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Reviewer's Bookwatch

Volume 5, Number 6 June 2005 Home | RBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewers Recommend Bethany's Bookshelf Betsy's Bookshelf
Betty's Bookshelf Bob's Bookshelf Buhle's Bookshelf
Burroughs' Bookshelf Carroll's Bookshelf Carson's Bookshelf
Cheri's Bookshelf Christina's Bookshelf Debra's Bookshelf
Emanuel's Bookshelf Frank's Bookshelf Gary's Bookshelf
Gorden's Bookshelf Greenspan's Bookshelf Harwood's Bookshelf
Henry's Bookshelf Judine's Bookshelf Lori's Bookshelf
Lynne's Bookshelf Magdalena's Bookshelf Martha's Bookshelf
Paul's Bookshelf Robyn's Bookshelf Roger's Bookshelf
Sherry's Bookshelf Sullivan's Bookshelf Taylor's Bookshelf
Terry's Bookshelf Vogel's Bookshelf  

Reviewers Recommend

The Abandoned Baobab
Ken Bugul
Lawrence Hill & Co
c/o Independent Publishers Group
814 North Franklin St., Chicago, IL 60610
ISBN: 1556521146 $9.95 159 pages

Akua Sarr, Ph.D.

First published in 1984 as Le Baobab Fou and translated into English in 1991 as The Abandoned Baobab, the novel chronicles Ken Bugul's experience from her childhood and adolescence in Senegal to her young adult life in Belgium. Alienated from her family after her mother's year-long departure, Ken immerses herself into her studies at the French school. She lives with different family members while going to the French school, including an aunt and brother, but never has a sense of family or home. She leaves for Europe after being awarded a scholarship to continue her studies. Her feelings of isolation and loneliness only increase during her stay in Belgium and she soon foregoes school in search of herself and the warmth of home through various sexual exploits, drugs and alcohol. After a near suicide, Ken comes to understand that the home for which she longs is not in Europe, her ancestors are not the Gauls but they are the Africans who settled her village among the baobab trees.

Marietou Mbaye uses the pseudonym Ken Bugul -- a Wolof name that can be translated as the person no one wants, or the unwanted one-- on the advice of her publishers who feared the scandal that her disclosures would cause in Senegal. Names such as hers are chosen for children who are born after numerous deaths of previous siblings. It is believed that these same children continue to return to be taken once again by evil spirits. Giving the child names such as Bougouma, meaning I dont want him or her, Sagar, meaning rag, or Ken Bugul, is an attempt to trick the spirits and keep them from taking the child. The belief is that if the spirits think that the child is not wanted by anyone, they will not want the child either. The child will then live.

By telling her story, authoring herself, Mbaye rejects imposed definitions of what it means to be a Muslim woman in Senegalese society. Her disclosures may be considered disgraceful by her family, society, and nation because, as a woman, she is expected to remain silent publicly, but the power of Mbayes narrative, is that it reveals a previously unspoken discourse. By having the courage to publicly disclose her private self, Mbaye is able to heal and come to an awareness of self and society.

The Adventures of Little Fox: Generations
Marlin L. Houser
Marhouse Inc.
PO Box 150605, Altamonte Springs, FL 32715
ISBN: 0975270311 $7.95

Alyice Edrich, Reviewer

The Adventures of Little Fox is not only a heartwarming book filled with valuable life lessons, it's a book filled with adventure! Through each captivating page, children learn what it's like to be a fox - how they bond, how they hunt, how they protect themselves from predators, how they learn to watch out for human hunters, and how they live. They even learn the importance of passing down family values and family history.

In the beginning, we learn about Trecar, a little fox born to two, loving, caring parents. Her parents, Serena and Timmeno instruct Trecar in the way of the fox: her daily training consisted of learning to hunt, stalk, track, and hide.

Halfway through the story Trecar is living on her own when a stranger, a fox by the name of Cody, happens upon her den. Cody got separated from his family and never learned to hunt or mark his territory. Trecar could sense that he needed someone to guide him so she offered to let him stay with her while she trained him in the ways of the fox.

Time passes and the two fall madly in love. They conceive a child together and begin to build a life for themselves when Cody is injured and taken away by a human. The human nursed Cody back to health, while Trecar and her new pup searched high and low for their loved one. After a few days, Trecar gave up hope of ever finding her husband again and began teaching her little pup, Little Fox, the ways of the fox.

But one day, while Trecar was hunting, Little Fox wanders off on his own - in search of his mother. He meets many interesting creatures along the way, he befriends a squirrel, learns to swim and so much more. By no short miracle, Little Fox, Trecar, and Cody find each other and their little family is reunited with tears and laughter. This is a wonderful book that is sure to become a family treasure.

Death by Death
Claire McNab
Bella Books
P.O. Box 10543, Tallahassee, FL 32302
ISBN 1931513341 $12.95 167 Pages

Arlene Germain

A smiling young woman approaches Senator Jonathan O'Neven, throws her arm around his neck, and as she says to him, "I am come to you," her free [p. 2] hand pulls a metal loop hidden within her clothing. Death for both is instantaneous. Thus begins the latest novel in the Denise Cleever series written by Claire McNab, Death by Death. This mystery/thriller follows the exploits of thirty-something Denise Cleever, an undercover agent for ASIO, the Australian Security Intelligence Organization, which is similar to the CIA. In her latest assignment, Denise must assume the persona of one Dr. Constance Sommers, a respected psychotherapist, and join the staff of the exclusive Easehaven Clinic, which is run by Dr. Graeme Thorwell who is believed to be behind this murder for profit suicidal bombings. As she undergoes her training sessions, any doubts about not being familiar with the psychological world are put to rest when she states, "All I have to say is: 'And how does that make you feel?' at regular intervals. Simple, really!" [p.10]

Once ensconced at the clinic, Denise must deal with erratic "guests," there are no patients here, officious staff, a very mysteriously beguiling nurse, and the bizarre behaviors of both Dr. Thorwell and Dr. Harry Gerlich, the head of the enigmatic Sanctuary Project at the clinic. Throughout the plot twists and turns, Denise's only link to the outside world is her cell phone and her attractively composed and efficient control officer, Cynthia, for whom "I had a long-term, slow-burning yen ." It's a race against the clock when Denise must ferret out the [p. 23] truth before the next target, Kenneth Henders, an up and coming politico, meets his maker.

Structurally, this book differs little from the previous four Cleever adventures. Ms. McNab uses the first person narrative to tell the story which affords our heroine the opportunity to show her likable, witty, and at times, sardonic personality. The author's style comes through in her typically forthright and lean expression. At 167 pages, it makes for a rather short book with somewhat shallow characterization and plot development. Some scenes are far too brief, if not non-descript. Although not too contrived, the conclusion did appear to be too abrupt. The idea of brainwashing a la The Manchurian Candidate style is nothing new, but this reader would have liked the author to have been a bit more inventive by conceiving a more intricate storyline with much more of an insight into the two main characters, both Denise and her antagonists. The intimate scenes seemed too static, too underdeveloped. One doesn't expect nor necessarily desire graphic sexual depiction from Claire McNab, but the reader should feel more engaged than is the case here.

The Cleever series stands on its own merits and should not be compared to McNab's popular Detective Inspector Carol Ashton series of mystery/police procedural novels. These counterintelligence novels are light, entertaining, quick reads which leave you wanting and waiting for the next release. Bet you can't read just one sort of thing. In that sense, Ms. McNab has the formula down pat. With a heroine one would actually like to sit down with, have a drink, and shoot the breeze, this installment of the series provides readers, both those familiar and unfamiliar with Ms. Cleever, the chance to discover an interesting and feisty young woman who manages to play with the big boys, if not always by their rules. The Australian setting provides a delightful change from those mysteries set in some metropolitan area in the States. However, there does seem to be one thing in common between this country and Australia as one reads through the chapters. Unfortunately, the bureaucratic routines and people at times appear to be just as inept, pompous, and officious. Denise Cleever is indeed a refreshing breeze blowing through those halls of government.

The Consciousness Of Earth
Multicultural Books
307 Birchwood Court, 6311 Gilbert Rd, Richmond, BC V7C 3V7
ISBN 0973330139 $14.95 238 pp.

CarrieAnn Thunell

I have recently been privileged to read Esther Cameron's book. I learned of the book through a flyer that gave a very brief synopsis describing the work as a document of formal poetry on the topic of deep ecology. When it arrived, I was daunted to discover that the first 223 pages consist of a treatise on the evolution of our planet written entirely in blank verse, and pages 224-238 are devoted entirely to footnotes! What I had in my hands was an impeccably well-researched master-work! I felt a sense of awe mingled with profound intimidation!

The author has selected each word with pinpoint precision as to every shade of meaning, and combines these with eloquent and fresh metaphor to create a work of unsurpassed poetic beauty.

"Till then our kind might live - a life so long,
our heretofore would be the sapling ring
within the trunk of an immense sequoia,
had we but wisdom equal to our knowledge." (p. 11)

Her grasp of the natural sciences on which this work is based is astounding for one who claims not to have an in-depth scientific background. Her ability to synthesize highly complex information from such diverse fields as astronomy, evolution, physics, social psychology and more, and weave it into a holistic pattern of global proportions is stunning! Yet because she is writing as both a poet and a layperson, the work is highly readable and endowed with sublime beauty.

I quote here from page 16, chapter 3:

"Nor are we simply
a product of the laws that set the force
of gravity, the tension in the atom,
devised the alphabet of particle
and quark, spelled out the elements composed
the phrases of the molecule, the stanzas
and cantos of the chromosomes. The laws
of chemistry could not have been predicted
from physics, nor from inorganic forms
the laws of living things; the rules of grammar
do not imply, again the Shakespeare sonnet
of which they are foundation, but not cause."

It is my conviction that the highest and most courageous calling of a poet is to write a new scripture and credo that is contemporaneous with our planetary needs. Ms. Cameron does just that.

"Thus Mystery rocked the cradle of our logos,
inseparable the two, as form from message.
And there where mystery and logos meet
there looms, as if it were a shape that lived
within the heartwood of the human tree,
the Poet. Shaman, healer, storyteller,
lawgiver - sometimes one or more of these,
but always keeper of that rhythmic vocal
murmur that rose before articulate speech" (p. 50)

As she outlines the evolution and follies of humanity, she scrutinizes the history of our religious mythos dispassionately. She is unafraid to point out religion's misuse and its implication in numerous tragic wars. But she does not stop there. She dares to do theology, by illuminating the thread of divine intelligence that is with us throughout our ascent from the primordial ooze. To do this, she draws on many scientific disciplines that are impeccably footnoted with detailed notes that support her vision.

Then, in the fashion of a true poetess, she becomes something of an oracle, pointing out a possible future that is ours if we can tap into our poetic mysticism. By shedding clarity on the direct relation between our beliefs and values on the one hand, and our technologies and orientation towards the Earth and her creatures on the other, she demonstrates how religions based on human supremacy and exploitation have given license to the global destruction of our ecosystems. She goes on to illustrate the need for a more comprehensive belief/value system that will enable humankind to cherish the global life support system, and all the creatures therein.

"Not to abolish
the old traditions, not to break the vessels
that hold ancestral memory, would the Mother
enter today on faith's disordered stage,
but gradually to sort, to rearrange
and reconcile, as fits the careful housewife,
averse to waste.

Thus, opening some future
book of common prayer, where beside psalms
and hymns to God the Father we would find
words that invoke the Mother-form, now let
me try this instrument. Now, as a child" (p. 171)

Whether or not one agrees with her conclusions, it is not so easy to discount the well-researched evidences she brings to bear on the topic. Nor is it easy to discount the many points she raises concerning the globally destructive path humanity has tread that now endangers the continuation of life on the entire planet

It is my belief that Ms. Cameron has a great love of God, and an equally great love of Earth and her creatures. Her epic poem is an attempt to unite these two loves by drawing on the strength of the one, to heal the other, and in so doing, to heal the human heart as well. It is my belief that this poetic work shall be highly controversial, but it will also impel people to examine the assumptions of their own belief systems, and how the misuse of religion has given license at times, to activities that are in direct opposition to the intent of their founders. Hopefully out of such courageous interfaith dialogue, each faith system shall gain an opportunity to hold itself accountable and renew its commitments to assist humanity in its efforts to find hope, and meaning, and to create a better world.

This document requires deep study, perhaps within a group setting, to plumb its depths. Ms. Cameron invites each of us to join in the dialogue, and to add to a new global theology by contributing blank verse to her website. See Point and Circumference, located at

The editor of this magazine neither endorses nor opposes the ideas proposed in this epic poem, but seeks to create a poetic space where such poetic visions may be discussed.

Scream Queens of the Dead Sea
Gilad Elbom
Thunder's Mouth Press, Avalon Publishing Group
245 W 17th St, New York, NY 10011
1568583222, $22.00, 295 pp.

Coletta Ollerer

A trek through life in the state of Israel seen through the eyes of a young man with a degree in comparative literature and linguistics from Hebrew University but who has taken a job as an assistant nurse in a mental institution. He is obsessed with his girlfriend, Carmel, who is possessed of an activist mindset. Their sexual encounters continue even though they have resolved to keep their feelings for each other purely platonic. He is also consumed with writing a book, she with imposing her views on his consciousness.

Gilad Elbom's stream of consciousness style is engaging and pulls the reader along. We become interested in his charges at the hospital. He seems to have an affection for them while Dr Himmelblau, the psychiatrist in charge, advises, "the best thing to do when dealing with the mentally ill is to keep a distance." (p4) Gilad finds this difficult since the unit is so small. "For some reason, maybe because systematic vilification of those who try to help them is one of the symptoms of their illness, all my patients seem to hate me." (p4) He tries conversing with those under his care. "Dr Himmelblau says that I ought to keep doing my job regardless of any protest on the part of the patients, because one of the most important objectives of the rehabilitation process in the unit is to teach them how to engage in everyday conversations." (p25) While he finds the job frustrating, he enjoys working the relatively quiet evening shift.

The frequent seemingly co-dependent arguments between Gilad and Carmel add interest to the story as the two reveal themselves to the reader. Their conflicts are both entertaining and energetic. I find myself enjoying them as if I were overhearing them in a crowded room. I am happy, however, to keep my literary distance.

They decide to go to Jehrico for an overnight to get away and visit a gambling casino. "Gambling is illegal in Israel, but now that Jericho is under Palestinian self-rule, it's okay for Israelis to go there." (p224) While Gilad is taking a shower at the hotel, Carmel exits the room. He begins a frenzied search for her assuming she is engaged sexually with an Arab activist they encountered earlier.

Gilad has an extensive interest in and knowledge of Heavy Metal Bands which an enthusiast would find very entertaining. "I play Countdown to Extinction while I'm making myself breakfast. I like Megadeth. No embarrassing orchestral maneuvers, no megalomaniacal lawsuits, no premature dinosaur status. It's not quite as good as Rust in Peace, but they're still aging a little more gracefully than, say Dave Nustaine's old band." (p107)

Gilad Elbom is a funny guy and his take on life removes the reader from the mundane and even brings a chuckle or two.

The Poetess Within
Stacia Shaina Star
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 S. Parker Rd - 515, Parker CO 80134
ISBN: 1932672877 $17.95

Dennison Rey

I'm cynical by nature. In fact, I'm cynical about nature. I drive a Hummer, spray aerosol cans toward the ozone layer, and eat ostrich eggs for breakfast. What's more, I loathe poetry. I approach it with a closed mind and tepid tolerance. Poets are leotard-wearing, Renaissance festival nogoodniks.

So it was no small miracle when The Poetess Within, by Stacia Shaina Star, caught me off-guard and filled me with surprise. Here, at last, was a poetry book that shunned the narcissism inherent in the craft.

To suggest that The Poetess Within is not for leotard-wearing, Renaissance festival nogoodniks would be a falsity, however. It's for everybody. How does Star manage to turn a SUV-driving SOB like me into a Shakespearean fancy-pants? By approaching poetry as both an art and a craft.

There's fine poetry here, to be sure, but where The Poetess Within shines is with the extras. Much like a deluxe-edition DVD, Star provides "Poet's commentary" on select poems. In some instances she covers the craft and in others, the soul.

Ergo: "Written in the Italian sonnet format of the following: abbaabba cc dd ee."

Or: "Everyone has experienced loving someone and not having that love returned. It is one of the most painful experiences in living life fully. But we lose out, if we deny our feelings of love anyways, and hope and faith still guide us in living day to day."

So enjoyable are the author's commentaries (albeit grammatically troubling) that I found myself seeking them out prior to the poetry. Unfortunately, there are too few of them and they are too brief -- two characteristics that demonstrate just how much they contribute to the book as a whole. To learn this much about an author is a rarity and exemplifies the spot-on accuracy of the title. This really is the poetess within.

Here is a poet (excuse me, a poetess) with a scholarly affinity for poetry who also opens her heart and reveals her soul (quite poetically, I might add). Her author biography begins with the words, "I am intense," and the themes inside range from unrequited love to road rage to the trials of weight management. Star shares herself with the reader in a manner few authors dare, all for the benefit of the reader.

When we read a sonnet to her mother (definitively titled, "A Sonnet for my Mother") we're tugged. Pages before, we absorb a tear-jerking soliloquy to her daughter and we're moved. Most importantly, we're invested. The only reason we care about mother and daughter is because we share a connection with the woman behind the words.

No, I don't drive a Hummer, nor do I eat ostrich eggs (yuck!) but to picture me as such lends a foundation to these words. Stacia Shaina Star understands that concept in spades, and it pays off here. Rarely do works of poetry amount to more than a quick lick of frosting, but The Poetess Within provides a recipe that other aspiring poets would do well to imitate (it is the greatest form of flattery, after all). By blending a liberal dose of talent with a pinch of acumen, Star has cooked up a tasty morsel -- one that proves to nogoodniks everywhere that you can have your cake and eat it, too!

A Woman's Touch: The Fingerprints You Leave Behind
Amy Nappa
Howard Publishing Co., Inc.
3117 N Seventh St., West Monroe, LA 71291
ISBN: 1582291594 $15.99 198 pages 318-396-3122

Dian Moore, Reviewer

Amy Nappa writes with warmth and humor and draws women into her book while leaving her own enduring imprint on the reader's life. Nappa employs delightful, tongue-in-cheek scenarios to illustrate some of the main points, such as The Chocolate Touch and Naomi's Diary.

Nappa explores the many ways a woman's actions can leave marks on the lives of loved ones, friends, and strangers. She challenges women to recognize the permanent record of their own prints left behind through actions, words and touching. Are your prints leaving a bruise or are they lifting people to God's higher touch? Does your touch cause pain in someone's life or does it promote healing?

The book consists of ten chapters, each divided into short sections illustrating the different types of touches a woman may experience either through her own actions or the actions of others:

Your Fingerprints Are All Over the Place! - The Mark of a Woman's Touch
He Touched Me - God's Touch on Your Life
The Touch Treatment - Helping the Hurting
As Good as New - The Touch of Restoration
A Gentle Touch - The Soft Caress of God's Love
Home, Sweet Home - Touching Your Family
Won't You Be My Neighbor? - Touching Your Community
The Hands of God - Touching in and through Your Church
Touch and Go - Random Touches Both Near and Far
I'm Touched - Touching Your Own Heart

This book encourages women to discover their spiritual gifts and offers advice on how to find out what those gifts really are. Spiritual gifts, when used wisely, can oftentimes guide women to leave their very best fingerprints behind.

Included in A Woman's Touch are lists of activities which may inspire women of all ages to begin leaving lasting, encouraging fingerprints that leave hope in lives, such as: Mentoring, gift-wrapping, house-cleaning, even changing the oil for single mothers.

Throughout the book, readers are introduced to real-life women who have left, or who are leaving, permanent fingerprints of kindness in the lives of others. Nappa uses short vignettes of the lives of these women to illustrate her points.

Each chapter begins with a memorable quote and ends with a short prayer which is accompanied by an applicable bible verse to remember.

Nappa concludes with a section that reminds women to finally touch their own hearts.

This book is recommended for several uses: Women's Group Leaders, Young Women's Groups, a study guide for women and as a basis for a series of sermons directed at women. However, pastors should not hesitate to use "A Woman's Touch" when teaching men. Many of the principles involved can be applied to either sex.

A Woman's Touch is easily readable and appealing to women aged 16 and older, and would make a wonderful 16th birthday gift for all young women.

Blueberries for the Queen
John and Katherine Paterson
Illustrated by Susan Jeffers
Harper Collins Publishers
ISBN: 0066239427 $17.99 30 pages

Elizabeth McKlemurry

John and Katherine Paterson delight their audience with a true-to-life story dating back to John Paterson's childhood. As Paterson's main character, William, struggles to find his place among family and friends in helping with War World II efforts, he learns that even he can make a difference, despite his age. William is excited to learn that his new neighbor is Queen Wilhelmina of the Netherlands; she is visiting America for the summer and he wants to meet her. Follow this knight's tale as he and his valiant steed deliver a basket of "peace work" to her majesty!

Blueberries for the Queen is a thrilling tale for young children, ages 4 to 8 years old, who dream of conquering evil and saving the world! This knightly tale is a wonderful lead-in for both parents and teachers to World War II and the perils involved.

John and Katherine Paterson wrote this book in remembrance of John's childhood. Katherine Paterson has received numerous Newberry Medals, the National Book Award, and the Hans Christian Andersen Medal.

Illustrator Susan Jeffers has won several recognitions, including the Caldecott Honor. The Metropolitan Museum of Art, the National Museum of Women in the Arts, and other recognized museums have displayed her works.

The Occult
Colin Wilson
Simon & Schuster Australia
Lower Ground Floor, 14-16 Suakin Street (PO Box 33)
Watkins Publishing Ltd. (US)
ISBN: 184293080X $16.95 795 pp.

Rose Glavas, Reviewer

I thought it would be helpful, before trying to get a better understanding of this book, to gain a clear understanding of the title. At, occult is described as:

1. Of, relating to, or dealing with supernatural influences, agencies, or phenomena.
2. Beyond the realm of human comprehension; inscrutable.
3. Available only to the initiate; secret: occult lore.
4. Hidden from view; concealed.

From this description I get a better understanding of what this book will be about... topics that are beyond the realm of our current comprehension.

The author, Colin Wilson is one of the most prolific, versatile and popular writers at work today. He was born in Leicester on June 26 in 1931 (at 4:30 a.m.), and left school at sixteen. After he had spent years working in various industries his first book The Outsider was published in 1956. It became an immediate bestseller.

Since then he has written many books on philosophy, the occult, crime and sexual deviance, plus a host of successful novels which have won him an international reputation. His work has been translated into many different languages.

For those interested in astrology, Wilson's birth chart shows his Ascendant at 29 Degrees of Gemini and an Aquarian Midheaven at 22 Degrees. His Sun is at 3 Degrees of the caring and intuitive Cancer conjunct his Ascendant. The author's Scorpio Moon in the 5th House gives a depth to his ability to understanding occult matters at a deep level... and gaining enjoyment through doing this.

At first I found it difficult to 'get into' The Occult.

Having said this though, working through the first part of the title was very worthwhile - I am glad I invested my mental energy and time reading this book. I usually take a couple of weeks to ready a book but this one needed months to read, understand and digest - every moment was worthwhile. Some of the topics covered include:

Magic, poetry, witchcraft, telepathy, precognition, second sight, water divining, development of self-consciousness in man, unconscious exercise of the 'evil eye', mysticism, Egyptian Book of the Dead, I Ching, Jung, Taoism & Zen, Seances, black magic, travelling clairvoyance, Kabbalah, racial memory, symbols, tarot, evolution, tantric yoga, Order of Oriental Templars, shamans, poltergeist, sorcery, Atlantis, Egyptian religion and magic, the Essenes, Orphism, worship of Dionysus, numerology, Gnosticism, the Manichees, Sephiroth, paganism, Christianity, astrology and hypnotism.

Some of the historical figures that were covered include:

Peter Hurkos, Jim Corbett, Bertrand Russell, Fiona Whittaker, John Cowper Powys, Louis Singer, A.L. Rowse, Irene Muza, Yeats, Ramon Medina, T.S. Elliot, Keilner, Aleister Crowley, Ivar Lissner, Levi-Strauss, Hoerbiger, Denis Saurat, Plato, Edgar Cayce, Hitler, Colonel Olcott, Gilbert Murray, Herodotus, Pythagoras, Apollonius of Tyana, Simon Magus, St Augustine, St Paul, Emperor Constantine, Julian the Apostate, Joseph of Copertino, Thomas Mann, and Johann Jetzer.

While I was digesting the ideas in this book I came across a couple of statements that caught my attention. These are:

The difference between a magician and a sorcerer is that the magician is disinterested, ...the sorcerer wants personal power. p. 199

on Swedenborg 'He rejects the notion that God is neither vindictive nor petty-minded, and that since he is God, he doesn't need atonement.' p. 364

Most people are excessively personal - they brood too much on their ills and their worries and resentments. When this happens, the vision becomes narrow. I have elsewhere suggested a convenient term for this narrowness: mono-consciousness. p. 740 - 741

... there is something wrong with human beings... all human beings are suffering permanently from a kind of spiritual head cold, and they are not aware of it.

We have a deeply ingrained habit of passivity which is more dangerous than cigarette smoking or drugs. ...Because it produces an inner condition of boredom and stagnation that makes us long for crisis, for excitement, and which explains, for example, the steady rise in the crime rate... p. 749

This chemical serotonin seems to have a great deal to so with evolution of species. The primates, men and apes, have more serotonin than any other species, far more. p. 752 - 755

So far... all that we really know is that minute quantities of serotonin affect mental states, alter perceptions, and that new dimensions of conventional reality accompany changes in the level of serotonin in the brain, ...serotonin is crucial to rational thought. p. 752 - 755

But consciousness is not the master; it is the servant. It lacks the power and drive of the instinctive life forces. p. 759 - 761

And so the basic paradox of human nature seems to be inherent in the force of life itself: without challenge or crisis, it takes things easy, and collapses into mediocrity. p. 759 - 761

With the development of art, science, philosophy, man has acquired the possibility of a positive purpose, a purpose towards which he can drive forward, instead of being driven from behind. p. 759 - 761

The comment about serotonin is of particular interest considering that depression is such a widespread disease (in the Western World). Particularly since it is connected to people not having enough serotonin available in their bodies to keep them 'up' - based on my understanding of this problem.

The Occult is a title that will appeal to anyone who is interested in the mysteries of life - any type of unexplained phenomena such as ghosts, UFOs, psychics, magic, consciousness, psychological theories, and anything else that brings better understanding to our lives.

I would recommend this title to anyone who has even the most remote spark of curiosity about the world around them.

I got more out of The Occult than I even imagined I would, on many different levels.

Deep in the Darkness
Michael Laimo
Leisure Books
New York
ISBN 0843953144 $6.99 369 pages

Jeremy M. Hoover, Reviewer

For me, horror writing falls into two types - one type features strong, bone-chilling suspense that could have its foundation in reality (if we imagine hard enough); the other type features the same spine-tingling suspense, but the premise is so far-fetched that I have difficulty taking the story seriously. Examples of the first, for me, are King and Straub, ghost and vampire horror (and its ilk), and dark suspense. Even Lovecraft, much criticized for his ambitious prose and poor dialogue, imagines a world where things not too far from us come too near.

Of the latter type, sadly, is Michael Laimo's effort, Deep in the Darkness. Dr. Michael Cayle moves his family to a quiet New England town (Ashborough) to get out of the hectic pace of the city. The town's previous doctor was mauled by "dogs," and Dr. Cayle moves in to take over as the new town physician. On his first day of work (no less!) he visits his neighbour and is set up by him to check in on his wife, who also appears to have been mauled by "dogs" (yet survived), even though she is described as having cancer.

Things digress from there. Cayle's neighbour, Phillip Deighton, takes him on a trip into the woods, leading him back to a mysterious area of stones surrounded by a circle of oaks. The center stone appears to be an altar, and Deighton spins a tale of ancient evil that is living in the woods. From this point on, the story revolves around that evil's contact with Cayle as it requires his aid to keep its program going. Should Cayle decide not to help, he has an abundance of evidence from other townspeople about what happens when you defy this evil.

Of course, the tension escalates and the plot twists with the involvement of someone very close to the Cayle family. As Cayle ponders the origin of the ancient evil in the woods the connections he makes are too easily come by; they seem forced. And when the end comes, it is resolved too cleanly, with a disappearance that, although foretold in the prologue, doesn't make much sense in the logic of the story, other than to leave us with a tortured hero at the end, considering the unthinkable.

The suspense is top notch and the writing very good (though verbose at times). But the story falls short with the explanation of what is actually in the woods, what happens after that, and the too-neat tie-up of loose ends. That stated, if you are in the mood for a good read that will keep you turning the pages and perhaps (in places) keep you up at night, this one is affordably priced enough that it will not bother you if you are as unsatisfied with the implausible premise as I was.

Deadly Choices
Shelly L. Foster
Royal Peacock Publications
P.O. Box 931, Dayton, NJ 08810-0931
ISBN 0976493004, $26.45 hc $17.50 pbk, 363 pp.

Kathleen Jackson

This book is definitely a best seller and I can't wait to read the sequel!!

Cynthia Evans, a woman on the edge of making partner in a major architect firm in Chicago, is married to Jordan, a man who abused her mentally and physically for years. Finally, fed up with the abuse, Cynthia decided to leave Jordan. She took her 15-year old daughter, Chris, by Jordan, packed up and left in the middle of the night.

Jordan, who eventually found out where they moved, came back into their lives with the same broken promises of never hit Cynthia again. The night that Jordan mysteriously died, once again, he beat Cynthia, blackening her eye. After his death, Cynthia and Chris, instead of being filled with overwhelming grief, was relieved that he was dead.

Cynthia, who'd been the perfect wife and mother, decided it was time for her to spread her wings, but that came with deadly choices. Her addiction to sex caused her to sleep with women and men she'd just met. Her daughter had many issues with her mother's newfound freedom and way of life. After three people Cynthia had been involved or had sex with, turned up dead, she began to feel like her their life was in danger.

In the meantime, Chris was starting to act out; wearing her mother's wig to pretend she was Cynthia, going out clubbing. That was fun to Chris until she was raped, which she never told her mother about.

Cynthia, needing sometime away from her life in Chicago, decided to go to New York. In New York, she met and fell in love with a suave man named Thomas. He seemed to be her knight in shining armor, the person who would solve all of the problems she had to face in Chicago. That is, until the truth behind who he really was came to light.

This is a story of many twists and turns that will keep you up all night reading, because you can't wait to get to the end of the book. This is Shelly Foster's first novel, and I guarantee it will not be her last. This is a must read novel, one which you won't be able to put down!!!!

MovieMind for Screenwriters, Write It Right and Get It Written
William Ronald Craig
On the Flats Publishing
ISBN: 0972080228 $24.95 316 pages,

Johnny Nine Lives, a Screenplay (companion book)
ISBN: 0972080279 $19.95 192 pages

Mayra Calvani

Fellowship recipient and professor of screenwriting William Ronald Craig takes the mysticism out of writing a screenplay with this practical, step-by-step, easy-to-follow method.

The author states his objective right at the beginning: "This book is designed to assist you in writing a commercial 'speculation' screenplay in four months." Mr. Craig developed this method while teaching one-semester courses at San Jose State University for over a decade. His assumption is that if students with a full load of classes and papers to write succeeded in completing a screenplay in four months, so can you.

What does the aspiring screenwriter need? "A good story with interesting characters, basic language skills, and a commitment to do the work." In other words, what all writers of all kinds of genre need. In fact, this is a book not only aspiring screenwriters can profit from. Novelists and short story authors can derive useful information from this work.

The chapters are broken down into many short sections under different topics, and this technique, together with his straightforward, simple, pragmatic language and style, make the book easy and pleasurable to follow. Subjects discussed include: the writer's mind, getting ready, story elements, character elements, dramatic tension, sequencing your story, format layout, style, dialogue, fist drafts, the rewrite, marketing preparation and strategies, The Writers Guild of America, rights, and making money in Hollywood. Within these general chapter subjects you'll find a long list of specific topics which cover all aspects of screenwriting. For instance, under Story Elements you'll find: Suspension of Disbelief, Story and Plot, The Three-Act Structure, Original Stories, Genre Storytelling, Derivative Storytelling, High-Concept Storytelling, Didactic and Nonlinear Storytelling, Subplots, The Present Tense, The Collective "We," Limited Personal, Limited Omnipotent and Unlimited Omnipotent.

The author supports most explanations with a target example, making concepts easy to understand. In addition to what to do, he also offers advice on what not to do and how to avoid common pitfalls which are the sign of the amateur. Most interesting is all the "behind-the-scenes" information given about how things really work in Hollywood and its misconceptions - what really drives producers and directors, who ends up reading the screenplay you have submitted, how to approach an agent, etc. Especially helpful are the author's explanation of the legal issues and the surprising importance that The Writers Guild of America has upon a screenwriter's life and career.

Included at the end of the book are a resource section as well as samples of query letters, releases and legal agreements.

As a companion to MovieMind comes "Johnny Nine Lives," an adult screenplay which demonstrates some of the points discussed in the book. Definitely not for the faint of heart, this screenplay is a thriller about a grandfather and a father who kidnap a man from death row believing the man is a serial killer who has brutally murdered their granddaughter/daughter. In an abandoned warehouse they built a "homemade" electric chair to do what the government hasn't been able to do in nine years - bring justice. But what if the man is innocent?

The screenplay follows the current simple format followed by Hollywood professionals. Though not an excellent screenplay on its own, as I thought the ending was somewhat predictable, the characters and dialogue at times stereotypical, it does serve to clearly illustrate how a screenplay should be written.

These two books complement each other to make a set that should be in every aspiring screenwriter's reference bookshelf. An entertaining and valuable read.

Help! Was That a Career Limiting Move?
Pamela J Holland & Marjorie Brody
Career Skills Press
815 Greenwood Ave STE 8, Jenintown PA 19046
ISBN: 1931148139 $14.95

Molly Martin, Reviewer

Entertaining Read .. Recommended 5 stars

Help! Was That a Career Limiting Move? is not a story book. The work is divided into ten general areas consisting of one to three page chapters covering a melange of topics. Interpersonal Communication has twenty two proposals for how to accomplish more successful communication skills. 'Come Again,' 'But on the other hand,' and 'Don't let the door hit you on the way out' are eye catching titles and descriptive quick reads. Know your Business offers titles such as, 'Will they like me,' 'Don't get trampled in the most pit,' and 'The "write" stuff.' 'Don't straddle the fence,' presents a worthy argument for comprehending the fine line between diplomacy and perhaps presenting oneself as vacant of self-reliant, sagacious thought. There are times when we each need to voice our own notions. Oh, Behave! Is a section of thirteen snippets meant to shepherd the reader into judicious conduct in a variance of settings. 'Don't put your elbows on the table!,' 'What's in a name? Plenty!,' and 'Make the most of meetings' are titles designed to draw the reader to a particular info bite. 'A touchy subject' offers a three page debate of office romance and possible drawbacks to entering into the situation. Professional Presence offers the reader advantageous wisdom covering a medley of topics. 'Read my lips . And other rules of good body language,' 'That stinks,' and 'It's not easy to love a slob' will assist reader understanding for how to get along in a crowded office filled with co-workers. 'What school you went?' presents a humorous view on a serious subject. Poor grammar and the way language is used and/or abused can make the difference between success and remaining at the bottom of the corporate rung. Grow Up! Consists of sixteen snippets guiding the reader to an understanding for why certain business practices are in place and what outcome the reader can expect when they are followed or ignored. 'Make it before you spend it,' ' You want me to do what?!,' and 'My bad' are all absorbing, enlightening short works easily read when you have a moment to spare. 'The dreaded pink slip,' presents an assortment of ways the employee may be told they no longer have a job with the company. Included in the short discussion are proposals for dealing with the loss of job, and what to improve/change when beginning to look for another position. It's all about Character may be the most important part of the work. '100% responsibility,' 'Diversity is not a spectator sport,' and 'Make excellence a personal core value,' will steers the reader into career building understanding. 'You gotta deal with it,' presents the notion that three inevitables we face in life are: death, taxes and change. The writers offer that it is how we deal with change that determines much of our success in personal and business life. Learning the Hard Way is a collection of CLMs Career Limiting Moves, the writers have found in their travels. 'Be careful with bathroom banter,' 'Proper preparation shows you care,' 'Habla "Oops?" are filled with useful information. CLMs of the rich and famous round out the work.

Help! Was That a Career Limiting Move? is an excellent tool for the beginning, just graduated business enthusiast as well as the 'old work horse' who is trying hard to hang onto their job in this ever changing time of downsizing and corporate lay offs. Each of the short one to three page snippets are filled with good advice, what works and what will kill your career type information.

Writing is good, easily read and meant to be perused whenever the reader has a moment to delve into a particular topic or quick read. The format leads readers toward what they need right now, and is not meant to be something for the reader to begin one page one and slough forward to the last page without stopping.

I received a paper copy for review. Excellent tool for every employee or those who hope to become an employee in future. Help! Was That a Career Limiting Move? deserves a place on the office library shelf, and in the Senior year homeschool and classroom setting.

Enjoyed the read, happy to recommend. I do not keep all books I receive for review; Help! Was That a Career Limiting Move? is a book I am placing on my own office library shelf.

Tilli's Story: My Thoughts Are Free
Lorna Collier and Tilli Schulze
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, Nebraska
ISBN: 0595322700 $21.95 284 pp.

Sherry Morse

This book is the true story of Tilli, a little German girl who lives through World War II and the Russian invasion of her village after the war ends. It is very well-written -- like a novel, with good descriptions and interesting characters. The book showed what some German people had to go through under Hitler and then what happened after Germany lost the war and the Russians took over their country. It's a perspective I have never seen before and it taught me that not all Germans supported the Nazis. It also showed what terrible things happened to Germans after the war ended.

For example, when the Russians invaded Tilli's village, she had to hide with many other girls in a tiny hidden space under the eaves of her house, with no light and not even room to stand up. The girls had to do this for months on end, because they were all afraid of being raped by Russian soldiers, who had been told they could do whatever they wanted to do to the Germans living in the town. The way the girls had to hide reminded me of the "Diary of Anne Frank."

There are many sad moments in the book, such as when Tilli is raped when she is only 11 years old by three Russian soldiers. I also cried when Tilli said good-bye to her mother and left home when she was only 16 to escape to West Germany, all by herself. But the book also has exciting and happy moments, such as when Tilli finally gets to America when she is 18, and meets her husband-to-be on the ship coming over.

I heard about this book from a friend of mine who is a teacher. She is thinking about using this book with her sixth-grade students next year, when they talk about World War II. I think this is a great book for teenagers as well as adults of any age. It shows how much we take our freedoms and quality of life in America for granted. The book made me proud to be an American. It is one of the best books I have read in my life!

Revolt of the Masses
Jose Ortega y Gasset
W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.
New York, N.Y.
ISBN 0393310957 $9.95 179 pages

Dr. Pedro Blas Gonzalez

Jose Ortega y Gasset published what is considered to be his seminal work, The Revolt of the Masses, in 1930. However the book's title does not mean prima facie what some people have come to think. Instead, 'revolt' does not signal herds of people 'revolting' against some genuine or alleged evil, even though examples of this can be found in recent times. Neither does it depict individual rebels without a prescriptive cause. What the phrase does suggest - as Ortega clearly states - is a historical turning on its head of all valuation. The reason? Surprisingly, his answer in many respects is no more complicated than: existential boredom, a "liberating" nihilism, or the negation of responsibility for our own destiny.

Revolt of the Masses is such an insightful book because the analysis that Ortega offers is a universal prescription of the coming of a full-blown positivistic age. While Ortega does not argue for such an age as the definitive "development" of man, like Comte, for instance, he does offer a substantive explanation of its causes and overall direction. The Revolt of the Masses, then, is a narrowing refinement of the themes that its author began to formulate in the second part of Espana Invertebrada, a book that he published the previous year. Ortega begins his analysis of mass man with an appropriately titled chapter: "The Coming of the Masses." While Ortega recognizes the coming of the masses to power as an historical fact, however, nowhere does he suggest this to be merely a historical phenomenon. From the outset Ortega refuses to make his analysis a political-sociological diatribe. The words: rebellion, masses, and social power, he tells us, are not to be construed as being "exclusively or primarily political."

First-time readers of this now classic text will encounter a first rate philosopher, a creative visionary who struggled to cite the undeniable correlation that exists between the differentiated essences that serve as inspiration and motivation for human actions, and the spirit of any given age. Immediately, the reader of Ortega's lucid prose witnesses the clear, rational and wisdom loving effects of a vita contemplativa, marking a radical difference between the thinker as one whose aim and motivation is the discovery of reality, and today's conception of "theory" as that which merely defaces and exploits it.

The initial problem of the masses, Ortega goes on to say, is one of simple agglomeration. "This fact is quite simple to enunciate, though not so to analyze. I shall call it the fact of agglomeration, of 'plenitude." The initial stage of the problem, then, is one of physical space. However more important, Ortega argues, is that the masses now possess the instruments that technology furnishes them with without recourse to their origin. Lost to the mass mind, he explains, is the general sense of wonder that has always served as the vital inspiration of the noble man.
In all respects, Ortega is quick to point out; mass man signifies a diametrical opposition to the virtues of the life of reflection. However, a clarification in this regard seems warranted: the life of reflection is not necessarily equated with the life of the philosopher, per se. In fact, the main notion that Ortega explores in The Revolt of the Masses is that the masses by definition lack autonomy. Self-reflection is one of the safeguards of human autonomy. That the masses should pass this virtue off as too demanding does not take Ortega by surprise. What does seem new to the mass mind is that today the masses should become of one mind, where before this phenomenon existed in isolation. What has occurred, Ortega argues, is that what used to be a metaphysical reality has now been institutionalized. The mass mind now understands itself to be the recipient of rights and privileges. He writes: "Not only in any direction, but precisely in the best places, the relatively refined creation of human collective habits, including our fashions both of dress and of amusement." He also forewarns how post-modern epistemology displaces all notions of a metaphysics of essence with an "all-is- political" approach to human reality.

The crucial point in The Revolt of the Masses is Ortega's contention that "society is always a dynamic unity of two component factors: minorities and masses."

The "average man" is the commonplace slipshod mind that signifies a degenerative qualitative moral outlook on life. Early on, Ortega's book becomes confusing for today's reader who is accustomed to viewing all reality through the vague generalizations wrought by lazy social-political analysis. The Revolt of the Masses cannot be read with the cognitive idleness of a wayfarer. When Ortega speaks of mass man as lacking the ability to become "differentiated from other men" he does not squabble this opportunity in yet a further attempt to "legitimize" human existence on vacuous political theory. This is precisely the problem, as he sees it, with what today we call post-modernity. Instead, the generic type called mass man now finds an impetus to carry out its plan in full given the protection and solace that he receives in quantitative terms. The existential make-up of mass man is that of a qualitative phenomenon because it naturally gravitates towards the greatest common denominator where it can effectively release and fuse its tension with others. Yet what matters to the mass mind is not the like-minded others in the group, but rather the notion and perception of the group as refuge.

However, the great importance of this particular clarification is that Ortega designates the actual day-to-day life of mass man as a quantitative phenomenon - the great number. Contrary to this, the coming-together of the minorities - noble man - takes place out of sheer coincidence. Philosophically, what Ortega attempts is a re-construction of the meaning of the self, especially with others. The key element in this analysis will be the introduction of Ortega's notion of conviction, where the latter stands alone and is willing to interpret reality at every instance. The significance of this statement lies in that "the select man is not the petulant person who thinks himself superior to the rest, but the man who demands more of himself than the rest, even though he may not fulfill in his person those higher exigencies." "The decisive matter," he continues "is whether we attach our life to one or the other vehicle, to a maximum or a minimum of demands upon ourselves." The Revolt of the Masses could have easily been titled "The Metaphysics of Strife and Resistance" given that Ortega's analysis throughout this timeless book remains on the fringes of an exploration of universal essences. Fine examples of this can be seen in his dissection of the division of society into masses and select minorities. While he refuses to accept this division as a mere social-political construct, he advances the argument of the inherent differences amongst men and the constituent types that they naturally represent. A necessary condition of this ratiocination is to notice the interaction that ensues between mass man and select minorities and the places and institutions that either type engenders or that welcome them. What is significant in this respect is that while both types are naturally predisposed to create or dismiss corresponding life-conditions, he aptly describes the major characteristic of a time of decadence as "the pre-dominance, even in groups traditionally selected, of the mass and vulgar." Ortega explains this as the erosion of institutions and modes of existence that were garnered by select minorities and that now have been taken over by mass man.

Ortega's metaphysical study in The Revolt of the Masses is essentially one that, like Wilhelm Dilthey's geistewissenschaften looks at the underlying spirit that informs human reality. The exhilaration, the freshness and sincerity of reading a thinker's depiction of reality that does not take its cue from ideology, this alone is enough to warrant a careful reading of this marvelous text and then a second. And like other reasoned and measured classics of western culture, The Revolt of the Masses has now attained the status to warrant it a book for the ages.

The Blind Assassin
Margaret Atwood
McClelland and Stewart Ltd
0385720955 $14.95 544 pp.


Awaiting the return of an absent grand-daughter, Iris Chase Griffen reviews the events of her long life as she compiles the final pages of her personal memoirs to be left in the old steamer trunk that once held her trousseau alongside her sister's old homework notebooks: Mathematics, Geography, French, History and Latin. Not that they really learned much from their tutors, Miss Violence and Mr. Erskine, but that her confessions belong with the cribbing of Dido's immolation: the heroine engulfed in flames, as Laura catapulted to death off the St. Clair Avenue bridge in Toronto on May 18, 1945, ten days after the war had ended.

Written in retrospect, Blind Assassin borrows many of the devices that made Cat's Eye an enigmatic haunting novel, capturing the elusive Booker Prize. Blind Assassin opens in 1998 with the bestowal of the Laura Chase Memorial Award in Creative Writing of two hundred dollars for the graduating student of Colonel Henry Parkman High School of Port Ticonderoga with the best short story judged by the Alumni Association members. The endowment is made from the estate of the late Winifred Griffen Prior and presented by Iris Chase Griffen, the surviving but aged sister-in-law, in honor of her sister, the noted authoress. The Chase family was well-established before the First World War with thriving commercial interests in the button industry that serviced many enlisted men in their fight for liberty.

The narrative of Iris Chase opens in 1998, but returns to the decade spanning the Second World War, taking up where Dos Passos left off, but across the border, recalling the strikes and labor unrest following the the Great Depression and the paranoia of the Red Scare. Atwood effectively employs the techniques of Dos Passos in utilizing sections subdivided into brief sections creating a panoramic view of the characters in their social conflicts. Snaking through the book are news briefs and gossip columns, bringing the characters into the camera's eye, allowing us to glimpse the busy socialite life of the leading characters through the pages of Mayfair magazine and Toronto Star, just as they themselves would want to be seen, appearing at annual balls and ladies' luncheons, preening the feathers in their caps and trailing their dresses across manicured lawns as peacocks on parade. The more intimate aspects of their hidden lives are taken up in the personal memoirs of Iris Chase as she recalls past conversations and subdued hints of her husband's manipulations. Fantasy, however, is best left within the pages of the pulpy cheap science fiction magazines with the war of the Zycronites and the Xenonians in the siege of Sakiel Norn.

Burning with irony, Atwood enjoys a joke, employing her protagonist as an author hidden behind a pseudonym. She asks what every writer does:

"For whom am I writing this? For myself? I think not. I have no picture of myself reading it over at a later time, later time having become problematical. For some stranger, in the future after I'm dead? I have no such ambition, or no such hope..." (p43)

Obviously she knew upon entering the task of publishing yet another novel that it would be read while she was still alive and most likely read several times more after she is dead, analyzed and dissected by literary crib sheets and study guides. Playing with her paper protege, she describes techniques bandied about the writers' newsgroups: giving characters letters in the development of a plot and assigning names later, moving the figures about as chessmen on the board while the opponent placed on defensive tries to second guess the next move. No doubt, two hundred dollars for a writing prize is scanty money to be called an endowment for a winning short story coming from Margaret Atwood. The war of Sakiel-Norn Wars is first told as a love story, but is edited differently when it is published later.

"The only way you can write the truth is to assume that what you set down will never be read..." (p283)

More than invaluable advice, Iris charts the progress of the book as she gives insights to author's frustrations with publication and the belated satisfaction of success, which can be interpreted in more than one way.

"When the book came out, there was at first silence. It was quite a small book, after all, and hardly best-seller material; and although well received in critical circles in New York and London, it didn't make much of a splash up here, not initially. Then the moralists grabbed hold of it, and the pulpit-thumpers and local biddies got into the act, and the uproar began. Once the corpse flies had made the connection--Laura was Richard Griffen's dead sister-in-law-they were all over the story like a rash. Richard had, by that time, his store of political enemies. Innuendo began to flow." (p 510)

Like W Somerset Maugham in reverse, Atwood has a little story to tell, but ever so well, of corporate intrigue, power takeovers, blackmail and scandals related to the violations of the fifteen forbidden sexual relationships. Playing with three against two, using similar devices as found in Cat's Eye, she sets her characters in fierce contention, exposing betrayal and treachery through devious means of a pulp writer's pen. The motif of a triptych reappears, this time in the form of a tinted photograph of two young ladies and a man at a community picnic, duplicated and cut in two. The bridge reappears, but with reverse connotations. Elaine crossed her bridge both physically and metaphorically to arrive safely on the other side. When she descends into the ravine, she also ascends, crossing through the abyss in a coma to revive reborn a new person in defiance of Cordelia and her friends whereas Laura drives through the blockade on St Clair to plunge in a fiery death. True, she does survive the catastrophic accident, but only as a ghost of conscience that drives Richard Griffen to his grave.

Convincing in its sharp black and white detailed stills of newspaper accounts, time is anchored through the sporadic clips as Iris recalls bits of family history, piecing together the mysterious circumstances of her sister's sudden disappearance and equally sudden reappearance nearly eight years later. Laura was seventeen when she was interned at Bella Vista. Eight years silence is unexplained. The war is over. Alex Thomas is dead. His death announced by impersonal war telegram for the next-of-kin. Through the figures recorded in the Mathematics notebook, Iris deciphers the manipulative nature of her husband and his sister Winifred, but too late.

Calculating, manipulative, scheming are all adjectives which describe the author of Blind Assassin. Take your pick. If you live with two tigers in a cage, there's a possibility of becoming a tiger yourself or being swallowed up as a mouse.

When criticizing Atwood, be sure to write better than the author. Intriguing, the novel leads you through a maze of emotions and complications without revealing the identity of the Blind Assassin or the true nature of Richard's death, but presents an interesting question regarding the revocation of public domain rights if the author is found recently dead.

The Selected Journals of L. M. Montgomery 1935-1942, Volume 5
Mary Rubio and Elizabeth Waterston
University of Oxford Press
70 Wynford Drive, Don Mills, Ontario, M3C 1J9, Canada
ISBN 0195421167 $35.00 410 pp.

David Rehak

I love reading diaries. Especially by interesting young women. The private diaries of Anais Nin and Marie Bashkirtseff are among my favorites. I became hooked on the life of L. M. Montgomery after seeing a documentary on her life. I was deeply intrigued by it and so I picked up the first volume of her selected journals. I had already been a fan of her fiction--novels like her classic Anne of Green Gables and my personal favorite, The Blue Castle. So, I expected that I might, just might, enjoy reading her diary as well. Boy was I surprised--pleasantly surprised. What I had expected would be a mildly interesting, quaint little life-story of a literary woman stuck in a dull rural farming community from the turn of the previous century, in fact turned out to be a highly captivating and richly amusing read, full of one exceptional young woman's deepest and most personal thoughts, the things that brought happiness to her life, and the things that brought her sadness and grief. Here in detail she recounts her friendships, her romances, her successes as an author, her pleasures in the beauties of nature, etc etc etc and the reader is never bored. I was confronted by an intensely personal and comprehensive record of her day-to-day events and most private feelings on things. Hopelessly hooked, I then continued on to the second volume of this unfolding real-life saga where she marries and has children. I was always compelled to read on. L. M. Montgomery has a clear and compelling writing style that keeps the narrative entertaining and easy to read, much like in her novels. However, when I heard that the fifth and final volume of Montgomery's journals was recently published, I couldn't resist the temptation to momentarily skip past volumes 3 & 4 and to read this last volume next, just to see how the story of her life ends.

Volume 5, which begins in spring of 1935 and ends exactly a month and a day before her death, is a document of endless depression, frustration, worries, illness, and heartache culminating in utter despair. The last journal entries are just heart-breaking, to put it mildly. However, all this gloom makes this work none-the-less gripping as a reading experience. It's an intriguing lesson in human nature through the eyes of an exceptionally talented person who nevertheless has good qualities but also flaws like the rest of us. There are moments of contentment in this woman's life, but they always seem to be overshadowed by the bad, whether it's various different problems and scandals involving her sons, or her and her husband's failing health, or another world war. One feels that L. M. should have been one of the most fulfilled and enviable women in Canada, with the honor, fame and prestige that was cast upon her name during her lifetime, in addition to all her financial success as an author and the fact that she gave so much pleasure to so many people through her books. It is the irony of ironies that no thanks to external problems in her personal life and the resulting psychological anxiety-stricken and depressive problems of the mind, the happiness that she craved and so deserved, eluded her. She once wrote: "There are many happinesses, and one never knows them all at once because that would be perfect happiness. And that is something the gods do not allow us mortals." Lucy Maud Montgomery died in 1942, proving that she too is mortal... but the fact that her books live on many, many years after her death, treasured by each new generation of readers of all ages and genders, testifies to the fact that she is one of the immortals. While her life belongs to her time and is representative of her age, her work belongs to the age of classic literature. Little did she realize (or maybe she did realize?) that her Journal would contribute in equal measure, with the best of her novels, to this literary immortality.

Eddie Would Go
Stuart Holmes Coleman
St. Martin's Griffin
175 5th Avenue, New York, NY 10010
ISBN 0312327188, $14.95, 288 pages

Tyler Tradere

Few who live outside of Hawaii or California know the saying, "Eddie would go." It has appeared on bumper stickers by the hundreds, and has become a battle cry for surfers, as well as a motto for many Hawaiians. The saying represents a life of taking risks and a brotherhood of surfers that span many nationalities. It represents letting go in angry ocean where he who hestiates really may be lost at sea.

Before the bumper sticker, the surf contest, and the motto, there was the man Eddie Aikau, "Hawaiian Hero and Pioneer of Big Wave Surfing." Eddie Would Go is a biography of the fascinating life and tragic death of Eddie Aikau. Eddie was a professional surfer. He was one of the first to ride Waimea Bay whom many considered at the time to be unrideable. When Waimea goes off the richter scale it can house a thirty to fifty foot wall of water that has killed many. In Eddie's spare time he was a lifeguard at the Bay. He saved hundreds of lives mostly military men who didn't know the seriousness of Hawaii's big waves and riptides. But Eddie's love was big waves, he embodied the free and noble sport. He was a master in the water, and was said to move through huge waves like no other on the planet. He was a hero to many and has become a surf icon. He is remembered and honored every year (If the surf is big enough) by the Quiksilver Eddie Aikau Big Wave Invitational at Waimea Bay.

In 1978 Eddie was invited along the Hokule'a a Hawaiian voyaging canoe that was supposed to retrace the steps of the ancient Polynesians. Near Lana'i the canoe capsized and was stranded on a shallow reef. Being the true altruist and excellent swimmer that he was Eddie offered to paddle on his surfboard for help. The waves were extemely big. He was never seen again. His spirit lives on in surfers and the words, "Hey why you neva go. Eddie would go." On March 17th, 1978, Eddie went.

Bethany's Bookshelf

50 Ways To Improve Women's Lives
National Council of Women's Organizations
Inner Ocean Publishing
PO Box 1239, Makawao, Maui, HI 96768
1930722451 $12.95 1-800-916-3308

50 Ways To Improve Women's Lives: The Essential Women's Guide To Achieving Equality, Health, And Success by the National Council of Women's Organizations (a nonpartisan coalition of 200 women's groups representing more than 10 million woman across the United States) addresses a diversity of subjects of particular interest to women including pay equity, reproductive health, child care, racism, education, social responsibilities, political leadership, and more. Very highly recommended and accessible reading, 50 Ways To Improve Women's Lives provides practical advice that will enable the reader to become actively involved in advancing the quality and independence of her life, and to more effectively pursue her personal and professional agendas.

The Meaning of Food
Patricia Harris, et al.
The Globe Pequot Press
PO Box 480, Guilford, CT 06437
0762738375 $22.95 1-800-243-0495

The companion to the PBS Television series hosted by Marcus Samuelsson, The Meaning of Food is the collaborative effort of Patricia Harris, David Lyon, and Sue McLaughlin and is not only a recipe book, but dwells upon what truly makes a meal, why some food is considered sacred or inseparably tied to emotions, connections between food, culture, and family, and much more. Full color photographs illustrate this narrative global history of the role cuisine has played in cultural evolution and expression since ancient times. A bibliography and index round out this involving chronicle recommended for anyone interested in a matter-of-fact overview of why we are what we eat and so much more.

Agnes: I Have Tampered With The Divine Plan
Tony Cochran
Andrews & McMeel
4520 Main Street, Kansas City, MO 64111
0740750003 $10.95 1-800-851-8923

Agnes: I Have Tampered With The Divine Plan is cutting-edge humor in the form of an Agnes comic strip collection. Agnes is a young girl with a name far older than she is; she is given to deep thoughts and lengthy ramblings, when she is not gluing Froot Loops on hats, or practicing a dance number in a vain attempt to impress a teacher asking her to multiply 14 x 13. As a strip, Agnes is a much-needed antidote to overly warm and fuzzy scenarios flooding the newspapers, as its young heroine does not enjoy the security of many of her comic strip peers - she lives in a trailer with her elderly grandmother, who tries to stretch diminutive family funds and enrich quality of life through culinary creations a la spam. Agnes' personal poverty, not to mention her biting insight into the world around her, limits her friends circle of friends to one person: the tomboyish Trout, named after one of her father's favorite hobbies (she was only a few numbers away from being named "Powerball"). Together, this duo of unlikely girlfriends produce a dynamic reminiscent of Calvin and Hobbes, particularly when one contrasts Agnes' contemplative albeit self-absorbed musings to Trout's more practical and simple realism-based approach to life. Yet Agnes is a unique formula all its own, one in which the quest for self-identity, rather than rampant misbehavior, is the central tenet of the main character's personal struggles. And it's sidesplitting, milk-snorting, feel-sorry-for-the-goldfish-drowned-in-tomato-sauce-but-can't-help- laughing-about-it funny. Highly recommended.

Hoofbeats, Hair Balls, and Three-Dog Nights
Lowell Streiker, author; Ron Rush, cartoons
Alpine Publications, Inc.
225 South Madison Avenue, Loveland, CO 80537
1577790669 $7.95 1-800-777-7257

Written by experienced humorist and speaker Lowell Streiker, and illustrated throughout with whimsical black-and-white cartoons by Ron Rush, Hoofbeats, Hair Balls, and Three-Dog Nights is a collection of short, touching, sometimes funny, sometimes sad vignettes of beloved pets and the unconditional love they provide to their owners. Short (often just one-page) stories cats, dogs and horses and more will resonate with pet lovers and provide smiles and chuckles aplenty, while the heart-touching pieces about losing a pet offer comfort in trying times. A delightful read and a highly recommended giftbook for pet lovers everywhere.

The Debt Diet
Ellie Kay
Bethany House Publishers
11400 Hampshire Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55438
0764200011 $12.99 1-800-328-6109

Personal finance author, conference speaker, and national radio commentator for "Money Matters" Ellie Kay presents The Debt Diet, a straightforward guide for ordinary people striving to reduce their spending, balance their personal budget and get out of debt. Self-test quizzes allow for quick and easy personal evaluation of one's money smarts, as well as reinforcement of lessons learned. Chapters cover the importance of one's attitude toward money, factors to keep in mind in order to increase savings, how to raise financially fit and self-sufficient kids, reducing the expense of college money crunches, and much more. Packed with tips, tricks, techniques, and figures, The Debt Diet is an enthusiastically-recommended antidote to the "spend spend spend" consumer mentality all too saturated in today's credit-hungry culture and advertising.

Susan Bethany

Betsy's Bookshelf

Milking The Painted Cow
Tarthang Tulku
Dharma Publishing
2910 San Pablo Avenue, Berkeley, CA 94702
0898003687 $16.95 1-800-873-4276

Soundly grounded in Buddhist tradition and cognoscente of the Western world view, Milking The Painted Cow: The Creative Power Of Mind And The Shape Of Reality In Light Of The Buddhist Tradition by the visionary Tibetan lama Tarthang Tulku draws upon years of dynamic interaction with western students to detail the traps and pitfalls faced by Westerners as they approach Buddhist teachings and offers sound guidance for building a healthy foundation for a satisfying and productive spiritual life according to Buddhist tenets. A welcome addition to the growing library of Buddhist literature for western readers, Milking The Painted Cow is strongly recommended reading which is as informed and informative as it is inspired and inspiring.

Leonardo's Chair
John DeSimone
c/o Cook Communications Ministries
4050 Lee Vance View, Colorado Springs, CO 80918
1589190319 $12.99 1-800-323-7543

Vincent LaBont is a world-class artist who attributes his creative ability to a very special char that he claims was created and empowered by none other than Leonardo Da Vinci. When his home catches fire, Vincent is severely burned trying to rescue the chair. It's only later that he discovers that the chair was stolen before the fire was set. Distraught, Vincent send his son Paul (a painter like himself) to Italy where the chair is suspected to have been taken. Is the chair truly a metaphysical source of artistic power? If so, should it be used to recreate one of Leonard's paintings. What is the chair true power and purpose? Leonardo's Chair is a riveting novel from first page to last and will led the reader on a roller coaster ride leading ultimately to an appreciation of what truly inspires an enduring artistic greatness.

The Snowbird Poems
Robert Kroetsch
University of Alberta Press
Ring House 2, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, T6G 2E1
0888644264 $24.95

The Snowbird Poems is an impressive anthology of the poetry of Canadian literary icon Robert Kroetsch. There is the matter of the crabapple tree./There it stands, wintering, you might say,/in the small front yard/between the veranda and the sidewalk.//Snow, you may have noticed, has seated itself/in the two wicker chairs on the veranda./As for the sidewalk,/we'll get to that in a moment.//The crabapple tree appears to be posing/for a woodcut, possible by Hiroshige,/his Japanese trees precise, angular, yet graceful/in their delicate tracings of snow.//But this is a January morning/on 18th Avenue SW, Calgary./I have just now shoveled the sidewalk/for the fifth time in the past three days.

Divide These
Saskia Hamilton
Graywolf Press
2402 University Avenue, Suite 203, Saint Paul, MN 55114
1555974228 $14.00 1-651-641-0077

Saskia Hamilton is an established and published poet who teaches at Barnard College and resides in New York. Her poetry as anthologized in Divide These is hallmarked with an spare but determined energy that results in the deft fashioning of word images that are intellectually provocative and emotionally riveting. Entrance: No one in the house but the two, the one/on the way to death, the other/on the way to earth. Above, the white sky, not ready/to rain, below, lush, the mid-summer garden,/the thrush, or the young of the thrush,/or the seventeenth generation thrush.//Below, a door opens. No one moves about/but you, in the white chair, typing.

Mirei Shigemori
Christian Tschumi
Stone Bridge Press
PO Box 8208, Berkeley, CA 94707
1880656949 $18.95 1-800-947-7271

Mirei Shigemori (1896-1975) was the imaginative creator of very special gardens and a scholar who was trained in painting, flower arranging, and the tea ceremony. Shigemori is still admired for his contemporary designs, the result of his life's objective to restore the evolution of the Japanese garden. In Mirei Shigemori: Modernizing The Japanese Garden, practicing landscape architect Christian Tschumi explores ten major Shigemori projects ranging from the checker-board garden of Tofukuji (1939) and the "Hidden Christian" dry landscape at Zuiho-in (1961), to the masterful stone settings at Matsuo Taisha (1975), all while utilizing a design/cultural analysis, garden plans, and a profusion of illustrative photographs taken by visual artist and photographer Markuz Wernli Saito. Mirei Shigemori: Modernizing The Japanese Garden is a welcome and respected contribution that will be of immense interest to professional gardeners, landscapists, horticultural experts, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in Japanese gardening and culture.

Betsy L. Hogan

Betty's Bookshelf

Crown Me!
Kathryn Lay
Holiday House, Inc.
425 Madison Ave., New York, NY, 10017
0823418456 $16.95 202 p.

Texas author Kathryn Lay has written for many magazines (see for more details), but Crown Me! is her first novel. It's hard to believe it's only her first one, though; she doesn't put a foot wrong. From the opening chapter's title - "Equal Rights for Boys, Too: Future Politician's Rule #1 - Never get caught." - to the satisfying ending, Lay creates a thoroughly believable story that is fun to read out loud or to yourself.

Lay's hero, Justin Davies, needs experience in leadership, since he wants to be the president of the United States someday. In order to get such experience, he decides to run for president of the fifth-grade student council. As he says, "We were the Payton Penguins, and I planned to be the head penguin." He figures that leadership will be a cinch.

However, running for student council isn't the least of Justin's troubles. Mr. Bailey, Justin's teacher, has changed the rules on the weekly essay contest, and instead of simply winning another hat for his growing collection, Justin's essay on "If I Were King or Queen of Payton Intermediate School I Would" wins him the position of king of the fifth grade - for two whole weeks! Unfortunately, arch-enemy Andrea Carey has also won and will rule with him as queen, but he can put up with that. Just think - everyone in the class has to do whatever he says. And they have to bow or curtsy whenever he passes. Cool!

But things aren't that simple. Mr. Bailey will be the final judge of their rules and commands, so they can't command anything illegal or dangerous. If a subject disagrees with a command, the rulers must explain their reasoning to the whole class. And although either one can throw someone in the dungeon (an area of the classroom set aside for disobedient subjects) for any reason , they both have to agree in order to set someone free.

Worst of all, at the end of the two weeks, all the students will have to turn in thorough two-page reports about how it felt to be a ruler, a knight, a lady-in-waiting, a peasant, or whatever they ended up being. Will absolute power over their classmates make Justin and Andrea bossier or will it make them more compassionate? Will Andrea and Justin learn to work together for the good of the class? And will anyone be speaking to either of them when the two weeks are up?

Dining on a Dime Cookbook
Tawra Kellam and Jill Cooper
T & L Group
3802 Antelope Trail, Temple, TX, 76504
0974255211 $19.95 478 p.

This book was first called Not Just Beans: 50 Years of Frugal Family Favorites, in response to the vast number of people who think budget dining has to be "just beans." It's in its third printing now, spiral-bound in a nice hard glossy cover that can be wiped off, and has been renamed to make its purpose even more clear.

By the way, before I go on to tell you about the contents, you should know that the fifty years in the original title refer to Kellam's mom, who raised two kids on a limited income as a single mom, and did it without making her kids think life was grim or uncomfortable, too! However, Kellam herself has been using her mom's methods (along with some original ideas) for over twenty years to help her family of five eat and live not only well, but within their means.

The book starts out with "Basics of Frugal Cooking" and a familiar saying: Use it up, wear it out, make it do, or do without. This section covers a lot in a few pages: ideas for frugal eating and shopping, meal planning, menu ideas (including ones for quick dinners and picky eaters), using herbs frugally, making your own baby food, freezing food, snack and lunch ideas, and time-saving tips for making the most of your time in the kitchen.

The rest of the book is divided into sections such as Beverages, Breads, Meats and Main Dishes, and (a really nice one for frugal gift-giving) Mixes, Gift Baskets & Jars. One of my favorite chapters is Kids, where Kellam gives recipes for such fun things as Tub Crayons, Sidewalk Chalk, and Easy-Bake Oven (TM) mixes. Where was this book when my kids were little? I can't wait to use her ideas with my grandchildren someday!

The book also contains more than just recipes; interspersed throughout are cooking tips, substitution charts, instructions on how to set a table, cleaning hints, inspiring quotes, and other interesting stuff. It even has a chapter called "Pretty for Pennies" that contains recipes for such treats as Almond Lotion, Chocolate Lip Balm, and Bath Bombs.

If you're moving into your first apartment, getting married on a shoestring, or trying to live within your means, invest in this cookbook. It also makes a great gift. Actually, no matter what your circumstances are, you may want to buy and use Dining on a Dime. After all, you can always think of something else fun to do with the money it saves you!

One of my favorite recipes:

Sidewalk Chalk

2 qts. plaster of Paris
food colors

Mix plaster of Paris with 1 quart water. Mix in desired color. Pour into paper towel or toilet paper tubes (about 3 inches high). Let dry thoroughly (This may take several days). Remove from tubes and let the kids draw away.

Clutter's Last Stand: It's Time to Dejunk Your Life, 2nd ed.
Don Aslett
Adams Media
57 Littlefield St., Avon, MA, 02322
1593373295 $9.95 262 p.

When Don Aslett was a college student, he had a typically messy dorm room, until he decided that the junk crowding him out had to go. He found cleaning and dejunking his space so exhilarating that he started a cleaning company, Varsity Contractors, which paid his way through school and eventually became one of the largest cleaning firms in the country. When, upon graduation, he asked himself what he wanted to do with the rest of his life, he decided to stick with what he knew best - cleaning. He's never regretted it.

In fact, Aslett is often billed as "America's #1 Cleaning Expert", a title he is very proud of. He owns and operates several businesses related to cleaning, has a busy schedule of speaking engagements, and is very involved with his family and community. Despite all that, he has turned out a stream of books (thirty to date, with twenty more in the works) which have sold over three million copies in the US alone. And his books have been translated into nine languages so far, thus proving that dirt and clutter seem to be universal problems.

In his latest book, Clutter's Last Stand (an update of one that he wrote in 1984), he helps readers tackle one of the toughest jobs there is: dejunking your house. In chapters like 101 Feeble Excuses for Hanging Onto Clutter, Committing Junkicide, and Getting Off the Excess Express, Aslett lays out the problem of clutter, dissects and explains it, and then shows you step by step how to take your house (your office, your car...) from disaster to delightful. He even makes it seem almost fun!

Here's what he says about Clutter's Last Stand, in a personal note at the book's beginning: "[It is] the ultimate self-improvement book. [It] will make you happier, freer, neater, richer, and smarter. With a little help from you, it will solve more home, family, marriage, career, and economic problems than any book you've ever read. Dejunking your life will cost nothing and will pay 100 percent returns. You'll immediately lose 100 pounds without dieting."

OK, he is a salesman and you may be thinking, right about now, "Sure. Easy for him to say. But nothing can help me. Besides, he's just trying to sell his book." Well, I challenge you to read it and see what you think then. I'll bet that you end up joining thousands of other readers who are saying, "Thank you from the bottom of our hearts (and drawers and rubbish bins) for setting us free." Get a copy today. You have nothing to lose but your junk.

Betty Winslow

Bob's Bookshelf

Asian American X: An Intersection of Twenty-First Century Asian American Voices
Arar Han and John Y. Hsu, Editors
The University of Michigan Press
839 Greene Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48104-3209
0472068741 $19.95 284 pages

An unusual and poignant collection of essays edited and written by young Asian Americans, the coming-of-age stories in this volume capture the joys, conflicts and struggles of trying to comfortably exist in two cultures.

The diversity within the category of Asian American is apparent as one reads these short four to nine page narratives. Titles such as "Language and Identity", "A Place Where I Want To Be", "Seoul Searching", and "Another American Mutt" suggests the range of experiences the authors write about and share with the reader.

The editors explain that their intent is to offer an array of well-articulated identity essays which will "contribute to the ongoing evolution of American culture by promoting discussion about who Asian Americans of our generation are and how we ought to understand ourselves within our current American context".

Han and Hsu have done an admirable job achieving what they set out to accomplish. Candid, erudite, and, at times, emotionally gripping, these selections will surely engage the reader.

The heightened awareness of conflicted cultural identity and the dialogue addressing this problem is long overdue. Books of this nature will hopefully open the door to further discussion of this dilemma facing many young people.

Screenplay by Disney: Tips and Techniques To Bring To Your Moviemaking
Jason Surrell
Disney Editions
114 Fifth Ave, New York, New York 10011
0786854405 $15. 95 175 pages

Don't expect to find any Disney trade secrets but this is still a book that anyone interested in the process of creating a screenplay from scratch will want to read.

The story artists and screenwriters behind the company's legendary movies share some of their expertise that will help the reader create a professional, finished product.

Opening with a section titled "Inspiration", Surrell discusses how ideas evolve: the use of tales, myths, and legends as source material, and the time honored dramatic technique of telling an old story in a new way.

"Perspiration" delves into the act of writing. A few of the areas covered include constructing a three-act structure, developing characters, understanding the role of subplots, and creating devices that will deepen the plot and provide twists and turns.

The all important task of rewriting is the subject of "Culmination". The author also offers tips on staying motivated and how to survive the highs and lows that accompany the creative process.

Not overly technical in nature, "Screenplay by Disney" is an excellent introduction to what screenwriting is all about. Read this and then decide if this is an endeavor you wish to commit time and effort to.

The Movie Business: The Definitive Guide to the Legal and Financial Secrets of Getting Your Movie Made
Kelly Charles Crabb
Simon & Schuster
0743264924 $28.00 503 pages

This guide to the legal and financial ins and outs of getting a film from the idea stage to the big screen is written in terms the novice can understand.

As he explains the practical side of filmmaking, Crabb looks at such thorny subjects as copyright and intellectual property law, obtaining financial backing, and selecting and hiring the key players. He also discusses overseeing the filming process, distribution of the finished product, and understanding merchandise licensing.

Taking the approach that all of these things can be dealt with as the need arises can be a costly mistake, Crabb explains. Ignoring legal matters or waiting until the last minute to make arrangements can complicate matters and cause more angst than necessary.

A valuable resource, "The Movie Business" is a must read for anyone thinking about a career in the production side of the movie business. Yes, the material is technical in nature but the author, an entertainment law attorney, makes it as palatable as possible.

And Tango Makes Three
Justin Richardson and Peter Parnell
Illustrated by Henry Cole
Simon & Schuster
0689878451 $14.95

There are all kinds of animal families in the zoo but Tango's family is quite different than all the others. Every year when the boy penguins start noticing the girl penguins, it's time to start a family. Roy and Silo, two boy penguins and the best of friends, avoided the girl penguins but come nesting time, they suddenly realize they have nothing to keep warm in their nest.

Mr. Gramzay realizes Roy and Silo have a problem and knows just how to handle the situation. He transfers an egg that needed a good home to their nest. Eventually Tango, a little girl, hatches. Tango is the first penguin in the zoo to have two daddies.

A true story, visitors to the Central Park Zoo in New York City can view Tango and her two daddies in the penguin enclosure.

With Love, Little Red Hen
Alma Flor Ada
Illustrated by Leslie Tryon
Aladdin/Simon & Schuster
0689870612 $6.99

Utilizing an epistolary format, Tryon's animal characters send a series of letters to one another that develop this tale of misadventure. Little Red Hen and her seven chicks have just moved into a new neighborhood. As she writes to her cousin, Hetty Henny, sharing her impressions of the new surroundings, some of the hen's neighbors are also spreading the news of the new arrival.

Fer O'Cious, a cat, alerts his buddy Wolfy Lupus that a chicken dinner has presented itself. The toothsome twosome's culinary plans are obviously foiled in this tale that also features cameo appearances (letters) from Red Riding Hood, Goldilocks, Peter Rabbit's clan and Turkey Lurkey.

Alma Flor Ada's unusual approach to developing a children's story coupled with her fertile imagination puts an interesting spin on some very familiar characters. The appropriate level for this picture book would be children five years of age and up.

My Therapist's Dog: Lessons in Unconditional Love
Diana Wells
Algonquin Books of Chapel Hill
P.O. Box 2225,Chapel Hill, NC 27515-2225
1565123719 $16.95 183 pages

This is a far reaching book about all types of relationships: parent-child, patient-therapist, owner-dog, and friend-friend. After her son's suicide Diana Wells sought out a therapist for help to get over the tragedy. Her therapist's dog Luggs created a bond between the two women that transcended their professional relationship.

Wells offers a beguiling patchwork book about dogs and people.

Her candid narrative explores the nature of healing, the positive effect canines have on humans, and the nature of love. The author's personal story and how her friendship with Beth, her therapist, eventually resulted in another heartbreaking situation could stand alone as a personal memoir about coping with loss. But what really sets this book apart is the clever way Wells works in interesting tidbits about dogs. Quotes from famous people about dogs coupled with snippets of information, such as the derivation of the word "Salukis" will make many readers want to "dog ear" various pages for future reference.

I have to honestly admit I didn't plan to really read this book. Out of curiosity I scanned one of the short chapters in the middle of the book, read another and then was compelled to read more. Perhaps even more curious, I read to the end of the narrative and then went back and tackled the opening chapters. Had I started in the usual manner with the first page, I doubt I would have gotten very far into "My Therapist's Dog" before setting it aside.

Bob Walch

Buhle's Bookshelf

The Linux Enterprise Cluster
Karl Kopper
No Starch Press
555 De Haro Street, #250, San Francisco, CA 94107
1593270364 $49.95

The Linux Enterprise Cluster is a straightforward guide to building a network of multiple computers that pool their resources to act as one powerful computer. An accompanying CD-ROM provides all the software needed to build a Linux Enterprise Cluster on top of one's current Linux distribution, including the Linux kernel, rsync, the Systemlmager package, the Heartbeat package, the Linux Virtual Server package, the Mon monitoring package, and the Ganglia package. Chapters cover everything from handling packets and compiling the kernel to synchronizing servers, applying theory and practice, balancing loads, simple maintenance and management protocol, and more. Though intended for Linux users who are already familiar with the software's basics, The Linux Enterprise Cluster walks one through projects and pitfalls step-by-step with the expected thoroughness of a No Starch Press manual. A "must-have" for anyone interested in harnessing the power of a cluster using a much less expensive Linux base rather than purchasing a large, monolithic server.

At Home in Maine
Christopher Glass, author; Brian Vanden Brink, photographer
Down East Books
PO Box 679, Camden, ME 04843
0892726393 $40.00 1-800-685-7962

At Home in Maine: Houses Designed to Fit the Land is a showcase of Maine architecture especially designed to be aesthetically pleasing and fully integrated into the environment. Stunning full-color photographs reveal dwellings inside and out with a richness of texture and a smoothly harmonous design. The text by an architect with decades of experience offers insight into the subtle nuances of each house, noting its distinguishing features with a practiced eye in an easygoing, conversational manner that will appeal to lay readers and experts alike. A truly eye-pleasing book to page through, and a valuable resource for architectural design ideas.

The New Bullwhip Book
Andrew Conway
Loompanics Unlimited
PO Box 1197, Port Townsend, WA 98368
1559502444 $12.95

The New Bullwhip Book is a straightforward self-teaching and informational guide to the care and handling of the bullwhip. From choosing the right whip for one's purpose, to whip cracking basics, volleys, cutting targets, wraps, tricks and stunts, whips as weapons, notes on history and more, The New Bullwhip Book outlines whip use in plain and simple terms for the lay reader, with computer-rendered diagrams illustrating the movements. The New Bullwhip Book offers a realistic view of the whip as a self-defense tool - it has its limitations, and be warned, the loud cracking sound of a whip can be mistaken for a gunshot and is hazardous to one's health around nervous police and other firearm owners! . A "must-read" for anyone looking to learn more about whips and whip use, especially the specific motions involved in handling a whip, from would-be performers to martial arts students to writers and artists striving to make the whip come to life in their work.

The United States and the World Economy
C. Fred Bergsten
Institute for International Economics
1750 Massachusetts Avenue, NW, Washington, DC 20036-1903
0881323802 $26.95

The director of the Institute for International Economics presents The United States and the World Economy: Foreign Economic Policy for the Next Decade, a scholarly and extensively researched but nonetheless emphatic treatise concerning what America needs to do both at home and abroad to adapt and profit from the ongoing transformations of an increasingly global economy. From stressing the urgency to reduce the budget deficit - a problem that has America dependent on foreign investments that are at risk of being pulled - to the need to persuade China and other Asian countries to stop blocking currency realignment, to the need to sell off oil reserves as needed and implement a substantial gasoline tax to force a reduction of US energy demand, and much more, The United Stats and the World Economy does not shy from presenting difficult yet possible solutions to highly complex problems. An absolute "must-read" for economists; regardless of whether one agrees or disagrees with the recommendations proffered, the current and impending troubles of adapting to globalization are unquestionably real and can be ignored only at America's peril.

Willis M. Buhle

Burroughs' Bookshelf

100 Most Popular Genre Fiction Authors
Bernard A. Drew
Libraries Unlimited
88 Post Road West, Westport, CT 06881
1591581265 $65.00

100 Most Popular Genre Fiction Authors: Biographical Sketches and Bibliographies is a straightforward reference for librarians, researchers, and teen readers. Authors featured include beloved figures such as Robert Jordan, Tom Clancy, J. R. R. Tolkien, Louis L'Amour and many more. Each profile offers a black-and-white photograph (if obtainable) of the famous author, a brief biographical sketch often with quotes and snippets from interviews, a list of works, and a list of articles and websites for further information. An easy-to-use quick-reference guide, ideal for surveying the creators of some of the most widely beloved authors as well as the nature of their creations.

The Genocidal Mind
Dennis B. Klein, Richard Libowitz, Marcia Sachs Littell, and Sharon B. Steeley
Paragon House
2285 University Avenue West, St. Paul, MN 55114
1557788537 $19.95

Drawn from the 32nd annual Scholar's Conference on the Holocaust and the Churches, The Genocidal Mind is an anthology of writings by learned authors that analyzes mass-murder in the 20th century and strives to explain how elements of a genocidal mentality can be detected in behavior, law, religion, philosophy, literature, and psychology. Essays discuss the virulent hatred spewed by modern individuals such as Ernst Zundel; Christian Hope as a factor in how some Protestants followed Hitler; an "early warning system" that comes as a lesson of the Holocaust; and more. The genocide examined in The Genocidal Mind is particularly focused upon the Holocaust, yet the valuable insight gained is directly applicable to a wide variety of genocidal and potentially genocidal individuals and situations. Especially recommended for Holocaust studies and mass psychology shelves.

John Burroughs

Carroll's Bookshelf

The Bride Wore Chocolate
Shirley Jump
Zebra Books
0821776916 $5.99

Of course you know this contemporary romance by Fort Wayne author Shirley Jump will end happily. But just how Candace Woodrow goes from her commitment to marry Barry Borkenstein, to the arms and bed of Michael Vogler is the question, and the entertainment of the book.

Candace's head tells her to stay away from Michael Volger, but Michael is a client of her business, "Gift Baskets to Die For." And he is determined to be involved with all aspects - including Candace - of what is going on.

Candace is surrounded by well-meaning friends and co-owners of the gift basket business, as well as her flighty, oft-married mother, and her kookie grandmother, each one ready to offer advise to Candace.

Each chapter of the book begins with a recipe such as "Grandma's Soul-Mate-Worthy Chocolate biscuits," or "Maria's The-Devil-Made-Me-Do-It Parfait," or "Candace's My-Life-Sucks-Rocky Road Chocolate Fudge."

You'll find 26 recipes plus one for a happy ending. Each recipe (with chocolate, of course) offers good advice: "Make a list of all the things you want to change about your life while the fudge cools to 120 degrees. Add the vanilla, beat the daylights out of the mixture. Then add nuts and marshmallows - add extra, depending on how bad your day as been."

Jump's humor keeps the story moving as Candace struggles to stay true to Barry - well, that's not quite right, since Candace barely struggles at all, but at least she tries to struggle.

The Cat Who'll Live Forever
Peter Gethers
Broadway Books
0767909038 $12.95

This is the third book by Peter Gethers about his cat Norton. The first two books, The Cat Who Went to Paris, and A Cat Abroad, told of the adventures of Gethers and his Scottish Fold cat, a breed of cat with distinctive ears that fold down. Gethers, a writer and editor, traveled extensively with Norton as his companion.

I'd read one of the previous books about Norton. I love cats and cat stories, and enjoyed the way Gethers filled the story with humor and tales of the places they visited and the people they met, all - or mostly all - who loved Norton.
The title of this book, The Cat Who'll Live Forever, told me I probably didn't want to read this one. Norton was aging. There was only one possible ending. I figured I knew what it was, but I read anyway.

The story begins when Norton is ten years old, and continues on through more of his life and travels with Gethers, and the celebrities he met and charmed - or didn't quite charm. Anthony Hopkins, Lauren Bacall, Roman Polanski, Harrison Ford are a few of the names dropped.

The humor found in the previous book I read is still there, and the obvious love that Gethers had for his little cat is even more apparent. At one point, Gethers learns his cat is suffering kidney failure. When the doctor tells Gethers there is a new kidney transplant operation for cats, Gethers says, "I'd definitely be willing to do that," meaning, of course, that he was willing to donate his kidney.

When it becomes apparent that Norton's life is nearing its end, Gethers forms a plan. "My idea was a simple one: Norton and I had spent much of our lives together traveling. We'd been all over Europe. We'd flown around most of America. We'd spent a huge portion of our existence together in hotels and motels and fantasy houses in medieval villages, in cars and planes and buses and boats. We'd dined out together in exotic places, sharing meals and unique experiences. We'd gone to major sporting events and nightclubs and offices and sales conferences and we'd met interesting, weird, brilliant, sometimes crazy people."

Gethers plan was one final trip with his cat, and he shares that trip in the final heartwarming and heartbreaking chapters of the book.

Jean Carroll

Carson's Bookshelf

Rattlesnake Bomber Base
Thomas E. Alexander
State House Press
McMurray Station, Box 637, Abilene, TX 79697-0637
1880510901 $18.95 1-800-421-3378

Rattlesnake Bomber Base: Peyote Army Airfield In World War II by Thomas E. Alexander (a commissioner with the Texas Historical Commission) is the story of a major military bomber airfield that was established in a remote corner of West Texas in 1942. The base was nicknamed after the western diamondback rattlesnake because of their massive presence during the construction of the Peyote Army Airfield. Eventual the airfield expanded to include nearly three thousand acres of Texas. Rattlesnake Bomber Base is the story of this World War II microcosm that is fairly representative of what was happening to suddenly established and burgeoning military bases all over the country as a result of the pressures, needs, and demands of America's participation on the battlefields of the world. A very strongly recommended addition to World War II Military History library collections and supplemental studies lists, readers will encounter colorful characters and gain informed insights into how such feats as the establishment and maintenance of an American-based bomber facility and training ground was achieved.

The Templars And The Grail
Karen Ralls
Quest Books
The Theosophical Publishing House
PO Box 270, Wheaton, IL 60189-0270
0835608077 $22.95 1-800-669-9425

The Knights Templar was a monastic order of Christian warriors that grew out of the medieval campaigns to free Jerusalem and Palestine from the domination of the Muslims in several waves of invasion known collectively as the Crusades. These warrior monks were believed to conduct mystical rites, guard the famed Holy Grail, and possess the lost treasures of Jerusalem. The order's wealth and political activities evolved to provide banking services to kings, act as trusted diplomats, engage in far flung business enterprise, and even work as navigators. The order was ultimately doomed to succumb to political intrigue and the malevolent greed of kings. In The Templars And The Grail: Knights Of The Quest, Oxford-based medieval historian Karen Ralls presents the dramatic story of the Knights Templar, presenting the many beliefs and theories about their presumed powers and arcane knowledge. Drawing upon both popular and academic sources, this impressive, exceptionally well written, and thoroughly accessible history is especially recommended to students of Metaphysical Studies and Medieval History.

Movies And The Meaning Of Life
Kimberly A. Blessing & Paul J. Tudico, editors
Open Court Publishing Company
332 South Michigan Avenue, Suite 1100, Chicago, IL 60604
0812695755 $17.95

Collaboratively organized and edited by Kimberly A. Blessing (Assistant Professor of Philosophy, Buffalo State College) and Paul J. Tudico (Philosophy Department, East Tennessee State University), Movies And The Meaning Of Life: Philosophers Take On Hollywood is an impressive collection of nineteen articles and essays on the impact popular films have had on the popular culture in terms of philosophical values. Organized into five sections, each contributor takes on a specific film ranging from "The Truman Show", to "Fight Club", to "Shadowlands", to "American Beauty", to "Groundhog Day", and more. Enhanced with a section providing descriptive credentials of the individual contributors and a thoroughly "user friendly" index, Movies And The Meaning Of Life is a welcome contribution to academic library "Philosophy" reference collections and highly recommended, accessible reading for film buffs as well.

Five Days In October
Robgert H. Ferrell
University of Missouri Press
2910 LeMone Boulevard, Columbia, MO 65201
0826215947 $19.95 1-800-828-1894

Five Days In October: The Lost Battalion Of World War I by Robert H. Ferrell (Professor Emeritus of History, Indiana University, Bloomington) is the incredible story of five hundred American soldiers comprising elements of two companies from the 77th Division who were entrapped on the side of a ravine in the Argonne Forest by superior German forces from October 2 to 7, 1918. The courage displayed against overwhelming odds as they fought under siege in the midst of rifle, machine gun, mortar, and artillery fire both day and night, with nothing to eat after the morning of the first day, and with water that was highly dangerous to obtain, is among the finest examples of the American troops under fire as is recorded in the annals of American military history. With Five Days In October, Professor Ferrell offers new material that was previously unavailable in earlier treatments of this event and reveals what really happened during those horrific days in the Argonne Forest. Although "Lost" is not an accurate description because American high command knew where the men were, during the five days the men were on their own Five Days In October will elaborate striking details of the ordeal, and includes the findings of court-martial records and 77th Division files that contain full accounts of the taut relations between the Lost Battalion's brigade commander and the 77th Division commander providing the most complete account now available. Five Days In October is an impressive work of scholarship and a welcome contribution to the growing library of World War I Military History.

Michael J. Carson

Cheri's Bookshelf

Justice in the Shadows
Bold Strokes Books, Inc.
1029 Livezey Lane, Philadelphia, PA 19119
ISBN 1933110031 $18.99 302 pages

Justice in the Shadows, by award winning author Radclyffe, is the fourth action-packed mystery in the Justice series following the engrossing prequels, A Matter of Trust, Shield of Justice, and In Pursuit of Justice. To her credit and her fans delight, Radclyffe has successfully produced another wonderful addition to her impressive writing resume. She is the author of twenty (and counting) published novels. Her writing is posted on-line, included in anthologies, and is available in other venues. Not surprisingly, Justice in the Shadows is a 2005 Golden Crown Literary Society award finalist.

In the latest Justice book, two cops have been assassinated, a young girl is dead, and an innocent woman lies in a coma, all the result of a child pornography ring. Philadelphia Police Department (PPD) Detective Sergeant Rebecca Frye wants to find out who is behind the murders of her partner Jeff Cruz, Officer Jimmy Hogan, a young prostitute, and the attempted murder of J.T. Sloan that is until Clark Avery, the Justice Department Investigator, pulls the plug on the investigation. Something reeks of an inside job and Rebecca Frye will not rest until justice is done; she does not intend to add the unsolved case to the dead pile. Captain Henry gives the okay for Frye to head her own secret task force to see what she can uncover.

Rebecca puts together a team of unlikely candidates including her new partner, Detective William Watts, internet sleuth J.T. Sloan, and Sloan's business associate Jason McBride. Other members of her team include rookie cop, Dellon Mitchell; young prostitute and certified informant, Sandy; and Rebecca's lover, PPD psychiatrist Dr. Catherine Rawlings. With a great cast of characters, the reader can't help but root for each one. Sloan's lover, Michael Lassiter, lies in a coma after she becomes a mistaken target meant for Sloan who will go to any lengths to avenge her attackers.

Radclyffe is a master at combining intense police drama and mystery along with an in-depth look at three loving and fulfilling lesbian relationships. She keeps the reader interested, excited, and guessing; it's hard to put the book down. As always, Radclyffe's work has compelling narrative, enough conflict and drama to sustain the story, unforgettable characters, natural sounding and credible dialogue. In addition, her writing is a perfect example of how sex does not get in the way of the plot; the sex scenes move the plot along and add depth to her characters. The author shows us the tough exterior of Rebecca when she is commanding her team, then contrasts that with her tender side when she makes love to her soul mate, Catherine. The same can be said about the budding relationship between Mitchell and Sandy. Mitchell is a hotheaded young cop, while Sandy is a street wise, smart mouthed kid. The growth of these two characters is particularly captivating.

As in all good series, several major story lines are resolved, while a few loose threads remain to keep us on edge for the next book in this series. I'm looking forward to the continuing adventures when Justice Served comes out June 2005. I recommend Radclyffe's Justice in the Shadows to anyone who enjoys intense crime stories with lots of intrigue, and with hot sex thrown in for good measure. If you like this kind of drama, don't miss Justice in the Shadows...a five star novel.

Hunter's Pursuit
Kim Baldwin
Bold Strokes Books, Inc.
1029 Livezey Lane, Philadelphia, PA 19119
ISBN 1933110090 304 pages $15.95

Hunter's Pursuit by Kim Baldwin will keep you on the edge of your seat every step of the way. Readers who enjoy action, adventure, intrigue, and a delightfully budding romance will find Hunter's Pursuit every bit as thrilling as Terminator. But instead of Arnold Schwarzenegger, Baldwin gives us Katarzyna Demetrious, alias Hunter - a mean, lean fighting machine! Hunter is a memorable and appealing heroine even though she is a trained killer, hired gun, and bounty hunter. The tables are turned however, when she learns there's a contract out on her. She's no longer the hunter. She is now the hunted.

Hunter is holed up in her secluded bunker a few miles south of the Lake Superior shoreline. Usually a loner, she never allows intimacy to cloud her judgment. On one of her first outings from the safe house, Hunter witnesses a car accident and is torn whether or not to get involved. She prefers not to risk being found as she's close to retirement and is looking forward to a normal, quiet existence.

Against her better judgment, she opts to save the victim, and takes the young woman back to her bunker. Although she suspects the mystery woman may be after the bounty on her head, Hunter can't ignore her feelings for the beautiful "patient." Throughout the story, the longing and sexual tension between Kat and Jake is palpable and positively entrancing. Suffering amnesia from the accident, they decide to call the mystery woman, Jake. Uncharacteristically, Hunter tells Jake her real nickname (that few people know), Kat.

Falling in love, intending to stay alive, and keeping her friend safe, has the usually restrained and cautious Hunter distracted. She's fearful of revealing too much of her clandestine life. As Jake tries to learn more about Kat's past, she asks, "So, you're a paramedic chef who plays a mean cello when she's not saving damsels in distress?" [p. 54] While Hunter is thinking about her growing affections for her captive, she's concerned with surviving the hardships of a treacherous Michigan blizzard, and, at the same time, fighting off would be assassins.

Clever surprises and suspenseful drama resonate on each page setting the wheels in motion for an exciting ride. Action sequences fire rapidly in succession leaving the reader breathless. The total effect will have you riveted to Kim Baldwin's book. Once you pick up Hunter's Pursuit, there is no putting it down. Each character is fleshed-out in detail, the dialogue is snappy, and you can't help but root for Kat and Jake to make it out of the hiding place unscathed, alive, and in love. Hunter's Pursuit by Kim Baldwin has been nominated for a Golden Crown Literary Society Award for 2005 and deservedly so. It is a truly fascinating, five star, entertaining read in one of the best action/adventure/mystery novels I've read this year. Don't miss it! I have added Kim Baldwin to my list of favorite authors. I am looking forward to reading her new romance novel, Force of Nature, and anything else penned by this talented novelist.

An Intimate Ghost
Ellen Hart
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, N. Y. 10010
ISBN 0312317476 $24.95 307 pages

Ellen Hart is the mistress of mystery. An Intimate Ghost is no exception to the wonders of the remarkably talented, award-winning author known for her intricate plots, witty dialogue, flawless characterizations, and engrossing stories. An Intimate Ghost, the continuation of the Jane Lawless series, touted as the best one yet, has been deservedly nominated for a Lambda Literary Award and the Golden Crown Literary Society Award for 2005.

Jane Lawless has had formal training as a restaurateur, consummate chef, and caterer. In the continuing saga about the amateur detective, wedding guests start acting weird after ingesting gourmet food catered by her company. WHO poisoned the food, WHAT did they use, WHERE was it executed, WHEN did they do it, and WHY are the questions Jane wants to figure out. Never mind that the police have started their investigation. Jane could be found culpable, and wants to clear her company's name. Even if the wedding hadn't been for her friends, Nick and Lauren Clifford, and Nick hadn't ended up in critical condition from a drug-induced dive into an empty pool, Jane still would have had to solve the mystery. It's not surprising that she enlists the help of her trusty sidekick, Cordelia Thorn, if for nothing other than comic relief. Jane and Cordelia are just hysterical together and they make a perfect crime solving team.

The fact that Cordelia, the creative director of a repertory theater, is a bit pre-occupied when her sister, Octavia, literally drops her kid in her aunt's lap and takes off for stardom, doesn't stop the dependable Cordelia from helping her best friend Jane. Cordelia is hardly the mother hen type and her life is disrupted beyond compare by the addition of niece Hattie. Ellen Hart depicts the toddler so convincingly that this reviewer almost got up on more than one occasion to prepare a "kid friendly" snack, but was reminded that she was just a fictitious character.

Hart is not only a master mystery writer, but her storytelling is as delectable as restaurateur Jane Lawless's culinary treats. An Intimate Ghost is appetizing, fulfilling, and deliciously funny with Jane's deadpan humor and Cordelia's catchy comebacks. Hart also writes with a contemporary flair that goes a long way to add to the believability of the story. Even the cars Jane and Cordelia choose to drive fit their personalities perfectly.

In An Intimate Ghost, nothing is ever as it seems even when things seem to be crystal clear. Readers will find the story riveting, and the conclusion of each chapter keeps the reader hungering for more. To me, this is mystery writing at its best and I am quick to recommend anything penned by this outstanding and deserving award-winning author. Ellen Hart has written another funny, fast-paced, first rate, five plus star novel. Do not miss this gem. I highly suggest you purchase a copy today!

Cheri Rosenberg

Christina's Bookshelf

Hearts Over Fences (An Equestrian Romance)
Toni Leland
Parallel Press
Equine Graphics Publishing Group
285 Taylor Street, Zanesville Ohio 43701
ISBN# 1887932682 $15.95 252 pp.

Sometimes a heart makes it over the fence, sometimes it doesn't, and sometimes a heart is reluctant to try because its safety might be lost.

This is a charming and clean love story set in the heart of horse country and the horse industry. It's centered around the characters first, and story second - something I like. Leland explores her character's fears and ambitions. Her piece profiles the sensitive dance of deciding whether someone is right for you. Just loving them doesn't mean they are. They also must be good for you and your dreams. Leland creates this situation with a backdrop of the business world of horses in Lexington Kentucky.

This story is about a fiercely ambitious and stubborn horse woman in her early thirties who tries to continue building a world-class equestrian training facility after an accident leaves her in a wheel-chair. Bethany Webb's largest investor continually acts as a thorn in her side. She didn't trust him, but what choice did she have? His money funded an enormous chunk of her dream and his brother was her best friend. To make matters worse, the town didn't seem friendly, especially when Beth hired out-of-town help. Then, she found herself attracted to a most unlikely person. She needed to walk and if possible, ride a horse again too. If she didn't keep her mind on recovery though, her dreams would fail. She prided herself on her independence and ability to stay focused. Conner Hall awakened new sensations and delightful thoughts; definitely complicating her focus.

As with her first romance book, 'Winning Ways,' Leland places her main character in the world of equines. Readers who've never been around horses will get to sample what it's like, and for those who've spent time with these animals, will enjoy a yarn spun around the familiar.

How does 'Hearts Over Fences' measure up?

Title fits the story perfectly.
The book-cover fits the story perfectly.
Development and structure is logical, orderly, and cleaver.
Entertaining and knowledgeable. Readers will learn a little about horses and the horse world.
Modern day setting in Lexington Kentucky.
For those who like a romance built around an Olympic-level backdrop in the sport world of horses, and those who've had a life-altering physical accident, especially those ending up in a wheel-chair because of it.

Because I'm a horse woman with an independent and ambitious streak myself, just like the main character, and because Leland knows how to tell a good romance tale, I liked this book. I'm a sucker for romance. Leland's description and knowledge placed me into her created world easily. I smelled hay and horses, saw barns and party dresses, and also felt the main character's pain of possibly never riding again. Our hearts are tender and need protection, yet allowing them a chance over fences additionally provides a chance for greener pastures.

Breast Cancer? Breast Health! (The Wise Woman Way)
Susun S. Weed
Ash Tree Publishing
P.O. Box 64, Woodstock, NY 12498 USA
ISBN# 0961462078 $14.95 380 pp. index, profusely illustrated

It's time we started paying attention to what our bodies; how we feel and think, and how we neglect ourselves. It will catch up with us, be it good or bad.

In Susun Weed's book she encourages women to listen to their inner selves, to get back in touch with her womanly wisdom. Doing this, she believes, will help women to not only maintain breast health, but aid in healing if breast does cancer strikes. Weed's book takes a natural, wise woman approach. Her information is based on her experiences and research, and other professional healers as well. She believes women should consult knowledgeable friends, trained healers, and listen to their inner guidance.

Weed's book takes a holistic approach and includes chapters on:

Preventing breast cancer
Food choices and cancer
Taking matters (our breasts) into our own hands
Definitions on what cancer really is
Questions to ask
Surgery and its effects and alternatives
Radiation therapy
Late stages of breast cancer
References and sources
Risk assessment
Index (always helpful and appreciated)

I've reviewed multiple books written by Susun Weed and authors who've published with Ash Tree Publishing. Why? They're great. I've learned something from every one and always find each nurturing and educational. Not one has let me down. 'Breast Cancer? Breast Health! The Wise Woman Way' is no exception. Weed takes her readers by the hand, and teaches in a loving way. She teaches women that they need to nurture themselves as well as others. Her belief is that natural is better. The food we eat, what we do, or don't do to our mind and body all plays a part in our health. She empowers women, especially when something like cancer strikes.

Because I've learned mother-nature has provided an abundant source of healthy allies, one of my favorite chapters in this book is Section 3, 'HELP, Materia Medica - Herbal Allies.' In short, it profiles herbs to use to help prevent cancer and those to help if cancer strikes. She gives names, where the plant comes from, parts used, actions and uses, important constituents, preparation and daily dose, toxicity, works well with, results and notes, and references.

Weed answers questions to:

"What can I do to prevent breast cancer?"
"What are my risks?"
"I found a lump, now what?"
"What is breast cancer really?"
"What do I do now that I've been diagnosed as having breast cancer?"
"Should I have breast surgery?"
"What choices do I have?"
"What will happen to my body if I have chemotherapy and what can I do to help myself naturally?"
"What if I'm in the late stages of breast cancer?"
"What do I do with these emotions?"
"How do I make my own natural salves, oils, poultice, lozenges, tea, liniment, compress, plaster, and yummy healthy recipes?"
"Where can I find these herbs, support groups, more information, and organizations?"

Another of my favorites from this book is the 'Risk Assessment Quiz' found towards the back. There are seventy-eight questions and answers to what your total means. This helps personalize and bring awareness to each individual score.

Impressive endorsements come from:

Christiane Northrup, M.D.
Rosemary Gladstar
David Hoffman
Carolyn M. DeMarco, M.D.

'Breast Cancer? Breast Health! The Wise Woman Way' is for women and those who love them, for those wanting to reduce their risk of getting breast cancer, and for those who've been diagnosed with it. Listening to our bodies is more than empowering, it feels good. Weed offers comfort, encouragement, and empowerment. Great as a continuing reference. Recommended.

Christina Francine Whitcher, Reviewer

Debra's Bookshelf

Chasing Vermeer
Blue Balliett
ISBN: 0439372976 $6.99 272 pages

Eleven-year-olds Calder Pilsay and Petra Andalee live three houses away from each other on a narrow street in Chicago's Hyde Park area. They are both unusually intelligent, Petra the sort of quirkily interesting kid whom others in her class consequently label as "weird," while Calder excels at patterning. He fidgets incessantly with the set of pentominoes he keeps with him at all times, fitting the Tetris-like shapes together to form rectangles of varying sizes. Both Calder and Petra, too, are unusually receptive to the idea that is a theme of this book, that apparent coincidences are not always coincidental. When the coincidences and various unexplained phenomena in their own lives begin piling up--many of them connected with the painter Vermeer--Calder and Petra come to believe that a particular Vermeer painting will be stolen. When it is, they believe themselves peculiarly suited to finding it.

While observing and recording suspicious activity in their own neighborhood, Calder and Petra put their considerable talents to use investigating the theft of the painting and tracking it down. The problem is, it's not intellect alone that they apply to the task: Calder believes that his pentominoes give him hints, while Petra finds herself communicating with the subject of the missing Vermeer painting. Lead forward thus by their supernatural helpmates, Calder and Petra make implausible mental leaps that, for this reader at least, make suspension of disbelief impossible.

Though its plot is a disappointment, and it never packs any true suspense, Chasing Vermeer has much to recommend it: likeable characters, some nice writing, Brett Helquist's drawings, and the use of codes in the book, based on Calder's pentominoes. The story may also get kids thinking more about art, as the author surely intended. The inclusion of reprints of two of Vermeer's paintings is a nice touch.

Beneath a Marble Sky
John Shors
McPherson & Company
ISBN: 0929701712 $24.95 324 pages

When his beloved wife Mumtaz Mahal died during childbirth in 1630, Shah Jahan, the emperor of Hindustan, ordered that a magnificent mausoleum be erected for her. Tens of thousands of laborers and craftsmen worked under the eye of the project's master architect, Ustad Isa, for more than a decade. And when the mausoleum's last gleaming white marble slab was fitted into place the world had one of its most treasured monuments, the Taj Mahal.

In his marvelous debut novel Beneath a Marble Sky author John Shors has taken what is known of the historical circumstances of the mausoleum's construction and created from that bare-bones account a rich, gripping narrative. The story is told by Princess Jahanara, the wily daughter of Shah Jahan and Mumtaz Mahal. At the book's outset she is an old woman, telling her granddaughters the story of her life for the first time: Hindustan is then too dangerous a place for relatives of the reigning emperor, and the girls had been too young previously to be entrusted even with the knowledge that they were of royal blood. The story Jahanara tells is a grand one. Beginning with her childhood among the chattering women of the royal harem, she tells of her mother's strength and intellect and of her parents' devotion to one another, and she introduces readers to her many siblings, in particular two of her brothers, the bookish Dara--the presumptive heir to the throne--and Aurangzeb, whose cruel streak in boyhood would mature into a lust for power and violence that would ultimately threaten not only his family but the empire itself. In the course of her narrative Jahanara tells two love stories--her own and that of her parents--but much of her story is bleak: there is her loveless marriage to the abusive Khondamir, her mother's death, her brother Aurangzeb's instigation of a civil war, her separation from her daughter. She is sustained throughout by her father, her lover, and by two very solid friendships.

Most books, however engaging they may be in the reading, ultimately aren't memorable. Over time their plots and characters slip away, and one is left not with a true memory of the book but, at best, with a general sense of one's reaction to it--that it was thrilling or slow, well-written or clumsy, that one would want to read more by the same author or not. But because Beneath a Marble Sky is not only engaging and beautifully written but also tied intimately to a cultural monument, I think that it will live in its readers' imaginations far longer than most books, its story called to mind whenever one encounters references to or pictures of the Taj Mahal. Shors does a service in breathing life into the mausoleum and the historical figures and circumstances that created it. And he's done it beautifully.

My one suggestion for improvement is that the author add a historical note to subsequent editions of the book, detailing for readers what is known about the characters whose lives he has depicted.

Another Word for Murder
Nero Blanc
Berkeley Prime Crime
ISBN: 0425202704 $14.00 320 pages

In this tenth installment in Nero Blanc's Crossword Mystery series, cruciverbalist Belle Graham and her P.I. husband Rosco Polycrates investigate the disappearance of a friend's husband. Dan Tacete, a local dentist and all-around nice guy given to donating his time to treat charity cases, fails to return home one evening after leaving work in his Ford Explorer--the least expensive vehicle in his private fleet. Dan's wife Karen naturally turns for help to her friends Rosco and Belle. While Rosco steals time from his current investigation of a car theft ring to help her, Belle begins to receive a series of crossword puzzles which she suspects may be related to the Tacete case. Certainly the clues in the third puzzle Belle receives seem to refer to one of the primary suspects in Dan's disappearance, the victim's surly business partner Jack Wagner. But Jack isn't alone in attracting the attention of Rosco or his former partner, Newcastle's chief homicide detective Al Lever: among the other suspects in the case are a number of Dan's down-and-out patients, his secretary Bonnie and her wayward brother, and Karen Tacete herself, who is suspiciously hostile to Belle and Rosco after requesting their help and who is unwilling to share everything she knows about the case with the police. Who among these, if any, dunnit? Readers are unlikely to figure that out before the clues--both forensic and linguistic--lead Belle and Rosco to a startling conclusion.

As usual in the Nero Blanc series, a handful of crossword puzzles related to the crime punctuate the book--the very puzzles Belle receives in the course of the story--but the six puzzles included in Another Word for Murder are less intimately connected to the solution of the crime than is usual in the series.

Another Word for Murder is yet another good read from the husband and wife writing team of Cordelia F. Biddle and Steve Zettler, a.k.a. "Nero Blanc." The book's tightly plotted mystery and the surprising twist it offers alone make the book worth the read, and crossword enthusiasts will appreciate the authors' linguistic playfulness and the inclusion of puzzles in the storyline. But I keep coming back to the series for its homey ambiance: the happy, pun-filled relationship of Rosco and Belle themselves, and the clutch of Newcastle denizens who join the couple in holding down a table at Lawson's Coffee Shop every Saturday morning. The murder rate in Newcastle may be startlingly high, but Rosco and Belle's home town is nonetheless a pleasant place to spend one's time.

The Polysyllabic Spree
Nick Hornby
Believer Books
826 Valencia Street, San Francisco, CA 94110
ISBN: 1932416242 $14.00 143 pages

Nick Hornby, the author of High Fidelity and About a Boy, among other novels, began writing his monthly column "Stuff I've Been Reading" for Believer magazine in September of 2003. Fourteen of Hornby's essays are collected here in The Polysyllabic Spree. Each is prefaced by lists of the books the author read and purchased in the month preceding the column's appearance: Hornby, who reads a lot of books and buys even more, is admirably comfortable with populating his shelves with books he is unlikely ever to get to.

In his column Hornby discusses what he's read during the month, how he came to read or buy the books he did, how the books under discussion relate to one another. In the course of writing about his reading life Hornby hits on any number of topics: the dampening effect of parenthood on one's reading; his experience watching an unwitting stranger read his book poolside; Anton Chekhov's unfortunate use of sappy endearments--"little ginger-haired doggie," "my dearest chaffinch"--in letters to his wife ("For god's sake, pull yourself together, man! You're a major cultural figure!"); the surprising similarity between reading and, well, being the leader of the free world:

"Being a reader is sort of like being president, except reading involves fewer state dinners, usually. You have this agenda you want to get through, but you get distracted by life events, e.g., books arriving in the mail/World War III, and you are temporarily deflected from your chosen path."

Hornby's tone in his essays is conversational, his observations often witty. The book is most interesting, inevitably, when Hornby's reading life intersects with one's own, but familiarity with the books he discusses is not necessary to one's enjoyment. (I fear I've read regrettably few of the books on his lists.) One comes away from The Polysyllabic Spree liking Hornby and appreciating his regular-guy take on the highbrow world of letters.

A Certain Chemistry
Mil Millington
ISBN: 0812966678 $13.95 404 pages

Twenty-eight-year-old Tom Cartwright is a prolific if not a renowned writer, the author of numerous ghostwritten biographies as well as a host of pseudonymously published magazine articles on such subjects as "how I coped with the menopause." Tom has much to be thankful for. He can crank out a passable manuscript faster than most and he's a top-notch speller. He's also involved with something like the perfect woman, Sara, his girlfriend of five years, who is beautiful and plucky and much given to witty banter. Things look even better for Tom when he is hired to ghostwrite the biography of the hugely popular soap star Georgina Nye--the owner of what is reportedly the U.K.'s finest pair of buttocks--a gig which will earn Tom a six-figure commission but buy him a world of trouble: Georgina turns out to be as attracted to Tom as he is to her. Can our hero, as he supposes ("Christ--it was hard to see a way in which this couldn't work"), keep his relationship with Sara in working order while trysting with a callipygian soap star and dodging the paparazzi?

Tom is guided through life and publishing by his agent-cum-mother figure Amy, a hard-drinking piranha of a woman, and by his amusingly death-obsessed editor Hugh. There is also God, who is evidently shorter than one would suppose and who interrupts Tom's first-person narrative from time to time to expound upon His point that romance is illusory and love the stuff of chemical impulses. Tom himself is an awkward, smart character who tends to find himself in absurdly funny circumstances--hiding beneath his dining room table from a pair of pre-tween girls with only an overheated laptop to cover his nakedness, hightailing it across town in desperate need of half a haircut, or merely navigating the difficult waters of getting to an appointment at precisely the right time:

"What I generally do--and I think this is the only thing you can do if you're an adult who's taken some time to consider all the issues and come up with a clearheaded course of action--is I arrive early, and then hide. I find somewhere close by and conceal myself: wait until I see the person arrive, pause for fifteen seconds, then march in--apologizing profusely for being late. Works every time. Well, except for those times when the person you're meeting happens to walk up behind you while you're crouching watchfully behind a low wall across from the meeting place; if that happens, you're pretty much into 'faking a seizure' territory, really."

Like his first novel, Things my Girlfriend and I Have Argued About, Mil Millington's A Certain Chemistry is a smart romp of a book. His detailing of life's small moments, rife as they are with the potential for embarrassment, will leave readers laughing aloud.

The Little Guide to Your Well-Read Life
Steve Leveen
Levenger Press
420 South Congress Avenue, Delray Beach, Florida 33445-4696
ISBN: 1929154178 $17.50 123 pages

In his little book on the "well-read life" author Steve Leveen (the CEO and co-founder of Levenger) offers readers advice on how to get more mileage from their reading. His book is divided into five chapters. The fifth is given over primarily to concluding remarks. The third and fourth have to do with the rewards and history of, respectively, audiobooks and reading groups. The meat of Leveen's argument lies in the fifty-odd pages that make up his first two chapters, "Uncovering the Books That Will Change Your Life" and "Seizing More from Your Reading."

Leveen argues that readers will gain more from their reading by approaching the business of books systematically. The usual "accidental and ad hoc" means of selecting titles to read is unfortunate, he believes, because it is more likely to lead to unfulfilling reading experiences that "may dampen your enthusiasm, causing your reading to languish, sometimes for long periods." He advocates developing an extensive list of "candidates for your attention," that is, a list of books in which one is interested, either because of their subject matter or author or because they were recommended by friends or in reviews. The list is to be organized by subject headings and augmented throughout one's life. As a second step, Leveen suggests that readers acquire a great many of the books on their list. He is fully in favor of possessing a personal library that contains more books than one could possibly read so as to have a wide selection of quality books always at hand. (That sentiment may go some way toward alleviating the guilt of compulsive book buyers over their purchases.)

In his second chapter Leveen distills the recommendations of earlier authors on the art of reading and retaining information. He discusses, for example, Mortimer Adler's advice on approaching books as if from a high altitude: one scans a book first to get an idea of its structure, then reads it superficially to pick up its main arguments before sitting down, finally, to a serious analytical reading of the book. Leveen also discusses a variety of note-taking practices.

The reading approach Leveen advocates will not be for everyone. His suggestion that readers direct their reading by developing an organized list of book candidates will be of use almost exclusively to those who are interested in pursuing a course of private study through the reading of nonfiction. Readers with less serious goals in mind probably won't find that particular idea--which is, after all, one of the main points of the book--pertinent to their own situation. Leveen should perhaps have made more of this distinction between fiction and nonfiction reading in his text. His cursory look at the subject of engaged reading won't satisfy those who are serious about becoming more active readers themselves. But Leveen provides a great service in introducing his audience to the subject and pointing to books that will provide further information. His quick read will definitely be of interest to the readers on your shopping list.

Debra Hamel, Reviewer

Emanuel's Bookshelf

Snake Walkers
J. Everett Prewitt
Northland Publishing Company
2775 S. Moreland Blvd., Cleveland, Ohio 44120
ISBN 0976192705, $24.99, 328 pp.

In J. Everett Prewitt's debut novel "Snake Walkers," an educated yet but naive African-American reporter, Anthony Andrews, accepts a job in the early sixties as the first black employee of the Arkansas Sun, a newspaper known to have been unkind to his race throughout its history. Excited to get out of the family's mortuary business, Andrews takes an assignment to investigate the disappearance of the citizens of a rural Arkansas town. His investigation leads him to strange characters, different little towns in Arkansas, and eventually to Cleveland, Ohio.

In Cleveland, Andrews befriends the odd but close-knit Williams family to learn more about their roles in the disappearance. When he begins to build a bond with the black family, especially the college-bound Raymond, he becomes conflicted. If the family is guilty of a crime, was it justified? If so, should he reveal his discoveries to his historically racist superiors for a story that could catapult his journalism career? Having witnessed a horrific crime as a boy complicates matters even further. These are the type of ethical dilemmas the reporter must deal with as the story unfolds.

Andrews enlists the help of Carla, an intelligent and beautiful college professor with a background in history. While there appears to be a spark between them, their ideologies cause them to clash. If there is any chance of romance between the two, one of them will have to do an about face in regards to his or her beliefs about civil rights, racial atrocities, and the justification of revenge.

"Snake Walkers" is a captivating book that delves into explosive subjects such as lynchings, overt and institutional racism, and retribution. Although this is the author's debut, Prewitt clearly writes from wisdom and know-how, which will cause readers to sacrifice a few hours of sleep to read a few more chapters before bedtime.

While this book is a recommended read because of its hang-on-the-edge-of-your-seat content and original storyline, there are a few imperfections. Though the author knows his way around a metaphor, he is still guilty of telling rather than showing. Also, it's difficult not to compare the novel to better written work of the same subject matter, of recent "Blood on the Leaves" by Jeff Stetson and of old "A Party Down at the Square," a short story that appears in "Flying Home" by Ralph Ellison. With that being said, "Snake Walkers" still holds it own and should be read by anyone who enjoys a good story that takes on complicated subjects from our country's racist history. Recommended.

Fumbling Toward Divinity
Craig Hickman
Annabessacook Farm
192 Annabessacook Road, Winthrop, Maine 04364
ISBN 0976246201, $27.95, 374 pp.

Imagine growing up not knowing who your real parents are. Would you wonder who you resemble in the family tree? Could you deal with being ignorant to your family's medical history? And most importantly, would you wonder where you belong? In a new book from Craig Hickman, the author takes readers on his journey of discovering his true roots.

In the new memoir "Fumbling Toward Divinity" from Harvard graduate Craig Hickman (Rituals), the author takes readers into his journey of the search for his biological parents. Along the way, we learn of the African American writer's homosexual lifestyle that includes a marriage to his Caucasian partner. The apprehensive author not only worries about finding his biological family but if they will accept his alternative lifestyle.

As the story unfolds, readers are right there with Hickman as he researches his roots in libraries, government buildings, and online and treks along U.S. highways with help from his adoptive family, his husband Job, and his newly discovered Uncle James. By the time he meets his religious, biological mother in Georgia, readers will come to know him and cheer him on as he takes on the task of finding and getting to know his real family.

"Fumbling Toward Divinity" is a well-written and unique book. Written in third-person format, Hickman meshes a poetic, scriptural-like, and a journal-like writing style that is quite interesting to read. Many readers will feel a kinship with the author as he shares his trials, triumphs, pain, and joy of self-discovery. However, the meticulously written memoir, which almost reads like a diary, is so detailed that it may turn off readers who do not know him intimately. "Fumbling Toward Divinity" is still well worth the effort and will be received with open arms. Recommended.

Emanuel Carpenter, Reviewer

Frank's Bookshelf

Farrah Gray with Fran Harris
Health Communications, Inc
3201 S.W. 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442
ISBN 0757302246, $12.95, 282 pp.

Reallionarie is an astounding story. A young teenage African American named Farrah Gray, went from public assistance to become a Millionaire at age 14 and one of the youngest 21st CEOs with nothing but a dream and a determination to see it to fulfillment despite growing up in abject poverty and in a single parent home on the rough side of Chicago.

Farrah Gray's book is the real rags to riches story in achieving wealth by "Becoming Rich from the Inside Out." Reallionaire is a long over due book that dispels the myths concerning young black youth in this Nation. It's an impressive journey of epic proportions of how Farrah Gray's life changed because he refused to not believe he was the Golden Child - the 21st century CEO. As Farrah stated in his book; his family was always one paycheck away from being evicted. But, this young man bulldozed his way from the circumstances of poverty to become somebody he already knew he was on the inside, early in his childhood - a CEO. Reallionaire is about a child who saw his mother work her fingers to the bone and decided he would do something about it.

Every educator, sociologist, Ph.D., and criminologist who thinks they've cornered the wisdom on understanding the make-up of inner city youth with just a profile or a textbook blurb about young black males has to rewrite their dissertations because Farrah has hit a real home run out of the halls of academia in this book. There are no "Tales from the Crypt" in this book, but, you'll learn a lot of tales from the 'hood. There are no get rich quick scenarios in Reallionaire, either. It's hard work and burning midnight oil to achieve success and wealth in life. While many of us were slobbering on our pillows in slumber, Farrah worked his dream of realizing his status of being a 21st century CEO.

This book is funny, antidotal, serious, gut-wrenching and packed with lessons for aspiring entrepreneurs of all ages. Realliosnaire teaches you the lessons of life from the school of hard knocks. I could not put it down. After reading this book, I'm ready to dive into the challenges of becoming an Entrepreneur. This book, like a Championship fighter, knocked out the rest of my pessimistic attitude in the ring of life. Thanks Farrah for changing my thinking about business ownership. This is a must read book for every young person and especially African American males, young and old. A powerful book that deserves all the notoriety and accolades it receives.

Divided by Faith
Michael O. Emerson and Christian Smith
Oxford University Press
ISBN 0195131401, $25:00, 212 pp.

This book is about the profound issue of Christianity and Race in America. It is a serious discussion about what it would take for true unity among black and white Christians to fully unite in harmony. Divided by Faith is an expose' on what happens on the most segregated day in this nation. The book reveals that Sunday morning has not changed for many who call themselves followers of Jesus Christ.

Michael Emerson and Christian Smith have traveled to the dark side of Christianity with this no holds bared and thoroughly researched book on the issue of racism in the Church. I read this book and immediately knew they hit a nerve and exposed a hidden secret that's plagued the black and white church for years. They looked under the carpet of religion and found the dirty little secret. They opened the door that Jesus spoke about knocking on and found the skeletons in the Church closet.

This book penetrates the segregated walls of Christianity and operates on the evangelical theology from a black and white perspective. They nailed the issues to the wall of the church bulletin board for all to read in a book. Divided by Faith will either anger you or cause you to re-think positions often thought to be to be Biblically sound. I do want to say that in my personal reading of the Bible, the term Evangelical is not found. Hence, the book chronicles the beliefs of white and black Christians with each side giving their view of perceived social problems whether true or false. Emerson and Smith's observations and analyses can help many Christians unite. The book makes a bold statement that evangelical Caucasian thinking is suspect and may be the source of race problems around the country. For evangelicals or more accurately Christians of any color, who are serious about building up a single Body of Christ, this is a must read. There is no excuse for those claiming to live as Christ commanded to continue to ignore this issue.

After reading this book you cannot remain passive with regard to racism in the church. To do so, makes you culpable and a participate in dividing the Christian Faith. You shall know the truth and the truth shall make you free. Every Christian can be free by reading this book so they can clean out the closet of their heart.

Frank Chase Jr., Reviewer

Gary's Bookshelf

Octopussy and the Living Daylights
Ian Fleming
Penguin Books
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
ISBN 0142003298 $12.00

I've been a fan of this short story collection, the last writings of James Bond by Ian Fleming, since 1966 when two of the pieces were originally published. With each edition the assortment has increased. In the American hardback there were two stories, "Octopussy and The Living Daylights." As a mass-market paperback "The Property of a Lady" was added and now in trade paperback "007 In New York" rounds out this volume to four. The stories are not Fleming's best work but they are interesting because they are so different from his other Bond books.

Strange Wind
Jeffery Lamb
Outskirts Press
ISBN 1932672389 $13.95

There are a lot of things that I like in this novel of a car salesman who retires, buys a boat and sails down to the keys of Florida where he meets some very different characters and gets involved in some illegal situations. Lamb's characters are believable against the backdrop of the tropical areas of Florida and the Caribbean. The only complaint I have is that it is badly in need of editing for typos and tenses of verbs that slowed down the pacing of the writing. Normally this would not be a factor but there are so many. I've pointed this out so that in the author's next works he is more aware of the mistakes he's made so that his other books are more tightly written.

Circus Days in Sarasota & Venice
Kim Cool
Historic Venice Press
P.O. Box 800, Venice Fl 34284
ISBN 0972165533 $18.95 941-468-6556

Cool tells the legends, stories and history of the Ringling Circus that wintered in Sarasota and Venice area of Florida There are many photos, some taken by the author herself, This collection of stories is a good resource for anyone who wants to know about the Ringling Circus.

Ghost Stories of Venice
Kim Cool
Historic Venice Press
P.O. Box 800, Venice Fl 34284
ISBN 0972165509 $8.95 941-468-6556

Cool takes the reader all around the Venice area of Florida and tells the legends and stories about ghosts, haunted homes and other eerie frights that are not on most tours and writings of this area of the state. There are many photos, some taken by the author herself, that add to the whole idea of looking for strange things in this area of Florida. This collection of stories is a good resource for any writer telling some kind of eerie tale.

Tainted Blood
Jessie Wise
Jada Press
Jacksonville, Florida
ISBN 0974750107 $21.95

This is a tale of two brothers Blake and Brian Farrington filled with very well fleshed out characters. Blake is the one his mother loves best while their father loves both equally but realizes that one is good and the other is evil. Brian is the good and Blake is the evil. Brian is committed to one woman throughout most of the book while Blake, who has no morals, will sleep with any female he can. As they say "payback is hell" and Blake's is so appropriate at the end of the novel. The author has also filled the tale with numerous conflicts that briskly move the story along. "Tainted Blood" unfolds like a very good soap opera until its final pages when you realize it's over. My only complaint is that some of the characters are so similarly named that it made it a bit confusing to sometimes differentiate them.

Watch Your Back
Donald E. Westlake
Warner Books Inc.
1271 Avenue of the Americas, New York NY 10020
ISBN 0892968028 $24.95

I've loved the Dortmunder novels from the opening one "The Hot Rock" on and enjoyed many of them but I have to say that the last two are among the worst I've read in the series. In fact, this one has very few elements that made me laugh like so many of Westlake's finest Dortmunder capers. I think the best elements that have made many of the novels so much fun are the characters of Andy Kelp, Stan Murch, Murch's Mom, and of course, Dortmunder. In this one they are not in the novel enough and there is not really a caper they are involved in. I also found there are too many new characters that I just didn't care about. With this novel and the last one, I can only say Mr. Westlake has lost his touch.

Baby Step thru Word Processing for Seniors
Char Wood the Computer Granny
2028 Pine Tree Drive, Edgewater Fl 32141
ISBN 0971961360 $19.95 386-424-6768

The Dummies series of books is supposed to in each volume, make it easier to understand whatever the subject matter. Instead I've felt stupider with each one I've studied because I couldn't grasp anything they say. I'm glad to announce that simply is not the case here. Char Wood makes it clear that no one will feel dumb and anyone can learn how to use the computer when they follow her hands on approach that is really the best way for anyone to learn to use a computer. She teaches about the keyboard, using a mouse, what each key's function is, how to scroll, how to use the mouse, and I like that she does not talk down to her readers. She is stating her information simply and concisely. I think the biggest reason so many seniors have not learned about computers is because they feel there is something to fear and that computers are so monumental. This book can put to rest anyone's panic.

Man Hunt: The Eric Rudolph Story
Kathleen Walls
Global Authors Publications
ISBN 0974216127 $10.99

For those who don't remember, Eric Rudolph is the suspect the FBI chased and captured for the bombings in Atlanta during the Olympics, and numerous doctor's offices throughout the south. Walls has given readers a look at what set off this terrorist and the search to bring him to justice.

Hunter Killer
Patrick Robinson
Harper Collins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York NY 10022
ISBN 0060746890 $25.95

Before this title I had never read this author but now I have to say I will definitely make every effort to read anything by him in the future. Robinson lays out a "what if situation" that has been very logically thought out. Crown Prince Nasir of Saudi Arabia is determined to become the ruler of the country. He enlists the aid of the French president to topple the present regime in Saudi Arabia and to take back the oil fields he feels belong to his country, not the United States. He has an insane way to achieve his goal while the United States must respond or else there will be a worldwide depression. The president of the US must tread carefully or else this could be the start of World War III I loved the tense pacing and the conflict Robinson has created. This is a great thriller that is fast tempo that would make an excellent movie.

The Big Secret
Pete Earley
175 Fifth Avenue, New York NY 10010
ISBN 0765346923 $7.99

I love fast moving novels and this one held me spellbound until the last page. The characters are believable but I also liked how this book shows how things really get done in Washington. Journalist Heather Cole disappears in Mississippi while tracking down a story she is working on. Her ex-lover Nick LeRue is asked to help find Heather by Melanie her identical twin sister. Nick is hesitant at first because Melanie reveals that Heather has told her through dreams that she is being held captive. But something tips him over to go and find his ex lover. What he stumbles into involves a lynching in the past of a black man, a public official in the present, and several prominent people who will do anything even murder to stop Heather, Nick, and Melanie from finding out the truth. "The Big Secret" is enjoyable summer reading.

Peanut Butter and Jellyfish: An Anthology
Ormond Writers League
519 West Lancaster Avenue, Haverford. PA 19041-1413
ISBN 0741418010 $13.95 877-BUY-BOOK (877-289-2665)

There is something for everyone in this fine collection of writings by a very active writers' group from Volusia County, Florida. There are poems, short fiction, commentaries nonfiction pieces, and bios of all who contributed. This collection is a plethora of talented authors.

Gary Roen

Gorden's Bookshelf

Origins, Fourteen Billion Years of Cosmic Evolution
Neil deGrasse Tyson and Donald Goldsmith
W.W. Norton & Company, Inc.
500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110
ISBN: 0393059928 $27.95 345 pages

The title of the book summarizes the story. During the last few decades, huge advances in the knowledge of the evolution of the universe and our own little part in it have been made. Tyson and Goldsmith have simplified the last fourteen billion years into a readable 300 pages. Most people today get their scientific knowledge from their church, television news, SF stories or local newspaper. The authors give a sweeping, easy-reading but cursory look at most of the new details now known about the universe.

'Origins' is a little repetitive but a fun day of discovery for most lay-readers. The rich details and massive amounts of information known about the universe are astonishing. Equally astonishing are the critical details that are still missing and why they are missing. The joy of exploring the known and unknown is brought out by the authors. 'Origins' is highly recommended for anyone who wants to know and understand cosmic scientific knowledge. 'Origins' answers the many questions that people have from the partial or incorrect knowledge they get from other sources.

Yvonne Navarro
Pocket Star Books published by
Pocket Books, a division of Simon & Schuster Inc.
Rockefeller Center
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
ISBN: 0416505059 $6.99 280 pages

Novels and screenplays are related but different forms of storytelling. Screenplays tell the story through visual images and dialogue and novels use narration. 'Elektra' is balanced to the screenplay. It is best read as a part of seeing the movie. The story is fun but the over emphasis on the screenplay format doesn't let the story expand into the flexible imagination that the written word provides.

'Elektra' continues the story started in the 'DareDevil' movie. 'DareDevil' ends with Elektra wounded to the point of death. She is resuscitated by a mystical blind sensei known as Stick. He trains her in the martial arts and in the use of a meditation that gives a sixth sense of past, present and future called kimagure. Elektra is wounded in her mind as well as body and Stick forces her out of his school when she is unable to heal. She becomes a hired killer and is given the job of killing a young girl and her father. Instead of killing them, she becomes their protector standing between them and forces trying to control the world.

'Elektra' is an average story but a must read for those who enjoy the movie. It compliments the movie bringing in details that should have been included in the film. The book is a unique blend of two similar but different art forms. It isn't strong enough to hold its own in either format but is a good example of what can happen to a story that can't seem to find a single home.

S.A. Gorden, Reviewer

Greenspan's Bookshelf

End Of An Exile
James Parkes
Micah Publications, Inc.
255 Humphrey Street, Marblehead, MA 01945-1645
0916288501 $22.95

Written by a British churchman and first published in 1954, End of an Exile: Israel, the Jews and the Gentile World is a testimony in direct response to anti-Israel animosity perpetuated both then and fifty years later today. Affirming Israel's "right to exist" on religious grounds, and analyzing the history of the land and its people through sociology and history, End of an Exile does not shy from problems the Middle East has faced, applying the author's knowledge of demographics, immigration patterns, and cultural norms. The no-holds-barred of a "Christian Zionist" before that term became widespread, End of an Exile is an important contribution to Judaic and Middle Eastern studies shelves, especially since it reminds readers of the long and complex history behind present the day issues concerning Israel.

It Takes More Than Love
Anita G. Beckerman and Ruth M. Tappen
Health Professions Press
PO Box 10624, Baltimore, MD 21285-0624
1878812505 $22.00 1-888-337-8808

Written by experts with decades of combined experience in the fields of gerontology, nursing, and aging, It Takes More Than Love: A Practical Guide to Taking Care of an Aging Adult is a straightforward guide to the demands of caregiving to older people, whether a parent, a spouse, a sibling or a friend. Written in plain terms for the lay person, It Takes More Than Love deals with practical matters such as how to objectively assess the physical and mental well-being of a loved one, how to effectively communicate with doctors, family members, and the older adult in one's life, how to provide safe and respectful personal care, how to balance one's needs with those of the loved one, finding necessary services, when to make the nursing facility decision and how to choose an ideal location, and much more. Highly recommended.

Journeying East
Victoria Jean Dimidjian
Parallax Press
PO Box 7355, Berkeley, CA 94707
1888375361 $16.00

Journeying East: Conversations On Aging And Dying is an anthology of conversations with nine men and women, each of whom has been recognized worldwide as teachers of Eastern and Western wisdom, understanding, and spirituality. Each one is in the later stages of life, and each discusses the transitions of aging, dying, and death, and the transcendent meaning in each phase. "When you are truly aware of death, it's a serious and deep encounter with life," states Zen master Norman Fischer. A reflective and very thoughtful source of comfort, hope, and spiritual grace.

Between DictatorshipAand Democracy
Michael McFaul, Nikolai Petrov, and Andrei Ryabov
Carnegie Endowment Publications
1779 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Washington DC 20036
0870032062 $24.95

Three expert scholars and associate professors combine their knowledge of modern-day Russian politics in Between Dictatorship And Democracy: Russian Post-Communist Political Reform, a close scrutiny of the democratic reforms that have been launched to change Russia's political workings in the past two decades. From a comprehensive evaluation of how Vladimir Putin's ascension has changed the course of the nation, to extensive charts and references packed with hard data, to diagrams and detailed walkthroughs of the transformations Russian government has undergone, Between Dictatorship and Democracy offers a crystal-clear picture of Russia's turbulent recent past, their changing present, and the possibilities of the future. Highly recommended for academic and political studies collections.

Able Greenspan

Harwood's Bookshelf

Don't Kiss Them Goodbye
Allison DuBois
Thorndike Press
295 Kennedy Drive, Waterville, ME 04901
ISBN 074328190X, $23.00 224 pp.

My association with professional show business began when, as a teenager, I stooged for a stage hypnotist in Melbourne, Australia, in 1950. I also performed the role of the hypnotist in amateur shows, with fellow members of the Magic Circle playing the role of my hypnotized subjects. I assured everyone who asked that the performances were genuine, that I was really hypnotized, and my associates were really hypnotized. It did not occur to me that I was lying. I was furthering a greater truth by encouraging belief in a phenomenon I believed to be a scientific reality. That my performances were simulations did not alter the reality that audiences were witnessing a replication of real science. And my belief in the existence of hypnotism, and the legitimacy of using simulations to demonstrate its characteristics, remained for the entire forty years that I spent touring with concert hypnotists. Only when my bread and butter ceased to depend on my association with hypnotism did I allow myself to acknowledge that the reason I had never seen a genuine demonstration of hypnotism was that hypnotism does not exist, has never existed in the past, and will not exist in the future.

And before I started examining the alleged evidence for extra-sensory perception, and recognized that, after 200 years of searching, if ESP existed someone would have proven it by now, I regularly passed off cold reading as ESP with only the most subliminal awareness that I was lying.

Perhaps I am projecting my own experiences when I conclude that Allison Dubois has no qualms about peddling a pack of lies about a phenomenon that does not exist. She believes that there really is such a thing as a psychic, that the percentage of her fanciful guesses that turn out to be hits is something other than the natural working of the law of averages, that information really can travel backward in time, and that when she fantasizes communicating with a person who (being dead) has ceased to exist, the thoughts that come into her head were put there by the dead person. In short, I am prepared to accept that she is a True Believer in psychic phenomena, or to say the same thing in slightly different words, that she is a fruitcake first class.

But being sincerely deluded in her basic beliefs does not change the reality that DuBois is also a liar. In peddling her fictitious pseudo-biography to NBC for the fantasy series Medium, she claimed to have been "consulted on a variety of murders and missing persons cases" by such specific law enforcement agencies as the Texas Rangers, the Glendale Arizona Police Department, and a County Attorney's Office in the Homicide Bureau. When NBC made no attempt to verify DuBois's unsubstantiated claims, the Committee for the Scientific Investigation of Claims of the Paranormal (CSICOP) did so. According to Texas Rangers spokesman Tom Vinger, "The Texas Rangers have not worked with Allison DuBois or any other psychics." The other cited agencies similarly denied ever communicating with DuBois or receiving any information from her whatsoever.

The Introduction to Don't Kiss Them Goodbye begins, "For those of you familiar with the hit television series Medium you probably already know that it's based on my real experiences." LIE!

Under "About Me," DuBois writes, "I am a medium and profiler." NEWSFLASH! There is no such thing as a medium. There is no such thing as a profiler (other than self-deluded ignoramuses who believe they can read minds). "I can predict future events." For that to be true, information would have to travel backward in time. Information cannot travel backward in time. "I can communicate with the dead." And Charlie Brown could communicate with the Great Pumpkin. "I have what I refer to as the gift." Translation: I have the ability to persuade at least some people that my fantasies are derived from communication with the dead.

"I received visits from my guides on and off throughout my childhood and teenage years. I wasn't sure who those voices were, but I knew the source was good." In other words DuBois retained imaginary playmates into teenage. She heard voices, a common enough claim by inmates in loony bins but not prevalent elsewhere.

So is Allison DuBois more crank than humbug, or a blatant liar who is also a fruitcake? The only way to answer that would be by guessing. She exudes a sincerity that could be a manifestation of her ingrained ignorance, but could just as easily be a carefully cultivated affectation that is part of her scam. What matters is not how much of her fantasies she really believes, but how much truth they contain. The answer to that is simple: None whatsoever.

How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must)
Ann Coulter
Crown Forum
Random House
1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019
ISBN 1400054184, $16.98 368 pp.

As recently as last year, I believed that there is no such thing as a banshee. But after reading Ann Coulter's latest verbal diarrhea, I have no hesitation in concluding that Coulter is a banshee.

I am fully aware that banshees live only in the world of fantasy. But Coulter also lives in a fantasy world, one in which the talking chimpanzee in the White House is intelligent, right and wrong are whatever an imaginary lawgiver's current scriptwriter says they are, heads it's a sin and tails it's a virtue, and human beings are the domesticated livestock of a slavemaster in the sky that gets its jollies torturing and killing them by means of disease, famine, religious wars, natural disaster, transportation accidents, and old age, but is nonetheless a nice guy. That makes it a logical assumption that Coulter is herself a fantasy creature, specifically a screaming, howling, fang-toothed banshee whose screams presage the death of democracy that America's Theofascist Right are hell-bent on bringing about.

Coulter's hatred of the morally evolved, as liberals are most accurately defined, is no doubt a function of her being a product of the lack of thirty thousand years of evolution that infects all theofascists, otherwise known as conservatives, Republicanazis, and the North American Taliban. Nowhere in any of Coulter's books does she express the belief that the earth is flat, but such a dogma would be no more indefensible than any other philosophy or propaganda she has ever excreted. Presumably she has learned to walk on her hind legs, since otherwise she would surely have been caged and given rabies shots, the fate of most other rabid canines. But she has certainly never learned to put her brain in gear before engaging her tongue. She had better hope she never develops Alzheimer's disease, since if she does it is a near certainty that no one will notice any difference.

Anyone who needs proof that the Theofascist Right are not sparking on all neurons, and lack the ability to tell right from wrong (the legal definition of insanity of most of the world), has only to read this book. Only Ann Coulter could make the unspeakable Kenneth Starr look like a moderate.

William Harwood

Henry's Bookshelf

Made in Japan - The Postwar Creative Print Movement
Alicia Volk, with a contribution by Helen M. Nagata
Milwaukee Art Museum in Association with University of Washington Press
dist. by U. of Washington Press
Seattle, WA
ISBN 029598502X $28.95 123 pp.

In the rebuilding of Japanese society in the years after its defeat in World War, there was a "creative print movement [that] brought modern European artistic attitudes such as self-expression and formalist innovation to the Japanese woodblock print, a medium that had been rooted in the mass-production of popular images for several hundred years." The latest stages of this movement are becoming more widely known in the United States with the popularity of the Japanese manga and anime. The predecessors of this recent Japanese art are seen in the colors, designs, collages, subjects, and treatments of the post-war prints in this volume. One or two prints of 59 artists are shown in the main section of about 70 pages. These range from dark, tangled visions from having witnessed the devastation from the atom bombs to abstract designs to brightly-colored, comically erotic figures. Biographical sketches of the 59 artists follow the main section.

Women in the Crucible of Conquest - The Gendered Genesis of Spanish American Society, 1500-1600
Karen Vieira Powers
U. of New Mexico Press
MSC11 6290, 1 U. of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131-0001 800-249-7737
ISBN 0823335187 $45.00 230+ix pp.
ISBN 0826336195 $22.50

The Spanish conquest of the southern hemisphere of the New World disrupted the "gender parallelism and gender complementarity" in the Native American societies. Associate professor of Latin American history at Arizona State U.-Tempe, Powers describes and analyzes how native women of all classes, tribes, and varied capabilities and ingenuity adapted to the patriarchal culture imposed on them by the Spanish conquerors. Virtually all of the women were forced into certain positions resulting in a "demotion in status." Marriage, slavery, employment, and prostitution were among these. But in many cases--Powers's main topic of interest--women tried to varying degrees of success to keep or regain the equal, respected status they had in their Native American cultures. For example, some women became landowners. And the meztiso children from all types of relations between the women and the Spanish conquerors had a central role in modifying, though not changing the fundamental patriarchal structure, of the society. Powers moves the past couple of decades of feminist-motivated scholarship and development of perspective into this relatively untouched area of the changes the Spanish conquest forced on Native American women in particular.

At a Distance - Precursors to Art and Activism on the Internet
edited by Annmarie Chandler and Norie Neumark
MIT Press
5 Cambridge Center, Cambridge, MA 02142-1493;
ISBN 0262033283 $39.95 486+xiv pp.

"The cultural convergence of art, science, and technology provides ample opportunity to challenge the very notion of how art is produced and to call into question its subject matter and its function in society...Envisoned as a catalyst for enterprise, research, and creative and scholarly experimentation, the [Leonard] book series enables diverse intellectual communities to explore common grounds of expertise." The 20 collected articles by professors, artists, curators, and writers in this book in the Leonard series from MIT press fulfill this purpose. The global communications network for organizing and reporting the demonstrations against the World Trade Organization meeting in Seattle in 1999, email art, computer-created and disseminated music, and telecommunication are among the subjects examined in exploring the new forms of art and activism with the erosion of the lines between art, communication, technology, and computer science in contemporary culture. The international group of artists known as Fluxus, which celebrated its fortieth anniversary in 2002, is but one activist group whose aim is the "elimination of art as a special activity." The essays offer new, out-of-the-box, perspectives on different much-publicized events (such as the Seattle demonstrations) and report on representative and influential groups, activities, and individuals that are little known by general readers. The essays as a whole give an unrivaled, panoramic view of what is going on in the broad, modern-day field which has come to be known as the media. As much perspective as possible on this widely diversified, extraordinarily, almost preternaturally, vibrant, and continually evolving field is given in showing the sources and precedents of the ideas and activities. Some of these sources and precedents are surprising and intriguing. But this is what one expects from this collection of essays working toward a new, relevant way of seeing the world being shaped by the new media and technology.

Shooting from the Hip - Photography, Masculinity, and Postwar America
Patricia Vettel-Becker
U. of Minnesota Press
111 Third Ave. South - Suite 290, Minneapolis, MN 55401-2520
ISBN 0816643016 $59.95 199+xvi pp.
ISBN 0816643024 $19.95

With the close of World War II, the paradigmatic masculine, myth-like image of the soldier could no longer be sustained. Returning to the domestic society with their memories of the realities of war, as well as knowledge of their own fears, conflicts, and roles in the carnage, the legions of men also returned to a society which had worked admirably without them in maintaining order, demonstrating patriotism, and producing prodigious amounts of war supplies and consumer goods. The patriarchal "fictions" about men were in shambles. This work "explores the way photography functioned within the postwar restructuring of the dominant fiction." Photography accomplished this by presenting images of men which reestablished them at the head of the social structure in roles that were desirable and beneficial. No longer seen by themselves or those who remained on the "home front," especially women, as saving the society, the men came to be seen by themselves and women in respectable and romantic ways reflecting American ideals of individual worth and ability, mastery of one's own situation and destiny, and autonomy. The five main types of images were "breadwinner, warrior, tough guy, playboy, and rebel." Vettel-Becker, professor of art history at Montana State U.-Billings, writes a cultural study of how each of these was created by media photography, and each image's part in making male ego whole and restoring male superiority in postwar American society. One chapter, "Female Body," showing a few photos of naked women, looks at how the eroticized image of women worked so men could regain the position they had lost due to the "historical trauma" they suffered from World War II.

Prime Time Apparitions
R. Zamora Linmark
Hanging Loose Press
231 Wyckoff St., Brooklyn, NY 11217
ISBN 1931236453 $15.00 88 pp.

Linmark's poems are lively, often comical depictions of the eclectic elements and multiple possible directions of contemporary life. With the Philippines, Hawaii, and San Francisco in his background, he effortlessly, sometimes profligately, conjures up the diverse parts of circumstances. While these are paradoxical or overwhelming for many, with Linmark, they are bound by his energy and brightness. In some cases, they are bound by his empathy too, as when he assumes a different character and sometimes the other gender. As references to Kierkegaard and a few poems which reach out to a higher power suggest, the eclectic, unpredictable objects and thoughts of the poems are not distractions, but rather are often occasions for a different, nontraditional, manner of reflection or meditation.

Looking for God's Country
Norbert Krapf
Times Being Books
10411 Clayton Rd. - Suite 201-203, Saint Louis, MO 63131
ISBN 1568091036 $14.95 135 pp.

The past often turns up in Krapf's poems, but not in a nostalgic way. The poet does not nostalgically pine for or color the past because it is so lively in his memory anyway. That a "shopping mall and a big/black parking lot" have replaced the packed-dirt basketball court of the poet's youth is not cause for sorrow or regret because when he sees this, the poet hears in his mind "that leather swish/inside a cord net like the sound/of an angel landing in heaven." [from "Barnyard Hoops"] The poet has memories which nothing can take away from him. But these do not pale the immediate or remove the poet from it. Rather, they give fullness and a wide emotional expanse to the present; as when in "Going to Church" two elderly widowers smile and move with a grace that "says ladies they love/are going to church, too." Throughout his life, Krapf has retained his connection to his German ancestry in various ways. This is seen in this volume with black-and-white photographs by the German photographer Andreas Riedel at the beginning of each of the four sections.

Zoro's Field - My Life in the Appalachian Woods
Thomas Rain Crowe
U. of Georgia Press
330 Research Dr., Athens, GA 30602-4901
ISBN 0820327344 $27.95 221+xiv pp.

The local legend and mountain sage of the Appalachians of western North Carolina Zoro Guice told the author, "If a man goes out in the woods and just sits down in one place for long enough, all of nature and everything he needs to know will eventually pass before him like a parade." And so Crowe--poet, publisher, and recording artist--took up residence in the Appalachians for four years, and writes about the "parade." As in Thoreau's "Walden," Crowe writes about how he subsisted in the wild and what he learned from this. But moving somewhat beyond "Walden" in content and form, Crowe writes more about what goes on beyond himself; and some passages are in the form of verse. Not so meticulous or contained as "Walden," "Zoro's Field" reflects on modernity's effects on the tie with nature, environmental concerns, and changes which have come to the area. Though different in ways from Thoreau's classic which it cannot help but be compared with, Crowe's work in this same genre holds its own as an engaging, thought-inducing memoir.

Women of the Northern Plains - Gender and Settlement on the Homestead Frontier 1870-1930
Barbara Handy-Marchello
Minnesota Historical Society Press
345 Kellogg Blvd. W., St. Paul, MN 55102-1906 800-647-7827
ISBN 0873515218 $32.95 205+viii pp.

"North Dakota pioneer women accepted what they had first seen as 'nothing,' made it into something they recognized, and claimed it as their own." Handy-Marchello writes about the varied ways the pioneer women claimed the empty and daunting frontier. Both immigrant women and "Yankee" women migrating from eastern parts of the U. S. accomplished this by joining the men in practically any work that had to be done. But in addition, it was primarily the women who looked to education and health care for children, the development of community by establishing civic and religious organizations, and all kinds of personal and public commitments making for a lasting society which could be handed down to future generations. At the time the northern plains, particularly the area of the state of North Dakota, was being settled, the Indians had been mostly pacified and farm machinery and electricity were changing the work of farming. Nonetheless, the settlement of one of the last western frontiers called for all the determination, enterprise, imagination, and hope from the women as settlement in any other time or area. Handy-Marchello, a history professor at the U. of North Dakota, gives equal treatment to both the physical challenges (e. g., the weather, making fields for crops) and how these were faced and also the indefatigable pioneer spirit of the varied women. And in the course of doing this, the author notes how the pioneer women's spirit and contributions continue to shape the regional society.

Swinging for the Fences - Black Baseball in Minnesota
edited by Steven R. Hoffbeck
Minnesota Historical Society Press
345 Kellogg Blvd. W., St. Paul, MN 55012-1906
ISBN 087351517X $29.95 244+xiv pp.

Twenty-three articles by a variety of authors, mostly college professors and journalists, cover the different facets of black baseball in Minnesota from its first days in the latter 1800s down to contemporary times. The general theme running through all of the diversified articles is the "America Dream" and the "American Tragedy" reflected in the histories of the teams and the careers and lives of individual players. The American Dream part of the theme deals with how playing baseball allowed players to strive for high personal achievement as well as enjoy various levels of economic security and social recognition. The American Tragedy part takes in not only the racism and discrimination players faced, but also personal troubles and disappointments of some of them. Satchel Paige, Jackie Robinson, and Willie Mays appear along with many relative unknowns. The exploits of teams named the Fergus Falls Musculars, the Quicksteps, and the Brown Stockings, among others, are related. The vibrant Minnesota black baseball scene going back well over a century is treated in a popular style profiling great and other notable players and following the courses, and occasional dramatic moments, of the teams.

Tito, the Firefighter/tito, El Bombero
Tim Hoppey
illustrated by Kimberly Hoffman
Raven Tree Press
200 S. Washington - Suite 306, Green Bay, WI 54301
ISBN 0972497331 $16.95 32 pp.

The text is not in the two languages of English and Spanish, but rather the bilingual eight-year-old Tito uses some Spanish words in telling his story. Passing in front of a firehouse in Spanish Harlem, Tito sees a man gesturing excitedly and speaking Spanish to one of the fireman. Tito interprets what the man is saying: he saw coming from a window. Then Tito goes with the firemen in their truck to investigate. It's only a pot of rice smoldering when it was left on a stove by a woman when she fell asleep in her apartment. But the incident gives Tito the chance to learn what firemen are like and see how they react to a fire. Tim Hoppey, the author of this simple children's tale, is himself a fireman, who was involved in the 9/11 rescue efforts. Ages 3-6.

Ocean Whisper/Susurro Del Oceano
written and illustrated by Dennis Rockhill
Raven Tree Press
200 S. Washington - Suite 306, Green Bay, WI 54301
ISBN 0974199231 $16.95 32 pp.

A series of pictures is introduced by a 12-line poem "Ocean Whisper." The poem relates a young boy's dream that he is a whale cavorting with other whales in the ocean. The pictures are scenes from his dream. Dennis Rockhill, the illustrator, uses an artistic technique involving sketching and multiple layers of the scenes to create illustrations that capture the similar undersea world and world of a dream. A picture of whales and a fishbowl the young boy looks at in his bedroom as he is trying to fall asleep spur his dream. Ages 3-6.

Bach's Goldberg Variations
Anna Harwell Celenza
illustrated by JoAnn E. Kitchel
Charlesbridge Publishing
85 Main St., Watertown, MA 02472
ISBN 1570915105 $19.95 32 pp. color illustrations, music CD.

The legendary-like story behind Bach's immortal "Goldberg Variations" is told accompanied with fancy, often baroque-like illustrations with golden touches. The musically-talented orphan Johann Gottlieb Goldberg was taken in by a German Count. The Count directs him to play something new for him each week; and then later calls on him to do a "piece filled with dances and difficult runs...canons and something quite new...[and] a surprise that will trick me." To meet this demanding challenge, Johann has to turn to his mentor Bach, whose composition in answer to the Count's demand later came to be named after the orphan. The orphan Johann remains the focus of the tale, with Bach giving him musical information and guidance so that readers learn something about the technicalities and style of the "Goldberg Variations." Ages 4-7.

Amelia to Zora - Twenty-six Women Who Changed the World
Cynthia Chin-Lee
illustrated by Megan Halsey and Sean Addy
Charlesbridge Publishing
85 Main St., Watertown, MA 02472
ISBN 1570915225 $15.95 32 pp. color illustrations, music CD.

There's the familiar, expected, notable women--the flier Amelia Earhart, the black author Zora Neale Hurston, the artist Frida Kahlo, the philanthropist Eleanor Roosevelt. But there's also a number of accomplished lesser-known women and ones who have achieved recognition in recent years who are not yet seen as regulars in the circle of historically significant women. Thus, one finds the architect Maya Lin and the figure skater Kristi Yamaguchi. Outstanding women from diverse ethnic backgrounds and active in diverse fields, from labor unions to science to entertainment, are included in the twenty-six for each letter of the alphabet. Each woman is pictured in a collage-like illustration with objects representing what she is recognized for.

The Prince's Diary
Renee Ting
illustrated by Elizabeth O. Dulemba
Shen's Books
40951 Freemont Blvd., Fremont, CA 94538
ISBN 1885008279 $16.95 32 pp.

The Prince is the character from the Cinderella tale, retelling this classic from an unusual perspective. On the date June 19 in his diary, the Prince writes, "I saw Cinderella again today! I was out inspecting a section of broken fence when she came into view...carrying a basket of wet clothes that she hung out to dry." The story follows the traditional story line, but seems fresh and embellished in being told once again from this novel perspective.

Henry Berry

Judine's Bookshelf

Cook'n To Keep Him: Make Your Relationship Seeter, Passionate, and More Delicious
Cheryl Mayfield Brown
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200; Bloomington, IN 47403
ISBN: 1414064926 $20.00 pp. 368

Description: Light his fire

A question to all the ladies: Has the stove's pilot light extinguished from your love relationship? If so, you might have been wondering how you can start that fire again. Well, look no further -- Cheryl Mayfield Brown has the match to ignite the flame.

Here's what you need to do. Before you turn the covers for a little shut eye one night, ask your partner to pick out an entree for tomorrow's dinner from Cheryl's cookbook "Cook'n To Keep Him." Simply scanning the table of contents, with chapters titled "Afternoon Delight," "Hot Licks," and "Love Dem Balls," will give him a hunger for more than just meat and potatoes. Then tease him a bit, by promising him a drink from the "Just Wet" chapter, as soon as he walks through the door after work. Just be prepared to have plenty of the food ingredients in the house, because both of you might be "cooking" until the next morning.

Cheryl Mayfield Brown gives you home style recipes, plus she also makes sure your love's pilot light is lit. You'll simply enjoy her sassy recipes, and her reusable coupons. Using her own real life example, Cheryl explains why it takes more than a meal to ensure a man wants to return to your table. "In this book you will discover how to cultivate a new kind of flavor for your relationship using and working the "cooking utensils" that you naturally possess." (pg xiii) I recommend "Cook'n To Keep Him" as the only book you will ever need to heat up both the kitchen and the bedroom.

Light: Stories of Urban Resurrection
R. Kayeen Thomas
Marwel Enterprises
P.O. Box 31227 Washington, DC 20030-1227
ISBN: 0975958208 $12.00 96 pp.

Description: 21st century enlightment

What causes a soul to vacate a warm, living body? It could be a sudden physical trauma, emotional crisis or a drastic change in evironment. If and when the soul returns, it oftentimes shares spiritual wisdom with the conscious mind, gained while away. This is enlightment.

"Light: Stories of Urban Resurrection" translates the ordinary into transcended poems and short reflections. Each piece intellectually analyzes human actions and reactions, usually described with the five senses, and intertwines them with a sixth sense. "Forget what you know, what you think is right, normal, good, acceptable. For your enlightment may dwell in the unknown." (pg 56)

R. Kayeen Thomas prefaces "Light" by explaining his parents decision to drasticly change his education environment to a private school. This caused him to act out of character. "However, it didn't take me long to realize that the world I had been living in during my middle school years was not a real one..." (pg. 12) The switch back to a public high school took a heavy adjustment also. Kayeen's soul discovers wisdom, which spills over through the pen. I recommend "Light: Stories of Urban Resurrection" for 21st century enlightment.

Judine Slaughter, Reviewer

Lori's Bookshelf

No Ocean Deep
Cate Swannell
Regal Crest Enterprises
PMB 210, 8691 9th Avenue, Port Arthur, TX 77642-8025
ISBN: 1932300368 $18.95 308 pp.

Jo Madison and Cadie Jones are back in this sequel to 2003's HEART'S PASSAGE. Set in the Whitsunday Islands of Australia, the story picks up only weeks after the exciting denouement of the last book. Jo has inherited the charter business of pleasure cruisers for which she used to be a skipper, and the American Cadie is still on the scene, having not returned to the U.S. when her former lover did.

Cadie and Jo have been busily forging a new relationship, the likes of which neither has had in the past. But such a relationship will entail encountering old skeletons, reconciling with long-lost family, and dealing with the threat posed by Cadie's ex, the mercurial Senator Naomi Silverberg, whose influential reach and penchant for revenge could prove deadly.

The novel starts out in a leisurely manner and gradually builds to complications. As long as the two lovers are out on the water, things are fine, but inevitably they must go ashore and travel around the countryside. Cadie is also faced with the fact that she is on a travel visa that isn't going to last forever. How will they preserve their relationship if they end up a continent apart?

The narrative in NO OCEAN DEEP is smoother than the debut novel was as Swannell expertly weaves this story and ties up loose ends for Cadie and Jo. The characters continue to enchant, particularly Jo with her Aussie phrases and quirky sense of humor. You could read this book independent of HEART'S PASSAGE, but I recommend reading them in order, preferably on a beach or boat somewhere on a nice, leisurely vacation.

Assorted Flavours: A Collection of Lesbian Short Stories
Lois Cloarec Hart
PD Publishing, Inc.
ISBN: 0975436627 $19.99 300 pp.

Author Lois Hart, who has two novels under her belt (COMING HOME and BROKEN FAITH), has tried her hand at a collection of short stories and obtained terrific results. Love and relationships, conflict and oddities abound in this well-written collection of thoughtful and interesting pieces.

With a keen eye toward human nature, Hart's new story collection paints a rich and colorful picture of life on the margins. Two of my favorites are about an angry lesbian daughter in conflict with her mother in "Grandmother's Cup" and a frightening and realization-filled flight from Halifax to Toronto in "Nine Minutes." The book ends with a lovely novella, "The Lion and the Lamb."

Because Hart is an old-fashioned storyteller of the very highest order, each offering is solid and engrossing, relying more upon character development, careful plotting, and seamless writing than on stylistic flash. She writes lovely sentences and scenes, at times elegant, at times whimsical or witty, all of which affect the reader in surprising and delightful ways and often with unexpected consequences. The power of most of these ten stories is cumulative. By the time you arrive at the middle of the volume, you will already be regretting that there is an end in sight.

Each of these stories is dazzling and inventive, with the underlying promise of something utterly unexpected waiting just up ahead. Don't miss this short story collection. It's one of the best of 2005.

The War Between The Hearts
Nann Dunne
Intaglio Publications
ISBN 1933113278 $17.95 294 pp.

It seems odd that well over one hundred years had to pass before verified information surfaced about women soldiers serving in the Civil War. Folklore and tall tales have often featured women soldiers disguised as men and working as spies, smugglers, and scouts, but interesting and documented books about the women in the military haven't come out until the last few years. Recent non-fiction books have found that at minimum, 700 women served - disguised as men - in the ranks of the Union and Confederate armies. Some say that number should be closer to a thousand. Scores of women died at Gettysburg, undiscovered until burial. Many nameless women probably served that the history books will never detail.

So it seems timely that author Nann Dunne has created the fictional Sarah-Bren Coulter, a handsome southern woman who cannot resist the pull of the Civil War. Her twin brother stays behind to run the family foundry, and Sarah - disguised as Bren Cordell - becomes a courier-scout for the Confederate Army while spying for the Union. She finds the battles of war unlike anything she ever expected. She sees more blood and death than any person ever should. And then she herself is wounded. Instead of dying, fortune smiles upon her, sending her into the hands of Faith Pruitt, a woman with a young son who lives close to some of the fighting. But safety with Faith is not to last long. Sarah is trapped on the border of Union and Confederate forces - and which should she hold herself out as?

From that point on, the plot turns more desperate as the danger Sarah has tried to escape catches up with her. Her strength, her mental and physical stability, and her ethics will be sorely tested as she deals with the damage that befalls her. Revenge, retribution, murder - and lost love - will weigh heavily on her mind. Will Sarah Coulter be strong enough to deal with her future?

The author has done an excellent job researching the setting and time, while never inundating the reader with a history lesson. The drama of the story comes alive because of this. Once the novel is set up, the action is fast-paced with scenes ranging from hate-infused to anguished to terror-stricken, all of which are nicely balanced with scenes of strong friendship, camaraderie, and love. The characters in the book are full-bodied and complex and include sister-in-law Lindsay, whose ongoing support, even in face of her husband's condemnation of Sarah, is balm to Sarah's soul. Her friend Phillip is steadfast in his caring for Sarah in spite of multiple marriage rejections. There is humor and mutual respect between Sarah and her friend Leah, a "woman of ill repute" whose role in the story is central. Of course Faith, and her son Benjamin, are also critical to this "war between the hearts."

Nann Dunne has created an unforgettable heroine, a woman before her time, standing at the crux of a new age. This fast-paced and gripping story will keep you up late at night. Highly recommended. Don't miss it!

Hunter's Pursuit
Kim Baldwin
Bold Strokes Books
ISBN: 1933110090 $15.95 316 pp.

Hidden away in an icy fortress, in a snow-encrusted bunker dug deep into a hillside in the Michigan woods, Kat "Hunter" Demitrious waits. Now in her mid-30s, she has been taking time to reflect upon all the havoc she has wreaked in her career as a hired assassin and bounty hunter. She has committed a lot of reprehensible acts - done things that few people would ever forgive, least of all herself. Even after having walked away five years earlier from her violent life, she is still in danger because someone - most likely her former employer - has put out a million-dollar contract on her life. So Hunter is not safe at all, and her life is suddenly in grave danger when she is out in the woods deer hunting one day, and her newfound compassion causes her to stop on a lonely road and help a car crash victim who turns out to have been traveling in a stolen car.

The woman Hunter takes in "looked to be about twenty-five, ten years younger than Hunter, and she was probably quite attractive, but it was hard to tell for sure at the moment. Bandages hid much of her face and the areas that were exposed were puffy and bruised. Her nose had been broken, blackening both eyes, and there was a small lump behind one ear. Her shoulder-length blond hair was matted with dried blood, and a three-inch gash on her forehead had been closed with several neat stitches of dental floss. Her left arm was set with a makeshift splint, her left knee was wrapped in an Ace bandage and her rib cage had been tightly taped" (p. 11).

"Jake" finds herself in that beat-up situation when she wakes up in a dark place, attended by a strange woman, and unable to remember her name or how she came there. She cannot recall anything about her past, but she feels certain she knows Hunter, who is in turn quite sure she has never met Jake. The injured woman's certainty that she recognizes Hunter seems to furnish proof that Jake is the bounty hunter gunning for her, and this makes things difficult because in the scant amount of time the two women spend together, an attraction catches hold and sparks begin to fly.

But HUNTER'S PURSUIT is not primarily a romance, though it contains a romantic sub-plot. After the initial set-up, the bulk of the book is action-adventure as Hunter tries to escape detection by other bounty hunters, all of whom want the million dollar prize. Unlike her past solitude past, however, Hunter now has the injured Jake to defend, and as every hour goes by, Hunter grows more determined to protect her.

The story is full of twists and turns, suspense, and a deepening mystery that is not resolved until the final couple chapters. Who is after Hunter? Who is Jake? Can they trust one another? The writing is crisp, especially as the tension mounts in the second half of the book. HUNTER'S PURSUIT is a terrific action/thriller from a promising new writer, and I highly recommend the story.

Lori L. Lake

Lynne's Bookshelf

Adventures of Riley: Amazon River Rescue
Amanda Lumry & Laura Hurwitz
Illustrations by Sarah McIntyre
Eaglemont Press
PMB 741, 15600 NE 8th #B-1, Bellevue, WA 98008 1-877-580-9744
ISBN 0966225791 $15.95 36 pp. Ages 4-8

Finally the big day arrives on which nine-year old Riley flies to Brazil to spend time with his Uncle Max, Aunt Martha and cousin Alice in the Amazon Rain Forest. After hours of traveling, Riley lands to news that his scientist Uncle, who is on assignment studying Kapok trees, has just discovered a new fungus, which he will name "Maximus Fungus."

Exciting adventures lie on Riley's horizon, but as early as Page two, colorful sidebars with credit sources for interesting Amazon Rainforest information interrupt his story. This becomes a bit overwhelming at times. On Page 4/5, where the story gets lost underwater in a double-page spread (to be turned vertically to view the layers of the rainforest (emergent layer, canopy, understory, forest floor, river), as well as learn about the animals found in those areas. While this information is extremely fascinating, it does detract from the story and similar set-ups continue to do so throughout.

Mystery calls when the children encountered a creature which they follow, resulting in tense encounters with tarantulas, a forest fire, a jaguar and darkness. At this point I must address the few strange items that stick in my mind: It seemed a nine year-old protagonist was somewhat unusual for a picture book; it seemed questionable that Riley and Alice were not cautioned not to stray from camp and run about the rainforest by themselves, and it seems detracting to have so much informational material break the flow of the story.

As a plus---busy, bright and colorful illustrations are at times composed of artwork overlaid upon actual Amazon photos, as well as actual photos of the wild life overlaid upon illustrations of fauna give the reader somewhat of a sense of place. Yet these illustrations also often suffer the invasion of the side bars.

Authors provide a cornucopia of information, If more information is desired, a glossary is included at the back of the book. Also attached is a Passport to Riley's World and information on registering a free membership. A portion of the proceeds of the book go to Smithsonian Institution, the Wildlife Conservation Society and World Wildlife Organization---worthwhile organizations, indeed!

In spite of the choppy story, this book proves a gem for its information on the Amazon Rain Forest and its unique animals. It certainly will spark children's interest in the Amazon Rain Forest and that's an important feat!

Sketches from a Spy Tree
Tracie Vaughn Zimmer;
Illustrated by Andrew Glass
Clarion Books
A Houghton Mifflin Company imprint
215 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10003
ISBN 0618234799 $16.00 64 pp. Ages 9-12

Line by line, words and pictures hook the reader into the pensive world of Anne Marie, who deals with her father's betrayal of her family by sketching pictures of what she sees in the world around her from her spy tree. While Anne Marie shows a keen eye for detail and character in the neighborhood, she exhibits trouble putting her home life in perspective---especially when, while Anne Marie still grieves for her father, his former best friend moves in and takes his place. In addition to dealing with abandonment, divorce, sisters and step-families, this poignant story also touches upon the close friendship that often develops between twins, and the quiet, but profound influence one may have upon the other.

First-time poet/author Tracie Vaughn Zimmer's thoughtful free verse poetry proves a daring, but perfect medium for this tender depiction of a girl's journey from darkness and rebellion to acceptance and hope. Applause to Ms. Zimmer for a well-done performance in this poetic genre, which has all the benefits of poetry (rhythm, structure, emotion, cadence, etc.) without the crime of forced rhyme!

Charming illustrations by Andrew Glass, done in pencil, oil paint and interesting bits of collage, prove poetry in motion as he brings Anne Marie's feelings and drawings to life on the page and chronicles the year's worth of changes and growth in her life.

Silent Sam
Tabatha Jean D'Agata
Illustrated by Geraldo Valerio.
BeBop Books
A Division of Lee and Low Books, Inc.
95 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016
ISBN 1516225855 $9.00 24 pp.

Gus wants to teach his parrot, Sam to speak. Though Gus tries several methods, including repeating Sam's name into a tape recorder, Sam is silent. When Gus finally gives up teaching Sam how to say his name and turns to something else, a mishap occurs. Short sentences, repetition of words and a cute twist make this a book satisfying read for little ones learning to read on their own. A fun introduction to reading by author newcomer Tabatha D'Agata, with great signature illustrations by former Brazilian Geraldo Valerio that compliment the words.

Hurry Up!
Carol Murray
Illustrated by Dave Garbot
Children's Press
A Division of Scholastic, Inc.
90 Sherman Turnpike, Danbury, CT 06816
ISBN 1516225855 $19.50 32 pp., Rookie Reader Level C

A young boy finds out all the things he must quickly take care of before he goes on an a surprise outing with his Aunt Ella. These include making his bed, brushing his teeth, combing his hair, washing his face and other important behaviors. The young boy even picks up his toys on his own. All is rewarded when his Aunt Ella takes him to the circus and together they have a great time seeing tents, clowns, bears and elephants.

In this Rookie Reader geared to ages 4-8, poet Carol Murray provides rhyming text with repetitive words that make for easy reading. A word-list of the 79 words used to write the poem is included on the last page. Dave Garbot's fun, cartoon like illustrations provide hints to help the reader figure out the text, and even a bonus dog.

Alison Jackson
Boyds Mills Press
815 Church Street, Honesdale, PA 18431
1(800) 490-5111
ISBN 1590783093 $16.95 192 pp.

sub.stance 2. tangible physical matter - a physical reality that can be touched and felt. 3. practical value - real or practical value or importance

Substance. Some books have it, and some books don't. This book does.

It's 1939. 13 year-old Miriam (Pidge) Martin prays for rain to end the long drought suffered by the family's orange grove in Frostfree, Florida. But day after day, the rain doesn't come. The heat makes the nation-wide depression worse. It makes Pidge's brother Little Jack more uncontrollable. It makes Pidge more irritable about certain topics than usual, and that includes her mother's death, anything to do with goody-two shoes Dora Wheaton and attention from Noah Blore. But worse, it makes her Aunt and Papa (and Miriam herself) worry that they'll lose their farm.

The drought causes the world around Pidge Martin to change. Her poor family becomes poorer. The truth comes out about her mother's mental illness. Dora Wheaton hooks up with Denny Harper and inspires a longing in Pidge for Noah Blore. Stubborn Pidge herself begins to change. She acts strange, and blames it on the drought.

When it seems all hope is lost, Pidge's Papa finds a sliver of it in a crack in the dry earth. It comes in the form of a newspaper article and an old, hard-of-hearing woman named Millie Boze who claims to coax the rain. He offers this slice of hope up to his family and neighbors and they all grab hold of it, except for Doc Wheaton, Dora's father. Tension mounts as the town defies Doc Wheaton and bets all their money on a miracle. Only time will tell who's right and who's wrong, and if the change Pidge Martin so dreads will be for the better.

While Rainmaker may begin with a lack of water, it certainly doesn't lack substance. It's moving, memorable and transports the reader to a place far away, but still within the heart. It wouldn't surprise me in the very least if this book got at least a nod from the Newbery committee. And, if it doesn't it should have!

Lynne Marie Pisano

Magdalena's Bookshelf

The Wealthy Writer: How to Earn a Six-Figure Income as a Freelance Writer (No Kidding!), 3rd edition
Michael Meanwell
E-published by Meanwell
No ISBN, E-book $19.97 409 pages

I often get emails from people who are hoping to make millions with a first novel, generally, as yet, unwritten. Obviously there is a fairly common misconception that breaking into the world of fiction is easy and profitable. It couldn't be further from the truth. Superstar "names" like John Grisham and Dan Brown may be doing very well from their work (generally due to a powerful marketing team), but most fiction and poetry writers would be receiving a far better hourly rate working on the checkout of a local supermarket or pumping gas. Freelancers looking to make money from magazine articles and other forms of non-fiction fare slightly better, but it's still a hard slog, with lots of querying, cold submissions and a long trail of rejections and apprenticeship before the relatively low paying acceptances begin coming in . It is rarely enough money to live on, especially with financial commitments like a family and mortgage. However, there is one branch of writing which is both lucrative, and relatively easy to break into: Commercial writing, or writing communications for business - eg sales letters, speeches, newsletters, brochures, advertisements, public relations material of all kinds, technical writing, and so on is a growing field where good writers are in short supply. Michael Meanwell's The Wealthy Writer is a comprehensive guide to creating, from scratch if need be, a lucrative commercial writing practice. While the book focuses almost solely on commercial writing, Meanwell clearly understands that writers will continue to want to produce creative works like novels and poetry for non-lucrative reasons, and stresses throughout the book that commercial writers will not only be honing their skills, but also creating enough free time to allow for other hobbies.

The Wealthy Writer e-book is actually a combination of two of Meanwell's printed texts, The Wealthy Writer and The Enterprising Writer, and since all of the links are clickable, works very well as an e-book. You can easily copy the templates, click on and bookmark the links, and begin utilising his techniques straightaway, even before you finish the book. Meanwell is very open about the challenges inherent in becoming a commercial writer, and from the start, gets writers to ask themselves the hard questions about their working style, level of commitment, and even things like family situation and health. The book pulls no punches about the need for a serious business plan (and provides the tools to create one), the need to have a roadmap, putting in place systems and procedures, creating a home office, setting up a professional budget, and how to determine your worth to clients. All of this precedes the writing process and makes it clear how important it is to decide the parameters and capabilities of your business before touting for clients or writing a word of copy.

The rest of the book provides a serious guide to ensuring that your writing skills are honed and targeted specifically for the commercial market, and covers such things as how to write technical manuals well, how to produce good quality public relations (including using PR for your own advertising efforts), how to write "content" for the web (a rapidly growing field where need is beginning to seriously outstrip skill), speech writing, corporate communications, newsletter writing, copywriting and using direct mail. There are also chapters which go into the specifics of marketing your business, pitching for clients, maintaining a successful business where word of mouth is positive, using the flexibility of outsourcing to handle an increasing work load, how to deal with billing, contracts, bad debtors, time management, interviewing as a writing tool, dealing with writer's block, balancing work and life, and giving persuasive power speeches:

"You don't have to be a naturally funny person to identify and deliver humor, but it helps if you know where to look. The best humor, in my view, is that which you experience or perceive. It's personal, so you're more than likely to deliver it better than secondhand humor you have found elsewhere. Start by observing life. Take notes and record your observations for future use. Another deep wellspring of humor resides in your own life. Think about past experiences - embarrassing situations, mistakes you made, and outdated perceptions you had. You've got enough material right there for several stand-up routines! " (303)

The book is easy to read, and contains lots of point by point ("13 things to remember when drafting a press release"; "5 Steps to Building a Media Database ") summaries to make referencing simple, especially as your business diversifies and you need to come back and re-read some sections. If you take Meanwell's advice, this is very likely. Many examples and anecdotes from Meanwell's own experience are provided, with rich photographs, thought provoking case studies using big companies like Telstra and Kodak, and a slightly Escheresque but detailed analysis of the publication process and learnings from his own book The Enterprising Writer. This expanded e-book contains a lot more meat than The Enterprising Writer which was already pretty hefty in information. This book contains the latest trends in web writing, communication tools, the use of the Internet as a marketing tool, with lots of links for more information, websites to use to obtain work, and a whole lot of templates, samples and even a phone script. There is enough material here to take a novice and turn him or her into a professional, well paid commercial writer. For more experienced writers, this book contains so much information from Meanwell's years of personal experience, that the small investment will very likely translate into more lucrative work.

Throughout the book, Meanwell is conscious of the writer's need to be creative, and includes tips on keeping your work fresh, and on how to save time for your passions:

"We can all develop this ability by using what's been termed "possibility thinking." Daydream about what you'd like to achieve. See it in your mind's eye. Feel it, taste it, know that it is already part of your life and that it's within your power to tap into your talent and draw that success to you. If you do this at the beginning of each day, you'll move closer to having the end result you want in your life. Again, this may be getting a little off base for some people. My point is simply that, in order to get the most out of your creative process, you need to cultivate it by thinking differently. If you want positive action in your life, you need to nourish your
mind with positive thought " (370)

Fiction is a wonderful medium to work in, but the chances of making real money from it are relatively slim, especially if you write, as you should, based on your own passions rather than the whims of the marketplace. If you want to earn a regular, reliable income from writing work, commercial writing has got to be your best bet. Meanwell's latest bumper guide is as thorough a one as you'll find for breaking into, and succeeding as a commercial writer, and his witty, down to earth style will ensure that you enjoy the book as much as you find yourself referencing it on a regular basis.

Book Marketing From A-Z
Francine Silverman
Infinity Publishing
ISBN: 0741424312, $18.95 400 pages

There seems to be a sudden explosion of books which teach writers how to market and sell their books. The reason is obvious. The penny has finally dropped that the key difference between good and poor book sales is the author's marketing skills. With the advent of inexpensive self-publishing, many authors are having to learn how to manage all aspects of book publishing, including marketing and selling the book, sometimes by hand. Even authors who have books with the big mainstream publishing houses, the marketing budgets have significantly decreased, and new authors are finding that the only way to stay out of the remainder pile is to do most of the marketing themselves. Most of the books I've read on this topic have been well researched, with easy to follow, helpful suggestions. Francine Silverman, more editor than author on this project, has produced a book which is unique in its approach, even in this suddenly crowded market. What it does is to provide a series of examples, anecdotes or advice from experienced authors in a structured format on what has worked, promotionally, for them. Taken collectively, the book is full of information which is often novel, and almost always interesting, because in the context of an actual experience.

The book is organised into 35 alphabetised sections, each looking at a single aspect of book promotion. The book starts with Advertising, and ends with Zero Promotion, and for each section, there are a wide range of invited anecdotes, suggestions, tips, pitfalls, and other pieces of useful information from authors who have been there. The authors are wide ranging, and include the self-published, publishers, promotion experts, Internet personalities, and authors who are published with large publishing houses. The advice spans a wide range of areas of book promotion,

The book's structure is just a little haphazard in its current alphabetised form, and might have worked better, particularly for those new to book promotion, if it were structured in the order in which the activities occur. However, the A-Z format does have the advantage of making it easy to find advice on a specific topic, and deciding at which point each of these activities should occur isn't that straightforward anyway. Creating a book cover obviously precedes holding a book signing, but some of the activities, like setting up a website, creating a press kit, or branding yourself, can occur at anytime, including prior to a book's completion. One other problem with the book is that contributor promotional information occurs just after their tips, which is probably a good thing for the contributors but as it is often lengthy (sometimes lengthier than the tip), it can be distracting. It would have been better to have an alphabetised list of contributors with their bios at the end of the book, which would also mean one bio per contributor rather than coming across the same bio repeatedly. Minor problems notwithstanding, this is still an extremely useful book and is full of so much information that readers will find themselves returning to it regularly.

Some of the more innovative ideas include Lara Zeises' suggestion about making use of college alumni magazines:

I went to the University of Delaware, which has a student population of 16,000 at any given time I e-mailed the 'news & Notes' section about my first novel, Bringing Up the Bones (Delacorte/Random House 2002), and they ended up writing a full-page article with four-color photo about me. I got several speaking gigs and subsequent interviews for other publications, all from theat (free!) piece of publicity.(72)

Another of the many gems in this book of gems is from author Don Keith, who suggests the use of viral marketing by creating a humorous and forwardable email and sending it to a relevant group of people:

Within two days, I had heard from over 50 people. Many of the folks I heard from didn't receive the original mailing to the 30 people. It was forwarded to them. One person told me he received the forwarded e-mail from three different people!) In addition, the list, along with the info at the end, has been reproduced in several broadcasting trade publications and on websites.(204)

Many of the ideas will inspire and fire authors to go out and try more creative approaches to promoting their books. There are certainly enough of those in here, plus a welter of links and further information, including a section on additional author services. This is a nicely pulled together, easy to read and practical set of very useful advice, given in the context of real life anecdotes. Book Marketing from A-Z is a fun to read resource full of a tremendous amount of innovative information on getting your book in the hands of readers.

Magdalena Ball, Reviewer

Martha's Bookshelf

Convictions of the Heart
Sherry M. Smith
Autumn Distribution
Wyoming, Michigan 49519
ISBN 0965766519 $12.00 288 pages

I can't deny a fascination with Michigan's authors, especially those living in my own neighborhood. Therefore, I was delighted to find Convictions of the Heart in our local library. My interest in the book was further piqued when I realized Ms. Smith's subject matter and the background for her book was a horse farm near Lexington, Kentucky, an area I visited as a child. I can vividly recall mares with their matching foals prancing in the fenced-in fields surrounding Lexington. Horses are king in this part of Kentucky, and their beauty is astonishing.

The story is told through the eyes of Katherine Abbot, who escapes an unhappy life brought about by her parents' preoccupation with wealth to live a simple, secluded existence around Lexington, Kentucky, in the year 1892. And Katherine is pregnant, pregnant with the sperm of a doctor, not her cruel (and deceased) spouse, who has succeeded in one of his first attempts at artificial insemination in human beings. Katherine is determined that her parents remain ignorant of her whereabouts, also hiding the fact that she is the heiress of her departed husband's fortune.

Katherine falls in love with Elliott Connery, a simple man of humble means whose wandering days are over when he meets the beautiful Katherine. Though Katherine tells Elliott of her pregnancy before they marry, she continues to conceal the baby's true father and her extreme wealth, fearing the independent Connery will be shocked and won't accept living on his wife's income. This concealment becomes a torture to Katherine. She confides first in Rose, an elderly neighbor who dies soon after, and then in Martha Harkness, the wife of her husband's employer, when Martha confronts Katherine with an old newspaper story regarding her disappearance.

This book is very atmospheric, a fitting tribute to the grass-covered fields of central Kentucky. It also has a historical aspect with regard to the family of the late Lamon V. Harkness, the owner and developer of the Walnut Hall Stock Farm in 1892, whose great-granddaughter, Meg Jewett-Leavitt, lives there still. In addition to giving the reader an in-depth tour of a standardbred horse nursery that produces racehorses for harness race tracks, Ms. Smith reveals a very real concern for the female victims of spousal abuse, who had, like Katherine Abbot, few avenues of help in 1892. Katherine Abbot's attempt to tackle this large, if mostly hidden, problem of her day is an elevating aspect of Convictions of the Heart.

As the author plans to publish future books detailing the further adventures of the characters the reader meets in Convictions of the Heart, I look forward to reading them.

The Notebook
Nicholas Sparks
Time Warner Book Group
1271 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020 1-800-222-6747
ISBN: 0446605239 $7.50 239 pp.

Noah Calhoun's modest small town existence and Allie Nelson's wealthy upbringing are in striking contrast when they meet and fall in love as teenagers in the magical summer light of New Bern, a sleepy coastal village in North Carolina. In early September they part and, when Noah's letters to Allie never reach her, both young people are convinced their romance has ended.

In spite of this, 31-year-old Noah clings to Allie's memory through his work with a scrap metal dealer, his World War II service and rebuilding his dream house in New Bern after the War. And though Allie is to marry an up-and-coming attorney, she decides she has to return to New Bern to see Noah one last time before putting the past behind her. When their meeting reveals the passion they feel for each other is enduring, Allie must decide whether to continue her comfortable life as a socialite or begin a new and uncertain future with Noah.

Nicholas Sparks is a true romantic, believing in a love that binds two people together for a lifetime. This book begins at the end of Noah's and Allie's life, with Noah attempting to reach Allie, in the last stages of Alzheimer's, by reading from a notebook he has written chronicling their romance. The fact that Allie does at times remember astounds her doctors but not Noah, who knows their love is still there, deep within Allie's subconscious, never to be erased by the ravages of time or disease.

This book is not for cynics or misanthropes but believers who feel that somewhere out there is that perfect soul mate every person dreams of. Many of us will stand in awe and envy of Noah's and Allie's bond, and of the fact that Noah can state . . . "I've loved another with all my heart and soul, and to me, this has always been enough."

Sparks also captures the flavor of the beautiful waterways and quiet groves in North Carolina's coastal region, which linger with the reader even after the book is put down.

Other books by Nicholas Sparks are Message in a Bottle, A Walk to Remember, The Rescue, A Bend in the Road, Nights in Rodanthe, The Guardian, The Wedding and Three Weeks with My Brother.

The Notebook quickly draws the reader into its beautiful love story and is difficult to put down. So fortunately it's short enough to be finished without many interruptions. If you read The Notebook, Nicholas Sparks will prove to you how compelling the love between two "ordinary" people can be!

Martha Robach

Paul's Bookshelf

Robert A. Metzger
Ace Books
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
ISBN 0441008992, $22.95, 389 pages

Set in present-day America, Katie McGuire and her ex-husband Horst Wittkowski are nuclear physicists working on a potential fusion generator called a sonomak. Right after their federal funding is eliminated, they are approached by Alexandra Mitchell, a mysterious woman with unlimited resources, to keep the project going.

It seems that the sonomak can be used to create new universes, copies of this universe but much smaller, called picoverses. Alexandra is actually a super-robot who wants to escape her masters, the Makers, in one of these new universes. In another of these universes, Anthony, Katie and Horst's young son and super-prodigy, has grown into an immortal and powerful being called Alpha. He enters this universe to destroy it.

In another universe, in the 1930s, America is on the verge of being conquered by a Soviet-German alliance. The east and west coasts are already in foreign hands due to some well-placed nuclear weapons. The only thing keeping the rest of America from falling into enemy hands are things like particle beam weapons to shoot down enemy aircraft, developed by Nikola Tesla and a teenaged Anthony. Albert Einstein has become an anti-science religious zealot, mostly due to his wife, Nadia, who is an exact duplicate of Alexandra Mitchell. The only stars at night are from the other planets, because the whole universe is the size of the solar system.

This novel is based on very high-level physics, so parts of it will go right over the head of the average reader. The rest of the novel is excellent. It does really well in the "mind-blowing" department. Get past the science, and the reader will have plenty to think about, while staying involved in the book. Well worth reading.

Kevin D. Randle
Ace Books
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
ISBN 0441010393, $5.99, 264 pages

Set in near future Earth, a signal has been received from space whose origin can't be explained. The initial thought is that it comes from one of the planets or moons in this system, or that it's some previously unknown pulsar or other interstellar noise maker. All that is known about the source of the signal is that it is 50 light years away, and that it is heading in Earth's general direction. For a few weeks, the signal is lost; when it is regained, "it" is only 30 light years away, and still heading generally toward Earth. All known attempts to decipher the signal fail; the possibility is that the signal is internal, from ship to ship, and not meant as a message to another species.

Meantime, an ambitious American state senator latches on to the issue as a way to propel himself to Washington. Using some very questionable science, and some huge jumping to conclusions, he does a fine job of changing the public's focus from Unexplained Signal From Space to ALIEN INVASION! Panic and rioting spreads all over the world. (If this really is an invasion, how is stealing anything not already nailed down going to help?) The initial government and military response is to look like they are doing something (it's probably nothing, or this will quickly blow over). By this time, "it" is less than ten light years away, and still heading toward Earth.

An obsolete space station, already in orbit, is retrofitted with appropriate engines and sent to the edge of the solar system. All they can do is to make themselves as noticeable as possible, and hope the aliens stop and have a look. They do stop, but First Contact ends up being rather anticlimactic.

This one is really good. The first of a four-part series, it focuses more on the people involved than on the science or the Contact part. It's a strong, well-done piece of writing.

Paul Lappen

Robyn's Bookshelf

The Printer's Devil
Paul Bajoria
Little, Brown and Company
ISBN: 0316010901 $16.99 Ages 8-12

Life as an orphan in lower class Victorian England offers few opportunities. A not-so-nice London is corrupt with smugglers, convicts and murderers. But twelve year old Mog Winter feels fortunate to be a printer's devil, the name given to an apprentice doing the dirty work, because he can read, has a room to himself, a fair boss, and a dog named Lash. When a local convict breaks out of jail, Mog is instructed to print the Wanted posters. Little does he know he would soon cross paths with the escapee and become entangled in a shady underworld web of mistaken identity and thievery. Mog is soon hunted by an army of unsavory characters and it is either derail the hunt or perish. Not only does Mog discover what he is made of, he also stumbles into a mystery from his own past. The author paints a believable lower class setting around London's shipping society and its influential elements. The writing is masterful and the underlying humor will bring chuckles, but after saying such, I do need to caution that some younger readers may find the story a bit sluggish at first and the slow pacing more in line with books written for older readers.

Omar on Board
Maryann Kovalski
Fitzhenry & Whiteside
ISBN: 1550419188 $16.95 Ages 6 to 8

Omar the bear is full of excitement at the last day of school party. Everyone is promoted, and Ms. Fudge presents the perfect gifts. His friend Elsie is thrilled with the balloons she receives, Bart gets a red striped ball, and Omar delights in the pink hues seen through his new goggles. The whistle blows and the young bears trot down to the pond for a swim, only Omar discovers he can't float like everyone. He sinks. And when he tries to jump from the high dive, he can only look down. "He stood there, high up and all alone. The wind rustled around him. Everyone seemed so far away." But when Elsie's balloons drift off in the wind, Omar takes off to retrieve his friend's beloved present. This time, fear is not a factor. In Omar we see a delightful character full of angst and pride as he encounters the day's unexpected events. Softly created watercolors will capture the attention of even the youngest reader. Illustrations of joy and dismay are communicated through lovable creatures and adorable expressions.

Robyn Gioia, Reviewer

Roger's Bookshelf

Getting Them to Give a Damn
Eric Chester
Dearborn Trade Publishing
ISBN 1419504584 $19.95 207 pages

Much-Needed Book, Right on Target

If you are a business owner employing people between the ages of 16 and 24, buy, read, absorb, and apply this book. If you are a manager or supervisor in any kind of company where you are responsible for employees between the ages of 16 and 24, buy, read, absorb, and apply this book. If you are the confused parent of one or more children between the ages of 16 and 24, buy, read, absorb, and apply this book. If you are an educator of students between the ages of 16 and 24, buy, read, absorb, and apply this book. Are we communicating here?

OK, your first reaction is the profanity in the book title. Live with it! You will find the word a few places in the text, but it's there to make a point. Yes, the writing is punchy, direct, and pushes the envelope of your thinking. However, so do the attitudes and behavior of your young people. We older folks (let's say that term refers to all us gray beards over 35) need to wake up and smell the differences between today's young workers and their counterparts in previous generations. They are different, and must be managed differently. Learn how and succeed. Ignore the lessons of this book and continue to pour profits down the drain by recruiting, training, recruiting, training, recruiting, training, ad nauseum.

Eric Chester is respected as the leading authority on this age group, assuming that anyone can be an expert on kidployees. As a consultant and author in the workforce field, I'm very comfortable telling you that the man is right-on in his writing as he is in his speaking. He'll grab you at the beginning of the book and hold your attention with anecdotes (some from his own life) and lessons learned. In page after page, Chester presents knowledge, insight, techniques, and advice that - if heeded - can substantially strengthen a manager's effectiveness.

In the first of five well-organized sections of the book, you'll gain valuable perspectives about the 16-24 year olds (Generation Why), noting how and why they're different and how the difference can be a powerful asset for your company. Subsequent sections address how to attract, keep, and connect with this important employee group. The last section offers important insight into some employers who get it right why and how. An index supplements the text, enabling you to go back to particular sections for refresher readings.

You will be amazed at how much the author has packed into this comfortably-sized book. After you're finished with your first reading, you'll probably be inspired to buy copies for other managers in your organization. Wait. I take that back. That inspiration will come to you before you've finished with the book. It hit me somewhere about half through the pages. Warning: if your competitor uses this book and you do not, you are in big trouble!

Over Promise and Over Deliver
Rick Barrera
Penguin Group
ISBN 1591840619 $25.95 226 pages + CD

New Twist to Catapult You Forward

"Under promise and over deliver." That phrase has been around long enough to become a cliche. Cliche concepts get old, unless someone comes along with a radical change and turns the cliche inside out. Enter Rick Barrera, a well-known marketing guru. People like this stretch our thinking, pushing us out of the envelope and tromping on the box in the meantime. If you listen to their messages, you will have difficulty staying "inside the box."

Barrera does not disappoint. Emphasizing "touch points," the intimate contact with the customer that can win - or lose - the day, he demonstrates how companies can go beyond the ordinary and fulfill the expectations they create in the mind of the consumer.

This book is organized into two sections: Overpromise and Underdeliver. The first section engages the reader in a discussion of brand promises, how they drive company growth, and ways that well-framed brand promises differentiate companies in the marketplace. Barrera's educational writing is well-seasoned with recent real-world examples.

In the opening pages of his book, Barrera introduces the concept of touch points - those special, meaningful moments where the customer comes in contact with the company. Three types of TouchPoints (Barrera's spelling) are presented. "Product TouchPoints occur where customers interact with the product or service a company is selling." "Human TouchPoints occur when the customer directly interacts with an organization's people." "System TouchPoints include all other points of contact between a company and its customers." The author explains each type of interaction and his views about their importance. "All three TouchPoints are vital to an organization's success, though to differing degrees. All three require a substantial and continuing investment of funds and managerial energy if they are to do their job properly " The TouchPoint concept reminded me of Jan Carlson's work with Scandanavian Airlines years ago. Good lessons bear repeating.

The second section concentrates on meeting and exceeding customer expectations with each of the categories of TouchPoints. Two case studies, Washington Mutual Insurance Company and Lexus, illustrate the concepts before a concluding chapter and close into the index at the back of the book.

The book is filled with advice, examples, and inspiration that will be valuable to anyone in marketing today. Beyond this highly appropriate reader group, I would recommend that corporate executives pay careful attention to the book's messages. The concepts will be valuable to recruiters - corporate, college, and military - as well as to educators in all environments. The lessons conveyed in "Over Promise and Over Deliver" will be valuable to many people for many years. This is a book for our times.

Roger E. Herman, Reviewer

Sherry's Bookshelf

Kamikaze Peacocks & Oink: Coming of Age in an Unfunny War
Peter J. Fournier
Raja and Associates
P.O. Box 829, Lithia, FL 33547 1-866-GET-OINK
ISBN 0974113638 $21.95 237 pages

These vastly entertaining true stories about a soldier making it through his two years in Vietnam proves to be fascinating reading. Girls, peacocks, pigs and a highly celebrated dog make this a stylish and captivating heap of fun.

It all started when a young man was told the best job in the army was to become a linguist. The book is a series of stories about how this author armed with a sense of sometimes misguided mischief and a hearty sense of wit survived a dark war experience.

Fournier has successfully uncovered the funny side hiding under the seedy belly of the Vietnam War. From the "bag of classified trash" to witnessing a "medical marksmanship" this is a must read. This magical silver bullet of humor spotlights a new side to a tragic time.

Fanning the Creative Spirit
Maria Girsch and Charles Girsch
Creativity Publishing
111Elway St., Suite 609, Saint Paul, MN 55116-3236
ISBN: 0967650364 $14.95

Fanning the Creative Spirit will change the way you think, you live and you love. In a world where the alpha dog is always barking at the beta dog and gun slinging words are doing battle, this book will allure you into the art of spirited thinking and creative problem solving.

Once the creative spirit is unleashed there is no putting that horse back into the barn. One exercise becomes more fun and challenging than the last. This book proved to me that being unsure about my thinking is to be unsure about the future. By erasing doubts about my own thinking, the precise and consequential results were quickly apparent.

The book offers mind expanders in several sections such as "Stretch-ercises", "The Practice of Inventivity" and "Little Things". These extensive varieties of exercises provide the shovel for to you burrow deep into the buried creative treasures of your mind.

This is a witty, much needed, charmer. It is highly recommended for all. There are great exercises for family fun and growth as well as for the corporate world at large.

How to Go to Visitation without Throwing Up
Joshua Shane Evans and his Step-mother
Pale Horse Publishing
POB 1447, Livingston, TX 77351-1104 800-646-5590
ISBN: 1587470411 $15.00 100 pages

How to Go to Visitation without Throwing Up is an excellent book for any person involved with a child being split between two caregivers/parents. Joshua Shane Evans genuinely shares his split world to benefit his readers. The book offers explanations about why kids don't like visitation, why they need to go and why they may feel sick or empty inside.

When children are affected by adult events, they may feel as if their familiar world is being rubbed out with a giant eraser and a new confusing picture is being drawn. This jewel for children has tons of activities to help children get through traveling time, alone time and thinking time.

How to Go to Visitation without Throwing Up is a therapeutic treat for worried young minds. Highly recommended for all custody situations, professionals working with children, for parents, and child advocates.

Dear Judge: Kid's Letters to the Judge
Compiled by Charlotte Hardwick
Pale Horse Publishing
POB 1447, Livingston, TX 77351-1104 800-646-5590
ISBN: 158747008X $15.00 130 pages

Children's hearts are so many times treated as a sub-text of divorce. They are many times the forgotten sufferers in parental conflict and the court system. This diverse collection of letters spotlights the thoughts and emotions ranging from distress to humor. They give an insight to how children become efficient little workers trying to understand ways to benefit their family, their situation and to understand a system that is confusing to most of us adults.

One of my favorites is a letter from a young fellow who has the solution to the courts problems with children of divorce. He decides he should become a kid who lawyers other kids. After all, he points out; no one else is listening to the kids so perhaps this would work. This is truly an enlightening compilation. The letters in Dear Judge: Kid's Letters to the Judge are bumper stickers for your heart.

Hi, My Name is Maryann
Mary Ann Barrucco
First Morton Books
Division of Morton Communications
47 Steward Avenue, Irvington, NJ 07111
ISBN: 1929188064 $7.00 131 pages

Hi, My Name is Maryann is an account of abuse, addictions, enabling, illness, death and the glory of survival. The story is told through Maryann's eyes as she reveals an incredible truth of the evolving portraits of her family and herself.

Eddie and Maryann, much in love, wed in 1969. Eddie's heavy drinking soon took its toll leading to abuse and finally to Maryann's addiction with gambling. They were on a treadmill heading for tragedy until Eddie is diagnosed with a serious heart condition. After surviving a heart transplant, the couple's life took a turn towards a permanent healing. Finally, the pieces of a broken puzzle were put back together proving that by facing facts and communicating, people can rise above crisis to live quality lives. Hi, My Name is Maryann validates how conviction enhances the quality of the world and can heal turbulent and dysfunctional relationships.

The Journeying Workbook: Adventuring to Unleash Your Inner Power
Trisha Howell
Morgan James Publishing
PO Box 6504, Newport News, VA 23606 757-679-5704
ISBN 1976090171 $15.95 230 pages

I had never thought about the art of "soul retrieval" until reading this stirring creation by Trisha Howell. The Journeying Workbook is a fascinating technique of balancing your energies which results in constructive transformation. The author explains that "The wounded part is like a black hole or vortex that attracts more wounded energy". It seems that we can be collectors of the mediocre rather than an antenna for a beaming existence. By learning the knack of journeying, we can own the ability for "soul retrieval" and enhance our daily lives.

There is a helpful section on how to prepare for journeying and why these factors promote our well being. The author explains about HO O Pono Pono which is a method of clearing out old relationship energy. This changes that whole "baggage" thing in relationships. With this method we can truly release insecurities and negativities that hover and create havoc in our relationships.

The book is slathered in detail. The author meticulously and in easy terms identifies the twelve primary chakras and mother centers. An unusual and inspiring section is the fascinating question and answer area. The included Glossary gives a novice an expert's confidence. Trisha Howell leaves no stone unturned in preparing readers for the ultimate in the journeying experiences.

Defeating the obstacles in our lives is empowering and it conquers stress at its core. Without realizing it, we rob ourselves daily of harmony, bliss and the gift to reflect clearly. The Journeying Workbook offers a powerful approach for living a soothing and graceful existence that generates beneficial results emotionally, spiritually and physically.

Sherry Russell

Sullivan's Bookshelf

The End of Faith: Religion, Terror, and the Future of Reason
Sam Harris
W.W. Norton & Company
ISBN# 0393035158 $24.95 336 pages/indexed

The author doesn't believe in religion. In fact, he sees it as what's causing the current problems, and those in the past, in the world. The extremists of all religions are to blame. But Harris has troubles with religious moderates, too. They are part of the problem: both for not confronting the truth about their religions that are against all logic and reason and for wanting 'to get along,' with co-religionists and those of other creeds. Harris thinks it's long overdue for moderates to take a good, hard look at what they believe and what the zealots believe.

"The idea," writes the author, "that any one of our religions represents the infallible word of the One True God requires an encyclopedic ignorance of history, mythology, and art even to be entertained--as the beliefs, rituals, and iconography of each of our religions attest to centuries of cross-pollination among them. Whatever their imagined source, the doctrines of modern religions are no more tenable than those which, for lack of adherents, were cast upon the scrap heap of mythology millennia ago, for there is no more evidence to justify a belief in the literal existence of Yahweh and Satan than there was to keep Zeus perched upon his mountain throne or Poseidon churning the seas."

The present conflict with fundamental Islam is, in reality, a face off with all Moslems and that of the religion's actual beliefs. Until the disavowal of this religion by extremists, suicide bombers, and moderates alike, war will continue to rage with the West. But nearly the same can be said of Christians and Jews, too. True believers of all stripes, however, are compelled to accept what's written in their sacred book, and hence the conflict between East and West.

This writer is not a pacifist; consequently, Ghandi's passive resistance comes in for criticism. Moreover, Harris, like Alan Dershowitz, noted Harvard law professor, believes in the use of torture for prisoners of war under certain circumstances.

A Stanford University graduate with a degree in philosophy, Harris is currently working on a doctorate degree in neuroscience. This hard-hitting book is his first. And it's difficult to put down. Highly recommended!

101 Things to Do Before You Die
Richard Horne
ISBN# 1582344930 $14.95 202 pages/appendix

This colorful, well illustrated, highly organized, interesting, physically small but creatively large volume is chock full of scores and scores of deeds an individual human being with even a modest spirit of adventure and fun might wish to accomplish before he or she departs this mortal coil. The list includes some of the obvious suggestions: skydiving, bungee jumping, riding all the most thrilling roller coasters in the country. It also offers many other deeds you may not have thought about, like joining the 'mile high club,' writing a best selling book, catching a fish with your bare hands, making it onto the front pages of a national newspaper, buying one huge purchase you can't afford, skipping out of paying your bill at a fancy restaurant, playing a part in your favorite TV show, and on and on.

Contrary to most other books making suggestions of things to do in your life, this book goes a step further and gives advice on how to accomplish these goals. The book also becomes your personal record journal. There's room for checking off any particular goal, for rewarding yourself with incentives like pasting stars (provided) in the record book for each accomplishment, and for making additional notes about the deeds you do.

Moreover, the volume's appendix contains much helpful information and many suggestions: how to carry your 'to do' list with you, how to record feats, how to come up with a list of new things you want to do, and so forth.

The author writes, "Lists. We all have them. Instead of grocery lists, why not chart all the things we'd like to achieve in our lives? Here is a way to chart your athletic triumphs, your sexual misadventures, your lifetime struggles and your reckless behavior[....]"

Richard Horne lives in London, England where he designs record covers, book jackets, and websites. He also illustrates greeting cards and magazines. The book reviewed here was not only written by Horne but also designed and illustrated by him, too. This reviewer found all those efforts delightful. Recommended.

Jim Sullivan

Taylor's Bookshelf

Smile All The While
N. L. Alex & Nick Seluk
Joe Girl Ink
111 South Morgan, Sujite 502, Chicago, IL 60607
0976608006 $4.99

Entertainingly written with a rhyming text by N. L. Alex and energetically, whimsically illustrated by freelance artist Nick Seluk, Smile All The While is a picturebook story that juxtaposes the Biblical tale of Eve's creation with children's day-to-day experiences. The purpose is to help children learn the virtue of a Christian faith and the reward meted out to the faithful. Young children ages preschool through first grade will learn the value of trusting in God as the story unfolds on the premise that for a very special purpose, Adam had known God would remove his rib? The debut title in what promises to be a lively and entertaining series, Smile All The While is a delightful story that is especially recommended to families seeking to instill Christian values within the hearts and minds of their children. Readers will look eagerly toward the next title in the Joe Girl Ink "Smiley" series from the collaborative team of N. L. Alex and Nick Seluk -- The Mean Green

The Future Of Christianity
John Stenhouse, et al.
ATF Press
c/o International Publishers Marketing
22841 Quicksilver Drive, Dulles, VA 20166
1920691235 $25.00 1-800-758-3756

Compiled and edited by John Stenhouse (Faculty member, Department of History, University of Otago) and Brett Knowles (Senior Teaching Fellow in Church History in the Department of Theology and Religious Studies, University of Otago) with the assistance of academician Antony Wood, The Future Of Christianity: Historical, Sociological, Political And Theological Perspectives From New Zealand is comprised of contributions by a group of New Zealand scholars, theologians, historians and lawyers who examine the relationship of New Zealand's Western culture and Christianity. Scholarly, articulate, intellectually engaging, The Future Of Christianity ranges from Allan K. Davison's "Christianity and National Identity: The Role of the Churches in the Construction of Nationhood", to Mary Petersen's The Future of Christianity in New Zealand: What Is Happening with the Children?", to Peter Lineham's "Social Policy and the Churches in the 1990s and Beyond", to Mike Riddell's "Beyond Ground Zero: Resourcing Faith in a Post-Christian Era Obligation". These and the other informative and intellectually challenging articles make The Future Of Christianity very highly recommended reading.

The Costly Call
Emir Fethi Caner and H. Edward Pruitt
Kregel Publications
PO Box 2607, Grand Rapids, MI 49501
0825435552 $10.99 1-800-733-2607

The Costly Call is an anthology of true personal testimonies of Muslims worldwide who found Jesus Christ and converted to Christianity - at a terrible cost. The price for turning away from Islam in nations such as Malaysia, Egypt, Saudi Arabia, and others was fines, arrest, imprisonment, physical attacks, attacks on family members, and sometimes even execution. In many nations where Islam is dominant, proselytizing Christianity to Muslims is an illegal offense that can result in the death penalty. These are true tales of modern-day martyrs, each written in vivid first person. An unforgettable collection of true faith tested in ways that those living comfortably in nations with freedom of religion can scarcely imagine. The Costly Call is published in accordance with a non-profit interdenominational organization called The Voice of the Martyrs, dedicated to assisting those persecuted for their Christian faith worldwide.

Is God Listening?
Andrew E. Steinmann
Concordia Publishing House
3558 South Jefferson Avenue, Saint Louis, MO 63118-3968
0758606125 $9.99 1-800-325-3040

Written by an associate professor of theology and philosophy at Concordia University, Is God Listening? Making Prayer a Part of Your Life is a simple guide to discovering the awareness that God is always listening, even when prayers seemingly go unanswered. Chapters address how to properly set one's mind and focus upon prayers concerning sin, failing health, praise to God, and other situations, some dire indeed. Further discussions shed light on God's reception of praise, drawing heavily from the psalms for better understanding, and steps for incorporating daily prayer into one's life. Penned from true faith, Is God Listening? is a spiritual resource especially intended for Christian readers but offering spiritual insight to all believers.

John Taylor

Terry's Bookshelf

Angels and Demons
Dan Brown
ISBN: 0743486226 $19.95 (hc) $7.99 (mass market pbk) 592 pp.

Recommendation: ***** (I'd add more, if possible)

I started this prequel to THE DA VINCI CODE on a recent vacation. Big mistake. Huge.

Once the story began to unfold, I had flashbacks of long nights spent reading Robert Ludlum with my heart pounding out of my chest. I even snuck the book into my purse and read little snippets while riding in the car; waiting for my lunch; or when the others got ahead of me at the Albuquerque Aquarium. It's just that good.

Dan Brown weaves a great story about an ancient society's grudge against the Catholic Church; the dangers of modern science; and how one man can make a difference. I'm so ready to go to Rome and follow in art historian-turned hero-Robert Landgon's footsteps and see the symbolism clues for myself.

I didn't expect ANGELS AND DEMONS to be so good. Boy, what a pleasant surprise. Enjoy!

The Mermaid Chair
Sue Monk Kidd
ISBN: 0670033944 $24.95 352 pages

Recommendation: *

Wanna Break Your Vows? Fall in Lust with a Monk

I had such high expectations for this book. Too bad.

After THE SECRET LIFE OF BEES, I expected more than a justification for adultery published under Sue Monk Kidd's name.

The heroine was not sympathetic. The heroine's lover was milquetoast, at best. The mother was brutal, to the point of self-mutilation, an act which was never explained to my satisfaction. Even the mother's sidekick had issues. Nothing fit for me. . .except the heroine's cuckolded husband. He didn't deserve the betrayal.

The actual story of the mermaid chair was more interesting that the people it effected. When inanimate objects carry more weight than the humans surrounding it, something's way wrong.

Blech. I will think twice about purchasing Sue Monk Kidd's next book. I think I'll just use the library.

My Life
Bill Clinton
Read by Bill Clinton
Random House Audio
ISBN: 0739317067 $35.00

Recommendation: *****

No wonder William Jefferson Clinton was re-elected President twice, despite a hostile congress and a scandalous affair with an intern named Monica Lewinsky.

In his book, MY LIFE, Clinton proves himself a spell-binding storyteller whose love of the spotlight, combined with great political instincts propelled and kept him in the national spotlight for so long. Early on, it's obvious Clinton is an intellectual heavyweight with enough southern charm and charisma to make the combination almost lethal to anyone who ran against him.

It's rare that someone this bright and insightful enters politics . . .and even with his self-confessed shortcomings and many lapses in judgment regarding his personal life, I have no doubt this country was in good hands during Clinton's two terms.

No matter what your politics or personal feelings about one of the most polarizing figures of recent times, after listening to MY LIFE, you'd be hard pressed not to admit the man is a master of the game called politics and we'll not see his like again soon. Enjoy!

No Mountain High Enough: Raising Lance, Raising Me
Linda Armstrong Kelly with Joni Rodgers
ISBN: 076791855X $24.95 288 pages

Recommendation: *****

Lance's Mom Tells Her Story

Nothing was going to keep Linda Armstrong Kelly and her son from getting their piece of the American Dream. Knowing Lance's story is helpful, but not essential to enjoying Linda's telling of a life of poverty, less than wise choices and being mother to a live wire named Lance. (Who was supposed to be named Erica, should he have been a girl.)

With little more than a heart full of love for her child and a huge amount of determination, Linda carved out a life for the two of them . . . truly against all odds. Armed only with a GED and a real estate license, she rose from a temporary clerk to the rank of project manager for a major telecommunications company. She raised Lance to believe in himself and it seems she didn't try to squelch his infatuation with danger . . . and speed. Her determination to succeed was quickly transferred to Lance, who's natural athletic abilities were just what the doctor (and his mother) ordered/needed to keep his boundless energy channeled in a positive manner.

My favorite part of the story revolved around Lance's early competitions, when Linda was his only "pit crew" and it was, indeed, the two of them against the world.

She leaves the cancer and Tour de France story lines to Lance, but she does reveal the terror she hid from Lance and the burden she carried during that time. She was, by all counts, his rock and the foundation he leaned on after his diagnosis, during the treatment and while making a full recovery. She was also there for him as he triumphed in 6 Tour de France victories. Always encouraging. Always supportive. Always there. Always.

While being open and honest about her own unfortunate choices, Linda shows herself to be fallible, too. However, instead of having a pity party, she seems to learn from her every mistake and to take each personal relationship failure and make something positive out of it. It's good to know she's found the love of her life and is happy at last.

Never flinching from responsibility. Instilling a good work ethic. Teaching the value of a dollar. Believing in the good in her child, despite some teen-age boy pranks to the contrary.

Maybe Linda Armstrong Kelly should start her own foundation and teach parents how to raise their kids to be STRONG, responsible, caring and giving adults. Kudos to her . . . and that kid she raised to ride like the wind! Enjoy!

Terry Mathews

Vogel's Bookshelf

A New History Of Japanese Cinema
Isolde Standish
The Continuum Publishing Group
15 East 26th Street, #17, New York, NY 10010-1505
0826417094 $39.95 1-800-561-7704

A New History Of Japanese Cinema: A Century Of Narrative Film by Isolde Standish (Film Studies Lecturer and Convenor of the MA Cinemas of Asia and Africa degrees, School of Oriental and African Studies, University of London) is a 414-page work of considerable scholarship providing the reader with an informed and informative historical survey of the Japanese film industry from its inception down to the present day. A New History Of Japanese Cinema details an industry and an art form as shaped by the competing and merging influences of traditional Japanese culture and 20th century economic and technological innovations. A ground-breaking and original work written with considerable expertise, A New History Of Japanese Cinema is enhanced with a section of "Reflections", extensive notations, a "Select Filmography", a "Select Bibliography", and an exhaustive index, making it especially recommended for academic library "Cinematic Studies" and "Japanese Popular Culture" reference collections and supplemental reading lists.

The Train Stops Here
Marci L. Riskin
University of New Mexico Press
MSC11 6290, 1 University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131-0001
0826333060 $39.95 1-800-249-7737

In The Train Stops Here: New Mexico's Railway Legacy, Santa Fe architect Marci Riskin provides the reader with a brief but informative history of railroad development, and then precedes to focus upon the architectural features of New Mexico's railroad buildings to help explain how railroads work. Historical buildings and their attendant railroads are organized geographical by rail systems (including the Santa Fe system, the Denver & Rio Grande system, the Colorado & Southern system, the Southern Pacific, as well as the El Paso and Northeastern lines). Enhanced with appendices on "Remaining Railroad Structures in New Mexico"; "Heritage Tourism", "Useful Contacts"; "Railroad-Related Museums in New Mexico", extensive notes, a glossary, a bibliography for further study, and a comprehensive index, The Train Stops Here documents the architectural impact that 19th century railroad companies had upon the developing New Mexico towns. A work of original scholarship that is also completely accessible for the non-specialist general reader, The Train Stops Here is especially recommended for personal, professional, and academic library reference collections in Architectural Studies, Western History, and American Railroading History.

Paul T. Vogel

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

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