Return to home
page Book Reviews, Book Lover Resources, Advice for Writers and Publishers
Home / Reviewer's Bookwatch

Reviewer's Bookwatch

Volume 6, Number 6 June 2006 Home | RBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Ann's Bookshelf Bethany's Bookshelf
Bob's Bookshelf Buhle's Bookshelf Burroughs' Bookshelf
Carson's Bookshelf Cassandra's Bookshelf Cheri's Bookshelf
Debra's Bookshelf Gary's Bookshelf Gorden's Bookshelf
Greenspan's Bookshelf Harwood's Bookshelf Henry's Bookshelf
Jason's Bookshelf Kaye's Bookshelf Lowe's Bookshelf
Molly's Bookshelf Norton's Bookshelf Pamela's Bookshelf
Paul's Bookshelf Richard's Bookshelf Skinner's Bookshelf
Tami's Bookshelf    

Reviewer's Choice

The Crazy Old White Man from the Hood
Lee Gaylord
Publish America
P.O. Box 151,Frederick, MD 21705 (301) 695-1707
ISBN: 1413724663, $19.95, 194 pp.

Bernadine Fawcett

Lee Gaylord, a man with a mission, dares "To Dream the Impossible Dream" to develop enough income from the sale of his book, "The Crazy Old White Man from the Hood" to create a center for drug and alcohol abuse. Just as Don Quixote was "scorned and covered with scars" Lee battles with his streetwise concepts "to reach the unreachable stars." Publishing an honest forthright subliminal flow in a personal journal - as is- without proofing is gutsy, but the author, Lee Gaylord, illustrates that he can take on his own and the world's flaws without hesitation. The reader experiences a skid row world which is raw, confused and violent. Lee believes himself to be a Black man in a white body. He is accepted as Black in a world foreign to the majority of us. His message to others is not just accept yourself, but be yourself and let your soul shine through.
If the impossible dream is to happen he will need professionals to exchange concepts with this down-under culture to find realistic preventions, causes, and cures. With much that is stacked against him, I hope he wins.

Sex Between The Beats: The Ultimate Guide To Sex Music
John Kale
Blush Books/A division of Blush Records
850 Warren Ave., Venice, California 90291
ISBN: 0976391201, $18.95, 233 pp.

Lynn Burton

Review first published online at

Already familiar with some of the music from Blush Records, I was excited to get my hands on this book (it might also be the stickiest book I own) as well as the CD that accompanies it because I knew I'd be in for a fun ride. A fun ride is what I got! From the beginning to end, it delivers just what it promises. As a writer of erotica and lover of music, I could appreciate all that this book has to offer.

Author and DJ, John Kale takes us on a guided exploration of sex music and our own sensuality through extensive research and his personal experiences as a disc jockey. Focusing on selected music, along with using all of your five senses, you'll learn how to set the mood and gain the desired effects for any erotic encounter. The type of music we listen to has a very great effect on how we behave in certain situations. Music can gently turn our consciousness toward sensuality while attuning sensitive bodily systems to the stirrings of sexual energy as Kale explains in a sub-chapter titled The Sexual Power of Music.

"Sex Between The Beats" appeals to a wide audience of music lovers, musicians or anyone trying to find a new direction in their relationships. It's informative as well as arousing. Don't just read this book; absorb it, learn it and put it to use for your advantage. You and your partner will be glad you did. Take the time to do the short exercises that are presented. They work! The appendix also lists several different types of music selections and further reading.

Torn Sky: Project Jerusalem
Kathleen Keating
Fleur de Lis Media
PO Box 352, Ainsworth, NE 69210
ISBN: 0970859805, $25.99, 488 pp.

Cary Stu

Having read Kathleen Keating's earlier works, it was with great anticipation that I opened my review copy for Torn Sky: Project Jerusalem. For once, this is a sequel that truly does not disappoint. From the opening pages to the breakneck finish, I could not tear myself away. Keating has accomplished what so many authors fail to achieve when it comes to writing a sequel. Readers tend to develop preconceived notions about their favorite characters, and they expect the story to unravel the way they want it to. Sequels invariably never live up to reader's expectations, but in this case, Torn Sky: Project Jerusalem not only stands on its own, it exceeds the first by weaving an even more complicated story.

The first book in this series leaves you wondering what will happen in a world that has just been nearly devastated, both physically and spiritually. In the first chapter of Torn Sky: Project Jerusalem, we experience this devastation and the hesitancy that accompanies the unknown. What will the world be like, what can people expect? Keating answers these questions gradually, allowing the reader to immerse themselves into the story.

One of my biggest questions after reading Torn Sky: Part One was "What comes next?" Although these books are works of fiction, Keating has an uncanny foresight into world events. Many of the seemingly improbable events that were mentioned in the first book have come to pass. If even a few of the events mentioned in Torn Sky: Project Jerusalem come to pass, I fear what the answer to my question will be. This thought stays in the back of your mind as you follow Keating's characters as they seek their own answer to this question.

In a story that deals with "end time" events, I have found that authors tend to get carried away with their villains and with their protagonists. You end up with a caricature of a villain, a typical "baddie," complete with an expertly twirled moustache. The "good" people are always too good, and leave the reader little to commiserate with. Keating does not fall into this trap, creating characters that despite their failings, their faults, and their personal tics, are always real. The main antagonist in the story, although he is a man of incredible power and is filled with evil intentions, never crosses the line into the unbelievable. We're given insight into his mind, into his plans and although they are sensational, we begin to understand his motives, and perhaps even see a little bit of ourselves in his actions, a disturbing thought.

Each character in this book has to deal not only with the world crumbling down around their ears, but their own lives as well. Reality has been twisted, terrorist attacks become a nearly daily occurrence as mercenaries seek to turn confusion to their own ends, and families fall apart. In the midst of these calamities, each character has to make their own decision on where they will turn, what they will become and how they will write their own stories.

Several surprise twists occur throughout the book, and I won't spoil them here. Suffice it to say that if you have any preconceived notions going into this book, prepare to have them shredded. As a suspense author, Keating is in the top-ten of all time when it comes to weaving a tale and springing surprises on the reader. Chances are, you'll be guessing just like I did, all the way until the end. This book, even despite its size, is a book to be read in one sitting. Each time I put it down, I found myself drawn back to see what was behind the next corner, and the next. I must confess it was a pleasant addiction, and I only hope that the next book in the series will be completed soon.

In a genre filled with lackluster authors, cheap story-lines and mass produced, for lack of a better word, crap, Keating stands like a beacon. This is how a suspense book should be written, and one that I hope will receive the attention it deserves.

Tales of Soldiers and Civilians
Ambrose Bierce
Kent State University Press
Kent State University, Kent, Ohio 44240
ISBN: 0873387899, $30.00, 184 pp.

Christopher Baldwin

This collection of stories is a rare forgotten gem of American literature. The same can be said of its author, a dark, cranky, brilliant cynic and iconoclast, mentor to the young H.L. Mencken and role model for Westbrook Pegler, two titans of twentieth century journalism. Unfortunately, Bierce's fiction has been unjustifiably neglected—perhaps because the short story as an art form is moribund in this postmodern age—and he is now remembered chiefly as a prolific newspaperman and author of some witty aphorisms. He was, also, however, a magnificent short story writer, a master of the genre and every inch the equal of such virtuosos as Stephen Crane, Bret Harte, and William Faulkner.

It is a curious and fascinating fact that a disproportionate number of American short story writers belong to what might be termed the toxic school of fiction. Included are contaminated geniuses like Edgar Allan Poe, a pedophile and drug addict; Nathaniel Hawthorne, a sex-obsessed Puritan; Mark Twain, a churl and a misanthrope; Jack London, a racist savage; and Ernest Hemingway, a literary necrophiliac. Ambrose Bierce, to be sure, is comfortably at home among this group, both for his tremendous talent and his morbid fascination with cruelty, suffering, and death.

Bierce is certainly a diseased writer. What other type of mind would devote years of effort to composing a bilious, gall-and-wormwood work like The Devil's Dictionary, droll and bitingly clever though it undoubtedly is? If the essence of humor lies in deconstructing current mores, then Bierce eclipses most humorists by debunking every convention known to Western man. The Dictionary is a volcanic eruption of burning ridicule.

Having fought bravely in the Civil War's western theater of operations—he saw action at the great battles of Shiloh, Missionary Ridge, and Atlanta—for the entire four years as an officer and cartographer with the 9th Indiana Infantry—the only writer of stature courageous enough to have done so—Bierce, who suffered a serious head wound in the war's final months, migrated to England in 1872 and wrote vitriolic articles, his wicked wit earning him the sobriquet Bitter Bierce. Returning home in 1876, he found his niche and went to work for William Randolph Hearst newspapers in California and became a columnist in the San Francisco Examiner.

Tales of Soldiers and Civilians presents Bierce at his very best: imaginative, dynamic, grim, sardonic, sadistic, and as a technical innovator. He was a born storyteller, and these riveting tales, including some memorable ghost stories, are concerned chiefly with how and why men die. Sometimes they die courageously, sometimes uselessly, sometimes just to prove a point; often they die horrifically, agonizingly. Bierce's theme is that although war is hell, men are still eager to fight because fighting satisfies a deep and powerful need. Bierce saw firsthand how human beings sacrificed and willingly laid down their lives for a transcendent cause, whether that cause was called The Union or Southern Independence or Emancipation. The tragedy of the war for him was that both sides were right. And both were wrong, albeit for different reasons.

The most well-known piece in this collection is "An Occurrence at Owl Creek Bridge." While masterful and ground-breaking in its use of the psychological-flashback, (Hemingway's "The Snows of Kilimanjaro" is modeled after it) the story is not the best; "Chickamauga" is. The scene of a fierce battle in northwest Georgia in which 35,000 men died, the battle is never once mentioned except as the title. The piece could easily have been called "Sharpsburg" or "Chancellorsville," "Spotsylvania" or "Fredericksburg." Bierce impressively depicts the destructiveness of the encounter, not with combat scenes, but solely by describing the aftermath. A six-year old boy, playing soldier and lost in the woods outside a farmhouse, happens upon a ghastly company of maimed men crawling weakly through the fog-shrouded forest. We are not told if they are Federal or Confederate, and it does not matter. With their flesh in tatters, their bloody, grotesque faces shot half away, they delight the child by reminding him of painted clowns he has seen in a circus. Pretending to be their general, he leaps upon their backs to ride them as horses and urges them forward with blows from his wooden sword. Eventually he comes across a smoking wreck of burnt buildings and is shocked to discover his own home. He spots a female form on the ground, his mother. The story concludes with a grisly flourish:

"Conspicuous in the light of the conflagration lay the dead body of a woman—the white face turned upward, the hands thrown out and clutched full of grass, the clothing deranged, the long dark hair in tangles and full of clotted blood. The greater part of the forehead was torn away, and from the jagged hole the brain protruded, overflowing the temple, a frothy mass of gray, crowned with clusters of crimson. The child moved his little hands, making wild, uncertain gestures. He uttered a series of inarticulate and indescribable cries—something between the chattering of an ape and the gobbling of a turkey—a startling, soulless, an unholy sound, the language of a devil. The child was a deaf mute."

Typically, it is not enough for Bierce that the boy should discover his ruined home and dead mother. Anxious to give the screw another turn, he describes her mutilation in lurid detail, forehead gone and frothy brain oozing out. And to pump up the pathos, Bierce turns the child into a defective, a device totally superfluous to the plot and necessary only if one finds pleasure in imperfection and misfortune.

In another potent story, "The Coup De Grace," the war's brutality is shown as being all the more reprehensible when it is unintentional. Behind the lines, wounded men are dying painfully and in droves because doctors are overwhelmed and medicines are in short supply. The title refers to mercy-killing, what Bierce labels "a rite of compassion." But even his compassion is tinged with cruelty. With exquisite irony he has a soldier shoot a wounded horse, yet when the soldier presses the revolver to the temple of his best friend who is writhing in agony with a gaping belly-wound, the hammer merely clicks; the cylinder is empty. The soldier has spent his last round on the horse. He manages finally to dispatch his friend, and in barbarous fashion—hacking him to death with a sword-thrust through the chest.

Another story, "Killed at Resaca," deals with a lieutenant who is thought by his comrades to excessively vaunt his courage by constantly exposing himself to enemy fire. After he is killed, the story's narrator finds a love letter indicating that the dead man may have been responsible for one hundred deaths due to his cowardice. Only then does it become apparent that the lieutenant was not swaggering but seeking expiation of guilt through a suicidal act. This is the kind of insight of which Bierce was capable. With his illustrations of man's desire for martial glory—beautifully symbolized by the six-year old boy—set beside the gruesome reality of the Civil War, he is revealed as a shrewd psychologist as well as an artist of the first rank.

In appraising Bierce, it is worth recalling the dictum of his contemporary, Henry James: we must not quibble with an author's choice of subject; what he makes of it is our only legitimate concern. What Bierce understandably made of the war and incorporated into all his work was the idea of humanity's wickedness and savagery. It is a true enough vision as far as it goes, but is only half the picture, because it never takes account of the opposite side of human nature. To put a Freudian slant on it, Bierce sees all Id and no Superego.

Despite his wizardry with words—his prose at times soars to poetical heights—Bierce still has limitations. He can depict friendship but not tenderness, loyalty but not devotion, sacrifice but not love, because he is incapable of any real warmth or affection. The impetus behind his work is a purely negative energy. Yet his jaundiced outlook is precisely what gives his writing its vitality and force.

We do not know the origin of Bierce's pessimism. Perhaps it was caused by the horrors of the war, or perhaps it was something innate that the war exacerbated. In any event, that morbid strain in his nature apparently found its logical conclusion in his end. Death came for him just as it did for the lieutenant in "Killed at Resaca"—by personal invitation. Here is what he wrote in his last letter in 1914, at age 71, from Mexico, where he had gone to find Pancho Villa and observe the Revolution:

"If you hear of my being stood up against a Mexican stone wall and shot to rags, please know that I think it is a pretty good way to depart this life. It beats old age, disease, or falling down the cellar stairs. To be a Gringo in Mexico—ah, that is euthanasia!"

Bierce vanished south of the border and was never seen or heard from again. It was a perfect ending for him, exactly as he himself would have written it. Come to think of it, he did.

The Tender Bar: A Memoir
J. R. Moehringer
77 W 66th St, New York, NY 10023
ISBN: 1401300642, $23.95, 368 pp.

Coletta Ollerer

J R Moehringer's earliest memories have him living with his mother at his grandfather's crowded, messy and unkempt home in Manhasset, Long Island. He says, "Under that one sagging roof my mother and I lived with Grandpa, Grandma, my mother's two grown siblings -- Uncle Charlie and Aunt Ruth -- and Ruth's five daughters and one son. `Huddled masses yearning to breath rent-free,' Grandpa called us." (p15)

Ruth decides to take her brood to Arizona and later JR and his mother follow. Things do not go well for Ruth but her sister decides to stay when Ruth returns. A fatherless boy and his mother have a special bond but this boy's mother is smart enough to know that he needs male supervision and companionship so when the school year ends she sends him back to Manhasset for the summer and turns him over to the influence of his uncle, a single man with lots of friends who is also the head bartender at Manhasset's favorite pub, Publicans. His uncle begins to include JR in his activities with his friends and JR loves the company of these men, all characters, who take a liking to him. "Everything the men taught me that summer fell under the loose catchall of confidence. That was all. But that was enough. That, I later realized, was everything.." (p95) He is enthralled with the idea of a meeting place for men and is delighted when he is first admitted to Publicans. As he grows older the bar becomes his refuge from the storms of life and its denizens are his closest friends.

His mother reveals that grandpa wouldn't allow her to attend college and she very much regrets that and encourages JR to plan on completing his education. He dreams of attending university and getting a job, "if I lived frugally I might still be able to take care of my mother and send her to college . . ." (p123) He bravely applies to Yale and is amazed when he is accepted there but as he begins his first year he learns he is not prepared for the academic demands. During a discussion of Plato in a Philosophy class he observes a classmate "scribbling rejoinders to Socrates in the margins of his text." (167) He thinks, "In a million years I wouldn't disagree with Socrates, and if I did, I'd keep it to myself." (p167) Despite setbacks he graduates and begins his life in the workaday world..

This is a delightful memoir of the coming of age of a boy whose father was absent. He is so easy to like, full of insecurities but open and willing to work hard and learn. And he has a lot learn from the unusual people who inhabit his life: his selfish, unpleasant and cantankerous grandfather, loving but ineffectual grandmother. Aunt Ruth, so angry at the world and her life. Her children, his cousins, whom he adores and Uncle Charlie who is among his heroes. Most of all, his mother, whom he loves mightily. A fun read.

Sun Dog Days
Slim Randles
University of New Mexico Press
1601 Randolph Rd. SE Suite 200 S. Albuquerque, NM 87106
ISBN: 0826339425, $24.95, 189 pp.

Connie Gotsch, Reviewer

Buck dreams he's riding a horse at full gallop over the range, as Slim Randles' novel, SUN DOG DAYS, opens. Once a cowboy, Buck now edits an outdoors magazine in Los Angeles. He's married to Jan, a woman with two children, and he's settled into his life, though he remembers his carefree cowboy youth with pleasure, especially when he's waking up.

But every morning, Buck shrugs off the vision and heads for the office, where he thinks he's happy. Then one day, things go haywire. A freelancer misses a deadline, and Buck must write the article originally assigned to that person, to fill a centerfold, though Buck knows little about the subject he needs to cover. Frustrated, he glares at his computer. If it weren't for Jan and the kids, he'd "take this job and shove it," he decides.

The phone rings. When he answers, his old cowboy partner, Smokey, invites him to go for a beer. It seems Smokey's in Los Angeles. Buck agrees, just to get out of the office and clear his head. However, twenty-four hours and many beers later, he finds himself tossed out of the house by Jan, and off with Smokey to illegally round up mustangs.

Combining present time with Buck's recollections of the old days with Smokey, Randles makes SUN DOG DAYS the story of Buck weathering a mid-life crisis. As Buck makes critical decisions about who he really wants to be, he learns much about making choices and accepting their consequences. SUN DOG DAYS' universal theme makes this short novel accessible to everybody, not just cowboys. In fact for the non-cowboy, SUN DOG DAYS tells the mid-life crisis story in a refreshing way. For cowboys or cowboy wannabes, it probably catches the spirit of why they want to be cowboys.

With warmth and humor, Slim Randles presents fleshed out and very human characters. His uses a writing style that is simple and direct, but never simplistic, painting a vivid picture of the range, and cowboys at work and play. Randles offers a good look at the psyches of these tough men. SUN DOG DAYS is both a fun and gently thought provoking read. It reminds us that we all must be who we are with no apologies, if we want to hope for any happiness in our lives.

Catch As Catch Can
Joseph Heller, author
Eds. Matthew J. Brucoli & Park Bucker
Simon & Schuster
New York
ISBN: 0743243749, $25.00, 333 pp.

Dan Schneider, Reviewer

If there's ever been a greater example of a single author milking a single bit of work more than Joseph Heller I don't want to read him. It's been years since I read his classic Catch-22 satire of the Army during World War Two - although I aim to read it again within the year- and it was a good book, to my best recollection. But, my word, give it a rest.

The whole of Catch As Catch Can: The Collected Stories And Other Writings is a virtual homage to Heller's most well-known book. Not even J.D. Salinger has sucked the life out of his The Catcher In The Rye like Heller has Catch-22. This book is divided into five parts- thirteen previously published stories, five previously unpublished stories, a play- Clevinger's Trial- based upon Catch-22, a four piece non-fiction section called On Catch-22, and a single Recollection called Coney Island: The Fun Is Over. The recollection has moments, the only worthwhile thing in the On Catch-22 section is Joseph Heller Talks About Catch-22, in which the process of bringing book to film screen is engaged, and the two fiction sections amply demonstrate Heller's limited range as a fictionist. It's almost as if his obsession with his one hit is because he knows this mostly banal and dull collection is the best of the rest of what he had to offer.

Of the tales, there are no real standouts, no stories that are unforgettable, and most read like third rate John O'Hara. They are also very dated, and at best they reach mere competence. A Man Named Flute, for example, is a simpleminded anti-marijuana story where a booky decides to confront his son's dealer. Look at the stiltedness of this scene. Even fifty to sixty years ago this confrontation with the drug dealer was laughably badly written- something out of a 1930s didactic anti-drug and socially aware film starring the Dead End Kids:

Murdock shook him away impatiently and walked back to the fourth table, his eyes fixed on the man but not noticing that Flute was as big as he himself was, with broad, level shoulders and thick forearms. Flute was bending over to make a shot when Murdock came up to him. Murdock tapped him sharply.

"I want to talk to you," he said.

Flute straightened up slowly and studied him with a careless interest, a slight, mocking smile coming to his strong face. "What about?"

"I'll tell you outside," Murdock said.

Flute thought about it a moment and then nodded. He put his cue down and followed Murdock out through the side door. Murdock walked until they were out of the light before he turned.

"You've been selling marijuana to my kid," he said.

Flute showed no emotion. "Who's your kid?" he said calmly. "I sell tea to a lot of people."

"That doesn't matter," Murdock said. "It takes a pretty low bastard to sell it to anyone."

"All right," Flute said. "Talk nice."

Four men came out of the darkness behind Flute, two on either side, and moved forward until they were around Murdock. As soon as Murdock saw them, he swung at Flute. Flute caught his wrist and held it, and before Murdock could move, he had his other arm, and in an instant Murdock was pinned back against the wall, unable to move. He kicked out viciously at the man's groin and struck his thigh. Then the leg moved and Murdock could no longer hit anything. The four men watched without moving. Flute held Murdock powerless with his arms and shoulder, making no attempt to hurt him. Murdock struggled feverishly to break free from the younger man, putting all his strength behind the effort. It was no use, and after a few minutes he sagged in helpless exhaustion. The anger went out of him, leaving him limp with defeat.

World Full Of Great Cities is a dull and too long look at what a couple might do to save their marriage. I Don't Love You Anymore follows a similarly negative track on modern marriage. Here's a typical Hellerian take on domesticity:

….She didn't answer him immediately; she didn't know what to say. It wasn't working out right. He had been home three days now and it was getting worse. The first day they had been uncomfortable, very cautious and considerate, feeling each other out as prize fighters do, not being themselves at all, and hoping to pick up the thread of happiness from where it had been dropped almost a year ago when he left. The second day should have been better, but it hadn't been. She was still considerate, too much so, and he found that something in the routine was getting on his nerves and making him bitter. And now they were quarreling; not yet, but he could see it coming because he was deliberately bringing it on. He was being cruel purposely, not really wanting to be, but nevertheless deriving some perverse pleasure in seeing her unhappy. He had been thinking about her for ten months, thinking about how nice it was going to be when he got back to her, and now he was back and it wasn't nice at all.

He fingered the Chinese puzzle in his hands unconsciously, two metal rings, and without being aware of it, he deliberately thwarted himself each time from separating them. He caressed them with his hands, enjoying their cold firmness as he waited for her to speak.

"Harry and Edith are coming over," she said finally.

"That's nice."

"Will you put some clothes on?"


"Why won't you?"

"I don't want to."

In To Laugh In The Morning WWII veteran Nathan Scholl returns from a heroin treatment program in Kentucky to Washington, D.C., where he drifts through his old haunts dejected and uncured. The story is dull, long, depressing, and larded with poor dialogue. The Day Bush Left, from the 1990s is a poor satire of the first George Bush's lack of ethics forcing him to resign the Presidency as a matter of principle and conscience. And on go the flimsy stories. About the only successful stories are Lot's Wife, a decidedly Hemingwayvian piece about the aftermath of a car accident, Castle Of Snow- a solid portrait of an aging man losing his sanity and inhibitions, and Girl From Greenwich which follows a young writer schmoozing his way through a classic mid-Twentieth Century Manhattan literary cocktail party, only to meet the woman of his dreams who turns out to be a pre-Madonna Material Girl. The Catch-22-related material is of very hit and miss quality. Love, Dad is the introduction to a Catch-22 character, Edward J. Nately III. We are told 'he was often lonely and nagged by vague, incipient longings. He contemplated his sophomore year at Harvard without enthusiasm, without joy. Fortunately, the War broke out in time to save him.' Of course, he ends up dead, with his dad's last letter returned to him, in typical Hellerian fashion.

The question I have is why such a piss-poor collection of B Side rot was ever released? Editors Matthew J. Bruccoli and Park Bucker state that the texts of the works in this book are unaltered because writers who have died cannot approve changes. I would submit that Heller probably knew the little literary quality these works had, so therefore never wanted to see them hit print, and would probably have been angered that four years after his death in 1999 this tripe was published. Fortunately, I paid under $5 for this new hardback version at Half Price Books. Don't you pay a dime, unless you are just so devoted to every little fart and idea Heller had about his most famous work. Give the man his due- Catch-22, the phrase and novel, will be around as long as military and bureaucratic stupidity is, but this collection should never have seen print, for its existence only reinforces that claim with dramatically depressing conviction. Lesson learned: let the dead rest, in their graves and on their laurels.

The Da Vinci Enigma Tarot
Caitlin Matthews
Simon & Schuster (Australia) Pty Ltd
Lower Ground Floor, 14-16 Suakin Street, PYMBLE NSW 2073
ISBN: 1859061826, $39.95 AU, 144 pp., 80 Cards

Rose Glavas, Reviewer

This fabulous set of cards and reference book comes in a well presented box set that would make a perfect gift for somebody. When opened, the cards and reference book are quite pretty (I hope this doesn't sound too mundane!). I noticed that there are 80 cards, 2 more than the traditional tarot deck. All of the illustrations are reproductions of the original Da Vinci works and are beautifully presented. On closer inspection all of the microcosm cards (except the court cards) have a keyword on it to facilitate imagery and connection to it, and exploration of the message being conveyed.

The macrocosm cards are, in most cases, given the same names as those of a standard Rider-Waite major arcana deck (although the illustrations are obviously different). The cards that differ are: II High Priestess – Enigma; VI Lovers – Twins; VII Chariot – Imagination; X Wheel of Fortune – Time; XI Justice – Experience; XII Hanged Man – Passover; XV Devil – Pain & Pleasure; XVI Tower – Deluge; XVII Star – Way-Shower; XVIII Moon – Conception; XIX Sun – Birth; XX Last Judgement – Renewal. I examined card '0 Fool' and found that the meaning corresponds to the standard Rider Waite '0 Fool'.

The two extra cards are 'Enigma Cards', one represents the 'Enigma Pattern', the other is 'The Enigma Card'. The Enigma Pattern reveals how the card-backs join together to form a complete pattern of repeating roundels and interlocking knotwork. Across the Enigma Pattern design are five repeating, many-sided geometric forms, which Leonardo designed. There is detailed explanation of the background and meaning of this in the reference book.

The second extra card, the Enigma Grid, shows the sequence of the full deck face up. This grid reveals the natural resting place for the cards if they were to come together as a complete deck. Although the two Enigma cards are not actually used in readings, they are referred to in the various unique spreads shown in the reference book… particularly the Destiny Spread. Through using these spreads you will learn how matching the card-backs together produces a series of random connections that transcend the Enigma Grid sequence, helping you find the unique signature of your soul's code.

The reference book is comprehensive and covers an introduction to the theory behind the cards, an introduction to Leonardo Da Vinci, explanation of how the cards work, and a chapter on both the macrocosm (major arcana) and microcosm (minor arcane) cards. There are also sample spreads and readings to experiment with. You will find a bibliography, further reading suggestions and acknowledgments at the back of the book as well.

Each macrocosm card is given a two page spread in exploration covering 'Dimmi' – Core question/meaning; 'Background' – exploration of the symbolism; 'Soul-Code' – expansion of meaning; 'Upright' – Focused meaning; 'Reversed' – reversed meaning; 'Disconnected'- used as part of the Enigma Pattern interpretation. The microcosm cards are explored under the same headings, but are given one page each.

In summary, this is an excellent card and book set that is much more complex than I thought it was on first impressions (in fact, I wasn't that impressed when I first opened the pack!). I would recommend it for the experienced card reader.

Ruthie Black
Peter Brown
B Literary Fiction B Paperback Original
ISBN: 1887641890, $14.50, 235 pp.

Philip Kurata

The novel, Ruthie Black, pulls the reader into the comic and pathetic struggle of a poor, conniving white woman to extricate herself and her son, Freddy, from Bible-thumping Acworth, Georgia. After learning of the death of her traveling salesman husband, Buddy, in a car accident, Ruthie sets about to find another man to assure her survival by parading about in the lobby of the local bank in Betty Grable-style shorts. While Ruthie fishes for a man, Freddy amuses himself by hanging on the teller?s ledge and playing in the sand of ashtrays before finding and pocketing an envelope full of money. Once outside the bank, Ruthie discovers and appropriates Freddy's newly found wealth and goes on a shopping spree that draws a visit from the sheriff. After extricating herself from that predicament, the mother-widow who grew up in an orphanage turns her feminine charm on a young Thunderbird-driving minister, Maddox, who is a rising star on the revivalist circuit. From there, author Peter Brown takes the reader to raucous revivals seen through the perceptive eyes of a ten-year-old who instinctively understands religious hypocrisy when he sees it. At the same time, Freddy continues to believe that his father Buddy will soon come home to him as his mother drags him through her world of Pabst Blue Ribbon beer cans, soda fountains at Rexall drug stores and a shrewd fortune teller who correctly predicted that there would be no husband for Ruthie. Ruthie's dream of leaving Acworth with Maddox crashes and burns when their shenanigans draw accusations of adultery from the pious locals and an elder presents Maddox with the choice between his revivalist career and Ruthie. Jilted, Ruthie returns to Acworth with Freddy in a Greyhound bus. The bus stops at the smoldering site of a road accident. Freddy climbs in the burned out wreckage of a Rambler, the kind of car that Buddy drove. When he returns to the bus and sit down beside Ruthie, Freddy tells her, "Call me Buddy." (page 235). Peter Brown's first novel, a winner of the O.Henry Festival prize, deserves high praise for its stunning portrayal of life in the small town South in the 1950s.

The Passion of Mary Magdalen
Elizabeth Cunningham
Monkfish Publishing Company
27 Lamoree Road, Rhinebeck, NY 12572 845-876-4861
Consortium Book Sales & Distribution: 1-800-283-3572
ISBN: 0976684306, $29.95, 620 pp.

Leah Samul

A Sensual Mary Magdalen Tells Her Own Story

You thought people got angry about "The Da Vinci Code?" Just wait. Elizabeth Cunningham's new novel about Mary Magdalen will likely have many of the same folks hopping mad. "The Passion of Mary Magdalen" is the second volume in Cunnigham's Magdalen trilogy, though enjoyment of this middle book isn't contingent upon reading the first one, "Daughter of the Shining Isle."

In the first book, Cunningham introduces Magdalen as a Celt, born and raised on the magical isle of Tir na mBan. If thinking of Magdalen as Celtic strains credibility, remember, this is a novel: a work of fiction. Maeve Rhuad, Magdalen's Celtic name, eventually comes to study at the Druid College, where she meets and falls in love with Jesus. Both of them flee the college in peril of their lives after they are perceived as having tampered with the ancient mysteries of a Druid rite. They separate, and Maeve ends up sold as a slave in Rome.

This book begins with Maeve on her hands and knees at the slave auction. When the auctioneer nuzzles his nose in her hindquarters, the feisty Maeve farts in his face. This attracts the attention of another buyer, a whorehouse madam, who sees promise in Maeve's actions: "There are men in this town who will pay good money to be humiliated like that." (p. 7) Maeve goes to work in her owner's brothel, where her fellow whores nickname her Red because of her flaming tresses.

However, don't expect this turn of events to set her up as the breast-beating penitent of the gospel story, who comes to the savior guilt-ridden over her transgressions of the flesh. Though being a slave is abhorrent to her, Maeve doesn't see sexual activity as a sin. In fact, it is in the whorehouse that she begins to realize she could use the intensity of the sexual experience for healing, and become "a conduit of some wild force, the mediator of it, the priestess." (p.27) And it is here that she first begins to realize, somewhat to her chagrin, that she is being drawn to the Goddess Isis, who like the God of Jesus, seems to be everywhere.

The book is aptly titled, because passion can indicate excitement, but can also mean suffering, as in the passion of Christ. And Maeve encounters plenty of both, while never losing her determination to be reunited with her beloved Jesus. As the story moves forward, she is sold again, this time to Paulina Claudii, the cruel daughter of a high-born Roman.

Cunningham has done her historical homework. The book contains nuggets of information on the time period: the hierarchy of slaves in a household, the status of women when they are faced with divorce, Roman style, the concept of sacred prostitution, and the cult of Isis, who was originally an Egyptian Goddess but whose worship was popular in Rome among all classes, from the high born to the whores and slaves.

The call of this Goddess, along with Maeve's insistence on finding her beloved Jesus, comprise the book's two main threads. Eventually Maeve becomes a priestess of Isis, establishing in the village of Magdala a temple of sacred prostitutes that becomes a haven for all strangers who come by in need of healing. In an interesting twist on the gospel parable, one fateful night a Samaritan brings to the temple a battered and beaten stranger he's found on the road. At long last, Maeve holds her loved one in her arms.

As the story unfolds, it is very hard not to like Cunningham's engaging Maeve/Magdalen character, who always leads with her heart, even when it gets her into trouble. Though the author follows the conventional gospels, her inclusion of Maeve in the gospel stories is her own design. Written in the first person, by turns irreverent and poetic, the book pulses with an eros that is true to the original meaning of the word as "life force." The reader sees all sides of life: joy and sorrow, love and hate, the pettiness and the stupidity as well and the power and the glory, often related with a wicked sense of humor. The apostles are human, with their own weaknesses and difficulties. If the Christian writer Annie Lamott wrote a book on Mary Magdalen, it would probably be very much like Cunningham's Maeve.

In the end, this is a love story. An old seer had prophesied to Maeve that she and Jesus would be lovers, but not of each other; lovers of the world. And love is what comes across most strongly in this extremely enjoyable book. Just remember that the Magdalen/Maeve story as related here won't resemble the one you may have heard as a child. Rest assured this is not your mother's Mary Magdalen.

Let Today be a Holiday: 365 Ways to Co-create with God
Rose Rosetree
Women's Intuition Worldwide
116 Hillsdale Drive, Sterling VA 20164-1201
ISBN: 0975253808, $18.95, 369 pp.

Linda Davis Kyle, Reviewer

If you are open-minded and you are seeking ways to enhance yourself physically and your enlightenment mentally and spiritually, then you will want to read Rose Rosetree's book, Let Today be a Holiday: 365 Ways to Co-create with God. In a modern, creative fashion, Rosetree presents 365 inspiring and motivating messages that you can read straight through in a few sittings to acquaint yourself with the goal of the book and her goal for you. You will want to mark your favourite passages, techniques, and exercises as you read so that you can return smoothly upon completion to put them to use. Or you can start an open adventure and just see where Rosetree leads you with her exuberant presentation of ideas and step-by-step practices that can improve your body, mind, and soul. You may choose to read in chronological order, one message at a time, on a daily calendar basis from the beginning and invite in all the joy you can from January through December; or you can begin with any month you wish and continue for 365 days and beyond using what you have learned. Or you may prefer to read randomly for inspiration and motivation. That can work, too. Because Let Today be a Holiday is a modern day workbook for a happier and more fulfilled life, you can put Rosetree's guidance to your very best use not only by reading but also by studying, assimilating, and practicing what she so generously shares. No matter how you read it, Rosetree's book, Let Today be a Holiday, is a must read for you, and it is a great gift book for your like-minded friends.

Like James Allen, 19th century Englishman, author of As a Man Thinketh, who says, "A man's mind may be likened to a garden, which may be intelligently cultivated or allowed to run wild; but whether cultivated or neglected, it must and will bring forth," Rosetree says, "Creativity isn't optional. You were born to create. If you don't make something good, you'll create anyway" (p. 8). Let Today be a Holiday offers not only inspiring words written in beautifully flowing prose and Rose Rosetree's original poetry to stimulate your positive thinking, but also it supplies a multitude of plans to put your goals into action for creating a better life and to bring forth good.

The Tent
Margaret Atwood
ISBN: 0747582254, A$29.95

Magdalena Ball, Reviewer

Prolific, multi-skilled, and ever insightful author Margaret Atwood has justly earned her place as one of the most well known living authors. The demand for new material from her must be extraordinary. Her latest book, The Tent, seems to have been pulled together as a kind of between-novel filler from pieces she's published, interesting if slightly naive drawings, and a few unpublished reflections, poems, thoughts and occasionally, what appear to be sketchy beginnings. Reading these in their original context, for example, "Tree Baby," "But It Could Still," and "Something Has Happened," in New Beginnings or "Our Cat Enters Heaven" in Brick they are thought provoking and upbeat, fusing humor with pathos; dignity with blackness. However, united together in this little, but attractively presented book, and perhaps read in a single hit, the work comes across collectively as cranky, and rather negative reflections on the difficulties inherent in fame, and the pain of being a famous woman writer. In other words, there is a definite whining buzz to this work which makes the reader think less of their sometimes hysterically funny lightness, and more about the author's chip.

That's a shame, because I've very much enjoyed the work when I've come across it elsewhere, and it is possible to imagine these as lovely little gifts, given in a spirit of generosity to collections like New Beginnings where "Something Has Happened," "Tree Baby," and "But It Could Still," provide a unique take on the Indian Ocean Tsunami tragedy, looking through the eyes of a survivor and hoping/projecting a positive future; a beginning:

What new name will they give it, this child? The one who escaped from your nightmare and floated lightly to a tree, and who looks around itself now with a baby's ordinary amazement? Now time starts up once more…(150)

Read on its own in Harper's Magazine, the title piece "The Tent" is a richly detailed metaphor for the tenuousness of the writer's world. It has the terrifying feel of the apocalyptic distopia of Oryx and Crake, and although the reader is aware right from the start that this vast and unsettling wilderness is no more than an extended metaphor, so powerful is Atwood's writing that the reader is in the tent, shivering from cold, fearing the dogs and howlers, and writing through the burning paper, "because what else can you do? (146)" But then we are pulled up by its conjunction with "Time Folds," a very short reflection on the futility of life and the pain of death, or from "Nightingale," which proceeds it. "Nightingale" is one of the weaker pieces in the book, suffering from a surfeit of introspection and the unconstructed insular feel of someone's raw dream. Both "Time Folds" and "Nightingale" draw power from "The Tent," removing the illusion of camaraderie, and of being included in the world Atwood creates. Instead it becomes just another whine on the pain of the writer's life. It is another dream we don't quite understand. Or another beginning, in need of more depth for the piece to holds its own.

Other pieces, such as the previously unpublished "Three Novels I Won't be Writing Soon," are quite funny. From "Word Zero," "Spongedeath," to "Beetleplunge," the ever ready Amanda and Chris prepare for challenge from a number of unlikely sources. This was longer than many other of the pieces in this book, and I felt in some ways, tongue firmly rooted in cheek, that Atwood was actually enjoying herself, winking at the reader rather than whining at her, which made this a pleasurable interlude. Other tongue-in-cheek work like "Heritage House" or "Bring Back Mom: An Invocation," are also enjoyable, and fully crafted:

Come back, come back, oh Mom,
from craziness or death
or our own damaged memory –
appear as you were:
Queen of the waffle iron,
generous dispenser of toothpaste,
sorceress of Mercurochrome,
player of games of smoky bridge
at which you won second-prize dishtowels (109)

In some ways, this too could be read as allegory. The selfless mender of the "holes in the world" mom, hiding all the ugliness in her apron craft is not too different from the preyed upon writer, producing silky work from inside her ugly tent. That this old-fashioned pre-feminist "mom" should mirror the wise old Cassandra of "Voice" or "Bottle II," is an interesting twist which adds unifying depth to the book. It isn't just the writer's voice which is an "invisible vampire" sucking out the writer's blood. It is the reader, made to sit in the uncomfortable position of 'burden,' like the child author of "Bring Back Mom." We too want the writer to go back to being invisible. To submerge herself into craft and not let us know how painful it is. The knowledge is unsettling, which isn't necessarily a bad thing:

That was when you heard the voice. My voice, to be precise. It was a small sibilant voice, like the rustling of old corn husks in a breeze, or of dried leaves kept for eons in a cave. It was a hissing, like steam escaping fitfully from a fissure in damp mud. An underground sound, hinting of unknown pressures, of unknown powers. It was an enticing whisper. (38)

However, there are simply too many unfinished prose poems in this work for it to hold together. Pieces like "Faster," or "No More Photos," just don't have enough words to draw the reader in. They may be the beginning of something, or the end of something, but as they stand, there is really nothing to hold the reader's interest. Others, like the sharp parody "Chicken Little Goes Too Far," "Horatio's Version," or "King Log in Exile," are lighthearted and fun but read, again, in the context of this book, rather than on their own, as writing exercises. Write Hamlet from Horatio's point of view. Write a modern story from the point of view of a log in a pond. Make sure it ends with a sardonic note on our times: "New he is draining the pond. Soon it will be turned into desirable residential estates." (123)

This is an interesting collection, as much for the quality of Atwood's writing, which, in itself, never falters, as for what she tries to say. But it never reaches full fruition. It needs more synthesis, more culling, and more development so that the work comes together towards a unified purpose. On their own, the developed pieces are terrific, but the sketchy half written pieces take power away from the good ones. The sardonic anger towards the writing gift, towards the useless world as it stands, and above all, towards the bloodsucking and ungrateful reader also makes these pieces seem more unpleasant than they ought to feel. It's worth reading anyway, because there are plenty of gems, and the writing is tight and always informed thoroughly by history and thought. Just don't expect to feel good afterwards. Even when the pieces are meant to be funny and upbeat, there is an overriding whiney and irritated overtone that is hard to take.

To Mom, I love you because…
Tomoe Sasaki Farley
Red Rock Press
New York, NY
ISBN: 1933176016, $10.95, 64 pp.

Maryan Pelland, Reviewer

Having just become a grandmother, I am delighted by a teaspoonful the best medicine, called To Mom, I love you because… a first effort written and illustrated by Tomoe Sasaki Farley. If you love your mom, your wife, your grandmother, you'll get a kick out of this well put together book.

Farley, born, raised and educated in Japan, is now a New Yorker studying fashion and illustrating instructional guides. Her drawings are soft, simple, colorful and touched with whimsy – you'll chuckle over each of them. The simple, heartfelt text is completely appropriate. The author conveys deep thoughts and strong feelings with a very few well-chosen words. It's the kind of keepsake book that can speak to anyone on a personal level.

To Mom…has eye-appeal. The colors remind me of children's books and put me in the mood to remember why my mom was special, why my kids thought I was special, and why I hope my grandchildren will be completely in love with Grandma. One particular illustration depicts a very small child reaching way up to grasp a very large, but pink and soft looking hand. The child's face is amazingly expressive. Farley's illustration style reminds me a bit of the Margaret Wise Brown/Clement Hurd classic, Goodnight, Moon.

Little thoughts like "Your kisses made my bruises better" and "When the going gets tough, you're a match for it" attempt to put a fresh touch to a traditional message. If there's a reason to get critical, perhaps I should say Farley might have reached deeper for a few more unique or striking thoughts, but the book is all about images and those she does perfectly.

I think Farley's goal was to publish a tribute to her own mother while honoring all moms – she succeeded. The publisher, Red Rock Press, specializes in gift books, unusual titles, and books that appeal to the senses. As is their habit, they created a strong first impression, a must for a gift book. The cover is soft yellow with embossed title in a font of posies and an embossed mom almost overwhelmed by a bouquet of the same flowers. The paper quality enhances the simple italic text and makes the pictures pop. You can expect to see more illustrations from Farley, judging by the quality of this first project. Red Rock has a knack for choosing artists and writers who have something real to say.

The Last Sacrifice
Hank Hanegraaff & Sigmund Brouwer
Tyndale House Publishers
Wheaton, IL
ISBN: 0842384413, $19.99, 395 pp.

Maurice A. Williams, Reviewer

This second novel in the Last Disciple series opens with Vitas and John the Evangelist (the last disciple) onboard a ship hurriedly embarked on a voyage from Rome to Alexandria. So hurriedly did the captain set sail that he did not wait for a propitious time, did not make public homage to the gods, and left behind some paying passengers. Powerful men in Rome paid Captain Pavo much money and promised more if Vitas arrives safely. The superstitious crew panicked when they saw a storm brewing. They tied John to a cross and threw him overboard to appease the gods. Vitas jumped overboard and rescued John. This put Captain Pavo in a dilemma because he would lose his crew's respect if he did nothing. They would mutiny and kill him and Vitas. He didn't dare throw Vitas and John back overboard because he feared the powerful men who paid him to take Vitas safely to Alexandria.

Pavo convinced Vitas to accept ten lashes so Pavo's crew would think he is still master of his ship. The lashes were brutal. John tends Vitas wounds and prays over him. He and Vitas become friends. John begins to decipher the first portion of the coded message that was given to Vitas when he boarded the ship. There are still two more portions to the scroll.

Meanwhile, in Rome, Nero's henchmen, Helius and Tigellinus, find out that Vitas is on the ship headed for Alexandria. They hire men to capture Vitas as he leaves the ship. When the ship docked, Vitas gave John his cape to keep John warm. Because of the cape, the men mistook John for Vitas and put John on another ship that will soon sail back to Rome.

Prior to this, Helius also wanted to capture John, who has been writing coded warnings about Nero. He wanted John silenced before the superstitious Nero learns about the warnings and acts in an unpredictable way. Helius hired Vitas' brother Damian, a successful runaway slave hunter, to find John. Damian is successful but was tricked into capturing Russo who had arranged to have John kidnapped and sent to the same ship Vitas is on.

When the ship arrives in Alexandria, Damian is surprised to see brother, Vitas. They tell each other on what they know. Damian tells Vitas that Vitas' wife, Sophia, had been sentenced to death by opening her veins. Enraged, Vitas tells Damian what he knows about the coded message given to him and the second part given to John. He expects a third and final part from someone in Alexandria. He already knows that powerful men want him to depose Nero. Vitas also knows the name of the ship John is on. Vitas urges Damian to help him free John and then help him find the men who want him to depose Nero.

THE LAST SACRIFICE ends around the year A.D. 65. Nero is still alive, and The Temple is still standing. We know from history that Nero has only a few more years to live, and that Titus, one of the main historical characters in the preceding novel and a personal friend of the fictional Damian and Vitas, will lead a Roman army that destroys The Temple and most of Jerusalem. Therefore, we can expect more novels in this series.

The authors, Hank Hanegraaff and Sigmund Brouwer, have made a marvelous mix of fact and fiction in this adventuresome series. Since most of the background situation is historical, this novel will make you familiar with early Church history as you read it. The authors are also experts on Biblical interpretation. They hold a time-honored interpretation that Revelation was written before Titus destroyed The Temple. That's why Revelation does not discuss The fact that the Temple had been destroyed. Most of Revelation's predictions occurred during early Church history. Unlike some other commentators, Hanegraaff and Brouwer do not propose a future rapture, tribulation, and millennial kingdom, presuming that nineteen of the twenty-two chapters in Revelation describe events that have not yet happened. You will enjoy this novel and eagerly await the next one in the series.

The Tragic Sense of Life in Men and Nations
Miguel de Unamuno
Princeton University Press
ISBN: 0691018200, $6.00

Dr. Pedro Blas Gonzalez

We can imagine Miguel de Unamuno (1864-936) sitting comfortably on a wing chair grimacing, puffing over some of the historical and often quite vacuous anthro/philosophical renditions of man. Amongst these, Unamuno points out Aristotle's notion of a featherless biped, Rousseau's man as social-contractor, the Manchester school's man as homo economicus, Linnaeus' now household homo sapiens, and some flagrantly comical entity described as the "vertical mammal."

Besides being egregiously positivistic in make up, none of these naive monikers leave an iota of possibility, of existential wiggle room for Unamuno's – man on the street corner – who the Basque thinker rightly addresses as a singular entity, one of flesh and bones. Thus, the author leers and scowls and scratches his head in discomfort.

On the opposite shore of this material rendition of man - nothing more than intimations of human beings from the

outside – Unamuno struggles to depict man as a concrete, proto-first man of flesh and blood. The latter signaling "you and I, that man yonder, all of us who walk firmly on the Earth" and who is the anti-thesis of the mere idea of man, what is essentially "a no-man."

Wavering between vitalism, that is, a free flowing feel for individual, differentiated life and the rationality necessary to express his vision, Unamuno's Tragic Sense of Life is a rare, glowing, blue-heat example of just what a genuine philosopher can come to resemble. If one takes the ancient Greek words philos-sophia seriously, as perhaps only a minority of philosophers historically have, only then can we relish the full splendor and radiance of Unamuno's thought.

The Tragic Sense of Life is a vitally incandescent and philosophically sonorous work. The thought of a seasoned thinker expressed in the vital manner of a gifted poet, Unamuno refuses to be pigeonholed – he is a simple man who embraces his fate. His thought always brims with a sincere appreciation for life that, well, as he puts it, the former cannot be qualified as anything less than tragic for those who feel their way through life, those who do not refuse to believe that life is often a maze that traps the best guided illusions. But tragic? Why tragic, some will ask? Why not absurd, irrational or even comic, as so many others have characterized life? A major difference, Unamuno tells us, has to do with the fact – this is not another theory in a century of make-work, industrial complex, professional theorists – that my life cannot be understood as an abstraction, but is instead always encountered as a concrete entity. Unamuno suggests that "thou shall not conceive life abstractly" should be sanctioned as the eleventh commandment.

But to shine brightly also has its price. Setting thought ablaze and thus apart from the tenuous, if superficial adhesive of the common herd, Unamuno frightens those who have made a social-political mockery of the vocation for reflective thought. Unamuno is not selective, picking and choosing timely theories, much as the matador chooses the appropriate moment to launch his courage at the spectacle-weary bull.

Instead, the writer of The Tragic Sense of Life encounters the fiercest, meanest, most myopic bull out in the open, always playing to the bull's strength and to his own detriment. The most difficult road is the one that leads to truth. How else would his baroque Spanish temperament have it? He is content with a view of life as a venerable, if also immediate and fleeting eternity. Contentment and not happiness is more like it, Unamuno suggests. While the former is indicative of a measured, settled joy that garnishes its vitality with the scent of the present, the latter only serves to fulfill the expectations of children while derailing and frustrating the desire of utopian malcontents.

But life, tragic? Unamuno makes the observation that life is indeed tragic for those who take their own pulse, while it will always remain comic to those who cannot help but to rationalize it. In a century dominated by pop psychology, virulent and often insidious sociology, positivism, determinism and a mania for quantification, what better science than that which makes an observation out of the observer – through the latter's free will. In a century of bright lights, of moral and spiritual dwarfism, of shameless isms that venerate the state, Unamuno's thought serves as a vital anti-thesis to bloated modernity, to the twentieth century.

No fiduciary approval or applause solicited, much less welcomed. Unamuno's thought is that of a solitary figure - in short – that of a thinker. Not a professional in the service of this or that "career," a free thinker par excellence, Unamuno is unapologetic in telling the hypocritical chattering class, the denizens of popular "causes" to put their house in order, that all charity – sincerely – always, by moral default, begins at home, and that, oh, reflection on immortality – our own – is our greatest concern.

What unprecedented sincerity. Perhaps we should also mention that archaic, now repudiated word, conscience. The kind of word that the world today cannot bear, instead opting for textbook prescriptions of its degenerate cousins "honesty" and "ethics."

The Tragic Sense of Life begins with an exploration of "the man of flesh and bones" and culminates by returning to the importance of the individual vis-ŕ-vis the cosmos. In the beginning of this truly enlightening work, Unamuno points out that the history of philosophy is curiously devoid of philosophers, only philosophy and that "the inner biography of the philosophers, of the men who philosophized, is assigned a secondary place."

And yet, as a book on the immortality of the soul – individual identity, that is – this inner biography is precisely what is at stake given that "our philosophy, that is, our mode of understanding or not understanding the world and life, springs from our impulse toward life itself."

But how Unamuno goes about describing this "any man" of flesh and bones is what distinguishes this now classic text from others that deal with the same topic. The trajectory of the "I" that is the man of flesh and bones is followed from its original undifferentiated Being to its self-awareness as consciousness, as this comes to know itself as a continuous entity who possesses self-identity. If "I am I" and everything else is said to remain outside of me as objects, then how do I come to terms with the eventual dissolution of this newly found subjectivity?

Reflection on immortality is what Unamuno refers to as mundane philosophy. May we ask what other type there is? Unamuno's Quijotismo sees the Spanish philosopher doing battle with time, as he witnesses the frigidity and self-assurance of every tick of the clock.

Unamuno, a pessimist? No more so than Don Quijote who believes in eternal life. The man of flesh and bones must encounter the world with courage and a resignation of will that ironically enables the imagination to battle its own fate. But not fate, universal and abstract, as some specimen found in a textbook or laboratory. Man's origin, Unamuno explains, is not of this world, even though our material lives may be. These are his chosen tools to battle both life and time.

The Tragic Sense of Life is dealt a double assault by thought and feeling for those concerned with immortality. Those who ignore the former suffer a tragic death, while those who embrace it die a comic – ridiculous – death.

Mexico: A Traveler's Literary Companion
C.M. Mayo
Whereabouts Press
1111 8th Street, Suite D, Berkeley, CA 94710-1455
(510) 527-8280
ISBN: 1883513154, $14.95, 256 pp.

Jennifer Redmond

It is not mandatory that you read Mexico: A Traveler's Literary Companion on a train, or a subway, or on a trolley as I have over the past few days, but I highly recommend it. All anthologies are a bit like trains—their collection of cars, new and old, linked together and engineered by unseen hands, all heading the same way; in this case carrying us south to the border, and across, into the heart, or hearts of Mexico.

Edited by C.M. Mayo, Mexico (Wherabouts Press, 2006, $14.95) is the perfect size and shape to toss in a backpack, and most of the stories are short enough to enable one to dip into the book sporadically, sampling writing styles like a hummingbird sipping nectar.

Included are such well-known authors as Laura Esquivel and Carlos Fuentes, but readers will find many new voices here, too, many well-known in Mexico, some not, and some translated for the first time into English. Their nationalities also run the gamut; not all are Mexican, and of those who are, many do not live in their country of birth. All, however are contemporary writers—none of the pieces was written before 1986, and most are from the last twelve years.

Ms. Mayo has cleverly chosen tales that are as varied as the country's geographic regions; the book is a journey in itself, beginning at the border with the U.S. in dusty Tecate, Baja California, and continuing south and then east, finally coming to rest in the ancient jungles of Yucatán.

Readers will find some of the "classic" subjects found in much of Mexican writing—life and death, loyalty and betrayal, and of course, family. But many of these short trips take unexpected turns, unlikely detours, and find unusual endings, with both just and unjust rewards. Most important of all are the characters that inhabit these stories, guiding us through their hometowns and homelands, through past and present, and into their minds and hearts. Each of these narrators holds some part of the key—a secret that helps us to understand ourselves a little better—and taken together, these help us to decipher the many mysteries that are Mexico.

Charles Johnson
Harcourt, Inc.
ISBN: 0156011123, $12.00, 110 pp.

Shayla A. Hawkins

The slender brevity of Soulcatcher, a collection of twelve historical tales centered around slavery, belies both the genius of its author, National Book Award winner Charles Johnson, and the passion, wit, and pathos within its pages. As any discerning reader who's read his longer fiction can attest, Johnson is an extraordinarily skilled storyteller with such command of literary and poetic forms, he can, in ten pages, convey complex human behaviors and philosophies that most writers can barely express in one hundred. But Johnson's artistry outperforms even itself with these concise and resplendent stories.

As Johnson explains in the book's preface, each of the twelve stories in Soulcatcher is told using a different narrative device. From the third person limited perspective and fictitious diary entries, to mock newspaper articles and full authorial omniscience, Soulcatcher evokes, through the fictional accounts of both regular characters and historical luminaries like Frederick Douglass, Phillis Wheatley, and Martha Washington, the everyday struggles, contradictions and ingenuity that slavery produced in the United States during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Every story in Soulcatcher is a mini-masterpiece that adds more color and light to the understanding of the peculiar kaleidoscope that was American slavery. But my personal favorites are the heartbreaking yet ultimately inspiring "The Transmission," which filters the horrors of the Middle Passage through 15-year-old Malawi and tells how the history of his African tribe survives through him because of the lessons of his older brother, Oboto; "Soulcatcher," a tense and terrifying account of a runaway slave's fateful encounter with the ruthless slave catcher hell-bent on recapturing him; the O. Henry-esque "A Soldier for the Crown," which tells of the many changes slave Alexander Freeman makes to gain freedom and start a new life in Nova Scotia; "Poetry and Politics," a spirited dialogue between Phillis Wheatley, the first published black poet in the U.S. Colonies, and her mistress about the merit and legacy of Wheatley's writing; and "The Mayor's Tale," a funny (and deliciously wicked) account of the stunning, overnight reversal of fortune that happens to an unnamed Northeastern city and its mayor in 1851 when every black person in town flees to Canada to escape the repercussions of the newly amended Fugitive Slave Act.

Soulcatcher is the fictional counterpart of Africans in America: America's Journey through Slavery, which Charles Johnson co-authored and is itself the companion book to the same-named PBS series. For readers unfamiliar with Johnson's longer works that are much more philosophical and laden with Eastern mysticism, Soulcatcher is good preparation. And to those already acquainted with Johnson's dazzling fusion of grit, humor and spirit, Soulcatcher is a refreshing reprieve that doesn't compromise an inch of his supreme writing abilities. For any reader, Soulcatcher is a masterfully rendered compilation of stories about the many human faces and testaments to the most brutal, blasphemous, shameful and soul-shaping period in American history.

Short, sweet and to the point, Soulcatcher is a blazing example of proficient, engaging writing from a contemporary American author at the top of his game and is highly, HIGHLY recommended.

The Last Spymaster
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
44 Fairway Drive, Newcastle, Ontario, Canada L1B 1B3
ISBN: 0312301596, $24.95 U.S./$34.95 Can., 464 pp.

Bonnie Toews, Reviewer

RATING: Five Stars

Action-Packed Masterpiece of Intrigue

In THE LAST SPYMASTER, Gayle Lynds' riveting suspense embedded with literary finesse eclipses thriller stars John Le Carre and Robert Ludlum at the peak of their form. Unlike Le Carre's exhaustive angst and Ludlum's lengthy detours into topics or causes that fascinated him, Gayle's economy of language makes her political point without wasting a word while engaging the readers' eyes, ears, nose and heart.

Sprinkled throughout are awesome examples of: ALLITERATION—Dense forests flowed dark; as the dark night deepened toward dawn; footsteps echoing in the emptiness; SIMILES—She seemed to shrink, grow calcified, as hard as a tombstone; METAPHORS—Bolts of silver lightning speared the distant Alps; IMAGERY—She found a slot in which to wedge the Jag; sunlight filtered down in strawlike rays; and POETIC RHYTHMS—His family. But not his family. A charade, a farce, a travesty of the living and the dead. His eyes felt hollow. Such literary devices are what writing groups and English professors can use as models of powerful literature, but if readers miss them, it is because they are stitched in seamlessly.

THE LAST SPYMASTER is a classic because no one element or technique stands out over another—the sum of the parts makes it one great read and Gayle's best work. She gives us superb storytelling at supersonic speed and sets the bar, not only for her own future novels but also for every other author in the thriller genre. In character development, for instance, individual idiosyncrasies that distinguish her previous heroines in 'Masquerade' (Asperger's syndrome), 'Mesmerized' (cellular memory), 'Mosaic' (conversion disorder) and 'The Coil' (a peacenik aversion to violence) make way for broader scope. This time she tackles the universal flaws of globalization within today's political framework in her portrayal of power brokers—whether greedy or altruistic—competing in the war on terrorism.

Jay Tice, one of the legendary chiefs of the CIA in the Cold War, is actually a traitor. Convicted of selling secrets, he's languishing in the formidable Allenwood Federal Correctional Compled in Pennsylvania, when he suddenly disappears. His locked cell is empty. Current CIA Deputy Chief Lawrence Litchfield engages a top CIA hunter, Elaine Cunningham, to track him down. She's a woman with her own psychological baggage, but an artist in probing the psyches of her prey. As she zeroes in on Tice, she becomes his target, and discovers nothing is as it seems. Instead, she finds, in the clandestine world of black ops, there are illegal arms dealers, information traders and cloaked cover ups far more dangerous to the United States and the world than one man's treachery.

Using her characters' perspectives and personal agendas, Gayle masterminds a maze of crossover subplots and merges them on the final ramp of "the last spymaster's" odyssey. Also weaving through the maze is a classic love tale between Tice and his former concubine, Raina Manhardt. They are lovers sadly doomed yet deeply passionate without being sexually explicit. That's art. And in addition to compelling storytelling, the ultra 'smart' inventions and security technologies Gayle introduces make Orwell's vision of the future seem primitive.

Against such a backdrop of global conspiracy, I looked for cynicism or disillusionment seeping into her writing, because the more we learn the more we see how much our governments lie to us. Instead, with a keen journalist's nose for truth, she relentlessly sniffs out the corruptive realities existing inside the covert catacombs of international intelligence, while keeping her eye on the ultimate sacrifices and dedication of those who serve to protect us.

As Gayle explains in a Question and Answer dialogue with readers, "Holding on to one's ideals while working for a better world is the most difficult personal challenge. Those who succeed against such odds are the stuff of quiet legend, occasionally receiving secret honors and awards, and living out their days without telling tales . . . They pay high prices personally, and they deserve our respect."

THE LAST SPYMASTER chronicles such hope in a 'tour de force' that catapults Gayle Lynds to the top of the thriller genre. As a member of the Association of Former Intelligence Operatives, the Military Writers Society of America and co-founder/co-president of the International Thriller Writers, Inc., she can be proud of the brilliant work she has delivered to represent their high ideals of service.

Once a Thief
Suzann Ledbetter
Mira Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada MB3 3K9
ISBN: 0778323005, $6.99, 393 pp.

Les Williams

Ramey Burke and her sister Portia Carruthers live in Plainview, Missouri. The sisters are the daughters of former Police Chief Bill Patterson. Nothing much happens to Ramey until one morning. There on her doorstep are three seventy plus year old visitors who happen to be family. The old codgers were her maternal uncles Ed and Archie and Aunt Melba Jane, also known as the Other Dillinger Gang. Ramey's geriatric relatives have just been released from prison after serving thirty four years. It seems the trio had taken a liking to relieving banks of their money.

The Burke household settles in to a routine. Ed and Archie busy themselves by doing much needed repairs while Melba Jane took over the cooking. A discovery one night changed everything. Returning from one of his nocturnal wonderings Ed discovers a body by the driveway. Ed fears he, his brother or Melba Jane will be accused of the dastardly deed because they are ex-cons. He drags the body out back, placing it underneath a brush pile. Ed is unaware he was observed from the house by his brother. While he returns through the front of the house, Archie goes out the back. Once again the corpse is moved. This time Archie puts the remains in a trench out back. As he re-enters the house and goes to their upstairs bedroom, Melba Jane exits the house. Now it is her turn to once again transport the body. She wraps the victim in an old rug and drags it to the curb for the garbage man to pick up. This final disposal brings to Ramey's door Detective Sergeant Mike Constantine.

Uncle Ed becomes the primary suspect because he was the first person seen dragging the corpse out back. Mike takes Ed in for questioning. Before the two leave for the station, Ramey calls her brother-in-law Preston Carruthers to represent Ed. He is not a trial lawyer but Ramey figures he's better than nothing. Sergeant Constantine learns little from the old man and soon releases him. Ed is not the only suspect. There is Don Blevins who wants to be more than a friend to Ramey but is rebuffed. Also Howard Chinn, the victim's stepson who stands to inherit from a life insurance policy. And of coarse there are the Other Dillinger Gang members. Through some good detective work, Constantine collars the killer and the motive behind the murder. Suzann Ledbetter delivers a light hearted mystery that just makes you want to curl up in your favorite easy chair to read the day and night away. She must have had a good time writing ONCE A THIEF because I enjoyed reading it as I chuckled my way through it.

Crazy Men Can Make You Do Crazy Things
Java Weathersby
Crazy Men Books
P.O. Box 84533, Baton Rouge, LA 70884
ISBN: 1599713624, $10.99, 130 pp.

Carey Yazeed

What happens when naive meets psycho…major drama. Java Weathersby tackles some tough issues in her newly released book Crazy Men Can Make You Do Crazy Things. Based on a true story, Weathersbys' first adventure into the real world is not what she had hoped for. Impressionable, to say the least, Java a gusty freshmen suddenly finds herself caught up in the social world of campus life. Smitten by one smooth talking fraternity man, who is simply known as Omar, this college sweetheart is eager to please. Sensing that she is willing to do almost anything to keep him, Omar uses extreme measures to tests the limits of her love.

An emotional rollercoaster ride from the very beginning, Crazy Men Can Make You Do Crazy Things is a must read. Informative as well as entertaining, Weathersby does a nice job of engaging readers about the importance of loving ones self and the need for mutual respect in relationships. A fresh voice on the literary scene, Weathersbys' writing is simple, clean and easy to follow.

Java Weathersby is a native of New Orleans, Louisiana. She lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana where she works as an Occupational Therapist. She is married to Byron Weathersby and they have two children.

Ann's Bookshelf

The Big Oyster
Mark Kurlansky
Random House
ISBN: 0224078232, $35.00, 307 pp.

"Up until the nineteenth century the oyster was thought to be a simple primitive creature".

So begins one early chapter of this book by Mark Kurlansky. And, if you enjoy oysters as a culinary delicacy, you would do well to stop reading right there and skip to the next chapter, because what follows is a detailed description of a complex, sensitive creature which we keep alive so that, complete with "a working brain, a stomach, intestines, liver and a still beating heart", we can swallow it whole. And some of them can grow to a foot long, which, as William Makepeace Thackeray once complained was "like eating a baby".

In spite of all this, the shell middens left by our ancestors since the earliest times show that oysters have been an important part of the human diet for centuries. In fact, as Mark Kurlansky convincingly demonstrates, we can even trace the history of a city like New York by examining the parallel history of the oysters in the waters which surround it. Hence his subtitle for this book: New York in the World, A Molluscular History.

The Big Oyster tells you everything you ever wanted to know about oysters, and, in its litany of dates, weights, and farming techniques, rather more than is perhaps necessary or desirable. The focus of the book is obviously America, with occasional excursions into other lands, so I read with a constant question in my mind: "To what family does the oyster I have frequently enjoyed (but may no longer be able to stomach) belong?" i.e. the Sydney Rock Oyster. The answer is that it is unique to Australasia. This revelation came late in the book, by which time I had learned lots of fascinating facts, many of which I'm not sure I really wanted to know.

I learned, for example, that oysters are extraordinarily efficient sanitary workers, filtering out those deadly cholera and typhoid bacteria, as well as heavy metals, DDT etc, so well that they can be used to measure the pollution of our waterways. I learned that oysters are amazingly fecund. That in spite of the fact that both species look identical, they seem to know what to do and it takes only a few minutes for them to release enough sperm and eggs to produce billions of swimming larvae. I now know, too, that the pearl oyster is not really an oyster at all: just a rather unsavory cousin from another family.

So, The Big Oyster may put you off oysters, but if not there are plenty of recipes here, culled from the best ancient and modern cookbooks, for you to try out.

Also, by the end of the book you will be superbly informed about the original inhabitants of the New York area. They were people with names such as Jonathan Swift might have borrowed for Gulliver's Travels: the Lanape people, whose culture was rich and diverse, ate copious quantities of oysters, the shells of which still lie beneath Manhattan, Rockaway, Bayswater and many other city areas. They called the first Europeans to visit their shores the 'Salty People', welcomed them and traded with them, but did not understand their concept of land ownership and had no resistance to their diseases. Gradually relationships between the Lenape and the 'Salty People' soured. And eventually the protective wall that was built around New Amsterdam demonstrated the mistrust that came to exist between them.

In between telling us ALL about oysters, oyster collection and oyster cultivation, Mark Kurlansky outlines the growth of New York city and its markets, the growth of the oyster trade interstate and overseas, the effect of the American Revolution on New York and its oysters, and the seemingly never-ending popularity of oyster stalls, oyster barges, oyster cuisine and, for the poorest people, the availability of oysters as a cheap but not very nutritious food-source. Sadly, he charts, too, the growing effects on the oysters of overpopulation and industrialization, and the consequent pollution of the waterways in which they live.

So, in spite of the jokey chapter headings, the generous (overgenerous, even) larding of quotes at the head of each chapter, and the many curious and tempting recipes, the serious message of this book (as of Kerlansky's earlier book Cod) is depressing. The history of the oyster shows, quite clearly, how effectively we are destroying the natural world around us. So, what once seemed to be an inexhaustible supply of food is now an expensive delicacy and, unless we change our ways, the oyster will soon be off the menu for good. "If we had the ability to see deep into the water, it would have been different", Kurlansky suggests. Perhaps. But even the small changes we have made as we have become more environmentally conscious are not enough. Oysters are returning to New York waters and are making their own contribution to filtering out the pollutants, but, as one scientist notes "In our lifetime, there's no hope we could eat them, because the water contains heavy metals". It is the same sad story around the world.

The Stolen Child
Keith Donohue
Random House
ISBN: 0224076973, $32.95, 319 pp.

Every child acts strangely at times, and every parent wonders where that behaviour came from, where it was learned or whose genes might be responsible for it. "Must have been swapped at birth", we sometimes joke, disowning responsibility. But in more superstitious times we might not have been joking. Changelings, children stolen away by the faeries, trolls, green-men, wodwoes, hobgoblins, mischievous little people who are sometimes glimpsed and often placated by special greetings or by food left on the doorstep at night, all these are common in folk-lore. And in many places the belief in such things still lingers.

Keith Donohue draws on these stories and weaves an intriguing tale of two boys, both of whom have at one time in their lives been stolen from their families and a changeling left in their place. Now, in alternating chapters, they tell their strange stories and gradually their lives begin to touch.

For Henry Day, aged seven, the book begins with the end of his normal family life and the beginning of his existence as Aniday amongst the unaging, feral hobgoblins who haunt the local woods. He has much to learn.

Meanwhile, the new Henry Day who takes his place must transform himself from hobgoblin to human child and convince his new human family that he is their child. Much preparation has already taken place, but for him, too, this is a challenging learning experience.

The Stolen Child starts rather slowly, but as events bring Aniday and Henry Day closer to each other the tale becomes more interesting. Aniday forms a close relationship with Speck, a girl hobgoblin who helps him to understand the unwritten laws by which the hobgoblins live, the hierarchy through which they may someday return to the human world, and the careful and dangerous process by which this may be achieved. Aniday sees what happens when such an attempt fails and, in the process, comes into brief, forbidden contact with his human father.

The new Henry Day progresses through childhood, school, college and marriage, always with the knowledge that he was once (before he was stolen away and lived as a hobgoblin) someone else. Scraps of memory surface, and a precocious musical gift, which puzzles him and his family and sets him looking for his past. His search and his strange and obsessive behaviour have real parallels in our everyday world amongst people with Asperger syndrome. And, as he learns more about his first human identity and the shadowy figure of Aniday, the boy he replaced, begins to have real presence in his life a crisis threatens.

Keith Donohue's exploration of these two lives becomes more absorbing as suggestions of the real psychological dilemmas of a split personality surface, but these are never elaborated and the book never loses hold of the imaginative fantasy which lies at its heart. Donohue walks the thin line between the believable and the wholly fantastic with skill. And anyone who still harbours even the vaguest suspicion that there might be something unknown and dangerous out there in the darkness will probably enjoy this book.

Ann Skea, Reviewer

Bethany's Bookshelf

Drive Around Canadian Rockies
Donald L. Telfer & Helena Zukowski
Thomas Cook Publishing
PO Box 227, The Thomas Cook Business Park, 15-16 Coningsby Road, Peterbourough PE3 8SB, United Kingdom
1841575607 $24.95

Drive Around Canadian Rockies: Alverta And British Columbia by Donald L. Tefler and Helena Zukowski is an impressive collection of roadmaps and drivers guides to and through the scenic Canadian Rockies. Profusely illustrated, Drive Around Canadian Rockies provides travelers with a wealth of useful information on the top twenty-five tours, along with their routes and road signs; details of major destinations; clear maps; walking tours through towns and cities; sightseeing, activities; dining recommendations; accommodations; and ideas for personal explorations along a chosen route. Drive Around Canadian Rockies is very strongly recommended as the ultimate guide for a fun and glorious vacation while traveling through Canada's Rocky Mountain country.

Second Honeymoon
Joanna Trollope
175 - 5th Avenue, Suite 300, New York, NY 10010
1596910380 $23.95

Second Honeymoon by Joanna Trollope is the tale of Edie Boyd whose youngest child, Ben, leaves home to create an empty atmosphere in what has become a terrifying emptiness Edie soon comes to feel all around her. Nonetheless Second Honeymoon emerges as the inherently engaging and occasionally inspiring story of one family's unconditional love, timeless closeness, and eternal forgiveness. A truly accomplished novelist, Joanna Trollope has written an original and a heartwarming story of parenthood with a realism and an ultimate optimism that will hold the reader's attention and satisfaction from beginning to end. Second Honeymoon is a welcome and recommended addition to community library fiction shelves.

Your Daily Life Is Your Temple
Anne Rowthorn
Seabury Books
445 Fifth Avenue, NY, NY 10016
1596270225 $16.00

Your Daily Life Is Your Temple by Anne Rowthorn is a thoughtful and thought-provoking collection of insights into the grace of God and the necessity for acceptance of divinity through the entirety of our personal and professional lives. Offering readers an introduction to God's love, perspectives of living among others, and the collective contribution of each individual person to the community as a whole, Your Daily Life Is Your Temple covers a diversity of issues ranging from the everyday choices of children, friendships, money, politics, the arts, hospitality, and theology. Your Daily Life Is Your Temple is recommended reading offering an impressive compilation of wisdom for daily life.

Love, Love, Love, And Other Essays
Charles Taliaferro
Cowley Publications
4 Brattle Street, Suite 309, Cambridge, MA 02138
1561012424 $14.95 1-800-225-1534

Love, Love, Love, And Other Essays: Light Reflections On Love, Life, And Death by Charles Taliaferro (Department of Philosophy, St. Olaf College, Northfield, Minnesota) consists of forty-three succinct essays focusing on the human heart in all of its absurdities, dilemmas and joys. Drawing from personal experience within the context of his own life and personal observations, Professor Taliaferro writes with a combination of wit and wisdom that engages, entertains, and occasionally inspires. Love, Love, Love, And Other Essays is the kind of reading that impresses itself upon the appreciative mind of the reader long after the essays are read and the book placed back upon the shelf.

Gotta Find Me An Angel
Brenda Brooks
Raincoast Books
9050 Shaughnessy Street, Vancouver, B. C., Canada V6P 6E5
1551927179 $29.95

The debut novel of Brenda Brooks, Gotta Find Me An Angel is the imaginatively engaging story of a 30-something female film-projectionist whose haunting dreams of an old friend, having been dead for about twenty years, becomes reality as the young girl's ghost makes regular visits to her. With its distinctively vivid style of authorship, Gotta Find Me An Angel is also the compelling tale of an aspiring writer addicted to late night re-runs of "I, Claudius", his unconventional editor, as well as the intimate (albeit despondent) relationship of a young ghost and the story's narrator and heroine. Unique, intelligent, colorful, complex, memorable, and altogether enjoyable, Gotta Find Me An Angel is very strongly recommended reading that establishes Brenda Brooks (who has previously published two books of poetry, "Somebody Should Kiss You" and "Blue Light in the Dash") as a writer to take note of.

Searching For Mary Magdalene
Jane Lahr
Welcome Books
6th West 18th Street, NY, NY 10011
Maryann Palumbo Marketing Concepts, Inc. (publicity)
9201 Shore Road, Suite A508, Brooklyn, NY 11209
1932183892 $39.95

A beautifully illustrated work of original scholarship, Searching For Mary Magdalene: A Journey Through Art And Literature by author and editor Jane Lahr is an in-depth and comprehensive detailing of the modern and historical history of the enigmatic Mary Magdalene as reflected through the literature and art of the last two millennia. Introducing readers to a collective survey study drawn from historical writers, philosophers, artists, and scholars, Searching For Mary Magdalene accessibly presents a concise and intricate descriptive analysis of Magdalene based upon the many known resources. Searching For Mary Magdalene is very highly recommended to non-specialist general readers with an interest in a life and history of Mary Magdalene.

The Couples Contract For A Lasting Relationship
Ed Sherman & Bruce Janke
Nolo Press
501 Mission Street, Santa Cruz, CA 95060
0944508588 $24.95

Expertly co-authored by the attorneys Ed Sherman and Bruce Janke, The Couples Contract For A Lasting Relationship: For All Couples: Married, Getting Married, Unmarried is a complete and comprehensive guide for creating an everlasting bond between couples of every level. Enhanced with the inclusion of a CD-Rom, The Couples Contract For A Lasting Relationship presents a thorough and concise collection of advice and examples for securing important legal benefits through the mechanism of a written contract with respect to a loved one whether engaged, married, or simply living together. By tailoring a written agreement to a couple's particular financial relationships, and building successful problem solving skills with respect to general relationship issues (which may frequently be financial), The Couples Contract For A Lasting Relationship is very strongly recommended as a useful tool and guide to safeguarding the relationship. If you are planning to share your life with that special someone, then give The Couples Contract For A Lasting Relationship a very careful reading first. It could save you a great deal of regret and expense later.

Empowered by Empathy
Rose Rosetree
Women's Intuition Worldwide
116 Hillsdale Dr, Sterling, VA 20164
0975253816 $49.00

Rose Rosetree draws upon her many years of experience and expertise with empath empowerment in Empowered by Empathy: Twenty-Five Ways To Fly In Spirit an informative introduction to awakening personal empathy through the application of Rosetree's expert techniques and intuitive spiritual development. This six-disc CD audiobook edition of Empowered by Empathy has a total running time of 7 hours, 13 minutes and deftly carries the listener through easy, step-by-step techniques to taking hold of and control life; turning on the gifts for recognition of the true experience of "otherness"; turning off the gifts to block picking up the pains of others; and obtaining a practical understanding of empathy as a true and enduring blessing, regardless of how much suffering has resulted in having lived as an untrained, uncontrolled empath in the past. Empowered by Empathy is very strongly recommended, especially for those who were born with physical, intellectual, spiritual, emotional, or metaphysical empathy.

Fantastic Four Workouts
Christi Taylor
Bayview Entertainment
c/o 411 Video Information
PO Box 1223, Pebble Beach, CA 93953
DVD $19.99

Fantastic Four Workouts is a four volume DVD series showcasing fitness guru Christi Taylor in an incredible collection of useful "follow along" exercise workouts specifically designed for men and women wanting to improve, maintain, and enhance their physical well-being. Characterized by an easy to follow visual format throughout the extensive collection of workout instructions, Fantastic Four Workouts offers the four innovative and thorough workouts, Still Jumpin (60 minutes), Still Steppin (60 minutes), Hi-Lo Heaven (90 minutes), and Step Heaven (90 minutes). Fun and effective, Fantastic Four Workouts is very highly recommended for its superb production values and complete coverage of Christi Taylor's exercise routines in a double-disk DVD compiling 300 minutes of enthusiastic, music accompanied, and creatively styled workouts -- complete with warm-ups, cool-downs, and bloopers!.

Get Ripped
Jari Love
Razor Digital Entertainment
12031 Ventura Boulevard, Suite 3, Studio City, CA 91604
1595522824 $14.95

Get Ripped, featuring actress, model, singer, and personal trainer Jari Love, is the introduction to an effective and fun style of workouts specifically designed to burn off excess calories, carbs, and fat. Providing an easy-to-follow collection of simple but elegantly effective workout routines, Get Ripped showcases a three to four week program of "cutting edge" workout exercises for men and women resulting in maximum muscle definition, body fat loss, and cardiovascular productivity. Especially appropriate for beginners wanting to get into the best shape of their lives, Get Ripped is an effective, 55 minute DVD exercise program featuring a conversation with Cory Fagan about the underlying science and research behind why the "Ripped!" program works, along with several illustrative success stories. Also very highly recommended from Razor Digital Entertainment are the two other exercise DVDs; Tom Holland's Total Ab (159521887, $14.99, 29 minutes) and Tom Holland's Total Body (1595521860, $14.99, 68 minutes).

The Perfect Body: The Pilates Way
Lynne Robinson
Firefly Entertainment
c/o 411 Video Information
PO Box 1223, Pebble Beach, CA 93953
WD-1027 (DVD) $14.95

The Perfect Body: The Pilates Way with Lynne Robinson (Director of the Body Control Pilates Academy and the Body Control Pilates Association -- Europe's largest school for Pilates teachers with over 700 teaching members) is a 90 minute, full color, live action, informational exercise DVD guiding viewers through a series of Pilates exercises that includes such basics as alignment, breathing, centering (using the deep abdominal muscles), two balanced workouts, "The Series of Five" offering classical Pilates for beginners to advanced exercisers, and "The Relaxation Session" - a series of gentle movements designed to release tension from the body for a perfect conclusion to a physical workout. The Perfect Body: The Pilates Way offers an efficient and thorough workout plan for toning and shaping the body to its ideal condition and shape. The Perfect Body: The Pilates Way is very highly recommended for viewers searching for an easy-to-follow, all-inclusive, "follow along", fun and effective guide to a Pilates based workout routine.

Susan Bethany

Bob's Bookshelf

The Big Bamboo
Tim Dorsey
William Morrow
0060585625, $24.95, 336 pp.

Tim Dorsey sends his hilarious and loveable serial killer, Serge Storms, off on a madcap adventure to Hollywood and the movie Mecca may never recover from his visit. Upset because the entertainment industry has been ignoring his beloved home state, the Florida native wants to know what the deal is. Why aren't more films shot in the Sunshine State? Why are the movies that do feature the state so lousy?

When Serge lands in town all sorts of weird things start happening, including the kidnapping of a starlet. Never one to steer clear of a messy situation, Serge once again shows he's a master at turning a simple disaster into a total catastrophe. Only Tim Dorsey can whip up a literary recipe whose ingredients include the Yakuza, the Playboy Mansion, sundry sleazy Hollywood types, and a rousing conclusion on a Tinsel Town movie set. It's a heady concoction guaranteed to provide plenty of laughs (or guffaws).

Night of the Jaguar
Michael Gruber
William Morrow
0060577681, $24.95, 372 pp.

What do the violent deaths of some corrupt corporate executives have to do with a little girl's nightmares? Called out of retirement, Miami's expert criminal investigator Jimmy Paz has to figure out the connection between these seemingly unrelated events. If the ex-cop fails to find the link, the consequences will affect his own family in a way he never imagined. "Night of the Jaguar" completes the Paz trilogy. The first two novels have already received rave reviews and this concluding story may well be the best of the lot.

As the thriller opens, Jimmy is eight years into his retirement, cooking at his mother's Cuban restaurant and playing the role of devoted father and husband. A slew of bizarre ritualistic murders, though, coupled with troubling dreams that haunt both Paz and his seven year old daughter, force the former detective to accept the Miami Police Department's plea for help. As he launches the murder investigation, Paz finds himself heading down a path where his own murky past becomes an issue.

What he discovers is as unbelievable as it is frightening. Try as he might, Paz would like to discount his findings. But when he realizes his daughter's life is in jeopardy, the detective has to give credence to what he has uncovered no matter how bizarre the discovery is. The mysteries of the deep jungles of Colombia collide with the frenetic lifestyle of modern Miami in this unusual and provocative thriller. Like the novel's hardheaded protagonist, the reader will be shaken by this intriguing mixture of reality and the supernatural.

Prior Bad Acts
Tami Hoag
0553801988, $26.00, 375 pp.

With 20 million copies of her books in print, Tami Hoag doesn't need an introduction to most suspense fans. Her gritty police procedural novels have been a fixture on various bestseller lists for years. In this latest thriller, Hoag's cop duo of Sam Kovac and Nikki Liska are given an assignment they'd rather pass on. After Judge Carey Moore is attacked, the Minneapolis detectives are called upon to solve the assault and also keep the judge safe.

After the mass murderer, whose case Judge Moore is trying in her courtroom, escapes from custody, the situation becomes a little more ticklish. But that isn't the half of it. When the judge is snatched right from under the noses of her protectors there is even more of a community uproar. With a killer on the loose plus a kidnapped judge, the public is up in arms and the police department is at the center of a media maelstrom.

Kovac and Liska will need not only all their professional expertise but also a little luck to sort out this mess. If they fail, the duo may end up being the fall guys and find their careers are all but over.

Secrets of the Bible
editors of Archaeology Magazine
Hatherleigh Press
1578262186, $15.95, 230 pp.

"Secrets of the Bible" brings together a group of articles that deal with the Holy Land and biblical history. This new and updated edition offers the latest information on the history of the world's most renowned book and some of the stunning breakthroughs in archaeological science that expand our understanding of the mysteries of Holy Scripture. Included in the 230 page paperback are new details about the ancient Philistines, the true story of Sodom and Gomorrah, new theories on the Star of Bethlehem, the heroic last stand at Masada and the secrets of Armageddon.

The featured essays examine and explore some of the conflicts and controversies that have surrounded the Bible for thousands of years. From a discussion of the secrets of the Dead Sea Scrolls to the recent brouhaha over the authenticity of the James Ossuary and the Jehoash Inscription, the 29 experts who contributed material to the volume rely on some of the most recent fieldwork to substantiate their ideas. Sections devoted to "The Ancients: Their Kingdoms, Trade, and Politics", "Reading Between the Lines of the Bible", "The Rise of Christianity", and "The Holy Land Today" provide a wealth of material on a wide range of intriguing topics, including which Bethlehem (the one in Galilee or Judea) was Jesus' actual birthplace and an analysis of how Hollywood has presented the Holy Land will make it difficult for readers to set this book aside.

In the introduction Neil Asher Silberman explains that recent discoveries in the Lands of the Bible may not have provided answers to all of the Bible's mysteries. But, the historian from Berlin's Ename Center for Public Archaeology continues, this new information has "utterly transformed how we look at this ancient, sacred text." With special features such as a biblical timeline, in-depth insight into the latest research, stunning illustrations and color photos, "Secrets of the Bible" is a must read for experts and armchair archaeologists alike. Anyone interested in understanding the world of the Bible will also find this a fascinating read.

Bob Walch

Buhle's Bookshelf

Plenty Porter
Brandon Noonan
Amulet Books
115 West 18th Street, New York, NY 10011
0810959968 $16.95

Plenty Porter by Brandon Noonan is a nicely scripted coming-of-age novel about the youngest daughter a poor sharecropping family from rural Illinois. Plenty is the youngest of eleven children and has trouble "fitting in", all of which is further complicated with her meeting a boy named Ed who is the son of a rich landowner. The two of them begin a relationship that has Penny discovering the true meaning of family and an intimacy she had never before experienced. Documenting Brandon Noonan as a skillfully original novelist, Plenty Porter is very highly recommended reading for those who appreciate the combination of deft authorship and timeless values.

The Hour Of Bad Decisions
Russell Wangersky
Coteau Books
2517 Victoria Avenue, Regina, Saskatchewan, Canada, S4P OT2
1550503375 $16.95

The Hour Of Bad Decisions is a riveting collection of seventeen short stories by Russell Wangersky. A writer of considerable skill and originality, The Hour Of Bad Decisions beautifully crafted stories populated by memorable characters caught up in the imperfections of their problematic lives and in the process, captures the readers total attention from beginning to end. Documenting Russell Wangersky as a consummate storyteller of considerable talent, expertise, and originality, The Hour Of Bad Decisions is to be given high praise recommendation for personal reading lists and community library fiction collections..

Yocona Puff Adder
Gerald Inmon
Taylor House Publishing
1739 University Avenue, PMB 340, Oxfortd, MS 38655
0977486435 $27.95 1-662-234-4180

A kind of "coming of age" novel with distinctly autobiographical elements by Gerald Inmon, Yocona Puff Adder is the story of Scott and Charlie, two seven year old children growing up in the American south and leading horrific, heroic, disdainful, persistent, and thoroughly active lives. A professional forester and wildlife biologist, Yocona Puff Adder is Inmon's debut novel and tangible benefits from the inclusion of environmental detail. Indeed, each of the 52 chapters could successfully stand alone as brilliantly presented short stories as the boys meet fictionalized versions of a series of memorable characters ranging from civil rights activist James Meredith to Nobel Prize winning author William Faulkner. Introducing Gerald Inmon as a truly gifted regional writer, Yocona Puff Adder is entertaining, original, and articulate as he uses a fictional format to address issues of racism, war, and the environment.

The Pictograph Murders
P. G. Karamesines
Signature Books
564 West 400 North, Salt Lake City, UT 84116-3411
1560851821 $21.95 1-800-356-5687

The Pictograph Murders by P. G. Karamesines is the story of Alex McKelvey and her desperate struggle to seek happiness by moving to the desert country of Utah with Kit, her Siberian husky. Swiftly carrying readers through a purely captivating tale of mystery and suspense that continues to hold the readers full and unabated attention from first page to last, The Pictograph Murders compels Alex through an investigation involving the archeological study of pots, witchcraft, and murder as the archaeological excavation site-owner disappears, and Alex's only lead is the site itself, and the mysterious arrival of a Coyote-figured stranger. A beautifully crafted mystery thriller, The Pictograph Murders is very highly recommended for mystery buffs as an enthralling tale of murder, archeology, myth, and an eccentric young woman who is determined to discover the truth.

Old Filth
Jane Gordam
Europa Editions
116 East 16th Street, New York, NY 10003
1933372133 $14.95

Jane Gordam's novel Old Filth is the remarkable tale of Sir Edward "Filth" Feathers and a wonderfully entertaining account of his life and times as a part of England's sometimes eccentric legal system. Deftly carrying readers through Filth's exploration of life from his struggles as a young Barrister to his ultimate retirement from a judgeship in the beautiful Dorset, Old Filth is very strongly recommended as a giftedly authored novel portraying of one man's life and times. Destined to be a minor classic of the literary arts, Old Filth continues to clearly establish why Jane Gordam is considered to be an award-winning author of note. Also highly recommended are her early works: "Black Faces, White Faces" (1975); "God on the Rocks" (1978)"The Pangs of Love and Other Stories (1983); "The Queen of the Tambourine" (1991); "Going into a Dark House" (1994), and "The Flight of the Maidens" (2000).

Song Of The Crow
Layne Maheu
Unbridled Books
2000 Wadsworth Boulevard, #195, Lakewood, CO 80214
1932961186 $23.95 1-888-732-3822

Layne Maheu's debut novel Song Of The Crow offers a unique depiction of the confluence of humanity and the metaphysical heavens as illustrated by the story of Noah and the Flood from the perspective of a crow. Song Of The Crow carries readers through an incredibly engaging and superbly crafted story of struggle, fear, free will, the inner workings of the human mind, and the obedience of an old gray haired man to the commandment of his God despite the ridicule and disbelief of his community. Maheu's writing style is lyrical and imaginative, a kind of extended story-telling meditation uniquely portrayed through the eyes of a bird viewing the pitiful struggle of the man to build his ship and save all life from being extinct because of the wrath of Yahweh. A welcome addition to any community library fiction collection, Song Of The Crow is especially recommended for all readers who enjoy stories inspired by scripture and brought to life with flair, style, and imagination.

Willis M. Buhle

Burroughs' Bookshelf

Americans And Climate Change
Daniel R. Abbasi
Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies
c/o Yale University Press
PO Box 209040, New Haven, CT 06520-9040
097078824X $16.50

Expertly written by Daniel R. Abbasi (Director of the 2005 Yale F&ES Conference on Climate Change and Associate Dean at the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies and Director of the Environmental Attitudes and Behavior project at the Yale Center for Environmental Law and Policy), Americans And Climate Change: A Synthesis Of Insights And Recommendations From The 2005 Yale F And ES Conference On Climate Change is an informative academic study of the worldly issues of climate and environment change and the threats faced in the probability of variables involved and summarizes the results of a seminal conference on climate changes that will shape the foreseeable future of life on planet Earth. Opening an the results of an extended debate on the complex dimensions drawn from the collective research surrounding the discovery of the on-going potential for climate change, Americans And Climate Change evocatively presents a documented perspective and is very strongly recommended reading for governmental policy makers, environmental activists, academia, and anyone else concerned with the issues of global climate change.

Designing Residential Wilderness Programs For Adults
Michael Day & Ellen M. Petrick
Krieger Publishing Company
PO Box 9542, Melbourne, FL 32902
1575242613 $29.50 1-321-724-9542

Expertly co-authored by Michael Day (Associate Dean and Professor of Adult Education in the College of Education at the University of Wyoming) and Ellen M. Petrick (Educational Consultant and former Program Manager for Formal Education in Yellowstone National Park), Designing Residential Wilderness Programs For Adults is an impressively presented introductory guide and instructive reference to the physical and emotional difficulties, as well as the potential rewards, in adult residential and wilderness education. Expansively detailing the troubles faced with a return to schooling, Designing Residential Wilderness Programs For Adults guides readers through relevant issues, values, relationships, pursuits, as well as offering an practical suggestions for the successful design and experience oriented learning processes through various established residential programs. A conceptual and "user-friendly" guide to the education process of aging or older individuals in the midst of a diverse environment, Designing Residential Wilderness Programs For Adults is also available in a paperback edition (1575242826, $19.5) and very highly recommended as part of the Krieger Publishing Company's "Professional Practices" series.

British Travel Writers in China
Jeffrey N. Dupee
The Edwin Mellen Press
PO Box 450, Lewiston, NY 14092-0450
0773464972 $119.95 1-716-754-2788

British Travel Writers in China: Writing Home to a British Public, 1890-1914 is a scholarly study of British travel writings in an era when Chinese territory was under British control. Chapters discussed the tone of such articles as many of them were penned to an imagined British readership; the cultural values that affected how the Chinese were seen through British travel writers' eyes; complaints about creature comforts denied while traveling through China, tales of danger, the thirst to explore and learn, and much more. British Travel Writers in China presents numerous excerpts from travel writings in support of its points, but the main focus is on the dissection and analysis of such writings; readers looking for the complete texts of actual writing must necessarily search elsewhere. An excellent and thoughtfully inclusive study of its kind.

Early Renaissance Invective and the Controversies of Antonia da Rho
David Rutherford
Arizona Center for Medieval and Renaissance Texts and Studies
Arizona State University, PO Box 874402, Tempe, AZ 85287-4402
0866983457 $48.00

Early Renaissance Invective and the Controversies of Antonia da Rho presents an edited translation of two works by medieval scholar Antonio da Rho (1395-1447). The text is also offered in its original Latin for side-by-side comparison. Extensive notes and commentary, as well as line-by-line citations allow for ease of close scrutiny. The rhetoric manuscripts include "Philippic Against Antonio Panormita" and "The Apology of Antonio da Rho". The scathing attacks present in these classical manuscripts demonstrate that all-out verbal assault was as skillfully used centuries ago as it is today, if not more so! A finely presented addition to medieval literature and studies shelves.

Eugene Monick
Inner City Books
PO Box 1271 Station Q, Toronto, ON M4T 2P4
189457415X $18.00

Ten years in the writing, Potency: Masculine Aggression as a Path to the Soul summarizes Dr. Eugene Monick, M.Div. Ph.D., an Episcopal priest wrestling with a profound social issue: how can men function smoothly in society, when their traditional patriarchal authority has eroded in a changing climate of more egalitarian values? Drawing heavily upon Jungian psychology to examine what makes the male mind, body, and sexual impulses tick, Potency explores at length the frustrations and challenges of being male in a former man's world, as well as viable alternatives to male-concentrated power as a way of life. Unabashed in its discussion of male sexuality hand in hand with male power, Potency reaches out to the spiritual as well as the physical aspects of maleness in its search for balance and paths to greater happiness for all human beings. Also highly recommended are the author's previous treatises, "Phallos" and "Castration and Male Rage".

QuickBooks Pro 2006
Karen Mitchell et al
Craftsman Books Company
6058 Corte del Cedro, PO Box 6500, Carlsbad, CA 92018
1572181702 $51.50

Enhanced with an accompanying CD-ROM, the Contractor's Guide To QuickBooks Pro 2006 by the team of contractors, accountants, and QuickBooks Pro experts Karen Mitchell, Craig Savage, and Jim Erwin is an in-depth, "user-friendly" guide to coordinating and knowledgeably approaching using the software programming of QuickBooks Pro in building construction contract development. Introducing contractors to an exceptionally comprehensive understanding of the computer-based programming system, QuickBooks Pro 2006 guides readers through QuickBooks Pro 2006's national estimator, an easy-to-use program with over 100 pages of construction cost and estimating data for general contractors; the Job Cost Wizard which swiftly converts the National estimates into QuickBooks Pro estimates for ease in creation of invoices and track job costs; as well as a collection of blank construction forms for customization and use with customers and subcontractors. QuickBooks Pro 2006 is very strongly recommended for its concise and thorough coverage of the often difficult dealings of construction contract estimates and bids.

John Burroughs

Carson's Bookshelf

Myths And Legends Of The Second World War
James Hayward
Isis Publishing
c/o Ulverscroft Large Print (USA)
PO Box 1230, West Seneca, NY 14224-1230
0753156636 $32.50 1-800-955-9659

Myths And Legends Of The Second World War by James Hayward is an impressive collection of lore and lies, folk stories and propaganda generated misinformation drawn from every theatre of World War II. Debunking the misconceptions, myths, and misunderstandings arising from conflicts, Myths And Legends Of The Second World War addresses and corrects such "tall tale" stories as the "Foo Fighters" and UFOs, German Parachutists dressed as nuns, Hitler's escape to South America, German U-boat bases in Ireland, Herman Hess and the British Royals, a massacre that never took place, an invasion that never was, and other enduring myths. Offering a large print format for easy reading and enhanced with the inclusion of an extensive bibliography, Myths And Legends Of The Second World War is very highly recommended reading military buffs for its clarifications and explanations of World War II's most enduring but quite erroneous stories.

Future Hype
Bob Seidensticker
Berrett-Koehler Publishers
253 Montgomery Street, Suite 650, San Francisco, CA 94104
1576753700 $15.95

Future Hype: The Myths Of Technology Change by Bob Seidensticker (a 25 year veteran of the technology industry and holder of thirteen software patents) is an iconoclastic collection of "insider insights" debunking common misconceptions about the role, function, and progress of technology. Providing readers with wealth of useful data and often surprising information, Future Hype reveals nine technological myths including: the disproval of the rate change is not exponential; important new products do not arrive any faster then they ever have; the analytical perspective that the internet doesn't really change everything; and more interesting and documented observations. Future Hype is very strongly recommended reading for students of science and technology, popular culture and contemporary sociology, as well as non-specialist general readers interested in the impact of technology on their lives, their communities, and their future.

Playing President
Robert Scheer
Akashic Books
PO Box 1456, New York, NY 10009
1933354011 $14.95

Playing President is an impressive collection of informative interviews by award-winning "Los Angeles Times" journalist Robert Sheer with the presidents Nixon, Carter, Reagan, Clinton, and Bush Senior. Deftly compiled and analyzed to create a sound basis for understanding each of these former presidents in terms of their respective parts played in the national debates and issues of their respective administrations, Playing President offers readers a wealth of insights into their lives, minds, and decisions which had historically influenced and shaped the American political front during the course of the second half of the twentieth century. A core addition to academic library "Political Science" reference collections, Playing President is very strongly recommended for non-specialist general readers with an interest in the American presidency for its wide-range of informative and first hand accounts drawn from direct interviews with the men who occupied that august office.

European Universalism
Immanuel Wallerstein
The New Press
38 Greene Street, New York, NY 10013
1595580611 $14.95

European Universalism: The Rhetoric Power Of Immanual by Wallerstein (Senior Research Scholar at Yale, Director Emeritus of the Ferdand Braudel Center at Binghamton University, and researcher at the Maison des Sciences de l'Homme in Paris) is an impressive and complex study of European society, its political and cultural paradigms and western cultural ideals. European Universalism explores the developmental attributes of the United States as an imperial power in juxtaposition to the European philosophical notions of progress and domination. A work of impressive and original scholarship, European Universalism is to be given high praise for its conceptual documentation as a comparative, eurocentric, sociological study of European and American political, cultural, and social values.

Michael J. Carson

Cassandra's Bookshelf

Wild Girls Paris, Sappho & Art: The Lives & Loves of Natalie Barney & Romaine Brooks
Diana Souhami
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, NY, NY 10010
ISBN: 0312343248, $29.95

Drawing from letters, papers, and paintings, Diana Souhami "recreates the lives and loves of this pair of dazzling and wild women." No where in the publicity does it mention that in dealing with the lives and loves of these two rich American expatriates, and "grandly lesbian" women Souhami is going to put her own autobiographical interjects into the text. In hazarding such a writing experiment Souhami's unfortunate interpolations in italicized passages of lesbian encounters from her own life only serve as a distraction from the maximum clarity that she strives for in her book.

Wild Girls's cover is illustrated by the image of a corset being laced by a woman with manicured blood red nails making it appear as if the publishers needed something more provocative to catch the average reader's eye. Divided into thirty chapters, Wild Girls features twenty-five interjects. These interpolations attempt to sex up the book, unfortunately they only serves to dumb it down. Additionally, not everyone wants to open a book and read, "Liane de Pougy began each day with an enema." (7). Readers may admire Souhami for examining such delicate subjects as sexual orientation, abortion and social inequality in relation to the lives of Natalie Barney and Romaine Brooks, and the women of their circle but many can do without the author's concentration on basic bodily functions, glamor and wealth at the expense of much more interesting analysis and subject matter. Granted this is a personality driven book but the writer's tete-a-tetes with herself and dishing gossip about the "girls" results in an awkward book that fails to draw the line between critical thinking and chummy repartee. In the case of Wild Girls the crossover attempt simply does not work.

The first few chapters of this book focus on Barney who was celebrated for her "bon mots" but whose real achievement was her Friday salon. Natalie's salon served as an important and radical vehicle providing a context in which nobility, artists and thinkers exchanged ideas across barriers of class, gender, nationality, economic standing, and religion. Her Fridays enabled women, gays and Jews — whose participation in official public life was restricted — to play a prominent role. Her salon attracted the who's who of cultural luminaries: George Antheil, Bernard Berenson, Djuna Barnes, Sylvia Beach, Philippe Berthelot, Bryher, Emma Calve, Jean Chalon, Truman Capote, Paul Claudel, Jean Cocteau, Colette, Olive Custance, Gabriele D'Annunzio, Lucie Mardrus-Delarue, H. D., Norman Douglas, Isadora Duncan, Janet Flanner, Ford Madox Ford, Remy de Gourmont, Elisabeth Gramont, Radclyffe Hall, Una Lady Troubridge, Mata Hari, Max Jacob, Marie Laurencin, Pierre Louys, Mina Loy, Robert de Montesquiou, Charles Freer, Somerset Maugham,, Robert McAlmon, Paul Poiret, Liane de Pougy, Ezra Pound, Marcel Proust, Gertrude Stein, Alice B. Toklas, Paul Valery, Edith Wharton, and Dolly Wilde. A word from her could make or break an artist.

Natalie's escapades dominate the first eleven chapters of Wild Girls. It is a shame that Souhami does not deal with the relationship between Brooks and Barney which began in their forties until page seventy-nine when she begins the discussion with Romaine's mother, Ella Waterman Goddard. Directly following chapter twelve she interrupts our train of thought with the heading, "Aversions are learned. A dud oyster at lunch in a fish restaurant in Essaouria, then an afternoon in the bathroom of room 4 at the Hotel Maroc. . ." (83) Souhami resumes the wild girls' narrative in chapter thirteen "St. Mar."

St. Mar was Romaine's mentally disturbed brother who Ella doted on. Skipping significant parts of Romaine's horrendously abusive childhood Souhami ends this section with Romaine's one and only suicide attempt. Readers trying to appreciate Romaine's suffering are rudely jolted into another aside, "On a rainy morning in a near-empty cafe I had a cappuccino and a croissant. A stranger with grey eyes asked if she might sit at my table." (95).

Throughout, Natalie is a luscious physical presence who knows how to manipulate through sex. The impression of her that Souhami gives is of a sensual seductress who is confident that she can get anything or one she wants. Natalie lights up the book with countless witty comments. Romaine by contrast is depicted as a gloomy, gothic personna--closed off from life, often other worldly and without humor-nasty in fact. Given this picture it is hard to understand why anyone as brilliant and sexy as Barney was attracted to her. Actually, Romaine could be enormously funny, devil may care and sexy when she felt like it. Souhami gives short shrift to detailing Romaine's lovers and the anguish they caused her. She claims Romaine was "temporarily taken in" by Gabriele d'Annunzio but their letters, some of which are reproduced in Secrest's book, on the web and in Italian journals make it clear that this was one of the most passionate relationships in Romaine's life. It is in their letters to each other we see how emotional, how vulnerable Romaine in love really could be.

In chapter twenty-four Natalie's tempestuous affair with Dolly Wilde (14 years) threatens to break up the long term open relationship between Romaine and Natalie. Souhami presents Brooks as a petty, jealous and possessive lover. But this is a simplistic view of what really went on. Romaine was concerned that Natalie was being taken advantage of by a woman she considered unworthy of her. She worried because of Dolly's addiction to drugs and her irresponsible behavior when it came to money—Natalie's money! As the Brooks/Barney letter's at University of Tulsa's special collections (633 of them between 1920 and 1969) reveal the conflict among them finally results in Romaine giving Natalie an ultimatum. "Your present life is infested with rats, one big one of these rats is gnawing at the very foundation of our friendship." (153) That rat was Dolly. Natalie protested but packed Dolly off to London. Later Romaine was so moved by Dolly's lack of money and suffering from cancer that she sympathetically sent her a generous check.

Chapter twenty-six deals with the beautiful Djuna Barnes and her book Ladies Almanack. This outrageous satire on Natalie and her circle is full of references to sexual techniques and a virtual "how to" manual for lesbians "who discard Duster, Offspring and Spouse."(163) In fact, Djuna makes HBO's L Word look tame. Souhami describes Natalie's brief affair with Djuna. Thelma Wood, a silverpoint artist from St. Louis, however, was the real love of Djuna's life. Her famous book, Nightwood (1936) was inspired by their heartrending affair. We do not get to the war interlude until page one hundred and sixty-nine of the book. This is the period in which Natalie and Romaine were forced to live together. Their enforced intimacy lasted six years and a day, and proved to be a very stressful period for both of them. Souhami unsympathetically describes Romaine as having become "most peculiar: hypochondriacal, paranoid and disdainful. She imagined she was going blind and hoarded trunks of medicines out of fear of wartime shortages."(169). Souhami says that Romaine admired Mussolini's force, liked the displays of Fascisti, and believed in a master race of Aryans. The whole issue of Romaine and Natalie's fascist sympathies requires a closer examination in the context of the times to be fully understood.

For the Wild Girls the end of the war marked the end of a golden age in Paris and of their way of life. The Paris of the 1920s with its artists and free thinkers, eccentrics and monsters was destroyed by the war. Natalie returned to Paris in 1946 and Romaine stayed on in Italy. This marked a period of gradual decline for both women. Romaine kept a low profile because of her support for Italy and for Fascism. She needed seclusion in order to get back in touch with her "artist self." Natalie tried to keep up with what was left of her circle and busied herself with making new friends and trying to keep the work of her friends alive. During this period Natalie took on the role of mother protector and advisor to Romaine while Romaine retreated further and further into her own private struggle with ghosts of the past according to Souhami. In 1956 at the age of eighty, Natalie began a new and final affair with Madame Lahovary who she picked up on a park bench in Nice while visiting Romaine. This wounded Romaine who realized that she and Natalie would never spend their last years alone together.

Chapter thirty, "The Last Lap," features the Wild Girls final years including Natalie's attempts to secure Romaine's reputation as a painter by placing her paintings in various collections. In the last two years of Romaine's life she cut off communicate with Natalie and returned all of her letters unopened. What remains unanswered is why a woman who devoted her life to making art, stopped? Souhami never answers this mystery. Natalie lost her lease on 20 rue Jacob and had to move into a suite of rooms at the Hotel Meurice. She outlived Romaine by a little more than a year dying on February 1, 1972, and was buried clutching a picture of Romaine to her breast.

Doubtless, some readers will be put off by the fact that Souhami gives short shrift to Romaine's work and does not analyze what portrait painting is really all about for the artist. What is clear, is that from the very beginning the two partners' wildly contrasting temperaments gave their relationship its dynamism. These lovers were united by common interests in classical, highbrow and modern cultural events, as well as political opinions and women's rights. What this book does succeed in showing is the balance of power shifting from one partner to the other and back again against an unbroken background of affection and passionate sexual connection that lasted until Romaine broke with Natalie. It is a shame that Souhami's brave attempt to bring the lives of these two fascinating women to a wider audience promised so much but delivered so much less.

The White Blackbird
Honor Moore
c/o Penguin Books, USA
375 Hudson St., NY,NY 10014
ISBN: 0670805637, $29.95

I don't usually recommend books I've read once but I have recently re read Honor Moore's The Whte Blackbird. This is an exquisite portrayal of Moore's grandmother, the painter and socialite, Margarett Sargent. The story is a blending of Moore's, at times heart breaking search for the woman who was her grandmother. Prior to Moore's book Margarett Sargent had been lost to the history of art. She was a fine and underappreciated artist who had abandoned her art and left only scant traces of her once flourishing career. Moore has painted a striking portrait of her grandmother's struggle to be an artist and forge a life for herself outside of social obligations and the gender straitjacket that many women found themselves strapped into in the first decades of the 20th century. Margarett was a modern woman in every sense of the word.

Moore painstakingly documents Margarett's place in the family. Her mother's "I don't want you to have to cope with her," which set the tone for the family's relationship to "Crazy Margarett. What Moore knew about her grandmother was that she did everything with originality, taste and a sensuality so palpable that it virtually made the air around her vibrate. Her charisma, even at her worse was overwhelming. Margarett stopped painting in her early forties and when Moore got up the nerve to ask her why, she said, "It got too intense." [6]

Moore went in search of Margarett the artist in order to find out how to be an artist herself. She was frighten by the prospect of going crazy like her grandmother on the one hand but on the other she was compelled by the question of how to live fully both as an artist and a woman. In order to answer the question Moore had to go back and investigate not only her grandmother's history but her own family's history as well. It wasn't an easy or pretty picture.

She discovered that Margarett's temperment was naturally passionate and unusually intense from any early age. A teacher wrote to Margarett's mother that "She is a born leader, but unfortunately she always leads people in the wrong direction."[35] Wealthy, intellectually curious and endowed with insatiable appetites Margarett was admired for her independence and wit. Using family anecdotes, photographs and interviews with Magarett's friends and teachers, Moore gives us a sense of her grandmother as a thoroughly modern woman coming of age in an era when modernism ignited the imaginations of a generation that was just coming of age in the first decades of the twentieth century. Margarett's year abroad included a trip to Florence where she fell in love with Donatello. By the time she was twenty Margarett was known as a outrageous flirt and she attracted many suitors. But one day she simply broke off her engagement to one of them and announced "I',m going to Italy to sculpt.[68] Moore really makes the period come alive and her discussion of women aritsts in Rome a decade earlier including Harriet Hosmer makes the pages of her book come alive. A beautiful portrait study of Margarett by the renowned photographer, Arnold Genthe portrays her as a breathtakingly alluring beauty. Her hair pulled back, her dark eyebrows shaped like gull wings above large, intese eyes, her mouth lustrously full and curving as if offering itself to the camera.[85}

Margarett began her career in Boston and was an early convert to modernism at a time when it wasn't well understood. She was a free spirit and took female and male lovers. She met the poet Archibald MacLeish who wrote poems to her remarking on her sitting ..."self-mimicking, The center of her inward-looking world."[96] He found her terrifying because of the "transfiguring life-force" that streamed through her like electricity. Certainly, one could be shocked by it and she stunned in her circle with it. In 1917 she studied with the great American Sculptor Gutzon Borglum. At first she was enamored of him but later came to view him as a controlling dictator. At twenty-four, Margarett was fully aware of the power of her looks. One glance of her periwinkle blue eyes was enough to disarm anyone. Her pale alabaster skin, thick dark hair and voluptuous figure inspired hundreds of passion letters. Most of these were later destroyed by her children. In 1919 she moved to New York and began getting portrait commisisons. She met Fanny Brice, Eddie Cantor, and W.C. Fields. Her studio was filled with sculpture and her style had loosened under the influence of George Luks. She did a stunning portrait of him in 1918. She worked hard during the day and played harder at night. She studied at the Art Student's League and soon began frequenting Chez Mouquin, a favorite watering hole for the Ashcan School of artists. She became friendly with Betty Parsons and showed her art.

At twenty-six Margarett was still single and was being pressured by her family to get married and settle down. She said she married in order not to have to live with her mother. Shaw McKean looked like the best candidate because she thought he would make a good father and let her alone so that she could continue making art. Back in Boston, Margarett leased a studio in the South End. She still used her maiden name. She quickly became pregnant but this did not stop her from working. By the next September she was pregnant again. In 1932 she gave birth to Honor's mother Jenny. Margarett hired a governess and went back to work. In December of 1926 she had her first solo exhibit in New York City. She was warmly reviewed . Margarett began an affair with an old beau, Eddie Morgan. She was, as Betty Parson's put it, "a highly sexed woman" who took to affairs like a duck to water. In 1927 her doctor prescribed an abortion and soon after, a hysterectomy. Following her grandmother's fantastic life led Moore to examine Margarett's paintings and drawings for clues. Her grandmother's 1927 sketch book was full of them. Her portraits of the following year were ironic and reflected the styles of Alfred Maurer with their hot Fauve colors, Guy Pene du Bois figures and Walt Kuhn tawdriness. Hardly the sort of things a Boston socialite should be painting. Margarett met Maria deAcostas who quickly developed a passion for her. Moore speculates that the two women may or may not have had an affair. Confronted, Margarett would never reveal anything. While in Paris she went to Natalie Barney's salon and met Gertrude Stein and Alice Toklas. Flanner took her in hand, guiding her to theaters, concerts and exhibitions. She renewed her friendship with Betty Parsons who introduced her to Cocteau's jazz club and the works of Picabia and Man Ray. She bounced between right bank and left bank like a pin pong ball. She bought paintings by Bazille, Cassatt and Toulouse-Lautrec

In the 1930s she was still working, drinking harder and her marriage to Shaw was a sham. Her affairs were getting out of hand and her paintings were slap-dash but they had an uncanny knack of capturing their subjects with the most powerful economy.{200} In 1933 she was once again in Paris but the depression had changed it. Margarett had been deeply affected by the death of her friend and mentor George Luks. She had gone into a depression and a sense of despair began to haunt her life. In Germany in 1935 Margarett could sense the escalating tensions that would soon lead to war. Margarett's last painting is a faceless self portrait, casting no reflection in a mirror she is facing. Fast forward to 1975, Margarett is eighty-two, she sits on a hospital bed surrounded by scarpbooks crammed full of yellowing newspaper clippings. Honor stands there exclaiming, Why did you stop?" Her answer blurred by a stroke, "It got too intense." [247]. To Honor this wasn't the answer she was seeking. She still couldn't understand why her grandmother stopped making art--just that she shifted her creativity to gardening. She still went to New York regularly where she socialized with Lincoln Kirstein, Archie MacLeish, Aaron Copland, the Stettheimer sisters and George Balanchine. Her wit was still sharp and she still attracted admirers. In New York, she danced on tables and in Boston, she passed out. She had unexplained crying jags and seemed unhappy. She suddenly embraced Catholicism. In the Spring of 1941 she had a major break down but continued to go to New York. In 1946, Betty Parsons opened her gallery and created a sensation showing the group that came to be known as the "Abstract Expressionists", Barnett Newman, Jackson Pollock and Mark Rothko. Margarett's painting years were behind her and her drinking isolated her from others. Her children left the nest and she took up with Jane Bowles. Her behavior was outrageous. In 1944, Margarett fell into an abject depression. Days later she checked into Four Winds, a sanitarium near Katonah, New York where she underwent shock treatments. Moore recalls whispered conversations between her parents about her grandmother. A vague sense of unease that permeated her childhood. Shaw divorced Margarett in 1949 and married Kay Winthrop. From this time on Margarett's stays at Four Winds became more frequent. In the 1950s she traveled to Paris hoping to reclaim the parts of herself she had lost. But it was no use and she fell into weeping fits and had to take "sedative therapy." She stayed in Europe two years. She checked into Baldpate sanitorium in 1955 and stayed there until 1957. In 1958 she hired a New York lawyer and she was declared competent to handle her own affairs. She soon began selling things for which she rarely got a fair price. She sold her Gauguin and then a Watteau; all to buy liquor. She propositioned models at Dricoll's. At the age of sixty-six she was admited to Baldpate but this time for three years. She moved to New York and cointinued to deteriorate following an up and down course of distruction. By the spring of 1964 her children had been declared her guardians and she was again having shock treatments. In February of 1966 she suffered a stroke and could no longer draw. She moved to Phillips House where she stayed for nearly two years and then to an apartment on Tremont Street. By the 1970s a regiment of drugs kept her on a fairly stable emotional footing. By 1977 she had suffered a series of small strokes and required full time care. She was moved to Oakwood. A year later she died. Sixteen years later, Honor Moore sits on a bed surrounded by her grandmother's life. When she wrote Margarett's death she dropped her head to the table and cried.

This is an extraordinarily emotional read. The downward spiral of The White Blackbird should in no way deter readers. It is really a dual journey across generations raising questions relating to creativity and women's lives then and now. For anyone interested in the creative process and women as artists this is a must read which poses the agonizing question, why does a woman who has devoted herself to making art, stop? Honor Moore may not have answered it for everyone but she has given us clues that will open up future doors when it comes to why women succeed or fail.

Cassandra Langer

Cheri's Bookshelf

Fated Love
Bold Strokes Books, Inc.
430 Herrington Road, Johnsonville, NY 12094
ISBN: 1933110058, $15.95, 312 pp.

Fated Love is an engrossing romance and an excellent representation for the genre. Radclyffe brings to life the relationship and romantic love between two noteworthy characters who command respect and admiration. In a compelling medical setting, with prose that often rings poetic, and with a most satisfying conclusion, Radclyffe delivers what romance readers expect and what this reviewer and many readers believe is her best romance yet.

What makes a great romance? Simple, two loveable and intriguing characters that not only capture each other's hearts but the reader's heart as well. Radclyffe makes an art out of writing appealing characters that readers find fascinating.

Dr. Quinn McGuire is brilliant, tender, easy-going, patient, drop-dead gorgeous, and has a keen sense of humor. It is easy to fall in love with her and wish she were not only real, but cloned too. At twenty-eight, having completed a trauma fellowship, she has a promising surgical career in a leading New York City hospital. One has to wonder why she would leave it all for an emergency room position at Philadelphia Medical Center. The career change is a step down but things look up when Quinn sets her sights on the lovely Dr. Honor Blake. Honor can't deny the attraction to the newcomer of the department but her heart is under lock and key. In addition, she is leery of why a highly skilled surgeon would take a demotion. What is Quinn hiding? Quinn could ask the very same question of Honor as she has hidden secrets too.

Quinn is a real charmer when she tells Honor, "With everything that's going on in my life right now, I can't figure out why I should feel so happy, but I do. I think it has something to do with being with you" (p. 152). She is so romantic even without trying. Honor finds it impossible to ignore her feelings for Quinn but she fights it as best she can.

Honor is an equally admirable character. She's sensible, smart, responsible, loyal, and has a propensity for honoring the woman whose wedding ring she wears. She captures Quinn's attention from the moment she gazes her way.

Radclyffe also imparts words of wisdom the reader can draw upon. Quinn describes how she deals with stress. "I'm not actually calm. I just seem to have this place inside me where things stop moving for a while. I go there, I guess, when everything outside of me is moving too fast" (p.150). It sounds like a very good idea.

Medical professionals will appreciate the authenticity Radclyffe weaves into her work and laymen will feel privileged to be privy to the world of medicine. The author takes special care to ensure that readers don't have to be physicians to understand the medical jargon or to feel a part of the action.

Fated Love, a 2005 GCLS award-winner, is a sizzling, sexy, and satisfying romance. Adept characterization make Quinn and Honor easily feel like close friends. I highly recommend this tightly constructed, well-crafted, entertaining, thought provoking romance to everyone who has a heart. It is that good!

Punk Like Me
JD Glass
Bold Strokes Books, Inc.
430 Herrington Road, Johnsonville, NY 12094
ISBN: 1933110406, $15.95, 284 pp.

Nina Boyd, a slick twenty-one year old New York City singer/songwriter for a rock band, recounts her experiences of coming to terms with being a lesbian in an intolerant world. JD Glass' Punk Like Me is reminiscent of J. D. Salinger's Catcher in the Rye. Both novels can be considered American Bildungsromans, where the main protagonists are nonconformists dealing with their moral development and attitudes in the face of adversity. Like Holden Caulfield, Nina tries to make sense of her life. What makes Nina "punk" by her peer's standards is that she doesn't compromise her values and fall into conformity and mediocrity just to get by. Powerfully written by a gifted author in the first person point of view, Punk Like Me is an intimate glimpse inside a cool "dude's" head.

Glass captures the essence of Nina, the product of a Catholic School education, who is smart, honest, kind, and generous to a fault. Even though she tests the nuns' authority at times and comes across as tough or "punk," this street-wise kid is a hero. Her only crimes are that she is gay, she has the wrong parents, and she lives in a society with skewed values. Her parents don't understand or appreciate her. They tell her lying is wrong but when she wants to tell the truth about herself, will they really want her to be truthful?

Self-discovery is not a new concept but Glass makes it fresh, makes it real, and gets to the heart of the matter where there is nothing left but truth. For a young woman who grows up in a difficult environment, Nina's voice is authentic. Glass tells Nina's poignant story and succeeds in convincing us that Nina is speaking, that Nina is telling it her way. This reader wants to comfort Nina as she struggles with being a lesbian in a straight world, to love her unconditionally, and to see her prevail over the injustices in her world.

There are books that make you laugh, books that merely entertain, books that make you think, books that make you cry, and books that send a message, and of course, books that have great sex. Believe me when I tell you that Punk Like Me is a book that has all of this and more. True love begins with the love of oneself. In that respect, Punk Like Me is truly a romance. Despite the pain and torture Nina may endure, there is much joy, laughter, friendship, and even love in her life, and most importantly, the reader wants to see if she ends up stronger than ever, and hopes to rejoice in her triumph. In another comparison, Punk Like Me may be considered a modern day Ruby Fruit Jungle. Like Molly Bolt, Nina has to deal with discrimination but decides not to apologize for being a lesbian. Like Rita Mae Brown, JD Glass has a strong voice that mixes humor with sorrow, pain, and happiness in a realistic setting with genuine characters.

Punk Like Me speaks to lesbians of any age but straights will love Nina too. This important novel should be required reading in high schools across the country, especially religious schools, since teaching tolerance should be part of every curriculum. Although adolescents will love it, this is not a young adult novel, but rather a mature account of an admirable woman who stands up for herself. It is truly inspiring. Order it today; you will be glad you did. I can't wait for Glass' forthcoming sequel, Punk And Zen.

Grace Lennox
Bold Strokes Books, Inc.
430 Herrington Road, Johnsonville, NY 12094
ISBN: 1933110317, $15.95, 216 pp.

Chance Delaney becomes a celebrity practically overnight as often happens in the music industry. She is at the right place at the right time. Who would have thought that grooming dogs for the mother of a record industry mogul would lead to fame as the lead singer of Virgin Blessing? Certainly not Chance who is naive to the business but goes along for the ride. All the while, Chance is searching for what's most important in life--that someone special. Convinced she needs to change herself to attract the kind of woman she dreams of, Chance quits her job in a San Francisco gay and lesbian bookstore to work as a dog groomer before being catapulted into stardom by a twist of fate.

In Chance, Grace Lennox has created a realistic inner world centered on her character's quest for a meaningful relationship and her need to know who her birth mother is and why she gave her up. Is Chance desperate when she resorts to on-line dating and chatting in order to hook up with a suitable woman? Is she willing to settle for consoling the women her friend, fellow band partner Luke, rejects?

Chance writes one of the funniest personal ads I ever read but you're not going to hear it from me. You have to read it and be prepared to crack up. After a tantalizing on-line friendship with a woman by the screen name Reverie, who refuses to get together for more than a quick cyber chat, Chance meets and ultimately falls in love with a stunning, elusive, yet irresistible songwriter named Layla. The two women clearly connect but secret pasts seem to get in the way.

Chance is refreshing because Lennox doesn't offer over-written details in her prose. By not spoon-feeding information or over-exposing the characters or plot, Lennox respects the intelligence of her readers. Every nuance is powerful and succinct. Grace Lennox, aka Jennifer Fulton and Rose Beecham, shows her muscle in the masterful way she knows her characters and stays true to their personalities. Chance is not a novel about the music industry; it is about a woman discovering herself as she muddles through all the trappings of fame. Chance underrates her own talents and charm, and moves from low self-esteem to new self-respect in a first person narrative that is expertly done and flawless in the intimacy it creates between the character and the reader. Once you get inside Chance's head, Lennox makes sure you stay there and feel the myriad of her emotions.

What I like best about Chance is that it doesn't take itself too seriously. Lennox's keen sense of humor is not only hilarious but her observations are a cause for reflection. Sometimes the obvious is the funniest and Lennox's wit did not escape this reviewer's notice. Chance packs emotional punches when warranted, and delivers an interesting plot where one could dream that an all-woman rock band could become an instant success. Lennox doesn't leave any stone unturned in this original, satisfying romance with surprising outcomes. The stone I am referring to is the sizzling sex that will leave you breathless and begging for an encore. I thoroughly enjoyed Chance and look forward to future novels by this talented and accomplished author who can write well in any genre.

Cheri Rosenberg

Debra's Bookshelf

A Death in Belmont
Sebastian Junger
ISBN: 0393059804, $23.95, 266 pp.

On March 11, 1963 a 63-year-old woman, Bessie Goldberg, was found murdered in her home in Belmont, Massachusetts. She'd been strangled and raped and apparently robbed, and it became clear to police within hours that her attacker was most likely Roy Smith, the man who'd been sent out to clean the Goldberg house that day by the Massachusetts Division of Employment Security. There was no physical evidence linking Smith to the crime, but the circumstantial evidence against him was powerful, and in the end it proved sufficient for a conviction.

Bessie Goldberg's murder fell toward the end of the spate of Boston Strangler killings that terrorized the Boston area between mid-1962 and early 1964. The Strangler's victims were both old and young, black and white. They were strangled with stockings or belts--whatever lay at hand--sometimes raped and sometimes not, killed swiftly and apparently without much or any struggle. There were never signs of forced entry: the Strangler talked his way into his victims' homes.

The Goldberg murder had many of the earmarks of a Boston Strangler murder, so much so that the police initially thought that in catching Goldberg's killer, Roy Smith, they had caught the Strangler. This proved not to be the case, however, and in 1965 Albert DeSalvo, who had a history of sexual offenses, claimed to be the Strangler. DeSalvo confessed to killing thirteen women. He did not confess to killing Bessie Goldberg.

In A Death in Belmont Sebastian Junger (the author of A Perfect Storm) tells the story of the Goldberg murder in the context of the Boston Strangler's crimes. Junger considers the possibility that Bessie Goldberg was in fact a fourteenth victim of the Strangler, that DeSalvo entered the Goldberg home unseen on March 11th some time between 3:05 in the afternoon, when Smith left the house, and 3:50, when Bessie's husband returned home to find her dead. Junger leads readers through the histories of both men, their crimes and incarcerations. His account touches also on a host of related topics--racism in the American south (Roy Smith was a black man originally from Oxford, Mississippi), the legal issues surrounding the Smith case, conditions in a number of prisons during the period, the Kennedy assassination.

The story Junger tells is inherently interesting, and he is able to put a personal spin on it that makes the book at times downright chilling. Albert DeSalvo, the Boston Strangler, was one of three men who built a studio in the back yard of Junger's home when the author was a baby, starting in the fall of 1962. During the period in which he was employed at the Junger house, that is, laying the studio's foundation or painting trim or eating sandwiches alongside Junger's mother, DeSalvo also killed a number of women. And he was at the Junger house for part of March 11, 1963, the day that Bessie Goldberg was killed: the Goldbergs lived less than a mile and a half from the Junger home.

It's creepy enough to have had a serial killer working in your yard, stowing tools in your basement. Creepier yet is the story Junger's mother tells of the day DeSalvo showed up for work alone and tried to lure her into the cellar. A look in DeSalvo's eyes as he asked her to come downstairs--something inexplicably threatening--prompted her to refuse to join him and to close and lock the basement door.

Junger's account of the Goldberg murder and the DeSalvo slayings is well-researched and well-written, filled with wonderfully evocative descriptions of place. The author does a very good job of getting difficult information across in easily digested, uncomplicated prose. Junger also succeeds in raising some doubt about the guilt of Roy Smith, an agenda of the author's that has not set well with Bessie Goldberg's daughter. But he does so in a fair-minded way, giving due attention to the evidence implicating Smith and to Smith's responsibility, even if he should be innocent, for living the sort of life that would make him a plausible suspect in such a case. In the end Junger is left with no clear conclusion about Smith's guilt or innocence, and readers are free to consider the evidence themselves.

A handful of typos mar the book, which would have been improved also by the inclusion of a timeline detailing the various Strangler murders and the particulars of the Goldberg murder and trial. Otherwise highly recommended. An excellent read.

Plague Maker
Tim Downs
ISBN: 1595540229, $19.99, 391 pp.

FBI agent Nathan Donovan, divorced, angry and self-professedly fearless, is one of four main characters in Tim Downs's Plague Maker who are coping, each quite differently, with the effects of grief. The relationship between Donovan and his ex-wife Macy Monroe, an expert in terrorist psychology and hostage negotiation, was sundered by the death of their four-year-old son, a recent loss. But the two old men we encounter in Downs' story have been living with their grief for some sixty years. The enigmatic Li is an English-educated Chinese man who offers Donovan information pertinent to a recent murder in a TriBeCa loft: the murder scene was noteworthy for the vast numbers of exterminated fleas found on and around the victim. Li believes the crime is related to World War II-era germ warfare experimentation--the Mengele-esque work of Japan's infamous Unit 731--conducted in part by Li's personal nemesis, Sato Matsushita.

Downs's story of a post-9/11 terror attack on New York is gripping and all too believable--at least to this average reader who is unfamiliar with the logistical difficulties inherent in breeding fleas and weaponizing the bubonic plague. The book is also studded with engaging dialogue and some superb descriptive passages: "His face was long and drawn, and it widened at the bottom, where great sagging jowls bagged around his neck. It gave him the overall appearance of a melting candle, drooping under its own weight, as if at any moment his face might ooze over his collar and onto the desk." The writing is good, the characters well-developed--though one can argue that Li is too much the quintessential wise man to be quite credible--but mostly Plague Maker a ripping good story that you'll stay up too late to finish.

The Gun Seller
Hugh Laurie
Washington Square Press
ISBN: 067102082X, $21.95, 340 pp.

Thomas Lang may have the background for it--he's ex-military and peculiarly adept at hand-to-hand combat--but he's just too nice a guy to kill for money. Lang is in fact so good a citizen that, offered just such a job, he not only declines but endeavors to warn his would-be victim that there's a price on his head. This doesn't quite go according to plan. Unfortunately for Lang, nothing is as straightforward as it appears in this book. His initial job interview, as it were--an ostensibly simple offer of work delivered in an Amsterdam bar--winds up landing Lang in jail, in love, and in the thick of a terrorist group bent on, among other things, taking over an American consulate building in Casablanca.

The plot of Hugh Laurie's The Gun Seller is complex and can be hard to follow, in large part because Laurie leaves readers in the dark much of the time as to what Lang is up to. Having just finished it, with the book as fresh in my mind as it's going to get, I'd be hard-pressed to summarize the various machinations of the various principals. But you won't really be reading Laurie's send-up of spy novels for the plot so much as for the author's drollery: the man wields the English language very deftly indeed. Not laugh-out-loud funny, particularly in the last third of the book when the story becomes more serious (arms dealers are bad and people sometimes inconstant), but witty and playful. There's something to appreciate in virtually every sentence of the book, starting with the first: "Imagine that you have to break someone's arm."

It's impossible not to imagine the author himself in the lead role, should The Gun Seller ever be translated to screen, delivering Lang's lines with the same gruff sang-froid that characterizes his stubbled, sarcastic, oh-so-intelligent House (Bob Hoskins being my pick for Lang's "short and cheerful" friend David Solomon). Reader's who enjoy Laurie's Housian sarcasm and anyone who likes a bit of verbal play in their diet should give The Gun Seller a read.

The Coast of Akron
Adrienne Miller
ISBN: 0374125120, $25.00, 390 pages

Lowell Haven is a charismatic, egocentric artist famous for painting self portraits: Lowell as the Wife of Bath, Lowell as Martin Luther King Jr. and John the Baptist, Lowell as father, mother, and daughter in a family portrait. Despite his superficiality, Lowell is a commanding presence. He habitually collects fawning acolytes as temporary amusements, housing and lavishing attention on them until he discards them as tiresome. Unless they are indispensable. In this inner circle of the undiscardable are the three characters whose stories slowly unfold in Adrienne Miller's The Coast of Akron: Jenny, Lowell's estranged wife cum "muse," Jenny and Lowell's daughter Merit, and the needy, self-loathing, very wealthy Fergus, Jenny's one-time best friend turned Lowell's boyfriend and sponsor. As befits his character as empty vessel, Lowell himself has no voice in Miller's novel. The complex of relationships surrounding him is unraveled for us, rather, from the perspectives of Fergus, Merit, and Jenny, though Jenny tells her story only indirectly, in old diary entries read by her daughter. There is a great secret lurking behind the facade of On ne peut pas vivre seul, the mansion in Akron, Ohio in which Fergus has served as midwife to the Lowell pieces, the childhood home of Merit, for whom Fergus acted as the only responsible "parent." That secret reveals itself in time in Miller's novel, as do the smaller secrets, the particulars of the relationships that bind the author's tragic, flawed characters together, the levels of deception with which each of them lives.

The Coast of Akron is a slow read. It is, in fact, highly put-downable: you can read a thriller or three while you pause between Miller's chapters to rest. This may sound problematic, but it's not, really, because walking away from the book for good is unthinkable. The characters are so well drawn that they all but walk off the page and sit down with you. Miller's novel could surely be shortened by a lot, even halved, but its beauty is in being a long, unhurried, meandering account that bores slowly into the lives of its characters while building toward its denouement. My problem isn't with the book's pace, then, but I did emerge from the book dissatisfied with the conclusion, which is both frustratingly indecisive and, on its final page, weirdly abrupt. Dissecting that ending and the characters' various motivations throughout the book would make the stuff of some good, long conversations. This one's worth your time.

The Last Cato
Matilde Asensi
Harper Collins
ISBN: 0060828579, $24.95, 458 pp.

Dr. Ottavia Salina, a 40-year-old nun-cum-paleographer working in the Vatican's classified archives, has her mundane but satisfying life upended when she is called upon to decipher a series of tattoos--crosses and Greek letters--found on the body of a dead Ethiopian man. This bizarre assignment, Salina eventually discovers, is somehow connected to a rash of recent thefts, the disappearance of a number of ligna crucis, pieces of the alleged True Cross, from their reliquaries in churches throughout the world. Together with a captain of the Swiss Guard and a bookishly appealing Egyptian archaeologist, Salina undertakes to recover the relics--by undergoing the same initiation ceremony that left the Ethiopian's corpse so scarred. The three follow clues left by Dante in his Divine Comedy, which turns out to be a roadmap of sorts to a secret brotherhood, nearly two millennia old, of staurofilakes, guardians of the True Cross. The leader of the staurofilakes, called "Cato" after the Roman statesman Cato the Younger, gives this book its title.

The Last Cato was originally published in Spanish in 2001, which is to say that it was not rushed to press to ride the wave of interest in religious thrillers sparked by the 2003 publication of The DaVinci Code. But the book is of that ilk, its intellectually astute protagonists uncovering ancient religious secrets while traversing an international stage. Unfortunately, while The Last Cato is well researched and offers a likeable character in the person of Dr. Salina, the book fails to actually thrill. It wears its erudition rather too heavily, with lengthy, unnecessary descriptions slowing down the narrative, from details of dinners consumed to the names and ranks of people present at meetings to a discussion of the hierarchy of the Greek Orthodox Church. Translations of and commentary on passages from Dante likewise slow the book down. There are other problems as well. While the reader is well prepared for a change in the relationship between Ottavia and her archaeologist friend, for example, Salina's realization of what's happening is far too sudden to be credible. And it is difficult to believe that our heroes are able to pass some of the physical and intellectual tasks that are set them. We are to believe, in particular, that Ottavia--who confesses to never exercising--is able to run for some ten straight hours in order to reenact Pheidippides' famous run from Marathon to Athens. (This test was undertaken by Salina and her cohorts, by the way, without them even considering the possibility that they might be able to complete this phase of the trial by, say, renting a Segway.) It is, for that matter, difficult to believe in the paradisiacal universe of the staurofilakes as it is described in the book's final chapter.

Asensi gets high marks for her research, and Dante aficionados may enjoy the use to which his Divine Comedy is put here. But the book would definitely benefit from some pruning: those parts of The Last Cato that are difficult to credit would be more easily swallowed were the book a faster read.

Debra Hamel, Reviewer

Gary's Bookshelf

The Crimson Code
Rachel Lee
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada M3B 3K9
ISBN: 0778322718, $6.99

On Christmas terrorists attack several cities across the world. A secret covert agency known as Office 119 must quickly find the attackers dubbed "the Black Christmas" terrorists. What agents Renate Bachle and Lawton Caine begin to find is that the assaults are just a smoke screen for something much more sinister. The writing is very fast paced and filled with lots of curves to the final ending. THE CRIMSON CODE is one hell of a good suspense novel.

State's Evidence
R. Barri Flowers
Dorchester Publishing Co. Inc
200 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016
ISBN: 0843955716, $6.99

A judge is murdered in his own home while having sex with his wife. The wife lives and helps track down the murderer. Flowers once again has written a page-turner legal thriller that begins with a bang and rapidly moves along to its final page. He has filled the novel with believable characters and situations I especially liked the twist of who shot and killed the judge. .

Oakdale Confidential
Pocket Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, New York 10020
ISBN: 1416524816, $19.95, 1-800-456-6798

I've read many novels of TV shows and movies but I think this is the first time I've ever seen that the novel is also a key part of the storyline of the TV show. The novel is part of the celebration of the 50th year of the daytime soap "As the World Turns." The story is a murder mystery but is enhanced because the characters on the show are reacting to its revealing exposure of many of Oakdale's finest citizens' private lives.

Saucer the Conquest
Stephen Coonts
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, New York 10010
ISBN: 0312994486, $7.99

Coonts is back with another tale of his "Saucer" series. Coonts once again grabs the reader from the first page and tells a fast paced story that has many twists and turns with well fleshed out characters and a very believable plot.

Stop Pretending What Happened When My Big Sister Went Crazy
Sonya Sones
Harper Tempest
10 East 53rd Street, New York NY 10022
ISBN: 0064462188, $7.50

This is a very unusual book of poetry. All of the pieces have a central theme that flows along to its final page. The author shows how everyone in the family is affected when one member is put into a mental institution.

The Lone Star Lonely Hearts Club
Susan McBride
10 East 53rd Street, New York NY 10022
ISBN: 0060564083, $6.99

Andrea Kendricks is on another case of murder. This time she goes undercover to find the killer of her mom's friend who had joined a dating service. Like her last book "Blue Blood" there are plenty of laughs and enough twists and turns to keep any mystery fan happy. This is a series that is a lot of fun to read.

A Primer of Reality
Richard Matheson
Gauntlet Press
5307 Arroyo St., Colorado Springs CO 80922
ISBN: 1887368558, $9.95

The author of so many works of horror and science fiction takes a different approach with this book. Matheson has collected statements about death, life, the mind, and lots of other things. Some of the people he quotes are George Gallup Jr, Benjamin Franklin, Raymond Moody, and Edgar Cayce. I like this work by Matheson because it is very different from anything else I've ever read by him.

Journey Back
Dan Martin
Bedside Books Publishing
P. O. Box 65624, Salt Lake City, UT 84165
ISBN: 1589822773, $18.00

This is a strange novel that has a lot to say about the medical profession and mental illness. Dan Martin takes the reader inside the mind of someone who is mentally unstable and shows the fight between reality and the character's sickness. This is a very disturbing novel that has a lot to say on several social issues.

The Dancer Poems
Ralph Chavers Jr.
A Rumors Publishing Book
ISBN: 0977108422, $15.00

This is a nice collection of writing on many different aspects of life. Though some of the poems are short they are to the point and memorable.

Women Do and Say the Dumbest Things
Compiled by Jimmy Malone and Chip Kullik
ISBN: 0972196641, $10.95

I found a lot of things here that are very funny. Women may not like this book because much of it is true but it is an entertaining look at some of the dumb things women say and do. This is a great gift for any occasion. To be fair to women there is also a volume on the dumbest things men say and do as well.

My Daddy and Me
Amy Sklansky, author
Ard Hoyt, illustrator
Scholastic Inc
557 Broadway, New York, NY 10012
ISBN: 0439740460, $3.50 212-343-6100

The author and artist explore the special relationship between dads and their children. This is a great gift for Father's Day.

Gary Roen

Gorden's Bookshelf

Reunion: A Pip and Flinx Novel
Alan Dean Foster
Del Rey Books
A division of Random House, Inc.
New York, NY
ISBN: 0345418689, $6.99, 342 pp.

Foster has created two of the best characters in science fiction with Pip and Flinx. Their ongoing saga has produced one of the best series of books in the genre. 'Reunion' isn't the top story in the series but it is a must read for those who enjoy Flinx and Pip. Foster excels in characters and the creation of worlds. He has created a whole universe of astounding worlds that the reader can get lost in.

Flinx is again trying to find out about his past. He is breaking into the official sealed records about the Meliorare Society on Earth. The Meliorares were genetically engineering children trying to improve the race. Except for a small handful of children their experiments were failures resulting in massive or lethal birth defects. Flinx was one of those experiments that succeeded but with flaws. Flinx had previously discovered his mother and half-sister through an earlier infiltration of the Earth computer systems. Now he is trying to find out what the Meliorares did to his genetic makeup and possibly the sperm donor that was used to create him. When he enters the computer network, he finds a trap and a theft of the records that he is looking for. The trail leads to a small world in Aann controlled space. The Aann have been known to eat trespassers after they first torture and question them.

'Reunion' is a fun story. It doesn't break new ground in the saga of Flinx and Pip. But it is a fun readable chapter that is a complex step in the epic tale that is in the making. The story can be read alone but is best if the other novels in the series are read first. Pip and Flinx novels are a must read SF series of stories and Reunion is a great chapter.

Flinx's Folly: A Pip and Flinx Adventure
Alan Dean Foster
Del Rey Books
A division of Random House, Inc.
New York, NY
ISBN: 0345450396, $6.99 269 pp.

Foster has written a SF cult series with his Pip and Flinx. His last few books in the saga are closer to chapters in the larger adventure than the standalone tales of the first few stories in the series. 'Flinx's Folly' is a must read in the series but first time readers are better served starting with the stories from the beginning of the tale.

Flinx is having serious problems with his growing mental talents. He collapses on the street in a daytime vision and the psychic rebound of the dream knocks twenty-one other people unconscious. The headaches, visions and the growing effects on others force Flinx to consider his sanity. He needs help. His ship's AI suggests that he talks to someone he trusts so he decides to find his friend Charity Held. If he can hide from the assassins, authorities and his own deteriorating mental condition long enough, he hopes Charity can help save his sanity.

'Flinx's Folly' is the second in the current series of stories that pulls characters from earlier tales back into the updated storyline. 'Folly' brings little new to the saga but pulls together previous threads for what feels like an upcoming climax in the complex saga. It is a must read for those who have read Flinx stories before.

S.A. Gorden, Reviewer

Greenspan's Bookshelf

In The Trenches
David A. Harris
KTAV Publishing House
930 Newark Avenue, Jersey City, NJ 07306
0881259276 $24.95

In The Trenches: Selected Speeches And Writings Of An American Jewish Activist Volume Four: 2004-2005 is a compilation of commentaries and observations by David A. Harris (Executive Director of the American Jewish Committee) on a diverse spectrum of subjects drawn letters of correspondence, speeches and testimonies before various international organizations here and abroad, his treatise "Israel and the Arab-Israeli Conflict: A Brief Guide for the Perplexed", his radio commentaries from January 5, 204 through December 27, 2005, his contributions to the print media on Judaic and Israeli issues, and four of his contributions to the AJC Institutional: "Identity and Commitment: A Personal Story"; "A Tribute to Harold Tanner"; "Twenty-fifth anniversary of the Konrad Adenauer Foundation-AJC Exchange"; and A Tribute to Jacob Kovadloff". In The Trenches is a very highly recommended contribution to Judaic Studies and Israeli Studies collections, and will inspire those heretofore unfamiliar with the hard work and proliferate writings of David Harris to seek out the previous three volumes in this outstanding series with Volume 1 covering 1979-1999; Volume 2 covering 2000-2001; and Volume 3 covering 2002-2003.

3 Jewish Philosophers
Philo, Saadya Gaon, & Yehudah Halevi
Toby Press
PO Box 8531, New Milford, CT 06776-8531
1592641474 $14.95

Co-edited by the learned team of Hans Lewy, Alexander Altmann, and Isaak Heinemann, Three Jewish Philosophers, deftly compiles seminal selections from the writings of Philo, Saadya Gaon's "Book of Doctrines and Beliefs", and Yehudah Halevi's "Kuzaria". 3 Jewish Philosophers showcases these three critically important Jewish philosophers of medieval Europe and provides contemporary readers with an invaluable perspective on their work and contributions to western thought. An essential, core addition to personal and academic library Judaic Studies reference collections, 3 Jewish Philosophers is very strongly recommended reading, especially for serious students of the history of Jewish as influenced and reflected by three definitive and influential Jewish philosophers represented by some of their greatest surviving works.

Honest Answers To Your Child's Jewish Questions
Sharon G. Forman
Union For Reform Judaism Press
633 3rd Avenue, NY, NY 10017-6778
0807409448 $16.95

Honest Answers To Your Child's Jewish Questions: A Rabbi's Insights by Sharon G. Forman (who was ordained as a Reform rabbi from Hebrew Union College-Jewish Institute of Religion in 1994 and who currently teaches at Westchester Reform Temple, Westchester County, New York) is the perfect reference for parents needing answers to basic questions asked by preschool and kindergarten age children about Jewish identity, the nature of God, the Jewish "Life Cycle", the Torah and the Bible, Israel, anti-Semitism, the diversity of the Jewish community, even the present Israeli-Arab conflict. Honest Answers To Your Child's Jewish Questions succinctly addresses such questions as Why do I have to learn Hebrew?; Why do we read the same stories over and over?; Do I have to believe in God to be Jewish?; What was the Holocaust? and more. Honest Answers To Your Child's Jewish Questions is very strongly recommended for all parents of a Jewish child with questions -- as well as their non-Jewish friends and classmates who often give rise to those questions.

CEO Speak
Joel Amernic & Russell Craig
MgGill-Queen's University Press
3430 McTavish Street, Montreal, Quebec, Canada, H3A 1X9
0773530371 $39.95 1-800-387-0141

CEO Speak: The Language Of Corporate Leadership by Joel Amernic (Professor, Rotman School of Management, University of Toronto) and Russell Craig (Professor, National Graduate School of Management, Australian National University) is an informed and informative analysis pertaining to the complex and competitive demands of corporate "speechcraft", especially through the media channels of radio and television, as well as in-house communications and meetings. Offering a descriptive linguistics analysis, CEO Speak covers knowledgeable and tactful applications of CEO-level oral presentation, including their consequences, subtleties of the language of accounting as expressed through CEO speak, as well as what such speech tells us about corporate attitudes to society, employees, markets, and corporate competitors. CEO Speak is very strongly recommended reading for MBA students and all corporate executives, managers, and policy makers whose duties include the giving of speeches to their employees, stock holders, board members, journalists, government agencies, and the general public.

Samurai Strategies
Boye Lafayette de Mente
Tuttle Publishing
Airport Business Park, 364 Innovation Drive, North Clarendon, VT 05759-9436
0804836833 $12.95

Musashi Miyamoto was a famous Japanese warrior who lived from 1584 to 1645 who recorded his philosophy, strategies and tactics in a short treatise just before his death. Samurai Strategies: Forty-Two Martial Secrets From Musashi's Book Of Five Rings by Boye Lafayette de Mente adapts Musashi's military precepts and martial arts ideals to the modern world of business. Swiftly carrying readers through the philosophical issues faced in business procedures and identifying the most effective premise from which to work, Samurai Strategies draws from Miyamoto's philosophy and is very highly recommended reading for corporate executives and entrepreneurs for it's conceptual approach to life lessons learned in ancient theaters of war and directly applicable to modern business practices.

eBay Income
Cheryl L. Russell
Atlantic Publishing Company
1405 SW 6th Ave, Ocala, FL 34474
0910627584 $24.95

eBay Income: How Anyone Of Any Age, Location, And/Or Background Can Build A Highly Profitable Online Business With eBay by Cheryl L. Russell offers a knowledgeable "reader friendly" grasp of just how to go about doing business on the eBay website. Outlining in considerable detail the most tactful and profitable approach to making the most profitable and productive management approach to sales online through the auspices of eBay, readers are provided with a wealth of first hand, experienced-based, practical advice that can have those readers up and operating before the day is out. If you have something to sell or are looking for something to buy as part of your own online entrepreneurial venture utilizing the Internet's most popular do-it-yourself website for buying and selling, then eBay Income is especially recommended and essential reading for its profusion of precise, intelligible tips, overall ideas, and step-by-step instructions.

Able Greenspan

Harwood's Bookshelf

The Daughter of Time
Josephine Tey
Buccaneer Books
4460 Depot Lane, Outchogue, NY 11935
ISBN: 089966184X, $10.01

I read The Daughter of Time when I was a research student at Cambridge writing a dissertation on Yorkist and Lancastrian politics, with some emphasis on the life and reign of Richard III. I was appalled at the viciousness of Tey's denigration of historians. What I did not immediately realize was that she had consulted historians specializing in Richard III, and they had without exception dismissed her thesis is incompetent hogwash. She consequently took the attitude of all proponents of indefensible dogmas, and labeled the historians as incompetent dogmatists.

Decades later, when it occurred to me to review Tey's novel, I looked it up on the Amazon website, and was again appalled, this time because customer reviewers to this day continue to take Tey's blithering drivel seriously.

That Richard III has been the victim of extremely bad press, based on the Lancastrian propaganda of Thomas More, is not in dispute. He was not a hunchback. Far from conniving in the execution of his brother George of Clarence, he did everything in his power to try to prevent it, and when he came to power, the Woodvilles, whom he blamed for George's death, paid the ultimate price. Tey gets most of that right.

But on the issue of who murdered the princes in the Tower of London, Tey reveals her incompetence, not only in history, but in rational human thought. She concludes that, on the basis of the available evidence, no present-day jury would find Richard guilty "beyond a reasonable doubt," and she is right. But having herself set a standard of evidence that the case against Richard does not meet, she then turns around and convicts Henry VII of the same crime in the absence of any evidence whatsoever. Hypocrisy? Or just plain intellectual inadequacy?

Edward IV and his younger brother were confined to the Tower by Richard III, and never emerged alive. Their bodies were eventually discovered buried on the Tower grounds. But during Richard III's lifetime, French politicians as well as the Duke of Buckingham were publicly accusing him of murdering them. All he had to do to refute such allegations was parade the princes through the streets of London so that the population could see for themselves that they were alive. Richard did not do that, for the logical reason that they were indeed already dead. Tey's delusion that Richard was never made aware of the accusations is preposterous.

Tey's conjecture that Henry VII found the princes alive after the Battle of Bosworth, and quietly murdered them so that he could blame Richard, is best described as a masturbation fantasy. That does not mean that Richard was assuredly guilty. There are three equally plausible possibilities defended by historians with the relevant expertise. (1) Richard, acting alone, had the princes murdered; (2) Buckingham, acting alone, had the princes murdered; (3) Richard and Buckingham collaborated in the princes' murder. That makes the probability of Richard's guilt 66 percent. The possibility that Henry VII murdered them is vanishingly small, and Tey's arguments in favor of such a conclusion are so strained that the nonexperts who have reacted favorably to her imaginative nonsense should consider taking Logic 101.

Why Richard killed the princes can only be conjectured. That they represented a possible focus for further Lancastrian rebellion was obviously the major factor. But Richard considered himself a good man and a good Christian (at the time, deemed to be the same thing). He believed the Church's teaching that Edward IV's pre-contract to another woman before marrying Elizabeth Woodville was an indissoluble marriage, and therefore Edward's children by Elizabeth were bastards with no lawful right to the crown of England. Removing them as possible pretenders was sound politics, and if he had to justify their deaths as necessary for the good of the state—let me put it this way: What religion addict cannot find a rationalization for anything he deems expedient, anything whatsoever?

Richard III was highly regarded by the people who knew him best, the officials of the city and county of York. With the exception of the murder of two children he saw as political opponents, none of the crimes alleged against him were ever committed. But he almost certainly did kill his nephews, even if not by the means described by the sainted Thomas More.

Josephine Tey was a carbon copy of Immanuel Velikovsky, and a precursor of Dan Brown.

The Cult of Alien Gods: H. P. Lovecraft and Extraterrestrial Pop Culture
Jason Colavito
ISBN: 1591023521, $19.00, 398 pp.

reprinted from American Rationalist, May/June 2006.

Persons old enough to have watched the original Star Trek series are aware that they have seen science fiction evolve into science fact. Before there were MRI scanners in real-world hospitals, they were a regular diagnostic tool of Enterprise surgeon Leonard McCoy. Before there were cell phones, there were Star Trek communicators. Before humans walked on the moon, Captain Kirk walked on alien planets. What is less known is that many of the inventions of modern pseudoscience also originated in science fiction.

In science fiction stories written by H. P. Lovecraft as early as 1926, aliens from outer space had come to earth eons ago, been accepted as gods—and indeed were gods, by the definition in existence at that time—and in effect created human civilization. Forty years later, through a series of intermediary sources in which admirers and emulators expanded on Lovecraft's work, the concept came into the hands of Erich von Däniken, who rewrote it into the semblance of nonfiction.

In the same year that Lovecraft was giving the world the alien god Cthulhu, James Churchward published a science fiction novel about a lost continent called Mu that he pretended was science fact. And even before that, pseudoscience involving ancient civilizations and godlike entities was widely peddled by such cranks and humbugs as Helena Blavatsky and Charles Fort. Lovecraft borrowed heavily from Fort's 1919 Book of the Damned. "When he read the book after its release, Lovecraft said it was wonderful for the creation of weird fiction, but as fact he called it nonsense" (p. 47).

It was Lovecraft who turned existing pseudoscience into science fiction. "By using the tools of pseudoscience for fictional effect, Lovecraft hoped to make the perfect fictional atmosphere" (p. 71). "Lovecraft believed that to be effective horror stories had to be put together with the same skill and attention to detail as a hoax" (p. 81). He was so successful that many would come to believe that his books were fact posing as fiction. One reader who apparently thought so was Erich von Däniken.

It was von Däniken who turned Lovecraft's science fiction back into a far more popular pseudoscience than it had ever been before. Von Däniken was almost certainly a crank who believed that his fantasy novels were at least partly true. But he was also a humbug. He could not possibly have believed he was telling the truth when he informed National Inquirer, "I know that astronauts visited the earth in ancient times … because I was there when the astronauts arrived. And I know they'll be back" (p. 143). While the possibility must be acknowledged that von Däniken's out-of-body experience when he time-traveled to an alien dimension was a dream rather than simple fabrication, no such extenuating circumstance can be applied to his basing later books on alleged artifacts that were in fact manufactured to his specifications.

Colavito also cites Lovecraft as the ultimate source of The Twilight Zone and The Outer Limits, TV series that in turn became the sources of real-world fantasies. An episode of Outer Limits broadcast in February 1964 featured aliens with wraparound eyes. Just twelve days later Betty and Barney Hill, in a state of relaxed suggestibility that they equated with hypnotism (hypnotism does not exist), described being abducted by aliens identical with those created by the producers of Outer Limits. "In other words, the Hills' description of the aliens was ripped right from the television shows they had just finished watching" (p. 18).

The Hills' abduction claim, especially after a made-for-TV movie presenting it as nonfiction was broadcast, triggered an epidemic of copycat claims. "Suddenly … aliens were fulfilling all the functions of medieval ghosts, witches, and fairy creatures" (p. 177). "UFO cults especially replace God and angels with aliens and extraterrestrials" (p. 331). And the media were not slow to capitalize on the gullibility of the masses. "In love with ratings and sales, which, in turn, equaled profits, the mainstream media embraced the ancient-astronaut myth with a dedication seen only in the feeding behavior of sharks in bloody water" (p. 333). That is probably the most accurate depiction of television prostitution in the forty years since Newton Minnow described it as a Vast Wasteland.

Science fiction owes much to Lovecraft. And the rise of pseudoscientific nonsense owes much to Lovecraft, whose horror tales gave rise to "what if such outlandish claims are true?" speculation, and ultimately to the presentation of absurdities by media with depraved indifference to their status as modern fairy tales. An obvious question is: Why? That television has never allowed a little thing like truth to get in the way of profits is surely beyond dispute. But why are the masses so eager to lap up childish nonsense at least as improbable as Mother Goose and Santa Claus? In the words of a Chicago resident quoted by Colavito, "I think our generation is a little more hesitant to let go of childhood than past generations. We want to hang onto Peter Pan as long as we can" (p. 332).

That does explain why alien abduction tales continue to be taken seriously even after they have been investigated and falsified. It also explains why the fairy tales of religion continue to be taken seriously long after they have been investigated and falsified. But while Lovecraft can be identified as "the accidental father of the ancient-astronaut theory" (p. 334), he cannot be accused of helping perpetuate the god theory. He was as nontheistic as 90 percent of all science fiction writers of the past century.

The Da Vinci Fraud: Why the Truth Is Stranger Than Fiction
Robert M. Price
ISBN: 1591023483, $18.00

reprinted from American Rationalist, May/June 2006.

Dan Brown is not a biblical scholar. When he read Holy Blood, Holy Grail, and saw it as providing a historical setting for a mystery novel titled The Da Vinci Code, he had no ability to distinguish those parts that constituted legitimate historical speculation from other parts that any competent scholar could have told him were indefensible. His further investigation of Christian origins was handicapped by his lack of either the expertise or the desire to get his facts right. And since Leonardo da Vinci plays no significant role in Brown's plot, one must wonder if the book's first draft made no mention of him, and Brown's mushroom fantasies about da Vinci's paintings were inserted into the final version simply to provide a catchy title.

Bart Ehrman, who wrote Truth and Fiction in the Da Vinci Code, is a theologian, a kind of wannabee-scholar whose ability to evaluate historical questions is severely curtailed by his religious brainwashing. While Ehrman has no difficulty identifying the fraudulence of Brown's thesis, his alleged corrections range from valid to equally fraudulent (although not intentionally so). Ehrman tried, unsuccessfully in my view, to blow Holy Blood, Holy Grail out of the water in its entirety. But the additional evidence presented by Robert Price indicates that Ehrman was right. If there was already a Celtic grail (or cornucopia) myth before island folklore was corrupted by Christian influences, the hypothesis that san greal was a misreading of sang real becomes a lot less plausible. While Ehrman made the same point, only Price does so convincingly.

Robert Price is a biblical scholar. While he has been known to reach conclusions with which other scholars disagree, he does not reach conclusions that are not at the very least consistent with the evidence. So when he spells out the mistakes, wild guesses and plain lies in Brown's novel, his findings have far greater credibility than those of an author preconditioned to believe that the Bible is essentially nonfiction. There is no possibility whatsoever that Ehrman's conclusions are the best that biblical scholarship has to offer. Price's conclusions may be exactly that.

Unlike Ehrman, Price devotes much of his book to discrediting, demolishing and totally annihilating the speculations in all of the books that were Brown's sources. And by refuting the sources that Brown swallowed hook, line and sinker, he refutes Brown as none of the other debunkers of The Da Vinci Code have quite succeeded in doing. Does that mean that the Catholic Church and Opus Dei will be delighted by Price's conclusions? The fact that those organizations will refuse to acknowledge Price's existence should answer that question. And that would still be true even if Price had not written, "In fact, the real story is much more fascinating and colorful than Brown's bogus version, and no less subversive of orthodox security" (p.148). Price's task was to replace Brown's falsehoods with reality, not to restore the even more blatant falsehoods of the Jesus hoax.

While Price makes no mention of the leadership of Jesus' Nazirite sect passing to persons who were not his relatives following the death of Shimeown bar Klopa, as could not have happened if any blood-kin still lived, he nonetheless knocks the stuffing out of the pretended evidence that Jesus fathered an heir. He is aware of the Talmud passages denigrating celibacy, but points out that they represent Jewish thinking at the time the passages were written, long after Jesus' death. He asks, "Were Jews really so enamored of universal matrimony in Jesus's day? Or could it be that the decimating Jewish wars against Rome (67-73, 116, and 132-136 CE) might have provided new reasons not existing in Jesus's day for second-century Jews to encourage men to father children?" (p. 29) Even if Price is wrong in his suggested reason for a change in Jewish attitudes toward compulsory fatherhood, the lack of evidence that an anti-celibacy attitude existed when Jesus was growing up adequately refutes the claim that Jesus must have succumbed to social pressure to marry.

Price ridicules Brown's contention that a prototype Holy Blood cult would be able to blackmail the Vatican by threatening to reveal its secrets. He points out that such "secrets" would no more be believed than the claim of the Raelian flying saucer cult to have cloned a human being. A better example would have been the revelation by thousands of biblical historians that the myth of the virgin-born savior god who rose from the dead on the third day was told in connection with dozens of other gods as much as 3,000 years before it was ever grafted onto the biography of a dead Jew. Far from trying to suppress such information, the Catholic Church includes books detailing it in its university libraries, in complete confidence that believers' minds are made up and cannot be confused by mere facts. As Price observes in connection with a 1977 book by reputable theologians denying Jesus' divinity, "But the earth didn't shake. Nor would it if one could prove, as no one has ever done, that Jesus was married" (p. 142).

Unlike some previous critics, including Ehrman, of Brown's Big Lie that his fiction has a factual basis, Price does not make a point of praising Brown's skill as a novelist. That does not necessarily mean that he has a low opinion of Brown's talent. He could simply deem that element of Brown's book contextually irrelevant. But he does praise "one very positive result of the popularity of The Da Vinci Code: It has smoked out many people who, reading it, discovered that they were ready for something beyond what their churches had always spoon-fed them" (p. 114).

I get the distinct impression from Price's writing that, despite his recognizing all religions as imaginative fantasy, he continues to see religion as a potential force for good. Newsflash: Religion has been the cause of ninety percent of all manmade evil for at least 3,000 years. It does not, never has and never will have any redeeming social value whatsoever.

When I started reading The Da Vinci Fraud, the last thing I expected was that it would compel me to modify even the most trivial of my previous conclusions. In fact I fully accept Price's evidence that the hypothesis of san greal being a misreading of sang real is indefensible, analogous to the earlier Osiris myth being plagiarized from the later Jesus myth, as Tertullian actually claimed in De Baptismo 5. (Price comments on this on pp. 253-254.) And I am rethinking my contention that the resurrection myth, which equated Jesus with earlier savior gods and thereby paved the way for his own eventual deification, was initially triggered by an empty tomb, since other "empty tomb" plots likewise far predate the Jesus version.

I continue to see Jesus as a historical nobody whom Paul of Tarsus turned into a somebody, the synoptic authors turned into a miracle worker, and the author of "John" turned into a god, the basis for my conclusion that Jesus was a real person being the negative anecdotes that no creator of a mythical hero would have invented. But that is a point that, at least in this book, Price does not evaluate, and he is by no means convinced even now that there was no historical Jesus onto whose biography the Christian fairy tales were grafted.

The reason so many books debunking The Da Vinci Code have been written is that no previous book said everything that needed to be said and corrected everything that needed to be corrected. Price has done so, and thereby made further books on the subject superfluous. As for the authors of Holy Blood, Holy Grail suing Brown for plagiarism: since the facts of history cannot be copyrighted, their lawsuit is nothing less than a confession that their book is fiction.

William Harwood

Henry's Bookshelf

The Steinway Collection - Paintings of the Great Composers with Essays
James Huneker
Classical Music Today/Amadeus Press
New Jersey
ISBN: 1574671154, $22.00, 50+xii pp.

The famed piano-maker Steinway and Sons commissioned these 12 paintings of music greats of the 19th century--except for Handel from the 18th--in the early 1900s to participate in its way in "the golden age in American art and musical performance" [from the Foreword by David Dubal] from 1880 to 1920. This was a brief period when Rachmaninoff performed his own compositions at Carnegie Hall, and Mahler occasionally conducted the New York Philharmonic. Among the artists commissioned were N. C. Wyeth, Harvey Dunn, Carl Anderson, and Henry McCarter. The noted N. Y. Times music and art critic James Huneker was commissioned to write brief biographical and artistic essays for each painting. "The evocations of these musicians set forth by the brush of native painters and illustrators of renown," as Huneker writes in his Prelude, portray artists in scenes of inspiration for works of their or composing with the romantic images of their imagination in the background. This edition brings the original 1919 limited edition of Steinway and Sons to a wider audience.

Encyclopedia of Arab Women Filmmakers
Rebecca Hillauer, author
Allison Brown, Deborah Cohen, and Nancy Joyce, translators
American University in Paris Press, Cairo and New York
dist. in U.S. by International Publishers Marketing
Herndon, VA 800-758-3756
ISBN: 9774249437, $50.00, 484+vii pp.

"Encyclopedia" connotes the comprehensiveness of the material, but not the kinds or variety nor the formatting. The material which exceeds what anyone could be looking for in this subject area and is more informative for the way it is formatted is arranged country by country. Not only are the Arab women filmmakers grouped by country, but there is an introduction to each group which is an overview of the Arab country's film industry noting the particular challenges and advances for its women filmmakers. As for additional material not ordinarily associated with an "encyclopedia," there is an interview with each of the women. And in the section on each is a filmography and also separate "film reviews" of each major film. With this formatting rather than the standard alphabetical arrangement with a reference titled an encyclopedia, the distinctive talent and accomplishments of each filmmaker is presented cogently with accompanying photographs so each one stands out with nearby references to her body of films. Not a conventional type of reference despite its title, this work on this category of filmmaker of rising interest from current international affairs as well as the long-standing special interest in women's accomplishments is really more like a text for use in courses or individual study.

Making the Irish American - History and Heritage of the Irish in the United States edited
J. J. Lee and Marion R. Casey
New York U. Press
New York, NY
ISBN: 081475208X, $50.00, 733+xvii pp.

Of the 29 articles, nine have been previously published; one in 1963, another in 1988, and the others in the past seven or so years. Some authors are widely-known--Daniel Patrick Moynihan, Pete Hamill, Calvin Trillin; while the others are steeped in Irish traditions from heritage and academic or other professional positions. The collected articles are crossovers between popular interest and academic perspective. Most combine popular subjects and approach with historical documentation or data. Within major sections on Irish-American foundations and identity are articles on sports, music, religion, organizations, and the role of notably, in some cases somewhat stereotypical, Irish figures such as domestics known as "biddies" or firemen in Irish-American assimilation and as representative of Irish-Americans in general. For the astute editorial selection of the number of general and somewhat specialized articles, expertise of the authors, and documentation in articles and appendices plus notes and bibliographies, "Making the Irish American" is a major text tying together this field of ethnic studies with American history and social history.

Zoos in Postmodernism - Signs and Simulation
Stephen Spotte.
Fairleigh Dickinson U. Press
Madison, NJ
ISBN: 083864094X, $43.50, 208 pp.

Spotte reaches back to the artificial world of the last kings of France for a reference to what zoos are in danger of becoming in today's American postmodern culture: "a modernist collocation with the seventeenth century managerie at Versailles, a place where spectators gawk at beautiful and rare creatures, any debate over an epistemic link with Nature having been long forgotten." This is quite a turn for zoos, which were established to acquaint moderns with wildlife and its habitats and offer sites for the study and protection of wildlife by zoologists and other specialists to expand the public's appreciation of it and the understanding of the ecology of nature all life was involved in. But even zoos have become subject to the technological, largely media, forces and epistemological changes rendering virtually everything imagery and spectacle as recognized by the likes of McLuhan and Baudrillard. The only way to comprehend the zoos and other man-made animal habitats such as aquariums which continue to be a part of cities and towns is by semiotics, not the naturalism and idealism which were their founding motivations. For a zoo or aquarium to become a part of postmodern culture like its myriad other aspects "would involve forcing it into a configuration similar to film, narrative fiction, or art, and were that to happen captive animals might then become expendable, replaced by images or simulacrums," thus making wildlife and more broadly nature even more remote and seemingly redundant. The author has no answer for this dilemma of zoos, which he sees as modernist projects out of tune with the mentality and values of postmodernism. What he offers is mostly a cautionary note in the hope of keeping the zoos and their animals from drifting into a more precarious circumstance. Spotte is a prolific author who is a former curator or director at top U.S. aquariums. He writes from a concern for such places with respect to both the well-being of their animals and their value to society. But the work on this unexpected subject of zoos and such is also a unique work of cultural studies, and especially illuminating for this.

Cultural Agency in the Americas
edited by Doris Sommer
Duke U. Press
Durham, NC;
ISBN: 0822334879, $89.95, 385 pp.
ISBN: 0822334992, $24.95

The Americas is mostly Central and South America where as in Bogota, Columbia, "no one asks what 'cultural agency' is." "The concept resonates with a variety of public practices that link creativity with social contributions." As the editor and authors of the 16 articles, most of whom are university anthropologists, approach the topic, the "link" is between scholarship and society. Scholarship takes on a social dimension, bringing benefits to the members of society. The methodology, subject matter, and intellectual character of scholarship bound with a notion of the public good is able to help overcome the traumas of the past, build bridges between antagonistic social groups, and implement performances and other activities having a part in developing a community. Chapter titles indicate the novel, imaginative, and beneficial forms "cultural agency" can take--e. g., "A City [Mexico City] That Improvises Its Globalization; Tradition, Transnationalism, and Gender in the Afro-Brazilian Candomble [a local religion]; The Cultural Agency of Wounded Bodies Politic: Ethnicity and Gender as Prosthetic Support in Postwar Guatemala. The collected pieces provide a sampling of the especially vibrant, generous, and hopeful cultural agency--which the older term social activism refers to to some extent--occurring in heterogeneous Latin American cultures seeking new social forms in the ambiance of postmodernism.

We'll Always Have the Movies - American Cinema During World War II
Robert L. McLaughlin and Sally E. Parry
U. of Kentucky Press
Lexington, KY
ISBN: 0813123860, $40.00, 357+ix pp.

World War II films have always been recognized as quintessential patriotic movies. There are anecdotes of young men going directly from movies such as "Salute to the Marines" and "Fighting Seabees" to military recruiters. But the co-authors take a more analytic look at the broad category of American popular movies during the World War II years. They find that the category was more diverse than generally realized, and that its purposes and effects were more subtle than seen in the inspiring films of military exploits. For example, the movie "Casablanca," for all its film noirish intrigue and memorable performances, "presented [the Germans] not only as bad but also as defeatable." This was undoubtedly an important message for the American public in the early days of the War when the Germans appeared invincible in their conquest of the nations of Europe. Surveying the wide, diversified field of WWII films, the authors with academic backgrounds in literature at Illinois State U. examine how many films went beyond simply evoking patriotism to maintaining support for the War on the "home front" and to forming perspectives and expectations on it and characterizing the enemy. The wartime films dealt with all significant aspects of the War, including portrayals of Russians, British, and other allies. The cycle of the films in relation to the course of the War is a thread of the wide-ranging, multidisciplinary study in a readable style appealing to film-lovers as well as ones interested in popular culture, social history, and cultural studies. Preston Sturges' June 1944 release "Hail the Conquering Hero" coming near the end of the body of wartime films deals with the adjustment of servicemen returning to civilian life.

Anonimo Mexicano
edited by Richley Crapo and Bonnie Glass-Coffin
Utah State U. Press
Logan, UT 800-239-9974
ISBN: 0874216230, $34.95, 105 pp.

Not written until about 1600, after the Spanish conquest of Mexico by the defeat of the Aztecs, this text in the Nahuatl language of the Tlaxcalteca people covering a large part of Mexico north of the Aztec lands in central Mexico has the style and content of an ancient tribal document, like Middle East creation myths. The Tlaxcalteca allied with Cortes to help conquer the Aztecs, their longtime enemies who never conquered them. Myths, history, heroes, royalty, wanderings, wars, and settlements are all mixed together. Though it is rich and significant in content, "Anomino Mexicano" is not too long. This first English translation of the full text at the Bibliotheque Nationale de Paris is three columns per page from pages 7 to 65 in the original, classical, Nahuatl, modern Nahuatl, and English with illustrations taking up some of these pages. Notes run from pages 66 to 101, with a one-page Bibliography of about 30 references before the Index. The complete "Anonimo Mexicano" is a welcome addition to world literature as another vibrant epic on the origins, history, and lore of an ancient people.

Discord and Direction - The Postmodern Writing Program Administrator
edited by Sharon James McGee and Carolyn Handa
Utah State U. Press
Logan, UT 800-239-9974
ISBN: 0874216176, $22.95, 222+xi pp.

Although postmodernism is not new and most academic disciplines have assimilated postmodern thinking into their teaching approaches and outputs, college writing programs for the most part have not taken stock of what postmodernism implicates for how they teach writing or the relationship between what is taught in writing courses, especially introductory ones, and written projects in other courses. Thus, the 12 articles by authors in communications, English, and related studies address particular problems and goals. The purpose of the articles collectively is to help busy writing program administrators get a focus on what writing courses should entail in this time of postmodernism. Also dealt with are the practical issues of a coherent department of interrelated courses in consideration of the multidisciplinary, eclectic nature of postmodernism and relevant, instructive lessons and assignments. A welcome handbook for the administrators it is intended for; which contains selective material of interest to writing instructors.

Bitter Harvest - The Social Transformation of Morelos, Mexico, and the Origins of the Zapatista Revolution, 1840-1910
U. of New Mexico Press
Albuquerque, NM
ISBN: 0826336639, $42.50, 291+xi pp.

The revolution against the Mexican Federal government in the state of Morelos south of Mexico City beginning in 1910 and lasting most of the decade left forty percent of the inhabitants dead or refugees. The revolutionary Zapatistas--followers of Emiliano Zapata--were mainly a farmer and peasant group aiming to keep hold of their land and gain political rights against the large landholders, primarily sugar growers, who had the support of the government. The growth of the sugar farms under the ownership of Mexico's traditional large landholders of the upper class was a main economic area of industrialization in Mexico. As seen by Hart, the historical course leading up to the bloody, devastating, doomed revolution in Morelos begins in about 1840, The U. S. invasion of Mexico in the Mexican-American War of this decade and later French intervention helped to shaped Mexican internal events giving rise later to the Zapatista Revolution as well as the rebellion of Pancho Villa in the north. Although the Zapatista Revolution failed militarily, Hart shows how some of its social and political aims nonetheless came to be reflected in the government and society. Chief among these were redistribution of land and wealth, the political inclusion of the oppressed peasantry, and cooperative, somewhat socialistic or communitarian communities. Rather than a reactionary group trying to hold back industrialization and related modernization, Hart sees the Zapatistas as "peasants and workers...trying to realize their own vision of the future" with fairly sophisticated, timely ideas and ideals. By broadening the historical time frame and the subject matter for comprehension of the early 20th century revolution in Morelos, Hart puts much of Mexican history and society since the mid 1800s in a new light.

Time's Visible Surface - Alois Riegl and the Discourse on History and Temporality in Fin-de-Siecle Vienna
Michael Gubser
Wayne State U. Press
Detroit, MI
ISBN: 0814332080, $54.95, 300+x pp.

Walter Benjamin, the major 20th-century cultural critic, wrote that Alois Riegl was a scholar "who penetrates so far into the historical conditions that he is able to trace the curve of their heartbeat as the line of their forms." It was in the disturbing, pre-World War I conditions of fin-de-siecle Vienna which also affected the ideas of the geniuses Freud and Wittgenstein and the art of Klimt that Riegl came to his insights that "historical context is not a 'container' of objects and events" giving them their distinctive, "historical," quality or identification, but such context rather is a "set of nonexclusive correlates emerging from the artifacts [of a particular time] themselves." This original cultural analysis is reflected in the concept of the "loss of context" and the relatively new subject of "material culture" which are parts of today's postmodernism. Riegl is recognized as one of the founders of the modern discipline of art history. This work--one of only a handful of book-length studies on this important latter nineteenth century thinker--began as a dissertation based on research in Austrian archives. Although Riegl is the primary subject, Gubser analyzes the work in the areas of history, aesthetics, and art history of contemporaries of Riegl's to draw the matrix in which Riegl's ideas were formed and convey the intellectual ambiance and interests of fin-de-siecle Vienna. Advanced students of modernism and postmodernism especially will find the book elucidating on central, formative ideas and developments in these periods.

Colors for Modern Fashion - Drawing Fashion with Colored Markers
Nancy Riegelman
Nine Heads Media
Los Angeles, CA
ISBN: 0970246323, $50.00, 560 pp.

"Colors for Modern Fashion" is a thorough, outstanding course on fashion drawing by an author who is a teacher of this commercial art at the Fashion Institute of Design and Merchandising in Los Angeles and teacher of international design at the Art Center College of Design in Pasadena, CA. Riegelman goes well beyond the typical approach of instruction on general techniques and attention to specifics of clothing such as, say, sleeves or collars. She surely does cover all the basics and all the types of clothing (e. g., women's, children's)--but it is the way she does which distinguishes this manual. The first thing that strikes one is the vibrant colors and the stylish shapes of the garments. Anyone involved in the field of fashion knows how important this is in getting attention for designs. Also, in places the author uses examples of entire outfits and parts of them from top fashion designers as references for discussion and practice. A "full-pleated silk dress with wide lace trim" designed by Christian Lacroix is used as one example and exercise. There's other fashion clothing by Armani, Prada, Issey Miyake, Russell Sage, and many other top designers similarly pictured for other areas of instruction. This is especially instructive and useful. It informs readers about the details of the designs of the masters while teaching the techniques of drawing, so that the book is in some way a course on fashion design as well as drawing. Riegelman knowledgeably and succinctly discusses fabrics and their characteristics, colors, and features of models which would accentuate particular pieces of clothing. The abundance of such touches makes one feel in the know about the field to a certain degree rather than simply learning about fashion drawing from conventional examples and exercises. The many colorful, vibrant, stylish fashion illustrations of clothes and details of them on mannequin-like figures are a treat in themselves, like looking at a classy, engrossing window display of a fine clothing store. And of course such handsome, skilled fashion illustrations are inspiration for aspiring fashion artists.

Henry Berry

Jason's Bookshelf

Acorn Media
801 Roeder Road, Suite 700, Silver Spring, MD 20910
AMP-8679 $49.99

Flickers: The British Silent Movie Era In A Quirky Masterpiece Theater Drama featuring Bob Hoskins and Frances de la Tour is the timeless and classic story of Arnie Cole, Maud, and a diverse troop of eccentric characters who were caught up in the making of silent movies in the earliest years of filmmaking in England. A three-disk DVD set, Flickers presents all six episodes with a total running time of 307 minutes showcases superb production values in costuming, set designs, dialogue, camera work, and storyline. Enhanced with a biography of composer Ron Grainer, cast member filmographies, and a scene index, Flickers is a welcome, entertaining, and certain to be popular addition to any personal or community library DVD collection.

Timeless Media Group
c/o 411 Video
PO Box 1223, Pebble Beach, CA 93953
#65223 $9.98

Puzzle stars a young Antonio Banderas in a movie about a bank robbery that goes bad, and the fast-paced, quick thinking of the police as they struggles to piece together the puzzle which will determine their fate of and the criminals and their hostages. A "must see" for all Antonio Banderas fans, this DVD edition of Puzzle features the original Spanish audio track as well as a dubbed English audio track for ease in viewing this fast action, high suspense, full color, 1 hour 32 minute film. Puzzle is very strongly recommended as one of Banderas' first film roles in a very well done story. Also very highly recommended from Timeless Media Group's productions is Aventis (#65233, $9.98), another action/adventure film on DVD which also features Antonio Banderas early in his film career.

The Reincarnation Of Edgar Cayce?
Wynn Free & David Wilcock
Frog, Ltd.
1435 Fourth Street, Berkeley, CA 94710
North Atlantic Books, dist.
PO Box 12327, Berkeley, CA 94712
1583940839 $18.95 1-800-337-2665

The Reincarnation Of Edgar Cayce?: Interdimensional Communication & Global Transformation by Wynn Free, with the assistance of David Wilcock, is an insightful and engaging biographical study of the remarkable parallels between the young David Wilcock and the legendary Edgar Cayce. Following the teachings of Wilcock's "dream voice" and his intuitive sense, The Reincarnation Of Edgar Cayce? addresses for his readers the profound issues of soul evolution, death, and contributes thoughtful and thought-provoking answers to a discussion of Jesus Christ. The Reincarnation Of Edgar Cayce? is very strongly recommended reading for all students of metaphysics in general, and the accomplishments of Edgar Cayce in particular.

Matchstick Marvels
Patrick Acton
Bennet Watt Entertainment, Inc.
13021 244th Avenue Southeast, Issaquah, WA 98027
1932978119 $14.95

Part of the outstanding "Discoveries America" DVD series, Matchstick Marvels is a 30 minutes, full color showcase of Patric Acton's unique and entertaining Matchstick Marvels museum located in midwest farming community of Gladbrook, Iowa. Following master craftsman Acton through his simply incredible collection of matchstick creations, Matchstick Marvels reveals how millions of matchsticks were used to build a diverse variety of complex structures including a white-house model, trains, planes, boats, and so much more. Flawlessly recorded in wide screen, digital, high definition format with a Dolby stereo sound system, Matchstick Marvels is especially recommended for school and community library collections as a very special exploration of Acton's remarkable creations. Also very highly recommended from the "Discoveries…America" wide screen, high definition DVD series are the documentary travelogues: Massachusetts (1932978402, $24.95, 60 minutes) and Rhode Island (1932978380, $24.95, 60 minutes).

Deadly Ascent
WGBH Boston Video
c/o SSA Public Relations
148 Madison Ave, 16th Floor PH-1, New York, NY 10016
WG40769 $19.95

Also available in a VHS video cassette format, Deadly Ascent is an engaging DVD documentary of the NOVA team's incredible climb in Delani National Park in Alaska of towering Mt. McKinley. Vividly filmed and expertly edited, Deadly Ascent carries its viewers through the peril fraught exploration seeking to solve the mystery of high-altitude deaths with cutting-edge scientific experiments, daring rescues, emergency medical evacuations, and so much more. Enhanced with down-loadable materials for educators, closed captions, video descriptions for the visually impaired, access to the NOVA website, and scene selection, Deadly Ascent (58 minutes, full color, letterboxed) is very strongly recommended for all viewers intrigued with mountain climbing and exploration in general, and assaulting Mt. McKinley in particular.

Drive-In Movie Memories
Janson Media
88 Semmens Road, Harrington Park, NJ 07640
1568392265 $24.95

Drive-In Movie Memories is an informative and entertaining 58-minute documentary of the Drive-In Movie, a popular culture phenomena made possible by the combination of automobiles and the movies as a venue for youthful courting and family entertainment from its debut in the mid-1930's through it's "golden age" of the 1950s & 60s, to its decline with the competing onset of the television era and its diminished but still lingering presence on the American landscape of today. Featuring interviews with Burton Gilliam, Leonard Maltin, Samuel Arkoff, John Bloom, and Barry Corbin, Drive-In Movie Memories is a remarkable production of culturally significant American history. Enhanced with the inclusion of such special features as "About the Producers Awards & Festivals", "About the Director", and Don't Forget to Visit our Concession Stand!", Drive-In Movie Memories is enthusiastically recommended for personal and community library DVD collections as an intriguing and nostalgic history of the Drive-In movie.

Jason Warrant

Kaye's Bookshelf

When Love is Not Enough
Peter Haase
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 S. Parker Rd - 515, Parker, CO 80134
ISBN: 159800462X, $17.95, 240 pp.

This is a contemporary love story but not a romance, and romance readers will know what I mean. Through this tale we follow the turbulent relationship between Tess Castellano, a uniquely beautiful woman, and Jorge Sanchez, a successful corporate manager, as they try to understand the love they have for each other. And, as the reader, we have hope that this young couple will find their way. Who would this story appeal to?. . . Young New Yorkers, actively mobile corporate climbers from poverty, readers who enjoy poignant love stories, readers who enjoy stories about real life.

Peter Haase writes with a direct, simple honesty, and one technique I particularly like is his use of italics to express what someone is thinking in addition to the dialogue, which he uses throughout. We cannot always realize our wishes and thoughts (even about ourselves), and so, this story reinforces for us reality in the real world–what we hope, what is real, how we adapt or how we become lost . . . to ourselves and to others.

The photographic front cover of the two lovers certainly captures the essence of this story. Other books by Peter Haase include Call of the Sea and Eleven Years Afloat. Several of Peter's short stories are included in an anthology published by the Treasure Coast Writers Guild, Fort Pierce, Florida.

Those Made to Suffer
Philip Colander
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 S. Parker Rd - 515, Parker CO
ISBN: 1598002716, $24.95, 400 pp.

An amazing blending of fact and fiction! In the never-ending, mysterious museum created by Wilhelm Kraus you will find everything created under the sun, including the sun. Ralph Laffoon from England and his team of four paranormal investigators plus one police officer, Jeff Rome, find their way into this northern California abandoned museum and then need to find their way out. Why is there a problem about getting in and getting out? Well, there's a brick wall just inside the museum which repairs itself when damaged in any way. And as this is a mystery thriller, there must be an evil force at work somewhere. Do they make it out? Guess you'll just have to read the book to find out.

Philip Colander has used his rich imagination to weave his knowledge on many subjects into this ghostly tale–Greek and Egyptian mythology, dinosaurs, astronomy, rocks & minerals, Aztec history, pictographs, anthropology, archeology, architecture from different periods to name a few. His descriptive abilities are exceptional and my only constructive criticism would be to vary his approach when describing new characters, as after the first few characters, the descriptions tends to have a 'formula' feel about them. Other than that, I would say Philip is a very promising author.

As I was reading, sometimes I'd have a 'Nancy Drew' feeling about the mystery in the haunted museum with her pals, but that feeling quickly left when a main character died. With the ghostly white mists, explosive powers and transforming substances, one certainly can envision a movie version with all its special affects. This is Philip Colander's debut novel, and I say, "Congratulations and well done!" It was a lot of hard work, and I'll be looking forward to your next novel.

Lesly Auerbach
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 S. Parker Rd - 515, Parker, CO 80134
ISBN: 1598004204, $12.95, 136 pp.

Lesly Auerbach writes about a fictional character, Adam Lewis–the biography of a screw-up. The story is not unique . . . it could be any man's life, and that's the key. However, she clearly relates her insight into the dynamics of contemporary marriage and relationship problems. What is unique is her style of writing which does not conform to all the rules and guidelines writers are supposed to follow to make it easier for the reader to follow the story. There are no chapters . . . just detached fragments . . . jumping from place to place, and the reader needs to pay attention.

In a book I read by Anne Bernays and Pamela Painter, What If?, there was a chapter on 'Transitions' which suggested that 'White Space Does Not a Transition Make'. However, the author makes her reader work, and the story is worth the effort. As one reads on and gets used to her style, it's quite evident that there is purpose and she has something to say about contemporary relationships.

It is also quite evident that Adam Lewis has a serious drinking problem and may well be an alcoholic, which certainly would add to his general "screw-up" behavior. Do you think the author is telling us in her closing paragraph that Adam has finally found AA?

"Now what? I sit here drinking black coffee, smoking maybe my millionth cigarette–I can't give up everything–telling you fragments of my life, knowing that some of you will think they make up my whole story somehow. The problem with that, though, is that it's never the whole story."

To whom would I recommend this book? . . . to readers looking for an interesting writing style, to readers interested in contemporary relationship dynamics, to readers interested in real life. Lesly Auerbach is an honest writer and whether you like the subject matter or her style of writing, her honesty shines through–the heart of a great writer. She lives and writes in Souther California, and Fragments is her debut novel–an exceptional first effort. She is currently working on her second novel and a poetry collection.

Help Me, I'm Irish!
A Book About the Non-Meaning of Life
Ray Hamill
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 S. Parker Rd - 515, Parker, CO, USA
ISBN: 1932672486, $16.95, 326 pp.

This book is a memoir in form, whether true or fictional, with short stories from now and then. My favorites are of Eamon McCann's misadventures with his young, creative friend Eugene during their summers spent at Donabate–running away to Africa at age eight to live like Tarzan, building their raft, recovering golf balls from the ponds to sell for candy money.

Ray Hamill makes his living as a journalist in Arcata, California and has a gift for humor. He writes a good Irish vernacular and some Australian, shares some Irish words such as craic (fun) and eejit (fool) and curses a bit here and there. His style is open and honest, easy and creative . . . enjoyable to read. As I am interested in other people's insights into life, the heart of this book to me are his conversations with Arty. As Eamon thinks again of running away, I quote:

"Sometimes I feel like there's too many idiots surrounding me, suffocating me. And I hear little honesty, Arty, not in a long, long time, and it makes me wonder if running away wouldn't be a better option. And sometimes I lie awake at night and I look out the window, and on a clear night you can see forever and what seems like a billion stars, some of them long since having extinguished themselves but still somehow shining down on us. And I think to myself that in the great scheme of things we're less significant than an iota of a smidgen of an amoeba of a single hair on the back of a flea's arse, and we can't even get that right. We still mange to fuck that up, and we do so with such ease and natural ability."

"We're not very smart sometimes are we?" Arty offered back.

"No, we're not, Arty. We fight over religion, over greed, over ideological nonsense and over girls. We kill each other sometimes merely because we can. We have invented numerous drugs to give you a hard on or to grow your hair or perhaps even both at the same time, yet half the fuckin world goes to bed hungry at night and suffering from all kinds of curable diseases. A small handful of people have all the money in the world, and most of the rest of us waste our lives trying to figure out a way to join them, and most of them aren't even that happy in the first place. We dream, we delude ourselves, and we don't know why or how or even that we're doing it. Billions of us throw away our left-over food every night, while hundreds of millions more have to trek two miles every day just to get some clean water, and only on a lucky day. It just all seems so stupid Arty, and I betcha other life forms have discovered us, but when they get here, they say we're way to stupid for them to introduce themselves to us because it would cause mayhem here. . . ."

"And that, Arty, that's why sometimes I think I want to run away again, to leave all this crap behind me. To find a place where people have a pulse and not an agenda, where the truth is not something to be feared, where life forms are real and where pouring a pint of Guinness from my own personal key is the most stressful thing I'll do all day."

"And tell me, my young friend, do you believe such a place as this exists?"

"As a friend of mine once said, 'ye have to believe in magic."

"You know, sometimes running away just promises such things as you're trying to imagine, dangling them in your face till you become so mesmerized you can't see past them, and then you waste your time and your life searching for a fulfillment you will never find, and you spend the rest of your life running around in circles, forever unfulfilled."

"Yeah, but is it not better to take a chance sometimes, when the alternative is... well, the alternative is dull? I mean, life's not about what you take out of it, it's about what you put into it, right?"

"A lot of what you say is very true, my young friend, but there's more to it than just that."

I looked confused again, so Arty went on.

"Too many people dwell on the past, plan for the future and forget all about the present, my young friend. Don't forget who you are, where you are, how you got here, and most importantly of all, when you are. You life is right here, right now, this moment, right in front of you. . . ."

"You are, my young friend, afflicted with the condition known as human futility," he then added. "We spend our first eighteen years wishing we were adults, the next ten years not caring one way or the other, and the rest of our lives wishing we were kids again."

I contemplated what he said, and he continued.

"Life is relative, my young friend, and everything in it , as well. You think you're unhappy, yet the material possessions you have, the situation in life you have attained, the food on your table, the roof over your head, the freedom you awake to each morning, the atmosphere you traverse on a daily basis, all of these would make other people so happy words can't explain. And what others might have would make you so happy words can't explain, yet often it leaves them unfulfilled, feeling hopeless, suffocated, unhappy and without any real direction in their existence. Happiness is relative and purely in the eye of the beholder, my young friend."

And so it goes. Ray Hamill was born in Dublin, Ireland, and Help Me, I'm Irish! is his debut book. Well done and thanks for the fun read!

Just Like That 2! Legends and Such
DJ Blatchford
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 S. Parker Rd. #515, Parker, CO 80134
ISBN: 0972330364, $16.95, 272 pp.

A pot-pourii of Alaskan Inupiaq legends, touching stories, inspirational writings, poems, healing remedies and delicious recipes. Dj Blatchford is an Alaskan Inupiaq, Ahgalliamiut, and shares with us their legends and experiences after coming out of her village of White Mountain, Alaska. She is a very spiritual person and God is clearly her core strength. Her writing is inspirational, fun and strongly upbeat. You can't help but grow to love and admire this woman and her family. The stories are enriched with local idioms, colloquialisms and bits of her language.

This book will particularly appeal to women, to people who enjoy inspirational writings, and to people interested in learning about other cultures. Dj herself is a very unique woman. She was raised in a large family and family is her heart. She can ride a motorcycle and excelled in a man's world as a correctional officer.

From a letter she wrote to me, I quote, "Part of my belief is even just a smile or tear can start healing within oneself. So when my legends do this we share goodness and it spreads. My legends can take your mind away to our lands here in the far north. Yes, like the song, it is about 75 miles southeast of Nome on the mushers trail."

Other books by this author include Just Like That, English to Inupiaq Alphabet. You can order this book directly from her by calling 1-866-570-3143. A unique style of writing, for sure! You certainly won't get bored. Quanna!

Cloud Hidden, Whereabouts Unknown
Victoria Rose
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 S. Parker Rd. 515, Parker, Colorado 80134 (888) OP-BOOKS
ISBN: 1598001159, $11.95, 400 pp.

Reviewed by J. D. Guinness for Kaye Trout's Book Reviews

This is everything a novel should be - original, captivating, and, most of all, transporting! Ms. Rose writes with a combination of the wild imagination of a Rod Serling with the sense of down-to-earth character-and-location-detail of a John Steinbeck, not to mention the sensuality of a Zalman King! That makes for a heady concoction indeed. Like many great fantasy writers, there's a social conscience at work here, but it's written with such verve and good humor that you never feel preached to. Judging from its very satisfying conclusion, Cloud Hidden is meant to be one of a series. Let's hope Part 2 isn't hidden for long! (5 STARS)

Translator's Kiss
Doug Murphy
2021 Pine Lake Road, Ste 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
ISBN: 0595339557, $13.95, 170 pp.

This is a simple, fun story about true love, at least from one side. Our protagonist, Michel Pernaud, is a translator by trade and a man with a good heart. He is in love with Sophie, who doesn't fully appreciate or treat him very well; however, his love persists. His good heart gets him into and out of compromising situations with Bridgette, the attractive daughter of a French billionaire, with whom his employer is negotiating a major real estate deal. "Struggling between temptation and loyalty, ambition and integrity, Michel faces one challenge after another in a story that is sad and funny, romantic and heartwarming." Throughout we hope Michel will find the woman who can appreciate his good qualities and return his true love. The book is well-written and is a fast, pleasant read. The author knows how to tell a good story to keep you guessing.

Doug Murphy lives in Virginia where he works as a physician in Physical Medicine and Rehabilitation (physiatry). In my interview with him, he shared that he likes playing with his imagination and telling stories in print and thought that perhaps he had a bit of the Irish storyteller in him. Other books by this author include The Griffon Trilogy: Part I (with Andrea Murphy) which I reviewed in April. Books in process include: The Griffon Trilogy: Parts II and III and Sexsomnia (book about parasomnias). Thanks for the fun read.

Forgotten Prophecies
Anthony R. Karnowski
PublishAmerica, Baltimore
ISBN: 1413725910, $19.95, 224 pp.

If you like fantasy, you'll like this story–the never-ending conflict between the forces of good and evil. You have a developing protagonist, Kyr, and a highly evil antagonist, Jamis, with a sequel sure to follow. Kyr and Thoma, his friend, follow Sephteria, an elf girl, into a subterranean world filled with goblins, dwarves, dragons and unique monsters. The entire world is in danger from the Father of Darkness and somehow Kyr is the answer.

I am usually not a fan of fantasy but this story is well-written and pulls you right along. I particularly liked the contemporary descriptions of human life on the planet which reflected developing realities of our own time. I also liked the meditative elements which Kyr works to develop in order to gain control and know his potential. It is quite evident that Anthony Karnowski is an accomplished writer with a rich imagination. Forgotten Prophecies is his first novel, and again, if you enjoy fantasy, you won't be disappointed.

Too Many Wasted Years
Susan Shaw
Authors Online Ltd
19 The Cinques, Gamlingay, Sandy, Bedfondshire SG19 3NU, England
ISBN: 0755210352, $14.95, 220 pp.

This fiction biographical story is about a young woman, Edith, and her life in England. It starts around WW I when her secret young admirer, Edward, goes off to war and later is presumed dead. She meets Alfred and becomes pregnant. They marry and have children. Because of her feelings for Edward, she never truly gives herself completely to Alfred. When Alfred dies, she realizes her loss. It is a story about living life with its problems and joys.

This book would appeal to readers who enjoy stories about family life during different periods in history. It would appeal to women who can relate to the problems and feelings Edith experienced during her life. The writer tells this story with a smooth, flowing style. Her characters clearly come to life. As I have no personal information about the writer, I can only hope that she will share something with us in my Author Interview.

Flashback: An Actor's Life
David Barry
Authors Online Ltd
19 The Cinques, Gamlingay, Sandy, Bedfordshire, SG19 3NU, England
ISBN: 0755202260, $14.95, 192 pp.

Are you interested in the real life stories of real live actors? If you are and are particularly interested in British actors, you'll certainly enjoy David's story. It is a book about significant events and people in his acting career of almost fifty years including theatre, film and television.

The basic format of this autobiography is somewhat of a journal which he started in 1998 when he agreed to be in the Bill Kenwright production of Funny Money which toured for 16 weeks and is described as "The Tour from Hell." Scattered throughout this journal are flashbacks about his childhood experiences while touring Europe in the play Titus Andronicus with Sir Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh. David was fourteen at the time, and it was the summer of 1957 when Peter Brook's bloody production had people fainting in their seats.

David starred as Frankie Abbott in the hit television sitcoms Please, Sir! and Fenn Street Gang in his early twenties. If I were a theatre goer and more familiar with British entertainment, I'm sure this book would have been more meaningful to me. As I am familiar with Sir Laurence Olivier and Vivien Leigh, I found the flashbacks about the group's tour through Europe to be of particular interest.

David Barry is a very talented man and his writing is a natural extension of his talents. The autobiography is well-written, entertaining and I'm certain will appeal to his fans. I do hope he will write another book with more personal information about himself–his talents, how he studied and prepared, his goals, his family, the problems and realities of living an actor's life, and how one finds the faith that there will be another play . . . when the tour has finished. In addition to Flashback, the author has written Each Man Kills. Thank you, David, for sharing part of your life with us.

A Distant Drum
Marguerite Bell
Authors Online, Ltd
40 Castle Street, Hertford SG14 1HR, England
ISBN: 0755201604, $14.95, 172 pp.

This is a traditional romance which takes place around the Napoleonic era. Fanny Templeton is a twenty-six-year-old English widow, still a virgin and step-mother to Justine. At the beginning of the story she is a paid companion to Lady Elizabeth Mablethorpe and concerned about the welfare of Justine and her new husband, Freddie, who is the younger brother of the Marquis of Ordley, Edward, a Colonel in the British army.

There is an initial tension between Fanny and Edward which evolves into romance in Brussels. They are married in a barn shortly after Edward is seriously injured in the Battle of Waterloo. Because Fanny was not certain that he truly loved her, she would not share his bed so that the marriage could be annulled if he so chose after he was well again. Edward, of course, interpreted this as rejection until he read an unfinished letter Fanny was writing to Lady Mablethrope, and, of course, all ends happily as Fanny awake beside her husband.

If you like historical romances of this period, you will enjoy this book. Marguerite Bell is a consummate writer, and you definitely will not be disappointed. She's clearly knowledgeable about the period–the manners, customs, the clothes–and certainly brings it all to life as she keeps the intrigue sharp and poignant.

Other books by this author include: A Rose for Danger, The Devil's Daughter, Bride by Auction and Sea Change. The Pride of Eagles will be published sometime this year. She also writes under the name of Ida Pollock and books under this name include: The Gentle Masquerade, Lady in Danger, The Uneasy Alliance, Country Air and Summer Conspiracy. I enjoyed the story and her engaging style of writing. Thank you!

Sea Change
Marguerite Bell
Authors Online, Ltd
40 Castle Street, Hertford SG14 1HR, England
ISBN: 0755200543, $18.95, 232 pp.

Tears . . . I am still recovering from this poignant love story. I guess I'll always be a hopeless romantic, and Marguerite Bell knows how to work her magic. She is a consummate writer when it comes to the Napoleonic Era and will spark your imagination and passions.

The year is 1803. England and France have a tenuous peace at the moment. Little Letty Craythorne, sister to Sarah and daughter of the Admiral, agrees to marry Captain Oliver Westland of the British Navy who was jilted by sister Sarah. Immediately after the marriage Oliver leaves for Antigua without consummating the marriage.

A year later Letty is summoned to join her husband and during the voyage to Antigua, she is abducted by the French Captain Armand d'Anviers as war has begun between England and France. They sail the Atlantic together for two months until Captain Oliver Westland's ship arrives to reclaim his wife. Of course, Letty and Armand have discovered a truly passionate love, which has no hope for a life together.

The story is complex and rich with intrigue, human foibles, love and compassion. The author doesn't miss a beat, and her rhythm carries you right along to a tearful, yet satisfying conclusion. Other books by this author include: A Rose for Danger, The Devil's Daughter, Bride by Auction and The Distant Drum. The Pride of Eagles will be published sometime this year. She also writes under the name of Ida Pollock and books under this name include: The Gentle Masquerade, Lady in Danger, The Uneasy Alliance, Country Air and summer Conspiracy.

It is my opinion that Marguerite Bell's writing is of exceptional quality, and she is certainly an equal to Amanda Quick for historical romance. I believe her books are well known in England, and I wish her much success in the United States.

The Joy of Growing Up: Growing Up for Grownups Who Haven't Grown Up Yet
Wendy Freebourne
Authors Online Ltd
40 Castle Street, Hertford SG14 1HR, England
ISBN: 0755210298, $14.95, 156 pp.

Wendy Freebourne, Msc is a psychotherapist who has worked with individuals, couples and groups for twenty-five years. She has a varied, rich background and shares her knowledge and experiences through this book, and I quote:

"She has produced a series of CDs, The dependency Talks, dealing with recovery from codependency, dysfunctional families and the underlying cause of dependencies and additions; and a psycho-spiritual report, Pathfinder Workbook. She has also had magazine articles, short stories and poetry published. Currently, she has a novel about relationships in progress and is taking herself seriously as a textile artist."

The book is divided into three sections: Part I: Becomeing Your Own Person, Part 2: Using What You've Got and Part 3: Becoming More Of Who You Are. It is well-written and the author may just say something you needed to hear . . . that is, if you are currently looking to improve your life.

Caesar's Tribune
John Timbers
Authors Online Ltd
19 The Cinques, Gamlingay, Sandy, Bedfordshire SG19 3NU, England
ISBN: 0755210336, $17.95, 248 pp.

This is a novelized version of Caesar's Gallic Wars as witnessed by the main protagonist, Marcus Rutilius Robura, a military tribune. Marcus was a young Roman officer of junior rank in the Tenth Legion . . . the Tenth being sort of a 'boot camp' for young members of the upper classes.

John Timbers has taken Caesar's Commentaries–difficult reading–and turned this historical, exciting period into a richly textured, contemporary, intriguing military novel. Not only is our protagonist a Roman officer, he is also Michael Oakwood, a British Army officer on international anti-terrorist duties in the Balkans who wakes up in the year 60 BC. Somehow the spirits of these two men have switched bodies during a battle in which they are both injured. Mike, however, is aware of this double identity and writes in a journal to stay in touch with himself as he lives the life of Marcus. To complicate the matter, Marcus has a twin sister, Rutilia, who is extremely sensitive to him and has dreams of his other identity.

Through this novel we can see and experience Rome at this time . . . what it looked like, how the aristocracy lived, the social structure, the political arena and power politics. And more intimately, we experience Marcus's family, friends and love life . . . his marriage to Marcia and his sister's marriage to his friend, Quintus. And then there's the intrigue of another woman, Sylvia, and her connection in the dream to Mike. The author conveys very clearly the developing power structure (Caesar, Crassus and Pompey vs the Optimates), the popularity of the amazing Gaius Julius Caesar and what he wanted to accomplish. We also get a feel for some of the other key players at that time such as Cicero, and I quote:

"Poor Cicero – fine legal brain and great philosopher that he is, is clearly the dupe of whoever flatters him most. He seems to have spent his lifetime trying to score points off people with his cruel wit, either orally in the courts or the Senate or in his letters and political tracts. In these he is prone to recall things in the light of his political leaning at the time of writing, especially when matters don't pan out as he hopes."

From the back cover of the book:

"This is the first in a series of five books that set out to tell the action-packed story of Julius Caesar's protracted battles in Gaul–modern France and Belgium–and his struggle to force the Roman Republic to abandon its obsession with ancient and superstitious traditions, a system of government that favoured only its racist, corrupt and all-powerful nobility. Caesar, a man way a head of his time, was determined to change the Republic into a multi-cultural meritocracy, fit to govern its growing empire for the good of all its disparate peoples. Caesar's Tribune is a fictional character who is also way ahead of his time but in a very different way..."

I would certainly recommend this book to history buffs and to readers who enjoy military strategy and intrigue. The battles on land and sea are vivid, exciting encounters, and the sexual thread in Marcus's life adds a very intimate element. John Timbers is an accomplished writer, and this story is well written. You will not be disappointed as it entertains while it educates. My kind of book!

Home Is Where the Learning Is: Homeschool Lifestyles From Homeschool Moms
Valerie J. Steimle
ISBN: 1591139387, $14.95, 204 pp.

This book is about homeschooling–about parents taking the time to educate their children. The information is presented in a logical, understandable manner and begins with Chapter One: The Basics of Homeschool by Valerie J. Steimle. Valerie has written the Prologue, Chapter One, Chapter Ten: The Final Word and Chapter Eleven: Homeschooling Resources. The other chapters were written by other women homeschoolers: Cherie Logan, Lisa Odaffer, Gail Thomas, Donna Knox, Caren Gibson, Debbie Hanson and Lisa Hyman Johnson, plus a chapter by the Baldwin County Homeschoolers.

This is an excellent book if you are considering homeschooling your child/children and provides just about everything you'll need to know to make an intelligent decision. The Homeschooling Resources chapter is extensive and includes books, magazines, catalogues, curriculums and websites. Valerie J. Steimle has been homeschooling her children since 1990 and has had numerous articles about family issues published. She is also the author of Home Is Where The Heart Is. I'm certain this book will be much appreciated by those considering such an option.

Gin Clear Water
Thomas Cole Edwards, Inc.
ISBN: 1591138779, $15.95, 256 pp.

From the back cover:

"Investigator Philip Grady has a problem. He has been called upon to travel to the Caribbean to investigate the decimation of the dolphin population by the local tuna fleet. What begins as a simple investigation on the idyllic Caribbean island paradise of Pandu, about the mystery that surrounds the death of the local dolphin population, is suddenly transformed into a plot with international implications involving weapons and drugs. When Grady goes public, he learns that truth has a very high price.

In his adventures, Grady encounters the mastermind of the illegal operation who desperately seeks to suppress the truth. In the meantime, Grady is captivated by the beauty of a local woman whom he falls in love with."

That pretty much gives you an idea of what the story is about. If you want a light, easy read, you might try this book. It's not unique and pretty much follows the formula for a mystery thriller. I would describe the style of writing as "soft"–not wanting to offend anyone. So, there was something which did not grab me, as I'm always sucked in by honest and real feelings. The parts I found particularly interesting had to do with the environmental issues and information about the depletion of marine life.

If I were to make a constructive criticism for improving the author's writing style, I would say read more of your favorite authors and pay attention to why you like them . . . and get honest. If Mr. Edwards's position in his community inhibits his writing, he might consider using a pen name. If you haven't read Stephen King's book, On Writing - A Memoir of the Craft, I highly recommend it. Writing is a craft and good writers love to hone their skills.

Thomas Cole Edwards is an attorney practicing in Orange County, CA and a past Mayor of Newport Beach where he and his wife continue to reside. Gin Clear Water is his debut novel and I would say, "Well done."

Information Systems 101: A Business Owner's Guide for Staying Afloat
C. Oakes Templeman, Inc.
ISBN: 1591138698, $19.95, 132 pp.

From the back cover:

"Information Systems 101: A Business Owner's Guide for Staying Afloat put into the hands of business and organization leaders a compass for navigating the high seas of computerized information systems with the most profitable rewards.

Packed with real life cases of information system disasters, Information Systems 101 guides the reader to:

- Establish Information Systems Cultures and Communications Standards

- Create Hardware, Software, and Network Documentation

- Generate Information Systems, Business, and Records Procedures

- Develop a Disaster Preparedness Program

Templeman's 30-year career in accounting, information systems, and document management, affords a unique perspective on the crucial role information systems play within a business or organization, and the havoc wreaked when holes spring open in the IS ship."

This is a well-organized and understandable book about protecting your information systems. I particularly enjoyed Chapter 4 - Service Providers not Gods. She wrote that there is a cancer in the information systems profession–some IS people think they are or are perceived to be gods.

When your system is down and you have a good tech who comes through for you regularly, my vote is that he is a god (and I don't even care what time he shows up . . . as long as he does show up). She states that this little concise book is "to complement, amplify and supplement other texts." She encourages you "to read all the available material, learn as much as possible about safeguarding information systems procedures and developing disaster recovery plans, and tailor the information to your individual needs." So, my only constructive criticism would be to include a list of resources at the end . . . for further reading.

I Never Looked for My Mother and Other Regrets of a Journalist
Joseph P. Ritz, Inc.
ISBN: 1591138795, $14.95, 184 pp.

This book is a memoir of short stories from the life of Joseph P. Ritz. He is an award-winning journalist, published author and playwright. He has a rich and varied background which adds to the interest, quality and humor in this book.

I think what impressed me the most about his life growing up was the impact the Catholic church had on his thinking and in particular on his ideas about sexuality and sinfulness. It's nice to know, judging from the number of children he sired, that he finally figured out the mystery for himself.

If you enjoy memoirs of interesting people who were involved in historical events, want to experience the challenges of growing up in another time with dysfunctional parents and are interested in knowing something about the newspaper business, I'm certain you will enjoy the author's story. Other books by the author include The Despised Poor.

Shunka Wakan, A Horse for My Spirit: The Story of My First Years As a Wild Horse Adopter
C.S. Jennings, Inc.
ISBN: 1591138639, $16.95, 204 pp.

This book is C.S. Jennings's personal journal of a dream come true–her adoption of a BLM Mustang. She states at the beginning of the journal what it was written with no thought of publication and that she chose to do very little editing. She say that this is not a how-to book but just a simple sharing of her experiences during the first year of working with Shunka Wakan.

It is, however, a very informative book as she shares her training methods which evolved from several sources. C.S. Jennings was 59 when she made the decision to adopt and work with a wild Mustang. She has published the book with the hope that it may inspire others to make their dreams come true.

If I were to make one constructive criticism of the book, my suggestion would be to have if proofread for typos, spelling and grammar errors. If it's worth publishing for others to read, it's worth taking the time; and I think the information in this book is worth making such an effort.

If you like horses and are interested in training wild ones, you'll probably enjoy this book. C.S. Jennings lives with her husband, grandson, two cats, some chickens, and two BLM Mustangs on a farm in Southern Illinois. She has written mysteries, and this is her first nonfiction book.

The Bipolar Dementia Art Chronicles: How a Manic-Depressive Artist Survives Being the Primary Caregiver for Her Father & Ex-Mother-in-Law: A Memoir
Lynne Taetzsch, Inc.
ISBN: 159113854X, $14.95, 244 pp.

Life is hard to correct the illusion that it should be easy. . . Buddha might say, and this book reinforces how difficult life can be at times. Anton LaVey might say, "Do not complain about anything to which you need not subject yourself." And therein is lies a clue.

The author, in a moment of irrational exuberance, you might say, and over estimating her patience and endurance, relocated her 93-year-old father and 92-year-old ex-mother-in-law to live near her in an assisted living facility. When she could not meet all their demands and needs, she became manically depressed or, in contemporary terms, bipolar dementive.

There are many memoir books written about taking care of elderly parents, spouses or beloved friends, and I am certain they are helpful and informative to others who find themselves with such a responsibility. Ms. Taetzsch is openly honest about her feelings and frustrations throughout this period of her life. To me the book read like a journal which possibly a counselor suggested she keep in order to maintain her sanity–a release you might say.

I certainly can understand why one would become depressed when one has reached the limit of his/her endurance and has to turn the problem over to someone else. It would be a fact of personal failure; however, there is always something good that comes out of something bad, if one can recognize and embrace it . . . if nothing more than to learn one's limits. Ms. Taetzsch recognized a part of the good, and I quote: "I'm glad I brought Dad to Ithaca to live, though. We became close in a way we had never been before, and taking care of him brought me closer to my brothers and sisters."

Did I learn anything from this book? Yes, to remember what my limits are, as I too have thought I could fix everything for the ones I love, which was not true.

115 Ways to Reduce Anxiety
Mike Marcoe
ISBN: 1591138728, $12.95, 108 pp.

This is a concise little book specifically written to deal with the problem of anxiety. It first helps one to identify anxiety–to distinguish between normal anxiety and an anxiety disorder. From there is divided into four sections–using your mind, physical approaches, dietary approaches and spirituality. It is well organized and clearly written with chapters and topics in bold print. Mike states that this book will help you find solutions to both the symptoms and underlying causes of your anxiety disorder. It's certainly worth a shot.

Mike Marcoe has been a long-time anxiety sufferer and has participated in all 115 methods described in his book. He is a writer/editor from Middleton, Wisconsin, and has worked for the University of Wisconsin, plus various other occupations. Thanks, Mike, for sharing your knowledge and experience with us.

'Unacceptable': The Federal Response to Hurricane Katrina
Walter M. Brasch, Ph.D.
BookSurge, LLC
5341 Dorchester Rd, Ste 16, Charleston, SC 29418
ISBN: 1419618393, $12.99, 96 pp.

Walter M. Brasch, Ph.D., is a social issues columnist and satirist, author of 16 books, and a university journalism professor. He has also spent 10 years working in the field of emergency management. This book, based upon extensive observation and documentation focuses on the problems within our current government organization--a systemic failure--which allowed two million Americans to be put at risk. Evidently, the relatively new Department of Homeland Security (DHS) is at the heart of the problem instead of the solution. Dr. Brasch lists the primary issues contributing to the problem as:

-Political policies that disregarded global warming and which resulted in warmer sea levels that facilitated catastrophic hurricanes;
-Policies that permitted oil companies to drill into the wetlands of the Gulf Coast and, thus, reduce protection against hurricanes and floods;
-Policies that substantially reduced funding for natural disaster protection, while hyper-inflating funds for the War in Iraq;
-Policies that downgraded the efficiency and response of the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), while pushing new resources into the President's anti-terrorism campaigns;
-Policies that allowed a willful neglect of certain populations;
-Policies that emphasized the "PR mission" and "photo-ops" over actual command;
-Policies that allowed willful neglect of critical warning by government scientists and engineers; and
-Policies that allowed waste and corruption to infiltrate the nation's federal response."

'Unacceptable': The Federal Response to Hurricane Katrina is a well-documented, concise book on the geopolitics contributing to dangerous problems within our current government. It is, indeed, a clear reflection of the misuse of power and resources. After reading this book, you may also believe that there is sufficient evidence to indict President Bush, or at least add your voice to the opposition or get in line to volunteer. Volunteer for what? For the suggestion floating around in the e-mail world: "Will someone please give this man a '. . . job' so that we can impeach him."

I'm certain that it was not an easy job compiling and organizing all the information documented in this small book, and it is important that someone cared to compile it for us and present it in a concise, understandable way. It is, however, always easier to criticize than to offer realistic solutions.

It is my belief that fewer people read newspapers or listen to the political news today. Fewer people care to be involved because they feel the problems are too overwhelming and out of control. Government has become too large, too complex, too corrupt, too greedy to think about, and the average person can hardly manage their own affairs. Possibly we need another Gaius Julius Caesar with a new vision, but then 'the powers that be' would soon put an end to such a man, as they did before.

My suggestion for change, which I'm certain we are not ready for, is to put a computer in every home and let the people run the country by majority vote on all issues (prohibiting organized special-interest groups) with the votes tallied by a central computer and policy made based on majority rule. This might excite people to take a renewed interest in the well-being of their country and planet. The men we elect, even if they were good to start, can hardly stand up to the power pressures they experience in office, and in the end, I think the average person has more common sense than our elected representatives.

So, let's get out of Iraq and put some serious pressure behind developing alternative energy sources such as hydrogen and setting up the necessary systems to make it work. Thank you Dr. Brasch for your very provocative account of our government's serious problems.

Know Me Tomorrow
Michael Shocket
United Press Ltd
c/o Mailabook (dist.)
14 Millennium Wharf, Rickmansworth, Hert., U.K. WD3 1AZ
ISBN: 1844360784, $15.00 216 pp.

Michael Shocket wrote The Binding of Isaac which I reviewed earlier this year and which I included in my 'In Search of Excellence POD Book List'. He has a marvelous sense for writing and it doesn't seem to matter what he writes about. Of all the books I've read this year, Michael's writing speaks to me in a way I cannot describe, nor do I understand just what it is about his writing that is so unique and appealing. He has an intimate, casual tone (not quite as intimate and casual as Stephen King's, but similar) with spurts of humor, drama and a strong sense of sexuality. His honesty, human foibles and compassion ring true and clear, and I feel blessed to know something of this man through his writings.

This memoir is an exceptionally well-written autobiography which moves back and forth between now and then, from taking care of his wife Irene's daily/nightly needs as he slowly loses her to the Lew Body Disease . . . to his own personal history, extended family, childhood, adolescence, wartime and marriage.

I have read several books this year in which the authors have shared their experiences about taking care of loved ones who had some form of dementia--Fears Flutterby by rm Lamatt and The Bipolar Dementia Art Chronicles by Lynne Taetzsch--and I thank them for taking the time to write their stories and give us some realistic insights into the difficulties and frustrations which arise in dealing with such problems. What is clear in Michael's story is how deeply he loved his beautiful wife, and although it is heartbreaking to lose one's beloved in such a manner, how fortunate for Michael to have loved so deeply for so long in one's lifetime--a truly poignant love story. He was truly blessed . . . and continues to be so with his daughters and grandchildren.

If you are interested in this wonderful writer, you might want to read my March review of The Binding of Isaac. You can also find out more about Dr. Michael Shocket in my Authors Interview link. He has recently completed another novel which as yet has not been published. Thank you, Michael, for the signed copy, and it is now part of my lst edition book collection.

Joy-Full Holistic Remedies
Georgie Holbrook
Joy-Full Publishing Company
P.O. Box 591661, Houston, TX 77259
ISBN: 096687420X, $ $9.97, 144 pp.

This book is about holistic remedies with a strong emphasis on a Christian God. It is divided into four sections: Georgie's Story, Your Spiritual Self, Holistic Remedies and Principles to Live by.

If you are into holistic health, as I have been for many years, you won't find anything new or particularly unique. It's pretty standard stuff, but there is always room for another book as an author may write in such a way as to touch you personally. It is wonderful that the Georgie recovered from her "incurable" disease of Rosacea, and I'm certain that her story will give inspiration to others.

The author is a national holistic educator and Glyco-nutrition consultant. Her healing articles have appeared in magazines such as Evolving Your Spirit, Natural Awakenings, West Cost Woman, Huston Business Journal and Attitudes Magazine. Thank you, Georgie, for sharing your experience and inspiration with us.

Kaye Trout

Lowe's Bookshelf

Sweet Creek
Lee Lynch
Bold Strokes Books
314 Conestoga Road, Wayne Pa 19087
ISBN: 1933110295, $15.95, 358 pp.

Drop a line in the waters of Sweet Creek! From the pen of the venerable lesbian author Lee Lynch comes a novel set in the small rural community of Waterfall Falls, Oregon, at the turn of the millennium and populated by an amusingly high volume of lesbians. One character suggests an inverted energy draws women to the community.

"A dyke vortex. I like it." Chick made a mental note to suggest it to the sheriff, a native who was completely baffled, and not particularly pleased, at the disproportionate numbers of lesbians in Elk County.

... [Jeep responds] "Cool beans! I moved to the poor dyke's Palm Springs."

"Yeah," added Donny. "We don't golf, we fish." (60)

The heart of the area's queer community rests in Natural Woman Foods, a small organic general store and cafe run by ex-hippie, earth-mother dyke, Chick, and her tough but mellowing, working-class, former player, butch partner Donny. Together nearly a decade, the two are struggling with the changes of advancing crone-hood. Chick has a family history of mental illness and worries her current struggle with depression might be symptomatic of something worse. Meanwhile men from their pasts are stirring trouble for both women.

If Natural Woman Foods is the heart of the community, Chick is its reigning queen, er, "femme in charge." (34) She looks after several women in this role, and has many amused, often indulgently affectionate observations about butches, the butch/femme dance in general, and the changes she's seen in community politics (gay and straight).

Up and coming television reporter, Katie, with her flame of the moment, Jeep, arrives looking for something new for her life. She finds herself quickly enamored with the leader of the women's land, a fierce, enigmatic woman named Rattlesnake, or R for short. Katie consequently develops an interest in documenting the struggles the local separatist commune has with the traditional logging industry.

Soon, Jeep, (a melding of "G. P." for Gina Pauline) who appeared in Waterfall Falls sporting a city-styled buzz haircut and a restless attitude, finds herself nursing a broken heart, looking for a new place to live, scrambling to make a living, and trying to sort out what she wants to do with her life. Jeep's coming of age is one of the themes of Sweet Creek and several of the story threads depict transitional life periods.

As is frequently the case with small communities, everyone seems to know everyone else's business. Still, a few surprises arise over the course of the book. Lynch portrays this ensemble cast of charming and interesting characters with humor and insight. Sweet Creek originally appeared as a series of short-short stories in Girlfriends Magazine and the brief episodic structure has been retained in the chapters. This allows for bite-sized consumption of the various storylines that struck this reader as a dyke hybrid of Keillor's Lake Wobegon stories and Maupin's Tales of the City series. While this format makes for easy episodic reading, it sometimes results in meandering plotlines that might distract some readers and could have benefited from some tighter editing. Nevertheless, Sweet Creek is filled with engaging life stories and charming snapshots of the locale. Fans of Lynch are bound to enjoy Sweet Creek, and hopefully new readers will discover her work as well.

Dark Dreamer
Jennifer Fulton
Yellow Rose Books
c/o Regal Crest Enterprises, LLC
4700 Highway 365, Suite A, PMB 210, Port Arthur, TX 77642
ISBN: 1932300465, $16.95, 212 pp.

Rowe Devlin is a best selling horror novelist and attractive butch who has hit a rough patch in her life. She's recently moved from the Manhattan scene to make a break from a fruitless relationship in the hope that she will be able to meet her next deadline. The move is not going well. Or, as she claims, she is "a washed up writer living in a haunted house in Maine in the middle of winter. She now had exchanged a hopeless passion for someone's wife for a doomed crush on her neighbors. Plural. And instead of finishing the piece of crap novel her agent was hounding her for, she was on some wild ghost chase with two young males who thought the government was spying on them." (68). Needless to say, this is not a high point in her career.

The neighbors in question, Phoebe and Cara Temple are identical twins and unusual women in their own right. Orphaned at age seven and reared by their grandmother, the Temple twins have a highly symbiotic relationship. Cara is the grounded, no-nonsense woman who works in the music industry. Phoebe is a more ethereal of the sisters. A few years ago Phoebe was in a car accident that left her in a coma. After she woke, she began having compelling dreams of women who had met with violent deaths. These women talked to Phoebe, asked her to send their love to their parents or spouses, and told her where to find their bodies. Recently Phoebe has begun using these communications to assist the FBI in tracking down serial killers.

Meanwhile Rowe's dogs will not enter her kitchen and the knives have a nasty habit of refusing to stay in their drawers. The writer begins to research former inhabitants of the house and in the process finds a tragic story with a possible connection with the Temple sisters. This revelation prompts more interactions with her neighbors and an offer to help with the ghost from Phoebe.

When the attraction between Phoebe and Rowe heats up, Cara becomes jealous, angry and conflicted. She'd been interested in Rowe herself and dreads what she sees as Phoebe's inevitable disenchantment with Rowe. -- Phoebe has a history of falling in love and failing to end relationships when she was ready to leave. More than once, Phoebe has convinced Cara to impersonate Phoebe for the needed break up. -- Venting about the relationship with Rowe, Cara decides "she'd been Phoebe's minder and interface with the world for twenty years. Twenty years! Enough was enough. She wanted a life of her own. Let Phoebe find out the hard way that the world was not her oyster just because she was sweet and sensitive and beautiful. In fact, the world chewed up women like her and spat them out. And let Rowe find out that Phoebe didn't just have issues, she had a subscription." (133)

However, other elements of Homeland Security discover that Phoebe's gift is "the real deal" and the plot takes an ominous turn. Fast-paced with an engaging and suspenseful mix of spooky -- the supernatural and the political variety -- happenings, Dark Dreamer is peopled with intelligent, witty, complex characters. The romance between Rowe and Phoebe is sweet with some fine lusty moments. Dark Dreamer is a highly enjoyable story that lives up to its series title of "A Heartstoppers Thriller Romance." This reviewer hopefully foretells that there could be future stories featuring Rowe and the Temple sisters and would look forward to them.

M.J. Lowe

Molly's Bookshelf

Computer Ease
Helen Gallagher Publishing Inc.
P.O. Box 9949, College Station, TX 77842
ISBN: 1589398157, $14.95

Informative Read …….. Recommended 4.5 stars

The work is a self help or how to book written by a long time computer expert for novice to intermediate computer users. Topics covered include use of mouse, getting the upper hand, locating files, accessibility and ergonomics, what to do when the computer won't respond, computer speed, spyware and the inevitable crash and how to deal with it. A section with information about the internet and a small glossary round out the informative work.

As a self taught computer user the writer notes that computer user frustration is not distinctive to age of user. Technology is what it is and can be learned by young and old alike. I particularly liked the simple logic offered in Chapter 2: 'Most learning comes from repetition and practice, but computers require we start with exploration and then practice techniques once we find them. Exploring the computer is a necessary first step, because you can't just learn it by passive interaction.' It seems so obvious, but for any of us who are learning to use computer when we are no longer children this particular logic is often something we seem to forget.

I agree with the writer that files seem to appear much as do mismatched socks in the sock drawer. I plan to read and reread Chapter 3 until I am confident I can find and manage my files with Windows Explorer File management.

Computer Ease is written in straight forward language easily understood by frustrated, annoyed or just plain worried users of these infernal machines. Writer Gallagher adds a few personal instances of help she has provided to clients who may have faced many of the same concerns as do many of us as we endeavor to learn how to make sense of the computer sitting on our desk. The text is most helpful to those of us who are a tad intimidated by fast talking kids, our own, or those 'helping' us as we plod forward in our attempt to gain computer knowledge. The reader is left with an optimistic feeling of confidence that he/she too can learn to overcome most computer problems we may face.

The chapter covering spyware is particularly timely. My own computer was brought to a stand still a year ago necessitating a trip to local guru. Adult son has installed two spyware snatchers and computer is now perking along nicely. Computer Ease is a book to keep next to the computer. The book is a must have for the home library shelf, the personal library and desktop. Enjoyed the read, happy to recommend.

An Honest Heart
Richard M Siddoway
Bonneville Books
ISBN: 1555178383, $14.95

Entertaining Read …….. Recommended …… 4 stars

The narrative opens with a mother shouting at her six-year-old. Jennica and her four-year-old brother are engaged in the usual tussle found between youngsters. In a home where the refrigerator holds only a butter dish, half empty gallon bottle of milk, jar of mustard and a six pack of beer, supper is soup ladled into three chipped mismatched bowls served with a slice of bread and to be washed down with water, Jennica is on a slide to nowhere fast. Cheating on tests in fourth grade is followed by secreting a lost wallet left behind at the cafe where she works as a sixteen-year-old. Jenn compounds her responsibility by lying about finding the billfold. The money from the wallet is added to Jennica's secret stash. The desperate girl is determined to leave the horrible home life she continues to endure. From this beginning Jennica's life roils forward toward certain downfall until she discovers a group of people and a life she had never known existed before. Two women LDS missionaries introduce themselves and Jennica begins to realize there is something more to life than that she has always known.

Writer Siddoway has formulated a compelling read on the pages of this 242 page novel. Siddoway has a commanding mastery of language, creates believable characters and sets down credible settings and scenarios.

An Honest Heart aptly captures the core of what ails a good bit of our society. The writer composes an acutely focused account with an eye to particulars, and an understanding of the wretchedness foisted onto children when parents do not or cannot provide the refuge, security and guidance so needed for children during the formative years. Characters are not always likeable, however they are well developed, dialog is absorbing, gritty at times, and compelling. The blunders, misinterpretation and mistakes made by Jennica as she searches for balance in her life are ones most of us face at one time or another. Trust, understanding and acceptance are all part of Jennica's redemption as she comes to understand that life does not always hand us an easy way or gentle dealings. As Jennica learns to deal with problems in a calm, God led manner, her life becomes more endurable and gratifying.

While written with a distinct Mormon flavor for the Mormon reading audience An Honest Heart will interest all readers who enjoy well written tales filled with robust motivation, breach of faith, propensity and a ticklish story line. An Honest Heart is an excellent choice for the home library, the personal reading shelf and homeschool high school curriculum. Enjoyed the read, happy to recommend.

Reluctant Heroes
Steve Westcott
The Vanguard Press, Seattle Printing
1414 NW 85th St, Seattle, Washington
ISBN: 184386021X, $15.00

Hysterically Entertaining read … Highly Recommended …. 5 stars

Mishtar's two centuries of imprisonment within a vault of legerdemain deep within Mount Aine have honed the sorcerer's temper to a razor sharp edge. Anticipatory he felt the magical power binding him was at last weakening. Just one unintentional dunderhead was all he needed and Mishtar would once again be released to commit devastation and retaliation upon the peoples of Middle Vooragh. It was the notion of retaliation that Mishtar savored most.

A witty wizard, and his inapt klutz of an apprentice, the last descendant of a dragon mounted race, The Ogmus , an ingenious Sister of The New Dawn, and a heroically unsuited and unwitting, coward Ryzak prove to be unintentional heroes about to toss a clog into Mistar's malicious designs. Lethal elves, dragons, cannibals, flying lizards, and a contingent of daft barbaric warrior tribes, all join the effort to thwart Mishtar's plans for revenge.

The narrative opens in the small village of Fleshwick with the reader stepping into the teeming excitement of the common room of The Shepherd's Cock – formerly known as The Shepherd's Crock until someone removed the 'r'. Blissfully unaware of the tumult, Ryzak slept through all the pandemonium. A loud and sudden altercation involving homicidal maniac Sawn-off Sam and the tavern croupier brought Ryzak back to reality. Within moments drink-dulled reflexes prevented Ryzak from avoiding the unexpected blow sent his way by the serving girl. From that ignominious beginning the reader is carried on a fast paced romp including a screaming girl in tatters, Wolverines, a bit of chicanery, a missing prison seal and a 'girl' named Shula. Ryzak is off on a quest to regain a kingdom, the name of which he doesn't know, in the company of a girl, who may or may not be a queen, and whose name he also does not know; even Ryzak's best friend InnKeeper Jollif is certain Ryzak is deranged. Scree slopes, a cave, a crashing fall, an elderly she wolf, A Beginner's Guide to Wizardry, bumbling dwarf named Snorkel and his mentor Beulah, a mule named Clara and Draco a misguided dragonet all contribute to the reader's enjoyment.

I don't remember when I have enjoyed a just plain for fun read more. Writer Westcott has a gloriously twisted sense of humor. Reluctant Heroes is filled with potent incitements, breach of faith, delusion, snappy dialogue, an enthusiastically focused yarn, extraordinary picturesque characters, profuse disharmony fittingly determined all excellently maneuvered into an impressive, spell binding read. Westcott has set down a typical problem, quest, resolution, tale using contemporary words and vernacular in a middle ages setting. The mix produces a highly entertaining novel.

Excellent book for a lazy afternoon spent sipping lemonade while reading in the rocking chair out on the porch. Reluctant Heroes will be a good addition to the personal reading shelf, the home pleasure library, and young adult reading list.

Not for everyone, some graphic language will horrify those who find their knickers too tight, everyone else will roar with laughter as they read.

Enjoyed the read, most happy to recommend.

Secrets to Real Estate Success
Jerry Pujals
Cameo Publications
478 Brown's Cove Road Ridgeland SC 29936
ISBN: 0974414999, $24.95

Informative Read …….. Recommended …. 4 stars

The work is not a novel, this is an enlightening How-To book filled with proven hints for increasing productivity. Secrets to Real Estate Success is written by one of the nation's leading motivational speakers who also happens to be a top notch real estate trainer. Given the proliferation of real estate signs we see in yards and on billboards a surprising statistic states 70% of all real estate agents quit the business within 18 months. Pujals notes -The myth of flexibility and independence is one of the main reasons why people flock to real estate-. Unfortunately, only 3% of real estate professionals know how to manage their time wisely. Secrets to Real Estate Success is offered to help especially those just beginning in the business to stay with it.

Secrets to Real Estate Success is a book of 24 chapters, an Introduction, Appendix and suggested reading. Chapter offerings include: -What is Holding You Back-, -Are you working the Business or working the "Busyness" -, -Set Your Own Standards-, -Create an Action Plan-, -Ethics, Integrity & Honesty-, and –The Final Secret to Overwhelming Success-. I particularly enjoyed reading Chapter 22 –Be a Professional, Not a Friend- in which writer Pujals puts forth a good sensible approach for how to successfully and professionally present yourself to potential clients. Pujals points out that to their detriment many agents think they must befriend each client which leads to a reduction in professionalism and hinders success. Potential buyers are not lacking in friends is the crux of the chapter, they are seeking a knowledgeable and honest agent who will aid as they buy or sell a home. Pujals explains that as agents struggle to befriend they do not increase success, rather the opposite is true. Pujals closes the chapter with the notion that clients want to do business with competent professionals not their friends thus keeping professional relationships businesslike, delivering quality service and exceeding expectations every time will ensure your success because your happy satisfied clients will happily refer others to you.

I found writer Pujals' Secrets to Real Estate Success to be highly readable book, and while I teach school and am not a real estate agent I found the book to contain sensible information for any professional and especially for those in the real estate industry. Pujals enthusiasm, knowledge and understanding of success is very evident in his writing.

Writing in an inviting, practical approach, Pujals presents precise, feasible notions touching on a wide myriad of potential problem areas to help aid real estate successfulness. Agents are presented with a method for taking a competent methodology approach to their work. Pujals' profits producing operation plans appear workable and sensible. Pujals even offers readers scripts to help them overcome whatever is preventing their hoped for success.

Secrets to Real Estate Success details many of the false notions and common blunders often made by real estate professionals. Writer Pujals sets down businesslike suggestions, and includes practicable forms along with easy to read charts all meant to aid readers toward avoiding many hazards. He touches upon issues of responsibility in a manner, that if taken to heart, readers can develop good professional conduct.

Secrets to Real Estate Success will prove a resource for those who are beginning their career, those who hope to add to their success and to brokers who are motivating their agents to bigger and better things. Excellent book for the personal library or as a motivational resource. Enjoyed the read, happy to recommend.

Mr. Touchdown
Lyda Phillips
2021 Pine Lake road STE 100, lincoln, NE 68512
ISBN: 0595672884, $13.95

Powerful, thought provoking Read …….. Recommended … 4 stars

The narrative opens on a dusty Tennessee day in 1965. That is the day when Eddie Russel's preacher father drops a bomb shell. Eddie and his sister Lakeesha will be part of a small group of black high schoolers to integrate the local all white high school. For football star Eddie this is not good news. 'You all want us to go to an all-white school, we'll go,' he said. 'But don't expect us to be heroes.' From that beginning Eddie, Lakeesha and their friends, Lethe Jefferson and Rochelle Perry, are set upon a roller coaster ride filled with racial slurs, angry glares, and just plain animosity. From the coach who doesn't want a black player, to an assumption the students must be behind and need make up work to those who ignored, outright animosity and grudging approval the four find themselves fighting an uphill battle for acceptance. As Eddie runs laps to allow the white boys times to shower after football practice to teacher's eyes directed toward by not quite meeting his to stares and gasps the first days of school are not easy ones. Cafeteria workers who were careful to not touch black hands, grudging respect building in unsuspected teachers and fellow students, being ignored, sitting out football game after football game, always feeling afraid, and decisions to be made.

Mr. Touchdown offers the reader a peek into the turmoil facing many students, black and white, during 1965 as they face changes in their lives when the law demanded that the schools be desegregated. Athletes, straight a students none of that matters, everyone knows –they- are dirty, they cheat and they can't compete with white students. Everyone knows –they- are bigots, hate everyone not white and have no compassion. Facing anger and outright hatred of many of the teaching staff as well as fellow students is something few of us can honestly say we have experienced. Integration forced black and white to look within themselves and find the commonality of humankind…. It was not always an easy struggle. Writer Phillips has well portrayed the struggle for black and white alike as they come to understanding of themselves, social mores of the time and change in society.

Written mainly in third person writer Phillips draws the reader into the tale from the outset and holds reader interest tight as we follow the ups and downs of four young people who are facing more stress than most of us face in our lifetime.

Mr. Touchdown is an outstanding read filled with resonating, illustrative language used to forge an animated teen world filled with shop class and unfair gym teachers, rattle of band, pep rallies and pompoms. Gusty dialogue, fast-moving story line, and frankly astonishing twists and turns rooted in the revolutionary social change that were part and parcel of our country during the 1960s are presented in readable fashion sure to draw middle school and high school reader attention. Writer Phillips has managed to balance the vivid portrayal of community undercurrent, cross generation distress, personal struggle, teen angst, and violence against the beginnings of understanding and acceptance by adults and fellow students. From outright anger to false acceptance to real understanding, teachers are portrayed in believable manner.

Racism, segregation, separate and never equal, are presented in gritty words and gritty manner. The writer has crafted a work of fiction based in historical fact. Eddie is a character with whom reader's can identify for both his struggle as a black youth, and that of simply being a teen in an adult world. Excellent choice for the classroom, the pleasure reading shelf, homeschool library and middle to high school curriculum. Enjoyed the read, happy to recommend.

Molly Martin, Reviewer

Norton's Bookshelf

Their Kingdom Come
Robert Hutchison
Thomas Dunne Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
0312357605 $14.95 1-888-330-8477

Now in an newly updated and expanded edition, Their Kingdom Come: Inside the Secret World of Opus Dei is a scathing expose of the elite shadow government behind the Vatican, Opus Dei. From their unholy alliance with the Mafia, secular powerbrokers, and high-ranking prelates, to the threat that money and politics poses to the Christian values underlying the Catholic Church itself, Their Kingdom Come chills the spine as it shows how absolute power corrupts absolutely. Written by journalist and National Business Writing Award winner Robert Hutchinson, Their Kingdom Come is highly recommended for lay readers and religious leadership alike, both as a warning of Opus Dei's shortcomings and a cautionary tale for other religious groups, institutions and movements.

Science And Religion
Zainal Abidin Bagir
Australian Theological Forum
c/o International Publishers Marketing
22841 Quicksilver Drive, Dulles, VA 20166
1920691340 $30.00

Deftly compiled and edited by Zainal Abidin Bagir (Center for Religious and Cross-cultural Studies, Gadjah Mada University, Indonesia), Science And Religion In A Post-Colonial Word: Interfaith Perspectives is an in-depth study of conceptual findings and theories of modern science and the questioning required by the various theologies of diverse religions. Guiding readers with an easy-to-follow commentary on the "customization of sciences" as provided by the religious sects of Vedic, Islamic, Christian, and other faith-based rationales, Science And Religion presents the ideas and ideals of scientifically-inclined modern socially progressive understandings for phenomena and observations which religion has previously explained through their theologies. Science And Religion is to be given high praise and very strong recommendation as a well authored study of religious adaption and progressive interpretation in the face of modern scientific inquiries, findings, and theories.

A Spiritual Path To Overcoming Infertility
Matthew McQuaid
Reverence Press
263 Lange Street, Lakeport, CA 95453
Cypress House, dist.
155 Cypress Street, Fort Bragg, CA 95437
0977142566 $16.95 1-800-773-7782

Dr. Matthew McQuaid is an expert on overcoming the emotional challenges of infertile. A Spiritual Path To Overcoming Infertility: Creating Your Miracle Family Now draws upon the story of the birth of his own "miracle son" Luke to share inspirational guidance through the emotional pains and struggles of infertility and offer a knowledgeably approach to the problems of infertility and conception. Deftly guiding readers through the natural solutions, in vitro fertilization, and other processes for overcoming infertility, A Spiritual Path To Overcoming Infertility offers an accessible understanding of how to reduce the stress associated with infertility, apply simple health tips for greater success, use mind/body techniques to improve the outcome of medical treatments, choose the right doctor and clinic to match personal needs, eliminate blame and strengthen relationship, increase happiness and acceptance, and so much more. A Spiritual Path To Overcoming Infertility is very highly recommended for readers having to deal with infertility and conception issues of their own.

Satanic Killings
Frank Moorhouse
Allison & Busby
c/o International Publishers Marketing
22841 Quicksilver Drive, Dulles, VA 20166
0749082321 $25.95 1-703-661-1541

Satanic Killings by journalist and musician Frank Moorhouse is the modern history of the killings committed by cult members of the black magic and Satanic ritual practices. Following the rise of popularity in Satanism from the 1960s down to today, Satanic Killings studies the minds, lives and backgrounds of the underground cult-oriented predators and devil worshiping murderers involved in these ruthless murders including serial killers, vampire broods, neo-nazis, and Satanists, including their pop culture, sociological, and psychological influences. Satanic Killings is very strongly recommended for both its insightfully critical analysis of the twisted minds behind modern day occult and Satanic murders.

Oliver Norton

Pamela's Bookshelf

Halal Food, Fun, and Laughter: A Literate Cookbook
Muslim Writers Publishing
P.O. Box 27362, Tempe, Arizona 85285 USA
ISBN: 097678615X, $12.95, 110 pp.

When I was a child I spent a great deal of time in my grandmother's kitchen, chopping onions, stirring stew, or whipping up a batch of cookies, while "Grammy" told me tales of her childhood. Halal Food, Fun, and Laughter, by Linda D. Delgado, recaptures the spirit of Grammy's kitchen, combining short stories and poems about cooking and food, delightful animated spoon comics, and recipes from around the world. The result is a warm, good feeling inside, coupled with delicious food on your table.

Also featured in the cookbook are quotes from the Qur'an (Islam's Scripture) and hadith (narrations from the life of Prophet Muhammad), reflecting the Muslim faith of the author and the contributing writers and poets. I can guarantee you will learn something about the Islamic faith that you will never see on the evening news. The quotes are accessible and interesting; the stories and poems range from engaging and interesting, to fun and inspiring. It's like having your Chicken Soup for the Muslim soul, and eating it too.

As a cookbook aficionado, I was surprised to find that each recipe sounded better than the previous. Usually when I am flipping through one of my cookbooks looking for a recipe, I come across concoctions that make me wonder who in their right mind would even try them, let alone relish them. The recipes in Halal Food, Fun and Laughter all sounded delicious. I'm looking forward to trying them all. In the meantime, here's one that I recommend; it works wonderfully in a crockpot.

Nur's Peanut Chicken Breast


1/4 cup peanut butter
2 tbs. chopped peanuts
2 tbs. soy sauce
1 tbs. minced onions
1 tbs. minced parsley
1 clove garlic – crushed
Several drops of red pepper sauce
1/8 tsp. ground ginger
4 whole chicken breasts – skinned & boned
2 tbs. soy sauce
2 tbs. honey
1 tbs. melted butter
1 10 1/2 ounce chicken broth
1 tbs. cornstarch


Mix peanut butter, peanuts, 2 tbs. soy sauce, onion, parsley, garlic, pepper sauce, and ginger. Spread on inside of each chicken breast. Fold in half; close with small skewer or a toothpick. Place in slow-cooking pot. Mix remaining 2 tbs. soy sauce with honey, butter, and broth; pour over chicken. Cover and cook on low for 4 to 5 hours. Remove chicken from pot. Turn control to high. Dissolve cornstarch in small amount of cold water; stir into sauce. Cook on high for about 15 minutes. Spoon sauce on chicken and serve

Awakening to a Different Vision of Iran: A Review of Shirin Ebadi's Memoir, Iran Awakening
Pamela K. Taylor
Random House
400 Hahn Road, Westminster, Maryland 21157 USA
ISBN: 1400064708, $24.95, 232 pp.

If Shirin Ebadi had handpicked the date for her memoir, Iran Awakening, to be released, she could not have chosen better. Into the boiling cauldron of tension between Iran and the US over Iranian nuclear ambitions, comes a cooling influence, a peek into the life and thoughts of everyday Iranian people and a plea for sanity and calm, for restraint and mutual understanding between Americans and Iranians.

"In the Islamic Republic," Ebadi writes, "We have a problem with representation. Our diplomats around the world are, naturally, loyal to the regime, and the regime's credibility is not such that it reflects the true opinions of the people. The responsibility falls, then, on unofficial ambassadors to relate Iranians' perceptions and hopes to the world."

Ebadi is one such unofficial ambassador, and a brilliant one at that. A devout Muslim and fiercely loyal to her country, she has become the face of human rights in Iran, focusing her legal practice on pro bono defense of women, children, and writers. For her work, she was awarded the Nobel Peace Prize in 2003. On her return to Iran, she writes, she was greeted by crowds that rivaled those greeting Ayatollah Khomeini when he returned from exile in 1979. Crowds carrying placards that proclaimed, "This is Iran. We are united for Peace and Humanity." It is a picture of Iran that we in the West rarely see.

Ebadi's memoir weaves the story of her life – starting with childhood and following her path through college, judgeship, being stripped of her title after the 1979 Revolution, and finally her practice of law under Islamic theocracy – with the story of Iran's politics. It is a story at once inspiring and chilling.

Starting with the CIA toppling of popularly elected president Mossadegh, the first section of the book traces the decadent and dangerous days of the shah and his secret police, the SAVAK, contrasting the shah's excesses to the simple joys of the Iranian people in life itself – in family, good food, shared company, intellectual discussions, and student protests. Against this background, Ebadi describes her own awakening to politics, and her burgeoning awareness of the patriarchal nature of Iranian culture. Her descriptions of Iranian life are lyrical and evocative; her descriptions of the anti-monarchy sentiment resulting from the shah's abuses give readers insight into the mindset behind a revolution that often seems incomprehensible to the point of verging on insanity.

The second section of the book relates the chaos of the revolution. With breath-taking sincerity and unflinching self-critique, she describes how Khomeini's simple "Down with the Shah!" managed to unite an idealistic populace that did not think through the implications of his dedication to Islamic theocracy, nor his adherence to a particularly stringent and punitive vision of Islam. She speaks eloquently of the cost the Iran-Iraq war in terms of its death toll, the devastation it wreaked upon the Iranian economy, the cult of martyrdom that it spawned, and how it effectively stifled opposition to the increasingly totalitarian nature of Khomeini's regime.

The final section starkly documents the continuing chaos of Iran – the increasingly repressive policies of the government, the crushing domination of the most conservative clerical class, mass executions of dissidents, targeted assassination of leading intellectuals, nightmare legal and human rights abuses that make the mind stagger with disbelief at the sheer injustice of Iranian laws, and at the corruption of a government which prides itself on righteousness. Ebadi does not mince words as she relates horrific scenarios from some of the more spectacular cases she has argued and personal tales of loss.

Yet, despite the terrible state of affairs, Ebadi remains optimistic, buoyed by widespread popular support for her positions, the Iranian people's commitment to justice, and the hope that change will come, steadily if slowly, to the Islamic Republic. She speaks of the irony that the Islamic revolution paved the way for young women to get higher education, educations that, Ebadi believes, will in the long run spell the undoing of the revolution, as Iranian women are less and less tolerant of patriarchal and prejudicial systems. She paints a picture of a government deeply out of synch with the Iranian populace, and growing discontent over its policies. While she does not see change coming quickly, she does believe reform is inexorably marching forward.

She ends with a passionate plea for the West to maintain pressure on Iran, especially with regards to human rights and civil liberties, but also calls for an end to saber rattling. The threat of military strikes and regime change, she says, endangers democracy-minded Iranians, and naturally stifles Iranian discontent in alarmed nationalism. Iranians, she writes, "must be given the chance to fight their own fights, to transform their country uninterrupted." Ebadi's eloquence and passion, her pursuit of justice despite imprisonment and threats of assassination, her vision of a secular Iranian state combined with her willingness to promote progressive spiritual alternatives to the repressive interpretations of the current regime, and her presentation of a Iranian culture submerged beneath an unrepresentative government, makes one inclined to think change will indeed come.

Pamela K. Taylor, Reviewer

Paul's Bookshelf

For Sarah
Annie Harmon
P.O. Box 151, Frederick, MD 21705
ISBN: 141377010X, $18.95, 262 pp.

In their own words, this is the story of the Welsh sisters, and their lives with Jack, their mean and abusive stepfather. Every Sunday, the whole family attended church, like the typical happy family. The rest of the week, there were beatings (with a leather belt) and molestation, for little or no reason. The family wore hand-me-down clothes. The justice system was no help. One by one, the girls run away from home, and attempt to find their own identities, while holding on to each other.

One sister dies, but there is no sense of closure for the girls, because they are not allowed to attend the funeral. Another sister waitresses at an all-night truck stop, expecting the "missing" sister to come in at any time. While living on the streets, a third sister encounters a number of people who expect you-know-what in exchange for assistance.

In later years, Samantha, another sister, lives on her own, but with an extreme fear of leaving her house, practically agoraphobia. Ashlee, who goes through men the way most people go through tissues, temporarily gives up custody of Nicole, her daughter, to Amber, because Ashlee feels that she is an unfit mother. She is also convinced that she is being stalked by a man named Bruce, even though she has never actually seen him. With a policeman husband, it is felt that Amber can transfer some stability to Nicole. Later, that stability is shattered when Shane, Amber's husband, is killed by a stray bullet on the pistol range. Amber marries two other men, who both die in freak accidents.

Mother gets in her side of the story. She married young, and went through three unhappy marriages before she married Jack. The biggest thing going for him is that he promised to stay around, and he did. He didn't leave her, or suddenly declare that he was gay, like her previous husbands. She feels that Jack is a sweet man, who is simply under a lot of pressure; she can't understand why her girls never visit anymore, or even call her. At the end, the sisters have their catharsis, their moment of getting "over" Jack, once and for all, with help from a tornado.

According to the Introduction, there is a substantial amount of non-fiction in this book, even though it is marketed as fiction. Either way, it is a gem of a story. In a way, this is pretty unpleasant reading, but it is very good and emotional reading. It is very much recommended.

Rainy Day People
Susan C. Haley with Robert J. Delany
Infinity Publishing
1094 New DeHaven Street, #100, West Conshohocken, PA 19428-2713
ISBN: 0741428741, $19.95, 387 pp.

Widowed early, Amber is living by herself by the ocean in Florida. She has a quiet connection with nature, and a wild, reckless side, That is characterized by her enjoyment of speeding along in her silver convertible, while heavy metal blasts from the car stereo.

During a trip into town, Amber meets a man in a local bookstore. There is some sort of connection between them, so they see each other a few times. They sit on a seawall feeding seagulls, instead of the "usual" activities like dinner or a movie. After hearing nothing from him for several weeks, Amber gets a letter from Texas. He (she learns that his name is Ben) is in a hospital with an undefined, but life-threatening, case of cancer. Amber immediately flies to Texas, practically drags Ben out of the hospital and brings him back to her place in Florida, where she nurses him back to health.

There are the usual ups and downs, as with any relationship, but for Ben and Amber, it's mostly up. After a period of time, they decide to go on a trip of unknown duration, to find a place to live that isn't His or Hers, but Theirs. It has to be near the ocean, but, otherwise, pretty much at random, they get in her car and head for Maine. Staying off the interstates as much as possible, they pass through all sorts of quirky small towns.

When they reach Maine, a series of coincidences lead them to a vacant stone house right on the ocean. Amber is convinced that they were led to that house for some sort of greater cosmic purpose, while Ben is much more of a down-to-earth pragmatist. The book ends with that moment where the relationship is put to the test, and will emerge stronger than ever, or be forever destroyed. From the first few pages, the reader will realize that this is not your average relationship story; it's a lot better than that. It's very well done, and is very much worth the reader's time.

The Rapture of Maturity: A Legacy of Lifelong Learning
Charles D. Hayes
Autodidactic Press
P.O. Box 872749, Wasilla, AK 99687
ISBN: 0962197947, $21.95, 224 pp.

"What will people say about me after I'm gone?" "After the funeral, and after the will, how will everyone think of me?" For the average young person, such thoughts are not important. However, once a person reaches their 50th birthday, such thoughts become much more important. That's what this book is all about.

The author looks at properties of life (like the Properties option in computer software). Interesting activities make the time pass quickly, but when we are bored, or doing something we don't want to do, time passes very slowly. A fundamental way to learn to move with the flow of life, instead of against it, is to understand change as an essential property of life. Regret is a built-in component of learning life's most important lessons. A life devoid of passion is a life lived at room temperature; we either have passion or we don't. Curiosity usually depends on imagination and courage to proceed; it is the spark that lets imagination burn brightly.

Various aspects of human life are also considered. No matter how famous we become, we will all die someday. Instead of celebrating the differences among people, a better approach is to concentrate on minimizing those differences. When you care deeply about something, the motivation to learn about it will follow. Those who choose reason over emotion are criticized for acting too cerebral or wanting to discuss unsettled questions.

How to help grandchildren (or other young people) develop an enthusiasm for learning and thirst for knowledge? People who are not learners cannot inspire others to be what they are not. Children will easily see through such pretension. Through your actions, convince your grandchildren that America's greatest treasures are found in libraries, not shopping malls. Help them to recognize the senselessness of confusing their identity with brand-name products. Help them to understand that the greatest defense against peer pressure is often found in the courage to be different. Help them to be wary of groups and organizations that discourage questions.

This a very interesting and eye-opening book. While it may be intended for people in their second half-century of life, it is very much recommended for people who have not yet reached that age. It is never too early to start thinking of the things mentioned here. Well worth reading.

Red Flash
Kiva Wolfe
Draumr Publishing
P.O. Box 428, Columbia, MD 21045-0428
ISBN: 1933157062, $17.95, 279 pp.

Dominick Stanovic is a handsome former triathlete who is part of the family gem business in present-day Colorado. He learns that his young nephew was killed by the Russian Mafia, and stumbles upon a smuggling operation involving his family, the Russians and the Brazilian Mafia.

Older brother Serg Stanovic is head of the family gem business, built with help from the Russian Mafia. The insurance company is asking unpleasant questions, which makes the Russians nervous. If the growing tension between Serg, and their mother, Berta, and her pet ocelot, isn't bad enough (the phrase "gasoline plus lit match" comes to mind), an extra complication to Dominick's life is Mala Cole, Serg's woman. She is a Brazilian beauty in her early 20s, and Dominick has fallen for her, very hard. Mala has a past of her own, unbeknownst to the Stanovic family, a past which involves never going back to Brazil, because she killed an Important Person.

A shipment of very rare Brazilian colored diamonds has gone missing, so Dominick convinces Serg that he (Dominick) should go to the Brazilian Amazon to straighten things out. Maybe this will convince Serg that Dominick should be given more responsibility in the family business. Serg doesn't suggest or ask that Mala go with him as translator, Serg tells Mala to go with him as translator. Mala thinks that if she got her hands on the diamonds, it would go a long way toward smoothing things over with the people in Brazil who want her dead.

This is an excellent thriller. It has all the required elements: international intrigue, murder, sex, the Mafia, obsession, betrayal and large amounts of money. It would also make a really good movie. This is well worth reading.

Paul Lappen

Richard's Bookshelf

How to Be a Christian Without Being Annoying
Bette Dowdell
Confident Faith Institute LLC
P O Box 11744 Glendale, AZ 85318
ISBN: 0971772800, $24.95

A Fresh Look at the Christian Faith

This book is a compilation of seventy five articles, each with a Scripture reading, short instructional comments about the Scripture and a page of thought provoking, often profound, insights. Selections from various contemporary translations of the Bible, without the distraction of verse designations, guides the reader into new insights. The Scripture passages flow in a natural, easy-to-read approach. The explanatory notes and phonetic spelling of basic Bible terms enhance the reading, especially for the non Christian or new believer.

Dowdell is true to the basic tenets of the Christian faith. Each individual reading provides inspiration and encouragement, whether read randomly or in sequence. However the material is logically presented, and each new truth builds on earlier instruction. Either way each individual reading will result in raising needed personal, soul-searching questions. Helpful indexes of subjects and scriptures are provided after the closing chapter of the book.

Bette Dowdell is a natural communicator. Her descriptive phrases and word pictures make her simple illustrations come to life and cause the reader to experience and participate in the adventure. This is an amazing gift (talent).

This is a book for mature Christians, seekers or new believers. Dowdell has carefully crafted a work that is non threatening to all. This is a book you can pass along to a friend or family member without being "annoying." It will pull the reader in, page by page, chapter by chapter.

I appreciated the texture and quality of the cover and fine binding of this book. For this reason alone it makes an exceptional gift book. However, more importantly, I thoroughly enjoyed my reading experience and plan to recommend this book often when concerned friends ask for suggestions to give their non Christian family members and friends. This is an excellent way to introduce people to all that Christianity offers in a way that doesn't offend or condescend. Recipients will read How to be a Christian Without Being Annoying. Refreshing!

Absence of Grief
Cora Gall Gunn Trent
1663 Bloomington, Indiana 47403
ISBN: 1418495077, $9.95

Unexpected Bi-Polar Actions

Harold Trent suffered from Bi-Polar Disease. This was before much was known of this disease. Consequently Harold did not get the help he needed. It was much later in adult life that the diagnosis was identified.

This story is a tribute to Harold Trent a man plagued with “demons” hard to imagine. Throughout the endeavor Harold diligently provided for his family. Mrs. Trent plays down her role of commitment and encouragement as havoc and tragedy became a way of life. This is a story of overcoming obstacles through a love fed by personal co-dependent needs. Cora Gail Gunn Trent captured my attention from the first page. Using colorful often earthy language she tell of a forty-seven year journey with Harold Trent.

Trent shares her poetry throughout the book. These poems were often borne out of desperation and express the deeply moving feelings of the devoted love she felt for her husband. Harold was unable to understand, accept or respond to the reality of his own self worth. These poems add a perceptive touch to this moving story.

My heart was gripped. In the eulogy for Harold, his doctor, and friend, reflected on the deep spiritual life of both husband and wife. He offered hope to anyone suffering a similar fate. I highly recommend this book for anyone who is a caregiver and to every family member faced with a loved one diagnosed with Bi-Polar Disease or suffering from alcoholism.

Richard R. Blake

Skinner's Bookshelf

Eve's Red Dress
Diane Lockward
Wind Publications
600 Overbrook Drive, Nicholasville, KY 40356
ISBN: 1893239187, $14.00, 112 pp.

Published in Prism Quarterly 8.1, Fall 2005

Diane Lockward's collection, and its title poem, are aptly named to set the slightly irreverent tone for a wonderful collection of poems. I was first drawn to Lockward's book by the website linked in the signature of an email I received from her. There was something hauntingly familiar about the lines sampled on that webpage. I thought perhaps I'd read her work before. As it turns out, though, the voice in those poems is very much like that of Siobhan, whose collection Through the Longing Daze I assisted in editing. Very seldom, in fact never, have I read two collections as siblingesque as these two wonderful books.

Lockward, as poet, has neither modesty nor shame – which lends the greater power to her verse for its honesty; in tone confessional, her lines add to that style the meaning-making so important for poignant poetry. One might expect such confessional-seeming poetry to contain vapid shock-for-shock-sake verses sprinkled throughout, but Eve's Red Dress shuns such poetaster stunts and cuts to both the heart and mind to find a lesson. Yet such lessons come through subtle narration and are wrought so skillfully as to avoid didactic tone.

Like Billy Collins and Ted Kooser, Diane Lockward writes to a broad cross-over audience; her verse appeals to Joe and Jane Public, but also to Mr., Ms., and Mrs. Academe. Her verse is accessible enough to enjoy without having to complicate it with all the abstractions or abstruse verbosity of the kind that drive people to "I hate Poetry" group sessions. And yet there is such a rich content of allusion within each poem, with just a few exceptions, that the mid- to higher-brow reader can ponder them and find layers of meaning below the surface.

Lockward's greatest strength is likely her judicious, seemingly intuitive sense of line. Few poets I have read are as adept with line-breaks; Lockward's crafting on the line level demonstrates an intimate feel for the line and squarely testifies to her mastery as a poet. Take for instance these lines from "The Mystery of the Missing Girl," "I became a girl detective and searched / my grandmother's attic. . . ." taking the first line as a sentence makes sense and leaves a great deal to the reader's imagination, it paints a complete picture. But then the line zooms that picture to one locale. Readers identify with both pictures, and having both pictures enriches the poem more than had the line end-stopped at attic. Once you've read the poem, return to the title and consider the meaning there (it would spoil it to explain further).

Billy Collins has a few poems for which he has been accused of puerility, but his poking fun in poems like "Taking Off Emily Dickinson's Clothing" is rather tacit next to Lockward's "The Intimacy of Laundry." It takes a great deal of imagination to make something as banal as laundry folding anything but boring, and yet Lockward's treatment in this poem is more sensuous and sensual than half the love scenes depicted in last year's box office smashes (granted, Hollywood is in a conservative era, but there is still a fair amount of heat and passion here and there). And it comes without the violence and agonizing tension given to adolescent/young adult romance; it is truly romantic in its comfortable maturity, its pragmatic truth, and its insistence on finding wonder in the stifling details of a mundane life – this is where poetry becomes a high art, an essential humanity, in making sense and meaning in the darkest or blandest corners in a world of routine. After all, it is routine that kills creativity, and creativity is the birthright of humanity.

What more routine than laundry care? What more sensual than
my panties. It's one of those dry days,
fall air full of static electricity.
Everything he touches
crackles and jolts. My panties are loose
and wild, flying and flinging themselves
at him, clinging….

Taken out of context, these lines are quite racy, but the surrounding poem cushions them, makes them safer – yet ironically creates a contrast that builds the tension perfectly.

From a critical standpoint, one faces the challenge of what approach is most appropriate to a given text. In this case, as I generally prefer a phenomenological approach to a given work or author, it seems relevant to address the feminist aspects of Eve's Red Dress. First, I have to confess that Feminism is one of my least favorite literary theories. Like so much of what is considered orthodox, I find Feminism generally misused or misdirected (notice both words contain the miss); however, I truly appreciate and enjoy any treatment of theory or content that empowers people singly or severally. Eve's Red Dress is a prime example of Feminism at its best – the kind of feminism that celebrates feminine power and beauty for the sake of celebration! This is the kind of feminism that reaches out to all humanity and says I am your mother, your sister, your lover; I worship myself that you may adore me, and thereby your self. Perhaps that's a bit overstated, but I think Grandpa Whitman, our icon of self-worship as analogous to a universalist theology, would approve both of the sentiment and the collection of poems.

Works of art can be measured in many ways. One very strong indication of any work's worth is its ability to inspire further art. Many of the greatest poems in the English language have either inspired or been inspired by works in other media. Take for instant the Waterhouse paintings based on Keats and the many poems inspired by paintings and musical pieces. It may be a long way to the canon for Lockward, but she at least shares this with the masters, that her work has inspired artistry from others – as demonstrated by this poem:

Adam Answers
It was the woman
And GOD what a woman!
How gladly I chose!
Sorry God
She's just more fun than you.

Oh! And what pleasure playing
in the stream of Time.
This thrill of motion
urgency to propagate
Can't find that
in Eternity's stagnant Ocean!

Yep! I'm grateful God
Really I am
Thank you.
What a grand gift, this punishment
barred of Eden
with its plastic flowers
endless hours
on ever-unpained knees in worship
never to see her grow to worn wonder
crow's feet and life-maps etched
all along her fallen Self

We shall endure as You made us
like You – Ever Curious – Ever Creative

By the Way: Poems Through the Years
David Radavich
Buttonwood Press
P.O. Box 206, Champaign, IL 61824-0206
ISBN: 096580450X, $12.00

Published in Prism Quarterly, April 2006, Volume 8, Issue 2

As a rule, I try to stay away from work that I consider Imagist in nature. This is because I find most imagist work short of the mark; four sticks and a slab of wood do not make a table, just as some so called imagist poets try to stick six words on a page and call it a poem. Coherence and cohesion are needed to form a poem, just as something must connect the legs to the board to create a table. I lament the hours of my life eternally gone from me for having pierced my eyes and beat my brain trying to glean sense from the vaster pool of slush poetasters try to pass off as imagist poetry.

But there are exceptional works, and exceptional poets, who fit into, or at least at the margins of imagism. David Radavich's By the Way: Poems over the Years starts out with an imagist feel. If Mr. Radavich considers himself an Imagist poet, then he is certainly one whom I would categorize in the exception; that is, I find his work coherent and cohesive. If he does not particularly align himself with the imagist camp, I can hardly be blamed for thinking him at least influenced by that philosophy. Imagism holds to the idea that the subject or object of the poem should be dealt with in concrete language and with the most economical use of words. Radavich is certainly vigorous in the Strunk & White fashion. He chooses his words carefully and pulls his lines together for the utmost impact and clarity. Rarely obtuse, hardly ever abstruse, Radavich delivers his lines with the clarity of hindsight and the simple elegance of a poet given neither to the sentimentality of the confessional nor the ostentatious verbosity of the Romantics.

One measure I find myself tending toward in reviewing any book, especially of poetry, is the quotidian quality of its content. Whether right or wrong, I find the measure to be of the same importance within a collection as prosody, imagery, and meaning are in a single poem. On this measure, Radavich scores about as highly as any book I've reviewed to date. One particular 'couplet' stands out most for its resonance through so many of the poems in the collection:

To learn loneliness
is not alone,
-"Reading the Poet" 93

To take this from its context seems to bring it to the level of axiom. But within its context, both on the scale of its parent poem and its extended family, the collection as a whole, its resonance is as powerful as its seeming simplicity. Nowhere could the line (despite its break, I shall consider it a line unto itself) be better illustrated than in the poem "Birthday," from page 101 of the book:

Every year a leaf falls,
one at a time, hands,
days full of raking, scattering

and I come to see
the bare tree
of us

against the sunlight
strewn in branches, shimmering
naked against all

those colors
you give me tumbling
free within
a small space, a time together
walking in woods

Like so many of his poems, Radavich leaves a lot of room for contextualization in the poem itself. One could imagine that the narrator is accompanied by a person in this poem; on the other hand, it begs of absence—poignant unalone loneliness. Perhaps it is the tone of the poems throughout the book that bring me to this intuition of the poem, as section two deals with cancer and this poem falls within the eighth and final section, "Departures." It raises the question of the nature of the departure—could be divorce, but seems more likely death than distance. Is the tree a tree? Or is it a cross in a wooded cemetery? The final line salutes Frost, and in so doing brings the snow of the allusioned poem into this remembrance as well.

Such melancholy would make for a hard read were it to remain the staple of the collection, but happily that is not the case. First of all, within the context of the collection, there is a silver thread woven into every cloud invoked by the poet's deliberately formed images. In "Parkscape," we get such hope from the opening "We come here to find/ what is missing." Anyone still searching is assumed to either have a hope of finding, or an obsessive compulsion, and since there is nothing in the context to hint the latter pathology, we must assume that the "we" invoked here is a collective of persons who retain the hope in finding what is lost. Further into the poem, we find one of my favorite expressions in poetry:

before we fly
outward in our perhaps
elegant aloneness.

Immediately followed by the haunting, yet mesmerizing "It is dusk; / we have fed on it." To me, the idea is that of the soul's flight after the flesh falls away. I assume that we do so in sparrow form, led to that conclusion by the opening of "Reading the Poet":

I think somehow
you must be a passerine

Thanks, David, for sending me to my dictionary to find that passerine refers to the largest order of birds (I've since used that wonderful addition to my lexicon in a crossword that would otherwise have been quite vexing). Back to the point, hope in an afterlife, of an ongoing spirit moving free of the dead flesh, mitigates the absolute tragedy of death, silvering the cloud of mourning. Each reference to loss therefore recalls hope. In the spirit of Donne, Radavich finds a way to keep death humble—and if death be a she, then he shears her well (see "Pride," 25).

In his poem "Thin Man: Bosnia, 1993," it is rather difficult to determine whose is the voice admonishing the reader from the only indented lines in the poem, "whosoever does not / believe / must cry out." This is a powerful call to action, civically, socially, politically, artistically, and humanly. It is a mantra for every revolution, every civil disobedience, every town meeting, etc. It is not so much a stance as it is another axiom for humanity. It stands up for standing up, but calls to no particular polemical stance other than that claimed as inalienable rights by the framers of the Constitution.

Overall, By the Way has a feel similar to Simic's Pulitzer Prize winning Walking the Black Cat, somehow concrete in the abstract, building clear images from wind and fog to illuminate parts of the world accessible only through poetry. By Billy Collins' standard of "if you can write it any other way, then don't write it as a poem," Radavich scores a perfect score (whatever that is in poetry—perhaps the laurel wreath?). By Lisel Mueller's standard:

Poets and storytellers
move into the vacancies
Edward Hopper left them.
-"American Literature" Alive Together, 31

By the Way is certainly a solid winner. The tone and imagery captured between its covers certainly put me into places I would expect to find in a Hopper painting. Clear, concise, deliberate verse makes By the Way one of stars in the constellation of my heaven of poesy. I eagerly anticipate seeing more of Mr. Radavich's work in future issues of Prism Quarterly as well as the many other fine journals with the sense to publish fine poetry.

R. David Skinner

Tami's Bookshelf

Psycho Psychic
Betsy Gallup
Publish America
P.O. Box 151, Frederick, MD 21705
ISBN: 1413787614, $19.95, 194 pp.

Lily Banks and Kate Libson have been friends since the forth grade. Lily is the flighty spiritualist who is always looking for her next cause believing it to lead to her destiny. Kate is the sceptic, always trying to protect Lily from the disaster that she brings upon herself.

Lily's latest infatuation is with Princess Eva, a renowned psychic with the amazing ability to see anyone's future. Lily manages to drag Kate to see Princess Eva for a reading. However, instead of finding out that she's going to meet that tall dark handsome stranger, Lily finds out that her life is in danger. A series of mysterious deaths (accompanied by bizarre suicide notes) in individuals who have had recent readings by Princess Eva leads to suspicion that the psychic may be a psycho killer.

Psycho Psychic is compelling right to the great twist at the end of the story. Kate and Lily balance each other out really well - like real friends should. The blast from the past romance on the side is just icing on the cake.

Moments at Anchor Bay High
Ronne R. Gleason
Goose River Press
3400 Friendship Road, Waldoboro, ME, 04572-6337
ISBN: 1930648960, $15.95, 312 pp.

Whether you are a high school athlete, a parent, or just enjoy watching sports, you know that high school sports are packed full of passion and unbridled hope that no other level of play seems to possess. Watching these spirited individuals is not only entertaining but also creates a sense of nostalgia mixed with renewed hope for the future.

The author of Moments at Anchor Bay High is a huge fan of high school sports. Over the years, he has dug deeper within both the game and himself to seek a spiritual nature to these events. He regularly draws from the passion of a particularly well played game or a play off match to find his inspiration for his writing. These are often written, without sleep to interrupt the flow of the raw feelings, over the course of several days.

I find the process of the author's writing of this collection of works extremely interesting. He almost seems to siphon excess energy off the games and then infuses this passion into his writing. The resulting poems and letters are filled with spiritual metaphor that often has double or triple meanings that go far beyond the surface of the original sporting activity.

Tami Brady

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

Copyright ©2001

Site design by Williams Writing, Editing & Design