plot. Brand's characters are focused on a single aspect of a personality to the extent that to some readers they might be cartoonish. His stories are complex and rich with unusual aspects such as a gunfighter who doesn't use guns. But because of the oversimplification of the character development they are better read as a short escapist pleasure.

The Law Dodger of Windy Creek is a simple tale about an escaped convict looking for vengeance. He was unjustly convicted of murder and is seeking to kill the man who lied at his trial. He finds love and justice as well as vengeance in his quest.

Trail of the Eagle is about a simple honest man attacked by murderous cutthroats who survives in spite of and because of his simple honesty.

Outlaws from Afar is an unique tale about a man who fights gunfighters without a gun. He uses his brain, speed and courage to tempt fate and survive against a challenge given by a group of murderous criminals. By the time you get to this story, you will have discovered that Brand spends more time developing the evil characters in his plot. The good guy wins but, since Brand spends so much more time developing the bad man's personality, the good guy comes off a little bland.

These types of stories have been relegated to the past and you can only now find these simple, yet complex, tales in the reprints that trickle onto the shelves from time to time. To contemporary readers, they will seem a little lacking in depth but this is deceptive. They seem so simple because of the skill of the writer. If you haven't read any of the multitude of past great pulp authors, you need to pick up one of these collections off the bookstore shelves and learn what your parents and grandparents did about writing. A good pulp writer can tell in a thousand words what a contemporary writer can't put in ten thousand. But be careful. Once you learn what can be done in just a few paragraphs, you will never look at a bloated contemporary novel the same way again.

S.A. Gorden, Reviewer

Harwood's Bookshelf

Divinity of Doubt: The God Question
Vincent Bugliosi
Vanguard Press
387 Park Avenue South, New York NY 10016
9781593156299, $26.99

I once inserted an interlinear note into my translation of the Judaeo-Christian bible, "The ancient Jews must surely have wondered: With a god like Yahweh, who needs a devil?" As a nontheist I find myself wondering, "With a nontheist like Vincent Bugliosi, who needs theists?"

Apparently nobody ever advised Bugliosi to quit while he was ahead. His most blatant proclamation of his ignorance must be his declaration that Darwin's theory of evolution by natural selection is seriously flawed. What is seriously flawed is Bugliosi's capacity for rational human thought. He is a fatuous ignoramus who rushes in where graduates of Logic 101 fear to tread. He managed to come up with strong arguments for the point he was making in The Prosecution of George W. Bush for Murder, and The Betrayal of America: How the Supreme Court Undermined the Constitution and Chose Our President. And his 1,600 page defence of the Warren Commission's conclusions on the Kennedy assassination can be compared to using a steamroller to crush an ant. But now, in the guise of disputing apologists for the fairy tale that humans are the domesticated livestock of an invisible sky Fuhrer, he has taken on scholars who have the intelligence, education, and rationality to recognize that the nonexistence of "God," defined as a god with the specific, mutually-exclusive qualities attributed to it by all one-paramount-god religions, has been as definitively proven as the nonexistence of a number that is more than ten but less than nine.

Bugliosi writes that he turned down an offer of $1 million to write a book about the JonBenet Ramsey case, because he lacked the inside information to do justice to the topic. Yet he has the fatuous conceit to trespass into the field of biblical scholarship, knowing nothing more about the subject than he could have learned from reading a Sunday school catechism. For example, he asserts (p. 20) that Matthew and John, meaning the authors of the anonymous books known by those names, "were among the [mythical] twelve apostles of Christ [sic, implying that Jesus was the fairy tale character he claimed to be], and hence were eyewitnesses to everything he said and did." He thinks that the books attributed to "John" were written by John of Patmos, who was the Nazirite redactor of an Essene Revelation written a generation earlier but was not the author of any of the other "John" books. He thinks (p. 257) that Paul wrote the Letter to Timothy. And he is unaware (p. 273) that the Hebrew word mistranslated as prophetes in the Septuagint really meant "spokesman [for Yahweh]."

He demonstrates his belief (p. 132) that Jesus claimed to be a literal "son of God," by quoting from the Christian Testament book that first deified him, 130-138 CE, even though no earlier bible author made any mention of Jesus being more than human, as they assuredly would have if the historical Jesus had ever made such a claim. He accepts (p. 134) the pretence that Jesus, an illiterate Galilean, could read. He parrots the gospel authors' pretence (p. 132) that Jesus fulfilled OT prophecies. Jesus fulfilled no prophecies, since he was neither born in Bethlehem, descended from King David, nor successful in freeing the Jews from Roman overlordship. And he endorses (p. 253) the indefensible "golden rule," that if I want a billionaire to give me a million dollars, I should give him a million dollars (impossible), and if I want a supermodel to rip off my clothing and mate with me with reckless disregard for whether I consent, I should do the same to her (a really bad idea if I wish to stay out of prison). The original perfect rule was, "Do not do to another that which is hateful to yourself." Either Jesus or his biographer distorted it into an obscene impossibility.

Instead of the scientifically neutral CE, Common Era, Bugliosi uses the offensively Christian dating system, AD, even though liberal theologians have abandoned the term in recognition that it insults the 5.5 billion non-Christians who do not appreciate being told that they are living in the Year of the Master. He quotes polls rigged to maintain the pretence that nontheists constitute ten percent of the population (p. 8), with no awareness that competent evaluation of the various polls by Ronald Aronson (Living Without God) has shown that 36 percent of Americans are nontheists. And (p. 213) he endorses the propaganda that there are more than one billion Catholics. In fact there are only slightly more than one billion Christians, less than seventy percent of them Catholic.

Bugliosi calls himself an agnostic. That was a defensible position in Thomas Huxley's time, when the nonexistence of "God" (as opposed to gods as a class) was still believed to be unprovable. Today it is a pseudonym for a chicken atheist who lacks the intestinal fortitude to acknowledge that God's nonexistence has been logically proven. But Bugliosi goes beyond refusing to stand up for what he knows to be true. He attacks "atheists," whom he accuses of being as impervious to evidence falsifying their position as theists. In fact atheists base their position on the absence of such evidence, and would accept religion in a minute if evidence of its legitimacy was ever discovered.

Is Bugliosi so ignorant that he does not know that all persons who believe in the existence of any kind of god are theists, and all persons (including himself) who do not have such a belief are atheists? One can be Catholic or not-Catholic, Jew or non-Jew, theist or atheist. There is no third position. Many atheists prefer to call themselves rationalists, humanists, freethinkers, agnostics, brights (pretentious), naturalists (ambiguous), and nontheists (my own preference), in recognition that the ignoranti have been Manchurian Candidate-ized into thinking that "atheist" means something pejorative. That Bugliosi can launch a vicious attack against a group that includes himself raises serious questions about both his integrity, since he appears to value convincing jurors/readers more than determining the truth, and his grasp of logic, since he gives every indication of believing his own doublethink.

Bugliosi's whole case is based on the demolition of straw men. He argues that arguments for the incompatibility of "God" and a world full of evil are only valid (p. 39), "if we assume the correctness of the Christian notion that God is all powerful and all-good." But a god that is not simultaneously omnipotent and omnibenevolent is not "God," who is by definition the protagonist of a work of fiction. It cannot be proven that there is no such thing as an evil count (or an evil god), but it can be logically proven that there is no such person as Count Fosco (or God).

Bugliosi refers to the many letters he received commenting on the paragraphs about agnosticism in his O J Simpson book. He writes (p. 10), "None of the hundreds of other letters I received from readers on this issue were hostile to me in any way, which they might have been if I had said I was an atheist. Instead, because I was an agnostic ... they were trying to help me by educating me." In fact, in order to call himself an agnostic, Bugliosi distorts the meaning of the word from, "one who thinks that the nonexistence of the god of religion cannot be proven," into "one who acknowledges that the nonexistence of lifeforms we would classify as gods cannot be proven."

By the word's true definition, Bugliosi is not an agnostic - and admits it. He writes (p. 25), "I'm not an agnostic on the Christian God, the God of Catholicism and Protestantism. Almost by definition he does not exist, so therefore I have virtually no ambivalence, or lingering agnosticism, on this issue." That is an even stronger repudiation of the God hypothesis than Richard Dawkins' contention (p. 50) that, "There almost certainly is no God."

Bugliosi has the effrontery to criticize Dawkins, Sam Harris and Christopher Hitchens (p. 41), "because the core belief of these three atheistic authors was so intrinsically unsound ... they knew, or just about knew, that [God] didn't exist." Yet he quotes Dawkins' contention (p. 40) that one "can never absolutely prove the non-existence of anything." Is Bugliosi unaware that he is denouncing others for espousing precisely the position he holds himself? And in stating (p. 39) that atheists dismiss "without justification the existence of a deistic God," he either intentionally or out of ignorance falsifies the reality that knowing that the nonexistence of the god of religion has been proven, does not constitute a declaration that the nonexistence of undefined gods can also be proven.

Bugliosi writes of Dawkins (p. 55), "Dawkins, unable to produce common sense to support his position, decided to rely on the hope that his startlingly vapid argument would go over the heads of his readers without their feeling the breeze." He also writes, (p. 50), "I wasn't expecting to find banal deception, but in my opinion I unfortunately did." Those passages reveal where Bugliosi gets his ideas. The banal deception, non-sequiturs, and vapid argument that he attributes to Dawkins are what he sees in the mirror. I found the same projection of his own inadequacies onto his opponent in Alister McGrath's puerile drivel, The Dawkins Delusion.

He denounces Christopher Hitchens (p. 42) for exposing the lying, swindling, self-serving hypocrite "Mother" Teresa as a fraud whose supposedly humanitarian work was only a myth, and for suggesting that the unrepentant Nazi pope should be arrested and tried for crimes against humanity. Anyone who disputes Hitchens' position on either of those issues is an ignoramus. He does justly condemn Hitchens for backing G. W. Bush's Big Lie (p. 42) that there was "no alternative" but to invade Iraq, and for demanding that Bill Clinton be impeached for engaging in victimless recreation that had nothing to do with his ability to do the job for which he was elected. But he also asserts (p. 43) that, "Hitchens apparently believes that by slaying the dragon of organized religion, an unworthy opponent, he is therefore slaying God, an obvious non sequitur." Newsflash: Since God has no separate existence outside of organized religion, falsifying religion does falsify God.

According to Bugliosi (p. 47), Sam Harris's contention, that the problem of reconciling an omnipotent and omniscient god with the existence of evil is insurmountable, is indefensibly wrong. And how does he justify such mental gymnastics? He argues that an omniscient, omnipotent god need not necessarily be omnibenevolent. That is worse than nitpicking. The paramount god of every religion is benevolent by definition, and Bugliosi cannot be unaware of that. If he were to argue that there is even a single theist who worships a god he recognizes as malevolent, I would call him a liar.

Bugliosi nowhere mentions Victor Stenger, the only bestselling advocate for atheism who presented a compelling reason why God could not exist. Coincidence? Or does he see Stenger as so impossible to rebut, that the best approach was to ignore him in the hope that he would go away? An attempted rebuttal of Stenger surely could not have been more incompetent than his pathetic, circular, non-sequitur rebuttals of the rest of the Big Five, including Daniel Dennett (p. 45), whom he chooses to damn with faint praise.

Only when he focuses on the absurdities of religion does Bugliosi show any sign of having legitimately graduated from kindergarten. In recognizing (p. 212) that persons who claim that "God answered my prayers," are "necessarily and incontrovertibly saying that god is bad," he is right on target. "I mean, it can't get any worse than having the power to easily stop, for instance, the deaths of millions of people dying from genocide or AIDS or starvation who are praying desperately for your help and telling them no, take a walk." The same observation springs to mind every time I see a TV report of survivors of a tornado or hurricane offering their thanks, to the same god they believe perpetrated such an atrocity, for killing other people and sparing themselves. And he is certainly right when he says (p. 37) that, "if God came to earth next week and said [that Christian beliefs were wrong] they would simply ignore him and go on with their beliefs."

Bugliosi is at the very least a hypocrite, pandering to theists by pretending not to know that their god's only redeeming feature is its nonexistence. When he professes agnosticism on the question of whether entities we would view as gods live on the planet Beetlejuice, he ignores the reality that the whole god concept is a product of the human imagination. All claims of a god revealing its existence have been traced to the same Tanakh/Bible/Koran that states in several places that the earth is flat and that the universe is less than 7,000 years old. A bible that makes such contentions is fiction. Therefore the only reason anyone has ever believed that "God" exists is because a book of fiction says so. By that logic, Bugliosi would dispute the contention that Alice in Wonderland cannot and therefore does not exist.

In taking on such competent logicians as Dawkins, Harris and Hitchens, Bugliosi makes his fatal mistake in basing his case on arguments that would bamboozle randomly chosen bystanders who were too dumb to be able to get out of jury service, but are transparently fraudulent to anyone more discerning than the O. J. jury. The strongest clue to the thinking (if that is the right word) behind his oxymoronic special pleading is to be found in the chapter in which he attempts to justify agnosticism but actually justifies atheism. He quotes (p. 257) biblical passages that put into the mouths of pseudo-Paul and Jesus declarations to the effect that, "God had mercy on me because I did it in ignorance and unbelief," and "If you were blind there would be no sin in that." The citing of such passages carries a strong implication that Bugliosi is taking out insurance in case the sky Fuhrer really does exist. Rather than call him a dirty little yellow coward, let me instead suggest that he is simply conforming to Pascal's wager.

Lord Acton wrote that power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. He was referring to the absolute power wielded by Roman popes. But he could as easily have been describing lawyers whose power to manipulate juries' emotions tends to corrupt them into saying whatever will sway an intended audience, with depraved indifference to such considerations as truth and good-faith belief. Has Bugliosi been so absolutely corrupted by his courtroom victories, that he would rather use deception to enhance his reputation, than present an objectively valid argument that might not carry the message, "Look how clever I am"?

If we assume that Bugliosi is not an absolutely corrupt liar, there remain two possible explanations for this book. Either he is an intestinally challenged risk-evader who lacks the moral courage to acknowledge that Christianity's heretic-barbecuing Judge does not exist, in case he thereby pisses it off and it unleashes its flamethrowers in his direction; or he is an intellectual mediocrity who lacks the functional intelligence to grasp that, since a god with mutually exclusive properties can no more exist than a triangle with four sides, therefore it does not exist. Either way, he has exposed himself as something less than admirable.

Tracking the Man-Beasts: Sasquatch, Vampires, Zombies, and More
Joe Nickell
Prometheus Books
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst NY 14228-2119
9781616144159 $19.00

Tracking the Man-Beasts is not a debunking book. While it cites the evidence published by previous investigators, including the author, it offers no new arguments for conclusions treated as already adequately established. Rather, it is a compendium of past and present hoaxes, delusions, and speculations involving allegedly unclassified humanoid species. As such it constitutes a complete course in cryptozoology 101, but has nothing to say to persons who already know that the creatures named in the title do not exist.

In reporting (p. 229) that "the old mythologies (including the great religions) are in decline," Nickell observes (p. 223) that, "Many of the man-beasts we have looked at seem headed for extinction. Two types - Bigfoot and the humanoid alien - still thrive as powerful mythic beings." As he summarizes (p. 106), "Perhaps some of us have not advanced very far after all."

He points out that, while mythical creatures were originally so incompatibly described that no two depictions could have been taken for the same species, they tended to move toward an archetype capable of being taken seriously. He explains the role of conformity in preserving delusions (p. 228): "artists who render the creature's image ... know instinctively to proceed like artists who portray other mythic likenesses (of Jesus, Santa Claus, etc.): stay within accepted parameters if you wish the image to be easily recognized and appreciated." Just as a picture of Jesus as he was described prior to the construction of the Mandylion of Edessa would not be recognized today, similarly pictures of some of the earliest descriptions of a man-beast would not be recognized as Bigfoot by present-day True Believers™.

As "wild man" sightings increased (p. 228), "Hoaxes became increasingly common." A hoaxer photographed in a Bigfoot suit, (with a zipper down one side) continues to be cited by True Believers, even though (pp. 70-71) the man who sold photographer Roger Patterson the gorilla suit and the man who wore it have publicly confessed. A True Believer named William Weber said of a girl who reported seeing a Yeti (p. 58), "What motive could there possibly have been for a hoax? My conclusion was that the girl was telling the truth." A True Believer similarly argued that a dozen children in a village in India claiming to be the reincarnation of individuals who had recently died within an hour's walk of their birthplace would have had no reason to perpetrate a hoax. Nickell's response could apply equally well to the reincarnation claims: "However, Weber's view of motives for hoaxers - like similar opinions of other laypersons, as seen throughout history - is naive. The girl might have been looking for attention." The girl photographed faking poltergeist manifestations (Dictionary of Contemporary Mythology Third Edition, p. 406) was assuredly looking for attention.

A True Believer claimed of Yeti sightings (p. 61), "It has been seen too often for it to be dismissed as nothing more than a myth." By that reasoning, the thousands of Elvis sightings since his death cannot be dismissed as a myth. But when Edmund Hillary spent many weeks searching for Yeti, and concluded that he had found nothing because there was nothing to find, the Yeti myth did not disintegrate, even though (p. 60), "Sir Edmund Hillary, the great mountain climber, could hardly be criticized as being an armchair critic." And when a True Believer accepted the legitimacy of Yowie (Australia's Bigfoot) footprints, on the ground that they were found in a remote region where a hoaxer could not reasonably have expected them ever to be discovered, Nickell points out (p. 94), "It seems not to have occurred to the credulous monsterologist that a given 'discoverer' might actually be the very hoaxer."

On extraterrestrials that resemble humans in Star Trek makeup, Nickell quotes an earlier debunker (p. 186) that, "While it seems incredible that life does not exist somewhere in the universe, it is equally incredible that it should resemble man." Isaac Asimov wrote much the same thing, backed up by insuperable statistics.

Among arguments offered for the reality of vampires is the "incorruptibility" of bodies buried in sandy soil. (p. 124) "However, just such characteristics are frequently said to describe the 'incorruptible' bodies of saints.... Roman Catholics would not appreciate the suggestion that their saints were actually vampires."

I must mention Nickell's reporting (p. 105) that, "in 1717 men were tortured into confessing involvement in werewolf attacks." I have yet to encounter a supporter of the Supreme Court's insane Miranda ruling who realizes that the Fifth Amendment was not composed to give criminals a sporting chance of deceiving juries. It was composed to put an end to the practice of torturing suspects until, guilty or innocent (or does anyone believe that the confessors really were werewolves?), they confessed for the purpose of putting an end to the torture.

Tracking the Man-Beasts is something less than an encyclopedia. But as a concise precis of beliefs about crypto-humans, ranging from mermaids to less familiar entities, and the facts behind them, it fills a vacancy in the available literature.

A Humanist Funeral Service And Celebration
Corliss Lamont
Revised by Beth K. Lamont and J. Sierra Oliva
Prometheus Books
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst NY 14228-2119
9781616144098 $13.00

"There has long been a widely felt need for a funeral service centering around a nonsupernatural, Humanist philosophy of existence" (p. 7). Given the increasing number of humanist funerals being carried out worldwide, it is hard to deny that a desire for such a service is indeed "widely felt." But I dispute the description of such a desire as a "need." In my view, even the widely practised custom of a "moment of silence" constitutes an unjustifiable pandering to religion. I intend to leave instructions that my remains are not to be subjected to the indignity of a funeral, since even a purely secular ritual would convey the impression that it was a Pascal's-Wager kind of insurance. Sure I would like to be remembered for my actual accomplishments, such as they are or will be. But having sycophants say nice things that I will never hear because I have ceased to exist - thanks, but no thanks.

But obviously this pamphlet is not written for people like me. It is designed to provide satisfying closure to persons who believe that some kind of farewell ritual is a dead person's just due. My strongest objections are to Lamont's reference (p. 7) to the "philosophy or religion of Humanism," and suggestion that the procedure be conducted by "the minister or whoever is in charge of the ceremony." Since Lamont is now dead, it is too late to tell him once and for all that Humanism is NOT a religion. His citing of a minister as the presiding official surely constitutes an acknowledgment that a funeral is an intrinsically religious ritual. As for the ceremony being conducted in a church (p. 17), would that not defeat the whole purpose?

The suggested scripts likewise strike me as defeating the whole purpose. How can someone who has ceased to exist "rest in peace" or "lay to rest"? How can anyone be buried in "hallowed ground" (p. 28, 29, 31, 39)? For persons who think that a commemorative ritual should include music and poetry, suggestions are provided.

For persons looking for a script for a secular funeral that does not invoke a fairy tale sky fairy, this is probably as good as anything available. But it is not free of the very endorsements of superstition that it was designed to forgo. Perhaps its only use is for god addicts burying a nontheist and making a sincere but misguided attempt to conform to the dead person's wishes.

The Fallacy of Fine-Tuning: Why the Universe Is Not Designed for Us
Victor J. Stenger
Prometheus Books
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst NY 14228-2119
9781616144432 $28

A black surface reflects more photons than a white surface. And if you believe that, you probably also believe that humankind's ability to live on planet earth is proof that the universe was intelligently designed for our benefit. Each conclusion can be defended by a person who starts from the assumption that it must be true, provided he is so ignorant of scientific methodology that he is able to use pseudoscientific arguments in defence of conclusions that a competent physicist such as Victor Stenger can blow out of the water without raising a sweat.

Stenger is one of the Big Five (along with Dawkins, Dennett, Harris and Hitchens), whose books justifying and validating atheism have become bestsellers. That he needed to write this book at all is proof that apologists so unteachable that they continue to claim that science has "found God" are an embarrassment to the kindergartens that graduated them. A number that is more than ten but less than nine cannot and therefore does not exist, and anyone who can find a way to rationalize it into existence should be looking for a brain transplant, because the one he has is out of order. A god so omnibenevolent that exterminating all non-manmade evil would be its first priority, possessed with the omnipotence to do so, that nonetheless has not done so, is equally oxymoronic, and its defenders are equally cerebrally challenged.

Let me say upfront that the equations and chapters on theoretical physics that constitute ninety percent of Dr. Stenger's book are so far beyond my expertise, that the only endorsement I am able to give them is by saying that his previous books give me the confidence to take his word for it. The book is written to rebut the arguments of theistic physicists, and only a graduate student who already has a degree in physics is likely to find it comprehensible.

One part I did understand is that apologists for the god delusion, such as William Lane Craig and Dinesh D'Souza, who quoted Stephen Hawking out of context to buttress their position (p. 281), "both ignored the explanation Hawking gave seven pages later for why no fine-tuning was needed." As Hawking made clear, the expansion of the universe can be explained, "without having to assume that the initial rate of expansion of the universe was carefully chosen." Stenger concludes (p. 293), "We have seen that proponents of fine-tuning make serious errors in physics, cosmology, probability theory, and data analysis." Having read D'Souza's inane ramblings, I do not have to take Stenger's word in order to recognize that the man viewed by many as the Jesus delusion's head apologist has as much credibility as a flat-earther.

Evangelical Christian cosmologist Don Page, a former Hawking student, recognizes (p. 295) that, "theists can no longer claim that the universe is so fine-tuned for humans that the existence of a creator is an inevitable conclusion from the data." Page maintains that, while observable reality does not demand a creator, it is consistent with the creator hypothesis. Stenger responds (p. 230), "But why the God of a small, ancient Middle-Eastern tribe? Why not the Force of Star Wars?"

Stenger grants apologist Frank Tipler, author of two books in which he argues that physics "proves" both immortality and Christianity, the undeserved dignification of acknowledging his existence. While rebutting Tipler's defence of the Strong Anthropic Principle, he also cites (p. 44) Martin Gardner's description of Tipler's mushroom fantasies as "the Completely Ridiculous Anthropic Principle (CRAP)." Gardner questioned whether Tipler was writing satire, but concluded that, sadly, he was dead serious.

A common practice of theists is to redefine scientific terminology by arguing that evolution is "only a theory," as if a scientific theory, such as the theory of gravity, is mere conjecture. Another is to exaggerate science's refusal to label any conclusion, no matter how overwhelmingly proven, as something equivalent to revealed truth. Stenger points out (p. 48) that, "When a model has passed many risky tests that could have falsified it, we can begin to have confidence that it is telling us something about the real world with certainty approaching 100 percent. It is not likely that we will someday discover that the Earth is flat after all, or that it really is only six thousand years old. In fact in cases like these we can say that science has 'proved' something 'beyond a reasonable doubt.'"

And Stenger has proven, not merely that his antagonists are wrong but that they are unconscionably wrong, beyond a reasonable doubt.

William Harwood

Henry's Bookshelf

The Maya of Modernism: Art, Architecture, and Film
Jesse Lerner
U. of New Mexico Press
Albuquerque, NM
9780826349811, $45.00,

Right from the start, imagery of Mayan civilization and sources for it have been compromised and fragmentary. A 1961 documentary "Expedition: Treasure of the Sacred Well" exemplifies this. Although sponsored by the Smithsonian Institution, National Geographic Society, and Mexico's leading anthropological and historical museum (INAH), the unearthing of Mayan relics could not have been more careless and amateurish. The relics were brought to the surface in a forceful, geyser-like stream of water and mud created by a long metal pipe inserted into the layers of earth at the bottom of the well. Skeletal remains, pottery, and other artifacts were predictably broken up--yet as remarked by the narrator, the explanation for the pottery fragments could be that the Mayan had deliberately broken the pottery "in order to symbolically kill them." The obvious connection between the means for unearthing the relics and their fragmented condition went unrealized even at this date.

An earlier example of such arbitrariness and presumptuousness in encounters with Mayans is when the first Spanish explorers to reach Central America called out to the natives they encountered what land they had come upon, the Mayans called back something out of which the Spaniards detected "yucatan"; and so the Central American peninsula inhabited by the Mayans was named Yucatan. Lerner recounts such comedies of errors which have marked encounters and studies of the Mayan over centuries. Later misunderstandings and opportunistic use of Mayan culture and imagery include futuristic buildings resembling Mayan pyramids in the movie "Blade Runner" and claims of roots in Mayan cosmology and religious beliefs by New Age types of mysticism and nature worship.

A filmmaker, curator, and professor at Claremont College, Lerner adopts a "broadly conceived methodology indebted to cultural studies and to studies of visual culture" for this wide-ranging, variously descriptive, comparative, and analytical study of the Mayans and their culture mostly as more or less a New World mythology and a storehouse of widely-recognized notions and imagery suggestive of pre-Columbian and New World exoticism, mystery, and color having little relationship to any facts. Such notions and imagery became subjects, themes, and elements of dance, film, popular nonfiction, novels, fashion, architecture, and other aspects of modern culture.

As Lerner expounds, ideas about the Mayans have become so fluid, fanciful, and ingrained that various regional Yucatan Native American groups now call themselves Mayans so that like archaeologists, filmmakers, artists, and others, they can partake of commercial or political benefits of this. In the end, Lerner maintains, no one really has a well-founded understanding of Mayan culture. An idea of it persists however because it suits the purposes of so many varied individuals.

Roadcut - The Architecture of Antoine Predock
Christopher Curtis Mead
U. of New Mexico Press
Albuquerque, NM
9780826360091, $75.00,

Predock's architecture brings to mind the term "landscape" linking the immutable nature of a given area of land with manmade introductions to it which nonetheless do not hide, efface, or obliterate the area. The prominent, award-winning Southwestern architect Predock exemplifies what this concept of landscape means for him by reference to what is known as a "roadcut" which has archaeological, geological, and construction implications. Predock explains, "In a highway roadcut...a sectional diagram of earth is revealed through man's intervention...The roadcut is a diagram of the investigative process for the making of architecture." Predock looks beneath the surface of a site not just for knowledge of the substratum that will be supporting whatever is built, but also for knowledge of the prehistory and old and recent history of a site. For Predock, a site's roadcut serves not only as an inspiration for a design, but also in a way a model.

A roadcut contains elements from ancient oceans, fossils, artifacts of primitive peoples, evidence of migrations and conquests, and detritus of modern culture such as hubcaps, beer cans, and fast-food wrappers. Predock's architecture for a site aims at reflecting, complementing, and extending the millennial, historical, and latter-day composition of a site by shapes, materials, colors, and atmosphere. His architectural works however are not eclectic. For Predock is "consciously intuitive rather than cerebral in his approach to architecture" with the roadcut stimulating and guiding his intuition. Nor does this architect resort to hackneyed techniques such as "quotes" or overused principles such as monolithic forms or practices such as glossy surfaces making a structure more of a modernist statement or paean to an architect's "vision". Predock's works by contrast are functional while being distinctive, imaginative, and modern.

Mead, who as a professor of architecture and also art history at the U. of New Mexico was approached by Predock as an author for this book, treats individually nine Predock projects throughout the Southwest and West plus one in Canada after an introduction on the architect's biography, career, sources, and ideas. The diversity of these exemplify Predock's range and versatility: a nature center, a housing complex, a home, a fine arts complex, a museum. Economical text involving historical, descriptive, and technical matter sometimes with quotes by Predock accompanied by colorful and dramatic visual matter of drawings, diagrams, and striking photographs engrossingly--almost interactively--imparts the individuality, relevance, and intelligence of the architect's works. Since about 2005, Predock has been getting commissions from China, Russia, and other parts of the world, evidencing that his architecture has attracted international attention.

After the Czars and Commissars - Journalism in Authoritarian Post-Soviet Central Asia
edited by Eric Freedman and Richard Shafer
Michigan State U. Press
East Lansing, MI
9781611860054, $29.95,

In a sociological vein, the failures and vulnerabilities of the media in the states formed in central Asia following the fall of Russian communism in 1989 and the reasons for these are dealt with in 16 articles. Their authors are a mix of academics in the subject areas of media studies or Asian studies and individuals with varied experiences in the field of media. Kristine Kohlmeier, for example, co-author of "Internet Libel Law and Freedom of Expression in Tajikistan", worked as a teacher with the Peace Corps in Uzbekistan and has received grants from foundations for research. Navbahor Imamova is a senior editor with the Voice of America Uzbek Service, where she is producer and anchor of the weekly radio program "Exploring America" with degrees from universities in India and the U.S. Such collection of authors makes for a notably pertinent, timely, informative, and insightful survey of the media in the Central Asian countries formerly a part of the Soviet Union.

Since there never was a free press in the Soviet Union with the media being little more than a propaganda tool, the media in the newly-formed countries first had to try to acclimatize itself to a different political situation. But it wasn't long before it found that a different situation was neither an encouraging nor welcoming one for the media. The expected democratization did not happen; and the countries became autocracies where the media was repressed, harassed, and often threatened. The media faced obstacles from lack of programs for professional training, prevention of support from sympathetic outsiders, vague laws against "insult" of public officials and injury to the state, to public ignorance as to the purpose and benefits of a free press. Many journalists, editors, and others in the media adopted self-censorship to be able to do any media work at all.

Anyone with an interest in media, communications, and political conditions affecting these in today's globalized world will find some material of interest in this collection of eclectic articles. What the authors write about the central Asian countries could apply as well to China, Burma, Cuba, Zimbabwe, and varied other repressive countries in other parts of the world.

Joined at the Hip - A History of Jazz in the Twin Cities
Jay Goetting; Foreword by Leigh Kamman
Minnesota Historical Society Press
St. Paul, MN
9780873518178, $23.95,

The twin cities Minneapolis/St. Paul were a part of the same northward movement of jazz from the South in the early 1900s as St. Louis, Kansas City, and Chicago; although the Minnesota cities at the outward extent of this Midwest movement never attained the notoriety or fabled musicians of some of the other cities. The Twin Cities however attracted touring top jazz talent, and some Twin Cities musicians played in their bands and traveled with them. Charlie Parker, Duke Ellington, Count Basie, and Glenn Miller were among big names who performed in the Twin Cities. Author Jay Goetting played and traveled with Buddy Rich. Leigh Kamman, who did the "Foreword" and whose role and influence Goetting writes about, is the former host of the radio program "The Jazz Image" at Minnesota Public Radio.

As a jazz center in their own right, the Twin Cities also participated in the development of jazz and changes to it. Swing, bebop, ragtime, and later cool and avant-garde jazz all appeared in the many night clubs, strip bars, and dives mostly along the main thoroughfare Hennepin Avenue. Goetting's multifaceted popular history including anecdotes and vignettes covers the adoption of the changing jazz styles in the cities. The main thread of the book is the continuity and various flowerings of jazz with regular stops to describe particular venues, profile their owners, and discuss individual musicians. Labor relations, the situation for the small African-American community in jazz's early days, jazz during Prohibition and its underworld associations (as in most other cities), and the effects of growth and change in the cities are other topics brought in by the author in this unique work calling attention to the overlooked Midwest vibrant jazz scene.

Henry Berry

Karyn's Bookshelf

How To Apologize To Your Woman... So That She Won't Use It Against You In The Future
Karen Field Bolek
Bolekian Perspective Publishing
P.O. Box 2262, Oak Park, IL 60303
9780983364603, $16.95

Ostensibly an "I'm sorry" primer for men, first-time author Karen Field Bolek's guide to apologizing, in fact, offers a rich well of ideas for general couples' communication, applicable not just in conflict. Although written with men in mind, and focused on male-female relationships, women, single and gay readers are also likely to find valuable nuggets here. Steeped in the language of the business world that many men are already familiar with, Field Bolek says being an effective apologizer requires that you first be a positive, effective leader. To hit his intended apology mark, Field Bolek says a man needs to first lead his partner through a delicate process that relies on good leadership skills like listening; shifting the focus onto her; understanding her unique perspective/world view; getting her to talk about what necessitated the apology and any underlying issues; taking responsibility (or not) for the conflict; and crafting a plan to make short and long-term changes. The lessons, broken into nine chapters, are carefully plotted out with a lot of effort put into making them informative and readable. Field Bolek conducted her own survey research and developed a triangular model that shows how a conversation's focus continually shifts, for good or bad, intentionally or not, between two people and purely objective observations. She then shows how shifts in focus can make or break an apology. Among the best things Field Bolek does is limit her practical examples to a handful of scenarios (such as forgetting a wedding anniversary), building on those over successive chapters so that lessons and new skills are continually applied to a familiar context. Not a book to zip through. Approached slowly and deliberately, perhaps reading in tandem with a partner and taking time to apply the concepts in real-life, this is a first-rate blueprint for essential, enduring relationship change.

Cars Galore
Peter Stein, author
Bob Staake, illustrator
Candlewick Press
99 Dover St., Somerville, MA., 02144
9780763647438, $15.99

A rollicking cadence and great poetic language reminiscent of classic Dr. Seuss combine with a geometrically and conceptually eccentric fleet in what is sure to (fast) become a new favorite of preschool gear heads. Bold-colored cars in all shapes and sizes drive on straight, curvy, upside down and criss-crossing highways, get repaired and even go through the car wash. The dozens of quirky vehicle configurations include a rock 'n' roll car with a band on board; a "scary shark car" and even a Noah's Ark car with elephants, giraffes and all manner of other animal pairings. There are nods to race cars, eco-friendly cars and junkers ready for the scrap heap, "Rusty, dusty, hunk-of-junk car. Stinky, yucky, smells-like-skunk car..." Staake's illustrations are the perfect compliment, bursting with fun, imaginative details and using bold, outside-the-box color that will instantly draw kids in. A near-perfect collaboration by two immense talents.

Karyn L. Saemann

Katherine's Bookshelf

Moon Dance
Susan K. Earl
Tate Publishing
127 E Trade Center Terrace, Mustang, OK 73064
9781615664122, $22.99

Susan K. Earl has written a very appealing book about people who lived in Texas during the Great Depression. The dialect is believable and the narrative follows the factual living conditions during the Depression.

"That day, that dreadful day began it all, yet there was nothing else to do except what my mama did, because in her eyes she had no other choice. My aunt Rachel had two small children and no job, nor any hope of one for that matter, what with the Depression going on. What else could we have done? I have asked myself this question a thousand times since that day Aunt Rachel and her girls moved in with us, but every action has a reaction, so they say."

The story centers around two families, the Bowens and Gilleys, who have been friends for years. The two oldest children, Maggie and Joe, in the respective families, fall in love and get married. Their courtship is often interrupted by the younger siblings teasing them, but they take it good naturedly. The families support them and share their sage advice for a happy life together.

The trials of the poverty during the Depression in small town Texas are well documented by the author, but she also describes the abundant love and faith of the characters that get them through the hard times. Most of the time they don't realize they are in a Depression.

There is another aspect to the story that deals with abuse by Maggie's father against Maggie and her mother. The story line is no different from other abuse stories; the abuser drinks and always says he is sorry afterward, the abused person wants to believe that it won't happen again, forgives the abuser and then it happens again. In this story, Maggie cannot forgive her father for what he did to her mother, but was able to forgive, although not forget, what he did to her. Her mother was able to forgive him and go on with her life, supporting and loving her children.

The happiness and tragedies in the two families' lives are intertwined. They all have an abiding faith that helps them through the misfortunes and heartbreak and a love of life that makes them enjoy the happy times.

I really enjoyed the storyline and the realistic characters, but the author's transition from Texas dialect to a normal narrative after the first chapter is a distraction that requires the reader to adjust to the change. Personally, I found the dialect more realistic.

This book is one I would recommend to young adults and older people for an enjoyable read. The most objectionable part of it is the abuse, but it is handled with tact and sensitivity.

Susan K. Earl is from East Texas. She has been an educator for 25 years and now has written a lovely book to be read and re-read. She lives in Central Texas with her husband, her cat and her dog.

The Naked Author
Katherine "Kat" Smith
TomKat Productions, LLC
PO Box 701478, Dallas, TX 75370-1478
9780971502444, $14.95

The Naked Author is a good 'how-to' book on self publishing with a little about general publishing for comparison sake. Katherine Smith has crafted a well thought out book that covers self publishing from agents to marketing. It contains just about everything an author needs as a guide through the maze of all of the intricacies of getting a book ready to be read by the hoards of avaricious readers clambering to be entertained or educated.

The reader is given several choices about what to do in a given situation; for example, whether or not to hire an agent. If you want to hire an agent to help you sell your book to a mainstream publisher, she suggests that it is a good idea, but if you don't want to go with a mainstream publisher, you don't necessarily need an agent.

"Not only did I learn that building the foundation of a successful author and/or book starts with creating a marketing campaign or career plan, but it is more than safe to say that educating oneself on the mechanisms of the process is vital for a smooth journey to publishing success."

All authors, self published or not should read this book and keep it for future reference. They will pick up some tips for marketing and selling their books that probably have not occurred to them. They will also be reminded of something they had not thought about in a while.

There is an extensive bibliography covering books, websites, and nationwide events. The only reservation I have about this information is that with today's technology, things change very quickly and having it in a book makes it difficult to update. A cautionary statement about this would be of help to the authors and others using this book.

Katherine Smith is a former talk show host turned author who has published domestically and internationally in magazines and newspapers. She is the author of several books, including The Naked Author-Exposing the Myths of Publishing, and I'm Tall You're Not So That Makes Us Even. She is from New Orleans, Louisiana and now lives in Dallas, Texas where she is a publisher with TomKat Productions, LLC.

Katherine has now published The Naked Author as an e-book at

The Land of Misfit Bugs
Janann Krauel
PCG Kids
317 Appaloosa Trail, Waco, TX 76712
9781936417155, $11.99

The Land of Misfit Bugs is a story of three bugs who become friends because of their differences. Jeremy is a grasshopper who wears tennis shoes, Webster is a night crawler who is afraid of the dark and Sally is a June bug who was born in March. They decide to team up together because of their peculiarities. Webster thinks he knows a place they can go where everyone is different and they can be happy.

As they travel, they encounter several adventures that help them to become stronger and more understanding of each other. A storm separates them, but they find each other and continue their journey, until they find the Land of Misfit Bugs. This is where they learn tolerance of those who are different.

"Everyone looked at Sally as she spoke. "It's so important to have friends that understand you and accept you the way you are."

Lessons can be learned on several levels when reading this book. It points out that everyone is different in some way and that we need to be tolerant of these differences. It teaches how to become friends with others and understand them. It also teaches how to accept our own differences and be proud of those differences.

The author has written another book that has very good analogies that equate to everyday living. Children will be able to discover and recognize basic acceptance of those who are different. They will also enjoy rereading this book and thereby reinforce the lessons learned.

Jan Krauel is the author of a children's book entitled Flying Lessons. She has also written several computer manuals. Her talents extend to making jewelry and other craft work. I am looking forward to future books by her.

This book is also available as an ebook through and Barnes and Noble.

Katherine Boyer

Logan's Bookshelf

The Childe
C. A. Kunz
Privately Published
9780615435749, $9.99,

The teenage years are years of transformation, and Cat Colvin's may be a bit more literal than that. "The Childe" follows young Cat Colvin as she copes with the pressures of high school as well as the supernatural aspects of the Childe, which threaten to take over her life. A unique coming of age story and of facing one's paranormal calling, "The Childe" is a charming read that will resonate well with many young readers and those dealing with being 'weird'.

Alice and the Quantum Cat
William Brandom Shanley, editor
Pari Publishing
9788895604107, $16.95,

The bizarre and abnormal nature of Alice and Wonderland has more than it could be applied to than coming of age. "Alice and the Quantum Cat" is a collection of fiction, edited by William Brandom Shanley and an assortment of other writers as they use the idea of Alice lost in a strange world and explore many topics of science in general, such as quantum paradoxes and other unusual ideas. "Alice and the Quantum Cat" is a thoughtful twist of science and a popular folklore, highly recommended.

The Wimbledon Final That Never Was
Sidney Wood
New Chapter Press
9780942257847, $15.95,

Tennis has gained much ground throughout the twentieth century. "The Wimbledon Final That Never Was...: And Other Tennis Tales from a Bygone Era" is a collection of stories surrounding tennis and its history from Sidney Wood, a man who won the 1931 Wimbledon title by forfeit. He writes on the match that never happened as well as countless other stories that happened throughout tennis's long and complex history. An interesting and entertaining collection of tennis history, many a tennis fan will enjoy "The Wimbledon Final That Never Was...", a highly recommended addition to community library sports history collections.

When Brooklyn Was Heaven
Stan Levenson
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432769956, $22.95,

From nothing to something is truly the American dream. "When Brooklyn Was Heaven: A Memoir from Brooklyn to L.A. And Places In-Between" is a memoir of Stan Levenson, a man who gained his claim to fame helping education throughout the country get millions of dollars, as well as what led him to that point from being nearly destitute, to military service, to gaining his own piece of the pie. "When Brooklyn Was Heaven" is a thoughtful memoir of a man who worked to make a difference.

Learning Little Hawk's Way of Storytelling
Kenneth Little Hawk & Beverly Miller
Findhorn Press
9781844095360, $16.95,

Telling a good story is more useful than one would think. "Learning Little Hawk's Way of Storytelling" discusses storytelling and how its power has been lost but should be remembered much stronger than what it is. Storytelling is an easy way to teach lessons to children, draw people in, and get your message across in a way that plain speaking won't. Storytelling is more than words, it can be tone, pitch, the action of the story teller, and much more. Blending culture, self-help, and just plain fascinating reading, "Learning Little Hawk's Way of Storytelling" is a must for any who want to embrace the way of the story.

Lemon Gulch
Donovan O'Malley
Lemon Gulch Books
9789197918800, $14.40,

The sexual awakening of our lives isn't usually so cruel. "Lemon Gulch" is a dark comedy novel from Donovan O'Malley who offers the tale of Danny, a twelve year old boy with overactive hormones and finds himself pushed screaming into a very adult world of sexuality. With plenty of questions and not many answers, O'Malley walks sense of decency on a tightrope and occasionally falls off, making "Lemon Gulch" a thoughtful and intriguing read indeed.

The Raven Girl
Kathy Cecala
Privately Published
9781461066378, $12.00,

Heroism is never easy, as it requires doing difficult, perhaps impossible things. "The Raven Girl" tells the story of traveling scholar Aedan comes across an unusual girl with unusual traits. On a remote island, she finds she is threatened by the primitive islanders and must act fast in order to have a chance at saving her, but in his acts, his education and his entire world view will be challenged, as he goes not only against the islanders, but the powerful church of 1488 as well as many European powers around him. "The Raven Girl" is an exciting and fast paced read, highly recommended.

Carl Logan

Margaret's Bookshelf

Love and Marriage Perspectives
Vince Brendan Vincents
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432774295, $18.95,

A good marriage is something that should be cherished. "Love and Marriage Perspectives: Strategies and Skills to Consider in Building a Successful, Lasting Marriage" is a marriage advisory guide on how to find the right candidate for marriage, the evolution of marriage in the modern world, and how marriage can't simply be one aspect of one's needs, but rather a total package. Also discussing the impact of personality, "Love and Marriage Perspectives" is a worth considering for anyone considering the ins and outs in marriage in their future.

Every Last Kiss
Courtney Cole
Lakehouse Press
9780615487076, $9.99,

The weight of the world is too much for the shoulders of one individual. "Every Last Kiss" is about the cycle that Macy Lockhart finds herself in. For much of humanity's existence, she has been one of the protectors of its fate, although in her current life she never knows this until it is too late. As she must gather the fragments of her past lives in order to protect it from its latest threat, "Every Last Kiss" proves a unique and quite riveting read, very much recommended reading.

Bouquets for My Beloved
Judy Lokits
Tate Publishing & Enterprises
127 E. Trade Center Terrace, Mustang, OK 73064
9781617392214, $10.99,

Although love of people may change and wither, the love of Christ is unending. "Bouquets for My Beloved" is a Christian book aimed at single women who have loved and lost, be it from death or choosing to part. Stating there is faith and inspiration to be had in such an endeavor of solitude, she offers much wisdom for the Christian woman and how to find fulfillment without a man. "Bouquets for My Beloved" is a fine read for any woman of Christ who values their faith strongly.

Escaping from the Victim or Volunteer Role in Your Relationship
Joanne Williams
Privately Published
9780615432632, $21.99,

Equality is important in a relationship. Without it, it becomes too easy for it to become abusive. "Escaping from the Victim or Volunteer Role in Your Relationship" is a relationship advisory guide from Joanne Williams who offers advice on why many relationships fail and how to escape a sinking ship you yourself are on. She seeks to give women the power they need to make relationships work for them and find their places in romance. "Escaping the Victim or Volunteer Role in Your Relationship" is filled with solid advice and very highly recommended reading for women who have had a rut of misery in love.

Black Girl @ The Gay Channel
Darlyne Baugh
Full Court Press
601 Palisade Avenue, Englewood Cliffs, NJ 07632
9780984611393, $16.95,

You take the opportunities you can to succeed, even if they seem a bit off the beaten path. "Black Girl @ The Gay Channel" is the story of Charlene Thomas, single mother with relationship issues. Taking a job at the newly formed Gay Channel, her life pulls her in all directions, as author Darlyne Baugh tells her story in an exciting and humorous manner. "Black Girl @ The Gay Channel" is an excellent addition to any community library urban fiction collection.

Black Child to Black Woman
Cheryl Denise Bannerman
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781452035789, $16.99,

Although we have come far since the civil war, the challenges of black women are still very much there. "Black Child to Black Woman: A Journey of Tremendous Proportions" speaks of such a journey to adulthood, hoping to share the challenges that come from infancy to becoming a mother herself. Frank and honest, she provides insight on what remains in trying to pursue happiness in one's life. "Black Child to Black Woman" is a must for anyone who wants to understand the black experience.

Gang Girl & Sex Bum
Don Elliott
Stark House
2200 O Street, Eureka, CA 95501
9781933586342, $19.95,

There's nothing wrong with some old fashioned sleaze. "Gang Girl & Sex Bum" is a dual novel from classic pulp fiction writer Don Elliott. The two stories are erotic in nature and with plenty of content that no one would want to share with their children. Elliott later went on under his real name Robert Silverberg to become one of the more famed writers of science fiction, but never turned his nose up about how he got his break writing what few would refer to as greater than smut. "Gang Girl & Sex Bum" is a must for anyone who remembers these pulp classics and loves them for what they are.

The Accidental Assassin
Fritz Galt
Sigma Books
9780557977222, $17.95,

When there is blood on your hands and you don't know where it came from, life can prove ever more difficult. "The Accidental Assassin" follows Dean Wells as he enters into serious trouble in Syria, as all those around him place the blame of murder on him. With only driven CIA Psychologist Carla Martino willing to hear him out, Fritz Galt presents another fast paced and fun read. "The Accidental Assassin" is worth considering for many a thriller collection.

Captured Souls
Ann Castle
Privately Published
9780615387666, $19.95,

The quickest way to get over loss is to be threatened with losing more. "Captured Souls" is the story of Karla, coping with the loss of her marriage and her twin sister. As her teenaged daughter disappears, she searches for answers on her daughter's whereabouts, pulling help where she can. But through her journey, she will learn not only of her daughter, but of her long lost twin. "Captured Souls" is a thoughtful and exciting work of science fiction and fantasy, highly recommended.

Steven Nedelton
Privately Published
9781461043102, $12.00,

As the world goes to hell, it proves very difficult not to go with them. "Fear!" is a novel from Steven Nedelton who tells of a future where mankind is falling apart and oppression is the name of the day. One family tries to hang onto their humanity, as Nedelton tells their endeavor to stay together and stay united in a miserable world. "Fear!" is a novel of a potential terrifying future, well worth considering.

Dantalion of the Goetia
Tina M. E.
Privately Published
9781460983775, $14.99,

Good and evil, love and hate are such absolutes in a non-absolute world. "Dantalion of the Goetia" is a novel following a young college girl with a curiosity in the occult who winds up releasing Dantalion, a fallen angel bound into an tome meant to seal him. Through seduction, author Tina M. E. weaves a unique story of love, corruption, redemption, and what it means in our search for something greater. "Dantalion of the Goetia" is a truly unique and fascinating read, very much recommended.

See Your Way to Better Health
Donald KJ. Mertens
Vantage Press
419 Park Ave., South, New York, NY 10016
9780533163403, $14.95,

Taking care of oneself is the biggest key to good health. "SEE Your Way to Better Health: Sleep, Eat, & Exercise" is a guide from Donald J. Mertens as he advises readers on how to attain better health based around the three subjects. Too often sleep and exercise are distant in our mind, and we eat whatever junk is convenient. Mertens offers advice on righting this path, and makes "SEE Your Way to Better Health" an advisory guide that shouldn't be overlooked.

Margaret Lane

Mayra's Bookshelf

Latitude 38
Ron Hutchison
Stay Thirsty Media.Inc.
47 W. Division Street # 506, Chicago, IL. 60610
B004XWQ3I4, Ebook, $13.79 (312) 560-6801

If you're looking for something different to read this summer, I highly recommend you grab a copy of Hutchison's controversial, adventure-filled novel, Latitude 38.

The novel takes place some time in the future. Because of political unrest and heated debates over issues like immigration, gay rights, euthanasia, gun control, capital punishment, school prayer, and same-sex marriage, the United States has been split into two republics along the 38th latitude. The southern republic is violent, dogmatic and corrupted, while the northern republic is more peaceful, flexible and compassionate.

Our protagonists, Diego and Adriana Sanchez, are a couple deeply in love. They live in the southern republic. However, this isn't their main problem: Adriana is dying of terminal cancer and the pain is getting unbearable, but one of the south's 'secret' policies is not to waste pain medication on terminally-ill patients. Euthanasia is also out of the question, as it is not permitted in the south. In order for Adriana to have a serene, pain-free death, they must find a way to get to the north.

Through Adriana's oncologist, they learn about Arnold Cutbirth, a roguish brute whose 'job' is to guide people across the border for exorbitant sums of money. Thus, Diego and Adriana use their life savings to pay for the trip. The story starts at the heart of the conflict, with Diego and Adriana meeting Cutbirth and getting ready for their journey. They soon find out that they're not the only ones in the group. Travelling with our protagonists is an interesting array of characters: a gay couple, a young mother and her ten-year old girl, and a religious zealot, among a few others. Together, propelled by their own individual goals and guided by cruel and merciless Cutbirth, they must endure all kinds of hardships and dangers in their quest for freedom and a better life.

Latitude 38 is skilfully plotted. From the beginning, Hutchison pulled me into the story with lots of action and dialogue. Exposition and description are kept at a minimum, so the pace is quick. The love between Diego and Adriana, as well as her sad situation are compelling without being melodramatic. Needless to say, they're very sympathetic characters and, because of this, it was gripping watching their behaviour and reactions as they were pushed to the limit due to their circumstances. Cutbirth is a fascinating character - in fact, for me he is the most fascinating character in the novel. He's a bad seed, but there's something about him that makes you wonder that, had he been born in the right setting under different circumstances, he would be a very different person. There's a subtle transformation in him as the story develops, and this was engrossing to watch. Also interesting is the dynamic interaction between all the different characters as they try to get along in spite of their own instinct to survive.

Though there's lots of adventure in Latitude 38, this isn't your typical adventure novel. It is a realistic story with elements of adventure and dystopia. It is a tale of survival filled with crisp dialogue, mounting tension and a heart-breaking climax. While some people might hate the ending and others might love it, one thing is for sure: few will be able to stay impartial or indifferent toward it. This is one of those stories that will stay with you long after having read it.

Aaron Paul Lazar
Twilight Times Books
P O Box 3340, Kingsport TN 37664
1606191644 $16.95,

FireSong is the fifth instalment in the Gus LeGarde mystery series and talented author Aaron Paul Lazar doesn't disappoint, hooking readers right from the beginning and keeping them turning pages with a series of unexpected twists and turns.

Our amateur sleuth, Gus LeGarde, lives in the small town of East Goodland in the heart of the beautiful Genesee Valley, and works as a music professor at the local college. Except for the occasional mystery, he lives a quiet, happy life, surrounding himself with the things he loves most: his family and friends, his dogs, classical music, and cooking and gardening. If you're expecting Gus to be a former alcoholic, embittered man who chain smokes, you'll be pleasantly surprised. Instead, he is a true family man with a kind heart. This quality sets him apart from other sleuths in mystery series.

The story begins when, one warm Sunday evening, as Gus is attending the local parish with his family, a tornado sweeps by and unearths a dead body that had been secretly buried in the grounds of the church years ago. On closer inspection, the body turns out to be that of Gus' friend, a man who had disappeared under mysterious circumstances.

Thus starts this winning mystery, one that takes Gus on a journey of danger, action and adventure. From historical Indian grounds, to stolen money, to the Underground Railroad, to a thunderous fire that nearly takes his life and that of his beloved grandson, FireSong is an entertaining ride that will be enjoyed by most fans of cozy mysteries.

Though the story has a lot of action at times, this isn't what you'd call a fast-paced book. In skilful detail, Lazar uses description and narration to bring to life the setting, characters, and Gus' way of life. The dialogue is natural and engaging. The novel has a 'quiet' tone at times which contrasts with the faster, action segments, creating a relaxed balance for those readers who don't like to rush it and prefer to take their time when reading a mystery. The climax is exciting and Lazar does a good job at tying all the loose ends in the conclusion. FireSong is a stand-alone book, so it doesn't matter if you haven't read the earlier novels in the series. This will make a fun addition to your summer reading list, so be sure to add it.

If I Bring You Roses
Marisel Vera
Grand Central Publishing
Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780446571531, $13.99/$15.50 in Canada,

Award-winning, first-time novelist Marisel Vera pens an honest, heart-felt, often sad tale of an idealistic, naive Puerto Rican girl named Felicidad who goes to America to be with the man she loves.

The story, told from an author omniscient point of view, begins in the early 1940's in the Puerto Rican countryside and ends about ten years later in Chicago. It follows Felicidad's life from the time she's a young jibara living in appalling poverty in the mountains to the time she gets married and moves to America.

Young Felicidad lives in a tiny shack with her parents and siblings. Her father works in the fields and can barely support them. At times, Felicidad must be happy with only one meal a day. Their living conditions are so deplorable, she must tie her locks in a bun so that flying roaches in the latrine will not make a nest in her hair. Her sister dies because they can't afford medical care. But worst of all, her mother is losing her mind. Unable to face the situation they're in, one day her mother climbs naked onto the roof. The priest, of course, says she's possessed by the devil.

Then Felicidad is sent to another town to live with her uncle and his wife, who own a panaderia. Though her uncle is kind and quiet most of the times, her aunt finds every opportunity to criticize Felicidad and treat her like a servant. Felicidad, naive and good-natured, does her best to put up with her. She slaves in the panaderia and remains submissive, but she dreams of a prince who will love her and 'rescue' her one day. Years pass and Felicidad doesn't hear a word from her family. She misses them terribly and would like nothing more than to visit them, but she wonders if the feeling is reciprocated and, afraid of rejection by her own flesh and blood, she stays away from them.

One day, a handsome man walks into the panaderia and Felicidad is swept off her feet. Anibal Acevedo, a man of the world as far as women go, is taken by Felicidad's innocent beauty. To everyone's shock, a few days later, he asks her to marry him. Felicidad is ecstatic, filled with idealistic illusions of happiness, but is Anibal capable of fulfilling his dreams, when he has another woman waiting for him in Chicago?

Marisel Vera's prose flows beautifully. In a skillful, often blunt manner, she paints a painfully realistic picture of the jibaro. In a way, Felicidad's story is a Cinderella story but with an unusual twist. The two protagonists, Felicidad and Anibal, come to live through the pages, each one so very distinctive from the other. It is especially fascinating to be inside Anibal's mind and see the world from his perspective, a brutal contrast to Felicidad. Their love story is bitter sweet. But most of all, the author gives us a powerfully sad glimpse of the jibaro in the 1950's in Chicago, their difficult lives and tribulations, the prejudice they had to confront. Vera is definitely a new Latina voice to be reckoned with, and I look forward to reading more of her work.

Aloni Gabriel & Butterfly/Aloni Gabriel & Mariposa
Elena Iglesias
Eriginal Books LLC
138 SW 151 Court, Miami, Florida 33196
9781613709931, $7.99, 1-305-763-2706

Aloni Gabriel & Butterfly/Aloni Gabriel & Mariposa is an illustrated, bilingual story (English/Spanish) for middle-grade readers. Like The Little Prince, it is a deeply insightful fable that both educates and entertains.

Our young protagonist is Aloni, a boy who hates to be called by his middle name, Gabriel. One day in his garden, he meets a magical white butterfly who takes him on a fantastic journey to seven kingdoms of the imagination. There's a chapter for each kingdom, and each kingdom has a different color, is governed by an archangel, and ruled by one principle or value such as wisdom, love, will, etc. Thus, the story teaches seven lessons. For example, chapter 1 is The Blue Country. As soon as they enter it, everything turns blue, even Butterfly. In this chapter, they visit Archangel Michael.

As Aloni travels on the butterfly's back, he asks her many questions. Butterfly's replies invite self contemplation and pondering, so that most of the times it is Aloni himself who finds the responses inside himself. Unifying all the principles is the concept that all answers can be found inside one's heart, if one really looks inside and pays attention.

When you read this book, you can tell right away that the author is a poet. The writing, though simple and appropriate for young audiences, is often lyrical and filled with vivid images. This is one of those stories that seem simple on the surface but are deep underneath. It is refreshing to find books for children that are spiritual and not just entertaining. Since the story has a lot of dialogue, the pace moves pretty quickly. I'd also like to point out that even though the book is a fable, the author doesn't hit us over the head with the moral of the story. She makes it obvious, but finds a good balance that prevents the tale from sounding preachy. I recommend Aloni Gabriel & Butterfly/Aloni Gabriel & Mariposa for class discussions. It is a book that stimulates the imagination and invites self reflection.

Mayra Calvani

Molly's Bookshelf

A Sportscaster's Guide to Watching Football: Decoding America's Favorite Game
Mark Oristano
Synergy Books
9780982160114, $15.95

Mark Oristano's A Sportscaster's Guide to WATCHING FOOTBALL Decoding America's Favorite Game is 160 pages packed with basic football information written especially for those who have little to no understanding of the game of football at all.

The Table of Contents delineates exactly what the author hopes to impart. He explains the purpose of the book and then presents an explanation of Offense, Halftime, Defense, Special Teams, and explanation of the Refs and their task, and even includes a glossary.

I have long enjoyed football, however, I found reading writer, longtime Sportscaster, Oristano's book to be a dandy. Written in simple, lucid language Oristano helps cut right to the heart of what football is all about.

In his opening words Oristano explains that he watched football for a living for 30 years; he got paid to go to NFL games and talk about them on the radio. After he left football and sports broadcasting several years ago to pursue acting and photography, however Oristano remains an avid NFL fan.

Throughout the book Oristano adds little asides, he calls them TIME-OUTS wherein he presents personal experiences he shared with some of the coaches, players and fans during his long career. Time Out 1 sets the tone for the work: coaches Mike Ditka and Tom Landry are both mentioned in the short memo. For many years I followed Coach Landry's Cowboys, never missed a game on TV and greatly admired the quiet, no nonsense demeanor of the man I continue to view as one of the, if not the, greatest of all pro coaches.

Oristano sets the reader off into the work with this admonition: Skip over the stuff you already know. I don't want to insult your intelligence.

Interspersed in here and there in the text Oristano offers a sidebar with - Cool Things To Say During Game-

I especially enjoyed his chapters regarding the actual play of the game. I needed this book back many years ago when I had a group of avid football enthusiastic little boys in my First Grade class. Only problem was they didn't have a clue what the game was really about and recess was a pile of shrieking, rip the ball from anyone and run. Bloody noses, bruises everywhere and vows of vengeance filled the air.

My own simple explanation for the game did bring about some order out of the chaos, however my simple explanation would have been better had I Oristano's book to use for my - coaching-. Oristano, why did you wait so long to write?

Offense and What you do with the ball, offers simple explanation regarding offense positions, how the team members line up, putting the ball in play and what to do when it is. The chapter ends with an Offense Instant Replay in which Oristano explains what it is from there are four downs to get 10 yards and earn another set of four downs through the play and explanation of the two minute drill.

Defense: Chase 'Em and Catch 'Em introduces the concept that while the offense is trying to get that ball 10 yards down the field Defense is doing everything it can to not let that happen. Again Oristano explains the positions, what each person is expected to during play, where they line up and why and then the Defense Instant Replay. The big guys playing up front are the defensive line, their job is to rush the quarterback, and or do everything possible to stop the run.

The special teams, their positions, what they do and especially kickers are all detailed in the chapter regarding Special Teams. Oristano explains field goals, punts and kick off and the point after a touchdown. The Special Teams Instant Replay wraps up the chapter.

I enjoyed reading Mark Oristano's WATCHING FOOTBALL. While I do understand the game, our house is filled with football watching during the season, I still found things of interest in the book. While I don't need a real hands on explanation of how to play, I do find Oristano's book helpful as I explain the game on the play ground today. I still teach First Grade and football continues to be pretty much a shrieking pile of little males kicking, biting, gouging, rip the ball and run somewhere with the entire pack in hot pursuit during their - games-.

For those who do not really understand what a football game is, and would like to gain enough understanding to watch a game with grown sons, husbands or whomever without asking irritating questions questions questions during crucial moments when the ball is in play; Mark Oristano's book is a must have.

Happy to recommend Mark Oristano's A Sportscaster's Guide to WATCHING FOOTBALL Decoding America's Favorite Game

At the Crossroads of Terror
Lenny Emanuelli
EP Publishing
101C N Greenville Ave, Allen, TX 75002
9780615359793, $14.95

Lenny Emanuelli's at the CROSSROADS of terror is a work of 226 pages with a list of characters spanning the first two pages.

The prologue sets the tone for the work with a brutal 1992 murder including sexual assault upon the woman detailed. A year later the file went into a cold case file and remains unsolved. The case continued to trouble John Fennick and Frank Johnson as one of the most brutal and sadistic they had worked during their police careers.

And 14 years later, April 1006 we find the Dragon Awakens. Charlie, CJ Johnson, son of famous homicide detective Frank Johnson had eschewed a career in police work for a career in the field of computer software. Somehow he finds himself entangled in a bit of a mess involving Sherry Mann, the only child of the couple murdered so long ago, a recent homicide, gun shoved into his pocket by a gorgeous Asian woman with a tattoo on her leg.

Sherry Mann is writing a book about a nefarious Asian Gang, the Flying Dragons, from Charlie's description; it seems the woman who put the gun in his pocket may be a part of the Sisters of the Flying Dragons. That Charlie is in enormous danger is clear to Sherry, Charlie cannot believe that he is.

From that point the reader is carried along on a hair raising journey filled with a Vietnamese gang bent upon terror, beatings, arson, sexual assault, murder, chicanery, deceit, illicit drugs and finally a little justice.

Charlie and his struggle to clear himself of a crime he did not commit and evade the determined destructive behavior of a violent crime family is complicated with his attempts to save his childhood sweetheart.

On the frontispiece the author asks 'What would you do if you were being hunted by a gang of killers holding your childhood sweetheart captive. And, you were also being hunted by the police who believe you are the one responsible for a murder you did not commit. Where could you turn for help. Charlie Johnson, son of a retired police detective is an unlikely suspect for murder, but that is what is thought, that he killed a local street merchant. Trying to prove his innocence is grist for the fertile imagination of writer Emanuelli as he sets down a compelling narrative sure to hold reader interest from opening prologue right down to the last chapter.

Pairing the at times not-a-clue Charlie with street wise television reporter Mann has proven to be a winning mix. Emanuelli presents a hard at times to read narrative filled with violence, and much of it directed at women. The writer's special message indicates that - although the book is fiction, the sexual violence is all to real, and takes place somewhere in the US every two minutes. It is the writer's hope that the book will help bring some awareness to the problem.

A portion of the proceeds from Lenny Emanuelli's at the CROSSROADS of terror will be donated to RAINN the Rape Abuse and Incest National Network.

Happy to recommend Lenny Emanuelli's at the CROSSROADS of terror

Note: violent content with brutal sexual activity and profanity is included.

The Dog of the World
S. E. Karsnick
Breathing River
9780615202297, $17.00

S.E. Karsnick's The Dog of the World begins with a question, "Is this the ocean? Mom ... Mumma! Is this the ocean? Mom!" It was a question unanswered until Esther, Esty moved to fill in the blank. She explained that it was a lake. Esther had always told herself she did not care much for kids, and, to be very frank, this little boy wasn't doing much to change her mind. The work continues as Esther ponders the kid, his mother, her surroundings, her running, and white walls. Esty took responsibility for her life, such as it was. She was a runner, she ran.

Moving on, the reader next comes face to face with Jason; who awoke one fateful morning following a torturous episode of pressure and pushing back until he was able to smile at the dog of the world, and high rise structures, and low rent buildings, feeling intact and certain, and more or less serene. As their anecdotes and lives meet, become entwined and reel forward; the reader is caught up in the highs, lows, frenzy and quiet that surround the pair, in addition to the act of suicide which many turn to in despair.

First written in 1983 as a short story; the author says, the work was based on dreams and an intuitive leap the author made at that time as well as because of the subject matter. The Dog of The World is not a story book per se, it is not a jolly, feel good read. It is a read meant to move the reader to greater perspective, understanding and appreciation of the world of those who suffer depression.

Filled with sorrowfulness, nuances and pathos as well as tranquility, elation and anticipation; The Dog of The World carries the reader along on a tentative journey teetering on the brink of disconcert. The writer assures us that this is a work of fiction, however, for many for whom depression is a near overpowering force; the work may seem as a page from their own perceptive.

Karsnick captures the hopes and worry and fears, successes and failures of those who suffer from depression in a manner sure to keep the reader turning the page to learn what Esther, Jason and life itself will bring to fore next. Not always an easy read, The Dog of The World will cause the reader to have flashes of retrospective moments, the ah ha insight as they see behaviors, their own or that of others they have known suddenly become clearer and a greater appreciation for what the life of those who do face depression daily, meet it head on, and sometimes win the battle must endure.

In Different Worlds from POW to PHD The Story of a Remarkable Life
Dankwart Koehler
Bridgeway Books
9781934454411, $17.95

Dankwart Koehler's In Different Worlds from POW to PHD The Story of a Remarkable Life is a work of 326 pages comprising a Prologue, 2 Parts with Part 1 beginning in 1926 in Ebingen, Germany and including the writer's Biography with early years in Heilbronn, Hitler becoming Chancellor of German, Koehler's growing up, World War 11 and his time as a Prisoner of War. Part 2 details the beginning of Koehler's second life, time as an exchange student in America, life in Germany and Atlanta, Georgia, Switzerland, Belgium, and New Jersey. Koehler discusses Bell Telephone Laboratories, Photography and retirement. Following the text is found 2 appendices as well as a Bibliography.

Writer Koehler notes in his prologue that while the book is written as the two stories of his life; it not meant to be a political work. Rather he hoped to provide documentary for his descendants to tell them of their roots in addition to describing some of the political circumstances under which he lived and how his long, 80+ year life have evolved from each experience.

Born in 1926 Koehler lived in southwestern Germany during the first 8 years of his life when the family moved to Heilbronn where his father became a teacher and government employee.

Despite the rise in power exerted by Hitler, Koehler's growing up was quiet, not opulent, but the family did not suffer want, education, birthdays and holidays, food, vacations and summer camp, music and mathematics were all a part of the young Koehler's life. And, there were Hitler Youth, anti Semitism, and World War II.

Hardship, rationing of essential items including food, Photography, air raids, and joining military service became a commonality of the time. Draft orders were sent in February 1943 for all high school students born in 1926 and 1927. June 1944 Koehler reported to his garrison assignment, combat and retreat soon followed, and in April, capture led to Koehler being taken to France first as an American POW before being turned over to the French as a POW. Koehler notes that the general population of Germany did not view the American troops as liberators, but rather as occupiers. October 1948, three and half years after the war had ended Koehler was finally on his way home.

The second part of his book follows from the beginning of his second life. He becomes an exchange student in America where he attended Georgia Tech. Traveling back to Germany brought more education, beginning a career, marriage, and back to the US where he and his wife raised a family while Koehler continued working until retirement.

While I cannot say that reading In Different Worlds changed my opinions regarding the historical situations portrayed; I did find that reading Different Worlds has bolstered my own understanding of the times and circumstances. I have long enjoyed historical fact and fiction and read a good bit of historical works.

Koehler discusses the injustices he and his family, and many others of German descent suffered due to the circumstances of the war without rancor or maudlin worries about what is fair and what is not. I find that type writing to be very compelling, state facts and let the chips fall was they will often leads readers toward understanding better and faster than pointing out life is not fair. It isn't always, deal with it and continue forward.

I enjoyed reading Dankwart Koehler's In Different Worlds from POW to PHD The Story of a Remarkable Life, he offers another glimpse at the situation and circumstance of living in Germany during the rise of Hitler to power, and the difficulties experienced by the populace before, during and following the war. Koehler's life has indeed been remarkable, interesting, and noteworthy.

Challenges faced Koehler throughout his life, reading of his determination to not allow challenge to shape him as a person, but to serve as a motivating catalyst offers readers a principle worth remembering

Writer Koehler writes in a clear, readable style, He is not afraid to laugh at himself, to explain how and why he has embarked on first one venture and then another and to express thoughts and beliefs regarding a great many ideas, ideology or situation.

Reading of the Koehler family's struggles is put into perspective by Koehler also listing the successes and there were many to to help the reader understand the possibility ahead for everyone when we continue to trust that success is possible and to then work toward those successes to be achieved.

Dankwart Koehler's In Different Worlds from POW to PHD The Story of a Remarkable Life has a place in public and school libraries as well as on the book shelf of those students of history who continue to find history remarkable and intriguing.

Koehlers In Different Worlds demonstrates that few of us are so singular that regardless of area where we live, or cultural differences we do have others with whom we will relate in times of joy and in times of sorrow. Worrying about the past serves little, live in the present, realize the past, do not repeat old mistakes, move forward; are all good things to remember.

Many of the books I receive for review are donated to charity, Dankwart Koehler's In Different Worlds from POW to PHD The Story of a Remarkable Life is a keeper.

Happy to recommend Dankwart Koehler's In Different Worlds from POW to PHD The Story of a Remarkable Life.

James Bennett
Zumaya Publications
9781934135648, $14.99

James Bennett's Unrequited opens with an Ending. It ended with a car crash. The narrator notes that autumn sun beamed between the trees, the car was approaching fast, the car rushed past to come to a halt in the midst of the intersection.

The narrative opens with a chance meeting, the narrator, Aaron Edgeway, is attempting, without much success, to drown some sorrows. Jason Farthing seems determined to alleviate the necessity.

Living with an malicious father has left Aaron more than a little cynical, jaded, and despairing. Is descent into melancholy actually began over a year ago when Aaron was living in a decrepit house with his sick father. Meeting Victor was a little respite in that bleak life. Romance quickly followed allowing a little escape from the lackluster facets of his life.

Aaron was nearly overwhelmed in his desire to maintain that escape.

A clandestine past, disgrace, unwanted love, blackmail, an invitation, illicit drugs, a film star, an indulged rich kid, and tour of a mansion move the tale along. A shocking video, meeting someone to love, a father's vindictiveness, and finally death, friendship of long standing and deceit before desire, shock of discovery, and finally impossible regret and revenge and healing of a sort.

James Bennett's Unrequited is a fast paced work filled with a heavy torrent of suffering, poignancy and consequence of cruel parental bond coupled with fall out resulting from a series of untrustworthy relationships.

Aaron is a likeable, if somewhat naive character. His attachment with his maliciously violent father is not easy to read, his own sense of self worth and lack thereof is as hard to read, in addition the fallout of the brutality and exploitation, trickery deception and desolation he felt fashions a sequence of events that are as understandable as they are not exactly the conventional processes for dealing with either untrustworthy partners, or sadistic parents.

Bennett's writing is crisp, well paced, characters are well fleshed, some outcomes are predictable to the reader, however they work well because Aaron cannot see that they are.

The reader is carried along on the spinning spiral as Aaron finds himself ensnared by quirk of unexpected destiny. Aaron is desperate to safeguard what he believes is a viable romance, however that romance is unreciprocated leading into Aaron's plunge into calamity and feelings of failure. Aaron soon begins to consider the jeopardy of caring as he seeks ways to find solutions to the abuse suffered at the hands of his father and to repair himself against mistreatment of friends whose trust has proven untrustworthy.

Unrequited is a touching narrative providing a passion driven admonitory allegory about heart ache driven reprisal for anyone who has suffered from a broken heart whether at the hands of a cruel parent, or a cruel supposed friend or lover.

Happy to recommend James Bennett's Unrequited for those who enjoy a well written, moving narrative filled with tragedy, poignancy and more than a little sadness. 4 of 5 stars.

Note: not for everyone deals with issues of gay romance, some rough language, cruelty of a parent.

Molly Martin, Reviewer

Nicole's Bookshelf

Johnny One Eye
Jerome Charyn
W.W. Norton & Company
500 5th Avenue, New York, NY 10110
9780393064971, $25.95

Johnny One-Eye is the Forrest Gump of the American Revolution. He's a fictitious character whose life becomes intertwined with the most illustrious personages in the land from George Washington to Alexander Hamilton. As the son of Manhattan's savviest madame, he lives in a brothel among prostitutes. Yet throughout the war, he seamlessly mingles with all classes in society from Prince Paul, the leader of the city's Little Africa, to his disgraced former general, Benedict Arnold. His ability to adapt to any situation places him in a precarious position as both the British and American forces try to recruit him as a spy. He walks a perilous line trying to serve two masters while first and foremost looking out for himself.

The travails of his love life tend to complicate matters even further. As a eye patch wearing, Quasimodo Lothario, he is hopelessly besotted with his childhood friend, Clara, who is now in the employ of his mother. As she flits from one customer's bed to another, she ridicules Johnny One-Eye's advances and mocks his romantic pursuit. Spurned by his true love, he turns to the comfort of the voluptuous mistress of General William Howe, the British commander in charge of the occupation of New York. Needless to say, Sir William flies into a jealous rage upon discovering he is sharing his lover with a one-eyed rogue.

The book itself is broken into seven sections by year from 1776-1783. Each begins with a preface written from George Washington's point of view. Johnny One-Eye shares the spotlight with the commander in chief because as the narrative progresses the question of his paternity begins to point in the general's direction. This illegitimate scamp from the gutter could, in fact, be America's first son. The two work on building a tenuous relationship as they try to watch out for each other in the midst of dangerous plots and intrigues.

Charyn succeeds in creating a George Washington who is a fully developed character. He is not the one-dimensional, mythological figure who cannot tell a lie. Instead, he is a military commander who makes mistakes, and he is passionately in love with a red-haired courtesan, Johnny's mother. In the novel's best scene, these two characteristics combine at his beloved's whorehouse. In his foolhardiness, he knowingly walks into a trap by responding to General Howe's invitation to a card game. All sides hold their breath as Washington skillfully maneuvers through the game relying on his wits to save his life.

Charyn painstakingly reconstructs the Revolutionary setting. Through extensive research and attention to detail, he masterfully brings to life the British occupation of New York City. The island teems with a volatile mixture of Hessian mercenaries, British aristocracy, rebel spies and Loyalist merchants. The rich feast as the poor starve. Johnny One-Eye, himself, depicts the various atrocities of the time. He endures a tar and feathering, imprisonment aboard a fetid naval vessel and banishment from the colonies. Yet like the young nation, he overcomes all obstacles in order to fashion his own destiny.

Overall, even with a one-eyed account, Johnny offers a detailed glimpse of the grueling birth of a nation.

Big Life Lessons from That Still, Small Voice
Lisa Mason
Infinity Publishing
1094 New DeHaven Street, Suite 100, West Conshohocken, PA 19428
9780741463869, $10.95

Whenever I watched Lisa Mason when she was on QVC, I was always impressed by her spirit. Whether she was affectionately calling a viewer "sugar" or hosting a four hour Diamonique marathon, her genuine nature radiated through the TV screen. That's why I was interested in picking up a copy of her book, Big Life Lessons from That Still, Small Voice. Lisa is so much more than a salesperson for a cable retailer. She's the daughter of a Baptist minister. She's an Emmy winner for her work on an AIDS documentary. She's an engaging, in-demand motivational speaker. And it is a treat to read how she relates stories from her own life and how she was influenced by listening to God's gentle stirrings in her heart.

What sets Lisa apart is that she pays attention not just to the little things in life, but also how they combine to create a major moment. Throughout the book, her message is - do not fear change, it is inevitable. The key is to be conscious of the inner promptings of our heart, mind and soul. We ignore them at our peril.

I really have a new-found respect for Lisa after learning about her roots. With a father as an itinerant preacher, she continually moved throughout her childhood from small Southern towns to an overseas military base. The ability to adjust to new surroundings shows a strength of character and a defined sense of self that she possessed from a young age. Years later at a charity luncheon, Lisa begins talking with a woman who grew up in a privileged Connecticut environment and attended Ivy League schools. When asked about her own background, Lisa didn't feel comfortable sharing the details of her upbringing. But I'm glad that she overcame that reticence and as a writer was able to open up and share details about her past.

What really comes across is Lisa's honesty. She flunked out of college. She worked as a waitress. She made mistakes in her relationships with others. She suffered from depression. She did not write a book as an ego trip. Instead, she fills the pages with heartfelt emotion.

When filming a documentary she met a young girl dying from AIDS, but no one knew how she contracted the disease. In order to pinpoint the cause, both of her parents were tested and the results came back positive. The entire family succumbed to AIDS. Despite the fact that Lisa won an Emmy for her work, she relates that when she looks at the statue it represents nothing but devastating loss.

Another touching passage involves being stood up by a literary agent in a New York City deli. Feeling like she wasted an entire day, she boarded a train to return home. It was during that journey that she encountered a severely disabled, disfigured child and her mother. Upon disembarking, Lisa noticed that they did not speak English and appeared lost and alone on the station platform. Instead of walking away, she took the initiative, picked up their bags and helped them find the customer service desk. She even drove them to the airport. After all of this, she didn't receive a pat on the back or an effusive show of gratitude. Instead she knew deep down that she accomplished what she was supposed to do that day.

For QVC fans, it may come as a surprise that Lisa initially regretted accepting the job back in the early 1990s. She relates pulling into the parking lot in her Nissan Sentra for a 4 a.m. show. She felt bloated and blotchy. She was suffering through a bad mullet-style haircut. She had gained 10 pounds. She was dead tired. Walking down the hallway in her baggy sweats, she bumped into Joan Rivers. Feeling like she looked a mess, she fumbled through an introduction with the famous comedian. She recalls Joan being nothing but gracious.

Fast forward to the 1993 Oklahoma City bombing. Lisa is on board a plane above the city in order to present a broadcast for QVC's 50 states tour. Needless to say, when the plane landed and she found out what happened she went into a state of shock. The show was canceled and she returned home with a case of post traumatic stress disorder. She struggled to pull herself together. At her lowest point, she opened a package labeled personal but lacking a return address. What was inside was a necklace without a note. After looking at it more closely, Lisa realized it was ironically from Joan Rivers.

These slice of life vignettes are divided into 10 brief chapters (the entire book totals 115 pages). Each concludes with a life lesson, and some feature a biblical quotation. The book is not heavy on Christianity, but it does provide the framework for the overall theme. It also includes poignant literary references, such as the following from Ralph Waldo Emerson:

To laugh often and much.
To win the respect of intelligent people and the affection of children.
To earn the appreciation of honest critics and endure the betrayal of false friends.
To appreciate beauty.
To find the best in others.
To leave the world a bit better, whether by a healthy child, a garden path or a redeemed social condition.
To know that even one life has breathed easier because you have lived.
This is to have succeeded.

Lisa Mason has done just that.

Overall, a former QVC host shares stories from her own life and how to make a difference in the lives of others.

Thank You Notes
Jimmy Fallon
Grand Central Publishing
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780892967414 $12.00

I saw a taping of Late Night with Jimmy Fallon back in August 2009. It was a Friday so the episode featured the weekly "Thank You Notes" segment where Jimmy writes a letter of gratitude to a variety of people, places and things such as, "Thank you slow-walking family walking in front of me on the sidewalk. No, please, take your time. And definitely spread out, too, so you create a barricade of idiots. I am so thankful that you forced me to walk into the street and risk getting hit by a car in order to pass you so I could resume walking at a normal human pace."

Now along with the writers of Late Night, he has published Thank You Notes in book form. It features 164 glossy pages - one note per page each with a corresponding image. The size reminded me of McDonald's coupon books that arrive in the mail. As a coffee table book, it can easily be read in under 10 minutes. It's not an earth-shattering, game-changing publication. It is what it is - a collection of humorous jokes that examine the minutia of life from toilet paper to sweater vests.

The book reads like a compilation of the best tweets from the Saturday Night Live alum. Jimmy is a Twitter fanatic (you can follow him - along with over 3 million other people - at @JimmyFallon) as well as a savvy marketer. He employed the notoriety of his talk show as well as his social media standing in order to spur sales. He asked his fans, a.k.a. his "Fal Pals," to purchase a copy on May 26 via Amazon for a one hour window (3-4 p.m. Eastern, 12-1 p.m. Pacific) to boost the overall sales ranking. It worked. Jimmy's book soared to #1 on the online retailer's site. It also went on to secure the #2 spot on the New York Times best seller.

Following are some of my favorite selections:

- Thank you guy in the revolving door who isn't pulling his weight, for letting me handle all the pushing responsibilities while you handle all the waiting responsibilities. No, let me get it for you. You're the king of the hotel entrance.

- Thank you Chinese delivery place, for giving me three sets of utensils when - SURPRISE! - it was just me eating. Are you trying to tell me that one person shouldn't eat all this food? Next time why not take it further? Why not have the fortune cookie tell me to "take human bites." Or say "Are you done now, fat ass?"

- Thank you flour, for keeping the paper sack container business alive. Don't want to change your packaging, huh? Whenever I buy you I feel like I'm Charles Ingalls buying something from Oleson's store on credit.

- Thank you little kid who keeps pushing the button on the Dancing Santa Doll at the drugstore. Go ahead and just keep on pushing. I love hearing the electronic version of "Rockin' Around the Christmas Tree" over and over and over. Stop pushing the button for one second so I can tell you a secret: "Santa isn't real!"

- Thank you people who show off their high school Spanish when pronouncing their order at a Mexican restaurant. The way you just said "fajita" made me feel like I was wandering the rustic streets of Guadalajara. But I'm not. I'm in a Taco Bell and you're holding up the line, amigo.

Overall, this book is definitely the hysterical replacement to the generic Hallmark thank you card.

Beauty Queens
Libbra Bray
Scholastic Press
557 Broadway, New York, NY 10012
9780439895972 $18.99

I read Libba Bray's popular trilogy of books - A Great and Terrible Beauty, Rebel Angels and The Sweet Far Thing - about a group of magical girls attending a boarding school in Victorian England. I was a fan of her writing based on her past work and it seemed like a no-brainer to pick up her latest novel, Beauty Queens. However, I was greatly surprised by the change in tone, style and format that it seemed like I was reading a completely different author. This is certainly a satire in the nature of Jonathan Swift's Gulliver's Travels, however it struck too many dissonant notes in order to be pleasing. The abundance of footnotes, commercial-like asides and pageant bio forms are jarring, and the profanity-laced vulgarity of the airhead dialogue sounds like chitter-chatter captured from a high school lavatory.

Bray is out to lambast popular culture from beauty ads to reality T.V. as she depicts the fate of beauty queens whose plane crashes on a deserted island. Her attempt to demonstrate the transformation of flighty, vapid girls into strong, resourceful women is a bit far-fetched. The characters are bratty, whiny and border on completely unlikable. In fact, they are caricatures of ethnic stereotypes. The straight-A Indian-American overachiever who is afraid to fail. The outspoken Jewish girl who is above it all. The flighty Southern belle who is intellectually challenged. The hard-charging Texan who is in it to win it. The Catholic school girl who is afraid of her sexuality. None of these portrayals are three-dimensional or show any type of interior depth. They float upon the surface of the narrative without laying down any substantial roots to form an authentic connection with the reader.

The profundity of snarky comments are thinly veiled references to numerous real life figures. J.T. Woodland (Justin Timberlake), a bandanna-wearing former boy band member who becomes a trans-gender Miss Teen Dream contestant. MoMo B. ChaCha (North Korea's Kim Jong-il), an insane dictator who is infatuated with American culture but at odds with the United States government. Ladybird Hope (Sarah Palin), the grand dame of beauty queens who wants to run for president.

It's too bad that some of the book's important messages tend to get lost in all this drivel. There is an insightful passage regarding the deaf contestant, Sosie, and how people with disabilities are held to a unfair standard by society. When the virus stole most of Sosie's hearing, it also stole her right to complain. She figured out early that nobody liked an angry disabled person. People wanted to think you were so okay with it all so they wouldn't have to expend any energy feeling guilty. There is a beautiful image about biology trumping beauty for the African-American Miss Colorado. Nicole took comfort in the clinical book. When you peeled back the skin, you were dealing with bone and muscle, blood and nerve endings. It was all the same.

Unfortunately, the plot spins so out of control it makes the storyline of Lost look sensible. Hunky pirates shipwreck on their beach resulting in the loss of one girl's virginity and another's high heels. Another contestant is swallowed by a man-eating snake only to be saved from its gullet. The team leader goes native after being struck by darts containing fluid from a hallucinogenic island plant. A man obsessed with hazelnut coffee and an entitled frat boy control the island via vats of an explosive facial hair product. Not to mention, the text abounds with awkward references to underarm hair, tampons and cringe-inducing lines like, "She may be a D-E-W-S-H, but it's not all her fault."

Overall, Beauty Queens falls way short of the crown.

Nicole Langan, Reviewer

Peggy's Bookshelf

The Mystery at Marlatt Manor
Anne Loader McGee
Vendera Publishing
PO Box 116, Franklin Furnace, OH 45629
9781936307050, $7.99

When thirteen-year old Mallory Gilmartin moves to the weird little town of Cedar Creek she thinks her life has ended. But living in the old Marlatt cottage under the shadow of the Marlatt Manor proves to be anything but dull. Definitely weird - but not dull. Mallory is lured into the mansion's baffling secret. Whatever happened to Violet Marlatt? While she uncovers the events of the past, she is haunted by strange dreams and the figure of a young girl. On top of that, the town is home to an unusual assortment of suspects, including Mallory's Grandma Aggie, who seems to know everything about everyone. As the new girl in town, Mallory must sift through the likes of nerdy Kyle, know-it-all Renee, Edna May the surly librarian, Artemis Wurley the shady real estate agent, Roger Dunslop the uptight banker, Albert Hampton the crabby caretaker, and the guy in the maroon-colored sports car, in order to sort out friend from foe. Anne McGee has created a solid page-turner reminiscent of Phyllis A. Whitney's mysteries. Middle grade readers - boys and girls alike - will enjoy unraveling "The Mystery of Marlatt Manor" with Mallory.

Bad Dog: A Love Story
Martin Kihn
1745 Broadway,New York, NY 10019
9780307379153 $23.95

Marty and Gloria scoured the earth for a Bernese mountain dog puppy because they are cute and trendy. They finally purchased an adorable puppy, named her Hola, and fell madly in love with her. But they never bothered to train her. When Hola turned five she cornered Gloria one day and snarled at her. Gloria moved out. But Hola wasn't the only problem in that household. Mary was an alcoholic. Eventually he faced up to his problem and simultaneously began the AA treatment program for himself and the Canine Good Citizen training for Hola. Kihn cleverly weaves these two methods together through the book to show once again the healing power of animals - or in this case a dog. Kihn's whimsical metaphors and witty observations make this an entertaining read.

Peggy Tibbetts, Reviewer

Regis' Bookshelf

A Foolish Plucking
Dee Wilbur
Comfort Publishing, LLC
9450 Moss Plantation Avenue N.W.
Concord, NC 28027
0984559833, $13.99

In A Foolish Plucking, Gary openly fights with his wife, Alice, just before the two leave their country club. Both have had far too much to drink. Gary 's wife leaves first. A while later, pissed off Gary arrives home but all the doors are locked. He cannot get inside. In his stupor, he falls asleep on the front porch swing.

The following day when Gary finally enters his house, Alice is not home. He wanders from room to room calling her name. Not really upset over her absence, he eats and prepares for a normal day. In the afternoon, one of his wife's friends arrives to find out why Alice did not show for a pre-planned tennis match.

When Alice shows up nowhere, police get involved. They arrive at Gary 's home for questioning. The man can only be honest - he knows nothing about Alice 's whereabouts.

However, police find blood around the shower drain in the master bedroom. On the wall near the bed, there appears to be drops of blood which spattered there and began to run down the wall before completely clotting.

Even more incriminating is the blood inside the rear of Gary 's SUV. Police have found the huge Escalade in a field off River Edge Drive. They also find a bicycle with vines caught in its gear changing mechanism in Gary 's garage. The exact same vines grow near the river. A case of murder seems so cut and dry that authorities arrest Gary and set a trial date.

All of the evidence fits neatly together except for the fact that Alice's corpse is missing. Yes, many witnesses saw Gary fight with her at the country club; and yes, her blood was in the shower stall, and on the wall, and in the Escalade. But from the very beginning of this bizarre episode, Gary insists he is innocent. At trial with little deliberation, a jury finds him guilty and Gary begins his prison life-sentence.

Was he wrongly convicted, or is he guilty as charged? What will happen to this man now that he is behind bars? Will he eventually confess or will he continue to insist that he knows nothing of Alice 's disappearance. Could he have committed murder in his drunken stupor and somehow forgotten his horrible act?

Here, I will leave the reader to get a copy of Dee Wilbur's exciting book A Foolish Plucking. The story will leave you unnerved until the very end. It is well written with very believable characters. Although relatively short, the tale is just long enough to pull you into its web of murderous behavior and genuine deceit.

I would recommend this story to all readers who like suspense and mystery stories. It would make a great tale for high school students to read and then discuss. The ending is so shocking it will leave you wondering about the reality of true justice.

Where's My Wand
Eric Poole
Amy Einhorn Books/Putnam
345 Hudson Street New York New York 10014
0399156550, $24.95

In a household where cleanliness and order reign supreme, it is hard to imagine life for young Eric, a boy of eight and his slightly older sister Val. In Where's My Wand? These two kids align with their father in an attempt to keep their antiseptic house in some way livable. The kitchen sink, for example is no place for water to collect. When used, it must be left clean and above all, it must be dried.

Eric is under the illusion that because on a few occasions when he wished for something to happen and it did, that he has magical powers. When dad loses his job forcing shrew-like mother to support her family, Eric thinks his magic causes his father to eventually find a new job.

In the basement of their home, Eric keeps a large bed spread under which he sings incantations when he hopes to right any situation that has spun out of control which seems to be the norm for this family. He remembers well the time his father and unreasonable mother had a bitter fight and the only recourse dad had was to leave. Secretly, under his large incantation blanket, Eric wishes and hopes that his very rational father will return. When he does, Eric becomes convinced of his special powers.

In Where's My Wand? No one is permitted into the living room with its shag carpet and mismatched pieces of furniture both in color and form. In fact, If one dares enter that room, upon leaving, the intruder must rake the shag so that its furrows all run in the same direction. God forbid that a non-raked footprint be found.

Eric reminded me of Charlie Brown. He seemed destined to find hardship in everything. His teacher tells him during an exam, "Stop rushing through your test that way. You're not that smart." Outside of school, Eric runs into his least friend who bullies him more often than not. In spite of his taunts, Eric starts to feel sorry for this boy when he realizes he is partially deaf.

Where's My Wand is both wonderfully comical and pathetic. When grandma comes to visit, her cigarette lights the mattress in her room on fire. Bedlam ensues. Firemen are called. Before they ever leave the house, Eric's mother is scrubbing down the smoke laden walls with detergent and water. She's given her husband his own bucket and scrub brush even though it's early A.M. Nothing can stand in the way of a sterile house. She gives Granny her final directive: this is the very last time you will visit.

But the lazy hazy days of childhood should eventually give way to ever increasing understanding about the world, sex, self-identity, love, death, and relationships. At twelve, Eric is just beginning his spurt to manhood. Will he find his way or will life forever taunt him? This is the fascinating story behind Where's My Wand? I would recommend this book to readers who like a very light read, filled with comical text, but at the same time, a read crammed with pathos for a very dysfunctional family. One will come away with the feeling, "How lucky I was!"

The Woman in the Fifth
Douglas Kennedy
1451602111, $16.00

Author Douglas Kennedy is an artist. Like a painter who uses brush strokes to flesh out a person's individuality on canvas, author Kennedy uses an abundant amout of skillful dialogue. A reader cannot help but learn about a person's character by the sheer amount of dialogue in his latest novel, The Woman in the Fifth. In my mind, this is skillful writing, not mere story-telling.

Sucked down the societal drainpipe from a scandal in his American hometown where he had been a dignified professor, Harry Ricks empties into the dregs of the Parisian scene. Is such a sewer place possible? Well in The Woman in the Fifth it is. With only the money he's succored from a bank account where he left at least half to his beloved daughter, Harry rents a gutter-like room in Paris' noir element.

Suffocating in self pity, meaninglessness, and hopelessness, Harry merely tries to pass away his life in bars, salons, and movie theaters, convincing himself he is writing a good salable novel. Realizing his bank account will run out, Harry begins working for a shady man who pays him daily to sit through the night in a second floor "office" to buzz in undesirables into the vault-like room below him. Harry knows something illicit, even punishing, is going on but is afraid to get involved even after he hears horrific agonized shrieks through the floor - so badly does he need money.

At a strange salon, Harry meets and then falls in love with an odd woman who likes his body and sexual prowess, but she can only see him at definite times on certain days of the week in her apartment on the fifth. This lovely but bizarre woman spills out her guts to Harry. She reveals that she lost both her Husband and daughter in an automobile accident years ago. Harry has lost his wife and daughter in a somewhat contrived, unfair scandal.

After patrons leave a bar, a lonely barmaid locks the tavern door and in my mind, she forces Harry to screw her. All the while, this lurid lust-filled woman knows her jealous husband will murder Harry if he learns of their frenzied copulation. Well, of course he finds out! He is on the rampage to knife off Harry's testicles and to slit his throat as well.

But in The Woman in the Fifth, the very opposite occurs. This man is found brutally murdered; so is Harry's sleezy neighbor in the boarding next room next to his; so are people involved in whatever-is-going-on in the room beneath Harry's "office." Harry becomes a chief suspect in ALL the murders. He is questioned, but discloses little damaging information simply because he truly knows little.

At rock bottom, Harry revisits The Woman in the Fifth apartment he had met and confided in at the etheral timeless salon. To his complete chimera, her apartment is dusty - cobweb covered. This beloved woman died many years ago. WHAT! Does this make sense to the reader? Of course not! Does it make sense to Harry? Never! The scene is reminiscent of Charles Dickens' Great Expectations: the room where jilted Miss Havisham's wedding feast sits decaying amidst the ruinous remains of her wedding day.

How are these incongruous events to make sense? Can they make sense? Is Harry succumbing to the same fever that kept him sheltered for many days upon his pained arrival in beautiful Paris? Has time somehow passed him by or is he living in an even grander deceit than he first thought?

The Woman in the Fifth is a read that could easily leave you engrossed till its final pages. The ending is odd, strange, peculiar, different, bizarre, outlandish, weird - I haven't enough adjectives to describe it. It may leave you intrigued like the movie Ghost, or it may leave you disappointed that a more sensational realistic ending did not occur.

Needless to say. Readers will find The Woman in the Fifth hard to put down hoping for a climax befitting its dangerous story. I would recommend it to readers who love the mysterious, the mystifying, the baffling, the unearthly, the incredible. In the end, whatever judgement you pass upon this work, you will have to admit it was entertaining and well written.

The Map of Time
Felix J. Palma
1439167397, $26.00

The Map of Time by Felix J. Palma is an extremely busy book that provokes the mind in many exciting ways. At one and the same time, it celebrates the advances of knowledge not just in the year 1888, but in what would be the imagined world of a much more recent time - the year of 2000. To enjoy this story, the reader must accept the somewhat primitive but scientific advances of an era over one hundred years ago. Let your imagination reign free.

Wealthy Andrew Harrington falls madly in love with a lowly but beautiful prostitute. He visits her each night where he pays her for an entire night of sexual indulgence rather than just a few minutes/hours. Love develops; powerful love. To his horror, Andrew arrives at his beloved's single room flat to find her shredded by the knife of Jack the Ripper, his fifth victim.

Maddened, Andrew uses the help of H.G. Wells and his contrived time machine to take himself back in time to prevent his true love's murder. Wells accepts the challenge. Andrew slips back to the night of her killing and in self-defense after being stabbed, he kills Jack the Ripper. Anxiously, he expects events to be changed when he returns to his own time. But there are problems.

In The Map of Time, Wealthy Clair Haggerty pays an enormous sum to Murray's Time Travel to witness a battle in the year 2000 where a heroic struggle takes place to save the earth. Entering 2000, all of London appears destroyed. As Clair watches an epic display of swordsmanship, an Adonis like human figure destroys the leader of the mechanical robots who are liquidating the human species from the planet.

Refusing to return to her own time, Clair does not re-enter Murray's Time Travel machine. She slips away hoping to rendezvous with the warrior hero whose physical presence has obsessed her. Luck does not hold. Captured, she is forced back into the time machine - but she has accidentally left behind her parasol.

Back in her own time, her hero attempts to return her umbrella. Now he falls madly in love with Clair whose only desire is to return back to 2000 with him. Her Adonis-like lover seeks H.G. Wells help in realigning the time periods of their two universes. But there are problems.

In part three of The Map of Time, H.G. Wells himself must use his wits to save one of his own classic manuscripts - The Invisible Man. Why? Only Wells and his wife have read the tale. Yet in London above the body of a dead man, Wells finds the first lines of his manuscript scribbled. Someone knows the entirety of Wells classic story even before it is completely written. H.G. Wells wants to time travel to find out how this could be possible. But there are problems.

The Map of Time, while written in three singular parts, is in truth a neat cohesive whole. Each part intercepts the others, quite often as a surprise, including the very last two chapters of the book. The author's characters are well drawn; the scenes are well played out and vividly described. As a whole, I found the book fascinating. Each part is long enough for readers to get inside the heads and feelings of important characters.

I would highly recommend The Map of Time to readers who like fiction where historical figures come alive to act out astonishing, but imaginary and motivating roles appropriate for their fame in their own time.

If the book seems a bit long and/or wordy, I'm convinced it was the intention of author Felix A. Palma to pen prose suitable for Victorian era writers and readers. In many ways, this very descriptive language truly drew me into his story much like some of the classical Victorian literature of long ago.

Regis Schilken, Reviewer

Richard's Bookshelf

Miles Away...Worlds Apart
Alan Sakowitz
Legacy Series Press, LLC
1111 Kane Concourse, Suite 401 F
Bay Harbor Islands, Florida 33154
9780615382401, $27.95

Alan Sakowitz, award winning author, has written an account of his involvement as whistleblower of South Florida's largest fraud scheme. "Miles Away...Worlds Apart" is Alan Sakowitz's inside description of how the Rothstein's Ponzi scheme worked. He also details how he detected the fraud and why he reported it to the FBI.

Sakowitz provides a key explanation for each subterfuge he uncovered to provide the reader with indispensable information they may need to protect themselves from becoming the victims of fraud in the future.

"Miles Away... Worlds Apart" is:

Entertaining - The book reads like a legal/thriller novel.

Informative - The book is a clarion call to take caution when investing.

Empowering - The book provides imperative action steps to making wise decisions.

Inspirational - The book inspires readers to make the world a better place.

Character Building - The book provides stories of men of integrity, those who assume personal responsibility, are role models to their children, and who are concerned for individuals and for others in their community.

Sakowitz's writing is authentic and authoritative. It is written with a genuine passion and sensitivity. Alan writes to inform the reader how to protect themselves from the danger of deception and to provide tools to improve their lives.

I was deeply moved by the tribute Alan paid his parents as well as in wife's parents. The other stories of individuals within his community and acquaintanceship demonstrate how they find their inner strength, love, and generosity by living according to moral standards while helping others.

"Miles Away...Worlds Apart" has left an indelible impression on me, of the important difference we can make in our personal world of influence. A truly remarkable book.

I received a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes with no obligation to post a positive review.

100 Days of Favor
Joseph Prince
Charisma House
600 Rinehart Road, Lake Mary, Florida 37246
9781616384494, $15.99

Living in the Consciousness of God's Unmerited Favor

Joseph Prince challenges the reader to commit to embark on spiritual journey focusing on God's unconditional love. He follows up with practical suggestions for practicing the presence of God, immersing yourself in His Word, losing and saturating yourself in His unmerited favor.

"100 Days of Favor" is made up of daily readings, made up of an excerpt from Prince's earlier book "Unmerited Favor," a faith-building title, a truth from the scriptures, a prayer focus, and a place for reflection on favor, using a journal approach, each day. The inspirational excerpts provide practical pointers for becoming Jesus conscious and for reflecting on his grace, love, and favor, allowing his beauty, warmth, and radiance to ready us for our day's activities and relationships. An unhurried fifteen minute commitment daily will help the reader:

Establish a Biblical foundation for daily living.

Empower your prayer life.

Increase your faith.

Provide you with peace, security, and protection.

Help you move from self dependency to the power of God dependency.

Joseph Prince is known for his fresh practical approach to teaching and preaching the message of Gospel. His writing reflects this same freshness, and empowerment.

"100 Days of Favor" is a powerful tool and valuable resource for Christian's at every stage of life.

I received a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes with no obligation to post a positive review.

Someone's Son: A Mother's Fight for Her Gay, Drug Addicted Son
Brenda Rhodes
WinePress Publishing
P. O. Box 428, Enumclaw, WA 98022
9781606150177, $15.99

A Heart Wrenching Story of A Mother's Love

Although only a few readers will have experienced the ongoing traumatic trials experienced by Brenda Rhodes in her story: "Someone's Son: A Mother's Fight for Her Gay, Drug Addicted Son" most of us will be able to identify with Brenda's helplessness, uncertainty, and the need to turn to God for strength, comfort and leading in face of our individual testing.

Brenda's childhood was a roller coaster of ups and downs as her parents tried to work out her mother's deep emotional problems and her father's attraction to other women, Brenda became angry with God when her father died of a brain tumor at 59 years old. She lived in a state of rebellion against God for the next 23 years.

Three broken marriages later, Brenda continued to work at creating a healthy home environment by doubling her efforts to fill the role of dual parenting in her single parent status.

Even with all of the difficulties during these early years Brenda was unprepared for the unexpected announcement her 26 year old son Ronal Paul made when he revealed that he was gay. Later he became addicted to drugs, and was infected with AIDS.

Rhodes writes of her personal suffering as she fights to maintain a relationship with her family and son as he becomes more demanding, self centered, and belligerent as a result of the drug abuse.

Her story will touch your heart, inspire your faith, and introduce a new awareness of the struggle and serious issues involved when sexual abuse robs a child of their innocence. Ronal Paul carried the burden of his abuse under threat from the predator and as an adult became addicted to sex and drugs in an effort to fill the void left through the absence of a father in the home.

Although I sometimes found it difficult to follow the timeline of the story because of fragments, back stories and incidents introduced out of sequence, I found I was entranced with Brenda's account, felt an empathy, cried with her at times, felt anger and confusion with her at other times, and was deeply moved as she related her experience of retuning to the Lord at the lowest point in her life of overwhelming crisis.

"Someone's Son: A Mother's Fight for Her Gay, Drug Addicted Son" is a timely and important story. Heartwarming, inspirational, and informative.

I received a complimentary copy of this book for review purposes with no obligation to post a positive review.

With God All Things Are Possible
Tim Clark
Dog Ear Publishing
4010 /w, 86th Street, Ste H, Indianapolis, IN 46268
9781457502224, $14.95

Finding and Fulfilling Your Life Mission in Spite of Difficult Circumstances

"With God All Things Are Possible" is Tim Clark's story. Born with one arm and no legs Tim's competitive nature helped him to lead an extraordinary life. The book combines inspiration, motivation, and detailed accounts of Tim's athletic competitions, including the disappointment of loss, and the exhilaration of victory. The chapter titled "Do You Believe in Miracles" is a must read for anyone facing "impossible hurdles," for anyone looking for an increase in faith, or a new sense of mission.

Tim looks at himself as just a normal guy with a positive attitude gifted by God in unique ways to accomplish His mission through Tim's faith, obedience, and determined commitment to excel. Tim shares his story of triumph as an Athlete with one arm and no legs in his inspiration memoir "With God All Things Are Possible."

Tim's achievements include:

Varsity Wrestling in High School and College

Competitive Table Tennis

A 50 Yard Freestyle Swim (in 45 seconds)

A 10K run without his prosthetics (completing the run in less that an hour and a half)

Winner of the prestigious KCCC Alex George Award

A Graduate from the University of Kansas with a Degree in Business

Throughout Tim's writing he displays a sense of genuine humility, subtle humor, and a positive attitude resulting from his unwavering faith, relentless determination, and drive to excel. A wonderful inspiring, motivating, and enjoyable read.

I received a complimentary review copy of this book in exchange for an honest objective review.

Awakening the One New Man
Robert F. Wolff
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257-0310
9780768438543, $16.99

God's Plan for Peace and Reconciliation between the Jew and the Gentile

Robert F. Wolff has collaborated with a broad spectrum of the worlds leading Messianic and Gentiles promoting reconciliation among believers in this compilation of essays "Awakening the One New Man,"

A unique feature in the discussions of these authors and theologians is that they go beyond talking about the place of Israel in end times. They describe God's purpose and plan for His Kingdom as a message of peace and reconciliation between the Jew and the Gentile. God is calling us (Christian and Messianic Jew) to be the "One New Man" described in Ephesians 2:14 - 16: To identity with the Messiah that opens a relationship with God and to walk as joint heirs with Him, Jew and Gentile.

I was fascinated with Peter Tsukarhir's contribution as an Asian American Israeli. He concludes with formula for prayer for the peace of Jerusalem as one that calls for the Prince of Peace to rule in the hearts of Jerusalem's people and that He will bring Jews and Gentiles together as One New Man His beloved body, the end-time Bride.

Sandra Teplinsky uses the story of Ruth and Naomi from the Old Testament as the "Model of Reconciliation and Redemption." Jane Hansen Hoyt describes the Master Plan for "One New Man" as the reconciled, reunified body of Messiah.

The biographical sketches of the twelve contributing authors read like a "Who's Who" among Christian and Messianic leadership in a crusade to promote a World Peace Team through reconciliation. Other contributors include: Ray Gannon, Mitch Glaser, Craig Keener, Daniel Juster, Michael brown Jonathan Bernis, These writers are all articulate, passionate in their conviction, and convincing in their presentation.

Raleigh Washington and Bill McCartney well known for their active involvement in the Promise Keepers movement are recognized for their efforts in reconciling diversities among Christians and ethnic groups. Washington draws on the emphasis found in the prayer of Jesus found in John 17 calling for oneness.

McCartney sums up the heartbeat on one new man as meaning Jew and Gentile believers accepting god's providence and Jewish believers awakening to the call to walk together.

A complimentary review copy of this book was provided for a fair and honest review.

The Power of the Original Church: Turning the World Upside Down
Joseph L. Green
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257-0310
9780768437553, $15.99

A Compelling Challenge for Christians to Take a Stand Now

Pastor Joseph L. Green alerts the members of the body of Christ of the urgency of rediscovering the experience of the supernatural power of the Holy Spirit as the "norm" for Christian living in his book "The Power of the Original Church "Turning the World Upside Down."

Green invites the reader to join him in his journey, to lay aside their biases and preconceived ideas while pursuing the reading and related study of the resources provided here.

A gifted communicator Green articulates his personal journey and the revelations he discovered through his study of God's Word. It is a layman's journey into Biblical study, a study of biblical Hebrew and a deepening relationship with the Messiah. The principles presented are aimed at reenergizing the Church. This requires a backward glance to discover what happened to cause the decline in the Church's power and to determine what God intended to do through the Church.

The book is organized into four sections. Section I sets the foundation, tracing the church from the time immediately following Pentecost through its history through the second and third centuries. Section II explores changing times, a study of the feasts observed by the early church, their importance in the life and timing of Christ's birth, crucifixion, resurrection, and ascension. This section also highlights anti Semitism, legalism, and the impact of external influences on the church from the Roman and pagan cultures. Section III covers changing laws including a study of Satan's various attempts to create questions concerning the inspiration, inerrancy, and power of the Scripture. Section IV affirms the Christian acceptance of Christ as Messiah based on the prophecy and fulfillment that Elijah must come first.

A complimentary review copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.

God Out of Control, Out of the Box, Out of Time
Don Nori
Destiny Image Publishing, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, Pa 17257
9780768438307, $15.99

Guidelines to Experiencing Kingdom Living

"God Out of Control, Out of the Box, Out of Time" is a book that asks the hard questions:

* Why are many saints today leaving the organized church?

* Why are large numbers of young Americans losing their religion?

* Why the disenchantment with things spiritual practiced by Western Religion?

* Why the increased effort to thwart the advance of Christianity?

* Why does Christianity thrive in times of persecution?

The book is divided into three sections as outlined in the title. Well known author of dozens of books, founder of Destiny Image Publishing and International Christian Leader, Don Nori, Sr. offers answers to these questions by revealing how God operates outside the box, out of sync and time with the expectations of world leaders, philosophies, and secular religionists.

Don shares from his own life experiences to illustrate how by taking that first step of obedience to God's directive by faith he has seen God use the impossible and the unexpected to work miracles in publishing, in prophetic ministry, and in the extension of the Gospel. Nori writes from his heart in an uncomplicated direct style that is engaging, challenging, which calls for a commitment to taking action.

I found the prayers concluding each chapter to be worshipful, reflective mediations that provide spiritual inspiration and direction throughout the day. These prayers are a valuable resource for future in conjunction with other devotional reading and contemplative meditation.

In the concluding chapter of "God Out of Control, Out of the Box, Out of Time" Nori offers the reader additional specific instructions for personally an experiencing a life of Kingdom living.

A complimentary review copy of this book was supplied by the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Thorns in the Heart, Second Edition
Dr. Steven Stiles
Create Space
7290 B Investment Drive
Charleston, S. C. 29418
9781456585495 $14.99

Guidelines for Christians Dealing with Pain and Addiction

Steven Stiles is a graduate of American Baptist Seminary of the West (D.Min.). He is certified through the National Association of Alcohol and Drug Abuses Counselors. He is a pastor, a faculty member at Bethany University in Scotts Valley, California, and Western Seminary, in San Jose, California. He serves as clinical director at New Life Community Services in Santa Cruz, California where he provides counseling in drug and alcohol treatment.

This is the second edition of "Thorns in the Heart." The book is divided into four parts:

The Problem of Pain

Blocked Escape Routes

Imprisoned by Pain

Suggestions for Continuing the Journey

Actual case studies have been drawn on to illustrate how physical and emotional pain increases the susceptibility to sin when we, as Christians, avoid dealing with pain. Dr. Stiles offers the reader guideline for a path of recovery.

These studies provide positive steps which will enable the reader to recognize how to deal with the pain of:

Addiction Compulsion and Pain

Emotional and Physical Pain

Depression and Co-Dependency

I especially appreciated Dr. Stiles' discussion on seeing pain from God's perspective and how to cope with the areas of pain mentioned above. He helps the reader understand how to respond to pain while finding hope and purpose and transformation through pain.

The case studies illustrating diversions and temporary relief from pain are especially interesting. I also gained insights from Stiles' discussion of stress, depression, anxiety, and anger. Stiles' suggested alternative ways to deal with the accompanying emotions were also helpful. At a place when my external and internal circumstances put me in the throes of unexpected emotional pain I have found the book meaningful and helpful.

"Thorns in the Heart," although offering some deep and profound insights is not intended to be a substitute for professional counseling in cases where the reader is unable or unwilling to apply and assimilate the guidelines provided in the book. Nor is it intended to be a textbook on pain and addiction. However Dr. Stile's writing and guidelines are worthy of being on resource and reading lists for counseling courses, for pastor and lay counseling training, for personal use, or as a discussion guide for small group study.

A complimentary review copy of the book was provided by the author's representative in exchange for a fair and honest review.

Journey on the Hard Side of Miracles: The True Story of Big Bad Green
Steven Stiles
Nexus Media Management
101 Hickey Blvd. Suite A164, South San Francisco, CA 94080
9781461152095, $13.99

Lessons Learned While Traveling Through the Wilderness with Big Bad Green in a Growing Outreach Ministry

Steven Stiles uses a unique approach in relating this story of supernatural events. He puts the focus on the lessons in faith learned from miraculous answers to prayer, a ministry vision, and God given dreams. Stiles takes the reader back to an era in the late 1960s as he introduces the reader to a group of smiling, hugging Jesus people in an environment of communes, festivities, marches, coffee houses, emerging sub cultures, street ministries, and Para-church outreaches.

Stories related in the book focus on Jesus. They are stories of transformed lives and of following the leadership of "the shepherd" in times of trouble, danger, brokenness, and blessing. They are stories of seeing God's provision and listening for his direction in times of "unexpected" turns and detours.

Using a first person narrative Stiles relates how he became a youth minister, in a church in Santa Cruz, California. The ministry blossomed as youth were brought in from the streets by bus. He tells of a ministry of evangelism and of Youth Concert tours on a bus named "Big Bad Green," which grew into a ministry to the poor and needy, then led to opportunities in prison ministry and a far reaching International ministry.

"Journey on the Hard Side of Miracles: The True Story of Big Bad Green" holds the potential of a wide audience. Support ministry staff working behind the scenes as mechanics, bus drivers, and technical personnel, musicians, youth leaders (professional and lay) as well as outreach directors, pastors and board members will all find lessons in the miracles behind the miles of this unique ministry.

A complimentary review copy of the book was provided by a representative of the author with no stipulations regarding the content or rating of the review.

Proof of the Afterlife: The Conversation Continues
Br. Gary Joseph
Mercy Books
Servants of the Father of Mercy
P.O. Box 42001, Los Angeles, CA 90042
9780615410098, $19.95

God Encounters: A Story of Love, Mercy, Forgiveness, and Reconciliation

"Proof of the Afterlife: The Conversation Continues" is a beautifully written account of a most unusual experience. In July of 2005 Br.Gary Joseph made a commitment to establish a dialog and relationship with God as a top priority.

Joseph writes to shed light on life-giving communication with God in the midst of commuting, routine activities, and responsibilities to help the reader learn how to hear from God and how to enter into conversation with Him.
He helps the reader understand that the results of these conversations are evidenced by:

a growing peace in their heart
an ongoing dialog with God
and a continuing conversation with deceased and living loved ones

This kind of experience requires:

a humble heart
an open mind
a spirit of "charity" (love)

Brother Gary Joseph S.F.M. draws from dated entries in his personal contemplative journals to relate experiences, reflections, revelations, illuminations, and locutions in his book. He includes his thoughts on miracles of healing, visions, and after death experiences.

The author's writing is engaging, sincere, and articulate. His views are influenced by is training and service within the Catholic community. As the story progresses Brother Gary shares incidents and conversations with his father, mother, brother, cousin, and other family members and friends.

This is a book for anyone in the midst of family concerns, faltering relationships, or other life challenges. "Proof of the Afterlife: The Conversation Continues" offers hope with a message of love, mercy, forgiveness and reconciliation.

In exchange for a fair and honest review I was provided a complimentary review copy of the book by the author.

Richard R. Blake

Riva's Bookshelf

Summer in Galilee
Juliette de Bairacli Levy
Ash Tree Publishing
PO Box 64, Woodstock, NY 12498,
9781888123067, $24.95

With timeless, breathtaking prose Juliette de Bairacli Levy paints a stunning picture of life on Sea of Galilee with her children during a summer spent on its shores. In Summer in Galilee we are treated to an intimate view of the area and its history by a woman who dwelled there with her family of two children many years ago.

In Summer in Galilee Juliette de Bairacli Levy tells the story of Tiberias, both past and present. She offers a close up view into the lives of religious Jews and into her own life as a Jew. She offers hope as a Jew, a Gypsy, who doesn't care for the nationality of a person, whether Jew or Arab but sees each person as an individual.

I found Summer in Galilee to be engrossing. I enjoyed every moment spent in its pages. Juliette de Bairacli Levy lived a fascinating life during her time in Galilee. Except when the Sea of Galilee was tempestuous she refers to it as the Lake of Galilee for that is what it put her more in mind of. We are treated to her life on its shores, her travels, her views on the history of the area, her knowledge of folklore and medicinal plants. As you turn each page you learn more about the area, the history, the plants and this interesting woman who lived her life in a manner as natural as the world around.

I highly recommend Summer in Galilee. It is entrancing and you will find yourself wrapped up in each and every page, reluctant to put it down and leave the magic of Juliette de Bairacli Levy's wonderful prose and the world as she shows it behind you.

S.L. Pierce
B004TNHPZ2 $0.99 (kindle)

Secrets by S.L. Pierce is a very interesting story about a female former intelligence agent/assassin who is attacked in her home by a would-be murderer, whom she of course kills instead.

What follows is an intricately laid out mystery that delves into the world of developing new computer super chips and industrial espionage. When the man Gwen believes hired the assassin to kill her is shot right before her eyes, Gwen, and her husband Jack, must discover who killed the killer is, why Sam was killed and if whoever killed him is after Gwen.

I really enjoyed this story. I liked that it had a strong female lead who wasn't waiting for some man to come along and rescue her. I liked the storyline, the industrial espionage angle was completely believable. I liked Pierce's characters and the fact that while Gwen's husband Jack was able to accept Gwen's past because he loved her, he wasn't a pushover either, although I personally would have been a little more upset than he appeared to be.

Overall it was an interesting novel with several interesting twists along the way. The clues to most of the mystery were laid out in the novel and all the questions raised in the book were answered by the end. I found it to be a very interesting and rather unusual read. I would definitely recommend it. It was a great escape into a land of spies and murder most of us, fortunately, don't get to live, but this one woman Gwen, along with her husband did. It was good, really good.

Prince William & Kate: A Royal Romance
Matt Doeden
Gateway Biographies
Lerner Publishing Group, Inc
241 First Avenue North, Minneapolis, MN 55401 USA
9780761380290 $26.60, paperback $8.95

In today's modern era of communication and instant news it's hard to admit knowing practically nothing about Prince William and Kate Middleton, now the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge, but that is where I was. I knew William was the son of the late Princess Diana and Prince Charles and therefore destined one day to be king. I knew Kate came from a "commoner's" background, but had precious little else in my arsenal of knowledge about the two.

Prince William & Kate: A Royal Romance helped changed all that. It briefly, but succinctly filled in the pertinent details. Where each had gone to school when younger, their mutual interest in sports, William's desire to make a career in the military, how the two ended up at the same rather exclusive school, Saint Andrews, and the course of their relationship and subsequent courtship.

It was nice to hear the details of their everyday lives. How they were friends before they were a couple, a must in this day and age, and how they simply seem suited to each other on so many levels were explored. It was the quintessential novices guide to the lives and the love affair of Prince William and Kate Middleton. It was the story behind the fairy tale and I enjoyed it immensely.

I recommend it to teens wishing to gain some background on the young royal couple, to American's, who like me may be sadly lacking in knowledge of the royal duo or to history aficionados who want to have on hand a book that briefly and concisely gives the most pertinent points of history in the lives, from childhood on, of the royal pair, Prince William and Kate Middleton, now the Duke and Duchess of Cambridge.

Hoopskirts, Union Blues and Confederate Grays
Kate Havelin
Twenty-First Century Books
a division of Lerner Publishing Group, Inc.
241 First Avenue North, Minneapolis, MN 55401 USA
9780761358893, $23.64 from

I found Hoopskirts, Union Blues and Confederate Grays by Kate Havelin to be really fascinating. I picked the title more out of curiosity than anything else, but then found myself deeply engrossed in the material. I didn't realize fashion of the American Civil War era was so complex.

It was made apparent as I read that there was an entire world of fashion I had never understood. Words from period books took on new meaning as I came to understand what pantaloons really were, what a waistcoat was and how a corselet differed from a corset.

I really learned a lot about the fashion of the period and will certainly refer back to the book as a reference in my own writing to make certain I get the words and descriptions right when referring to clothing of this period. It was a surprisingly interesting read.

I would recommend it to anyone who reads a great deal of literature from this period, as well as for anyone seeking to write novels set during this time. I'm sure it would also be of interest to fashion or students of the culture of a bygone era.

A Soldier's Embrace
Julie Romero
Bluewood Publishing Limited
Christchurch, 8441, New Zealand
9781877546136, Paperback $14.99, Kindle $6.99

A Soldier's Embrace by Julie Romero is an interesting and enjoyable romance that focuses on the best elements of romance, love, sexual tension and unfulfilled desires, while also providing a compelling story as the backdrop of the tale.

Elizabeth Davenport is a pampered Denver socialite whose world is turned upside down when she is kidnapped by stagecoach robbers and then rescued by handsome Army Lieutenant Eric Ryan. Pushed to the edge by her circumstances Elizabeth finds herself hopelessly drawn to the Lieutenant, but is it love, and more importantly are her feelings returned by this man who can have any woman he wants.

Eric Ryan is a man pursued by demons, convinced there is no woman he can love and plagued by remorse over the death of his first wife who died alone waiting for him to return from duty. Elizabeth Davenport gets under his skin, but his love is for the military and nothing is going to get in the way of his hard won career. Despite being drawn to Elizabeth, Eric is determined to stay away from her and let her have the type of live he thinks she deserves, that is until fate takes a hand.

Elizabeth's father is a Denver banker who has been robbed and is facing total disaster so he calls in the Feds, in the form of Lieutenant Ryan and his men, to protect his bank. Whether they will be able to keep it safe from the ruthless men seeking to rob it remains to be seen, but when Eric faces Elizabeth again he realizes what has been stolen is heart and with Elizabeth about to marry another man hand chosen by her father, he may be too late to do anything about it.

I greatly enjoyed Romero's storytelling skill and her ability to draw you into the love story growing between the characters, even when they were apart from one another. I loved her idea of setting the story in the "wild west" with brave West Point graduates, ruthless robbers and even some Indians thrown into the mix. I thought she did an excellent job and maintaining both an engrossing storyline and a well-developed romance and when it was over she left me wanting more. I definitely recommend A Soldier's Embrace to all believers in true love. It makes you believe in love all over again as you experience what it is to fall in love for the very first time and then face losing it all. A definite must read for romance fans.

Tracy M. Riva

Sandra's Bookshelf

Before You Launch Your Business: How to Decide If Being an Entrepreneur Is for You
Ruchira Agrawal
InnerVeda House
2627 Shaughnessy Street, Port Coquitlam, BC, V3C OE1
9780986839009, $9.99

What I liked so much about this little book is its "Honesty." The author is so forthcoming in whether you should, or should not start up a business in today's economy. Some people think because they have the money everything should be okay. But the author shows you it takes more than money to be successful.

She has you take several quizzes to make sure you have the personality for the type of business you want to start. Then tells us it is always good to have the support of family or friends. The author tells you of several web sites you can go to, to find help you may need.

It is so refreshing to read an honest book. It does not tell you how to make a million dollars, but explains to the reader if they have what it takes to make it in business.

Faded Lives
Edward T. Vaughan
7290 Investment Drive, S.C. 29418
9781453804971, $14.99

What I first loved about this book was the cover. Then when I read the book and discovered the importance of the picture, no other picture could have given the story justice.

Mark Stephens has felt guilty every since he was not able to make it in time to see his grandpa before he died. So when time passed he jumped at the chance to help his grandma when she called. It was one week he would never forget. While he feasted on all the good country food his grandmother made; he also learned about his grandma and the history of her family.

Every day as he helped his grandma get things in order, she would share with him what had gone on in her family growing up. It is those stories that make this book good. It is more than just an interesting read, as you will find you can't wait until grandma Emily talks again.

It is the ending that I found so beautiful and peaceful. I can't tell you why, but that is my perception. I found it hard to believe this is a first time author.

Night Corridor
Joan Hall Hovey
Books We Love Publishing Partners (BWLPP)
192 Lakeside Greens Drive
Chestermere, Alberta, TIX 1C2
9781926965567, $13.89 paperback, $2.99 ebook on Amazon

Caroline Hill has spent the last nine years of her life in a mental hospital. When she was a teenager she had a baby, and her daughter was literally taken from her arms and put up for adoption. Caroline was begging for her baby and slowly sank into a world that would take her nine years to climb out of.

As she enters into a new society she begins to wonder if she can make it. But the words of her doctors at the hospital keep coming back to her. To takes things one step at a time. She has a job and her very own room in a boarding house.

What she is about to encounter is something no one could of dreamed of. This book is intricately plotted and will surprise even the most devoted mystery or suspence reader. I challenge any reader to stop on page 190 of this 255 page book, to tell me who is the real serial murderer. The answer will surely blow you away. It did me.

8-Track Flashbacks
Tom Alt
1935 S. Plum Road, #349, Palatine, IL 60067
9781935766124, $11.99

This book is really unique and I love it. Each chapter lists the news of that time frame, sports report and what the author is doing. Plus, what I loved most is the number one song at that time. I could argue the number one song with the author, but then you would all know how old I am. This book has the struggles and the joys of growing up in the author's life. I laughed so hard when he was twelve and had his first date of sorts. He was meeting a girl at the movie theater and he kept sniffing his pits and wiping his hands dry. Then trying to figure out whether to hold the girl's hand or put his arm over her shoulder. The reason I found it so funny, is because I remember when I was twelve, and meeting a boy at the theater. I was worried about bad breath and was blowing into my hands and then sniffing to see if my breath was ok. Then I wondered if he was going to hold my hand or put his arm over my shoulders. If not my friends would make fun of me. I would be an outcast at only twelve years old. I only bring this up because I think that was the last year of innocence for our generation.

Tom went through the pain of his father leaving and his mom drinking all the time. She would hit him for no reason, except for the alcohol.

We follow the author all the way through puberty, sports and college. I have laughed and felt sad when he was. Learning lessons the hard way. Our generation was the largest but I think we had the most fun also. I hated it when this book came to an end. I have enjoyed going back in time and reading about Tom's story. I wish he would write more. I mean after all, he has left us with, "I can't get no satisfaction."

Auraria Dead
Melody Scott
Wolfmont Press
238 Park Drive NE Ranger, GA30703
9781603640381, $14.00 paperback, and $6.99 for ebook

Maria Sebastian was in an abusive marriage for years. When she finally found a way to leave, she did and never looked back. She ran to a new state and started a career in real estate that she loved. Then after fifteen years her past comes back to haunt her. Maria finds her father has secrets she would have never imagined. Her boyfriend Mason, seems to be hiding things of his own. Her crazy cousin inadvertently gets her in trouble and someone wants her dead.

She comes home one day and someone had broken into her house. They destroyed everything they could. Then someone tries to run her over and last but not least, she is kidnapped. This is just a taste of a book filled with mystery, intrigued, suspense, and romance. A little bit of something for everyone. I liked this book. The flow of the book always held my interest.

A wise man told me that a good book will always leave you wanting more. Well... I wanted more.

Sandra Heptinstall

Suzie's Bookshelf

Code of Justice
Liz Johnson
Steeple Hill
P.O. Box 5190, Buffalo, NY 14240-5190
9780373444342, $5.50,

FBI Agent Heather Sloan and her sister Kit decides to spend a relaxing day together by taking a sightseeing helicopter tour over Mt. Saint Helens. They never anticipated that their peaceful day would turn into one of tragedy. Unexpectedly, their helicopter crashes and both Heather and Kit are gravely injured. Heather manages to survive the ordeal but her sister's leaves the world with a few last words of "Follow the drugs; those final words leave Heather with a chilling feeling that the crash was not an accident.

Multnomah County Sheriff Deputy Jeremy Latham is assigned to investigate the helicopter crash. His investigation determined that the crash was deliberate. Heather is forbidden by her Supervisor to assist in the case until she is fully healed. She goes against her bosses wishes and convinces Jeremy to allow her to work with him to find out what really was behind the crash.

Jeremy and Heather's investigation alerts the killer that the two are closing in; the murderer knows to silence the two he must put an end to Heather's life. Will Jeremy be able to stop the killer from succeeding in eliminating his target?

Code of Justice is one action packed adrenaline laced book! From page one the reader is immediately drawn into all the elements of suspense that makes it one award winning novel. I admire the way Liz Johnson is able to weave her plot around a host of twists and turns. Whenever I read one of her books I get the same sensation of riding a high rise amusement ride. I highly recommend any of Ms. Johnson's works, for each one is written with an emotional depth that is often missing from similar titles. Liz Johnson is a name you definitely should put on your next to be read list, for she provides the best for her readers.

Lilies in Moonlight
Allison Pittman
Multnomah Books
The WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group
12265 Oracle Blvd. Suite 200, Colorado Springs, CO 80921
9781601421388 $14.99,

Lilly Margolis lives a carefree life as a flapper. She is use to getting her way by using whatever talents she possesses. She decides one night to paint the town by crashing a party. As the alcohol flows freely Lilly finds herself consuming more than she should. Lilly finds herself suddenly dazed and confused; the next coherent thought she has is when she finds herself on the lawn of a wealthy family with a twisted ankle. When the housekeeper finds her, she is taken to meet the owners.

Cullen Burnside was disfigured in the Great War. He lives with his mother Betty Ruth who suffers from dementia. There world is filled with haunting memories of what could have been. When they are introduced to their intruder, Lilly Margolis she quickly provides the light that is missing from their days.

Lilly is not put off by Cullen's scars and his mother is quick to offer her acceptance into their family. Cullen finds that her zest for life is just what his home has been missing. Cullen knows that it is pointless to have feelings for Lilly for he knows he will have to return her to her own life.

Will Lilly be willing to set aside her wayward existence to stay with Cullen? Or will she let her selfish pride rule her thoughts and return to her previous way of living?

Lilies in Moonlight is another exceptional book written by Allison Pittman. Having read several of Ms. Pittman's books I can fully attest to her talent as a wonderful author. I admire her ability to take the reader back in time to the period of her story. Her expert research shows throughout the pages of Lilies in Moonlight. Cullen and Lilly are both wounded souls that are so deserving of love. You can't help but fall in love with both of them. You will find yourself holding your breath in anticipation of what decision Lilly makes to stay with Cullen or to return to her carefree existence. For any true blue romance fan the name Allison Pittman should be on your automatic buy list.

31 Days of Power - Learning to Live in Spiritual Victory
Ruth Myers with Warren Myers
Multnomah Books
The WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group
12265 Oracle Blvd. Suite 200
Colorado Springs, CO 80921
9781601423382, $12.99,

Evil is a destructive force that threatens to consume us. As Christ followers, we are the enemy's primary target. It is imperative that we stay committed to our faith and do not sway towards the temptation to walk the unrighteous path.

In 31 Days of Power - Learning to Live in Spiritual Victory Ruth and Warren Myers provides a daily devotional reading that will strengthen your faith in the Lord. It will offer thanks and praise to the great creator for he alone provides us a pathway to salvation.

For thirty one days, I started each day with reading the daily devotion found in 31 Days of Power - Learning to Live in Spiritual Victory as I closed the pages I felt a glowing power of positive energy radiate my body. It was though I knew that I could start each day and battle whatever obstacles that may be placed in my path.

I have always felt that books come into your life at the right and appropriate time in your life. There is no doubt that Ruth and Warren Myers book found me at a time in a life when I needed reminded that as a Christian I am loved by the Lord.

I feel this is the type of book that would get maximum results in a group setting. I could easily see it being incorporated into a Sunday school sermon. I feel that it would open the doors to allow one another to discuss what is troubling in their lives and how God's love has come into their lives and opened their eyes for the better.

A book such as 31 Days of Power - Learning to Live in Spiritual Victory is a true source of inspiration. It provides hope when you need it, the calming sensation that your soul requires, and a roadmap that will keep your faith true and strong.

Life, In Spite of Me: Extraordinary Hope After a Fatal Choice
Kristen Jane Anderson
Multnomah Books
The WaterBrook Multnomah Publishing Group
12265 Oracle Blvd. Suite 200, Colorado Springs, CO 80921
9781601423825, $13.99,

At seventeen, Kristen Anderson had experienced death of her three of her close friends and her grandmother. When she put her faith and trust in a close friend, he betrayed her by raping her. Kristen felt as though she had nothing to live for, and the only way she could end all of the hurt and pain was to end her life.

One cold and bitter January night, Kristen set her plan in auction to end in life. She decided the way she would die would be by laying down on a railroad track and allow a speeding locomotive to take away all of her pain and sorrow.

As the train approached Kristen prepared herself to die, but her wish to end her life did not go as she had planned. The train had succeeded in running over her, but instead of killing her instantly Kristen still found herself alive, but gravely injured.

Kristen miraculously survived the ordeal but she found herself a double amputee. When she awoke to discover herself alive and the consequences of her actions she went into a deeper depression. She pushed away those that tried to offer her comfort.

God had other plans for Kristen he picked her up when she was at her darkest hour. He was beside her as she learned to come to terms with her disability. He showed her that her life was worth living and she was still a beautiful woman.

Life, In Spite of Me: Extraordinary Hope After a Fatal Choice is a book that brought tears to my eyes and gave me renewed hope that no matter what obstacles are placed in your life that God is always there to see you through them. I feel this book is one that would be of benefit to any teenager to read. There is a deep message that deserves to be shared; how Kristen overcomes her darkest hours is one that I soon will not forget. I was very impressed with the level of detail that was provided of Kristen's story of inspiration I felt that it shows that God is an ever present in everyone's life no matter what they are experiencing. This book has renewed my faith that God will see you through some of your darkest days.

Suzie Housley

Theodore's Bookshelf

Live Wire
Harlan Coben
375 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780525952060, $27.95

To paraphrase the Bard: "The mistakes that men make live long after them." This thesis governs the plot of this latest Myron Bolitar novel. Except the errors Myron made were the result of deceptions or lies by others. So what lesson is to be learned?

While there might be a reason to summarize the tale, it ain't gonna happen here. The story has been told by others and I see no reason to waste time repeating. Needless to say, Myron (and his sidekick, Win) find themselves in another messy situation and have to fight their way out with all kinds of wiles and force. The tale begins many years earlier when Myron and his younger brother, Brad, have a falling out and Brad and his wife disappear from the Bolitars' lives, traveling and working out of the country. Now, 16 years later, Myron's father has a heart attack and asks Myron to find Brad.

The plea leads to various complications, and the author, with his accustomed plot twists, allows the reader to wend his or her way through a series of unrelated side plots until a graphic finale. The story moves swiftly, and as is customary the wisecracking Myron and enigmatic Win adorn the pages. Recommended.

Vienna Twilight
Frank Tallis
Random House
1745 Broadway, NY, NY 10019
9780812981001, $15.00

Human obsession with sex and death dominate this latest in the Max Liebermann Mystery series. And of course, the good doctor's psychoanalytic abilities, with only a cursory assist from Sigmund Freud, are the key to unraveling a series of murders of young women, with detective inspector Oskar Reinhardt, as usual, playing a supporting role, when he is not busy consuming Viennese pastries and Turkish coffee that is.

There are three unrelated mysteries which the pair have to solve: one in which women are murdered while having consensual sex; another of a patient of Liebermann who suffers from what is termed a Sophocles Syndrome; and the third, an unfortunate woman struggling to hide her past.

In many ways this novel, the fifth in the series, is not up to the level of its predecessors in terms of history, and the turn-of-the-century atmosphere of the Austrian capital. Nevertheless, it makes up for this lack with an abundance of psychoanalytic analysis, and is recommended.

The Troubled Man
Henning Mankell
Translated by Laurie Thompson
Alfred A. Knopf
1745 Broadway, NY, NY 10019
9780307593498, $25.95

Nothing is as it seems, and all good things come to an end. And so, the time has come to bid adieu to Kurt Wallander. But not before he undertakes a deeply introspective journey at the behest of his daughter, Linda, who has just made him a grandfather (although she and the baby's father have not yet decided to marry). It appears that her putative father-in-law, a retired naval commander, has disappeared, and she and her significant other, the man's son, ask Wallander to try to find out what happened. Is he the victim of foul play?

Wallander has vacation time available and undertakes to investigate, but not before the missing man's wife is found dead, perhaps murdered. Wallander muddles along, picking up all kinds of extraneous information, misleading clues, and, perhaps just as important, discerning more about himself as he more frequently suffers from lapses of memory.

The author is well-known for his ability to address significant political themes in his novels. And this last Wallander novel is no exception, delving deeply into the Cold War, and Sweden's "neutrality" policy. I found the novel somewhat slow reading and difficult, and wonder if it is the writing or the translation. Nevertheless, it is a touching look at "the great detective," and is recommended.

Rizzo's Fire
Lou Manfredo
Minotaur Books
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9780312538064 $24.99,

There are many police procedurals, but few on the down and dirty street level of veteran detective Joe Rizzo, who has been around long enough to have collected all sorts of favors, seen most of everything possible in Brooklyn and developed his own set of standards, ignoring, often, "the book" but solving "the crime."

After wandering around for the first part of the novel, in which the characters are established and Rizzo's new, black, gay, female partner is introduced, and some amusing situations set the stage, the detectives catch a murder of an old recluse. At first blush, it appears to be a break-in, but nothing seems to be missing. Meanwhile, across the river in Manhattan, a Pulitzer Prize-winning playwright is also murdered. The MO's are similar, and the investigation progresses, as Rizzo puts it, by him following his nose.

This entertaining, but serious, book is the second in the series. Rizzo is depicted as a wise-cracking, street-wise cop, but he is very human. Throughout the novel, he faces torment when his youngest daughter decides to join "the cops." He is convinced it is a wrong choice for her, but is he man enough to stand by her decision? The book is well-written and enjoyable, and recommended.

Murder in Passy
Cara Black
Soho Crime
853 Broadway, NY, NY 10003
9781569478820 $25.00

As Bogey said: "We'll always have Paris." Or at least as long as Cara Black keeps writing the Aimee Leduc series, set in the City of Lights. This is the 11th entry in the series, and is a bit different from its predecessors. While its setting is still a particular area of Paris, this time a "posh" neighborhood, the plot is different, involving the Basque "independence" movement rather than some criminal mystery, and the charms of Paris get but fleeting mentions along the way.

The essential mystery is the murder of Commissaire Morbier's girlfriend, for which he is being charged. Apparently, he is being pressured to reveal the identity of an informant, and is being given no choice, unless Aimee comes up with the real murderer.

Written with the customary charm of a native Parisian (although the author is really based in San Francisco), Aimee once again shows the characteristics of Superwoman, bounding high fences and even more daunting feats. A fast read, but no less enjoyable for that. Recommended.

Afraid of the Dark
James Grippando
10 E. 53rd St., NY, NY 10022
9780061840289, $25.99,

Contemporary themes are a trademark of a James Grippando novel, and this one is no exception. It boasts at leas two: Guantanamo, and data mining, the collection and sale of personal information over the internet. How these two topics intertwine form the basis of the plot, which is kind of unusual for the Jack Swyteck series, which usually revolves around his defense attorney law practice.

Instead, it begins with Swyteck defending a Gitmo detainee and obtaining his release, only to see the ex-prisoner arrested for murder. Then Jack becomes involved in investigating not only the murder of his client, but several others as well, while side topics involving pornography, black interrogation centers operated overseas by private CIA contractors, and an undercover FBI operation in which Jack's fiancee is acting as an undercover agent complicate matters.

Pardon the pun, but it is a gripping tale, full of suspense and twisted characters. The plot gets a little complicated from time to time, but in the end it all logically comes together, and is recommended.

Started Early, Took My Dog
Kate Atkinson
Little, Brown, 237 Park Ave., NY, NY 10017
9780316066730 $24.99,

Be forewarned: This is not an easy book to read. It has a complicated plot, filled with a wide assortment of characters, and jumps back and forth both in time and between circumstances. It flits episodically so that this reader, at least, became confused more than once. It was work to read, despite some excellent prose.

The main story involves Tracy Waterhouse, a zaftig ex-cop, now chief of security at a mall, who on a whim buys a young girl from a dope-addicted prostitute, and Jason Brodie, now a PI who is pursuing the quest of a New Zealand woman to find her birth parents, or information about them (she, obviously, was adopted). Then there are all kinds of other individuals who come and go, and eventually play a part in the mystery, as the story twists and turns.

If you have the stamina and patience to tackle the book, reading and rereading passages, paragraphs and whole sections, as I had to, it is a worthwhile endeavor. But be prepared. With this caveat, the novel is recommended.

A Lesson in Secrets
Jacqueline Winspear
10 E. 53rd St., NY, NY 10022
9780061727672, $25.99,

The common characteristics of the Maisie Dobbs series are the growth in the character, developments over time and, of course, current events. In the present novel Maisie, who served as a nurse in France during World War I (after having been a servant girl before), has grown over the years, mentored by Dr. Maurice Blanche. Now, in 1932, she has been made independently wealthy as Blanche's heir, profitably operating her investigation business, and is ripe for a new adventure.

Before he died, Blanche predicted that intelligence work for the crown was in Maisie's future. And so, it comes to pass that she is recruited to participate in an investigation being conducted by the joint efforts of Scotland Yard's Special Branch and the Secret Service. She is to pose as a junior lecturer in philosophy (another of her talents, apparently) at a college in Cambridge founded by Greville Liddicote, a pacifist who has published a number of children's books, including an anti-war novel that was banned during the Great War. Maisie is to monitor activities at the school.

However, where Maisie is concerned, can various other sub-plots not arise? To begin with, she's trying to get her father to move from his cottage to the manor she inherited (to no avail), induce her assistant, Billy Beale, to accept a house in which to move his growing family, help a woman whose husband is killed in a questionable accident at work, and, last but not least, help solve the murder of Liddicote (while told specifically her brief is her intelligence assignment and not getting involved in the murder inquiry).

The story progresses in a persuasive manner, smoothly written. It emerges just as Adolph Hitler is rising to lead Germany, giving a hint to the coming of World War II, as Maisie detects Nazi sympathizers in the college, and, indeed in unsuspecting Britain. A welcome addition to the series, this newest entry is recommended.

Theodore Feit

James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
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