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Reviewer's Bookwatch

Volume 5, Number 11 November 2005 Home | RBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Atwood's Bookshelf Bethany's Bookshelf
Betsy's Bookshelf Bob's Bookshelf Buhle's Bookshelf
Burroughs' Bookshelf Carson's Bookshelf Cassandra's Bookshelf
Christina's Bookshelf Christy's Bookshelf Debra's Bookshelf
Emanuel's Bookshelf Gary's Bookshelf Gorden's Bookshelf
Greenspan's Bookshelf Harwood's Bookshelf Henry's Bookshelf
Hunter's Bookshelf Liana's Bookshelf Lynne's Bookshelf
Magdalena's Bookshelf Margaret's Bookshelf Mayra's Bookshelf
Nancy's Bookshelf Paul's Bookshelf Roe's Bookshelf
Roger's Bookshelf Sharon's Bookshelf Sonali's Bookshelf
Sullivan's Bookshelf Tarbox's Bookshelf Taylor's Bookshelf
Vogel's Bookshelf Volk's Bookshelf  

Reviewer's Choice

Tread Not On Me: A Johnny Cypress Mystery
RC Burdick
Publish America
P.O. Box 151 Frederick, MD 21705
ISBN: 1413766153, $19.95 (301) 695-1707

Aaron Paul Lazar

Seminole Detective Johnny Cypress is at a crossroads. Fiancee Holly Canton, daughter of the local sheriff of Palmetto County, has asked him to retire from the force. As much as she loves him, she's determined not to lose a second husband in the line of duty. Two years later, after several unsuccessful attempts to take down brutal drug lord, Carlos Santiago, Johnny capitulates and plans to devote the rest of his life to Holly and her thirteen-year-old son, Colin.

Life doesn't cooperate, however, when Santiago stages a massacre on Sand Key, targeting Johnny. Holly and Colin are slaughtered in the crossfire. Johnny and his loyal police dog, Rex, are gravely wounded.

Enter Enola, the strong, steadfast Seminole nurse who rescues Johnny and Rex from certain death and secrets them off to a tribal village to recuperate. A natural beauty and empathetic spirit, Enola contributes to Johnny's recovery with more than her knowledge of medicine. Armed with cunning tribal methods and the help of the village elder, Johnny struggles to beat the death sentence imposed by Santiago.

Meanwhile, something's rotten in the sheriff's office. No one knew about Johnny's trip to Sand Key except the sheriff and his coworkers. Johnny suspects each in turn, until his investigative powers flush out the culprit responsible for leaking the information to Santiago and his band of killers. As he heals emotionally and physically, Johnny plots to take down Santiago's empire. The climax is replete with tension and nail biting action - the perfect and righteous revenge.

There is much more to this riveting novel than a clever plot and magnetic characters. The prose is smooth and engaging, the dialogue is natural, and the sense of place is immediate. The Florida waterways come alive with gators, mosquitoes, buttonwood trees, exotic birds, and thousands of slow moving streams that snake beneath the mossy overhangs. It is with a sense of acute nostalgia combined with satisfaction that the reader turns the last page. Burdick possesses a rare talent - and is my new favorite writer. This book, much like its predecessor, The Margaret Ellen, A Karen Cobia Mystery, lingers in ones life for days after completion, leaving only one question to be answered. When will the next Burdick book be released?

Arthur & George
Julian Barnes
Random House
ISBN: 0224077031 A$49.95 360 pages

Ann Skea, Reviewer

In his autobiography, the celebrated writer Sir Arthur Conan Doyle wrote that after the death of his first wife in 1906 he was "for some time...unable to settle to work until the Edalji case came suddenly to turn my energies into an entirely unexpected channel".

The channel into which he turned would have been very familiar to his most famous creation, the brilliant detective Sherlock Holmes, but solving real crimes, tackling real cases of inadequate police investigation, and fighting real cases of wrongful conviction was not something Conan Doyle would normally do. He was a writer who was renowned for creating imaginary crime scenarios and controlling an imaginary cast of characters. And he resented being identified with Holmes, as frequently happened. Nevertheless, when the Edalji case came to his attention, he saw an injustice which he resolved to remedy.

So, he brought his intelligence and his imaginative powers to bear on an actual case in which a young, myopic, half-caste solicitor, George Edalji, had been wrongly convicted of maiming and killing a neighbour's horse. Edalji suffered three years of his seven year sentence of penal servitude before being released without explanation and, most importantly, without pardon. Without that pardon, he could not be reinstated as a solicitor and his life was ruined. Conan Doyle, having read the details of the crime, the trial and the sentence, applied his Holmes-like detective skills to the case in the belief that Edalji was completely innocent.

For the time that it took to obtain George Edalji's pardon, Arthur (as he is called throughout this book) turned from writer to sleuth. In effect, this is what Barnes has done too. He has used his own considerable skills as a novelist, and his own intelligence and wit, to delve into the archives and examine the historical evidence in order to create a novelistic presentation of fact. And one can see the contemporary relevance of this story in the continuing power of the media to sway public opinion (this is the way in which Arthur Conan Doyle chose to challenge the authorities); and also in the continuing power of government bodies to fudge the issue and wriggle out of blame in order to avoid compensation payments.

Readers who are familiar with Julian Barnes's work will recognize his ironic sense of humour, his understanding of the strengths, weaknesses, motivation and vagaries of his characters, and his unique story-telling skills. Arthur & George, however, is very different to his usual work.

Barnes has approached his novelistic presentation of fact in short, alternating chapters which present George Edalji, then Arthur Conan Doyle, first as small boys, then as young men, then as complex adults. So, we follow the men through their early lives and learn about their different family backgrounds, their studies, their everyday experiences and their personal traits. Not until half-way through the book do their lives become entangled. This is a difficult and daring method of introducing the story and, for me, it did not altogether succeed. I found that jumping so briefly and so often between two such different men was uncomfortable and disorientating. And the appearance of Inspector Campbell of Staffordshire Constabulary introduces a long saga of police ineptitude and outright prejudice which, although based on fact (or perhaps because it was fact), became so predictably unpleasant that I found it hard to read on. Only when Arthur Conan Doyle finally stepped centre stage and began acting like his famous detective did I find the story becoming gripping.

The story of Arthur and George is an interesting story. It is interesting, too, to read about Arthur Conan Doyle's interest in spiritualism and to follow the sceptical George to the huge gathering of 6,000 spiritualists at the memorial meeting which was held for Arthur at the Royal Albert Hall. Arthur had "passed over" but his empty chair was centre stage and many people attested to his presence.

Maybe, as the blurb on this book suggests, Barnes's new excursion into fictionalized history in Arthur & George will draw new readers to his work. Popular and fashionable as this new merging of fact and fiction is, however, it seems to me that it hampers Barnes's true imaginative and inventive skills. I hope he feels this way, too, or at least does not confine himself to this particular "entirely unexpected channel".

Connecting Hearts, second edition
Val Brown & MJ Walker
Blue Feather Books, Ltd.
P.O. Box 5867, Atlanta, Georgia 31107-5967
ISBN: 0977031802, $16.99 284 pages

Cheri Rosenberg

Connecting Hearts by Val Brown and MJ Walker is a poignant story about two women living on different continents. Denise Jennings (DJ) is a reclusive British poet who lives with her Aunt Sara. When Sara is diagnosed with Amyotrophic Lateral Sclerosis (ALS), commonly known as Lou Gehrig's disease or Motor Neuron Disease, DJ is searching for answers on how to help her aunt who is like a mother to her and is the only family she has left. In desperation, Denise contacts an American nurse Miranda (Randa) Martin who works for an Internet health information service. DJ not only gets medical advice, compassion, and friendship, but she gets so much more.

In a character-driven plot with terminal illness as the backdrop lurks a beautiful love story of two women brought together by fate. One is strong-willed and fiercely independent while the other is nurturing and caring. One is a reclusive poet who protects her privacy and the other is a registered nurse who wears her heart on a sleeve. Randa is the most honest person Denise has ever known and it frightens her a little. Will the nurse be able to help the poet through a difficult time in her life as her aunt is dying, and more importantly, will the poet accept her help? When love knocks on her door at a vulnerable time will Denise accept that she can still revel in happiness even though she is surrounded by sadness?

Despite her diagnosis Sara remains stoic and an inspiration of hope to us all. Her bravery and her unconditional love for her niece are palpable, heroic, and commendable. While it is sad to watch her whither away, there is also happiness that she has left a lasting impression on this earth. Denise realizes how truly blessed she is to have this fine woman in her life and is understandably devastated to be losing her.

Brown and Walker have done an excellent job of portraying all aspects of terminal illness including the necessity of making a living will before the need for one arises, the toll it takes on loved ones, and the importance of making necessary arrangements. The authors manage to convey the difficulty, without falling into unnecessary melodrama and cliche's. With all the hype of the Terry Schavio case, Connecting Hearts portrays a timely topic and stresses the importance of writing advance directives while a person is still healthy and mentally capable.

The authenticity whereby the authors use dialogue in the form of emails between DJ and Randa before they meet in person rings true. DJ's poetry also adds significantly to the enjoyment and beauty of this novel. In an accurate assessment DJ tells her agent, "Not long ago, somebody said to me that reading poetry was a way to make us stronger and wiser without causing us any pain…What I mean is that hurt and pain, and even desire, do have a function. If these feelings can be expressed through verse, then maybe you can touch others. You can show people they are not alone" [p.63]. DJ shows her love and compassion through her poetry. Randa reveals her emotions through her actions and words. She is a compassionate nurse who not only preserves the dignity of her patients but when she cares deeply about someone, there is no mistaking her affections. Denise has a lot to learn from Randa in that department.

As in all stories that deal with terminal illness, and Connecting Hearts is no exception, the reader knows Sara is going to die from the very beginning and yet when it happens, the tears flow anyway. But, Connecting Hearts is also uplifting and so romantic that the reader can feel good about this book long after it is finished. Romance lovers will delight in Randa's impression of her first kiss with DJ. She exclaims, "I feel like I've been branded, and it was just by a kiss!...The songwriter who said, 'a kiss is just a kiss' never got one from Denise Jennings!" [p. 133]. This well-written engaging story is riveting, enjoyable, witty, and bittersweet, as well as real, honest, and gritty. Learning about the lives of the three brave women as the story unfolds, makes it is easy to be enamored and intrigued by DJ, Randa, and Sara.

If you want an inspirational, sweet, and romantic love story with snappy dialogue, a clever story line, meticulous editing, loveable characters, enchanting emails, and beautiful poetry, then Connecting Hearts is the five star read for you. It will touch a special place in your heart.

Zahrah the Windseeker
Nnedi Okorafor-Mbachu,
Houghton Mifflin
ISBN: 0618340904, $16.00 320 pp.

Chi Mogbo

These days there is a lot of wonderful young adult fantasy in bookstores. Nevertheless, Zahrah the Windseeker is still one of a kind, for it is the only young adult fantasy novel out there that is African from its very center. In the world of Ginen (which in Voodoo, is the name of what slaves imagined Africa to be…since many could not remember…but in this novel, Ginen is a whole other world), Zahrah is dada (in Nigerian culture, this is a child literally born with dreadlocked hair- these children are believed to hold special powers). When Zahrah learns that she has special powers, this realization leads her to the adventure of her life.

Okorafor-Mbachu draws from the myth of the Flying Africans (in South Carolina, a group of Africans were rumored to have, instead of living a life of slavery, flown back to Africa). In this case, it goes even father because Okorafor-Mbachu herself is Igbo (a Nigerian ethnic group), just as those Africans of the Flying Africans Myth of South Carolina were. The fascinating thing is that aside from African American and African myth and culture, Okorafor-Mbachu blends in elements of the fantasy genre. There's a hilarious homage to Douglas Adam's Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy, the novel's got magical creatures and beasts that easily rival those in Star Wars world, and there are science fictional elements that are really fascinating - like computers that grow from seeds.

Zahrah the Windseeker is a fresh and new type of fantasy and Zahrah's adventure is will definitely raise your heart rate! The novel is for ages 9 and up. It's the type of novel that both children and adults can enjoy- this speaks of both the story and sophistication of the writing. I can't wait to read her next novel.

The Last Refuge
Chris Knopf
The Permanent Press
4170 Noyac Road, Sag Harbor, NY 11063
ISBN: 157962118X, $25.00, 287 pp.

Coletta Ollerer

Sam Acquillo is a unemployed divorcee living in a cottage he inherited on the shores of Little Peconic Bay on Long Island. He watches the bay from the screened in porch of the house as he sips Absolut. "I didn't have a strict rule about drinking during the day, just a general guideline -- no hard liquor before noon." (p159) One day he notices that his cranky and demanding neighbor, Regina Broadhurst, has not been seen around. He perceives a strange smell coming from the direction of her home and investigates. "She was in the bathtub. Black and swollen, face down in the water." (p8) He calls the authorities. Since the only relative she has is a feisty and argumentative young man named Jimmy Maddox, Sam asks if he himself might be the administrator of her estate. He suspects foul play in her death but the authorities are not interested. He insists on an autopsy.

Sam is a former amateur boxer with an anger issues. He is an engineer and had worked for a firm which paid him handsomely but one day at a board meeting words were exchanged. "I wasn't speaking to him anyway, but to Mason Thigpin . . . . He said something back, which I don't remember either, though I think it's in the DA's file. I do remember lurching across the table and grabbing Mason by the fat Windsor knot he had clinched up around his throat. I remember pulling back my right fist and hearing Louise Silberg yelping in my ear." (p181) Sam thought it best to tender his resignation. That combination of anger and boxing skills proves on occasion to be problematic but comes in handy as he sets out to discover why anyone would want to get rid of Regina Broadhurst.

Sam is a crusty middle aged guy, shaped by his childhood in a dysfunctional family. These factors spill over into his adult life but he strives to be a good guy. He is a loner and he likes it that way. Nonetheless, a number of women show an interest in him: Rosaline, the 40ish daughter of an elderly attorney whose knowledge of local events is of great value to Sam in his investigation and Amanda, the wife of the town banker. He is smart, too, and this natural intelligence allows him to dig successfully into the secrets surrounding the death of Regina. He is regarded as a threat by the bad guys and they import a goon to discourage his efforts. Some real estate schemes are uncovered with the assistance of Jackie Swaitkowski, a young attorney and very colorful long time native of the area.

This is a story of small town overly ambitious self-seekers who band together with some city people to achieve the hoped for financial jackpot. No more financial worries if this scheme goes through. But along comes Sam.

Orso the Troll Who Couldn't Scare
Brad Thiessen, author
Jeremy Balzer, illustrator
CDS Books
425 Madison Avenue, New York, New York 10017
ISBN: 159315142X, $16.95

Connie Gotsch, Reviewer

Everybody knows trolls hide under the bridge and when you cross, they jump out and scare you to death right?

Right. Except, well, there are trolls, and then there's ORSO THE TROLL WHO COULDN'T SCARE. He's the main character in a picture book with story by Brad Thiessen and illustrations by Jeremy Balzer. The team has created a charming tale and setting, for people aged 3 t0 8, but the story's sure to delight anybody.

Orso Troll lives with his father under a bridge. Mr. Troll takes great delight in frightening people out of their wits, but Orso would rather spend the day climbing trees, walking in the meadow, playing with the animals he meets in the forest, and talking to clouds.

The day Orso turns eight, he sits in front of his birthday cake wishing he could share it with some troll friends. But though gentle with him, his father explains that trolls don't have friends. They're only good for one thing, scaring people. "You have me," Dad points out, when Orso feels alone.

For the reassurance, Orso gives his father a big troll hug. That tickles, and his dad begs him to cut it out. Trolls don't give hugs, though Mr. Troll finds himself enjoying the one he's gotten.

The next day, Dad takes Orso under the bridge, to learn to scare the world. But poor Orso can't even try. Running home, he cowers on his bed. His dad accepts that Orso is going to be a nontraditional troll. Together, they try to think of other things trolls might do, besides frighten everyone. Nothing comes to mind.

Next morning, two human children, Lizzy and Jacob, meet Orso in the woods. Orso tries halfheartedly to frightens them. He almost succeeds with Jacob, but Lizzy laughs.

What happens next brings a startled response from Mr. Troll, a big change in both Orso and Mr. Troll's lives, and something very special on Orso's next birthday, when he turns 9.

Brad Thiessen suggests even the smallest youngsater make a big difference in a loved one's life, even if that person is a grown up.

The author also breaks stereotypes found in traditional stories about creatures such as trolls. He depicts girls as strong, and guys as flexible and willing to examine the lives they are leading.

The troll characters have the gambit of moods. They grow and change, as good characters should in a story.

Belief in trolls dates back thousands of years, especially in Scandinavia, but Mr. Thiessen tells Orso's story in 21st Century language. Illustrator Jeremy Balzer sets the tale in a world neither ancient nor modern. His pictures are spooky in a fun way. They catch Orso's feelings from the joy he gets while swinging on a tree branch, to the terror he experiences when his father roars at the driver of a horse and wagon.

The effect gives ORSO THE TROLL WHO COULDN'T SCARE a timeless sense, and a sense of the harmless fun found in a scary, but make believe, Halloween costume. It delivers the gentle message that being truly mean is not necessary--even for a troll. There is another way to get through life. Everybody, even a three-year-old, can find it.

The Book of Ancient Revelations
Hugh Fox
Ecce Nova
PO Box 50001, 15-1594 Fairfield Road, Victoria, BC, Canada, V8S 5L8
ISBN: 0973164891, $17.95 143 pages

Rose Glavas, Reviewer

"The Book of Ancient Revelations" certainly wasn't what I expected when I first got it. Going by the title I was expecting something along the lines of Nostradamus! (Alright, you can stop laughing now!)

Just because this book wasn't what I expected doesn't mean to say that I didn't enjoy it… I did. Anybody with an interest in historical artwork, myth, epic literature, astrology and geography and, of course, history, will get something out of this title.

Hugh Fox is one of the foremost authorities on pre-Columbian cultures, with over seventy books and hundreds of articles and stories published, including: "The Gods of the Cataclysm", "The Mythical Foundations of the Epic Genre: The Solar Voyage as the Hero's Journey", and "Stairway to the Sun". He has a Ph.D. in American Literature, and is a Professor Emeritus in the Department of American Thought and Language, Michigan State University.

Being an astrologer I was particularly interested in the author's journey in following the Sun around the globe until finding its resting place… the Tropic of Capricorn. He describes his journey like this:

"…. I also knew (because I had done it before, in 1961), that if I began to follow the Sun south, across the curve of the earth, trying to get beneath it, so that it would be directly above me at the apex of the sky at noon during the winter, I would end up in Mexico City, I would end my journey at the Tropic of Capricorn, the northern House of the Sun, …". p. 92

This particular passage caught my eye because in our age of computer simulations, program, etc, the average person has lost contact with the actual events that shape the perception of life. For example, as an astrologer I have a software package that tells me where the planets are in the sky at any particular moment. Although using this method to draw up a birth chart is probably much more technically accurate than going outside and looking at where they physically are, or calculating them manually, some of the magic and awe of nature is taken away by using modern methods of understanding the world around us.

On another level I was interested in finding out more about the possible ritual deformation of shamanic 'rejects'. Also, 'waterworld' interested me as I have not heard of this mentioned in any other myths. The waterworld is described as a world between the earth and underworld.

Even though I don't feel qualified enough to rate this book, I am qualified to find it fascinating. The only problem I has with "The Book of Ancient Revelations" was figuring out how to pronounce some of the words - I feel this is important because the author was trying to link different words as part of his theory, and pronunciation is important as part of this.

As mentioned previously those of you with an interest in - and good understanding of - history, astrology, shamanism, historical artwork or in the evolution of modern civilization will find something in this interesting book to get your attention.

The Friendly Jane Austen: A Well-Mannered Introduction to a Lady of Sense & Sensibility
Natalie Tyler
Penguin Putnam Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
ISBN: 0141001925, $16.00 299 pages

Gypsi Phillips Bates

The Friendly Jane Austen: A Well-Mannered Introduction to a Lady of Sense & Sensibility is a wonderful resource for the die-hard Austen fan as well as Austen newbies. Ms. Tyler takes each book in turn, gives a synopsis of the plot and places it in historical context and in the context of Austen's life. She then explains those details that might be abstract to those not familiar with Regency culture, such as entailed property, the importance of walking and the attitude toward marriage, making the reader comfortable with the novel. She includes illustrations, interviews, quizzes and delightful bits on the side such as "10 Surefire Ways to be Vulgar", a table of average income and "Sense and Sensibility: A Checklist". In addition, she finishes the book lists of movie versions, book spin-offs and sequels and shows Austen's role (her "legacy") in our century.

An Austen fan from way back, I found this a truly delightful book. Ms. Tyler is humorous as well as informative and her enthusiasm for Austen is apparent. This is a must-have for Austen fans, no question about it; the resources provided in The Friendly Jane Austen further the enjoyment of reading Austen's novels. It is also an excellent book for those that have just started reading Austen. With this book by your side, you can't fail to see just how wonderful Jane Austen was, and still is.

The Secret Love Story in Shakespeare's Sonnets
Helen Heightsman Gordon
Xlibris Corp.
ISBN: 1413493742, $27.89 (hc) $17.84 (pb); 158 pp.

William Hart

Another book about Shakespeare and his work - why? Well, mostly for the fun of it this time, I think. Because Professor Gordon has contributed to our library shelves not another scholarly tome, valuable though they are, rather she takes us on a rollicking voyage deep into the court life surrounding Queen Elizabeth I in order to prove her main thesis: that William Shake-speare was a pen name adopted by Edward De Vere, Seventeenth Earl of Oxford, and that the sonnets were written in large part to Queen Elizabeth I and her love child by De Vere, Henry Wriothesley, Third Earl of Southampton. The pen name, according to Gordon, was a ruse needed to shield the Queen and her out-of-wedlock progeny from public exposure. Elizabeth's pose as the "Virgin Queen" protected her person and her nation from continental power politics. She used her status as an always eligible bride to keep the European monarchs forever off balance--since at any given time, it seems, one or two was hoping or planning to marry her.

I have been a moderately serious student of Shakespeare's work for many years, and the arguments of the anti-Stratfordians, who argue that Shakespeare of Stratford was not really Shakespeare the author, have annoyed me all that while. I have found underlying almost all such claims the elitist notion that a humble middle class lad from a country town in Stratford would have lacked the education and breeding to have written the plays most of us acknowledge as among the very greatest achievements in Western art. However, I was pleasantly surprised to find nary a whit of elitism in Dr. Gordon's approach. She bases her case primarily on biological facts known about De Vere, which she carefully matches with very similar details presented in the sonnets. Gordon's literary detective work is impressive.

In the course of her extended argument, 64 of the sonnets are reprinted in modern spelling, then paraphrased by Dr. Gordon, then analyzed in the manner mentioned. I might quibble with this or that biographical fact or with a given paraphrase of a sonnet line, but Gordon's careful tracing of the biographical correspondences in the end genuinely shook my faith in my long held position regarding Shakespeare's personhood. I began to believe that the precocious courtier who graduated from Oxford at age 14 and was already writing accomplished, witty verse, might indeed be the immortal bard I so admire. I feel like a traitor now, and it is all Dr. Gordon's fault.

I must though thank her whole-heartedly for the numerous detailed sketches of Elizabethan court life, especially regarding the loves, the losses, the pregnancies, the hurried marriages, the betrayals, and the tragedies. One of the greatest tragedies painted is that of Edward DeVere, hungering for the immortality that his writing skills had earned him, but destined to forfeit the credit to a hayseed who may not even have been an actor, merely an out-of-town stockholder with a similar name.

If you like Shakespeare and enjoy having fun, travel with Dr. Gordon on her voyage to a bright but dangerous time 400 years ago, when love was pursued with a passion we see rarely these days, and often concluded in tragedy. Meet the virgin queen who may have been promiscuous. Meet Ann Vavasor, the court's great beauty whom few men could resist, and Anne Cecil, the chaste beauty whom De Vere married when she was fifteen, then doubted was faithful, probably unjustly. And meet the male members of the court, from Philip Sydney to Walter Raleigh. Of these, Edward De Vere turns out to be the most interesting. He ended life with three legitimate daughters and two illegitimate sons, spurned by the queen he'd loved perhaps too well, lame from a sword fight, disillusioned by court intrigue--and, saddest of all if Gordon is right - denied the fame that he'd rightly earned with his magical pen.

Ayesha: My Queendom Come
John Brinckman
Trafford Publishing
6E-2333 Government St., Victoria, British Columbia, Canada 250-383-6864
ISBN: 141203776X, $24.00 or CDN $28.80 312 pages

Gordon Isfeld

The battle between good and evil is a tale as old as storytelling itself. And the debate over whether one can exist without the other - or whether the two are actually one in the same - has been raging for nearly as long.

These themes are revisited yet again in a new book, "Ayesha -- My Queendom Come," by Canadian writer John Brinckman. And while the debate never reaches a conclusion - nor could it - the author uses the good-evil conundrum to spin an entertaining and thought-provoking tale of death and deception.

"Ayesha" is not a murder mystery, however, although lots of people meet their demise over the course of 300 pages. We know who is doing the killing from the onset. Rather, the book takes the premise of "She" - H. Rider Haggard's 1888 novel of an immortal white queen, Ayesha - and recasts it in the form of a modern-day tragedy.

The story begins in Ottawa where a troubled young girl named Hattie discovers a copy of "She" in her local library. One passage gives her a strategy for escaping the economic and social confines of her life. In it, Ayesha decides that a rival must die, even if her only sin was to stand between the queen and her desire.

"That made good sense to the young girl and she adopted it as a moral maxim," Brinckman writes. "She made changes to the Lord's Payer, including the words, 'O Ayesha, my queendom come.' She said this prayer at night before going to sleep and it was a comfort to her."

It also sets her on a path that inevitably leads to her undoing. Along the way - through numerous changes of identity and location - she manages to accrue a small fortune, always at someone else's expense. Eventually, she arrives on a Caribbean island in search of new prey. She finds much more, including a tribe that sees her as the reincarnate of a beloved former leader - her queendom has come, or so she believes.

Threading through the novel is the story of Theodore, a former police inspector who falls in love with Hattie - oblivious to her true character and crimes, past and future. Their fateful reunion much later leaves him no wiser. "I have never run into an evil woman," he tells a Caribbean waiter years earlier. "But Theodore, the mystery of evil is that what you calls evil, maybe is not evil to some, but good? Who knows for sure what is the difference."

Although this is the first novel by Toronto-based Brinckman - the founder and publisher of "Old Fart" magazine - he maintains the flow of plot and character development with few stylistic diversions, while drawing readers into a world of bikers and money launders, cocaine dealers and cannibals. There's also a generous offering of sex, voodoo practices and (Brinckman being Canadian) ice hockey.

Such as wide swath requires a lot of infilling, and it's here that the book benefits from Brinckman's extensive research. While too much information can mask a weak narrative, this isn't the case with "Ayesha." In fact, the rich descriptions are a welcome respite that allows to the story line to settle in the readers' mind and build anticipation for the events ahead - of which there are many.

Given all this promise, you'd expect the ending would be "in the words of former CIA director George Tenet - a "slam-dunk." Instead, Brinckman ties things up too quickly and too loosely - abruptly depositing readers at their destination with too little explanation.

I'm told the author is reworking some of the book. Perhaps he would consider recasting the last chapter as well. Still, the journey itself is an entertaining one.

How About It, Writer?
H. Charles Romesburg
Lulu Press
Morrisville, North Carolina
ISBN: 1411628624, $22.95, 190 pp.

Leslie Halpern, Reviewer

It may seem odd, perhaps even uninspired, for writers to search for opening sentences from a book of listings. But Romesburg's book provides lots of inspiration when crafting openings, closings, titles, and transitions in your writing. This unusual guide lists thousands of suggestions for adapting previously published sentences into exactly what you need for essays, articles, sermons, op-eds, theme papers, reports, and dissertations. (The opening sentence of this review is an example of this adaptation technique, taken from his sample sentence "It may strike you as odd, perhaps even unjustified, to speak of light pollution and social well-being in the same breath.")

The book also offers 18 ways of opening an essay and a dozen miscellaneous tips on writing, such as "How To Decide Whether Or Not To Use A Comma After An Introductory Phrase In A Sentence," "Don't Be Afraid To Put Short Details In Parentheses," and "How To Cite An Anecdote Or Fact When You Can't Put Your Finger On Its Source."

The strength of this work, however, is clearly the author's painstaking research into the structure of a good sentence. His alphabetized listings are comprised of sentences borrowed from essays appearing in "The Atlantic Monthly," "Harper's Monthly Magazine," "The Literary Digest," and other respected publications from the 1800s and 1900s.

Although the material is presented for all kinds of writers at all levels of experience as "your first point of reference for getting out of mental blocks," it should prove most useful for college students and new writers who seek help getting started on writing projects. A university professor of forestry who often cites his own environmental writings as examples in this book, Romesburg is donating proceeds from sales to no-kill animal shelters.

50 Harbor Street
Debbie Macomber
MIRA Books.
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada M3B 3K9
ISBN: 0778322084, $7.50 378 pp.

Martha Robach

As is true in most small towns, there is much going on beneath Cedar Cove's tranquil exterior. Cedar Cove, Washington, is the setting for Debbie Macomber's Cedar Cove Series. This is the fifth book of the series, whose titles are merely street addresses, with more books to follow. Possibly the most frightening event that occurs in 50 Harbor Street is that Roy and Corrie McAfee are receiving anonymous messages which hint at remembering something in their past. And as it turns out, they have a lot to recall.

Cecilia Randall is pregnant after losing her first baby to a heart condition. Since her husband is in the Navy on submarine duty, this is a lonely, worrisome time for her. Linnette McAfee, the daughter of Corrie and Roy McAfee, is having second thoughts about Cal Washburn, a horse trainer, after finding that the young doctor who has caught her eye seems more attracted to her neighbor, Gloria Ashton. Charlotte Jefferson, freshly married to widower Ben Rhodes, is faced with some unpleasant surprises about his son. Zachary and Rosie Cox's clean-cut daughter Allison is in love with Anson Butler, a resentful trenchcoat-clad misfit who may also be an arsonist. And this is just a sampling of the residents' lives that are followed.

A list of characters is provided at the front of the book for easy reference if the reader becomes confused. I'll admit I referred to it more than a few times, perhaps owing to the fact that this is the first book of Ms. Macomber's Cedar Grove Series I have read. The reader is moved from character to character in little snippets, creating a morning over-coffee gossipy atmosphere that I'm sure the author favors.

For me, the first half of the book was confusing because of this, and the plot development seemed stagnant. I enjoyed the second half of the book much more as each individual plot began to develop and I became familiar with the characters and what was going on.

This is a series of books which will appeal to women. It has an eager reader base, as Ms. Macomber apologizes, in a forward to the book, that she can only publish one book a year. 50 Harbor Street is designed to be read in a series. I would not recommend it unless all the books in the series are read, or the reader is going to face the same problems I did.

At the end of this book, many plot lines are left unfinished. The McAfees do find out who is sending the mysterious notes, and their daughter Linnette begins a romance with one of men she has been torn between. But the romance of Anson Butler and Allison Cox is left hanging when Anson leaves town under the suspicion he burned down another character's restaurant.

I know Charles Dickens, along with many other authors, wrote in a serial format. I can remember how eagerly as a child - and this will date me - I followed the "Spin and Marty" episodes on the Mickey Mouse Club in the 50's, as well as the sequence of "Davy Crockett" tales. And, more recently, who can forget the fervor that started over who shot J.R. on the "Dallas" television show? However, I would prefer to get new installments weekly or at the most monthly instead of a book a year. And it does seem that an inordinate time is spent bringing the reader up to speed. In the case of 50 Harbor Street, this process takes up the first half of the book.

So, although I ended up enjoying 50 Harbor Street very much, I would strongly recommend reading the books which precede it in the series. And I personally would prefer to wait until the entire series is finished before I read 50 Harbor Street in order to have the satisfaction of coming to the "end" of the story rather than waiting a year for a sequel.

Mystery of Madera Canyon
Ed Kostro
ISBN: 1591136229, $11.95

Molly Martin, Reviewer

My name is Bonafacio Martinez. My classmates call me 'Bony.' So begins the narrative Mystery of Madera Canyon. Young Martinez is an Arizona treasure hunter who enjoys going into the desert or mountains to hunt for treasure and until just lately he has had little luck in finding much other than a few old Apache arrowheads and a lot of animal bones. Even though twelve year old Bony has not yet traveled much of the world his hero is Indiana Jones. In fact Bony intends to be a famous archeologist.

After locating his first real treasure Bony decides to keep a journal. The journal provides the grist for the narrative. Bony and his part wolf/dog Lobo have lots of adventures. For his twelfth birthday Bony's dad agrees to take him out to Madera Canyon where legend says a ghostly figure of an Apache Woman, is to be found during a full moon. Bony not only likes digging up bones, he also likes bird watching. When Bony's dad drops Bony, Lobo and Bony's new birthday binoculars and bird book off at the canyon parking lot; Bony has little notion what escapades awaits. Forest Ranger Lou Thieman helps Bony choose The Vault Mine hiking trail, myriad humming birds, Snickers bars, nacho chips, Milk Bones for Lobo and before long Bony recognizes more time has passed than he realized. A Boy Scout Memorial to scouts who got lost on the trails and died during a snow storm cause Bony a moment of sadness.

When Lobo takes off down the Super Trail Bony has no choice but to follow, and, that is when the problems begin. A chance meeting with two coatis ends without incident. Racing after an elusive Elegant Trogon proves a big mistake. Bony leaves the trail and soon finds himself … lost and without his compass. It is late afternoon and Bony has a definite problem. With night fast approaching; Bony is a tad spooked to locate the el Diablo hummingbird sitting and shrieking nearby.

Elf owls, trying to sleep on the cold hard ground, darkness and an active imagination all begin to take their toll on Bonafacio's thinking. A voice speaking in Spanish sounds in the darkness, Bony and Lobo are attacked by Screech Owls, and a concealed book in a hidden cavern add to the mystery. After the night he has had; Bony has quite a story to tell when he finally reunites with his father and Ranger Thieman. Moreover, he has found a real honest to goodness treasure.

On the pages of Mystery of Madera Canyon Writer Kostro has produced an excellent fast paced narrative sure to please middle grades boys in particular. I will be using the book with my fourth grade for our 'after lunch, reading to kids time.' I particularly like the use of Spanish words, descriptions of various birds and animals to be found in the Arizona locale, and non preachy or threatening manner of showing youngsters how easy it is to get off the known trail and lost when out in areas such as are described in the narrative.

Kids in the target audience of 8 - 12 often think they are larger than life and indestructible. Bony and his dog Lobo allow youngsters the comfort in knowing that it is okay to be afraid, okay to feel sadness at the deaths of others and okay to be faced with situations for which there may be no real explanation. Bony kept his cool and made it to safety … a good lesson taught. Mystery of Madera Canyon provides discussion starters for talking about what to do if lost and alone in the darkness.

Mystery of Madera Canyon is a superior choice for home library pleasure reading, the school book shelf and the home school reading program. I was sent a paperback copy of the book for review. Don't read it on a dark and stormy night!!

Enjoyed the read, happy to recommend.

Everyone Worth Knowing
Lauren Weisenberger
Simon & Schuster
100 Front Street, Riverside, NJ 08075
ISBN: 0743262293, $16.29 367 pages

Mona Lisa Safai

Is everyone really worth knowing?

Lauren Weisenberger is a talented writer who knows how to transform gossip into literature. In her newest novel, she offers her readers a taste of the glamorous New York life consumed with wealth, the cool and superficial sophisticates, and glorified with sexual appeal. EVERYONE WORTH KNOWING is a story that filled with friendships, family, ambition, secrets, exclusiveness, and realizing who is worth knowing.

Bette Robinson works as an investment banker with her best friend, Penelope at UBS. One evening, Penelope calls and exclaims she and her boyfriend, Avery, just proposed after 8 years and they are now engaged. Although, Bette wants to be happy for Penelope, she knows that Avery is not good enough for her. The next day, she quits her mundane job without any plans and only her unemployment check to rely on. Her flamboyant Uncle Will suggests she work as a PR agent for prestigious planning firm, Kelly & Co. Once she begins, her life takes a rollercoaster ride into the gossip columns and she loses nearly every ounce of privacy. According to New York Scoop and Page Six, she is dating the hottest playboy, Phillip Weston, has gone to a drug rehab center, and needs to become a better dresser. Kelly encourages her to be seen with him as much as possible because it is good publicity. Despite Phillip's arrogance, and obvious love of his bachelorhood, Bette continues to stay and succeed in her job.

Bette builds relationships with her coworkers, which in turn, jeopardizes relationships with Penelope and her family. Her pseudo-relationship with Phillip also becomes complicated because she meets Sammy, a bouncer at Bungalow 8 and aspiring chef. She is certain he is the man for her. However, she cannot explain her circumstances to him because she is supposed to be dating Phillip. Her parents, a throwback from the 1960s, are confused and shocked because of what they have seen in the papers. They do not know what to believe. Are the revealing pictures of their daughter true? If so, why has she chosen to lead such a promiscuous life? They always thought she would be involved in working for non profit organizations to save the world.

The papers and gossip columns continue to worsen and disseminate more targeted information about Bette. The twist is that the columnist is someone she knew from high school. She revealed herself to Kelly. In turn, Kelly insisted that Bette position herself in places to gain greater publicity for the firm. With more media attention, Bette becomes more valuable. Kelly shores up Bette's loyalty and participation by assigning the annual Playboy party of the year to her. Her involvement in this party also adds the necessary climax to self-discovery.

In EVERYONE WORTH KNOWING, the storyline resembles her last novel, THE DEVIL WEARS PRADA. The characters are believable, interesting, and fun. Although, the chapters are unbalanced at times, they tend to work off each other nicely. Weisenberger demonstrates her ability to create an exclusive atmosphere, filled with eccentric, and somewhat crazed characters in New York City. Unfortunately, I felt the ending was a little rushed and too perfectly tied in a bow. I sense more novels to follow in the same genre.

Other than that, her style pleases and entertains anyone who seeks a good juicy read. She illustrates that happiness and success are about more than being on the VIP list, surrounded by the glitter and glam, or even about of the fast paced life in New York City.

Peals of Wisdom: Surviving Against All Odds, Book Two
Marie Davis
A Better Be Write Publishers, LLC
P.O. Box 1577, Millville, NJ 08332
ISBN: 0976773260, $21.95 329 pages

Patricia Moore, Reviewer

At last! The second volume of the Pearls of Wisdom series continues with the release of Book Two Ms. Davis has again gathered autobiographical stories written by everyday people over the age of fifty, in which the "Fabulous Fifties" - the rock-'n-roll era - plays a major role during their formative years.

In Book Two, we find Leigh Anne, Sandra, Emily, Dolores and Lynetta Marie, and, at the end of the book, we are delighted to discover an update on the writers from Book One. I must make one comment here for clarification. I noted during Book One that the writing did not seem to be the caliber of Ms. Davis's other books. Then I remembered she had made a statement in Book One that these were stories from everyday people, not professional writers. The stories are written in their own words. Ms. Davis merely edits for content, continuity and, of course, spelling and grammar. Most importantly, the storytellers are not relating the culmination of a well-planned fictional endeavor. They are merely telling us the truth of what it was like for them growing up "when times were simpler."

That said, let's look at Leigh Anne's Story, whose life was certainly not simple. What started out as a wholesome, garden variety, farm-raised traditional life, quickly dissolves into the sordid night life of the Dallas underworld. Thinking she has found her rescuer, she trustingly enters into a marriage that results in physical and mental abuse, but gifts her with four beautiful children. Even after finally making the right decision to terminate her disastrous marriage, struggling through the trials and tribulations created by her children and a couple of stabs at a relationship with other men, she settles into a comfortable life without male companionship, but never giving up on her dreams.
Sandra, on the other hand, tells a delightful tale of life as a train ride. After weathering her disastrous first marriage, she finds her soul mate, and relays to us the sometimes hilarious and always stressful life with "his, hers and ours." She never lets life get the best of her and, even when she becomes a widow, she experiences his love reaching out to her from beyond, releasing her to continue without him. So, she joyfully gets back on the train.

Emily, as well as telling us her intriguing story of misplaced loyalty and dreams of a knight in shining armor, also gifts us with samples of her own creative poetry (which I hope she seriously considers publishing, separately).

Now, we get an up-close and personal insight into a different culture with the story of Dolores, a Latino born in a border town in South Texas. I, personally, was intrigued with Dolores's descriptions of the Latino mindset. She was raised, along with her brothers and sisters, by a very strong-minded woman, who ruled with an implacable adherence to tradition, always with an eye to "what will people think." Dolores, in her pre-school years, overcomes a physical affliction affecting her legs, simply by her mother's indomitable spirit and instinct. Dolores's turbulent teenage years includes mental domination in her first relationship; the gut-wrenching decision to put her out-of-wedlock son up for adoption; and a Prince Charming with feet of clay; but her marriage remains strong, in spite of it all.

Lynetta Marie, through the pain of the loss of her adored father to divorce, the mental, physical and sexual abuse from her stepfather, the unfaithfulness of her first husband, and the loss of her second husband to alcoholism, unfailingly faces each day with expectations of all the good things yet to come.

As with Pearls of Wisdom: Surviving Against All Odds, Book One, each of the women in Book Two faced down their troubles and eventually stood up to their tormentors, determined to make the best lives for themselves and their children. Again, I look forward to reading more of these real-life accounts collected by Ms. Davis.

Little Critter Storybook Collection
Mercer Mayer
ISBN: 0060820098, $9.99

Robyn Gioia, Reviewer

Good fun. This is just the kind of book a beginning reader will love. The entertaining full page pictures show details of the story and then some. The main character is a creature innocently experiencing life to its fullest - just like many a first grader. In the first story Bye-Bye, Mom and Dad, Little Critter decides to tell his Grandma and Grandpa a scary story, only it was too scary for them so everyone had to check for monsters under the bed. And since Grandma and Grandpa were still a little afraid, Little Sister and Little Critter decide to sleep with them in bed that night. In Just a School Project, Little Creature can't think of anything for the Science Fair. He builds a rocket ship, but it just sits on the ground with him inside. And when he digs for dinosaurs bones in the back yard, all he finds is a dog bone. But then he stumbles upon caterpillars and his Science Project is born. The book is nicely laid out with pictures on every page and one or two controlled vocabulary sentences per page. The collection contains seven stories ranging from driving a dump truck, to training for a big race. Early Reader, Ages 4-7.

This Lifetime on Earth
Sandy Andrew
BookSurge, LLC
5341 Dorchester Road, Suite 16, North Charleston, SC 29418-5618
ISBN: 141960726X, $13.99, 154 pages

Tami Brady

This Lifetime on Earth outlines the concept of Universal Learning. Universal Learning encompasses all of the lessons learned and life events that an individual experiences during a particular life. The framework of Universal Learning is twelve universal laws: emotional control; love; karma; action and effect; preordination; incarnation characteristic; protection; time; guidance; learning, restoration; and free will. These laws act as guidelines for an individual during his or her life journey to find out who they are, why they were born, and how they can achieve success during their life on Earth.

This Lifetime on Earth is extremely well written and intriguing. The author has organized the information contained in this book in such a way that even the most complex portions of this concept are easy to understand. Moreover, this work is also presented in a broad-minded manner that urges the reader to use his or her own personal interpretation of concepts such as God to fully comprehend the purpose and potential usefulness of the material presented.

Atwood's Bookshelf

Echoes of Armageddon, 1914-1918
B. Cory Kilvert, Jr.
Author House
Bloomington, IN
ISBN: 1418456594 (e-book)
ISBN: 1418456586 (paperback) $17.50, 239 pages

It would not be an exaggeration to call B. Cory Kilvert, Jr. the Shelby Foote of "The Great War." The attention to detail in Kilvert's book, Echoes of Armageddon, 1914-1918, is so striking, there is sometimes the sense (as was the case with Foote in relation to the Civil War) that Kilvert was not only circling high above the battlefields, marking every troop movement of every battle, but that he was also a fly on the wall, listening firsthand to the blustering European heads of state who started the catastrophe now known as World War One.

Kilvert wasn't actually there, but he had a few other advantages at his disposal that give his book a tremendous sense of time and place: a massive personal library containing thousands of books on British military history, medals from eight British soldiers and officers killed in the war, and an insatiable curiosity which compelled him to uncover the details of their lives and deaths.

The result is not only a masterpiece of organized information on the prelude to and significant battles of World War One, but because each chapter focuses on the life, military career,, and death of a single man, this global tragedy is given a face. Eight faces, to be exact. Knowing that Private Albert Armitage, who was married for a mere two months before the war began, fathered a child he never met, or that the mother of Captain William Thomas Payne-Gallwey became a recluse after her son's death, brings the massive carnage of the war to particularly tragic but comprehensible terms. Each chapter ends, not only with a photo, but with a moving and almost poetic account of Kilvert's visit to each man's grave or memorial.

Although Kilvert's book is a masterpiece on many levels, it's not exactly a piece of great literature. Kilvert is a passionate researcher, not necessarily an exceptional writer. He is, however, a straightforward and eminently readable one, and his book, while not claiming pretensions to literary grandeur, reverberates with so much immediacy that it distinctly deserves a place on the shelf with the greatest books on "The Great War."

Paper Poppies: A Memoir by Marianna Vekhova
Translated from the Russian by Natalia Klukovkina
Cladach Publishing
P.O. Box 336144, Greeley, CO 80633
ISBN: 0975961918, $12.99 176 pages

A good memoir brings a single life sharply into focus; when that life illuminates a turbulent historical context, the results can be enthralling. Marianna Vekhova's memoir, Paper Poppies, is such a book. Orphaned and hospitalized with spinal tuberculosis during the second world war, four year-old Marianna experiences first-hand the question that swirls through the Soviet hospitals and sanitariums where she spends her childhood: "men fight, but why should children suffer?" Her book, while not exactly answering that difficult question, painfully illustrates it in breathtaking prose.

The memoir is generally linear, but flashbacks weave in and out, giving the sense that young Marianna, strapped to a hospital bed, has little to do but ruminate on the confusing and difficult events of her young life. These memories are always rendered by the author in stunning detail: during her evacuation from Moscow, she had passed a "bombed train looking like a long animal with a broken spine. Its red sharp tongues of fire ran under the lifeless black cars and the heavy darkness of the sky, the sky that might hide our death as well."

Her recollection of a youthful victory celebration is equally compelling. The girls in Marianna's ward craft paper poppies, hold them adoringly before a portrait of Stalin, then hand them to a weeping veteran commander, while repeatedly singing the following words:

for our dear Stalin, she plucked a flower bouquet;
thanks to the great Stalin for our happy childhood!

After she is cured and released into the care of her grandmother, Marianna gains painful insight into her parents' tragic lives. Like the writings of Solzhenitszyn, this section of the book bitterly illustrates the cruelty of the Soviet system. In the last few chapters, Marianna finds solace for her emotional pain in Russian Orthodox Christianity.

Paper Poppies is not only a daunting portrayal of the great Soviet Bear through the eyes of a child, it is also a poignant testament to the resilience and possibilities within the human spirit.

Mothers Speak . . . For Love of Family
Rosalie Fuscaldo Gaziano
Durban House Publishing
7502 Greenville Ave., Suite 500, Dallas, TX 75231
ISBN: 1930754736, $15.95 166 pages

When I learned that Ms. Gaziano had been awarded "National Mother of the Year 2002" by National Mothers, Inc., in part because she had raised five incredibly successful sons, I thought her book, "Mothers Speak . . . For Love of Family," might a brag rag or a "how-to" book. It wasn't. When I learned that she was somewhat religious, I thought the book might preach. It didn't. While reading through it, I often thought the book was about to descend into the saccharine. It never quite did. In fact, reading this book tore down every preconception I had: it is simply one of the most inspirational, down-to-earth books on the subject of mothering and family that I have ever read.

This is no "how-to" book but a montage of personal stories culled from Gaziano's year of speaking with mothers across America, her own personal experiences and those of her friends and acquaintances. Divided into seven chapters including "Love is a Choice," "Keeping the Balance in the Day to Day," "Crisis, Forgiveness, and Change," Gaziano deals with some solid issues. For instance, should mothers of young children work outside of the home? You would think that a book celebrating motherhood and family would give a firm and resounding no, but Gaziano never provides cut and dried rules or even suggestions: she simply tells how others worked it out. She herself, busy with five little boys and yearning to write professionally didn't simply stop writing but found a way to work it around her busy schedule.

In the chapter entitled "Rituals and Rites That Bind," she not only describes her Italian-American son's wedding to a Bavarian bride, but also how her own (Christian) faith was renewed by attending the Bat Mitzvah of a friend's daughter. Gaziano writes: "this was the faith of the Jewish people, but it was a rite of passage befitting us all . . . all of us can rejoice as others give witness to their own heritage." She also quotes the Koran: this is not a book about a single religion but about what all families share, regardless of their religious beliefs.

"Crisis, Forgiveness, and Creative Change" was a particularly inspirational chapter. Here, Gaziano tells some very serious stories: women, overextended, divorced, and/or severely ill, overcoming deep personal crises. This chapter is a testament to will power, love, and a willingness to change.

Interspersed throughout the book are two things that tie everything together: artwork celebrating motherhood and Gaziano's gentle, wise narrative. Reading this book is like having a reassuring talk with an older, experienced mother who makes you feel that however daunting the task of motherhood may be, love of family will always triumph.

Kathryn Atwood

Bethany's Bookshelf

40 Weeks Devotional Guide to Pregnancy
Jennifer Vanderlaan
Birthing Naturally
14 Natick Street, Colonie, NY 12205
0976554119 $15.95

40 Weeks Devotional Guide to Pregnancy is a week-by-week inspirational resource of selected devotions and prayer guidelines for Christian mothers-to-be. In addition to quotes from scripture specially chosen to support the faith of mother and unborn child, 40 Weeks Devotional Guide to Pregnancy includes information about the development of an unborn baby, recommended exercises, advice for staying comfortable, and many other pregnancy health tips. A clear, steadfastly faithful, and highly recommended guide for Christian expectant mothers.

Celebrating the Rest of Your Life
David Yount
Augsburg Publishers
100 Fifth Street, Suite 700, Minneapolis, MN 55402-1210
0806651717 $12.99 1-800-328-4648

Theologist and syndicated columnist David Yount presents Celebrating the Rest of Your Life: A Baby Boomer's Guide To Spirituality, a matter-of-fact guide to opening one's eyes to the future, considering both practical matters such as making financial safeguards, and matters of the soul, including the intimidating task of making peace with one's mortality and eventual death. Encouraging the reader to accept God's grace in order to more fully experience the richness of life, Celebrating the Rest of Your Life is a profound yet plain-spoken testimonial sure to resonate with readers regardless of individual faith. Highly recommended.

For Such A Time As This
Sharon Warn Decker
Tate Publishing, LLC
127 East Trade Center Terrace, Mustang, OK 73064
1933290579 $13.95 1-888-361-9473

For Such A Time As This: Encouraging Words And Inspired Poetic Writings is a compendium of inspired and inspiring Christian poetry by Sharon Warn Decker that, simply put, deserves the widest possible readership among those who appreciate well crafted verse in support of the general theme that life is too short to let any opportunity to appreciate that life just slip by, or to permit the omission of any opportunity for the expression of love and appreciation to family, friends, or God. A Taste of the Divine: There once was a man with a lovely locket who found/he had a hole in his pocket./Out dropped the locket and was lost to the man not protected/from the hole in his pocket./We are like that today for starts, not protected from/having a hole in our hearts./That we could mend so easily for sure, if we turned to/Jesus and made our lives pure.//Say yes to the Savior above and forever have a life that/is protected from the vile./Ever worshiping our Savior the King, with the heavenly/angels on golden wings/who sings the praises of the One who started all of this/because of His desire for you./Now that you know whom you owe your salvation to/come to Him without ado.//"Come and dine," the Master calleth, "come and dine."/You can sup with Him most any time./He fed the multitude and turned the water into wine./Won't you come to Him and dine? Come and receive your/spiritual wine./Forever be with Him and have a taste of the divine.

Xulon Press
380 Crown Oak Center Drive, Longwood, FL 32750

Publishing a diversity of books covering a wide spectrum of subjects and genres, Xulon Press is the world's largest Christian publisher with more than 2,500 titles published to date. Among their most recent and very highly recommended releases are "Life In The Skillet, And Lessons Learned Along The Way" (159781430X, $13.99) by Harold Fanning. This is a lively anthology of humorous life experiences as lived by a Baptist boy-turned-minister growing up in a rural Southern community. A master storyteller and pastor of the Shoal Creek Baptist Pastor's Conference, Fanning has a flair for telling stories that make you smile even as they provoke you to thought and reflection. "Wake Up And Smell The Truth: A Look At Our A Nation's Founding Principles And The Failure Of Liberalism" (1597814296, $13.99) by the Reverend David Berman presents clear and logical arguments that will enable the reader to articulate their Judeo- Christian beliefs on many of the key political, cultural, and social issues of our time. Andre Teissier-DuCros' English language translation of French author Jacques Caubet's "The Fifth Rung On Jacob's Ladder: The Thousand Century's Saga Of Religion And Science (159781-444- X, $15.99) provides the reader with an informed and informative historical survey of the scientific and technological progress achieved by the Judeo-Christian nations, and the breakthroughs in bridging the disciplines of science with the concepts of theology.

Susan Bethany

Betsy's Bookshelf

Ripples On A Pond
Madge Swindells
Allison & Busby
c/o International Publishers Marketing
22841 Quicksilver Drive, Dulles, VA 20166
0749083670 $25.95 1-800-758-3756

Ripples On A Pond is the story of Temple Minnis, a placid, privileged, picturesque, affluent village that behind a smooth facade there lurks an old and ugly secret. Thirty years earlier the villagers had conspired to plan and conceal a murder. But now Melissa, a local novelist who discovers that she is dying, is having pangs of conscience and writes the story of what happened so long ago. The result is that lives are turned upside down as members of the village must now face up to their past. Author Madge Swindells is clearly a writer of great storytelling skill and an original imagination as she brings a tale of memorable characters and unexpected plot twists to life in the mind's eye of the reader. Highly recommended reading!

Dear Enemy
Jack Cavanaugh
Bethany House Publishers
11400 Hampshire Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55438
0764223100 $12.99 1-800-328-6109

Nurse Annie Mitchell saw firsthand the atrocities of war and concluded that the German soldier was inhuman and thoroughly depraved. But when a rogue rescue mission ended in tragedy, a bereft Annie finds herself a captured prisoner behind enemy lines in Belgium's Ardennes Forest. Her captor Karl Hausmann doesn't fit her stereotype of the brutal German soldier. In the days following her capture, Annie must reconsider everything she thought she knew about her enemy. Dear Enemy is as entertaining as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking reading. Jack Cavanaugh has once again demonstrated his mastery of engaged and engaging storytelling. Other also highly recommended works by Cavanaugh and published by Bethany House include: Whiles Mortals Sleep (0764223070); His Watchful Eye (0764223089); and Above All Earthly Powers (0764223097).

Lives of the Sleepers
Ned Balbo
University of Notre Dame Press
310 Flanner Hall, Notre Dame, IN 46556
0268021856 $15.00 1-800-621-2736

Award-winning poet Ned Balbo presents Lives of the Sleepers, a collection of free-verse, monologue-style poetry centering on the themes of those who sleep and dream. Dark and moving, sometimes morbid, yet also haunting in its search to understand the human mind, consciousness, emotion and expression, Lives of the Sleepers is profound and memorable. "A Tragedy": A tragedy of Shakespearean proportions / Scaled down for the suburbs and a cast / Of gifted amateurs: two "honors" kids, / Lovesick eighth-graders not long disappeared / For whom the worst was feared, and now is over, / Dragged up from the river, final words / Slipped under rocks impossible to miss: / My mother tried to break us up forever - / Her mother! - Now we're going to a place / Where, at last, we'll always be together... / You poor kids. Snapshots fade, the news moves on, / And though we dread the solace that you sought / And found, still more we fear not to have loved / As deeply, nor as recklessly, as you.

Never Wink at a Worried Woman
Lynn Johnston
Andrews & McMeel
4520 Main Street, Kansas City, MO 64111
0740754440 $10.95 1-800-851-8923

Never Wink at a Worried Woman is the latest compilation of "For Better or For Worse" newspaper comic strips, following the daily life of the Patterson family - parents, children, grandparents, grandchildren, and friends. Unlike the majority of comic strips, in which the family (and its children!) never age and remain bizarrely the same from year to year, "For Better or For Worse" embraces the realism of advancing years and the toll that changes in the seasons have on life. In Never Wink at a Worried Woman, Elly and John are carefully beginning to think about retirement, while Elizabeth approaches adulthood, Micheal and Deanna try to balance the demands of being new parents, and baby Meredith is bursting with curiosity about the world around her while Grandpa Jim strives to maintain his dignity despite the toll of age. The warm, soulful humor of the comic retains a fresh, empathic charm, all needed more desperately than ever in today's era of sarcasm, shallowness and sound bites. Highly recommended.

Thanks For Tuning In
Richard Ruelas
Boffo Books
c/o University of Arizona Press
355 South Euclid Avenue, Suite 103, Tucson, AZ 85719-6654
0975282204 $21.95 1-800-426-3797

Thanks For Tuning In by Richard Ruelas (a native Arizonan and metro columnist for "The Arizona Republic") is the story of Bill Thompson who as "Wallace" created Arizona's most celebrated children's television show which was on the air for 35 years -- longer than all other kid's shows in the nation. Readers will learn about a wide-eyed college dropout who grew up the scion of a wealthy family in update New York who decided to reinvent himself out West. Here are also revealed behind-the-scenes details of Thompson's beloved children's show and its characters -- some of which were based on Thompson's own childhood experiences. A welcome and highly recommended addition to the growing library of books about influential and popular American television programming of the mid-20th to late 20th century, Thanks For Tuning In is quite candid about the end of the show, including the deterioration and reconciliation of Thompson's friendship with his partner Ladmo.

The Enlightened Kitchen
Mari Fujii
Kodansha America, Inc.
575 Lexington Avenue, 23rd Floor, New York, NY 10022
4770024932 $24.95 1-800-451-7556

Written by the wife of a Buddhist monk who has taught temple cuisine for over twenty years, The Enlightened Kitchen: Fresh Vegetable Dishes from the Temples of Japan is a cookbook of the traditional fare that has its roots in Japan's Buddhist temples. Emphasizing natural and healthy ingredients such as fresh seasonal vegetables, and the staples of grains, and tofu, these creations are simple and elegant delights, delicious without undue extravagance. All recipes are animal-free, making The Enlightened Kitchen especially ideal for vegetarians and vegans. Full-color photographs throughout and straightforward instructions clearly show the reader how to prepare such mouth- watering delicacies as Shiitake Mushrooms Stuffed with Tofu, Sushi Rolls (prepared entirely without fish), Buckwheat Crepes, Kenchin Style Vegetable Soup, and much more. Highly recommended.

Don't Panic - Dinner's in the Freezer
Susie Martinez, Vanda Howell & Bonnie Garcia
Fleming H. Revell
c/o Baker Book House
PO Box 6287, Grand Rapids, MI 49516-6287
0800730550 $14.99

Don't Panic - Dinner's in the Freezer: Great Tasting Meals You Can Make Ahead is more than a cookbook - it's a guide to healthy and succulent home-tested alternatives to commercial microwave dinners and fast food. All of the recipes are designed to be prepared in quantity and frozen ahead of time, for a simpler lifestyle that saves both money and time. An introduction walks readers through the basics of the "Don't Panic" method of shopping for, cooking and freezing meals in advance, and recipes include South of the Border Queso, Old-Time Beef Stew, Beef Pita Tacos, Frozen Fruit Salad, and more. Ingredient lists offer recommended amounts to create servings for 3, 6, or 9 people, allowing great flexibility in quantities prepared. An excellent and practical cookbook for families in today's hectic world.

The Coming to America Cookbook
Joan D'Amico and Karen Eich Drummond
John Wiley & Sons, Inc.
111 River Street, Hoboken, NJ 07030-5773
0471483354 $14.95 1-800-225-5945

Written by an instructor at King's Cooking Studio in New Jersey and a registered dietitian, The Coming to America Cookbook: Delicious Recipes and Fascinating Stories from America's Many Cultures offers delights from Mexican, Irish, Chinese, Moroccan, Turkish, Ethiopian, Nigerian, and more cultures, immigrants from whom have come to America over the course of centuries and shared their individual cooking traditions. Recipes such as Oh-So-Hot Salsa, Korean-Style Short Ribs, The Best Baklava, Fried Bananas with Cinnamon and much more reflect a wide range of mouth-watering international morsels to please any palate. A brief introduction to the different cultures featured and a kid-friendly tone distinguish this varied and delightful cookbook.

The New Southwest Cookbook
Carolyn Niethammer
Rio Nuevo Publishers
PO Box 5250, Tucson, AZ 85703
1887896783 $17.95

Master cook, wild-food expert, and award-winning author Carolyn Niethammer presents The New Southwest Cookbook, a recipe guide to recent innovations in Southwest cuisine. Sample dishes bursting with original flavor include Anasazi Bean-Dip Boats, Tequila and Citrus-Grilled Chicken with Mesquite Honey, Crayfish-Corn Risotto, Pumpkin Flan, and much more. A brief introductory guide to basic Southwest ingredients, an index for quick and easy lookup, and a short list of recommended restaurants and resorts round out this tempting and flavorful compendium.

The Everything Cooking for Two Cookbook
David Poran
Adams Media Corporation
57 Littlefield Street, 2nd floor, Avon, MA 02322
1593373708 $14.95 1-800-872-5627

Written by a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America, The Everything Cooking for Two Cookbook features 300 recipes for making relaxing, romantic recipes for two people that do not create immense portions or require an excess of kitchen time. Mouth-watering recipes such as Japanese Spicy Tuna Tartar, Mustard-Crusted Filet Mignon, Easiest Scalloped Potatoes Ever, Oven-Roasted Baby Artichokes, Mexican Hot Chocolate Float and more combine flavor, variety and convenience. A brief introduction will prime novice cooks in the basics of kitchen equipment, and an index allows for quick and easy lookup of favorite recipes. An excellent and practical meal preparation guide for couples.

500 Cookies
Philippa Vanstone
Ronnie Sellers Productions
81 West Commercial Street, Portland, ME 04101
1569065926 $14.95 1-800-625-3386

500 Cookies: The Only Cookie Compendium You'll Ever Need is a compact-sized hardcover cookbook of almost every cookie type imaginable. From Scottish Shortbread to Fruit & Nut Refrigerator Cookies, Fortune Cookies, Vanilla Crescents, and much more, the recipes include "base recipes" and flavor-filled variants for a jamboree of cookie variety. Easy-to-use, and featuring color photographs throughout, 500 Cookies is a "must-have" for anyone who enjoys diversity in dessert!

Lebanese Food
Cassie Maroun-Paladin, author; John Peacock, photographer
New Holland Publishers
c/o Sterling Publishing Company
387 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10016-8810
1845371879 $35.95 1-800-805-5489

Featuring gorgeous full-color photography, Lebanese Food offers a medley of over 180 traditional recipes featuring the rich taste of Lebanese cooking. From Lentil Soup with Spinach to Green Bean Stew with Lamb, Bread Salad, Lovers' Shortbread, Melon Seed Mead and more, the recipes are simple to prepare and capture the exotic Mediterranean atmosphere with easy-to- acquire ingredients. A superb addition to any cookbook collection of flavorful regional cuisine.

Weber's Real Grilling
Jamie Purviance
c/o Sunset Publishing Corporation
80 Willow Road, Menlo Park, CA 94025-3691
0376020466 $24.95 1-800-643-8030

Featuring over 200 recipes each with a color photograph, Weber's Real Grilling is a gorgeous grilling cookbook that emphasizes simplicity and fun. In addition to step-by-step recipes, Weber's Real Grilling is packed with tips, tricks, and techniques from safety precautions for meat preparation (including a chart that compares USDA temperature recommendations with those of professional chefs for cooking meat rare to well-done) and basic instructions for using charcoal, lighting a gas grill, and the tools every griller should own. Recipes range from Grilled Shrip Cocktail to Hot Tenderloin Sandwiches, Tandoori-Style Chicken Kabobs, Acorn Squash, Red Chile Rice, Pineapple Sundae with Caramel and Toasted Almond Brittle and much more. An index rounds out this highly recommended cookbook for grillers of all skill and experience levels.

The Storm Gourmet
Daphne Nikolopoulos
Pineapple Press, Inc.
PO Box 3889, Sarasota, FL 34230-3889
1561643343 $9.95 1-800-746-3275

The Storm Gourmet: A Guide to Creating Extraordinary Meals without Electricity is a unique cookbook to creating nutritious gourmet meals without a heat source or refrigeration. A valuable resource for when power is down, when one is without a refrigerator, or simply when one wants to use less energy, The Storm Gourmet is packed with shopping lists for the ideal emergency pantry, more than 70 recipes using nonperishable and shelf-stable food items, suggested menus for balanced meals, a guide to growing a storm-proof herb garden, and tips for weathering storms. Dishes to prepare include Greek-style Bean Salad, Savory Ham with Dijon Cream, Black Forest Tarts, Mock Sangria, and much more. An index for quick and easy reference complements this excellent guide to living healthy and well under simple conditions.

Betsy L. Hogan

Bob's Bookshelf

Vengeance Is Mine
William W. Johnstone with Fred Austin
0786014466, $6.99 432 pages

Vietnam vet John Howard Stark's uncle and neighbor have been gunned down by illegals using their ranch property as a conduit into the U.S.

When the West Texan tries to put a stop to the border crossings, he finds the local authorities no help. Waging a one man war against a powerful and deadly Columbian drug cartel, Stark discovers he's not only taking on the an ex-special forces hit man but also his own government.

As he has in the past, Johnstone delivers a double dose of blood, guts and gore!

The Society
Michael Palmer
055358362X, $7.50 461 pages

Focusing on the lethal implications of managed care, Michael Palmer's eleventh medical thriller offers a portrait of a compromised healthcare system corrupted by profiteering managed care executives and a madman out to exact revenge.

When a serial killer targets managed care personnel, one of the prime suspects is surgeon Will Grant. A member of the Hippocrates Society, a group of doctors opposed to the insurance industry's immoral cost cutting policies, Grant has been outspoken in his criticism of the big corporations.

Although she's not convinced Grant is not the killer, rookie detective Patty Moriarity realizes she'll have to work with the physician to track down the killer.

"There are no fabricated stories or unsubstantiated facts in the novel," explains Palmer. "I hope (the novel) will raise awareness of the plummeting morale among many physicians, the shortcuts being necessitated in patient care, and the need to look long, hard, and fast into the possibilities of a new way of delivering and financing health care."

"Society" scores on both counts - it is a riveting thriller and does achieve the author's goal of increasing the awareness of the problem.

Mark Billingham
006056086X, $7.50 420 pages

When a serial killer begins targeting convicted rapists recently released from prison, the police are torn in two directions. On one hand,

there is little sympathy for the victims, but allowing this manner of vigilante justice isn't acceptable either. Detective Inspector Tom Thorne is given the task finding the methodical killer and ending the rampage.

Billingham creates an interesting and disturbing moral dilemma in this thriller as he muddies the issues that separate the victims and perpetrators of violent crimes.

Signs in the Blood
Vicki Lane
0440242088, $6.99 370 pages

North Carolina resident Vicki Lane uses her home state as the setting for her debut mystery. Elizabeth Goodweather's husband has passed away and the widow now lives alone in her Appalachian home. Tending her small herb and flower business keeps Elizabeth busy but her fragile peace is shattered when Cletus Gentry vanishes while hunting ginseng in the hills.

Cletus' mother is convinced her son has been murdered. When Elizabeth agrees to retrace the young man's wanderings, she doesn't realize her investigation will set her up as the target of a killer who haunts the coves and hallows near her small farm.

A haunting psychological suspense story rich with local color and atmosphere, "Signs in the Blood" marks Lane as a new talent with plenty of writing savvy. A second Elizabeth Goodweather novel, scheduled for release next year, will continue the adventures of this very fetching character.

Guardian of the Dawn
Richard Zimler
0385338813, $14.00 403 pages

With two well received novels to his credit already, Richard Zimler, an Associate Professor of Journalism at the University of Porto, Portugal, transports his reader to India in this prequel to "Hunting Midnight".

Set against the Spanish Inquisition, "Guardian of the Dawn" focuses on Tiago Zarco, a young man living in Goa in 1591. Raised in a Jewish family who fled Portugal to preserve religious freedom, Tiago's life is turned topsy-turvy when his father is accused of an act of blasphemy and arrested by the officials of the Inquisition.

To avenge this act of betrayal and bring his father's tormentors to justice,Tiago must give up all he holds dear - his faith, his sister, and his Hindu girlfriend.

A sweeping historical adventure which combines mystery with a tale of faith and love, "Guardian of the Dawn" characters captivate the reader from page one.

The Shattered Rose
Jo Beverley
0821779346, $6.99 415 pages

Upon his return from the Crusades, Galeran of Heywood returns to England only to discover his rival, Raymond of Lowick, has designs on Galeran's land and his wife. Although he's weary from the long campaign, Galeran must marshal his strength for one more battle and the stakes are much higher this time; his castle and his loved ones are the prize.

Beverley's previous 25 historical romances have garnered a wide and appreciative fan base. As this latest novel illustrates, the much lauded writer continues to be at the top of her game.

Bob Walch

Buhle's Bookshelf

The Life of St. Edmund King and Martyr: A Facsimile
University of Toronto Press
10 St. Mary Street, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M4Y 2W8
0712348719 $100.00 1-800-565-9523

The Life of St. Edmund King and Martyr: A Facsimile is a stunningly beautiful recreation of the classical illuminated manuscript detailing the Anglo-Saxon King St. Edmund's life, as once penned by a fifteenth-century abbey monk. The 120 illustrations, script, and appearance of the original work is stunningly recreated, along with a list of illustrations and an introduction. Notably absent is any separate transliteration of the text into modern vernacular prose; the reader is left to his or her own devices to either read the text as-is or seek a translation of the archaic English. A truly stunning compendium, that is as close to the precise look and feel of an ancient manuscript as reasonably possible.

Mapmaker's Eye
Jack Nisbet
WSU Press
PO Box 645910, Pullman, WA 99164-5910
0874222850 $29.95 1-800-354-7360

Mapmaker's Eye is the amazing biographical chronicle of the adventures of David Thompson, a Canadian fur trader, explorer, and cartographer respected as a hero in Canada yet largely unknown in the United States. From 1801 to 1812, Thompson established two effective trade routs across the Rocky Mountains in Canada and surveyed the 1,250 mile course of the Columbia River. Following his exploration days he transformed the mathematical notations from his dozens of journal notebooks into the first accurate maps of the northwest quadrant of North America. Some of his mapwork was even used by the Lewis and Clark expedition. Award-winning author Jack Nisbet presents Thompson's story in detail yet fully accessible to lay readers, along with a handful of black-and-white and color illustrations. An amazing epic tale of a life rich with discovery and analysis.

Saunders Mac Lane
Saunders Mac Lane
A K Peters, Ltd.
888 Worcester Street, Suite 230, Wellesley, MA 02482
1568811500 $39.95

Saunders Mac Lane: A Mathematical Autobiography is the personal memoir of the late Saunders mac lane, one of the most influential mathematicians of the 20th century. His life story takes the reader on fascinating and informative journey through the most important milestones of the mathematical world of the last ten decades. Saunders provides the reader with a glimpse into his "life and times" through a blending of professional observations with highly personal commentary. He recounts his experiences in pre-war Gottingen (where he studied under David Hilbert and witnessed the collapse of a great German academic and cultural tradition under the political pressures of a brutal Nazi regime). He reflects on his work with Samuel Eilenberg and the impact of their creation of a new mathematical language and theory. Here is the personalized and deftly written story of a century of extraordinary accomplishments and tragedies that will inform and inspire future generations of aspiring mathematicians and is therefore an essential addition to all college and university library collections.

Zane Grey
Thomas H. Pauly
University of Illinois Press
1325 South Oak Street, Champaign, IL 61820-6975
0252030443 $34.95 1-800-545-4703

Zane Grey: His Life, His Adventures, His Women is a superbly integrated account of one of America's most popular authors of the western novel. Soundly documented and a seminal piece of biographical scholarship by Thomas H. Pauly (Professor of English, University of Delaware) fans of Zane Grey will learn that he was a disappointed aspirant to major league baseball, an unhappy dentist, and took up writing at the age of thirty. His personal life was as colorful as any of his novels which made him the most successful American author of the 1920s, a popularizer of hunting and fishing, an early conservationist and wilderness protection advocate, and a significant figure in the early development of the film industry. He became a world traveler and a man whose marriage was critical to his literary success. But his domestic relationship was stressed by long separations, deep depressions, and multiple affairs with women. Enthusiastically recommended reading, Zane Grey is an impressive biography of a complicated and multifaceted man that is as engaging and entertaining as it is informed and informative.

Ben Franklin: America's Original Entrepreneur
Ben Franklin (Adapted by Blake McCormick)
Entrepreneur Press
c/o The McGraw Hill Companies
Two Penn Plaza, 11th Floor, New York, NY 10121-2298
1932531688 $26.95 1-877-833-5524

Ben Franklin's autobiography has been adapted and edited by Blake McCormick to showcase one of the best business stories arising from America's colonial period. Ben Franklin was a superb entrepreneur, inventor, and writer who influenced not only the political, but the cultural, social, and business climates of his day. In "Ben Franklin: America's Original Entrepreneur " the reader is provided with insights and illustrations as applicable as business models today as they were more than two hundred years ago. Enthusiastically recommended reading -- especially for anyone aspiring to success is the business world whether as an individual entrepreneur or as a member of a corporate team.

Johann Sebastian Bach: His Life in Pictures and Documents, with CD
Fortress Press
c/o Augsburg Fortress, Publishers
PO Box 1209, Minneapolis, MN 55440-1209
080063764X $25.00

Johann Sebastian Bach: His Life in Pictures and Documents, with CD is a gorgeous tribute to Bach's life and musical contributions to Western Civilization. Internationally recognized biographer and filmmaker Hans Conrad Fischer offers a religious perspective upon Bach's works, claiming that it is only through Bach's profound Christian faith that the message and essence of his music can be understood. Bach himself wrote three letters at the end of many of his music manuscripts: "SDG", meaning "Soli Deo Gloria", or, "for God's glory alone." In addition to chronicling Bach's life and faith, the text enhances dozens of black-and-white and color portraits, photographs of locales and artifacts, maps, manuscripts, and more. The accompanying CD offers a "musical journey" of Bach's works; samples of 17 of his compositions, from 1 1/2 minutes to 8 1/2 minutes apiece, allows the listener to experience a range of Bach's auditory creations. Highly recommended for lay readers interested in experiencing Bach in a multiplicity of media.

How Can One Sell The Air?
Eli Gifford, Michael Cook, Warren Jefferson
The Book Publishing Company
PO Box 99, Summertown, TN 38483
1570671737 $9.95 1-800-695-2241

Chief Seattle, leader of the Seattle Native American tribe called the Suquamish, gave an eloquent speech to Isaac Stevens, the Territorial Governor on January 10, 1854 during treaty negotiations. His impassioned and moving plea to respect the "Sacred Web of Life" has been translated world wide and is a rallying cry for today's environmental protection movement. Now in a newly revised edition, How Can One Sell The Air?: Chief Seattle's Vision presents his timeless insights drawn from three of his most often quoted speeches, some of which had been included in the Seattle tribe's oral tradition and to which they gave their official endorsement for authenticity. This expanded addition for a new generation of readers is enhanced with background information on Chief Seattle, the history of the region at that time, and the culture of the Suquamish then and now. The informed and informative text is enriched with rare historical photographs (many from the Suquamish Tribal Archives) of 19th century tribal village life. How Can One Sell The Air? is an essential addition to any personal, academic, or community library Native American Studies collection.

Willis M. Buhle

Burroughs' Bookshelf

Thaddeus Rutkowski
Behler Publications
22365 El Toro Road, #135, Lake Forest, CA 92630
1933016167 $13.95 1-800-830-2913

Written by a finalist for an Asian American Literary Award, Tetched is a coming-of-age novel from the first-person perspective of a biracial narrator, who grows up in rural America yet escapes the repetition of country life for new experiences in the city, pursuing a college career. Far from his father's floundering struggles with alcoholism and unfulfilled art career, and his mother's confusing brand of Eastern wisdom, the protagonist struggles to live life on his own terms, a difficult task indeed - until he learns how to put the past in perspective. A vibrant story of self- discovery and learning what it means to become a well-adjusted adult.

Late In The Standoff
Tracy Daugherty
Southern Methodist University Press
PO Box 750414, Dallas, TX 75275-0415
0870744984 $22.50 1-800-826-8911

Tracy Daugherty's distinctive and highly recommended fiction draws from the cultural and social forces that shape and influence the intimate behavior of otherwise ordinary people. Late In The Standoff comprises a novella and five short stories feature people caught up in conflicts where solutions and resolutions arise from unexpected quarters. In "Power Lines" a young man's sexual awakening in Midland, Texas, coincides with lessons about heroism and loyalty during one hot summer that is suddenly seared with violence. In "The Standoff", a retired politician and his asthmatic grandson rediscover their bond on a trip to a small Oklahoma town where the old man has been asked to settle an "Indian dispute". In "Cotton Flat Road", a brother and sister life the lid on their differences as he discovers her secret life across the tracks in the Texas oil town they grew up in. "Lamplighter", "City Codes", and "Anna Lia" round out this impressive and literate anthology showcasing a major talent by an author whose "day job" is directing the MFA Program in Creative Writing at Oregon State University and is on the MFA faculty at Warren Wilson College.

Pseudonymity, the New Testament, and Deception
Terry L. Wilder
University Press of America, Inc.
4501 Forbes Boulevard, Suite 200, Lanham, Maryland 20706
0761827935 $41.00 1-800-462-6420

Written by an Associate Professor of New Testament and Greek, Pseudonymity, the New Testament, and Deception: An Inquiry into Intention and Reception is a monograph written to address the question: "If pseudonymous works exist in the New Testament, what can be said about their intention and reception?" Topics covered include scrutiny of disputed New Testament letters and the role and authority of the Apostle in the early church. An extensively researched and documented account that draws as heavily upon logic as it does upon biblical expertise to scrutinize New Testament passages that may have been written under a pseudonym for specific purposes, Pseudonymity, the New Testament, and Deception is recommended for intermediate to advanced Biblical scholars and college library shelves.

Caesar's Messiah
Joseph Atwill
Ulysses Press
PO Box 3440, Berkeley CA 94703-3440
1569754578 $14.95 1-800-377-2542

In Caesar's Messiah: The Roman Conspiracy To Invent Jesus, author Joseph Atwill (Jesuit trained, founder of the Roman Origins Institute in New York City, and co-worker with Robert Eisenman on the dating of the Dead Sea Scrolls) advances the controversial but intriguing theory that Jesus of the New Testament Gospels was basically an invention of a Roman emperor for his own imperial purposes. If correct, this would reveal a new understanding of a two-thousand year old series of events with respect to our understanding of Christian origins. Atwill closely compares the writings of first-century historian Flavius Josephus with the New Testament Gospels and comes to the conclusion that the Romans directed the writing of both the Gospels and Josephus' "War of the Jews". The purpose of the empire was to present Jesus as a "peaceful Messiah" who would serve as an alternative to more revolutionary leaders who were creating havoc in first-century Israel and threatening the suzerainty of Rome. If Atwill's investigations are sound, it could well mean that the Jesus portrayed in the four Gospels was written not by Christians, but by Romans meaning to usurp the Christian movement for their own political purposes. Caesar's Messiah is controversial, thought-provoking, challenging, and altogether fascinating reading.

I Hid It Under The Sheets
Gerald Eskenazi
University of Missouri Press
2910 LeMone Boulevard, Columbia, MO 65201
082621620X $29.95 1-800-828-1894

The 1930s, 40s, and early 50s were the age of Radio. This is when most of America would tune in nightly for their favorite comedies, mysteries, westerns, science fiction, adventure, news, culture, and entertainment programs for children and adults. This was the ultimate era of "theatre of the mind" entertainment that took place in front of the glow of a radio dial. I Hid It Under The Sheets: Growing Up With Radio is Gerald Eskenazi's personal account and recollection of radio's broad impact on his generation and explains how and why it became such a major factor in shaping American and Americans during the years of the Great Depression, World War II, and the first decade of what was called the Cold War when the United States and the Soviet Union had the power to exterminate the human race in a nuclear holocaust. I Hid It Under The Sheets is a simply fascinating, original, and highly recommended contribution to mid-twentieth century American Cultural History library reference collections and supplemental reading lists.

The Diaries Of John Gregory Bourke: Volume Two
Charles M. Robinson III, editor
University of North Texas Press
PO Box 311336, Denton, TX 76203-1336
1574411969 $55.00 1-800-826-8911

Edited and annotated by Charles M. Robinson (history instructor at South Texas Community College and a fellow of the Texas State Historical Association), The Diaries Of John Gregory Bourke: Volume Two: July 29, 1876-April 7, 1878 is the next published installment of the personal journals of John Gregory Bourke who served as cavalry lieutenant in Arizona from 1872 up to the evening before his death in 1896. A noted ethnologist who wrote extensive descriptions of Native American tribal life and customs that he observed first hand, he illustrated his diaries with both sketches and photographs. This second published volume opens as General Crook prepares for the expedition that would lead to his infamous and devastating Horse Meat March. The diary faithfully recounts the manifold hardships the troops and their officers endured. The diary then continues with the story of the Powder River Expedition and culminates in Bourke's eyewitness description of Colonel Ranald MacKenzie's destruction of the main Cheyenne camp in what become known as the Dull Knife Fight. With the main hostile chiefs either surrendering or forced into exile in Canada, field operations came to a close and Bourke finishes this second volume of his memoirs with a retrospective of his service in Tucson, Arizona. Enhanced for the modern reader with extensive annotations and a biographical appendix on Indians, civilians, and military personnel named in the diaries, this outstanding series continues to be a seminal and strongly recommended contribution to American Frontier History and Native American Studies reference collections and supplementary reading lists.

Captain Jack And The Dalton Gang
John J. Kinney
University Press of Kansas
2501 West 15th Street, Lawrence, KS 66049
070061415X $17.95 1-785-864-4155

Captain Jack And The Dalton Gang: The Life And Times Of A Railroad Detective by John J. Kinney chronicles the true story of his great-grandfather Jack Kinney, the chief detective for the Missouri, Kansas, and Texas Railroad and his armed and violent confrontation with the infamous Dalton gang. Researching old journals and newspaper accounts for details of the controversial forty-minute battle at Adair in the Indian Territory on July 14, 1892 between Captain Jack and his posse with the nine-member outlaw gang known as the Daltons -- as well as other exploits in the life and career of the man who also served as the chief detective for the Atchison, Topeka, and Santa Fe Railroad, a Texas Ranger, and a U.S. deputy marshal who worked for "Hanging Judge" Isaac Parker on the lawless American frontier. Captain Jack And The Dalton Gang is a superbly presented, engagingly informative, biographically oriented, rivetingly entertaining story of outlaws and the lawmen who pursued them. Highly recommended reading!

Minnesota Grit
John Koblas
North Star Press of St. Cloud
PO Box 451, St. Cloud, MN 56302-0451
0878392157 $12.95 1-888-820-1636

Minnesota Grit is the remarkable true story of Northfield, Minnesota, and how its ordinary citizens mobilized to break a notorious gang of robbers. When the James-Younger Gang tried to rob Northfield's bank, the citizenry turned against them so fast that two members of the outlaws were killed moments later, and ultimately only Jesse and Frank James escaped the posses, their power broken for the rest of history. Painstakingly researched, and illustrated with a handful of black-and-white photographs, Minnesota Grit tells the true tale with rousing intensity and accuracy, including the story of the "Magnificent Seven" who captured the Younger Brothers at Hanska Slough. An exciting portrayal of a legendary episode in American history.

Minnesota's Capitol
Michele Hodgson
Afton Historical Society Press
PO Box 100, Afton, MN 55001
1890434671 $24.00 1-800-436-8443

Enhanced with more than one hundred color and b/w illustrations, Minnesota's Capitol: A Centennial Story by Michele Hodgson tells the story of Minnesota state house located in St. Paul. Architecturally designed by Cass Gilbert, this impressive building took nine years to build from groundbreaking to dedication. It's magnificent dome was modeled after St. Peter's in Rome and utilized marble from Italy, Greece, France, and Africa, while the granite for the Capitol's foundation came from neighboring St. Cloud, Minnesota. Gilbert commissioned some of America's leading artists to decorate the building (including the sculptor who would later create the Lincoln Memorial in Washington, D.C.) as well as featuring the talents of local artists such as painter Douglas Volk and sculptor Catherine Backus. Highly recommended reading, Minnesota's Capitol is as engaging and entertaining as it is informed and informative.

Wrigley Field's Last World Series
Charles N. Billington, author; George Brace, photographer
Lake Claremont Press
4650 N. Rockwell St., Chicago, IL 60625
1893121453 $16.95

Wrigley Field's Last World Series: The Wartime Chicago Cubs and the Pennant of 1945 is an in-depth analysis of the Cubs' greatest year in baseball history - with a summary of the causes of the team's decline in all the decades to follow. As World War II was coming to an end, the Cubs' were at their very best; Wrigley Field's Last World Series follows their efforts month by month until their crowning achievement of the World Series pennant. Yet after 1945, the Cubs' performance and success dropped dramatically, which author Billington attests to multiple causes, including disastrously poor trades, an sluggish and flawed system to "farm" new talent, the toll of wartime draft, and more. A skillfully narrated look at the year that was a monumental turning point, featuring a handful of black-and- white photography by George Brace. Especially recommended reading for Cubs fans.

Selecting and Using Hand Tools
The Editors of Fine Woodworking
The Taunton Press
63 South Main Street, Newtown, CT 06470
1561587834 $17.95 1-800-477-8727

The latest in the "New Best of Fine Woodworking" series, which collects the best articles from recent issues of "Fine Woodworking" magazine, Selecting and Using Hand Tools teaches the reader about buying the best tools, essential techniques such as four-squaring and using a marking knife in accurate joinery, applying edged tools or handsaws, getting the most out of tools for shaping and modifying, and much more. Diagrams and full-color photographs on every page walk the reader through procedures step-by-step, and the text explains hands-on tasks in easy-to-follow terms. An excellent resource for hands-on woodworkers of all skill and experience levels, from novice to advanced.

Carving Down-Home Angels with Tom Wolfe
Tom Wolfe
Schiffer Publishing Ltd.
4880 Lower Valley Road, Atglen, PA 19310
0764323261 $14.95

The 46th carving instructional book by one of the leading caricature woodcarvers in America, Carving Down-Home Angels with Tom Wolfe is a step-by-step guide that walks the reader through the process of creating charming, folksy wooden angels with endearing elderly features. Full color photographs on every page illustrate the process, and a bare minimum of text instructs the reader in the simple steps, from carving a block to painting minute details. The instructional process focuses on creating a single "down-home angel", but several examples of variations on the theme point the way to applying the general techniques to original creations. An excellent resource for woodcarvers seeking to train their figure carving talent or even handcraft Christmas gifts and decorations.

John Burroughs

Carson's Bookshelf

Strategies of Containment, revised edition
John Lewis Gaddis
Oxford University Press
198 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016-4314
019517447X $18.95 1-800-451-7556

Now in a revised edition, Strategies of Containment: A Critical Appraisal of American National Security Policy During the Cold War is a revised and expanded edition of Bancroft Prize winner and Cold War expert John Lewis Gaddis' classic on understanding the history of containment as a policy, its role in bringing the Cold War to an end, and its possible value or pitfalls in the future. Originally published during the Regan presidency when the Soviet Union was still a superpower, Strategies of Containment includes a greatly expanded chapter eleven, about Reagan, Gorbachev, and the completion of containment, as well as a new epilogue. A welcome scrutiny of history with the advantage of post-Cold War hindsight.

Janet Rothenberg Pack, editor
Brookings Institution Press
1775 Massachusetts Avenue, N.W., Washington, DC 20036-2188
0815768109 $24.95 1-800-275-1447

Expertly compiled and deftly edited by Janet Rothenberg Pack (Professor of Business and Public Policy, Wharton School, University of Pennsylvania, and Nonresident Senior Fellow in the Brookings Institution's "Metropolitan Policy Program"), Sunbelt/Frostbelt: Public Policies And Market Forces In Metropolitan Development presents a number of contributions by scholars focusing upon the role of government policies and competitive market forces in shaping growth patterns in the five metropolitan areas of Chicago, Lost Angeles, Philadelphia, Phoenix, and Pittsburgh. These studies (two in the Sunbelt and three in the industrial north) provide the reader with an insightful understanding of the federal policies and diverse market forces which have significantly affected development patterns in these cities over the last few decades. In addition to descriptive findings, Sunbelt/Frostbelt also proposes recommendations to policymakers and corporate stakeholders that would result in a more balanced growth in their respective cities and regions. A work of impressive and original scholarship throughout, Sunbelt/Frostbelt is especially recommended for inclusion in Regional & Urban Planning library reference and resource collections.

Starting Out: King's Indian Attack
John Emms
Everyman Chess
c/o The Globe Pequot Press
PO Box 480, Guilford, CT 06437
1857443942 $21.95 1-800-243-0495

Written by British chess Grandmaster John Emms, Starting Out: King's Indian Attack is an in-depth guide for intermediate to advanced chess players to the King's Indian Attack, a favorite chess strategy of the legendary Bobby Fischer, among others including world-class Grandmaster Alexander Morozevich. Starting Out: King's Indian Attack studies the fundamental principles of this tactic and its numerous lines. A wealth of notes, tips, warnings, suggestions, sample games and diagrams serve to enlighten the average player on the strengths and weaknesses of using or defending against this strategy. Highly recommended for any dedicated chess player seeking to improve his or her game against experienced opponents.

100 Problems in Celestial Navigation
Leonard Gray
Paradise Cay Publications
PO Box 29, Arcata, CA 95518-0029
0939837331 $19.95 1-800-736-4509

Even in a world with accurate and cheap GPS receivers, traditional navigation with a sextant, an almanac, and a book of tables is still an important skill - sometimes batteries go dead or electronic devices fail, especially in salt air! Written by experienced navigator Leonard Gray, 100 Problems in Celestial Navigation: Self Contained - With Answers is a compendium of realistic navigation problems, including excerpts of all required Nautical Almanac pages and sight-reduction tables, complete with answers and explanations. These problems cover all regularly encountered navigation situations, as well as those that are only occasionally used and often forgotten, such as backsight, shooting and unknown body, finding Venus in daylight, and storm avoidance. A superb manual for safely practicing and honing one's navigational skills.

Countdown To Crisis
Kenneth R. Timmerman
Crown Forum
c/o The Crown Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, #B1, New York, NY 10019-4305
1400053684 $25.95 1-800-726-0600

Countdown To Crisis: The Coming Nuclear Showdown With Iran by investigative reporter and Middle East expert Ken Timmerman documents how the American intelligence community's arrogance, incompetence, and willful blindness have repeatedly kept us from dealing effectively or successfully with the Iranian nuclear threat. Countdown To Crisis reveals that the Iranian mullahs could already have enough nuclear material for 20 to 25 bombs; secret locations where Iran had been sheltering Osma bin Laden and Al-Qaeda forces who are collaborating with the Iranians to plain attacks against American and our allies; Iran's involvement in the 9/11 plot (including documents the CIA tried to withhold from the 9/11 Commission); an insider's account of how top Iranian leaders negotiated directly with North Korea's "Supreme Leader" to secure nuclear weapons assistance, and so much more. Every allegation is founded in documentation, every revelation is backed by evidence. Countdown To Crisis needs the widest possible readership it can achieve in order to end the political mismanagement that has so characterized the Bush administration's handling (and chronic mishandling) of the Iranian nuclear threat, the Iranian participation in global terrorism, and the brutality of the Iranian mullahs.

Fieseler Storch In Action
Jerry L. Campbell, Don Greer, David Gebhardt
Squadron/Signal Publications
1115 Crowley Drive, Carrollton, TX 75011-5010
0897474937 $11.98 1-800-527-7427

Number 198 in the outstanding Squadron/Signal Publications military aircraft series, Fieseler Storch In Action by Jerry L. Campbell showcases the slow-flying Fi 156 Storch which was designed by Gerhard Fieseler and Reinhard Mewes as a short takeoff and landing aircraft and was a very popular such model in the Germany military and governmental airforce during World War II. The Fi 156 Storch got its name from its stalky, long-stroke undercarriage and steel-spring, oil-damping shock absorbers in a reverse pyramid handing from the fuselage. Powered by an eight-cylinder inverted-vee air-cooled Arug As 10C engine providing 240 horsepower at take-off and turning, this fixed wing, fixed landing gear aircraft was versatile and saw a number of them passed along to Germany's Bulgarian, Croatian, Finish, Hungarian, Italian, Rumanian, and Slovakian allies fighting along side German forces on the Eastern Front. It should be noted that there are no reported incidents of the F1 156 Storch flying night harassment missions over the front lines on the Eastern Front. As with all of these Squadron/Signal titles, there is a profusion of historical photographs and line drawings providing the reader with a comprehensive understanding and appreciation of this remarkable aircraft. Also very highly recommended for military buffs and aviation history enthusiasts are two more new releases from Squadron/Signal: F-102 Delta Dart In Action (#1199) and MiG-15 Walk Around (#5540).

Michael J. Carson

Cassandra's Bookshelf

The Floating Girl
Sujata Massey
Avon Books
Harper Collins Publishers
10 East 53rd St., New York, NY 10022-5299
ISBN: 0061097357, $6.99 355 pp.

Pictures of what art historians and scholars have called "The Floating World," have changed a lot. Since I'm an art historian, critic and appraiser I like things oriental a lot and I read a lot of books with Asian culture as a central theme. That's why Sujata Massey's mystery The Floating Girl, a Booklist Editor's choice Selection, part of her Rei Shimura series is so entertaining to me. Half American half-Japanese, Rei is one of the most interesting female protagonists around.

Living in Japan and struggling to accept and be accepted in her adopted home, Rei becomes involved in the worlds of Anime (cartoons) and Manga (comic books). For your information, Many adults in Japan are curiously attuned to cuteness or Kawaii. Cuteness is everywhere and Anime and Manga are widely consumed, and in some cases highly regarded as art and literature. This appreciation is thought to have grown out of the Japanese wood block print tradition. This makes sense for anyone who has studied Japanese prints and knows the genre. Manga makes up nearly half of the book sales in Japan, much of it intended for adults.

These Anime and Manga usually feature malevolent gangsters and unusual girls who can be bratty, plucky, resourceful, goofy, vulnerable and brave. Recently the Anime craze has hit the United States through the films of Hayao Miyazaki, an animated film maker whose drawings, characters and storyboards are full of rich, strange characters drawn from Japanese mythology and filled with modern psychological realism. I bring this up because it seems to me that Massey, who lived and worked in Japan, has drawn on her knowledge and experience to create a complex novel full of subplots, and twists and turns as Rei Shimura takes readers on a colorful cultural tour of contemporary Japan and Anime and Manga culture, murder and the darker side of Tokyo.

I cite Miyazaki because the mysterious cartoonist that Rei is trying to find appears to be based on him. For those unfamiliar with Miyazaki's I would recommend his latest feature, Howl's Moving Castle which grossed 14.5 million in its first week at the box office. Massey's hipsters with their indoor pallors and outlandish outfits have an unnerving realism. In many instances they are pathetic.

Rei earns her living as a writer on art and antiques (and she sells them) at the Gaijin Times, a comic-style magazine aimed at Japanese youth culture. She is assigned a piece on the history of comic books to rev up sale of the magazine. During the weekend she tries to do some research and relax at the beach with her boyfriend Takeo. She discovers a Manga that is unusual and striking. It is a underground take off on a popular Manga involving Mars Girl. It involves time travel back to the distrubing social milieu of pre-World War II Japan. Rei soon becomes involved in the dark and weird side of Tokyo and along the way introduces the reader to the subtle culture of Japanese tea houses, cherry blossom festivals and the pornographic underground of Yakuza (gangsters), eerie male dancers, strangely dressed Anime wanna bes.

The action really takes of when one of the creatures Rei visits ends up floating face down in the river. The murder soon takes her deep into the heart of Japan's youth counter culture. She is soon floating through strip clubs, animation shops, and coffeehouses to get the true story and find the creator of the illegal Mars Girl comics.

She encounters Pokemon impersonators and giggly shopaholic school girls in search of the mysterious creator of the exquisite modern comic she wants to write about. She chases him down at a convention and finds that he is a Veronica Lake wanna be with a wave that falls over one eye, and dresses like Michael Jackson. Sujata Massey overlaps the various stories with the agility of one of Picasso's acrobats opening doors and closing exits in a hellish world that is beautifully written about if you don't mind dying. Rei comes very close in her quest to find both the cartoonist and the murderer.

I really enjoyed this book although I found it workman-like in its plotting and the sex scenes sort of proforma and dull but Massey more than makes up for these minor short comings with the richness of her portrayals, the absurdity of contemporary comic book culture, and the conflicts of old and new Japan.

Madeleine Is Sleeping
Sarah Shun- Lien Bynum
Harvast Book-Harcourt, Inc.
15 East 26th St., New York, NY 10010
ISBN: 0156032279, $13.00

I like magic realism and I read a lot of books that stress creative imagination. "Madeleine" is a strange book to say the least. It is part fairy tale, mostly fantasy and darkly disturbing. It was a "National Book Award" and New York Public Library Young Lions Fiction Awards finalist, and it won both the "Washington Post Book World Best Book of the Year and Publishers Weekly Best Book of the Year. It is a debut novel by a young writer whose fiction first appeared in a number of well respected journals, i.e. "Georgia Review, TriQuarterly, and The Best American Short Stories." Given all these raves one would have expected a more together book.

The plot involves us in the life and dreams of a girl who has fallen mysteriously into a deep, impenetrable sleep. As she sleeps she dreams and takes us on a journey where she leaves home, joins a gypsy circus and becomes involved in an erotic triangle. The book has its moments of magic - "AND THEN A PLAGUE STRUCK, a drought descended, and Michel found God.

While outside his castle walls the pestilenced raged, Michel was struck by the face of the crucified Lord, preserved in a primitive icon that hung beneath the stairs. His fair face had been obliterated by tears and blood; His perfect body was desiccated and dotted with flies. Wracked by self-reproach, the prince vowed to destroy his own beauty; he surrendered himself and his lands to the monastery at Rievaulx, where he spent the rest of his days inflicting torture upon himself. And this is only page 9.

Bynum's prose reminds me of Janet Winterson, Joyce Carol Oates and assorted other writers who rely on magic realism to carry their plots--sometimes it works and often it does not. In this case while "curiosity prevails," for the author of this novel it doesn't always for the reader and often the "curtain" is not lifted and one gets bored with all the techniques hip-hopping around. The novel's black humor is often funny but many times absurd and the girl, the photographer, and the flatulent man do not really engage our sympathies. But Bynum makes her point when she concludes, "What terrible things we do, in our efforts to be admired."(251)

This is a fantastically baroque novel full of twists and turns. I like its daring and complexity and the fact that Bynum is not afraid of using lush, poetic imagery full of sensuous language. I think it is a novel that promises much but fails to deliver in the end. Still it's worth reading for the sheer beauty of the language if not the plotting.

Cassandra Langer

Christina's Bookshelf

Advertising Without An Agency Made Easy (Entrepreneur Made Easy Series)
Kathy J. Kobliski
Entrepreneur Press
2445 McCabe Way, Suite 400, Irvine, CA. 92614 1-800-864-6864
ISBN: 1932531289, $19.95 216 pages

Have a business? Not sure if you can afford to advertise? Do you need to? This book shows you why you can't afford not to, and then walks you through easy steps. The author, Kobliski, shows you so plainly how to advertise that you suddenly feel in control again.

Kobliski wrote this book hoping to take some of the mystery out of the advertising process; to arm readers with material to remove the guesswork and frustration.

Content Chapter Headings:

Define Your Business
Develop Your Brand
Public Relations
Maintain Your Customer Base
Define Your Market
Media Sales Reps
Co-op Advertising
Political Advertising
Radio Production
Television Production
Whatcha Gonna Say? Radio and Television
Direct Mail
The Internet
Outdoor Advertising
Transit Advertising
Be Your Own Agency and Keep 15 Percent

Excerpts from the book:

From Chapter 15 - 'Print'

"Use the KISS Theory - Keep It Simple Stupid! Keep your main message simple and understandable. Then, use it over and over, in print as well as all of your other media ads."

From Chapter 17 - 'The Internet'

"Once you get people coming to your site, how do you find out who they are? How do you get to them? That's one of the biggest frustrations of the Internet."

"Nearly 80 percent of potential purchasers of goods and service believe that going to a company's web site is an important part of the decision-making process."

'Advertising Without An Agency Made Easy' provides:

Inside information and examples from advertising experts
Practical advice on branding media buying, copywriting and more
Strategies to save time and money
Worksheets to identify media outlets, track results and analyze your ad plan

If you're a small business, or one that just needs to save money, this is definitely a book to get your hands on. Kobliski teaches why advertising is extremely important to your business and then proceeds to show you how to do it yourself without hiring an expensive agency. She shares tips, tricks, secrets, and helpful worksheets. You'll go away thinking, "I can do this," and "Why didn't I think of that? It's so simple."

I found myself taking notes for my own little business endeavors. How could I help it? Kobliski's ideas are practical and methodical. The stepson what to do and how, along with the book's lay-out, makes this an "easy-to-learn" experience. Recommended. Contains everything you need to know about advertising successfully without breaking the bank.

Herb and Herbal Products Business Your Guide to Success (a 'StartUp,' 'Start Your Own' Guide)
Rob and Terry Adams
Entrepreneur Press
2445 McCabe Way, Suite 400, Irvine, CA. 92614 1-800-864-6864
ISBN: 193215602X, $14.95 193 pages

Love herbs and want to be your own boss? Many people days are getting into herbs, vitamins, and back to nature. Problem is, not everyone has the time or inclination to grow herbs, or to create their own herbal products. If you are interested, though, this is the book to get. It will help guide your way. It's friendly, easy-to-use, and organized is such a way that is perfect. Rob and Terry worked hard to help readers decide if an herb business is right for them, to get reader's farm and/or business up and running, and to make it a success.

The Book's Chapters:

1. The Dirt on Herb Farming: What's It All About? (topics include 12 headings in all)
2. The Historical Herb: Getting to the Root of the Matter (topics include 19 headings in all)
3. Herbs 101: How to Tell Bee Balm from Basil (1 topic heading)
4. A Well-Designed Garden: Market Research (topics include 12 headings in all)
5. The North 40: Your Farm Location (topics include 8 headings in all)
6. Preparing the Soil: Legal Structure and Physical Layout (topics include 11 headings in all)
7. Sowing the Seeds: General Start-Up Costs (topics include 10 headings in all)
8. Fertilizing the Soil: Farming Start-Up Costs (topics include 8 headings in all)
9. Propagating Profits: Determining Your Bottom Line (topics include 10 headings in all)
10. Minding Your Garden: Operations (topics include 14 headings in all)
11. Plant People: Dealing with Customers and Employees (topics include 8 headings in all)
12. Growing Your Business: Advertising and Marketing (topics include 19 headings in all)
13. Making a Mint: Controlling Your Finances (topics include 5 headings in all)
14. Farmer's Almanac: Tales from the Trenches (topics include 8 headings in all)
Appendix - Herbal Entrepreneur's Storehouse (a great resource in itself with names, addresses, phone-numbers, and web-sites).

Excerpt from the book:

"Keep in mind that in most parts of the country, herb farming is a seasonal occupation. Unless you have a year-round greenhouse or a way to extend your year with products like dried herbs, you may not have a year-round income."

From a "Fun Fact" box:

"While catmint drives animals of the feline persuasion wild, anise - a licorice-scented herb - does the same for dogs."

From a "Bright Idea" box:

"Don't leave out Italian eateries and pizza parlors in your quest for restaurants to do business with. Garlic, basil, and oregano are the hallmarks of Italian cuisine."

I highly recommend this book for anyone thinking of going into the herbal business and for those already in it. This book will probably teach current owners a thing or two, all in a friendly, by-the-way tone.

I really enjoyed all the boxed "Fun Facts," "Smart Tips," "Bright Ideas," "Bewares," "Dollar Stretchers," and samples of surveys, workshop pricing, income and expense statements, news release, ads, profit figuring, shopping lists and brainstorming. No matter where I opened the book, I learned something. It's not one of those books with lines of words that go on forever, and are b-o-r-i-n-g. Breaking bits of information up and tossing in boxes of tips and such, provides an easy to learn feel, and an ease with tons of information. It's organized with headings and sub-headings to for even more ease of navigation.

Highly recommended. Friendly, and contains everything you need to know to be successful in an herbal business.

The Journal of Jedediah Barstow, An Emigrant on the Oregon Trail - Overland 1845
'A Dear American Book - My Name Is America
Ellen Levine
Scholastic Inc.
557 Broadway, New York, N.Y. 10012
ISBN: 0439063108 $15.99, 172 pages

Wonder what it was like on the Oregon Trail? What kind of people made this journey? What difficulties arose? Did everyone take the same route? What did they do for fun? How did they build a fire for cooking when there were no trees? These questions and more are answered in Levine's book. But, this author doesn't just answer interesting questions. She paints a poignant account of a boy that will grip young reader's interest and not let go. The story is set up as our young hero's journal entries. It is not a real account, but easily could be.

This is about a young immigrant boy on the Oregon Trail in the year 1845. The story opens with Jed explaining his situation after a difficult life changing experience. Readers feel his pain and understand through entry nuances. As time goes by, Jed describes the day-to-day life and experiences of being on a wagon train. Not only does he tell of his feelings, but of the difficult situations he and the others face. Jed also explains about what the travelers did to fix problems and of the landscape. Readers "see" land-marks, the terrain, the plodding oxen, and covered wagons. They smell the dusty trail and taste buffalo jerky.

The book also contains (one of my favorites from the book):

Actual black and white photographs and paintings
A Historical Note
Other books about the Journey Westward
A Map of the route from Independence to Oregon City; "The Oregon Trail."

Points of interest include:
-the main route
-Indian nations
-United States
-other territory

Levine is the winner of numerous awards, and has written and published other children's stories, as well as adult non-fiction. She is a faculty member of Vermont College's MFA in Writing for Children and Young Adults program.

Levines' style is informal and suitable for children ages 5-12. Some teenagers may even be interested and enjoy this story. Readers will learn about the time period in America, and find the tale absorbing. They will be inspired by our young hero's strength, courageousness, tenacity, and gentle heart. They'll learn what it was like long ago traveling in a wagon train along the Oregon Trail and more.

This winning novel is the kind that young readers crave. A tightly wrapped account of a boy's coming of age during an incredibly turbulent journey. He's lost everything, but doesn't give up the dream. A touching adventure.

If You Were a Pioneer on the Prairie
Anne Kamma
Scholastic Inc.
557 Broadway, New York N.Y. 10012
ISBN: 0439414288, $5.99 64 pages

People get lost in the woods, but did you know they also did in a sea of grass where not a solitary tree stood? This happened to pioneers settling on the prairie about the mid to late 1800's here in America. Wonder what else pioneers dealt with? Did snakes come into the house? How about bed-bugs and the harsh winters? Were there really such things? This book tells about what life was like for the pioneers and about life on the prairie. The telling opens with an introduction along with a time-line, and then moves into why people traveled west. As the book progresses, it provides answers to questions like:

How did people learn about the prairie?
How would you get to the prairie?
How would you build your house (there weren't any trees)?
What would you really hate about living in a sod house?
How would you heat your house?
What would you eat?
Did the pioneers and the Indians get along?
What was a prairie fire like?
Where would you buy things?
Would you go to school?
Did any of the pioneers give up?
Is there any prairie left today?

The book also provides:

Engaging colorful pictures
A map
A time line
A list of places to visit to learn more

The author has done a great job of providing information about this time period. Her straight forward and matter-of-fact way invites young readers, as well as the large, easy-to-read words that she uses.

As with all the "If You Were" books, all ages will find this book interesting, enlightening, and a pleasure, but it's especially for 5-12 year olds. It's a great book for youngsters interested in pioneer life in America, and for teachers wanting to teach about it. The author even tells what those inventive pioneers did to help them find their way through grass higher than a tall man. This paperback is a well researched and thought out explanation of life as a pioneer. Educational, interesting, and entertaining. Recommended.

If You Lived When There Was Slavery In America
Anne Kamma
Scholastic Inc.
557 Broadway, New York N.Y. 10012
ISBN: 0439567068, $5.99 64 pages

Know a little historian wanting straight-forward facts about how African-Americans came to live in America, and how their life really was? Want the information put in an age appropriate way yet with real facts? Then this is the book to get.

The author opens with an introduction to slavery in America; an overall summary describes how it began. There is an overview of what it was like being a slave, and explains answers to questions such as:

Where did they sleep?
What did they eat?
What did they wear?
Would you live with your father and mother?
What if your father belonged to another slave owner?
Would you go to school?
Did the children have to work?
What games would you play?
How could you become free?
What happened during the Civil War?
When did slavery end?

The author also provides:

Engaging, colorful pictures
Photos of famous African-Americans
A map
Statements from actual slaves
A statement from an actual slave owner's son
A timeline
A list of museums and other places to visit to learn more

The Kamma's style is well written and clearly expressed. The wording is simple with an introduction to a few large words, and sentences are of average length. The mood is matter-of-fact. She doesn't shy away from the truth of how slavery was for African Americans. The setting is clearly stated, 1783 to 1865 in America. It's told in second-person by an impartial narrator. Young readers are given an inside look at American slavery.

All ages will find this book interesting, educational, eye-opening, and a pleasure, but it is geared toward the 5-12 year-old group. This would be a wonderful book to share with a child who loves history and wants to learn about African-Americans. The large font size, simple writing, and clear connections make this a good choice for young historians.

Gambling with the Enemy
Toni Leland
Equine Graphics Publishing Group
285 Taylor Street, Zanesville, OH 43701 800-659-9442
ISBN: 1887932402, $15.95 262 pages

Would finding a terrorist in your midst turn your blood to ice? It did Jessica Raydor's, and on top of that, she's about to loose everything. Could things possibly get worse? Suddenly, Jess is trapped with the enemy closing in, and he's focusing on her. And as he does, there's no one to hear her scream.

This is a contemporary, suspenseful, after 9/11 American story. It's set in the world of horses and is told in third-person. The heroine is Jessica Raydor and she is revealed in the first chapter. She's responsible for her friend's and her equestrian riding center. Faith, her partner, teaches kids how to ride, and grooms them for competition. Jess goes out on a limb attempting to save their business, and if that isn't bad enough, terrorists show up in the most unlikely place.

Leland's writing gets better and better with each book. 'Gambling with the Enemy' is her third novel. She explores a subject that raises the neck hairs of every American. Her story is fiction, but could happen, making this a fast read. She throws in a little light romance too, adding stillanother attraction. 'Gambling with the Enemy' is credible, memorable, instructive, mysterious, and suspenseful - an all around electrifying read. This is especially so for women who enjoy horses and the horse world.

Christina Francine Whitcher, Reviewer

Christy's Bookshelf

A Family Matter
Marsha Briscoe
Whiskey Creek Press
P.O. Box 51052, Casper, WY 82605-1052
ISBN: 1593742029, $13.95 301 pages
ISBN: 1593742010, $4.99 (E-book)

Salina Drummond marries a man twice her age in an effort to provide the best nursing care she can for her Alzheimer-stricken mother. Her husband, Lyman Graves, is the owner of a profitable coal company in rural Kentucky and a domineering man who controls those within his small community. Subsequent to her mother's death, Salina discovers that Lyman is responsible for a fatal mining accident for which her father was blamed, leading to his subsequent suicide. She resolves to force Lyman to take responsibility and exonerate her father from all guilt. But before she can do so, Lyman is tragically injured in a mine accident and lies in a coma. Lyman's estranged son, Mick, returns to Kentucky to see to his father after the accident. Although Mick initially plans a short visit, his attraction to Salina keeps drawing him back. Salina is likewise drawn to Mick, but each resists their feelings due to Salina's marriage to Mick's father. Shortly after Lyman comes out of his coma, he mysteriously disappears and Salina and Mick are thrown together in their efforts to find Lyman while under suspicion of the local sheriff.

Author Marsha Briscoe has an impressive background as a teacher of literature and as an editor and award-winning novelist and poet. Her second novel, A FAMILY MATTER, is an exceptional modern-day twist to the Phaedra myth, where a stepmother and stepson are romantically attracted to one another. Against the colorful backdrop of eastern Kentucky, the reader is swept into the inner turmoil of Selina and Mick, two good-hearted people surrounded by secret-keepers and corrupt businessmen. Briscoe paints visual imagery so vivid it will enable readers to feel as if they have stepped into the fictional world she has created. With realistic dialogue and supreme characterization, this is a must-read.

Little Girl Lost
Richad Aleas
Hard Case Crime
Dorchester Publishing Co. Inc.
200 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016
ISBN: 0843953519, $6.99 221 pages

Private Investigator John Blake questions his choice of occupation. But a picture in the newspaper of his former girlfriend, Miranda Sugarman, draws him back into the game. The last John knew, Miranda was going to medical school in California to be an ophthalmologist. Ten years later, her body is found in New York City, on the roof of the strip club where she worked. Against the advice of his partner, Leo, John begins investigating the death of Miranda. Along the way, he manages to get beat up a few times and arrested for murder. On top of which, someone is threatening to kill him if he doesn't stop. Although the ending is predictable and no great surprise, this is a good read. Aleas has an easy style, with enough "oomph" to keep the reader thoroughly entertained.

Christy Tillery French

Debra's Bookshelf

Sacred Cows
Karen E. Olson
Mysterious Press (Warner Books)
ISBN: 0892960221, $21.95 290 pages

The girl's body is found in the middle of the night, draped over the sidewalk in front of University Towers in New Haven. Annie Seymour arrives at the scene early, disheveled and hung over but ready to pry what information she can from the policemen on the scene, including the one she'd been sleeping with an hour earlier. Annie, the protagonist of Karen Olson's debut novel Sacred Cows, is the police reporter for the New Haven Herald. (The Herald is a fictional stand-in for the author's real-life employer, the New Haven Register. Olson is the newspaper's travel editor.) Annie has been on the paper's cop beat for four years, but her investigation into this case will mark new territory for her. It is, for one thing, a political hot potato. The deceased is quickly identified as a Yale undergraduate, sophomore Melissa Peabody. The Yale connection means that the Herald will be under considerable pressure from both school and local officials to downplay the seedier aspects of the case. This won't be easy, as the case turns out to be very seedy indeed. Melissa Peabody's murder winds up involving an escort service, and Annie's investigation leads her to uncover some dirty laundry in City Hall itself. The man behind the dirt is New Haven's assistant corporation counsel, Mark Torrey, who was with Melissa on the night she died and may well have killed her. He may kill Annie as well: he is at least not above attempting to silence her by violent means once she gets too close to the truth. Compounding these complications is Annie's personal life: her relationship with the detective working the case amounts to a huge conflict of interest for both of them.

Sacred Cows is the first book in what will evidently be a series of Annie Seymour mysteries, and I for one am pleased. Annie is a strong enough character to anchor a series--likeable, but imperfect and given to obscenity and pleasantly curmudgeonly. (After studiously avoiding meeting her neighbors for years, she laments finally coming face-to-face with the people who share her Wooster Square brownstone. "I would have to say hello on the stairs, let them into the building if they forgot their keys, help them with grocery bags. Oh, God, I might have to move.") Much of Annie's cantankerousness is directed at Dick Whitfield, an annoyingly eager but otherwise inoffensive cub reporter type who follows her around puppy-like on this investigation in the hopes of making a name for himself. But others catch Annie's wrath as well--her society matron-cum-successful attorney mother; the mysterious winking man she keeps running into, a sexy Frank Sinatra look-alike who seems to know her; and not least the cows of the book's title, the herd of painted fiberglass bovine statues that descends on New Haven in the middle of the story. The cows annoy Annie by their mere presence in town, particularly after she is ordered to report on their doings for the paper. (Olson takes Annie's negative reaction to the cows a hair's breadth too far when she describes her as giving one particular cow, dressed in doctor's scrubs, a wide berth: "I took a deep breath and got out [of the car], careful not to get too close to the Doctor Cow. You never know when you'll end up in the Twilight Zone and one of those things would come charging at you.") Apart from their role as focal point for Annie's annoyance, the cows don't contribute much to the storyline, though I suspect the book's title refers as much to Yale's position in New Haven as it does to the fiberglass beasts themselves.

Olson writes well, and her plot is for the most part credible, though two of the book's details struck me as unlikely: that Annie would buzz someone into her apartment without finding out first who it is when she has every reason to believe someone is trying to kill her, and--more incredible yet--that a librarian working at the circulation desk of Yale's Sterling Memorial Library would be able to point to where a particular undergraduate is studying in the cavernous building when asked. But that Yale's library and colleges provide the backdrop to Olson's mystery is a fact to be celebrated. As a New Haven-area resident myself, I very much appreciate the local flavor with which Olson imbues her book: pizza and the Peabody Museum, Atticus Books and Willoughby's and Sleeping Giant State Park. I look forward to Annie Seymour's next appearance on the local authors table at Atticus.

The Labors of Aeneas: What a Pain it Was to Found the Roman Race
Rose Williams
Bolchazy-Carducci Publishers
1000 Brown St., Unit 101, Wauconda, IL 60084
ISBN: 0865165564, $12.00 108 pages

In the Aeneid Vergil (70-19 B.C.) tells the story of the Trojan hero Aeneas, who survived the Greek siege of Troy (the subject of Homer's Iliad) and went on, after considerable difficulty, to fulfill his destiny and found the Roman race. Anyone looking to dip their toes in Aeneas' story, either as a prelude to reading the Aeneid itself or merely to acquaint themselves with this major chapter of Greco-Roman mythology, would do well to spend a few hours with Rose Williams' brief, breezy retelling of the Aeneas legend. (Note that Williams' book is not precisely an abbreviated version of the Aeneid: she begins Aeneas's story in childhood while Vergil picks up the tale in the seventh year after the fall of Troy.)

Williams' tone throughout the book is light. In her discussion of the Trojan prince Paris, for example, who had been exposed as a baby but lived to tell about it, the author writes: "Anyone who has read much classical mythology knows that any babe abandoned on a mountainside was always rescued by a wandering shepherd and taken home to some unfortunate shepherd's wife. Thereafter the child was reared in flowery meadows tending sheep until a little bird told him one day about his royal heritage. Whereupon he descended on his true father's palace, or what he thought was his true father's palace, usually with disastrous results." In Paris' case those disastrous results would include the siege and destruction of Troy, which he brought about single-handedly by stealing Helen from her jealous Greek husband--her face launching a thousand ships and all that. Williams' writing is punctuated by cute asides which almost become cloying: "Pallas' war horse, Aethon, according to Vergil, was led in the procession with big tears rolling down his hairy cheeks. (The intelligentsia always scoffs at such statements, saying that horses do not cry in grief, or at all, for that matter. Maybe they just never encountered a horse in a lachrymose mood.)" But for the most part the writing is very successful.

The Labors of Aeneas includes a handful of notes and an appendix of major gods. The book might have been improved by the addition of an introduction--covering Vergil's biography, for example, the history of Rome in a nutshell--but it is not strictly necessary. Readers who are unacquainted with the book's subject matter will find that the author does a good job injecting explanatory material into her account. Her book is, in short, a well-written introduction to the world Vergil describes. Readers should find it both instructive and entertaining.

At the Villa of Reduced Circumstances
Alexander McCall Smith
Anchor Books
ISBN: 1400095093, $9.95 126 pages

The two chapters of Alexander McCall Smith's At the Villa of Reduced Circumstances tell two almost independent stories featuring Professor Dr. Moritz-Maria von Igelfeld--the renowned author of that 1200-page philological masterwork Irregular Portuguese Verbs. When the book opens we find von Igelfeld embroiled in the latest battle in his protracted but unacknowledged war with Professor Detlev Amadeus Unterholzer, von Igelfeld's colleague and nemesis at the University of Regensburg's Institute of Romance Philology. Specifically, von Igelfeld is intent on occupying the most comfortable chair in the Institute's coffee room, a chair which Unterholzer is wont to claim for himself on most occasions: "As the best chair in the room it should by rights have gone to him [von Igelfeld], as he was, after all, the senior scholar, but these things were difficult to articulate in a formal way and he had been obliged to tolerate Unterholzer's occupation of the chair." As it happens, von Igelfeld's successful claiming of the chair on the morning in question--in fact his birthday--leads to his taking a sabbatical at Cambridge University, where he becomes involved in the petty politics of that august institution. Von Igelfeld's experiences abroad--with scheming dons and their lachrymose Master, with an inappropriate Porter, with the University's intolerable toilet situation--leave him more certain than ever of the German's superiority to the Anglo-Saxon.

Not long after his return to Regensburg von Igelfeld sets off on another foreign adventure, as he is to be inaugurated into the Colombian Academy of Letters as a Distinguished Corresponding Fellow. His experiences in Colombia, and in particular at the Villa of Reduced Circumstances of the book's title, are not at all what he expected from his trip, including as they do being held captive by revolutionaries. The Colombians are even crazier, it would seem, than the English. This second story, while amusing enough, is less successful than the first because it is rather too absurd. Smith's comedy of academic manners and madness is at its best when his wry humor settles on the more mundane, when he mocks the pretensions and petty disputes of von Igelfeld's small academic department. (Here, for example, are our hero's reflections on the prospect of a student coming to work at the Institute: "Von Igelfeld was dubious; students had a way of creating a great deal of extra work and were, in general, the bane of a professor's life. That was why so few German professors saw any students; it was regrettable, but necessary if one's time was to be protected from unacceptable encroachments.")

In von Igelfeld Smith has created a charmingly flawed character--pretentious, egocentric, oblivious to the needs of others, yet sometimes capable of nobility. The two stories in this collection are each nearly perfect little gems, almost old-fashioned in their mood and quiet humor. And it may be a small thing, but both end particularly well, with sentences that tie up their respective stories perfectly. I am eager to read Smith's two other von Igelfeld books, and to discover as well what he has waiting for readers in his No. 1 Ladies' Detective Agency series and his Sunday Philosophy Club Series.

Conversations with J.K. Rowling
Lindsey Fraser
ISBN: 0439314550, $4.99 96 pages

Lindsey Fraser's Conversations with J.K. Rowling, written for young adults, bills itself as "the only authorized biography of J.K. Rowling." It is in fact not a biography per se. The book is divided into two sections. The first is the text of the author's interview with Rowling, conducted prior to the appearance of the first Harry Potter film (though after the rights to the movie had been purchased by Warner Brothers). (Fraser's book was published in 2000, the year that the fourth book in the series, Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, was released.) In the interview Rowling discusses her childhood and early schooling, her career as, among other things, a teacher, and writing. She occasionally refers to the links between her own life and the world of Harry Potter, telling readers, for example, that Stanley and Ernie from the Knight Bus were named after her grandparents, and that the Weasley's turquoise Ford Anglia was modeled after a high school friend's car. These details may not be revelatory to Harry Potter enthusiasts, but I had not heard them previously.

The second part of the book includes Fraser's brief essay on the world of Harry Potter and another on Goblet of Fire, a discussion which is augmented by snippets from interviews Rowling gave at the time of that book's release.

Good for kids, and at 96 pages of largish print, a very quick read.

Carpe Demon
Julie Kenner
Berkley Books
ISBN: 0425202526, $12.95 360 pages

Kate Connor is like a lot of us--a stay-at-home mom whose time is eaten away by carpools and cooking, play dates and Pampers. Not having worked outside the home since her fourteen-year-old was born, Kate finds, also like a lot of us, that her real-world skills are a little atrophied, her confidence in her abilities a bit tarnished. This wouldn't be a problem if her old job didn't come crashing back into her life one afternoon, crashing literally through her kitchen window in the form of a demon-possessed senior citizen intent on killing her--only about an hour before her dinner guests were to arrive, no less: "The appetizers were in the oven, the table was set, the wine was breathing, and I was dragging a demon carcass across the kitchen floor when I heard the automatic garage door start its slow, painful grinding to the top." Kate Connor is not, after all, quite as much like the rest of us as she at first appears.

Fighting demons is all well and good when you're a lithe and childless twenty-year-old. It's a lot harder when you're pushing 40 and when, besides, the very fact that you have children renders you vulnerable. (Not for nothing do super heroes tend to avoid serious relationships, or at least to keep their non-heroic identities secret.) But Kate is ripped from her comfortable retirement when demons show up in San Diablo, a town whose cathedral houses relics so holy that Kate and her first husband Eric, also a demon hunter, had assumed it would be a safe place to raise their daughter. Now remarried, after Eric's death, to a would-be politician who knows nothing about her early career, Kate has the added burden of keeping her super-heroics a secret from her family as well as her best friend, Mindy, a blessed creature who is able to provide babysitting for Kate's toddler at the drop of a hat...or of a demon. Added to this cast of characters is Kate's new alimentatore (Buffy the Vampire Slayer fans should think of Buffy's watcher Giles), whose job it is to work on the research end of the demon-slaying business.

Julie Kenner's Carpe Demon, the first in a new series, is a fun read, charming and well-plotted and occasionally laugh-out-loud funny. I'm looking forward to the sophomore installment in Kenner's demon-hunting soccer-mom series.

Debra Hamel, Reviewer

Emanuel's Bookshelf

Love My Rifle More Than You
Kayla Williams, Michael Straub
W.W. Norton & Company Ltd.
500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110
ISBN: 0393060985, $24.95, 290 pp.

A military deployment during wartime is a life altering experience. It can change your perspective about the meaning of war, sex, love and life itself. I'll never forget my deployment in the area of conflict during the First Gulf War. I witnessed how certain foods were considered luxuries, anxiety levels were raised, and wedding vowels were magically forgotten. So when I heard about Kayla Williams' new book on being young and female in the army, I just knew I would love it. And boy was I right.

In Williams' book "Love My Rifle More Than You," which derives its title from a popular military cadence, the author speaks candidly about what it's like to be a woman in the army, especially during wartime. The book begins by explaining what it is like to be one of a few women in the area of conflict: "If you're a woman in the Army, it doesn't matter so much about your looks. What counts is that you are female." She later explains how many women are either viewed as bitches or sluts, depending on who they sleep with (or don't sleep with).

But the book is not just about sex in the military. It's also about the culture shock that's experienced when going to war and when coming home from one. It's about the guilt that one feels when she leaves the army knowing that her comrades will probably go into battle again. It's about the politics that cause for war in the first place, and how the troops really feel about being in the military. Contrary to popular belief, it's not all about being a patriot but more about being a part of a team, traveling around the world, and BENEFITS.

Though the book meanders a bit and sometimes reads like a personal diary with way too many personal details and jargon, it still serves as a must read for those of us who've experienced war and survived, those who want to know what war and military life is like from a woman's perspective, and those women who are considering joining the military but have only spoken to a recruiter. "Love My Rifle More Than You" is a frank, shocking, and honest look as life in the military from an intelligent new author. And I absolutely loved it. Highly Recommended.

Successful Self-Publishing
M. LaVora Perry
Forest Hill Publishing, LLC
P.O. Box 12557, East Cleveland, OH 44112
ISBN: 0975925172, $10.00, 108 pp.

In the publishing world, more and more authors are taking the self-publishing route. Many authors choose this method of publishing because they've been rejected by mainstream publishers, want to control their writing projects from beginning to end, or even want to prove their worth to traditional publishers in hopes of signing a contract. In M. LaVora Perry's new book "Successful Self-Publishing," the Cleveland author of "Wu-lung & I-lung" sheds light on the dos and don'ts of publishing your own book.

"Successful Self-Publishing" is loaded with helpful advice on many aspects of self-publishing, including information on the various forms of non-traditional publishing, finding a distributor, and how to market your book once it's printed. The book also contains sample press releases, a list of reviewers from which to choose, and tons of information on how to publish a book from start to finish.

What makes the book unique is how the author shares her own self-publishing and subsidy publishing experiences along with the helpful advice she gives to the reader causing the book to serve as part desk reference, part motivational guide. It's obvious that the author truly cares about the readers' success, and she wants to use her experience as a children's book author to help them succeed.

There are only a couple of minor problems with the book. One is that it is rather short and contains only a portion of the information that other books on the same subject contain. The other is the fact that the book gives information on the legal aspect of publishing but never advices the reader to seek a lawyer's advice. Even with those minor flaws, anyone looking to gain the inside track on how to self-publish should still run out and pick up this no nonsense book. Trust me when I say you will learn a lot about the publishing world, and the money spent will be paid back several times over. Highly Recommended.

Emanuel Carpenter, Reviewer

Gary's Bookshelf

The Colorado Kid
Stephen King
Hard Case Crime
Dorchester Publishing Co. Inc
200 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016
ISBN: 0843955848, $5.99

I stopped reading King a few years ago for a number of reasons; among them he was too wordy and boring. I'm very happy to say that is not the case here. A dead man washes up on the coast of Maine. There is no identification on the body and no one in town knows him. Two reporters from a local newspaper track the case for a year and turn up some clues. King based this novel on a real newspaper clipping a friend gave him. The story is fun reading fare but some readers may be a bit disappointed. King explains why in an afterword.

Speed Demon
Goldie Guttenberg
Kensington Publishing Corp
850 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022
ISBN: 078601721X, $6.50

This is the true story of a rich queen of market research who killed her own daughter, her daughters best friend and caused their friend to sustain permanent brain damage, when she roared down a highway, lost control of her BMW and smashed into a tree. Her world of wealth is toppled as she fights to stay out of jail by blaming the cruise control, on her car instead of taking responsibility for her actions. Many will remember this case that was shown on an episode of "48 Hours". Guttenberg has delved deep into the world of Mary Hill and shows that this case is a travesty of justice.

Rattlesnake Romeo
Joy Wellman
Kensington Publishing Corp
850 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022
ISBN: 0786017066, $6.50

Society often asks, "How could children kill their parents?" In this case it is easy to see why Valesa, and her two male friends murdered her mother Vicki Lyn Robinson. The three were into the rave clubs and drug scene in Tampa, Florida. In a drugged state they went to Robinson's home and killed her in the kitchen. Later they left her body in a trash can on an empty lot then went on a spree with her credit card. Police later tracked them down and had a shootout in Texas. This is another story that was broadcast on "48 Hours". Readers now get a chance to peek behind the surface and see what happens when the wrong type of person influences a teenager.

Self-Publishing Simplified
Outskirts Press
ISBN: 1598000810, $5.95

This is a follow up to "Publishing Gems" by Brent Sampson. The author makes a comparison of self-publishing and print on demand publishing with a special emphasis on what Outskirts Press can do for new writers. I liked that this book is easy to understand and lays out different publishing plans Outskirts press has. David Brookover, author of "Mortal Eclipse" and "The Ancient Breed," is one of four Outskirts writers who tells his satisfaction with the company. This book is another good resource for anyone who wants to get books published to learn ins and outs of the business of book publishing.

Animals, Vegetables and Minerals from A to Z
Sallie O'Donnell Illustrations by Alea Plumley
Legacy Publishing
602 N. Wymore Road, Winter Park, Florida 32789
ISBN: 0976498251, $9.95

The author has come up with a fun way for kids to learn the importance of a balanced diet and why it's important to their health. She tells little stories and rhymes for kids to remember the proper foods they should eat to grow up big and strong.

A Dissertation about Nothing
George Babe Jackson Jr.
Legacy Publishing
602 N. Wymore Road, Winter Park, Florida 32789
ISBN: 0976498227, $19.95

Not being of the scientific community I'm not sure what this author is talking about here. He speaks in drivel that sounds profound when he is dealing with the subject of nothing. I'm also not certain of what this author is trying to get across. Maybe other readers can figure out what he is saying.

Successfully Marketing Print on Demand Fiction
Austin S Camacho
519 West Lancaster Avenue, Haverford. PA 19041-1413
ISBN: 0741417510, $14.95 1-877-289-2665

This author tells writers how to sell their works after they have found a POD publisher. There are many insightful tips and ideas he gives to get books to readers. One funny thing though is that most of his list of major publications for reviews do not like to write on POD or self published titles. All in all though, this is another good resource for writers.

Essays from a Daughter
Mariaka Adorjan Pek
First Publish
ISBN: 1931743177, $12.95

I think good things come in small packages, applies here. The writings are an emotional and touching roller coaster account of how one woman realized she really loved her father. Many will be able to relate to her carefully chosen words that captivate readers to re-read over and over her passionate narrative. The artwork by artist Trish Roddis is an added dimension to this fine work. This is an elegant gift that is not just for any holiday. For information about this book email

The Complete Guide to Tips & Gratuities
Sharon Fullen
Atlantic Publishing Group Inc
1210 SW 23 Place, Ocala, FL 34474-7014 800-541-1335
ISBN: 091062738X, $15.95

Finally there is a book to help those of us who do not know math, what is a proper tip for service rendered and what's not. Though the book is mostly for the restaurant industry, it does include other service related businesses as well. Anyone can read and learn about the practice of tipping.

How the Pirates Saved Christmas
James F. and Sarah Jane Kaserman
Pirate Publishing International
6323 St. Andrews Circle S, Fort Myers, FL 33919-1719
ISBN: 0967408121, $5.99 239-939-4845

What if Christmas almost didn't take place in Savannah, Georgia during the American Revolution that is the focus of this YA novel. The authors blend the historical fact of how pirates helped America fight for its freedom from England with believable characters in a possible situation. This is one of those books that would make a great film.

The Magic Oak
Andrew F. Rickis
Publish America
P.O. Box 151, Frederick, MD 217505
ISBN: 1413706657, $16.95 240-529-1031

For his fifteenth birthday, Billy Hanson receives a baseball bat that no one in his family knows anything about. It is just there waiting for him before he goes off to play for his high school team. He uses it when at bat and finds his life begins to change. He becomes a power hitter, but something else happens as well. Rickis tells his story with colorful characters and a fast pace that makes this a very special Young Adult novel.

Gary Roen

Gorden's Bookshelf

Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince
J.K. Rowling
Scholastic Press, a division of Scholastic Inc.
557 Broadway, New York, NY 10012
ISBN: 0439784549, $29.99 652 pages

There is little need for another Harry Potter review so I would like to examine here the storytelling style of J.K. Rowling instead.

There are two main ideas on the topics covered in stories written for children and young adults. The first is to sanitize the story from life and the other is play on the bad. Rowling has found a balance by letting the bad happen with all the conflicting emotions this causes in the characters but still keeping a positive edge to the tale. The stories get more intense with every new installment and with the age of the typical reader.

Her writing is filled with small side stories that bring out a reality to the fantasy. In 'The Half-Blood Prince,' the little side story that I remember the most is when Harry is being grilled by the Minister of Magic. With typical teenage aplomb, Harry concentrates on watching a gnome going after a worm and not on the Minister's words. It is an action every teenager does when confronted by an elder who is lecturing. Pull half of your mind away from the words to control your emotions. It is one of those small things that doesn't have to be in a story but fills it with authenticity.

The true quality of the storytelling is how to bring reality to a fantasy and Rowling does this as well as any writer. 'The Half-Blood Prince' might not be the best liked Harry Potter story but it is an example of great storytelling filled with the melancholy and emotions of life and death that a typical teenager can feel every day. You can read it because it is one of the best series of stories written or you can enjoy it as an example of great storytelling. But you should read it.

Broken Prey
John Sandford
G. P. Putman's Sons/Penguin Putman Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
ISBN: 0399152725, $26.95 390 pages

'Broken Prey' should increase Sandford's popularity. In this book, Sandford has found the balance between a detective mystery and in your face action. Sandford writes scenes that have the feel of reality. His clear detective plot and horrific killer are all it takes to make a novel you can't put down.

A woman is found murdered, tortured and displayed. A few weeks later a man is found murdered and displayed in a similar way. A serial killer is loose in Minnesota and Lucas Davenport from the state Bureau of Criminal Apprehension starts to organize the police from the city of Minneapolis and outlying counties in the search. The trail leads to a suspect recently released from the state mental hospital holding some of the most vicious insane killers in the state. Lucas soon knows that the body count will rise before the psychotic killer is found.

'Broken Prey' is in the running as the best detective mystery this year. Anyone wanting to read a good detective novel has to read this one. It has everything from a great set of characters to great writing and a mystery story that drags you to an excellent ending.

S.A. Gorden

Greenspan's Bookshelf

Western Fences
David R. Stoecklein
Stoecklein Publishing
PO Box 856, 10th Street Center, Suite A1, Ketchum, Idaho 83340
1933192011 $35.00 1-208-726-5191

Western Fences is a full color, photographic gallery of fences across the American West, from entrance gates to close-ups of fence posts and wire to panoramic views of shipping corals from the sky. The role of the fence in the life of modern-day cowboys and ranchers is discussed in very brief text segments introducing the gallery of images, many of which were shot at sunrise or sunset to capture nature's light and glory as well as the purpose of man-made works in the desert. The emotional power of Stoecklein's images and their ability to capture the spirit of the West distinguish this remarkable collection, highly recommended for photography shelves.

Mind Control And UFOs
Jim Keith
Adventures Unlimited Press
PO Box 74, Kempton, IL 60946
1931882444 $14.95 1-815-253-6390

Mind Control And UFOs: Casebook On Alternative 3 is a compilation of hidden events and secret programs that will boggle the unprepared mind. Drawing upon a diversity of sources and original research, author Jim Keith reveals how the rich elite of the world have initiated a secret program of space migration to escape the environmental pollution and overpopulation which is not-so-gradually destroying the habitability of the Earth. Top space scientists from around the world are being commandeered to provide personnel for space bases. Citizens are being kidnaped and subjected to mind control to serve as slave labor at these secret space colonies. A secret joint USA-Russian space program has established bases on the Moon and Mars, while UFOs are actually secret government aircraft with capabilities hidden from the public at all costs. All these claims and more were first broadcast from a British television show called "Science Report" and code named "Alternative 3". Some decry the whole thing as a hoax, others maintain that there is truth behind these seemingly wild accusations of off-world secret government bases. One thing is for certain -- Mind Control And UFOs can be highly recommended as an intriguing, challenging, controversial, iconoclastic, and thought-provoking read!

Vergilius Redivivus
Estelle Haan
American Philosophical Society
104 South Fifth Street, Philadelphia, PA 19106-3387
0871699524 $24.00

An acknowledge expert in Latin poetry, academician Estelle Haan brings to the attention of modern audiences the work of a largely forgotten 18th century British poet in Vergilus Redivivus: Studies In Joseph Addison's Latin Poetry. Drawing upon the resources of the British Library, London, Magdalen College, Oxford, and the Bodleian Library, Oxford, as well as the Special Collections and Inter-Library Loans divisions of the Queen's University Library, we are treated to an impressively detailed, original, and seminal scholarship that is hallmarked by an informed and informative text enhanced with a profusion of notations and references, as well as an extensive bibliography and detailed index. No personal or academic library's "Latin Poetry Studies" collection can be considered complete or comprehensive without the inclusion of Estelle Haan's Vergilius Redivivus.

Cato: A Tragedy, And Selected Essays
Joseph Addison
Christine Dunn Henderson & Mark E. Yellin, editors
Liberty Fund, Inc.
8335 Allison Pointe Trail, #300, Indianapolis, IN 46250-1684
0865974438 $12.00 1-800-955-8335

Collaboratively and expertly co-edited by academicians Christine Dunn Henderson and Mark E. Yellin (both of whom are Fellows at Liberty Fund), Cato: A Tragedy, And Selected Essays is a compilation of the writings of Joseph Addison, beginning with his "Cato: A Tragedy" which is an account of the final hours of Marcus Porcius Cato (95-46 B.C.), a Stoic whose deeds, rhetoric, and resistance to the tyranny of Julius Caesar made him an icon of republicanism, virtue, and liberty to this very day. Although popular in its day (1713), the play had fallen into neglect and this is the first scholarly addition to be made available to the general reading public. The play is then added to in this volume to provide readers with examples of Addison's attempts to educate England's 18th century developing middle class of merchants and tradespeople in the habits, morals, and manners he felt necessary to the preservation of limited government and a free, commercial society. Also available in a hardcover edition (086597442X, $24.00), Cato: A Tragedy, And Selected Essays is a seminal and welcome addition to the growing library of literature promoting conservative values such as liberty, self-government, an opposition to tyranny, the advancement of justice, and the advocacy of honor, patriotism, and integrity.

Able Greenspan

Harwood's Bookshelf

The Ancestor's Tale: A Pilgrimage to the Dawn of Life
Richard Dawkins
Houghton Mifflin
222 Berkeley St Boston MA 02116
ISBN: 0618005838, $28.00 688 pp.
ISBN: 0297825036, 25 pounds 528 pp. (UK edition)

reprinted from American Rationalist Sep/Oct 2005

I have never quite forgiven Richard Dawkins for buying into E. O. Wilson's imbecilic pseudoscience of sociobiology, which could be a useful contribution to human knowledge only if history, anthropology, paleontology, and up to a dozen other sciences are incompetent hogwash. Dawkins continues to call himself a sociobiologist (p. 44), and one sentence in this book appears to conform to that discipline's masturbation fantasies: "Fruits have probably evolved bright colours to attract frugivores, such as monkeys, who play the vital role of spreading and manuring their seeds" (p. 126). What I am confident Dawkins meant, since I do not see him as a pusher of the sociobiology delusion, is, "Fruits evolved bright colors because the most colorful attracted most frugivores and therefore left more descendants, until all fruits that propagated by the same method became colorful."

Concerning the "selfish gene" that first made him a household name, Dawkins has previously explained that it was a metaphor that others took far more literally than he had ever intended. And in this book he acknowledges, "My first book, The Selfish Gene, could equally have been called The Co-operative Gene without a word of the book itself needing to be changed. Indeed, this might have saved some misunderstanding" (p. 158). And he states unequivocally, "Scientists who use such language, whether at the level of the individual or the gene, know very well that it is only a figure of speech. Genes are just DNA molecules. You'd have to be barking mad to think that 'selfish' genes really have deliberate intentions to survive!" (p. 42). I interpret that as, "You'd have to be barking mad to take sociobiology seriously." So why does Dawkins still associate himself with such nonsense?

Dawkins's invention of the psychobabble concept of memes was a crime against education, comparable with psychoquacks' invention of multiple personality, NGI, recovered memory, facilitated communication, and as many as 1,000 other nonexistent "syndromes," for the purpose of concealing that the pseudo-doctors' guesses are no more expert than those of bartenders, taxi drivers or hetaeras. The sole function of memes is to sound profound while actually spouting doubletalk.

In references to specific historical events, Dawkins gives their dates as "AD" (pp. 21, 39, and elsewhere). Is he so unfamiliar with the scientifically neutral equivalent, CE (Common Era), that he needs to use the offensively Christian terminology, AD, which has been abandoned even by pragmatic Christians in recognition that it is intrinsically insulting to this planet's five billion non-Christians who do not believe they are living in the "Year of the Master"? Also, he habitually writes run-on sentences, joining two principal clauses with a comma instead of a semicolon or a conjunction. In Correct English, that is a no-no. So is the use of the (all but extinct) more-than-two plural, "one another", in conjunction with the antecedent, "two continents" (p. 243), and the dual-number "each other", in conjunction with the antecedent, "all the flying pigeons" (p. 233). The expressions are not interchangeable.

But other than those aberrations, there is no question that Dawkins's contributions to human education put him in the same category of public benefactors as Isaac Asimov, Carl Sagan, Stephen Jay Gould (apart from his aberration of NOMA), and Martin Gardner. The Ancestor's Tale not merely confirms that status. It may be the best book he will ever write.

Dawkins does not express mere belief in the reality of evolution. He catalogues the proof of its reality. "Even when taken from extremely distant relations, for example humans and bacteria, large sections of the DNA still unequivocally resemble each other. And very close relations, such as humans and chimpanzees, have much more DNA in common…. Human and chimpanzee DNA are so similar, they are like English spoken in two slightly different accents…. Humans and bacteria have DNA sequences which are so similar that whole paragraphs are word-for-word identical" (p. 25). That one paragraph would be sufficient to cure any sane creationist of his delusion. Unfortunately, "sane creationist" is as oxymoronic as "giant midget," "healthy leper," "intelligent Scientologist," "morally evolved conservative," or "educated godworshipper."

Fossil evidence merely supports the DNA evidence for evolution. It has long ceased to be the strongest evidence. "If every fossil were magicked away, the comparative study of modern organisms, of how their patterns of resemblance, especially of their genetic sequences, are distributed among species, and of how species are distributed among continents and islands, would still demonstrate, beyond all sane doubt, that our history is evolutionary, and that all living creatures are cousins. Fossils are a bonus…. It is worth remembering that when creationists go on … about 'gaps' in the fossil record. The fossil record could be one big gap, and the evidence for evolution would still be overwhelmingly strong" (p. 17).

"Some polymorphisms can be quite stable - so stable that they span the change from an ancestral to a descendants species. Astonishingly, our ABO [blood types] polymorphism is present in chimpanzees…. A stunning conclusion is that, for particular genes, you are more closely related to some chimpanzees than to some humans" (pp, 54-55). That certainly helps explain the talking chimpanzee currently polluting the White House, of whom Dawkins writes more politely than I do, but reaches basically the same conclusion: "He has never given any reason to suggest that his wisdom or his intelligence outperforms his literacy" (p. 124).

DNA examination has shown that all living humans are descended from a common male ancestor who lived about 60,000 years ago and a common female ancestor who lived about 140,000 years ago (p. 50). In calling the female "Mitochondrial Eve" and the male "Y-chromosome Adam," paleoanthropologists are, of course, borrowing from mythology, not endorsing it. So when Dawkins states that, "All human males have Adam's Y chromosome," he preempts conscription by the ignoranti by adding, "(creationists please refrain from deliberate misquotation)".

Of the various theories concerning the placement of specific extinct species of the genus Homo on or outside of the direct line to Modern Man, and the placement of primate species on or outside the line of descent to Homo, Dawkins stops short of endorsing any one, and instead spells out all that have reasonable plausibility. If Dawkins thinks the jury is still out, I can go along with that.

Dawkins writes, "The world is a larger 'island' since it has no immigration or emigration (give or take alien abductions in flying saucers)" (p. 41). In most circumstances, the injection of a touch of levity into serious writing would be commendable. But when it encourages the terminally ignorant to imagine that a role model for rationality such as Richard Dawkins considers alien abductions a valid concept, I suggest that he should have resisted the urge.

In explaining why scribes responsible for the Christian Testament added information not found in their sources, Dawkins explains (p. 21), "Like the gospel-makers, who themselves lived long after Jesus' death, they genuinely believed he had been the incarnation of Old Testament messianic prophecies. He 'must', therefore, have been born in Bethlehem, and descended from David. If the documents unaccountably failed to say so, it was the scribe's conscientious duty to rectify the deficiency. A sufficiently devout scribe would, I suppose, no more have regarded this as falsification than we do when we automatically correct a spelling mistake or a grammatical infelicity."

In denouncing the suggestion that either Christopher Columbus or Leif Erickson "discovered" America as nothing short of racist, since America was first discovered by colonists from Northern Asia who crossed the Bering land bridge 14,000 years ago, Dawkins does not fall into the politically correct trap of defining identical behavior as racist only when "we" do it. He writes, "Equally distasteful, in my view, is relativist 'respect' for Native American oral histories which ignorantly deny that their ancestors had ever lived outside America" (p. 54). He does not point out that the reason nonsense beliefs are granted undeserved respect, is that "belief" is usually synonymous with "religion," and there is a near-universal recognition that if adherents of one religion stress the falsifiability of another religion, it will be just a matter of time before their own glass house is similarly shattered. And he more than adequately demolishes "the wishful myth of the noble savage living in respectful harmony with his environment," by citing the Maoris' extermination of the flightless moa (p. 236), the way Europeans exterminated the dodo, and present-day fishermen are callously willing to exterminate whole species of fish that might have provided employment for the next generation of fishermen.

In Dawkins' thirteen-page chapter titled "The Grasshopper's Tale," actually the basis for a discussion of racial and other discrimination by showing how grasshoppers classified as separate species can be deluded into crossbreeding and producing fertile offspring, he writes, "People tend to mate with others speaking the same language and praying to the same gods." Note that he is immune to the cultural delusion that the god who bans birth control and the god who does not ban birth control, or the god that demands obsequious flattery five times a day and the god that demands such sycophancy once a week, are the same god. "The fact that we depart so strongly from random mating in directions determined by language, religion and other cultural discriminators, has done very odd things to our genetics in the past…. We are astonishingly variable in superficial features [such as skin color] which are trivial but conspicuous: Discrimination fodder. The discrimination might apply not just to mate choice but to choice of enemies and victims of xenophobic or religious prejudice" (p. 343).

While only the first 150 pages of The Ancestor's Tale focus on primates, starting with All Humankind at Rendezvous 0 and proceeding to lemurs at Rendezvous 8, the book continues through the points at which previously discussed species separate from more distant common ancestors of mammals, animals, plants and bacteria, down to the first celled lifeforms and eubacteria at Rendezvous 39, and many chapters provide further opportunities to make comparisons with Homo sap. It seems to me that a B.Sc. in paleoanthropology could be based solely on the primate chapters of this book, and the whole book should be required reading for every biology, zoology, anthropology, paleontology, genetics, or related program. I would also recommend it for theology students, but that would be like offering a globe to the Flat Earth Society.

The Third Chimpanzee: The Evolution and Future of the Human Animal
Jared Diamond
10 East 53rd Street, NY 10023
ISBN: 0060183071, $25.00, 407 pp.

reprinted from Freethought Perspective October 2005.

When Jared Diamond named his book The Rise and Fall of the Third Chimpanzee, it would be naive to suggest that he was not consciously paralleling The Rise and Fall of the Third Reich. Almost immediately that parallel was seen as a negative factor, and subsequent editions reduced the title to The Third Chimpanzee.

At first glance it seemed logical that the book's inaccuracies were due to advances in paleoanthropology in the thirteen years since it was published. But it soon became evident that they stem from Diamond's endorsement of the pseudoscience of sociobiology. A new and presumably updated edition scheduled for February 2006 is unlikely to rectify the situation.

Diamond quotes six reasons proposed by sociobiologists for the disappearance of estrus and external signs of ovulation in human females (pp. 79-80), reasons that only the scientifically illiterate could take seriously. Sociobiologists refuse to grasp that recognizing the advantage of an evolutionary change cannot make it happen - except by the selective breeding of individuals that had already mutated slightly in the right direction, as was done to produce the thoroughbred. The reality is that a woman whose cycle had randomly mutated, enabling her to copulate any time a male partner wanted and not just while she was ovulating, was thereby enabled to retain a permanent mate to help feed and raise more children than a woman who was still sexually seasonal could have done.

Diamond acknowledges that sociobiology has been repudiated by all relevant legitimate sciences, including biology, and that some of the pseudoscience's most vociferous opponents have been biologists (p. 96). Yet he starts from sociobiology's Big Lie that animals below Homo sapiens are aware of the male role in reproduction. He writes, "The chimpanzee system, in which several adult males are likely to copulate with the same estrous female, also wouldn't work for us. The result of that system is that a chimpanzee father has no idea which infants in the troop he has sired" (p. 70). Since chimpanzees have no "father" concept, of course they do not know which infants are their offspring.

Diamond recognizes that the bonobo's "several daily copulations" led to the evolution of anatomical changes: "His need to outdo other male chimps in semen output if he is to fertilize the promiscuous females, explains his need for gigantic testes" (p. 74). In other words, the bigger the testes, the more often a bonobo is able to copulate, and the more offspring with the same advantage he will sire. Yet while explaining the bonobo's large testes reasonably adequately, despite mistaking the bonobo's desire to copulate for a desire to impregnate, Diamond shows an appalling blind spot in relation to a similar situation in humans. He writes that, "an explanation for men's relatively enormous penis still escapes us" (p. 61). Does it not logically follow that, if bonobos with the largest testes, enabling them to copulate more often, produced the most offspring, then humans with the largest penises, enabling them to deposit sperm closer to its target ovum than the woman's other lovers, likewise produced the most offspring? Diamond concludes, "Here is a rich field for research" (p. 76). Only for "those who will not see."

He also distinguishes between "being faithful to our spouses or in pursuing extramarital affairs" (p. 62), apparently with no comprehension that "faithful" is a purely cultural (i.e., religious) concept. A football player who engages in afternoon baseball with his drinking buddies is not deemed "unfaithful" to his regular teammates. In what way does engaging in nonconsequential sexual recreation constitute an act of "unfaithfulness" or "cheating" against the copulator's regular partner? The prescientific belief that any extramarital recreation made it impossible for a woman to give her legal owner a legitimate heir, led men to impose on women an "adultery" concept that inevitably expanded from the fraudulent-impregnation taboo it was designed to be, into a prohibition of extra-marital recreation per se, a prohibition that illogically survived into an age of birth control and detailed knowledge of reproductive biology. Diamond should have written, "monogamous," not "faithful." And despite his awareness (presumably) that the word "cuckold" is derived from the cuckoo's practice of deceiving other birds into raising its offspring, he uses the word to describe men whose wives are using birth control and therefore cannot "cuckold" a deceived husband into raising a cuckoo's chick.

Diamond raises the question of why humans alone prefer to copulate in secret, blissfully unaware that the phenomenon he is discussing is strictly cultural and owes nothing to genetics. Herodotus reported in the fifth century BCE that all of the tribes of India still followed the ancient practice of copulating openly "like cattle" (Hist. 3:101). And Columbus discovered that the Caribs of Hispaniola did likewise. Diamond spells out six possible explanations for the "behind closed doors" taboo (pp. 79-80), explanations concocted by proponents of the sociobiology delusion and stemming from their inability to comprehend that, prior to the Big Discovery of 3,500 BCE, (a date established by the sudden appearance of male-god images at that time), humans were unaware that children have fathers as well as mothers. As I suggested in Mythology's Last Gods (p. 60), "Since the masses tend to follow the practices of their leaders, it may be that aging autocrats spread the word that they preferred to recreate in private rather than acknowledge that they were impotent."

A particularly incompetent passage reads, "Women suppressed the external signs of monthly ovulation that are so conspicuous in chimps, so as not to drive men into a frenzy of sexual competition and thereby spoil men's cooperation in hunting" (p. 39). The masturbation fantasy that recognition of a problem and determination to solve it can cause a species to evolve in a desired direction is the hallmark of sociobiology. To quote Diamond's words in connection with a passage by Robert Ardrey considerably less ridiculous than Diamond's own drivel: "What pure fantasy!" (p. 40).

Diamond raises further questions about his expertise when he cites evidence that Neanderthals may have buried their dead, and adds, "Whether it would imply religion is a matter of pure speculation" (p. 44). Not so. The practice of Cro-Magnons of burying their dead in a fetal position in preparation for rebirth implies religion. Burial per se does not - unless the fact that elephants have been known to bury their dead is evidence of an elephant religion.

Diamond summarizes his chapter on the evolution of human sexuality as follows: "Interpretation of our past runs the constant risk of degenerating into mere 'paleopoetry': stories that we spin today, stimulated by a few bits of fossil bone, and expressing like Rorschach tests our own personal prejudices, but devoid of any claim to validity about the past" (pp. 82-83). That is the most accurate definition of sociobiology I have ever encountered. And since his chapter on "the science of adultery" accepts as factual sociobiology's delusion that non-human animals are aware of the relationship between sire and cub, and that delusion is nonsense, obviously the chapter is nonsense, and indeed much of Diamond's book is nonsense.

When I started reading The Third Chimpanzee, I expected to find that it had been superseded by Richard Dawkins' The Ancestor's Tale, which cites Diamond in several places, and for Diamond's few valid conclusions that it the way it turned out. But there are large portions of Diamond's book outside of Dawkins' focus, and they tend to be incompetent drivel. Diamond writes sociobiology, not science. If calling his book sociobiology seems like just another way of calling it bovine excrement - good! That is precisely what sociobiology is. Don't waste your money.

Truth and Fiction in The Da Vinci Code: A Historian Reveals What We Really Know About Jesus
Mary Magdalene, and Constantine, Bart D. Ehrman
Oxford University Press
198 Madison Avenue, NY 10016
ISBN: 0195181409, $20.00 231 pp.

reprinted from Freethought Perspective October 2005.

On page 1 of The Da Vinci Code, Dan Brown lists items that he labels fact, and states that, "All descriptions of artwork, architecture, documents and secret rituals in this novel are accurate." Bart Ehrman's initial response is, "But are they? I will not be dealing with art, architecture, or rituals. But I will be dealing with documents. And as we will see, even when Dan Brown strives to present facts (and indicates that he is providing them accurately), he has played with them - many of them are, in actuality, part of his fiction" (p. xx). "There were numerous mistakes, some of them howlers, which were not only obvious to an expert but also unnecessary to the plot" (p. xiii).

In my review of one of Ehrman's earlier books, (reprinted in Where Is George Washington Now That America Really Needs Him? pp 317-323), I wrote, "Lost Christianities is diminished by the author's adherence to policies some will attribute to intestinal inadequacy and some to political correctness - but it is not diminished to the point where the issues he does analyze are compromised. History is the propaganda of the winning side, and Ehrman's analysis makes clear that the triumph of proto-orthodoxy had nothing to do with any intrinsic superiority." That passage explains why Oxford University Press, a conscious agent and blatant propagandist for the god hoax, chose Ehrman to write what they hoped would be the definitive bunking of the false historical claims made in The Da Vinci Code. He is indeed more qualified for such a task than the non-experts who have also written exposes of Brown's errors and falsifications of history, and his incurable brainwashing that the fairy tales of religion differ qualitatively from those of Hans Anderson or the Brothers Grimm was precisely what OUP was seeking.

But while Ehrman is, to put it politely, a team player, he is not purblind when it comes to an evaluation of evidence - usually. "It isn't good enough to say that if something is stated in the Bible it is necessarily accurate…. But on the other hand … if there is a source that is outside the Bible that tells a different story (for example the Gospel of Mary), that source is not necessarily right either" (pp. xxii-xxiii). And a point in Ehrman's favor is that, while adherents of a dogmatic religion are repulsed by Brown's advancing his plot by falsifications of history (preferring their own falsifications), so are nontheistic historians such as myself.

Ehrman rebuts Brown's falsification of the status of Christianity prior to the Council of Nicea, and Constantine's role in Christianity's theology. Unfortunately, he offers an alternative that is every bit as incompetent as Brown's. He writes that the Council of Nicea "was not a council that met to decide whether or not Jesus was divine, as Teabing [Brown's fictitious historian] indicates. Quite the contrary: everyone at the Council - and in fact just about every Christian everywhere - already agreed that Jesus was divine, the Son of God…. But if Jesus' divinity was not acknowledged by Christians until the council of Nicea (Teabing's view), how could the Gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John portray him as divine already in the first century (which is also his view)?"

No person with his brain in gear can read the gospels of Mark, Matthew and Luke, and fail to recognize that the authors of those anonymous fantasy novels have never heard the theory, invented in the fourth gospel between 130 and 138 CE, that Jesus was divine. Brown is wrong in dating Jesus' deification as late the time of Constantine, and Ehrman is wrong in dating it as early as the first century. (Ehrman's dating of "John" to the first century is wrong, but not inexcusable.) And the Council of Nicea was called to make a ruling on Jesus' divinity, currently believed by about one-third of contemporary Christians, not the majority claimed by Ehrman, and not the mere handful implied by Brown. And Brown's claim that the Nicene vote for Jesus' divinity was "relatively close," while wrong, is closer to reality than Ehrman's alternative. In fact Constantine forced a vote when the minority of bishops who favored the divine Jesus of Athanasius, a theology that closely paralleled Constantine's Mithraic former religion, had reached Nicea, but the Arian majority who agreed with Mark, Matthew, Luke, Peter and Paul, that Jesus was a purely human king, had not. Ehrman is right, however, when he shows that Brown's citing of ancient and fairly-recently rediscovered documents is so misleading that one must wonder if Brown could be that ignorant, or if he is simply a liar.

But when Ehrman allegedly corrects Brown's version of the battle at Milvian Bridge, his conformity to the Christian party line reads like something written by a theologian rather than a historian, the difference being that historians start from the evidence and reach only those conclusions that are consistent with the evidence, whereas theologians start from predetermined conclusions and distort the evidence until it conforms to those conclusions. Whether Constantine saw the sign of the labarum under which he fought as Christian or Mithraic is debatable. (He did announce his conversion to Christianity shortly thereafter.) But Ehrman's gullible acceptance of the fairy tale version of Constantine's alleged vision throws the whole issue of his expertise into question. Brown has no ability to reject any theory that contributes to his fictional plot, and Ehrman has no ability to reject dogma that conforms to his brainwashing.

For example, to support his contention that Paul saw Jesus as divine, Ehrman quotes the following translation of Philippians 2:5-7, "Christ Jesus, although he was in the form of God, did not regard equality with God as something to be grasped, but he emptied himself and took on the form of a slave, having come in the likeness of a human." My translation (The Compact Fully Translated Bible, reads, "[he] did not exhibit the shape (morphe) of a god, because he considered it larceny to be equal to a god. Rather, he degraded himself by taking the shape of a slave, born in the resemblance of humans, being fashioned as a human." An initial comparison of those two translations suggested that one of them must be a blatant falsification (and obviously I did not suspect myself). However, on rechecking the Greek, I found that the word oukh ("not") was placed between two clauses and could legitimately be read as part of either. Ehrman placed the "not" to conform to his belief that Paul considered Jesus divine. I started from the assumption that Paul did not consider Jesus divine, and read the "not" as part of the clause that preceded it. The totality of Paul's letters supports my conclusion on the issue. The anonymous gospel capriciously named "John" is the only Christian Testament book that portrays Jesus as a god, or even shows any awareness of such a theology. (All trinitarian passages are interpolations.)

Ehrman is right in drawing attention to Brown's inconsistency in claiming on the one hand that the god Jesus was Constantine's invention, and on the other hand that gospels from the first century endorsed a divine Jesus and were included in Constantine's New Testament for precisely that reason. Ehrman also points out that many Christian documents not included in the Testament endorsed a divine Jesus. The pretence that Constantine compiled the Christian Testament is as fatuous as the pretence that the Flavians did so. When Constantine called the Council of Nicea to vote on Jesus' divinity, it was because the Christian bible already contained one gospel that called Jesus a god, and three gospels that espoused the opposite view.

However, Ehrman is not only wrong but incomprehensibly wrong when he cites references to Jesus as "son of God" as evidence that the gospel authors saw that metaphor as literally biological. Is he unaware that the same bible authors described Adam as the son of the god, as well as David and all of David's reigning descendants? Brown distorts evidence to support his thesis - and so does Ehrman.

In denigrating the "adoptionist" theology spelled out in unmistakable terms in the synoptic gospels, Ehrman asks, "why these adoptionist Christians didn't simply read their New Testaments to see that their views were wrong (since Jesus was born of a virgin and was himself actually the son of God). My obvious response is, "Why doesn't Ehrman read the Christian Testament and recognize that only John calls Jesus a god? And is he so incapable of bypassing his brainwashing that he is unable to recognize that the virgin birth myth is totally incompatible with the genealogies in Matthew and Luke, and therefore could not possibly have been part of either original gospel?

There are two possible explanations, incompatible but equally plausible, for Ehrman's determination to go on believing that the Christian religion has survived basically unchanged since the first century. One is that he sees the Christian fairy tales as literal truth (and if he believes that, I have a bridge for sale in Brooklyn that I think will interest him), and refuses to recognize that the myth of the virgin-born savior god who rose from the dead on the third day is identical with the Osiris myth of 3,000 years earlier, with only the names of the god and goddess changed, and therefore the latter must have been plagiarized from the former. The other is that he belongs to a religion that sees the fantasy of the Master of the Universe adulterously impregnating a mortal woman as an obscene blasphemy. At the risk of being repetitious, Brown's ability to examine conflicting testimony and reach a conclusion that could be right is the square root of absolute zero - and so is Ehrman's. If Ehrman is a legitimate historian rather than a pusher of an indefensible agenda, then so is David Irving. On the good side, he is sufficiently competent in correct English to use the expression, "a historian," in his book's subtitle, rather than the fatuous, pseudo-learned, "an historian."

Fortunately, the issues discussed above are not what make The Da Vinci Code a subject of controversy, and Ehrman's brainwashing does not invalidate his discussion of the meat of the controversy.

Brown's identification of the figure on Jesus' right in Da Vinci's Last Supper as Mary Magdalene rather than the unnamed "student Jesus cherished," capriciously equated by Christian mythologians with both John of Patmos, redactor of Revelation, and the anonymous author of the fourth gospel, may convince anyone gullible enough to visit the Louvre to check it out. But as Ehrman explained on TV, long before Da Vinci's time artists had been portraying the "student Jesus cherished" as beardless and looking more like a girl than a boy, although whether the practice began as a hint of a homosexual relationship can only be guessed. Brown's other speculations concerning Da Vinci's works, and the alleged messages that he reads into them, are best described as fantasies conceivably based on LSD flashbacks. Ehrman's statement, "Nor will I be considering the paintings and beliefs of Leonardo da Vinci," (p. xix) probably stemmed from his lack of expertise in art. But he was totally justified in not granting Brown's eye-of-the-beholder interpretations of da Vinci's art the dignity of a rebuttal.

Ehrman reports that, "For much of his 'information' Brown was dependent on an earlier best-seller of the 1980s, a book called Holy Blood, Holy Grail, which Brown explicitly mentions in his novel but which he does not acknowledge as the primary source for much of what he has to say about Mary Magdalene (and the Priory of Sion)" (p. 141). In an endnote he comments, "Of the hundreds of professional New Testament scholars whom I personally know - people who study these texts for a living, and who are trained in the ancient languages necessary to do so - there is not a single one, to my knowledge, who finds the claims of the book to be historically credible" (p. 196). Since the claims referred to are that Jesus really was married and produced a biological heir, I concur that they are not historically credible. When Jesus' cousin Shimeown bar Klopa was executed in or near 106 CE, leadership of the Jerusalem Nazirite commune passed to persons who were not his relatives - as could not have happened if he had left a biological heir. There are indeed no descendants of Jesus alive today, and there were none when the genealogy that Holy Blood, Holy Grail took seriously was concocted. As for the claim that Jesus was married to a specific woman, Mary the Magdalene, Ehrman writes, "If one [gospel author] wanted to differentiate this Mary from the other Marys, why not indicate that this is the one to whom Jesus was married, rather than to say where she was from?" (p. 154). Ehrman is correct in arguing that, "This is not just as argument from silence." Finding an alternative way to identify Jesus' wife other than calling her his wife would have been absurd.

Jesus was unmarried because, even though he had abandoned the Essenes to form his own sect of Ebionites, "Paupers," he was indelibly conditioned by his Essene childhood. (As I speculate in Uncle Yeshu, Messiah, his father may have "got religion," and abandoned the Essenes' secular wing and moved to the Qumran monastery when Jesus was still a child.) And as Josephus, Pliny and Philo reported, Essenes rejected marriage as institutionalized immorality - a position the Catholic Church maintained for its first eleven centuries. Ehrman is not quite accurate when he describes the Da Vinci Code character's statement that celibacy was condemned as, "based on a tendentious reading of much later Jewish sources" (p. 155). The Talmud states explicitly that, "Elohiym utters a curse against those who remains celibate after they are twenty years of age. Those who marry at sixteen please him, and those who do so at fourteen even more" (KIDD. 29b). But since "holy men" were actually expected to be unmarried, so that they could devote their full time to preparing for the end of the world, which they all, including Jesus, predicted for the day after tomorrow, Ehrman is less wrong than Brown.

What I did believe when I read Holy Blood, Holy Grail, was that a genealogy of Jesus' alleged descendants already existed at the time of the Crusades, and had most likely been composed to justify Godfrey of Bouillon's status as king of Jerusalem by showing him to be Jesus' primogenitural heir. In an interview for a TV documentary on Brown's book, Ehrman pulled the rug out from under that delusion, by showing that the genealogy was almost certainly composed in the twentieth century by a pretentious oaf who included his own name among Jesus' alleged descendants. (I do, however, continue to accept that san greal originated as a misreading of sang real, although even the earliest of the grail legends postulated a real grail, not a royal heir.) Unfortunately, since Ehrman started from the assumption that nothing in Holy Blood, Holy Grail had sufficient credibility to warrant a rebuttal, the points made in his TV interview were not included in his book.

The Vatican's outraged denunciation of The Da Vinci Code is understandable. By endorsing Holy Blood, Holy Grail's incompetent conclusion that Jesus has living descendants, the book says in effect that some person other than the Roman pope is the true Head Christian. Since the Catholic Church is motivated by the bottom line, partly money but mainly absolute power, it cannot allow its mind-slaves to believe that dangerous doctrine. And because the "descendants of Jesus" claim is false, Rome can safely attack it with no risk of triggering a backlash by scholars determined to prove that Brown is right. But Brown is right in accusing the Catholic Church of book burnings, cover-ups, conspiracies, and atrocities worthy of the Mafia. If the book makes Catholics look more closely at their Church's abominable record - good.

Ehrman writes in his Epilogue, "I have to keep emphasizing that Dan Brown was writing fiction. Even though he claims that his 'descriptions of … documents … are accurate,' in fact they are not. That too, as it turns out, is part of the fiction" (p. 190). He also summarizes, "If Dan Brown had gotten his facts right, there would have been no compelling reason for me to write this book. But he didn't" (p. 189). While I have not read The Da Vinci Code, Ehrman's book, far from discouraging me from doing so, makes me hopeful that Brown's approach, despite the historical errors, will encourage his 20 million readers to recognize that Jesus never in his life claimed to be a god and was in fact deified long after his death - admittedly not three centuries after as Brown claims, but one century after - plenty long enough to satisfy anyone with a functioning human brain that "Jesus the god" is indeed a creation of fiction. If that happens, those 20 million readers will have moved, if only a short distance, in the direction of historical accuracy. But I will not be holding my breath.

Hoax & Reality: The Bizarre World of Multiple Personality Disorder
August Piper Jr, M.D.
Jason Aronson Inc.
230 Livingston St, Northvale, NJ 07647-1731
ISBN: 1568218540, $45.00 222 pp.

On Sunday October 9 the TV news magazine Sixty Minutes presented a segment on an individual who claimed to be suffering from multiple personality disorder. The program treated his claim credulously, as if multiple personality were an objectively real mental dysfunction rather than what it really is, originally pathological playacting by fatuous exhibitionists, and later a therapist-induced delusion in patients who were just as much victims of manipulation as patients induced to mistake therapist-suggested fantasies of sexual abuse for recovered memories.

What is truly disheartening about Sixty Minutes' endorsement of fully discredited pseudoscience is that the same program had some months earlier exposed multiple personality as a game of one-upmanship by self-styled therapists whose competition for publicity had caused them to raise the number of personalities allegedly detected in a single patient to more than one hundred. (Skeptic later reported that the figure had passed five hundred.)

On seeing such scientifically illiterate disinformation being peddled on a program with a sizable audience, I set out to find a book that definitively exposed the multiple personality hoax as just that. On being directed by Google to August Piper's Hoax and Reality, I was hopeful that I had found such a book. Sadly, I had not.

Piper actually believes that multiple personality exists. While he gives a thorough and accurate evaluation of MPD cases that can be traced to therapeutic malpractice, he apparently has no awareness that the most famous cases were pure playacting. He believes that hypnotism exists. He knows that alleged memories extracted by hypnosis are fantasies, but apparently believes that hypnosis itself is something other than a fantasy. He believes that psychiatry is a branch of medicine rather than (at best) the same kind of cold reading as astrology and crystal gazing. And his 24-page bibliography is filled with articles from psychiatric and medical hypnosis journals (with not a single citation from Skeptical Inquirer). Basing an evaluation of MPD therapy on such sources is analogous to basing an evaluation of the reality of demon possession on publications of the Catholic Church.

Piper recognizes that "simulation of MPD" is widespread, and even claims that "every indicator of malingering occurs in genuine MPD patients" (p. 27). That is reminiscent of the parapsychologists who rationalized away the countless occasions on which Uri Geller was caught using trickery, by arguing that his every trick that was not detected at the time was a genuine psychic manifestation. Piper even admits that, "patients presenting with overt evidence of separate personalities are almost unknown" (p.35). Almost? Oh come now. He further admits that, "control of personalities lies firmly in the hands of those who have the disorder" (p. 46). If a psychoquack knows that the behavior of an alleged alternate personality is controlled by the real person, does that not constitute a recognition that the manifestation is playacting? Not to Piper, apparently. Is he simply gullible, or is he motivated by a need to preserve his bread and butter as a practising psychoshrink?

Piper asks, "Why would a patient develop the classic signs of MPD only after encountering a therapist?" (p. 35) His implied answer is that, while he believes MPD is real, he also believes that in the particular cases he is discussing it was implanted in a previously symptom-free patient by the therapist. He recognizes that more cases of MPD were diagnosed between 1981 and 1986 than in the preceding two centuries, and that the number of such diagnoses in North America alone had by 1986 reached 6,000 (p. 91), and offers a logical theory to explain the epidemic: (1) society's belief that the suppressed memories psychoshrinks claim are the first cause of MPD actually exist; (2) society's belief that the human mind permanently retains suppressed memories like a videocassette or a library; (3) society's belief in MPD, so that even before a therapist tells a patient he has the disorder, he is preconditioned to believe it (p. 171).

What Piper does not grasp is that his theory explains all MPD cases that did not originate as compulsive playacting. He specifically denies that, "all alleged MPD cases represent iatrogenic hoaxes," but acknowledges that, "many and perhaps most of them do" (p. 179). Change "many … most" to "all," (other than Three Faces of Eve type conscious playacting) and Piper's book would be right on the mark.

This is a hopelessly inadequate book. As disappointing as that is, even more disappointing is that it is the best book on its subject currently available. I see no option but to recommend it for persons who are not aware that most multiple personality delusions were callously attributed to patients who would never have made such fairy tale claims if they had not been manipulated by a True Believer. Robert Baker, as editor of Child Sexual Abuse and False Memory Syndrome (Prometheus, 1998), was able to bring together enough scholarly articles to falsify the "recovered memory" hoax to the satisfaction of all but the criminally unteachable. Perhaps he or one of Prometheus's other on-tap experts could do the same for the multiple personality hoax?

William Harwood

Henry's Bookshelf

Rethinking Michigan Indian History
Patrick Russell LeBeau
Michigan State U. Press
1405 S. Harrison Rd., Manly Miles Building - Suite 25, East Lansing, MI 48823-5202
ISBN: 0870137123, $29.95 215+xi pp., with "Instructor Resources" CD inside back cover

LeBeau presents how to broaden perspective on the place of Indians in Michigan history. The four lessons centered on eroding stereotypes, primary historical figures, treaties, and maps as related to historical realties have implications on Native Americans in all regions and even this group as a whole in the U. S. LeBeau's aim is not to overthrow the decades of Native American studies, but rather to amplify and complement these for a more refined understanding of the history of Native Americans and its interrelation with American history. The book has the design of a classroom/student workbook; which it is meant to be. LeBeau brings into the picture of Native American studies different sorts of resources, with innovative and enlightening ways to question and examine these. With a Native American heritage, LeBeau is a former director of the American Indian Studies Program at Michigan State U. and is still active in academia and writing. The workbook-like book with a CD is suitable for high school through college courses.

Archaeologies of the Future - The Desire Called Utopia and Other Science Fictions
Fredric Jameson
180 Varick St. New York, NY 10014-4606
ISBN: 1844670333, $35.00 431+xvi pp.

The leading, influential contemporary philosopher Frederic Jameson looks to the literary genre of science fiction for gleanings of the notion of utopia and utopian yearnings in late Modernism. With the failures of Marxist/Communist ideologies and the apolitical mood throughout Western culture, what remains of the idea of utopia which once played such a strong role in modern culture is to be found mostly in the science-fiction literature. Jameson takes on this latest topic with his characteristic thoroughness, exceptional acuity, and masterful synthetic capacity. The voluminous work with elements of literary critique, political/cultural analysis, and philosophical thinking is a survey of science fiction over the century of the 1900s and its shifting relationship to society. Jameson's approach is to focus on one major science-fiction writer (with science-fiction somewhat loosely defined) such as Philip K. Dick or Ursula Le Guin as representative of the topic is wants to take up; and then range through the topic by many references to other science-fiction writers and inclusion of respective aspects of the concept of utopia and relevant political, social, and scientific conditions to result in illuminations and renderings about the persisting, yet protean, idea of utopia. "Archaeologies of the Future" is one of Jameson's most wide-ranging and illuminating works on modern culture and its distinctive factors and idiosyncratic ways.

Hitler's Alpine Retreat
James Wilson
Casemate Publishers
2114 Darby Rd., Havertown, PA 19083
ISBN: 1932033459, $32.95 208 pp.

Two hundred and seventy postcards from Wilson's personal collection plus a number of Nazi propaganda photographs take one into Hitler's famous lair of Berchtesgadener in the mountains of Bavaria. Hitler regularly sought relaxation in the mountain retreat; but it also served as a place for diplomatic meetings with foreign leaders and headquarters to plot military plans with top German generals. The large number of postcards picturing all parts of the grounds, out buildings, the main building's exterior and rooms and even a few of the tunnels and vaults underneath for electrical lines and generators were made for the propaganda purpose of making Hitler seem an everyday German enjoying the satisfactions of a country home. Berchtesgadener covered much ground, and its rooms were spacious with fine furnishings. But it was not palatial. As well identifying the sights and occasional individuals in the numerous postcards, as appropriate Wilson's captions note the significance of the location and call attention to architectural or design details. And as appropriate, the author's captions refer to past or future changes in buildings or groundwork. A few of the postcards picture changes in progress. An incomparable collection of Nazi and Hitler postcards; and as such a unique addition to any World War II or Nazi collection of books or memorabilia.

Measures of Possibility - Emily Dickinson's Manuscripts
Domhnall Mitchell
U. of Massachusetts Press
PO Box 429, Amherst, MA 01004
ISBN: 1558494561, $80.00 425+xiii pp.
ISBN: 1558494626, $29.95

More than with any other poet, the punctuation, line breaks, spaces, and stanzas of Emily Dickinson's poetry are important to the poems' readings, effects, and their meaning as much as this is possible. Mitchell--recipient of a Houghton Library Fellowship from Harvard and professor of 19th-century American literature at a Norwegian university--analyzes differences in how the same poems of Dickinson's are printed in different editions; and he frequently tenders his own preferable and ideal printings of poems. The basis for this meticulous, deep study of possibilities of how Dickinson's poems have been and should be printed and subtleties and movements of meaning are Dickinson's "autograph poems," i. e., surviving examples of poems or parts of them in her handwriting. These are found mainly in Dickinson's letters to her sister-in-law Susan Gilbert Dickinson and her friend Samuel Bowles, editor of the newspaper the "Springfield Daily Republican." The "graphics"--the typography determining the appearance of poems of Dickinson's--is a continuing consideration of Mitchell's. And in some places he makes use of typographic possibilities for diagrammatic representations of certain poems or words printed vertically beside stanzas to denote alternative wording. Realizing Dickinson's poems "travel immense distances from a foreign country called the past" with different sensibilities, perceptions, and concerns leaving some of the "accents" of her poems "alien from our own," Dickinson does not presume to have deciphered the poems for final meaning or the form in which she intended they be printing on a page, even with his scrutiny of her "autograph poems" and related papers. Nonetheless, Mitchell has come as close as anyone can to the fundamentals and intentions of the poems of this most private and in ways cryptic of poets.

Teddy's Cattle Drive - A Story from History
Marc Simmons
illustrations by Ronald Kil
U. of New Mexico Press
MSC11 6290, 1 University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131-0001
ISBN: 0826339212, $18.95 56 pp.

Teddy Abbott was a real person from England who settled in Nebraska in the 1870s and raised cattle which had to be driven to market. Simmons tale of a son of his also named Teddy taking part in a cattle drive is imaginary. But it portrays all of the aspects of a real cattle drive from types of individuals involved in one through a day's activities and potential dangers during it. All the men, including Teddy, have different responsibilities. Teddy's responsibility along with another cowboy is taking care of the "remuda," "a Spanish used used in Texas for a herd of spare horses," as the book's glossary notes. Because of an accident to his partner, Teddy ends up watching over the remuda on is own. The potential danger of a stampede comes to pass with a lightening strike frightening the herd of cattle; which sets the horses of the remuda to running off as well. But Teddy stays with them and brings all the spare horses back to the drive. After the drive, Teddy is given a pair of spurs in a simple ceremony attended by all of the cowboys he had worked with. Not only a story of a rite of passage for a young boy, Simmons' story is notable for its specifics on a cattle drive.

The Ships of Christopher Columbus - Santa Maria, Nina, Pinta, Complete with a 1/100 Scale Fold-out Plan
Xavier Pastor
Conway Maritime Press
ISBN: 1844860140, $36.95 118 pp.

Along with the scale fold-out plan on the inside of the jacket with folds at the top and bottom, photographs, models, and diagrams recreate the three historic, legendary ships of Columbus's first voyage to the New World. The work by the noted Spanish maritime historian is the latest in the publisher's series "Anatomy of the Ship." Other historically notable and in a few cases historically momentous ships dealt with in this series in a similar manner are the HMS Beagle and the Endeavor (Cook's ship), the naval cutter Alert, and the more generic Fairmile 'D' Motor Torpedo Boat. An inviting series for naval and maritime enthusiast. Diagrams with a detail familiar from airplane designs, and more relevantly, the skillfully-drawn, aesthetically-pleasing designs of yachts do not stop at the body of the three ships, but extend to individual designs of masts, ship fittings, flags, steering gear, tackle, the smaller landing boats, and other parts of the ships. With this bounty of detailed diagrams and illustrations of the ship parts (e. g., masts and sails), equipment, and other implements the crews would work with and handle, the Columbus voyage comes to life in a unique way.

Fashion Brands - Branding Style from Armani to Zara
Mark Tungate
Kogan Page, USA
525 South 4th St. #241, Philadelphia, PA 19147-1573
distributed by Stylus Publishing
PO Box 605, Herndon, VA 800-232-0223
ISBN: 0749442999, $39.95 243+ix pp.

Most of the content has come up in the leading fashion and culture magazines and business media. And the topic of how marketers create consumer demand and the story of individual brands such as Nike and Gucci have been covered in other books. But Tungate brings all of these subjects, all of these themes, and all of these prominent fashion brands together for a picture of the system of which they are all a part. With his broader perspective, he also gives a global perspective not limited to the vibrant, shop-til-you-drop, U.S. market and its advanced ideology of consumerism where many of the "branding" ideas and techniques originated, but including also European and Asian markets. A media, marketing, and communication journalist, Tungate writes in a popular style with many references from popular culture and the well-known fashion marketplace.

Henry Berry

Hunter's Bookshelf

This Ain't Brain Surgery: How to Win the Pennant Without Losing Your Mind
Larry Dierker
Simon & Schuster
Rockefeller Center, 1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
ISBN: 074320400X, $25.00, 289 pages

Larry Dierker spent many successful years with the Houston Astros organization as a player, radio and television announcer, and team manager. On Sunday, June 13, 1999, in the Astrodome while serving as the latter, he suffered a grand mal seizure. But Dierker was fortunate in that the brain surgery he was forced to undergo left him with no permanent damage.

Despite this traumatic experience, this book does not focus on the event. Instead, Dierker uses it as a forum to write about baseball related events from his past and to add his unique insight into the mores of the game both on and off the field. He partitions the narrative into broad general categories of interest such as spring training, pitching, managing, broadcasting, trades, and cheating. Anyone who has had the pleasure of listening to his colorful broadcast style will be familiar with the down home presentation and subtle sense of humor with which he tells his tales in this medium.

Autobiographical in nature and full of fascinating anecdotes, this is a quick reading and entertaining entry into the field of baseball literature.

My Greatest Day in Football
Bob McCullough
Thomas Dunne Books
175 fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
ISBN: 0312272111, $24.95, 320 pages

McCullough's interesting concept for this book was to pick great professional football players from each era of the game and ask them to tell about their greatest day in football. Most responded with their top memories of professional as well as college football. In addition, he asked them to name their greatest opponent and their greatest teammate and to provide stories about each of their picks. Overall, twenty-nine of football's greatest were interviewed. It is a group of players sure to bring back fond memories of great players, great teams, and great games. Included among those interviewed are Bart Starr, Terry Bradshaw, Chuck Bednarik, Raymond Berry, Frank Gifford, Lawrence Taylor, and Y.A. Tittle, Paul Warfield, and Bob Griese.

As might be expected, many of the remembrances centered on championship contests, Super Bowls, and Hall of Fame experiences. Several of the players did not respond to the questions concerning opponents and teammates, but most did talk about college games or others as well as their NFL experiences. Raymond Berry, for example, remembered his first championship game as a member of the Parish, Texas high school team. All, however, spoke of their induction into the NFL Hall of Fame as among their fondest memories. I had, of course, heard or read about all the athletes included in the book, but I did not know much about the careers of some of the early heroes such as Pete Pihos or Bob St. Claire. Reading through the various stories was like getting a football history lesson.

This is an interesting and easy to read book. I finished it in two sittings and enjoyed every chapter. If you are a fan of NFL football, you are sure to find some keen memories kindled as you read this book.

Clint Hunter

Liana's Bookshelf

Silent Battlefields
Hugh Rosen
iUniverse, Inc.,
2021 Pine Lake Rd., Suite 100, Lincoln, Nebraska 68512
ISBN: 0595347738, $16.95 240 pages
ISBN: 0595671535, $26.95 240 pages

Very Highly Recommended

Hugh Rosen, the author of three books and the co-editor of three other books about cognitive development, moral reasoning, constructivism, and psychotherapy entered the Creative Writing Program of the English Department at Temple University and earned an M.A. degree at age seventy. In 2005 at the age of seventy-four, Hugh is pleased to present Silent Battlefields: A Novel.

Silent Battlefields: A Novel is a story of the impact of the Holocaust and its aftermath almost three decades later on a Polish Jewish family and a gentile German family. When members of both families begin meeting and interacting, unexpected relationships emerge and startling revelations come to light.

The story is about Selig Kruger who, after being a member of the Hitler Youth, becomes a German soldier during the Second World War. While on a mission to find and kill Jews who are being hidden by a Christian family in a small Polish village, he spares the life of Eva, an adolescent girl, at the risk of his own life. Yet he bears responsibility for leading her parents to their death. But what is going to happen to their families many years later? How are they going to react when new developments in the plot introduce twists and turns for which members of the family are unprepared?

Silent Battlefields: A Novel is a story of cruelty, and yet it is a testimony to the grandeur of the human spirit and an inspirational narrative of hope. It will appeal to fiction readers of all kinds. It involves romance and mystery, adventure and philosophy, all embedded in an historical context. It will make the readers think of their life and the priorities they have got. The language is emotionally evocative, and the writing style is plain enough to be read by people from all walks of life.

Get the book from and from Visit to hear voice message and read personal interview with author. Contact the author at:

Monterey Shorts 2 More on the Line
Fiction Writers of the Monterey Peninsula
Edited by C.Kemp, B.Merritt and K.Jones
Fwomp Publishing
22597 Black Mountain Rd., Salinas, CA 93908
ISBN: 0976009609, $15.95 416 pp.

Very Highly Recommended

The group of ten fiction writers of the Monterey Peninsula, after their overwhelming success of their first anthology Monterey Shorts, have created MONTEREY SHORTS 2, a new anthology of 20 more stories that have already earned favorable critiques from a variety of people and publications. Their website is at .

Joyce Krief, an award-winning author, has written the foreword of this book, while Chris Kemp displays the reasons that motivated those authors to write their short stories. A map of the area follows, which is an interesting aspect of this anthology for those readers who are not familiar with Monterey Peninsula. The 20 stories that are included are all highly enjoyable to read. They transport readers to Monterey County, its legends and its daily life ordinary events that make a difference.

The genres in this anthology vary, from contemporary and historical fiction to paranormal and spiritual pieces. For example, in Gods and Ghosts the author triggers the readers' imagination, while Charlottes'Light is a historical fiction piece of the first woman who was a lighthouse keeper in Monterey. All stories have something different and exciting to tell.

MONTEREY SHORTS 2 anthology comprises well-crafted short stories that will grasp the readers' interest and keep it intact to the very end of each story. The cover of the book is attractive and well designed, displaying Monterey County in a cartoon format image that is both modern and appealing to the audience. The artist, Daniel Koffman, is a product designer, graphic artist and businessman whose creative talent has produced this humorous image. More info about his creations can be found at

This anthology is undoubtedly a very good read that caters to all fiction lovers, and it is available from

Liana Metal, Reviewer

Lynne's Bookshelf

Good Morning, Digger
Anne Rockwell
Illustrated by Melanie Hope Greenberg.
Viking Books
Penguin Group
345 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
ISBN: 1670059595, $15.99

When Flatbed Truck brings Digger to the vacant lot next store, a young boy is thrilled by the actions and noises it makes as it digs a hole.

Much to the child's delight, other vehicles join Digger at the scene, including Dump Truck and Cement Mixer, and Crane, as well as a crew of construction workers. When Digger leaves, a Community Center fills the hole Digger dug---a nice surprise!

Children two and up will enjoy this "day-in-the-life" of a digger as seen through the eyes of a child. Simple, but busy and colorful illustrations provide lots of seek and find opportunities for parent/child interaction. This book has extra appeal for little boys!

Robots Slither
Ryan Ann Hunter
Illustrated by Julia Gorton
G.P. Putnam's Sons
Penguin Young Readers Group
345 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
ISBN: 0399237747, $14.99

Parents, librarians and other book buyers will be struck by the wide age appeal of this interesting rhyming picture book by Ryan Ann Hunter (a collaborative name of Elizabeth G. Macalaster and Pamela D. Greenwood).

"Robots Slither" highlights both slight text of easy-to-follow rhyme for younger children, and side-bars of robot facts for older children. Julia Gorton's bright, charming illustration spreads contain both simple and complex illustrations, again widening the age appeal of the book. A Robonote and Robosites are included on the last page. What a wonderful book---It has great graphics and it's fun and educational, too!

Highlights Hidden Pictures 2006, Volume 1
Boyds Mills Press, Inc.
A Highlights Company
815 Church Street, Honesdale, PA 18431
ISBN: 1590783913, $5.95

Between the covers of this outstanding activity book, children will find a wide topical array of hidden picture challenges, including a Hubble telescope, a carwash, a bear's clubhouse, ocean treasures, Casey Jones, and more!

Each beautifully-illustrated spread (appealing art drawn by popular modern-day magazine artists) gives the child an opportunity to search and find a variety of topic-related items in the black and white line drawings. Picture captions give additional information on important persons, noteworthy dates and fun celebrations.

Geared to children aged 5-10, this activity book fosters fun while introducing or reinforcing reading, picture-word association, spelling and matching skills. Hidden objects range from 12 or more, and if the child is stumped, there's always the three-colored answer key in the back and the book. As always, Highlights upholds the important mission statement of "Fun with a purpose."

This is a great parents' carry-along for appointments, meals or car rides for enjoyable parent-child interaction or child quiet time.

Highlights Hidden Pictures 2006, Volume 4
Boyds Mills Press, Inc.
A Highlights Company
815 Church Street, Honesdale, PA 18431
ISBN: 1590783948, $5.95

Between the covers of this outstanding activity book, children will find a wide topical array of hidden picture challenges, including a candy store, a fire safety lesson, a card trick, a Supreme Court Justice and more!

Each beautifully-illustrated spread (appealing art drawn by popular modern-day magazine artists) gives the child an opportunity to search and find a variety of topic-related items in the black and white line drawings. Picture captions give additional information on important persons, noteworthy dates and fun celebrations.

Geared to children aged 5-10, this activity book fosters fun while introducing or reinforcing reading, picture-word association, spelling and matching skills. Hidden objects range from 12 or more, and if the child is stumped, there's always the three-colored answer key in the back and the book. As always, Highlights upholds the important mission statement of "Fun with a purpose."

This is a great parents' carry-along for appointments, meals or car rides for enjoyable parent-child interaction or child quiet time.

Lynne Marie Pisano

Magdalena's Bookshelf

The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana
Umberto Eco
Secker & Warburg
ISBN: 0436205637, $A55.00 480 pages

Umberto Eco's latest novel, The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana, opens with an evocative premise. Fifty nine year old Giambattista Boldoni, known to his friends as Yambo, wakes up in the hospital "suspended in milky grey." He's had a stroke, and once he breaks through the film of unconsciousness, he realises that he has lost all personal memory. What's he's retained, and strongly, is his memory of every cultural icon or book; every historical event; in short, every fact he's learned. What he's lost are those things that pertain personally to him. His family seem to be strangers, and even his sensory memories--the feel of fabrics, the scent of flowers, the sensation of tooth brushing is gone, and every nuance of what constitutes the self of Yambo has to be re-experienced. This sets the novel up for a searching investigation of what it means to be alive, and the nature of human identity in a way which is much more vivid and intense than a philosophical argument, although if anyone is capable of working through the philosophical issue it's Eco. However, the tension between the philosophical argument underlining the book and the inner imperative of the fiction is one which I'm not sure that Eco resolves in a satisfactory way.

The book is divided into two halves, and the first part is driven forward by Yambo's search for his lost self. Yambo has all the facts. He knows he is a very successful rare book dealer with an attractive assistant, and he knows that his intelligent and accommodating wife Paola loves him, as do his children and grandchildren, but there's no connection beyond the immediate:

I said I was feeling weak and wanted to sleep. They left, and I cried. Tears are salty. So, I still had feelings Yes, but made fresh daily. Whatever feelings I once had were no longer mine. I wondered whether I had ever been religious; it was clear, whatever the answer, that I had lost my soul. (21)

Yambo has retained is his extensive memory of the texts he has come across or read and is able to recall these texts effortlessly. He is a virtual catalogue of everything he has read, and his ability to cross reference and quote is extensive, and bound to exceed the general literary knowledge of most readers. Watching Yambo try to connect the self that he is experiencing in the present tense with the broader textual knowledge that he has retained is dramatic and touching. The book becomes an almost multimedia experience with illustrations that include a range of clippings, book covers, comic books, magazines, stamps, and book plates. The images are beautifully coloured, and generally centred around the 1930s and 40s, mainly popular texts of the sort that young Yambo collected. For readers of a similar era to Yambo, the illustrations will no doubt conjure their own associations and memories, further parallelling the way in which Yambo desperately searches for his identity, which remains illusive. Instead of the real Yambo, the textual references recall the collective but random and impersonal memory produced by the Internet:

I said to myself: Yambo, your memory is made of paper. Not of neurons, but of pages. Maybe some day someone will invent an electronic ctraption allowing people to travel by computer among all the pages eer written, from the beginning of the world till today, and to pass from one another with the touch of a finger, without knowing any longer where or who they are, and then everyone will be like you. (88)

The passages between Yambo and his wife Paolo seem unrealistic, as if they were taking place in a lecture room. The interchanges between them are too cold, too dry, and too analytical for the kind of relationship that must have developed between these two characters. Paola's own way of looking at life, and working through the tragedy which has confronted them is almost identical to Yambo's, and the reader never gets a sense of her, or of Yambo's children. Paola sends Yambo back to his childhood country home in Solara--a place he refused to visit before the stroke--to see if memory could be reignited there by old associations and sensations. Encouraged by a caring and long serving family servant Amalia, Yambo spends most of his time in Solara sifting through his own and his grandfather's books, in an attempt to find the clue which will ignite the flame of recognition. It is this flame that takes Yambo into dangerous territory as he begins to uncover a mystery about a lost love, and the effect that that had on the identity he has lost:

You read any old story as a child, and you cultivate it in your memory, transform it, exalt it, sometimes elevating the blandest thing to the status of myth. If effect, what seemed to have fertilized my slumbering memory was not the story itself, but the title. The expression the mysterious flame had bewitched me, to say nothing of Loana's mellifluous name…Having forgotten the "historical" Loana, I had continued to pursue the oral aura of other mysterious flames. And years later, my memory in shambles, I had reactivated the flame's name to signal the reverberation of forgotten delights. (253)

Themes of 'fog,' and nostalgia are strong throughout the first part, as is the mystery of the Quixotic like unrequited love of Yambo's youth, and these are handled well, with a deft balance between Yambo's introspection and the literary quotations he uses to express his feelings. What isn't handled so well is the heavy handedness with referencing. It is clear that Eco has become enamoured of his own research material, and loathe to cut the lengthy, dry, and overly detailed recounting of stories from the materials found at Solara. I expect that a writer of smaller status may have been subjected to an editor's pen, unfortunately the long passages of quotations and paraphrases which have little bearing on Yambo's character other than he would have read and enjoyed these materials, detracts from the story. One could imagine a labyrinthine trip, between history and psychology as we uncover tiny clues about Yambo's character through his materials, but there is so much time spent on recounting comics like Topolino or Micky Mouse, Dick Tracey, Il Vittorioso (who "lacked the courage to cut the series short." an apt phrase at this point), World War Two headlines and propaganda material like Balilla, the weekly for the Italian Fascist Youth, full texts of songs, school readers, and so on, that the thread of Yambo is lost. One could almost imagine that Eco had some half worked material in this area which he had no place else to use, since it seems out of place, and too much like a diversion in the history of common culture during that period than an exploration of the impacts on Yambo's character. It doesn't really work, which is a shame, because, with a lighter hand and greater emphasis on the character of Yambo, this section could have been powerful. Certainly the quality of the writing is as strong as any that Eco has done, but the slippage of plot, and characterisation is just too great at this juncture. There are opportunities for development in the relationship between Yambo and his old friend Gianni, or for the impact of Yambo's stroke on his wife Paola, but it seems that the philosophical premise has taken priority over the fictional reality, and the reader is the loser.

As Yambo's excitement begins to increase dangerously and he gets closer to the flame he is searching for, the story once again becomes compelling. The sensual world has returned to Yambo as he experiences a tremor of recognition on discovering, in a rather unlikely twist, Shakespeare's First Folio:

With this first folio I am living out an adventure story that is rather more exciting than all the castle mysteries I experienced between the walls of the Solara house, during nearly three months of high blood pressure. Excitement is muddling my thoughts, my face is blazing with heat. (298)

Again, as with the opening, the premise for the second part of the story is very good indeed, and further deepens the philosophical questions which are raised. The movement between fog and light are handled deftly and are quite beautiful:

I am travelling through a tunnel with phosphorescent walls. I am rushing towards a distant point that appears as an inviting grey…I am nearing the mouth of th etunnel, and the vapours that gather thickly beyond it are filtering in. I simmer in them, barely aware that I am now moving through a delicate tissue of hovering fumes. This is fog: not read, not described by others--real fog, and I am in it. (301)

The reader is made to feel privy to what might otherwise be lost. Eco handles this part of the story much better than the middle section, and although the cultural references are still present, they are much lighter and more directly engaged with character. There is also a strong thread of melancholy and irony which underlines this second part of the book. This is a critical part of the theme--we only understand the meaning of our lives in death. The reader feels Yambo's limbo, and understands his imprisonment. Again, it would have been valuable to have more of Paola, who remains a shadowy and undeveloped character, and perhaps the rest of his family. His obsession with that moment of infatuation seems rather overwhelming for the maturity and intensity of a whole lifetime. Nevertheless, the philosophical problems raised in The Mysterious Flame of Queen Loana, and the beautiful passages of what sometimes is pure poetry, may be enough to recommend the book. The relationship between the opening of the novel and the ending of it are interwoven powerfully. The theme of what makes a person unique, the relationship between human identity, language, the cultural versus the personal memory, and even the relationship between life and death may all be evocative enough to carry the plot through the murky waters of the novel's middle.

Everyman's Rules for Scientific Living
Carrie Tiffany
ISBN: 0330421913, $A22.00

It's 1934, Australia is following the rest of the world into the great depression, and war is looming on the horizon. The government sponsored Better Farming Train has been set up to bring the hope of science to country farmers as an antidote to these crises. Agricultural science has all the answers, and the train is a free service to help farmers increase crop yields, animal size and output, and even improve on "infant welfare." Everyman's Rules for Scientific Living is Carrie Tiffany's first novel, and winner of the 3002 Victorian Premier's Award for an unpublished manuscript. The novel has two voices. The first and most evocative is the first person, present tense of Jean Finnegan, a young seamstress working in the "shiny afterthought" of the women's car of the train. Jean's voice is both thoughtful and observant, and slightly naive. The combination works well, producing an appealing character who reveals the story through her own sensual discovery, both of herself and the new worlds that she inhabits:

Living on a train is like living inside the body of a snake. We are always leaning into the curves, always looking forwards, or backwards, never around. Here we are arriving at some tiny siding, just a few neat-edged buildings and their sharp shadows. Here we are again, a few days later, pulling away, all of us craning out of the windows, gazing down the long canyon of railway line.(1)

Jean's voice is crisp, but retains a distinctively feminine and youthful sense of wonder. Her observations are thorough, and she refuses to judge her colleagues eccentricities. These range from the dogmatic Sister Crock, who heads the woman's section and lectures in subjects like baby rearing and hygiene, Mary Maloney, who lectures in cooking and collaborates in saving the "Folly Cow," the oddly sensual chicken sexer Mr Ohno, beautiful horticulturist Kit Collins who enjoys substituting an orange for a cricket ball, or soil taster Robert Pettergree. It is the latter who, despite his incommunicative nature and imperfect appearance of red hair and jutting out chest, attracts Jean, although to a certain extent, is seems as if he pulls her in solely by the strength of his desire and enthusiasm.

Set amidst the heat, drought and plagues of Wycheproof, a real country Victorian town around 290 miles north west of Melbourne. Robert and Jean work together to apply Robert's stringent and certain rules for scientific living to farming, including a rigorous testing program, animal husbandry, and Robert's additional government work to assist the other farmers through the careful application of expensive phosphorous. The science isn't quite as infallible as Robert thinks though, and not everything can be controlled. World events, mice plague, wheat rust, history, genetics and personal passion all impeded on Robert's perfect plans, opening some doors and closing others:

The other narrative voice in the novel is a third person omniscient one, which recounts Robert's sad upbringing. Although not as immediate or driving as Jean's, there are similarities, as if an older Jean were recounting Robert's history. His own health struggles, and the sad history of his brother and system are described in a moving way, which also increases the reader's sympathy with a man who would otherwise be unappealing:

The wound is the most insistent part of the baby; it is brightly red, more liquid and more pulingly alive than his face. Robbie makes his mouth in the shape of the hole and traces his tongue around his lips as if following its contours. (106)

Tiffany's characterisations, even those minor ones like Mr Ohno, Ern McKettering, or Robert's mother Lillian, are lovingly rendered, as are the country towns and farmers visited by the Better Farming Train, or the resistance felt by the farmer's wives as they share tea and cake with Jean. The descriptions remain vivid:

Lunch is under a gum tree on the banks of the river. If it is hot we will swim first and then eat so as to be safe from cramps. The water is so bitterly cold it forces me quickly out into the sun. The Avoca is the colour of long-brewed tea, its waters oily with shadows from the sugar gums. Robert's body is a patchwork beside it - red arms and face and neck, the rest of him pale and freckled. (135)

Tiffany's writing is taut, powerful and full of life. The story is often quite humorous, from the slapstick comedy of Mary Maloney's "shit alert. She says 'Jump now, Sister,' as a huge Border Leicester ram aims a clod of pellets in front of us." (3), "Toilet Hints for the Modern Mother," Mr Ohno's strange syntax or gifts, to the more subtle irony of Jean's quality trials, or Robert Pettergree's endless sampling, rules or statements about the infinite potential of scientific progress. This isn't an anti-science novel however, even though neither Robert nor his science fares very well. Instead it is a novel that questions a science which "permits no ideals or sentimentality" (200). Behind all the science are things that simply cannot be regulated: hunger and love, and these two emotions underpin what is a very powerful, universal, and yet historically grounded novel.

Magdalena Ball, Reviewer

Margaret's Bookshelf

Extrasolar Planets
Terry L. Kepner
McFarland & Company
PO Box 611, Jefferson NC 28640
0786424052 $45.00 1-800-253-2187

Extrasolar Planets: A Catalog Of Discoveries In Other Star Systems by astronomy enthusiast Terry Kepner very nicely summarizes the current state of our information about 161 planetary candidates in 135 star systems ranging from 8.25 to 9,000 light-years from Earth. The superbly written and presented text is enhanced with graphs indicating how the planet orbits its primary with details on the primary provided as well. The boundaries of the "habitability zone" around each star are plotted, and information about the likelihood of terrestrial category plants existing in each system is included as well. Additionally, there are five appendices included covering such topics as withdrawn and tentative discovers, the constellations, as well as masses and orbital characteristics of extrasolar planets. Terry Kepner's Extrasolar Plants is sufficiently scholarly to warrant its inclusion into academic library Astronomical Studies collections, as well as ideal for the non-specialist general reader with an interest in astronomy.

Agrobacterium tumefaciens: From Plant Pathology to Biotechnology
Eugene Nester, Milton P. Gordon, Allen Kerr
APS Press
3340 Pilot Knob Road, St. Paul, MN 55121
0890543224 $119.00 1-800-328-7560

Collaboratively compiled, edited and organized by Eugene Nester, Milton P. Gordon, Allen Kerr, Agrobacterium tumefaciens: From Plant Pathology to Biotechnology is a compendium of informed and informative articles on the biology of "Agrobacterium tumefaciens" by leading scientists and experts in the field. From "A Century of Pioneering Work Begins" in which Paul d. Peterson presents a history of work with a plant-tumor of bacterial origin, to ""A. tumefaciens" applications in genetic engineering, to DNA sequencing, to biological control of "Crown Gall", Agrobacterium tumefaciens: From Plant Pathology to Biotechnology is a seminal work that should be considered an invaluable, core addition to governmental, corporate, and academic research and reference collections in this specialized field of biological and biotechnological research.

Paintings of New York 1800-1950
Bruce Weber
Pomegranate Communications, Inc.
PO Box 808022, Petaluma, CA 94975-8022
0764933191 $30.00 1-800-227-1428

Paintings of New York 1800-1950 is an absorbing, full color artbook collection of great works portraying New York City in the 19th and early 20th centuries. Each artwork is displayed on an entire page, and brief commentaries offer insights on the lives and inspirations of the various featured artists and the nuances of their creations. The artwork styles range from realistic to impressionism to works that retain a surprisingly postmodern despite their venerable age. A superb giftbook or souvenir book that fluidly captures the many sides of New York across the decades.

New York
Christopher Bliss
Te Neues Publishing Company
16 West 22nd Street, New York, NY 10010
3832790330 $35.00 1-800-352-0305

In "New York" the architectural landscapes and skylines of the city of New York are showcased in the cover-to-cover photography of Christopher Bliss. All five of the boroughs comprising "The Big Apple" are represented both in terms of their downtown and uptown landmarks, as well as the brownstone neighborhoods. A tribute to the diversity and vitality of the nation's premier city, "New York" could well serve as a template for how other major American cities could be (and should be!) photographically documented.

Annabelle Gurwitch
L.A. Theatre Works
681 Venice Boulevard, Venice, CA 90291
1580813364 $32.95 1-800-708-8863

Fired is a full cast audiobook of a nonfiction play - the true stories of over a dozen different actor's experiences of being fired, some from acting jobs, some from summer jobs they worked as a teenager, and some who worked jobs so horrible that getting fired would have been a relief. Each tale, told in the voice and words of the actor who experienced it, is a vivacious, witty, often darkly ironic look at the selfishness and foolishness of the working world in general and Hollywood's working world in particular. From Annabelle's crushing disappointment in having her idol Woody Allen "ruin my Woody Allen experience" by calling her "retarded" before dismissing her from his "uninspired, as critics would later say" production, to Sandra Tsing Loh's extremely unlikely salvation due to a Janet Jackson's naked breast on TV (Ms. Loh just happened to be fired for obscenity on the radio shortly before Jackson's infamous wardrobe malfunction), to Jim Turner's mind-numbing experience with a manager who would give endless speeches that were nothing but the same platitude over and over, Fired is the perfect way to forget one's own troubles by listening to (and laughing at) the troubles of others. Highly recommended.

A Certain Justice
WGBH Boston Video
c/o SSA Public Relations
148 Madison Avenue, 16th floor, PH-1, New York, NY 10016
1593754671 $19.95 1-800-949-8670

Detective Inspector Adam Dalgliesh (so ably played by Roy Marsden) is confronted with a puzzling murder compounded by an over abundance of suspects in this superbly crafted television adaptation of P.D. James murder mystery "A Certain Justice". Set in the Old Bailey legal community deep in the heart of London, the victim is a successful but highly unpopular female barrister who is struck down in her office. She has made a lot of enemies in her career as a ruthlessly skilled defense attorney, and this along with the enmity and envy of her associates, make for a cast of memorable characters who have a motive for murder. The plot twists and turns are everything a fan of the "whodunnit" style of British mysteries could want. The ending is particularly impressive -- and unpredictable but logically consistent. As is usual with these British productions, the casting is perfect, the settings and sets are impeccably showcased, the dialogue and direction are flawless, and the whole storytelling experience is first rate. The DVD format allows for scene selection, closed captions, and even access to the "Mystery!" web site. With an approximate running time of three hours, "A Certain Justice" can be candidly and wholeheartedly recommended for inclusion into any personal or community library DVD collection.

People And Pianos
Theodore E. Steinway with Bruce Stevens
Amadeus Press
933 Metropolitan Avenue, #2L, Brooklyn, NY 11211
157467112X $30.00

First written in 1953, People and Pianos is a chronicle of the history of Steinway & Sons, an institution famous for creating great pianos. The original edition was a memento to commemorate the company's 100-year anniversary; now a new edition is made available to the public, filled cover-to-cover with vintage black-and-white photographs and illustrations as well as an update by Bruce Stevens that continues the saga of Steinway & Sons to the present day. A remarkable narrative, especially recommended for piano enthusiasts interested in knowing the inner details of an institution that took upon itself the task of creating great and complex musical instruments.

Chipeta: Queen Of The Utes
Cynthia S. Becker & P. David Smith
Western Reflections Publishing Company
219 Main Street, Montrose, CO 81401
1890437794 $16.95 1-800-993-4490

The biography of the wife and trusted confidante of Ute Chief Ouray, Chipeta: Queen Of The Utes is the story of a Native American woman who was able to gain the trust of both whites and Utes as they sought here opinions on the issues of the day. Regarded by both Utes and whites and a "queen" of her people, Chipeta was known to the elite citizenry and press of Washington, D.C. Chipeta outlived her husband Ouray by almost half a century and it was during this time that she became ignored, forgotten, and even cheated by the whites -- even as she was courted by many suitors. Finally, in her old age, Chipeta was honored by the whites on many special occasions. A woman who lived in "interesting times" and suffered from the kind of discrimination common to all Native Americans at the hands of their white neighbors, Chipeta nevertheless was a special woman who did not become embittered and remained a humble, caring, loving, wise, and giving person. Chipeta: Queen Of The Utes is superbly researched, expertly written, and a very highly recommended addition to Native American Studies collections and Women's Studies supplemental reading lists.

A Traveller's Companion To Madrid
Hugh Thomas, editor
Interlink Publishing Group
46 Crosby Street, Northampton, MA 01060-1804
156656591X $16.95

Madrid was founded by the Moors and only rose to prominence in the 16th century when King Philip II chose to make it Spain's first permanent court and the center from which he would manage his newly emancipated empire. But it was not until two centuries later that Madrid would become the grandly aristocratic city that it is today. Historian Hugh Thomas has researched five centuries of Madrid's history as recorded in diaries, letters, memoirs, and even novels. The result is an outstanding anthology which vividly evokes the drama and personalities of the past with eyewitness accounts and commentaries from both visitors and inhabitants of Spain's premier city. Enthusiastically recommended reading for anyone planning a vacation trip or a business visit to Madrid, A Traveller's Companion To Madrid is informed and informative -- and would well serve as a template for how other historians might create histories of their cities both in Europe and in the United States.

Kristin Kimball
Lonely Planet Publications
150 Linden Street, Oakland CA 94607
1740596897 $15.99 1-800-275-8555

Maui is the Lonely Planet travel guide to the Hawaiian island of Maui, known for its sea turtles, waterfalls, and hikes along the ancient Haleakala volcano. An island paradise filled with opportunities for windsurfing, snorkeling, diving, surfing, cycling, and just relaxing, Maui is a beautiful land; chapters in Lonely Planet's Maui include a brief summary of the island's history and culture, sample itineraries, a wealth of maps with off-track detours, recommended places to go divided by region upon the island, local hazards to avoid or prepare for, and much more. An excellent and handy guide for travelers and tourists.

Midwestern Inspired Home Designs
Creative Homeowner
24 Park Way, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
1580112749 $12.95

Midwestern Inspired Home Designs showcases 275 home plans with over 175 color photographs, 180 full color renderings, and text summaries with highlights. Helpful "Smart Tips" on everything from landscaping to creating a media room, advice on design and decorating, and instructions for easy ordering by phone or online allow Midwestern Inspired Home Designs to double as both a source of inspiration and as a catalog for homeowners or homeowners-to-be to choose a cozy look tailored to their individual desires. All of the house plans have a comfortable and gentle Midwest charm, including a sharply angled roof so that heavy snowfalls will not place too great a load on the house's ceiling. An excellent browsing resource.

On Stage
Robert Mauro
Meriwether Publishing
PO Box 7710
Colorado Springs, CO 80933-7710
0916260674 $15.95

Strongly recommended for aspiring actors of all ages and both genders, On Stage: Short Plays For Acting Students is a compilation of twenty-three short, one-act plays organized into three major categories (monologs, duologs, and comedy sketches) which are especially suited for solo and small cast performances. Ideal for drama school classrooms or actors workshops, the plays comprising On Stage offer balanced parts for ages ranging from adolescence to middle age. Contemporary characters and situations, minium costuming and staging, as well as a variety of light drama, serious drama, and comedy satire are hallmarks of these one-act scenarios.

History, Literature, And The Writing Of The Canadian Prairies
Alison Calder & Robert Wardhaugh, editors
University of Manitoba Press
301 St. John's College, Winnipeg, MB, Canada, R3T 2M5
0887556825 $24.95 1-800-565-9523

Collaboratively compiled, organized, and edited by Alison Calder (English Department, University of Manitoba) and Robert Wardhaugh (History Department, University of Western Ontario), History, Literature, And The Writing Of The Canadian Prairies is a compendium of ten perceptive and informative essays from contributors who explore contemporary Canadian prairie identity and reconfigure "the prairie" as a construct that is both non-linear and diverse, responding to the impact of geographical, historical, and political trends. Included are Calder and Wardhaugh's "Introduction: When Is the Prairie?"; Frances W. Kaye's "The Tantalizing Possiblity of Living on the Plains"; Claire Omhovere's The Melting of Time in Thomas Wharton's Icefields"; Nina van Gessel's "Autogeology: Limestone and Life Narrative in Carol Shields's The Stone Diaries"; Heidi Slettedahl MacPherson's "Coyote as Culprit: 'Her-story' and the Feminist Fantastic in Gail Anderson-Dargatz's The Cure for Death by Lightning"; Russell Morton Brown's "Robert Kroetsch, Marshall McLuhan, and Canada's Prairie Postmodernism: The Aberhart Effect"; S. Leigh Matthews' "The 'Precarious Perch' of the 'Decent Woman': Spatial (De)Construction of Gender in Women's Prairie Memoirs"; Dennis Cooley's "Documents in the Postmodern Long Prairie Poem"; Sarah Payne's "Reconstructions of Literary Settings in North America's Prairie Regions: A Cross-Cultural Comparison of Red Cloud, Nebraska, and Neepawa, Manitoba"; Debra Dudek's "A Timeless Imagined Prairie: Return and Regeneration in Margaret Laurence's Manawaka Novels"; and Cam McEachern's "Time's Grip along the Atabasca, 1920s and 1930s". Additionally enhanced with an extensive Bibliography, History, Literature, And The Writing Of The Canadian Prairies is a welcome and seminal contribution to the growing field of Canadian Literary Studies.

Margaret Lane

Mayra's Bookshelf

Laughing and Learning: Adventures in Parenting
Edited by Gayle Grant
Grace Abraham Publishing
13335 Holbrook St., Bristol, VA 24202
ISBN: 0974109002, $10.95 170 pages

Laughing and Learning: Adventures in Parenting is a collection of touching, heart-warming tales written by real parents from around the globe.

Compiled by author/publisher Gayle Trent, the book is divided into four sections.

In "The Sweetest Days We'll Know," the authors share those moments when parents wish their children would never grow up, those sweet, unforgettable times when children say things that stroke the heart.

In "The Times That Try Our Souls," the authors offer the readers a glimpse into the fear, pain, frustration, and helplessness that sometimes parents experience during difficult moments of parenting.

"When To Hold Them and When to Walk Away" deals with those melancholic situations when parents wish children would never grow up and leave home.

Finally, in "You Can't Really DIE From Embarrassment," readers will have a few laughs reading about some very real, horrible moments when parents wish they could become invisible to hide from public shame, like those nightmarish times at the supermarket with your toddlers.

Written in light prose with a touch of humor, these are relaxing stories any parent will enjoy, the perfect book to curl up in a chair with a cup of hot tea.

It is worth noting that ten percent of the proceeds from this book will be donated to Speedway Children's Charities.

The Pawn
Nancy Minnis Damato
Wings ePress, Inc.
403 Wallace Court, Richmond, KY 40475
ISBN: 159088602X, $TBA 384 pages

First book of the Taylor Family series

The Pawn is an intricately plotted historical novel about ambition, greed, deceit and revenge. It is the story of Josefine Taylor, an intelligent, wilful, beautiful woman who pays dearly for her ambition and dreams of richness.

Though Josef Taylor, Josefine's father, is an extremely wealthy man who belongs to the Council of Elders and partly owns Worldwide Bank, sixteen-year old Josefine lives a strict, Spartan life where parties, fun and luxuries are rejected, and where daily prayers and hard work are strongly imposed. The problem is, she wants much more. She dreams of magnificent ball gowns and diamond jewellery, and, more importantly, of taking an active role in her father's banking business. Josef Taylor, however, has other plans for her. He wants her to marry a much older man to consolidate the family business, never taking into account that Josefine is completely in love with another man.

Rebellious and inexperienced, and blinded by greed, Josefine makes the mistake of her life when she accepts Francois duc LaFevre's "indecent" proposal. Her mistake sends her into a vortex of misery, suffering and pain like she couldn't possible have imagined in her wildest dreams. She loses everything, including those most dearest to her.

Only two things keep her moving - her absolute adoration for her small daughter, and revenge. Using her banking knowledge and talents, she develops a careful plan to take control of Worldwide Bank while keeping her identity incognito.

Will she be able to rise to the top and make everyone who hurt and deceived her pay? If yes, at what cost?

The novel, which mostly takes place in St. Louis during the late 1800's and moves across the span of almost two decades, draws the reader immediately into its suspenseful web and interesting cast of characters. Like a Scarlett O'Hara, Josefina comes across beautifully as a genuine human being with both admirable and damnable qualities. The narrative and dialogue are engaging and always keep the story moving at a fast pace. Some aspects of the plot will affect the reader at an emotional level. This is the kind of novel that, in spite of its length, most readers will want to finish within a few days.

Readers of historical fiction will thoroughly enjoy this book. Highly recommended.

Mayra Calvani

Nancy's Bookshelf

Way of the Fog: The Ark of Light Vol. I
A.P. Fuchs
Coscom Entertainment
12 Charles Hawkins Bay Winnipeg, Manitoba R2G 3K4 Canada
ISBN: 1897217013, $35.00 536 pp.

Way of the Fog is an ambitious and inventive piece of work by esteemed author A.P. Fuchs. Having followed his writing career in many different facets, I believe he has outdone himself with this novel. From his polished style and voice, to immaculate attention to detail, he offers intelligence to an astute plot that easily challenges any bestseller out there today. This is not merely a well-executed story; it is a full mind and body experience.

Right away the reader is presented with the prolific backstory, presented in a thorough and inclusive manner. It describes the fall of Earth, where angels and demons remained, awaiting the battle for Armageddon to resume, a war between spiritual beings and mortal men and women. The great Ark of Light that stood between Heaven and Hell vanished for over 5,000 years, unable to be located. Now, the Ark wants to be found and add a final chapter to Earth, only evolution has advanced and new creatures occupy the planet.

The complexity of the story's history fades away immediately as both characters and ambiance draw you in. Enter the year 134 of the Fifth Aeon and we are introduced to Peter Jones, a compassionate and discerning man making his way in the Broken City of Garathen. He catches sight of a young girl walking up a desolate road alone, when something reaches out and snatches her. Peter rescues her from the eerie creature known as a Slummer, and brings her home to care for her. He learns the young girl, Catina, has been traveling for some time on a mission to locate her grandfather and return him to her town. Her family has fallen sick from a deadly virus, a plague spread by the Ark meant to erase mankind.

Thus the journey begins. More key characters come into play, and along with them, the reader uncovers secrets and information about the Ark and Armageddon. Old myths, legends, and rumors are dispelled and facts are put into question. Everything known becomes the great unknown, and sometimes the truth is the hardest to digest. Peter faces his own demons and every so often catches glimpses of a man in a cloak. Fear and the want for answers lures everyone forward, but not without a price.

Way of the Fog has its share of nail-biting, tension-packed moments, and has no intention of letting your attention wander even for a minute. As the story progresses, it becomes a bounty of emotionally stimulating and thought-provoking material. Characters are fully developed, dialogue lends believability, and the action delivers, tying it into a complete and stellar package. A.P. Fuch's has succeeded with a definitive must-read book that will have everyone talking, and wanting more.

Devil's Playground
Keith Gouveia and A.P. Fuchs
Coscom Entertainment
12 Charles Hawkins Bay Winnipeg, Manitoba R2G 3K4 Canada
ISBN: 1897217250, $6.99 88 Pages

If you're looking for an eerie treat this Halloween, then snatch up a copy of Devil's Playground to put in your bag. Multi published authors A.P. Fuchs and Keith Gouveia have teamed up for a double dose of haunting mischief. Told in two parts, "Forever Hallowe'en" starts the delectable decent into darkness.

An ordinary night of trick or treating takes a fateful turn as Adam and his friends enter into a spooky house. Once inside, a devilishly eccentric man snares the group of unsuspecting kids and thrusts them into a deadly playground of evil where their very costumes decide their fate and survival. The hope of ever going home again quickly wanes, along with their trust and friendships.

"Forever Jack" picks up a few years later as two of the existing friends meet up with Max, a pawn trapped in the sinister game for a hundred years. Dressed as Jack the Ripper he must stave off his craving for blood and keep his wits about him. The three conjure up a plan to thwart the devil, but when the tables turn yet again, it looks like the path to freedom comes with a hefty price.

Devil's Playground packs in a lot of action and suspense for a short offering. The main characters are written with detailed attention and highly charged dialogue. It's a fast paced ride full of surprises and chills, perfect for Halloween and any dark, stormy night. Be ready for the unexpected and wary of strangers offering cupcakes.

The Secret Lion
C.W. Gortner
2261 Market St. #504 San Francisco, CA 94114
ISBN: 1933037350, $16.95 240 pages

Once you step into the luxurious pages of The Secret Lion, you will find yourself on an excursion full of intricate plots, rich settings and historical themes. The time is sixteenth century Tudor England, during the riveting and exquisite renaissance period. Brendan Prescott is ordered as squire to pompous Lord Robert Dudley, a position he soon finds filled with peril. Trust and honor are fiercely tested when those who hold an esteemed position in the high court serve most prominently as a threat. It would seem the castle walls have eyes and ears. As a series of lies and secrets unravel, the young squire must change the course of events placed before him to ensure Princess Elizabeth's future while facing haunting elements about his past.

It is obvious from the first chapter that the author has put in a lot of care and research to his story. Unlike the monotonous retelling of age-old accounts over the past years, this book resurrects a beauty and depth that is sure to excite anyone. Each character possesses a gamut of quirks, personalities, wit, and intelligence along with accurate mannerisms and dialogue. Elizabeth, herself, is written with an underlying substance and strength. Whether it is cunning villains or memorable stable boys, the characters are vivid and unforgettable.

The Secret Lion is truly a legendary piece that will satisfy and sustain any fan of historical fiction. C.W. Gortner's impeccable writing and prose-like qualities will capture your heart and attention. This is the first book in The Spymaster Chronicles, which leaves me eagerly awaiting the second installment titled The Lioness Hunt.

Scott Thomas
Raw Dog Screaming Press
5103 72nd Place Landover Hills, MD 20784
ISBN: 1933293063, $16.95 292 pages

If you've missed reading fables and tales from when you were growing up, when stories had hidden meanings, eccentric people, and intriguing settings you always wished you could escape to, then you'll thoroughly enjoy Westermead. Scott Thomas shows immaculate talent with a collection of nineteen riveting stories, full of beautiful expression, breathtaking imagery, larger than life characters, and suspense driven ambiance.

Westermead defies all realms of the literary world as we experience it today, and I, myself, was mesmerized from page one. Through legends, myths, and folklore there is true depth in the author's voice, as fantastical places are uncovered, rich with atmosphere and tone. The modern technical world is stripped away to the bare roots, as the author takes us on journeys where the land is worked and lived off of, traditions are key, and honor is among men. It is a time to leave reality behind and give your mind a rest.

Separated into the four seasons, each story infuses you with a mood, an expression, and an element that hooks you in, refuses to let go, and brings you back full circle. Themes of greed, power, light and dark, family values, society, morals, and the enrichment of one's sense of character, brings back simplicity of true literature, with clever clout.

There is a natural balance to the stories, and they will take you as far as you allow yourself to go. It's somewhat like dipping your toe into a still pond; either the ripple grows into something beyond all expectation, or an eerie calm sets in and you forget to breathe. I found the same sense of awe and tension in each story, never really sure where I'm going, but more than happy to be along for the ride. While a subtle departure from the horror genre for Raw Dog Screaming Press, I think they found an enchanting diamond in the rough.

Spider Pie
Alyssa Sturgill
Raw Dog Screaming Press
5103 72nd Place Landover Hills, MD 20784
ISBN: 1933293055, $10.95 97 pages

Twenty-four warped recipes make up one delectable Spider Pie. Alyssa Sturgill has an astounding talent for concocting imaginative, irreal stories with characters you want to know, and in a freakish way, become.

Since I first read Alyssa's work, I've been a fan, and this collection of stories is a treat to devour again and again. Dark humor, peculiar situations, and a gothic-laced atmosphere only left me with a craving for more of her creative storytelling ways. This is not just a bunch of gibberish or nonsensical words strung together; there is intelligence, wit, and a bowl full of mental candy to chew on for hours. In other words, it's deep.

There's no way to pick favorites from this tasty bunch, but I'll highlight a few to whet your appetite. "I Wear Black to Mourn Myself" is a visually descriptive entree full of poetic expression. "Death of a UPS Man" gives us a morbidly realistic look at the loyalty and commitment of a deliveryman, who chooses to hold true to his work ethics, even if it kills him. "Scarytale" is a modern-day twist on old kiddie tales, and dripping with mouth-watering sarcasm. "Eat Me, Drink Me" will quench your thirst in a somewhat fanciful homage to the great Lewis Carroll classic, Alice in Wonderland. "Used" is just disturbing, but I think that's what I liked best about it…so many uses for one body, so little time.

I highly recommend consuming Spider Pie before bed, so that afterwards you can slip into a creamy dreamlike state, and get lost in a web of sweet distortion.

Orso: The Troll Who Wouldn't Scare
Brad Thiessen
Illustrated by Jeremy Balzer
CDS Books
425 Madison Avenue New York, NY 10017
ISBN: 159315142X, $16.95 30 pages

When you first open Orso: The Troll Who Couldn't Scare, your eyes are in for a special treat. The illustrations in this beautifully written children's book are breathtaking and whimsical. Colors in rich greens, purples, blues, and browns lend a realistic and natural look, sure to keep little minds enthralled.

Orso is a typical eight-year-old troll full of carefree ways and adventure. He lives in a cave beneath a bridge with his father, though often feels lonely. Orso doesn't like how his father spends each day scaring people to keep them from crossing the bridge. His father insists that trolls are supposed to be mean, but when he tries to teach his son how to be like him, Orso becomes confused. Orso knows deep inside that it isn't right to scare people. He would much rather like to make friends, play in the forest, and talk to clouds.

One day, Orso spies two children alone in the woods and tries to frighten them. Instead of running, the children are intrigued, and find his antics funny. They ask him to play with them, and he spends the rest of the day laughing and happy to be around others. But when his father comes along and tries to scare away his newfound friends, Orso must make a choice between how he wants to be and what is expected of him.

Orso: The Troll Who Couldn't Scare is a fun and intelligent story, with a subtle lesson hidden inside. Children will find a bit of Orso in themselves, and fall in love with the courageous little troll. This book is a gem for young readers and their parents to share together.

Nancy Jackson, Reviewer

Paul's Bookshelf

Virgil Fox (The Dish)
Richard Torrence and Marshall Yeager
Circles International
One Lincoln Plaza #32P, New York, NY 10023
ISBN: 097129707X, $35.00, 432 pages

Based on a memoir by Ted Alan Worth, this is a look at easily the most famous organist since Johann Sebastian Bach.

Worth first met Fox when he played an organ concert at a church in California. Worth was totally blown away by the things Fox did that day; he didn't just play the organ (from memory, which was unheard of in the organ world), he mastered the organ. Is there a word beyond "virtuoso"? That is how good Fox was on the organ. After years of practice, Worth became one of the Fox "group" and became an organist on his own.

During the 1950s and 1960s, Fox was the organist at the Riverside Church in New York City. His gay lover, Richard Weagly, was the Choir Director. The unpleasant end to their relationship was played out in front of everyone. Fox spent a lot of time on tour, playing in churches and concert halls all over America. After each concert, Fox loved spending hours greeting everyone who stood in line to chat or get an autograph. He was a natural showman who wanted people to know who he was, and demanded to be able to be seen by the audience.

It was also the era of pipe organs (before electronics) where each pipe had to be tuned individually. Fox was extremely picky about the sound of whatever organ he was playing, frequently driving organ tuners nuts. In the late 1960s, Fox was asked to resign from the Riverside Church; he had gotten "too big" for the Church.

This book chronicles many ups and downs in Fox's life, both personal and professional. To replace Richard, his lover, Fox brought home a much younger man named David. He was not well liked by the people around Fox, including his manager, and David did little to endear himself to the group. In the late 1970s, Fox entered the hospital for a prostate operation. He was told that the whole tumor was removed, and everything was fine. Fox did nothing about it for a year, only to be told that just half the tumor was removed, and the cancer had spread. He died in October 1980.

This is an excellent, but specialized, book. Anyone who is interested in organ music, or the life of Virgil Fox, should read this book. For everyone else, Fox was a person who enjoyed life to the fullest, and it shows here. It is very much recommended.

Citizen Cyborg
James Hughes
Westview Press
Perseus Books Group
11 Cambridge Center, Cambridge, MA 02142
ISBN: 0813341981, $26.95, 294 pages

New technologies are coming in the near future that have the potential to radically change what it means to be human. This book looks at why democratic societies must respond to things like cloning, genetic engineering and nanotechnology, instead of pretending that they don't exist.

What the author calls "bio-Luddites" are opposed to such new technologies, because they feel that mankind should be happy with its 70 (or so) years of life, characterized by increasing bodily disfunction in its later stages. Another reason for opposition is the vague, but always there, possibility of a disaster unleashing some new plague on the world. Some people say that taboos and gut feelings are the path to wisdom. If a new technology feels spooky, ban it immediately. The Catholic Church opposes such things because they are supposedly offensive to God.

On the other hand, if a person is found to be a carrier for, or genetically susceptible to, Disease X, don't they have the right to fix their DNA (assuming a safe and reliable method can be found to do so)? Those who call themselves transhumanists (based on humanism) believe that people should have the right to modify their bodies, whether the quest is for greater intelligence, longevity or a happier outlook on life. They are the first to assert that there must be adequate discussion beforehand, and adequate safeguards after the introduction of a new technology. Such things must also be available to all people, through some sort of universal health insurance, not just to the rich. Transhumanists have no desire to take over the world, but one of the subjects for social consideration has to be how to extinguish potential schisms between humans and posthumans. To those who think that some new regulatory agency is needed, the author does not agree. Agencies like the FDA and EPA will be able to do the job, if they ever get the funding and authority needed. Don't forget that 25 years ago, in vitro fertilization was considered an abomination; now it is practically mainstream.

This is a pretty specialized book, but it shouldn't be. Like it or not, the new technologies described in this book are coming in the near future. It is better to start discussing, now, how to deal with them, instead of just saying No. The reader may not agree with everything in this book, but it is an excellent place to begin that discussion.

101 Simple Suggestions and Quotations to Express Compassion and Empathy
Linda M. Furiate
iUniverse, Inc
2021 Pine Lake Road #100, Lincoln, NE 68512
ISBN: 0595324134, $12.95, 106 pages

One of the hardest things for any person to do is to show compassion and empathy toward someone else. When a person is grieving, or otherwise having a very hard time, what does one say or do without going overboard? This book gives the answer.

Here are some examples. If someone close to you has recently lost a loved one or has been in an accident, send them a card, to express how you feel. Really listen when someone tells you about their day. Call your parents and/or siblings for no reason, other than to say that you love them. Be open to constructive criticism from someone you admire and respect. Read to a child. Call or visit your grandparents and ask them to tell you stories about themselves when they were younger.

Remember someone in your life who has died. Call or visit a person you know who also knew this person and talk about the great times the three of you had together. When invited into someone's home for a gathering, always bring a small gift of appreciation. It is only in the silence that we can hear God's voice. Become your own best friend. This way you will never be lonely. Help an elderly person carry their groceries to the car. Practice patience. Find at least one positive characteristic in everyone you meet. When talking to someone in a wheelchair, lean over or sit down, to be at their eye level. Get involved in at least one "cause" to make this world a better place.

This is a really good book. At one time or another, everyone will need a book like this, or knows someone who will need a book like this. It's short, with one suggestion per page, it's very easy to read, and it says a lot. Highly recommended.

A Hawk in the Sun
Leon R. Powers
Dimi Press
3820 Oak Hollow Lane SE, Salem, OR 97302-4774
ISBN: 0931625408, 190 pages, $14.95

In the 1970s, the author was a graduate student at Idaho State University, working toward his PhD in Zoology. He wrote a 300-page dissertation on ferruginous hawks. This book is a shorter, less-scientific version of that dissertation.

Ferruginous hawks are the largest hawk in North America. They are also very shy birds, so they are considered a good barometer for measuring the encroachment of man. Flying away, and abandoning a nest, if people get too close, is possible for them. The author chose to study ferruginous hawks because so little was known about them.

Several nests in southern Idaho and northern Utah were chosen for observation. Some nests are set up in juniper trees, only a few feet off the ground, and some are set up on the ground. Most of the observations had to be done from blinds set up a couple of hundred yards away. The nests are big, anywhere up to several feet across. The hawks, especially the chicks, have developed ways to deal with the sun beating down on their nests (there is no shade nearby). The nests in the trees are not high enough to prevent attacks by predators, especially coyotes, as the author observed one day.

A couple of times, while the adults were away, Powers would climb up to the nests and feed the chicks miniature transmitters. These were intended to measure their internal body temperatures. After excretion, the transmitters were not found at the base of the trees, as expected. Adult hawks pick up bones, caracsses and droppings, and deposit them several hundred yards away, so the smell will not attarct predators. For a time, there was a shortage of jackrabbits (the main food source for the hawks) in the area. Powers was interested in seeing if the hawks would make do with whatever they could find as substitutes, like snakes, rats and lizards.

This is a really interesting book. The author's passion for his work and "his" hawks shows through everywhere. For those interested in nature and the environment, whether actively or of the armchair variety, this is very much worth reading.

Robert Lanzone
1663 Liberty Drive, #200, Bloomington, IN 47403
ISBN: 1420821458, $14.95, 262 pages

Unbeknownst to the average person, the world is run by a group of interconnected computer networks called the Control Grid, or the Global Security Network. It runs everything from stock markets to America's missile defense shield.

Kyle Pemberton is a Wall Street IT whiz. He takes on a special overseas assignment at his firm after the death of his friend, and predecessor, under mysterious circumstances. Kyle notices that one of the firm's freelance consultants is acting strangely, so he, electronically, follows the consultant. After running into the Control Grid, Kyle enlists friends and colleagues to launch an incursion into the shadowy world of networks and communication lines.

The group attracts the attention of Cyberjihad, of which the consultant is a member, a terrorist organization trying a different approach to destabilize the world's security and economy. They have released a sort of super-virus into the Grid. It grows and grows, sucking up more and more of the Grid's computing power, until, for instance, the decision needs to be made to shut down America's missile shield, or let it collapse due to lack of computer power to keep it operational. The terrorists attempt to use the Control Grid to eliminate Kyle and friends, bringing about an international crisis.

I really enjoyed this novel. It is very much of a modern-day, high-tech thriller in the Tom Clancy mold. This story has "movie" written all over it. For anyone who wants an exciting, action-packed read, this is very much worth the time.

Lost in the Void
L.M. Walker
1663 Liberty Drive #200, Bloomington, IN 47403
ISBN: 1420855883, $14.95, 221 pages

This is the true story of Lana, an American living and working in Germany. Her marriage to Sean had not been going well, and they were trying to reconcile. After being told that she could not get pregnant, she found herself pregnant with twins. She felt that she couldn't ask Sean to become their father, even though he was very willing to do so, and had been there for Lana throughout the pregnancy. Her only alternative was to move to England with Tom, her boss, who seemed willing to provide for twin girls Nya and Keara. It turned out to be a huge mistake.

For months, they lived in an unheated, unfinished cottage paid for by Tom that used to be stables. He suddenly became demanding and inconsiderate, spending as little time with the girls as possible. He was away at work all day, and when he was home, he spent most of his time on his laptop computer. Later, after they moved to a real apartment, the two separated, Lana keeping custody of the girls. Lana's family, in America, begged her to take the girls and return to America. That window was closed when Tom asserted his visitation rights in court, even though he wasn't the birth father, mandating that the court confiscate Lana's passport.

After one overnight visit with Tom, both girls came home showing strong evidence of sexual abuse. Lana couldn't understand why Tom isn't thrown in jail. Many trips to the local doctor later, the injuries haven't healed. After a considerable period away from Tom, and the injuries still haven't healed, the only "logical" answer is that Lana, their mother, has been sexually abusing her children (a charge she strongly denies).

There are many court appearances at which Tom asserts that Lana has deliberately turned the girls against their father. Custody of the children is taken away from Lana, and they are placed in foster care. Lana falls into a deep pit of depression, taking to alcohol and pills. Suicide is suddenly very tempting. Her visits with the children are strictly controlled and take place at the local social worker's office. They are monitored for any "evidence" that Lana is controlling or manipulating the girls. Throughout this whole process, both girls make it as clear as possible that daddy hurts them and that they want to live with Mommy. Part of the reason why Tom wins every battle in the courts is that he is a fellow British citizen and Lana is, as one social worker put it, a "rude and obnoxious American."

To anyone who is moving overseas to live with a new spouse, especially if children are involved, be prepared. Know the laws of the other country ahead of time. Don't assume that Mr. or Ms. Right "would never do something like that." Also, don't assume that the US Embassy will be there to help. Then, read this book. It's rather unpleasant reading, but recommended.

Sky Bounce
Deanna Miller
P.O. Box 63, Merrifield, VA 22116
ISBN: 0972542418, $6.50, 214 pages

In a different plane of existence, Hesper the Alula and Tristan the Boytaur are secret friends, even though their species are supposed to have nothing to do with each other. Late at night, they like to go flying, with Hesper and her wings supplying the wing power, and holding on to Tristan, a four-legged centaur. The leaders of Hesper's people find out, and, as a punishment, Send Hesper to the human plane. The barriers between the planes of existence are weakening, and the only way to fix it is to Send Alulas to the human plane. The downside is that those who are Sent lose their wings, and all memory of their previous lives.

A year later, Hesper is your average high school student. One day, she meets an interesting boy in a wheelchair who likes hang gliding. Tristan has found a way to travel between planes and keep his memory. He just had to give up some other part of his body, like use of his legs. Hesper is reluctant to accept that she may have had a previous life with wings, but accept she does. The two travel to another plane, called the Barren Plane, where supposedly nothing lives. They meet a race of light beings called Dyaphinees, who tell Hesper that the Sending of Alulas to the human plane, is not the solution, but the problem. Hesper also discovers, to her shock, that her friend Tristan is not exactly who he says he is.

This is a young adult novel that is not just for young adults. It's fresh, interesting, very easy to read, and well worth the reader's time.

Arturo Arias
Curbstone Press
321 Jackson Street, Willimantic, CT 06226
ISBN: 1931896011, $15.95, 245 pages

This novel is set in 1980s Guatemala, smack in the middle of a multi-decade civil war between the people and various military governments.

Tom Wright is a CIA agent who has been sent to Guatemala with the mission of rescuing Mr. Gray, an Australian banker. He has supposedly been kidnapped by the EGP, a guerilla organization. Wright must deal with the Guatemalan government to complete his mission. His past catches up with him in the form of Sandra Herrera, the first love of his life. She has married into one of Guatemala's most powerful families. Their sudden meeting causes Tom to lose his professional equilibrium and puts him in great danger.

Like many others in Guatemala, Herrera's motives are murky, and she seems to have multiple connections (to the drug trade, the EGP and the oligarchy). Their rekindled relationship gets Tom in trouble with the Guatemalan army and the US Embassy, increasing the possibility of his own abduction by other guerilla groups who know of his presence.

This is a fine piece of writing. It's a rather "quiet" spy novel, more Graham Greene than Tom Clancy. It does a good job of showing that people, even past loves, are not always what they seem. This is well worth reading.

Pepin's Bastard
Diana M. Johnson
Superior Book Publishing Co
P.O. Box 8312, Van Nuys CA 91409
ISBN: 0966150414, $14.95, 294 pages

Set approximately 1300 years ago, this historical novel is about Charles, born of an illegitimate relationship. His father, Pepin de Gros, is Mayor of the Castle in Cologne (the real authority), and Plectruda, his wife, is past childbearing age. Charles is born to Alpaida, one of the servant girls. Plectruda is irate, and even though Charles' claim to the throne is tiny, she makes sure that he never gets anywhere near it. Growing up, Charles is teased and tormented about his parentage by the other children. Always called Pepin's Bastard instead of Charles, it gets to the point where he might as well make that his legal name.

In his early teens, he is sent to a faraway castle, run by a man named Dodo, to learn how to be a soldier. He spends his winters at the monastery at Metz to learn reading, writing and arithmetic, a rarity. He marries, and starts a family, knowing that if Plectruda gets her hands on any of them, their life span will be very short. Charles rises through the ranks at the castle, becoming Captain of the Guard. Meantime, the throne in Cologne keeps changing hands, usually through assassination. One night, Charles receives the wife and teenage daughter of Grimwald, the latest occupant of the throne and one of Plectruda's sons. They tell a harrowing tale of fleeing at night, with just the clothes on their backs. Charles and the daughter have a child and get married, almost wrecking his marriage to Rotruda, his wife, but there is a reason for it.

Around the year 700, the Franks in northern Europe were a bunch of disorganized tribes, constantly attacking each other. Charles unites them under his banner, and takes the name Charles Martel (Charles the Hammer). The book ends with the first battles with a heretofore unknown group, the Muslims, coming from the southwest.

This is a gem of a book. As much as possible, it is based on historical fact. The author can trace her ancestry back to this time period, to a man named Pepin the Vain (read part 1 of this trilogy). It's interesting, very well done and recommended.

Perdido Street Station
China Mieville
Del Rey Books
Random House Inc, 1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019
ISBN: 0345443020, $18.00, 700 pages

New Crobuzon is a sprawling city, that is also very polluted and dirty. It is a place where all sorts of races, including humans and Re-mades (those who have been physically altered for various reasons, not always with their consent) live in fear of Parliament's brutal Militia.

Isaac is an eccentric scientist studying Chaos Theory. One day, he is approached by Yagharek, a member of a race called the Garuda (half-man, half-bird). Yagharek's wings had been chopped off his back as punishment for a major crime, so he commissions Isaac to make him a new set of wings. As part of his research, Isaac acquires hundreds of species of flying things, from the smallest bug to the largest bird. He also studies the process by which caterpillars turn into butterflies. Deciding that his research is going in the wrong direction, Isaac gets rid of the rest of his "collection," and keeps a strange, multi-colored caterpillar that thrives on a very powerful and addictive drug. One night, it emerges from its cocoon as a slake-moth.

Slake-moths are flying, nocturnal creatures, whose wings show an ever-changing color pattern, hypnotizing anyone instantly. This gives the slake-moth the chance to feed on a person's thoughts, feelings and fears, leaving them in a permanent vegetative state. The Ambassador from Hell is asked to help in stopping the moths (there are now 5 of them terrorizing the city) and declines. The Weaver, a giant spider that can easily move between dimensions and has a liking for scissors, joins the hunt. How does one stop, or even slow down, creatures who can hypnotize anyone instantly?

This is a great steampunk novel. Put Charles Dickens, Franz Kafka and Neal Stephenson together in a blender, add a dash of Neal Gaiman and H.P. Lovecraft, and this is the result. It's a long novel, about 700 pages, and the body count gets rather high by the end, but this novel is very much recommended.

Paul Lappen

Roe's Bookshelf

Rashi's Daughters: Book One Joheved
Maggie Anton
Banot Press
Glendale, CA
ISBN: 0976305054, $15.95 369 pp.

Rabbi Shlomo Yizhaki, better known as Rashi was born in northern France in 1040 A.D. One of the greatest Talmudic scholars of all time, he is renowned for his school in Troyes, France where students from far and wide flocked to learn from this well respected master. The author has taken an historic figure and woven a tale of romance, the history of the French Jewish community and the intriguing lessons of the Talmud into a most entertaining and educational tapestry of delight.

Rashi's daughters, Joheved, Miriam and Rachel lived in a time when most women were illiterate and forbidden to study the sacred texts of the Talmud. Medieval France offered little in the way of education to the women of the time. But Rashi, who had no sons, was determined to teach his daughters in secret if necessary. Joheved, the eldest is fascinated by the idea and is willing to risk not finding a husband in order to study with her Father. However one of Rashi's students, Meir ben Samuel, is not only tolerant of Joheved's education, he encourages it and the two soon become betrothed. This novel is the story of their love and marriage and the difficulties they face. The author's research and didactic style, take the reader back in time to the 11th Century and directly into the hearts and minds of her characters.

Authentic Talmud passages are included throughout as are vivid descriptions of the vineyard, the Fairs and the everyday lives of the people of Troyes.

Author Maggie Anton discovered Judaism as an adult when her husband, David Parkhurst came into her life. Intrigued by the great scholars of Judaism, including Rashi, her intense interest and love of history shines through in her writing. After 7 years of exhaustive research, 10 years of Talmud study, she celebrates the 900th anniversary of Rashi's death with the release of Rashi's Daughters, Book One Joheved. Highly Recommended for historical fiction lovers.

Legend of the Spear
Jason Edwards
Publish America
ISBN: 1413754201, $19.95 230 pp.

Dimiter Markovitz stands shocked as bullets riddle Tenica, her village, killing her parents and her siblings. She reaches for a lone infant as she runs in terror from the carnage that once was her home. From page one, readers will be hooked by this excellent historical fiction. Although set in the Christian world it will appeal to all.

Fleeing to the monastery where her brother resides, Dimiter leaves her charge Alexi in the arms of the monks and begins a journey of revenge, intrigue and absolute terror. She becomes embroiled in the search for two Christian artifacts, the Spear of Longinus and the Cup of Arimathaea. Exciting, page turning drama enfolds as readers are drawn into the world of munitions, torture and underworld marketers.

The historical facts are well researched and the settings are vivid and alive. Dimiter's character is extremely realistic and believable. The evil Veronica is the epitome of darkness. This author is one that I will be looking for in future. Small dispersions of paranormal happenings make this book fascinating. There seems to be a resurgence of interest in the Spear of Longinus also known as the Spear of Lepanto and this fiction gives readers an in depth look at two of Christianity's revered artifacts.

Sam Joy and Jean Sidney joined forces as Jason Edwards to create Legend of the Spear. Highly recommended by Allbooks Reviews.

Shirley Roe

Roger's Bookshelf

Don't Oil the Squeaky Wheel
Wolf J. Rinke
ISBN: 007142993X, $14.95 190 pages

Laugh, Lead, And Succeed

Those words pop off the back cover to entice prospective readers to open the book. Combine that phrase with the subtitle about contrarian ways to improve leadership effectiveness and you begin to gain an idea of what this book is like. Frankly, I wasn't sure if I'd get a laugh a page or serious stuff. Turns out I got both!

Rinke, an experienced executive leader, management consultant, professional speaker, and author presents alternatives to the old saws that populate so many leadership books. Listen to some of the chapter headings: Knowledge is Not Power. Don't Manage People. Don't Be Proud. Don't Have People Work for You. Don't Focus on the Bottom Line. Don't Satisfy Customers. Are you getting the idea that you might be in for an interesting ride?

Each chapter lightly pokes fun at the common belief, though not as obviously as I expected it would. Readers will be surprised at the strong treatment of leadership skills, illustrated with stories that bring them to life. The lessons are presented in a way that holds interest and teaches practicality.

Laugh? This book includes something unique; I have not seen this done before. In each chapter, just before the summary, there is a brief section titled "Smile." Rinke shares a bit of humor with the reader to keep the book light and to demonstrate that leadership should be fun, not laborious.

If you've spent any time in leadership positions, you'll identify with the proverbial advice…and can probably create your own thinking about what Rinke teaches us. You'll spin a paragraph or two before you wonder where to go next. Rinke will be there to take you further down the path to success.

The Complete Guide to Conflict Resolution in the Workplace
Marrick F. Masters and Robert R. Albright
ISBN: 0814406297, $79.95 344 pages

Comprehensive Textbook

This oversized book is a combination of a textbook and a reference book. It's well organized, put together in a way that is easy for readers to understand what is being presented in both structure and content.

The presentation of a wealth of material is accomplished through straight text, bullet points and charts, case studies, and questionnaires. There are a number of forms and checklists to complete as you move through the book, checking your knowledge acquisition and reinforcing the main points. The case studies that are presented to stimulate the reader's thinking and provide practical exercise opportunities are explained in an appendix. Readers don't have to guess at what the authors suggest as a wise approach to resolving the conflict being presented.

The authors report that managers spend an average of twenty percent of their time resolving conflicts. That's a huge draw on productivity! If reading - and using - this book could reduce that time and improve effectiveness, the $79.95 price would be a good investment.

The book is organized into five sections. The authors begin by helping readers better understand what the issue is all about. Included are the types of conflict at work the players, diagnostics, and some practical solutions. This section alone is a rather complete presentation. However, the authors take us further in Part Two as they explore conflict resolution systems - processes that, if well applied, might reduce the volume and intensity of conflict and thereby increase efficiency and effectiveness. In the third portion of the book, you'll learn about special situations like workplace violence, EEO disputes, and more. There's even an EEO mediation simulation in Appendix B, lots of resources for further study, and the expected index.

If you're looking for insight and guidance on this subject, this book will give it to you!

The Virtual Handshake
David Teten and Scott Allen
ISBN: 0814472869, $19.95 270 pages

Leading Edge, Highly Valuable

Want to gain an advantage over your competition? Read this book and apply what you learn. Each chapter can make you money. That's a pretty bold assertion, but you're going to learn a considerable amount from this book…even if you think you already know everything about building contacts and business on-line. I gave up on the idea of turning corners down and started taking notes!

There is an incredible amount of information in these pages. Some you may look at as ho-hum or I-knew-that-already, but there won't be much. Maybe the net etiquette section. The content is cutting edge. I know, because our firm has a relationship with a company responsible for some of the technology they cite, and their launch was in March 2005. The notes in the back of the book are, by themselves, practically worth the price of the book. I would have liked the index to be a bit more comprehensive, but that's a minor point given everything else that's in this volume.

The authors repeat a theme throughout the book: the Seven Keys to a Powerful Network. The concept was presented nicely and interpreted well. Then, later in the book, we got more chapters on the theme again. In hindsight (book reviewers can do this), I would have liked to see the explanatory chapters pushed further to the front of the book. Of course, if the book designers had done that, I would not have been so excited about the terrific content I was getting before I was a third of the way through.

Whether you're looking for a spouse, a business partner, a venture capitalist, an employee, or new customers, this book will show you the techniques that work in today's electronic virtual world. It's a whole new ball game folks, on a new playing field with new rules. Teten and Allen are your coaches and, with this resource, you can be on a winning team.

Buy and use this book before your competitors do.

Resilience at Work
Salvatore R Maddi and Deborah M. Khoshaba
ISBN: 0814472605, $22.00 213 pages

Another Stress Book

The negative effects of stress have challenged people for a long, long time. For years, psychologists have endeavored to offer advice and assistance to those coping with personal and professional issues. For obvious reasons, many counselors, consultants, and trainers have focused on managing stress at work. Employers want smooth operations without the potential serious consequences of stress-induced problems. Careers have been destroyed by inabilities to deal with the ongoing changes in business.

I opened this book with an expectation that I might find some new secrets…perhaps a whole new approach to how workers - individually and collectively - could function much differently. What I found was another book on stress. Others may see some new ideas, but I've read a lot in this field so my expectations are probably higher than the average reader.

The text is organized to explain resilience - essentially having the inner strength to cope because you're doing a good job at managing change. The authors describe this as developing hardiness, the foundation of their Hardiness Institute. The book reports on a 12-year longitudinal study of employees at Illinois Bell Telephone. The stress of all the change over the years caused the departure or failure of two-thirds of the workers. The survivors practiced effective stress management techniques. The keys they promote include approaching change as a challenge, developing sound problem-solving strategies, resolving conflicts, and building commitment.

Readers will find an abundance of case studies that make points for the authors, teaching techniques and offering examples to stimulate thought.

Branded Customer Service
Janelle Barlow and Paul Stewart
ISBN: 1576752984, $27.95 259 pages

Highly Readable, Highly Valuable

Here we go again. Yet another book about customer service. Ho hum. "Branded" customer service? Branded? Can you brand customer service? Sounds like somebody else has come up with a gimmick for riding the customer service horse yet another mile down that lonesome road called Somebody Pay Attention.

Well, you see the attitude I had as I opened this book to see if there was anything new. Goodness knows we need some fresh ideas to stimulate customer service. Most people in business seem to have forgotten the concept of genuine, caring service - if they ever had it to begin with.

Oops! Hello! Here we have a book that talks about customer service and branding in the same breath. Gee, they're connected! If you don't walk your talk, your brand, then your brand is worthless. Duh. Why don't business managers get that message? Why don't they send that message more strongly to the people who work for them…and their customers?

The authors explain so much in this book. The first section is designed to reach top executives, the influencing decision-makers, with the message of what they have to do and why. The cute explanation in the introduction suggests that after executive readers have completed this first portion of the book, they will be able to decide if they should move further into action and commitment. When I read that, I thought it would be fun to see how I felt at that decision point in the book. Frankly, I was so captivated, I just kept on reading without missing a beat!

Whatever your background, you'll learn a lot in these pages. Some of your learning will come from the instructional text; some will come from the illustrations. A surprisingly good dose will come from the numerous examples of when companies have been on-brand or off-brand. The answer, to listen carefully to the authors, is to recognize that service is part of your brand - the way you present yourself to your marketplace. That service attitude, and the capacity to bring your brand to life, is a creature of your corporate culture. Oh, yes. Now we're digging in! Indeed!

Prepare to be a bit more engaged that you expected with a book like this. Well-done approach of how material is presented and how their examples turn up the pilot light to get some movement going. It's vitally important to communicate your brand to your people, with an emphasis on how they can bring the brand to life. It has to be done from the inside out. Superficial campaigns to half-hearted training programs won't do it. The message has to roar out from deep inside you and your organization. When it does, there will be no stopping you!

Check out the Tool Box at the end of the book…right before the index. Officially, it's Part III of the book, but it will feel like an appendix that was affixed to help readers apply what they learned to really make the customer service aspect come to life. One idea from this section could pay for the book many times over. And that's why you should buy them in quantity for your key people (and who in your organization is not "key" - and why are they still on your payroll?

Read this book to discover how to put your company into a fresh new alignment of significance and purpose. You'll probably want to take those books you just bought in quantity and share them with your supervisors and others to help them "get the message."

When people walk your talk because they want to, you'll see dramatic differences.

The 2010 Meltdown: Solving the Impending Jobs Crisis
Edward E. Gordon
ISBN: 0275984362, $39.95 266 pages

Open this book.

Ed Gordon, a business author whose books are filled with examples, illustrations, and explanations that flow from extensive research, has done it again. In this thought-provoking book, Gordon lays out the critical situation employers will face - do face - in finding and holding employees who have the education and training to get the job done.

I'm very familiar with the severe shortage of skilled labor, as lead author of "Impending Crisis: Too Many Jobs, Too Few People." Ours was the trail-blazing book that exposed the shortage. Gordon has taken our theme to the next level. This book is a tightly-written work that will, hopefully, stimulate productive discussion in board rooms, meeting rooms, bed rooms, and school rooms across the country. It is the kind that should be seriously discussed by corporate executives, educators, community leaders, and parents. Discussion should be followed by decisive action. The time for idle chatter has passed.

The book is organized into three sections. The first part presents our current situation in terms that will grab your attention. Part Two takes you deeper and will build a strong motivation to do something. In Part Three, Structuring Renewal, your mind will move toward the solutions to this vital problem. Extensive notes and a comprehensive index will support your investigation of this issue.

I titled my review, "Open this book." You can open this book to practically any page and be instantly drawn into to story. Before I read the volume cover-to-cover, I flipped through the pages to just take a sneak peek at what was there. Reading just a paragraph or looking at organization wasn't enough. I wanted more. I was pulled in to keep reading. Gordon brings this issue to life.

Recommended for business leaders, educators, human resource professionals, politicians, and enlightened citizens who are dedicated to making a difference for the generations that will follow us.

Roger E. Herman, Reviewer

Sharon's Bookshelf

Common Bonds, third edition
Deborah A. Byrnes and Gary Kiger, editors
Association for Childhood Education International
17904 Georgia Ave., Ste. 215, Olney, MD 20832
0871731673 $18.50 1-800-423-3563

Now in an updated third edition, Common Bonds: Anti-Bias Teaching in a Diverse Society is an assembly of essays by diverse educators concerning dilemmas encountered while teaching tolerance and respect for diversity in the classroom. Sample essays cover the issues of religious, ability, economic, language, and sexual diversity, and more. Researched with care and supported with lists of references, the essays keep in mind the demands of law as well as practical and ethical necessities in treating sensitive topics. An excellent, insightful and well-rounded resource for practicing and aspiring schoolteachers, both public and private.

Increasing Student Motivation
Margaret A. Theobald
Corwin Press, Inc.
2455 Teller Road, Thousand Oaks, CA 1320-2218
1412906237 $27.95 1-800-818-7243

Increasing Student Motivation: Strategies for Middle and High School Teachers is a collection of tips, tricks, techniques and advice to motivate their students to be the best they can be. Each suggestion is followed by a paragraph or two of elaboration. Suggestions range from "Write extensive comments on student work to explain a grade or their progress" and "Give examples of your personal work... like a poem of your own" to "Let students choose their own topics for research" and "Make time to have a class discussion on objects that are personal and important to students." The suggestions are divided into general categories: motivation influenced through observation, timing, independence, victory, action, transfer, individuality, ownership, and more. A handful of appendix-like resources, such as a "positive word list", round out this inspirational compendium of ideas, highly recommended for public and private educators alike.

Focused Observations
Gaye Gronlund and Marlyn James
Redleaf Press
10 Horkton Court, St. Paul, MN 55117-1065
1929610718 $29.95 1-800-423-8309

Early childhood education consultant Gaye Gronlund and education and early childhood professor Marlyn James present Focused Observations: How to Observe Children for Assessment and Curriculum Planning, a guide for pre- service or practicing teachers of students in early childhood, designed to help one learn how to observe children and document their development in a systematic, purposeful way. Chapters discuss the importance of focusing on objective facts and avoiding subjective judgments - for example, replacing subjective phrases like "The child loves/likes..." or "The child is bad at..." with more analytical phrases like "He often chooses..." or "We observed a pattern of..." - as well as tips, tricks, and techniques to apply when observing a child specifically for assessment, building a case around a child, and much more. A handful of black-and-white illustrations and sample forms round out this extremely practical resource, highly recommended for early childhood educators.

Discovering What Works For Struggling Readers
Bev Wirt, Carolyn Domaleski Bryan, Kathleen Davies Wesley
International Reading Association
PO Box 8139, Newark, DE 19714-8139
0872070085 $19.95 1-800-336-7323

The collaborative work of elementary school classroom teacher Bev Wirt, elementary school reading specialist Carolyn Domaleski Bryan, and elementary school reading specialist Kathleen Davies Wesley, "Discovering What Works For Struggling Readers: Journeys of Exploration with Primary-grade Students" focuses upon the five teaching principles found to be consistently effective with elementary school students having difficulty in acquiring basic reading skills. The use of anecdotal vignettes and excerpts of student dialogue help to illustrate the application of these principles. Informed and informative, thoughtful and thought-provoking, "Discovering What Works For Struggling Readers" will prove to be invaluable, practical, and applicable reading for anyone charged with the responsibility of helping children learn how to read with skill and enthusiasm.

Luana K. Mitten, Cathy Fin & Marcy Marxer
Maupin House Publishing
PO Box 90148, Gainesville, FL 32607
092989586X $23.95 1-800-524-0634

20-in-10: Linking Music And Literacy With Twenty, Ten-Minute Mini-Lessons And Activities For Primary Learners is specifically intended for K-2 classroom teachers. The result of an impressive collaboration between Luana K. Mitten (a writing educator, education consultant, and Head of Training for Maupin House Publishing) and the songwriting team of Cathy Fink and Marcy Marxer (multiple Grammy Award winners in the children's music field), this compilation of twenty standards-based mini-lessons reinforced by ten original songs on an accompanying CD, will prove invaluable in creating a classroom curriculum for teaching listening skills, visualization, letter and sound identification, movement, and specific writing-craft skills. Original, effective, entertaining, 20-in-10 is highly recommended, and would be an invaluable aid to homeschooling parents as well.

Literacy Strategies for Grades 4-12
Karen Tankersley
1703 North Beauregard Street, Alexandria, VA 22311-1714
1416601546 $26.95 1-800-933-2723

Literacy Strategies For Grades 4-12: Reinforcing The Threads Of Reading by reading specialist Karen Tankersley provides the classroom instructor with an extended variety of practical, "hands-on" strategies for inculcating and reinforcing reading skills with older students -- especially those students who no longer have a formal reading class as part of the curriculum for their ordinary school day. Literacy Strategies For Grads 4-12 shows just how teachers (and home-schooling parents) can develop and expand on content-specific vocabulary; read text accurately, smoothly, and with proper phrasing; extract and construct meaning through reading; and how to critically evaluate, synthesize, analyze, and interpret text. Enhanced with a profusion of exercises ranging from 15-minute projects to semester-long whole-class assignments, Literacy strategies For Grades 4-12 will also prove invaluable for those working with teaching English-language learners the rudiments of reading in English.

Memory Trees--Family Trees for the Scrapbooker
Tony Matthews
Clearfield Company
3600 Clipper Mill Road, Baltimore, MD 21211
0806352175 $12.95 1-800-296-6687

Memory Trees--Family Trees for the Scrapbooker is a collection of black-and-white designs that allow the creative family historian to combine family trees with scrapbook mementos. Author and artist Tony Matthews gives permission for all his line drawings to be copied for personal use, though not for profit or gain. From heart and ivy designs to highway-style images to forest floor or toy images and more, along with comments for adding the perfect touch to one's artistic presentation of genealogy, Memory Trees is a simple means to add a fun and sprightly touch to family recordkeeping.

Anatomy And Physiology For Holistic Therapists
Francesca Gould
Nelson Thornes
c/o International Specialized Book Services
920 Northeast 58th Avenue, Suite 300, Portland, OR 97213
0748793569 $25.25 1-800-944-6190

Now in a newly revised and expanded second edition, Anatomy And Physiology For Holistic Therapists by Francesca Gould enables the non-specialist general reader to acquire an accurate understanding of what to expect from holistic therapy, and aspiring or practicing holistic therapists on how to enhance the clarity of complex concepts, contra-indications specifically relevant for their practice, and a wealth of useful, applicable information on the skeletal, muscular, and digestive systems of the human body. The "user friendly" text is enhanced with the inclusion of specific tasks, quizzes, and even crossword puzzles. Anatomy And Physiology For Holistic Therapists is a welcome and highly recommended addition to the growing library of personal and professional New Age medicine reference collections.

Underage and Overweight, revised edition
Frances M. Berg, M.S., L.N.
Hatherleigh Press
5-22 46th Avenue, Suite 200, Long Island City, NY 11101
1578261937 $16.95 1-800-528-2550

Now in a revised and updated edition, Underage and Overweight is a valuable and insightful book by childhood obesity expert Frances M. Berg. Written for parents, teachers, and healthcare providers, Underage and Overweight presents practical guideposts for a healthy lifestyle that will help every child and, even more importantly, do no harm. Above all, Underage and Overweight produces a wealth of information stressing that diets don't work - efforts to artificially force rapid weight loss, such as extremely low-calorie diets, "fat camps", and appetite suppressing drugs will not keep off the weight long term because the body is resilient about defending its fat and its "setpoint" of weight. Worse, low-calorie diets, pills and extreme solutions such as liposuction or stomach stapling can have long- term health risks or even cause death. So what does work? Underage and Overweight offers a wealth of practical tips, tricks and techniques to improve lifestyle habits, offer a balance of greater activity and exercise, improve nutrition, and deal with the psychological issues of being large size at a young age. In the case of young overweight children, an ideal solution is often to help the child maintain his or her weight at the current amount as he or she grows older, allowing the child to "grow into" the weight. An active lifestyle can avert "setpoint creep" upward as children and adults age. Above all it is crucial to love and accept children, as negative emotions will only compound physiological problems, and children are far too hard on themselves and each other as it is. Underage and Overweight is a serious analysis of a problem with no quick or easy solutions, yet it is packed cover to cover with practical advice for fostering healthy attitudes for long-term improvement - from the importance of learning table manners to encouraging regular walking to meal planning based on sound nutritional principles and much more. Highly recommended, and a valuable resource of vital information for adults struggling with obesity s surely as children.

Raincoast Chronicles Fourth Five, Collector's Edition IV
Howard White, editor
Harbour Publishing
PO Box 219, Madeira Park, BC, Canada, V0N 2H0
1550173723 $42.95 1-604-883-2730

Raincoast Chronicles Fourth Five, Collector's Edition IV is a hardcover compilation of issues sixteen to twenty of "Raincoast Chronicles", a magazine begun in 1972 with the publishers' express intent "to put BC character on the record". Stories, poems, articles, drawings and black-and-white photographs of British Columbia daily life, livelihoods and culture, as well as recounting moments from history. Raincoast Chronicles Fourth Five allows the reader to feel the hardships and triumphs of BC men and women from the pioneer era to the modern day, and resonates with a tenacity of character and human spirit. Also highly recommended are the compilations of previous issues: Raincoast Chronicles First Five, Raincost Chronicles Six/Ten, and Raincoast Chronicles Eleven Up.

Sharon Stuart

Sonali's Bookshelf

The Rescue Artist
Edward Dolnick
HarperCollins Publishers
10 E 53rd Street New York NY 10022, 212-207-7495
ISBN: 0060531177, $25.95 228 pp.

In "The Rescue Artist," Edward Dolnick has done it again: taken narrative nonfiction to thrilling new heights with taut, masterful writing and fabulous characterization. With events unfolding at breakneck speed, Dolnick takes the reader away from the glitter of art museums right into the murky skullduggery of the art underworld. The 1994 theft and recovery of Edvard Munch's iconic painting "The Scream" was carried out with almost comical ease at Norway's National Gallery in Oslo on the very morning that the Winter Olympics began in that city. Despite the low-tech nature of the crime (men with a ladder), the local police were baffled. The resolution of the investigation is due to the ingenuity of the rescue artist: Charley Hill, a Scotland Yard detective who has made recovering stolen art treasures his life's work. This British crime story with a dash of tongue-in-cheek American humor is pure gold.

The Typhoon Lover
Sujata Massey
HarperCollins Publishers
10 E 53rd Street New York NY 10022, 212-207-7495
ISBN 0060765127, $23.95

"The Typhoon Lover" is an excellent read! Sujata Massey's detailed knowledge of Japanese and American culture, etiquette, cuisine, places of interest, and history makes this book as well as the rest of her Rei Shimura series a delight to read. Rei Shimura can not only save herself from nasty criminals, but also uses her brains to solve puzzles of ancient and modern history and mystery. In Shimura, Massey has created a person of depth and personality while infusing her with the perfect combination of qualities for a strong heroine.

Sonali T. Sikchi, Reviewer

Sullivan's Bookshelf

Man Without a Country
Kurt Vonnegut
Seven Stories Press
ISBN: 158322713X, $23.95 146 pages

Here's a slim volume of well-known novelist Kurt Vonnegut's essays. Each one is short. But all are provocative, interesting, and funny. Some are quite shocking. He writes candidly about politics, war, history, culture, literature, and a little about himself, his writing habits, and his books.

Explains the author in his essay number '9,' "So the America I loved still exists, if not in the White House, the Supreme Court, the Senate, the House of Representatives, or the media. The America I loved still exists at the front desks of our public libraries.

"And still on the subject of books: Our daily news sources, newspapers and TV, are now so craven, so unvigilant on behalf of the American people, so uninformative, that only in books do we learn what's really going on."

Most chapters lead off with a unique print of a hand-lettered sign by Vonnegut's friend and business partner Joe Petro III.

Vonnegut and his wife, Jill Krementz, an author and photographer, split their living time between New York City and Bridgehampton. His other books include Mother Night, Cat's Cradle, Welcome to the Monkey House, Breakfast of Champions, and Slaughterhouse-Five, which was made into a feature film.

Highly recommnded!

Privilege: Harvard and the Education of the Ruling Class
Ross Gregory Douthat
ISBN: 1401301126, $24.95 288 pages

This is a nonfiction, coming-of-age story. Its narrator is a conservative, self-confessed poor boy (well--make that a non-aristocratic lad), raised in New Håven within sight of Yale, by a Connecticut lawyer father and a stay-at-home mother.

The tale told is Ross Douthat's four years of undergraduate study, to use the word loosely, at one of the world's most prestigious and liberal of all liberal arts (among many diverse studies available, mainly, though, making connections with those who can help one to become rich, famous, and/or powerful) universities: Harvard.

During that time, Ross seemed to be pursuing a double major: booze-guzzling and skirt-chasing, which, miracle or miracles, culminated in his graduation, Class of 2002. The specific years are represented by various episodes, like freshman year when he found a young male character, generally making a nuisance of himself, hanging around Ross' dorm room. For a long time everyone there though this visitor, who was generous to a fault with Ross and his roomies and dormies, was a fellow student. But he wasn't. In fact, he was a homeless person. Through much effort, he's finally gotten out of the students' lives, somewhat.

Next, we learn how a Harvardian gets into one of its many exclusive campus clubs, mostly the Porcellian and the Hasty Pudding groups. It isn't a pretty sight. And Ross, though 'punched' (like being 'rushed' for a Greek fraternity at many other colleges) for various organizations, he narrows his preference down to just a few of them, one really, and it doesn't vote him in. This requires painful adjustments of Ross. But somehow he gets over it, a little.

Other anecdotes concern a shrewd coed who seems to be well connected and rich. Moreover, she's a BWOC (big woman on campus) until caught filtching big sums of money from the campus club she runs. It's the quintessential story of an uppity social climber getting her come-uppance. Ross also relays several comments about the curriculum at Harvard and what the school requires of students. In short, Ross wasn't truly impressed with what he had to learn academically.

At the beginning of his junior year, 9/11 occurs dragging everyone down emotionally, but only momentarily, because quickly they're back slogging through their schoolwork. Later that year, a new president is installed at Harvard taking over the reins from Niel Rudenstine. Ross didn't have much good to say about the old president, but he did like the new one.

"One of Summer's serious ideas," writes Ross, "was a reform of Harvard's curriculum. [...] Summers was meeting with 'top University deans,' the [Harvard] Crimson reported that fall, to discuss 'major changes' in undergraduate education [....]

"I found all of this tremendously cheering, [....]"

Ross does discuss the flap that then Harvard, now Princeton, professor Cornel West had with the new college president. Ross seems more sympathtic to Summers. This reviewer wonders where Ross stands on the Harvard president's latest todo about women and science.

Lucky for Ross, because he wasn't accepted by the well-connected and vice versa, he did manage, upon graduation, to land a job, thanks to an earlier internship, with the Washinigton DC, now his home, office of the Atlantic Monthly magazine for which he writes today. And he does that very well.


Jim Sullivan

Tarbox's Bookshelf

The Stupendous Dodgeball Fiasco
Janice Repka
Dutton Children's Books
ISBN: 0525473467, $16.99 181 pages

THE STUPENDOUS DODGEBALL FIASCO is an excellent first juvenile book by lawyer, Janice Repka. Using her expertise in the law, Ms. Repka has woven a clever story of circus facts, dodgeball, and a boy who tries to seek justice through the legal system. The book is humorous, clever, and different with its approach. All good things, especially for the age group it is intended for. I would use this book as a read-a-loud chapter book for second through fourth graders, because adults will not want to miss this story. THE STUPENDOUS DODGEBALL FIASCO is of course a well written and age appropriate book for the child or fluent reader who chooses to read this book alone. I hope to see more books by this talented, new author.

Sterling North
Dutton Children's Books
ISBN: 0525188398, $15.99 189 pages

RASCAL was actually first published in 1963 and won the 1964 Newberry Honor award. It is a wonderful autobiographical tale of a boy and his adventures with his critters, especially, a raccoon he called Rascal. In his youth, North reminisces about his father always writing (obviously an influence on why he later became an author himself), the early death of his mother, his brother at war, and his love of animals. I used this book as a read-a-loud with my fourth grade son and I'm glad I did, for we both enjoyed the story immensely. It's a sweet story about a different time, before my son and I were born, and gave us insight into the era.

The Shadow of the Wind
Carlos Ruiz Zafon
Penguin Books
ISBN: 0143034901, $15.00 486 pages

THE SHADOW OF THE WIND. Wow! I finished the book over a month ago and the story is still with me. My hat's off to Lucia Graves for doing such a wonderful job translating Zafon's book from Spanish into English. I don't think anything of the story was lost in the translation for the reading was fluid, perfect, highly suspenseful, and extremely entertaining. Told in the first person, which I think can be a hard way to tell a story, I was immediately drawn to the protagonist, Daniel, a rare book dealer's son. As Daniel tells his story the reader is transported to 1945 Barcelona, Spain. Daniel picks out a book from a secret, underground library and after reading it he becomes very interested in the author. (Kind of like the way I felt after reading this book.) However, Daniel soon finds out that someone is trying to destroy every copy of the book he now possesses, and he wants to know why. So will you. The plots and subplots of this story will keep you up late at night. Powerful storytelling and recommended adult reading.

How to Write Science Fiction & Fantasy
Orson Scott Card
Writer's Digest Books
ISBN: 158297103X, $12.99 140 pages

I'm always interested in how authors write their books. What techniques do they use to develop a character, create a believable setting, how do they hook their reader, unfold their plot and give the reader a resolution that will leave them remembering the story for days, weeks, or months? Most of us have read at least a few stories that seem to stay with us long after we have finished them and if you like to write it is something you strive for, hope for, in your finished book. I am attempting my first fantasy fiction novel and a fellow author let me borrow this book. I finished it quickly because it was well-written and highly interesting. It is written for someone who likes to read the fantasy fiction and science fiction genre but now is ready to try and write a novel for it too. I found all the information in Card's book highly useful, important, and insightful. I almost wish I would have read it before I started my first draft of my novel because it brought up so many things to think about, consider, and remember. Most people trying to write a science fiction or fantasy book will only improve their manuscript by reading this fine resource and applying its principals. I have purchased my own copy so I can constantly refer to it. A valuable writing reference.

Shark Life
Peter Benchley
Delacorte Press
ISBN: 0385901356, $15.95 208 pages

As a scuba diver I enjoy non-fiction books about anything that lives in the sea. As a personal preference I like to read about predators, therefore I was immediately drawn to Benchley's book because of the topic: sharks. Benchley writes very well. You almost feel like you are in a boat with him and he is telling you story after story about sharks that he has encountered as well as other sea creatures. This story is great for kids through adult who want to learn more about sharks and about the famous author himself. Benchley's fiction book JAWS became a bestseller in the 1970's and a movie was made based on the book. Shark Life definitely deserves reading if you are a shark enthusiast.

Outside and Inside Killer Bees
Sandra Markle
Walker & Company
ISBN: 0802789064, $17.95 40 pages

As a family we enjoy reading both fiction and non-fiction and I chose this non-fiction book because of the topic. I didn't know much about killer bees before I read this book, but 40 pages later I can now say that I do. The author does a good job relaying the factual information to the age level it was intended: 7 and older. Because of the topic and age group, good pictures of killer bees are very important to the story and the book is full of them. Each photograph is nicely showcased in the book and relevant. This book will teach and show what a killer bee looks like, how this insect behaves and explain things about their life cycle as well as how killer bees got their name. The author, a former elementary school science teacher, has written a series of Outside and Inside non-fiction books ranging in topics from the Giant Squid to Bats.

From the Two Rivers: The Eye of the World, Part 1
Robert Jordan
c/o Tom Doherty Associates, LLC
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
ISBN: 0765341840, $5.99 361 pages

I decided to read this book after my eleven-year-old son told me he liked it. This book is for adults too. Jordan is a wonderful writer and he has created a very believable fantasy world. The adventure, drama, and characters are fascinating. My personal favorite was the warder in the story. Jordan could not put him in the plot enough for me. In fantasy the world has to be believable and Jordan achieved this. I thoroughly enjoyed the several evenings I spent reading about the Two Rivers, its people, and all the unusual places Rand al Thor and his comrades went. The villians were also interesting and added enough conflict to keep me reading more. Jordan has written several books in this series which will undoubtedly please those that get a chance to read this book. And don't skip the Earlier Ravens chapter or the Prologue Dragonmount chapters on pages xi and xxxv. Many readers do, opting to begin reading at chapter one. In this book those chapters include some of the book's best and most powerful writing. Don't skip over those chapters. They are very good.

Under the Black Flag: The Romance and the Reality of Life Among the Pirates
David Cordingly
Harvest Books
An Imprint of Harcourt Trade Publishers
15 East 26th Street, New York, NY 10010
ISBN: 0156005492, $14.00 320 pages

I picked out this book to read while I was doing research for a children's novel I was writing. Cordingly is an excellent non-fiction writer and I easily read the book, of all places, on a stationary bike at the gym over the course of several days. That was how engrossed I was in his story. His book helped make the monotonous work-out of a bike fly by and I learned a tremendous amount in the process. The book is for adults, but high schoolers would enjoy UNDER THE BLACK FLAG too if they are interested in non-fiction stories and facts about pirates. UNDER THE BLACK FLAG is an enjoyable read and will leave the reader with a greater general knowledge about the famous and not so famous pirates that ravaged our seas. Another book the author wrote, which I also found excellent, was WOMEN SAILORS AND SAILORS' WOMEN: AN UNTOLD MARITIME HISTORY.

Mistress of Dragons
Margaret Weis
c/o Tom Doherty Associates, LLC
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
ISBN: 0765343908, $6.99 346 pages

I enjoy reading all genres of books including fantasy fiction. I picked this book because I had never read one of Weis's books and she is a popular choice among fantasy fiction readers. Weis writes well but this title is for adults. I mention this because I know sometimes she writes for juvenile/young adults. There are subtle hints of lesbianism and rape in MISTRESS OF DRAGONS but these events only take up a paragraph here and there, nothing that involves pages of detail. The society and world Weis has created is interesting. Dragons are intelligent with powerful dragon magic and they try to stay away from humans. However, the story centers around a dragon who breaks the dragon laws and creates a secret society where humans don't realize they are being used. MISTRESS OF DRAGONS is book one of a new series.

Twig C. George
Millbrook Press
2 Old New Milford Road, Brookfield, CT 06804
ISBN: 0761314857, $7.95 32 pages

I picked this book because my children and I did not know much about jellyfish. This book is wonderfully photographed and George's factual text really make this book a must read for adults who share nature books with children or for children to enjoy alone. As a scuba diver I have seen a few jellyfish in the wild but never the assortment in this book. Jellyfish are amazing animals and George does an excellent job getting this information across to the reader. JELLIES is an excellent non-fiction picture book for children under 8. Twig C. George has other books out with ocean nature themes. They are fiction books for juveniles called A DOLPHIN NAMED BOB and SWIMMING WITH SHARKS.

A. D. Tarbox, Reviewer

Taylor's Bookshelf

Pastoral Care In Hospitals
Neville A. Kirkwood
Morehouse Publishing
4775 Linglestown Road, Harrisburg, PA 17112
0819221910 $19.95 1-800-877-0012

It has always been a special responsibility of clergy to offer comfort and concern to the bedside of the sick and the dying. Now in a newly revised and expanded second edition, Pastoral Care In Hospitals by author, lecturer, and hospital chaplain Neville Kirkwood shares his more than twenty years of experience, expertise and wisdom to assist clergy and trained lay pastoral workers (as well as ordinary lay people who simply want to visit their fellow-parishioners or family members) in making their visits and ministries more meaningful and enriching to the patients they attend. Readers will learn what to avoid (such as false heartiness and too much talking) and what to embrace (gentle candor and unobtrusive faith). Of special note are the variety of exercises and the section of prayers for specific circumstances. If you are charged with the responsibility of ministering to the ill and the dying in hospitals, hostels, or homes, then read what Hospital Chaplin Neville Kirkwood has offer by way of information, experience, guidance, and inspiration.

The Book Of Catholic Wisdom
Teresa de Bertodano, editor
Loyola Press
3441 North Ashland Avenue, Chicago, IL 60657
0829414886 $21.95 1-800-621-1008

Compiled, organized and presented by Teresa de Bertodano, The Book Of Catholic Wisdom: 2000 Years Of Spiritual Writing showcases short pieces of commentary and observation drawn from the wisdom of saints, martyrs and popes. These succinct writings provide spiritual insight by scholars of the Scriptures, and from holy men and women. There is something for every aspect of the human experience including birth, baptism, marriage, and death. Here to are to be found sage advice and guidance for healing, forgiveness, comfort, and other needs arising from life's manifold experiences. Herein is to be found two millennia of Christian wisdom relevant to issues of social justice, ministry, spiritual direction, and the sacraments -- as well as reflections drawn from poetry, prose, mystical prayer, homilies, liturgy, and Scripture. A highly recommended addition to any personal, family, church school or seminary library, The Book Of Catholic Wisdom is ideal for simply browsing through a few thoughtful pages at a time, or seeking specific inspiration for particular concerns.

War Or Words?
Donald W. Musser & D. Dixon Sutherland, editors
The Pilgrim Press
700 Prospect Avenue, East, Cleveland, OH 44115-1100
0829816836 $28.00 1-800-654-5129

Expertly compiled and co-edited by Donald W. Musser (Hal S. Marchman Professor of Civic and Social Responsibility and Professor Religious Studies at Stetson University) and D. Dixon Sutherland (Professor of Religious Studies and Director of the Institute of Christian Ethics at Stetson University), War Or Words?: Interreligious Dialogue As An Instrument Of Peace is an anthology of essays largely drawn from a series of lectures and discussions on the theme of "Peace, Violence, and Religion" which took place at Stetson University in DeLand, Florida. The central theme is that any possibility of a lasting global peace depends upon dialogue between diverse and often competing religions. The articulate and knowledgeable contributors deftly explore the contexts of religious dialogue and the promise that such discussions can and will bring about a more peaceful world as competing interests would no longer be able to cloak their political and economic agendas behind religiously intolerant dogmas or clergy advocated sectarian policies of deliberate violence. War Or Words? is invaluable reading which is especially recommended to the attention of clergy, governmental officials, and non-specialist general readers with an interest in establishing and maintaining peace in the world.

Doing Right and Being Good
David Oki Ahearn and Peter R. Gathje, editors
The Liturgical Press
St. John's Abbey, PO Box 7500, Collegeville, MN 56321-7500
0814651798 $29.95 1-800-858-5450

Doing Right and Being Good: Catholic and Protestant Readings in Christian Ethics is a reader that represents both the Roman Catholic and Protestant moral traditions. The selected essays cover such topics as Christian pacifism, feminism, and liberation theology, as well as classical readings by major figures in the history of Christian moral thought and mainstream movements. Sample readings include "Appropriate Vulnerability: A Sexual Ethic for Singles?", "The Biblical Meaning of Poverty", "How Do Love and Justice Work Together?" and much more. An index to scripture references and an index of authors and subjects round out this erudite, philosophically deep compendium. Highly recommended especially for religious studies students focusing on Christian Ethics.

A Concise Encyclopedia of the Philosophy of Religion
Anthony C. Thiselton
Baker Book House
PO Box 6287, Grand Rapids, MI 49516-6287
0801031206 $24.99

Written by a research professor of Christian theology, A Concise Encyclopedia of the Philosophy of Religion is a meticulous compilation of theological terms, notable historical figures, belief systems, logical terminology, and much more. Arranged in alphabetical order, entries range from "agnosticism" and "Aristotle" to "via negationis/via negativa" and "Wittgenstein, Ludwig Josef Johann". Entries are nether excessively lengthy nor overly brief; each one succinctly summarizes its topic in plain terms lay readers can appreciate. A Concise Encyclopedia of the Philosophy of Religion strives to leave all bias at the door, and present a multitude of extremely divergent ideas in as unbiased and evenhanded a manner as possible. Highly recommended as a reference and resource especially for lay readers and novice to intermediate students of religious philosophy.

John Taylor

Vogel's Bookshelf

Murach's ASP.NET 2.0 Upgrader's Guide, VB Edition
Anne Boehm and Joel Murach
Mike Murach & Associates
3484 West Gettysburg, #101, Fresno, CA 93722
1890774367 $39.50 1-800-221-5528

Murach's ASP.NET 2.0 Upgrader's Guide, VB Edition is a thorough resource written especially for professional programmers. Chapters explain in depth how to get the most out of all of the new features in ASP.NET 2.0, and how to seamlessly upgrade from ASP.NET 1.x. Examples, sample code, step-by-step walkthroughs of new procedures, and exhaustive information concerning ASP.NET 2.0 data access and practical solutions to common problems fill this compendium. Murach's ASP.NET 2.0 Upgrader's Guide presumes some familiarity with computer programming in general and ASP.NET in particular, and is therefore especially recommended for programmers of intermediate to advanced knowledge and skill, who are looking to painlessly make the transition to ASP.NET 2.0.

The Professional Photographer's Digital Wedding Album Design Guide
Kathy Woodford
Carillon Creek Press
PO Box 40418, Bellevue, WA 98015
0976664607 $24.95

The Professional Photographer's Digital Wedding Album Design Guide is a no-nonsense guidebook to Adobe Photoshop techniques for creating beautiful digital albums. Chapters cover why template and design programs are unnecessary, how to set up a secure digital workflow with back-up solutions, how to use proof selection software with clients in one's studio, solid design principles, factors that influence a fair price for albums, and more. Avoiding excessively long tutorials, The Professional Photographer's Digital Wedding Album Design Guide is very much a "quick start" reference for producing quality work with proven methods. Highly recommended for professional and amateur digital album designers alike.

The Broadband Explosion
Robert D. Austin and Stephen P. Bradley, editors
Harvard Business School Press
60 Harvard Way, Boston, MA 02163
1591396700 $45.00 1-800-668-6780

The Broadband Explosion is an anthology of essays written by a variety of authors contemplating far-reaching questions about what repercussions the rise in broadband connection will have on modern society and business. From evaluating how Wi-Fi and Voice Over IP technologies will play out, to speculating on what will be the next- generation "killer apps", to forecasting how the structure of the industry will shift, questioning whether governments should invest in a broadband infrastructure, and evaluating possible new security threats, The Broadband Explosion is a haven for deep thought, budding ideas, and dire warnings. A handful of diagrams illustrate this forward-looking compendium recommended for business and government leaders striving to plan for an increasingly connected future.

5-D Leadership
Scott Campbell and Ellen Samiec
Davies-Black Publishing
3803 East Bayshore Road, Palo Alto, CA 94303
0891061975 $27.95 1-800-624-1765

Internationally recognized consultant Scott Campbell and leadership development specialist Ellen Samiec, cofounders and directors of the Toronto-based leadership development and coaching consortium 5-D Leadership, present 5-D Leadership: Key Dimensions for Leading in the Real World, a self-instructional resource for improving one's capabilities in the five dimensions of leadership: Commanding/Taking Charge, Visioning/Pointing the Way, Enrolling/Getting Buy-In, Relating/Creating Harmony, and Coaching/Developing People. Chapters cover the importance of knowing oneself and one's abilities inside and out, identifying contextual dynamics, leveraging one's strengths, and more. Written in no-nonsense language with an abundance of examples taken from everyday events, 5- D Leadership is a valuable tool for practicing and prospective managers to hone their skills.

Turning Conflict into Profit
Larry Axelrod and Rowland (Roy) Johnson
University of Alberta Press
Ring House 2, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, T6G 2E1
088864440X $29.95

Social Psychologist Larry Axelrod and certified mediator and psychotherapist Rowland Johnson present Turning Conflict into Profit: A Roadmap for Resolving Personal and Organizational Disputes, a guide especially for business and personnel managers who have to resolve sticky situations between antagonistic employees and co-workers. Chapters discuss the psychology of conflict, differences in conflict that arises from interpersonal issues as opposed to cultural issues, and offer a five-step process to turn conflict into benefit: tap the energy, find the learning, build relationships, cultivate innovation, make better decisions, and more. Extensive research supports the fundamental rules to smoothing over rough edges and promoting a cohesive organization: the importance of allowing both sides in a conflict to save face, the "platinum rule" of "treat others as they wish to be treated", and the dangers of going to the opposite extreme of conflict suppression where "groupthink" which can be just as debilitating to making the best decisions as a conflict-ridden brainstorm session. Overall, Turning Conflict into Profit is a valuable manual filled with insight and practical advice recommended especially for readers with little background in psychology - or in the art of mediating heated tempers.

Turning Conflict into Profit
Larry Axelrod and Rowland (Roy) Johnson
University of Alberta Press
Ring House 2, Edmonton, Alberta, Canada, T6G 2E1
088864440X $29.95

Social Psychologist Larry Axelrod and certified mediator and psychotherapist Rowland Johnson present Turning Conflict into Profit: A Roadmap for Resolving Personal and Organizational Disputes, a guide especially for business and personnel managers who have to resolve sticky situations between antagonistic employees and co-workers. Chapters discuss the psychology of conflict, differences in conflict that arises from interpersonal issues as opposed to cultural issues, and offer a five-step process to turn conflict into benefit: tap the energy, find the learning, build relationships, cultivate innovation, make better decisions, and more. Extensive research supports the fundamental rules to smoothing over rough edges and promoting a cohesive organization: the importance of allowing both sides in a conflict to save face, the "platinum rule" of "treat others as they wish to be treated", and the dangers of going to the opposite extreme of conflict suppression where "groupthink" which can be just as debilitating to making the best decisions as a conflict-ridden brainstorm session. Overall, Turning Conflict into Profit is a valuable manual filled with insight and practical advice recommended especially for readers with little background in psychology - or in the art of mediating heated tempers.

Jack, You're Fired!
Jack Perry
McKenna Publishing Group
c/o PR/PR Public Relations
PO Box 617533, Orlando, FL 32861
1932172181 $24.00

Jack Perry is a sales trainer, management expert, and leadership coach who has drawn upon his more than forty years of professional experience to show hundreds of people the way to better sales and unlimited earnings. In "Jack, You're Fired!: 66 Ways To Keep Your Job As A Sales Professional", Perry specifically focuses in on helping sales professionals hone their sales skills and habits, which in turn leads to exceptional productivity and embracing prospecting with a renewed zeal. Regardless of the product or service being marketed, Perry shows just how to expand sales opportunities year after year after year. Readers will learn to foster client relationships, elevate sales team members and peers to their own greater success, and increase bottom-line company profits while having their own earnings similarly increase. Exceptionally well written, Jack, You're Fired! is thoroughly "reader friendly" and especially recommended to anyone newly entering the sales profession, as well as those who are suffering "burn out" in their chosen occupation.

The Brendan Voyage
Tim Severin
Gill and Macmillan
c/o Irish Books & Media, Inc.
1433 Franklin Avenue East, Minneapolis, MN 55404-2101
0717139271 $21.95 1-800-229-3505

The Brendan Voyage is the true-life story of what has been called the greatest epic voyage in modern Irish history. Author Tim Severin and his friends built a boat using only techniques and materials available in the sixth-century A.D., when St. Brendan allegedly sailed to America. The vessel consisted of forty-nine ox hides stitched together and stretched over a wooden frame, yet it was a seaworthy creation capable of withstanding storms and a puncture from pack ice during its voyage from Brandon Creek in Dingle to Newfoundland. Now in a new edition, The Brendan Voyage has been translated into twenty-seven languages, and proves that St. Brendan could have indeed reached America - though whether he actually did is a conundrum left to historians. Written with narrative skill, and illustrated with a handful of black-and-white photographs The Brendan an exciting true nautical tale of courage, adventure, and accomplishment.

The Last Voyage of the Lucette
Douglas Robertson
Sheridan House Inc.
145 Palisade Street, Dobbs Ferry, NY 10522
1574092065 $23.95 1-888-743-7425

The Last Voyage of the Lucette is the complete and previously untold true story of an event first described by the author's father, Dougal Robertson, in "Survive the Savage Sea." Here, the son interweaves his own perspective - he was eighteen years old at the time - with the original narrative of a harrowing nautical voyage. In January 1971, the Robertson family set sail from England in an attempt to circumnavigate the globe; eighteen months later in the middle of the Pacific, their 43-foot schooner Lucette was holed by killer whales and sank. Four adults and two children survived for 38 days adrift in a survival raft, then a 9-foot dinghy, until a Japanese fishing vessel rescued them. A gripping narrative of survival, and especially, the difficulties of getting along together in extremely cramped quarters and desperate conditions. A handful of black-and-white and color photographs illustrate this amazing story of family togetherness under the most unusual and trying situations.

Paul T. Vogel

Volk's Bookshelf

A Dog's History of America
Mark Derr
North Point Press
c/o Farrar, Straus & Giroux
19 Union Square West, New York, NY 10003
0374529973 $15.00 1-888-330-8477

A Dog's History of America: How Our Best Friend Explored, Conquered, and Settled a Continent is the history of canine companions in America during the past three centuries - from sled dogs and war dogs to guide dogs, show dogs, and bomb-sniffing dogs. A fascinating tale not only of canine loyalty, but of human betrayal, including breeders' desire to shape animal's evolution so much that inbreeding was widely practiced despite scientific warnings and firsthand evidence of its role in causing birth defects. Not all tales of the dog are noble; some, particularly those victimized by the demand to create and aggressive breed, are notorious for turning on and sometimes even killing humans. A Dog's History of America strives to be thorough, objective, and balanced, portraying the truth as accurately as historical record tells it, and is a "must-read" for true dog lovers.

The Goldsteins' Wellness & Longevity Program
Robert S. Goldstein, V.M.D. and Susan J. Goldstein
T.F.H. Publications
1 TFH Plaza, 3rd & Union Avenue, Neptune City, NJ 07753
0793805457 $19.95 1-800-631-2188

Holistic veterinarian of 30 years' experience Robert Goldstein and "Earth Animal" retail outlet founder Susan Goldstein present The Goldsteins' Wellness & Longevity Program: Natural Care for Dogs and Cats, an integrative health book that bring together the best of holistic and conventional veterinary practices for readers to follow for the sake of companion animals. Designed to boost the immune system and aid in disease prevention for pets, the easy-to- follow program includes natural preventatives and healing modalities for common conditions, and guidelines for when to vaccinate and when not to (vaccination can cause pregnant animals may reject their unborn litters; anesthetized animals may vomit and choke). The Goldsteins' Wellness & Longevity Program cannot replace the diagnosis, advice, or care of a veterinarian, but it is packed cover to cover with tips for naturally preserving and prolonging animal health.

Amphibians And Reptiles
Walter E. Meshaka Jr. & Kimberly J. Babbit, editors
Krieger Publishing Company
PO Box 9542, Melbourne, FL 32902-9542
1575242516 $66.50 1-800-724-0025

Jointly compiled and edited by Walter E. Meshaka Jr. (Zoology and Botany, State Museum of Pennsylvania) and Kimberly J. Babbit (Department of Natural Resources, University of New Hampshire), Amphibians And Reptiles: Status And Conservation In Florida is a compendium of articles of Floridian herpetofauna. From "The Florida Herpetofauna in a Changing Environment" by Walter Meshaka and Ray E. Ashton, to "The Value of Dead Tree Bases and Stumpholes as Habitat for Wildlife" by D. Bruce Means, to "The Conservation of Box Turtles on Public Lands in Florida" by C. Kenneth Dodd and Marian L. Griffey, Amphibians And Reptiles presents a wealth of information on specialized biological investigations in Florida's uplands, wetlands, rivers, and estuarine systems. Also included are three ground-breaking articles addressing issues in the commerical harvesting and Florida's herpetofauna, and two excellent pieces on exotic species and the Floridian herpetofauna. Concluding this outstanding collection is a "Synthesis" summary. Enhanced with a bibliography of cited literature and an appendices ("County Records of Native Amphibian and Reptile Species in Florida), Amphibians And Reptiles is a welcome and seminal contribution to herpetofauna in general, and Floridian amphibians and reptile wildlife in particular.

The Knitting Experience Book 3: Color
Sally Melville
XRX Books
c/o Independent Publishers Group (dist.)
814 North Franklin Street, Chicago, IL 60610
1933064021 $24.95 1-800-888-4741

The Knitting Experience Book 3: Color is a hands-on guide to knitting eye-catching creations, from jackets and scarves to afghans, line-stitch placemats, and much more. Skillfully using color in one's knitted creations is the primary focus, yet The Knitting Experience Book 3 offers plenty of step-by-step instructions, diagrams, and explanations to be readily accessible to the beginning knitter. Chapters go into detail on how to create simple and not-so-simple stripes in knitting, balancing two colors, creating panels, pictures and plaids, fixing common mistakes, and more. Each of the many suggested projects is displayed with a wealth of step-by-step photographs as well as pictures of the finished product, all in full color. An extensive glossary and discussion of basic knitting skills-at-a- glance round out this superb reference for knitters of all skill and experience levels.

Judaism For Two
Rabbi Nancy Fuchs-Kreimer & Rabbi Nancy H. Wiener
Jewish Lights Publishing
PO Box 237, Woodstock, VT 05091
158023254X $16.99 1-800-962-4544

Rabbi Nancy Fuchs-Kreimer and Rabbi Nancy H. Wiener draw from both ancient and contemporary texts, Jewish tradition, and personal stories in Judaism For Two: A Spiritual Guide For Strengthening And Celebrating Your Loving Relationship. With a thoroughly "reader friendly" text embellished with creative exercises, rituals, and guided discussions to help couples make connections to tradition, to community, and to each other, Judaism For Two will enable them to experience the Jewish holidays as special times to focus upon their relationship and find fresh meaning in holiday celebrations, as well as bonding opportunities for spiritual growth every day of the year. Judaism For Two is enthusiastically recommended reading and a welcome addition to "self-help" supplemental reading lists for a particularly Judaic approach to helping couples deal with the stresses and strains of modern life.

Life is a Game and You Can Play It
"Nancy B" Berggren
Literary Press
c/o Seven Locks Press
3100 West Warner Avenue, Suite 8, Santa Ana, CA 92704
0976476517 $16.95 1-800-354-5348

Ordained minister "Nancy B" Berggren, who is also known for her appearances on the shows Little House in the Prairie, Fame, and Dynasty, Life is a Game and You Can Play It is a spiritual self-help guide offering basic rules for a richer life. The precepts are simple, such as "Resentment Kills", "Gratitude is the Giveaway", "Your Word Has Power", "Dream It, Believe It, Achieve It", and "Get Up, Get Out, and Get Going!" Technically consumable, with sections for readers to jot down notes and insights, Life is a Game and You Can Play It offers simple wisdom combined with the power of optimism and learning to rise above the setbacks of life. An upbeat, friendly, and witty self-improvement guide.

When Misery Is Company
Anne Katherine
Hazelden Foundation
PO Box 11, Center City, MN 55012-0011
1592850847 $12.95 1-800-328-9000

When Misery Is Company: End Self-Sabotage And Become Content by psychotherapist, licensed mental health counselor, and popular author Ann Katherine offers the reader exercises, anecdotal personal stories, and an insightful, gentle wisdom focused on the self-defeating practice of trying to guard against disappointment, fear or shame by not allowing ourselves to fully experience intimacy, success, or pleasure. Sound psychology combined with a natural talent for writing fully engage the reader's total and thoughtful attention from first page to last as individual chapters are grouped into two major parts: "Understanding the Problem" and "Finding and Living the Solution". Enhanced with five appendices and an index, When Misery Is Company is especially recommended for those seeking assistance in developing their own personal growth on the basis of sound psychology and practical experience.

The Pain Survival Guide
Dennis C. Turk, Ph.D. and Frits Winter, Ph.D.
American Psychological Association
750 First Street, NE, Washington, DC 20002-4242
1591470498 $19.95 1-800-368-5777

Written by doctors with years of experience in the assessment and treatment of people with chronic pain, The Pain Survival Guide: How to Reclaim Your Life is a ten-step program for learning to live and minimize chronic pain, emphasizing the importance of gradual behavior changes. Chapters discuss relaxation tips, ways to reduce fatigue, the importance of not allowing pain to sabotage personal relationships, making adjustments in behavior, bolstering self-confidence, coping with setbacks, and much more. The Pain Survival Guide also denounces common myths about pain, and emphasizes the following truths: pain is not a reliable signal of injury; the absence of injury or disease does not mean that one's pain is not real; pain should always be taken seriously; drugs are not always the best or only way to treat pain; and having pain for a long time does not mean that one's condition is beyond treatment. An index rounds out this highly accessible and practical and serious-minded resource.

Luck Is No Accident
John D. Krumboltz & Al S. Levin
Impact Publishers
PO Box 6016, Atascadero, CA 93423
1886230536 $15.95

For most of us, our present life and career circumstances are often the result of unplanned events and chance occurrence. Of being in the right (or wrong!) place at the right (or wrong!) time, of "fill-in" jobs, hobbies, broken appointments, or having a particular friend who had a particular opportunity for us. In Luck Is No Accident: Making The Most Of Happenstance In Your Life And Career, co-authors John D. Krumboltz (Professor of Education and Psychology, Stanford University) and Al S. Levin (Professor of Counselor Education, California State University, Sacramento) collaborate to encourage the reader to prepare for the unexpected, to take advantage of chance events, and to make the most of the random "happenstances" that we encounter in the course of our life. Readers will learn that it's perfectly okay to try something, to take a chance -- even at the risk of making mistakes. That we can get the job first and then learn the skills for succeeding in that job second. But above all, to enjoy ourselves and that it is the balanced life that is the good life. Of special note is the chapter devoted to overcoming self-sabotage. Enhanced with an Annotated Bibliography and a comprehensive index, Luck Is No Accident is an enthusiastically recommended addition to any self-help reference collection or supplemental reading list!

Carol Volk

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

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