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Reviewer's Bookwatch

Volume 7, Number 11 November 2007 Home | RBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Afrika's Bookshelf Andrew's Bookshelf
Ann's Bookshelf Bethany's Bookshelf Buhle's Bookshelf
Burroughs' Bookshelf Carson's Bookshelf Cheri's Bookshelf
Christy's Bookshelf Clay's Bookshelf Debra's Bookshelf
Gary's Bookshelf Geoffrey's Bookshelf Gloria's Bookshelf
Gorden's Bookshelf Harold's Bookshelf Harwood's Bookshelf
Henry's Bookshelf Kaye's Bookshelf Liana's Bookshelf
Margaret's Bookshelf Mark's Bookshelf Mayra's Bookshelf
Molly's Bookshelf Peggy's Bookshelf Richard's Bookshelf
Sullivan's Bookshelf Terrilyn's Bookshelf Theodore's Bookshelf
Victoria's Bookshelf    

Reviewer's Choice

The Thorazine Mirrorball
Jack Maeby
Wild Child Publishing
P.O. Box 4897, Culver City, CA 90231-4897
1934069663 $5.95

Aaron Paul Lazar

Jimmy Mack isn't crazy.

Well, at least not now. After two years of debilitating depression and forced exile in an asylum, characterized by chunks of memory loss and high doses of heavy meds, the twenty-one-year old rhythm and blues piano player is finally back.

Assigned a room in a halfway house in Albany in 1972, Jimmy reconnects with his old music buddies and lands a lucrative gig in the Adirondacks. All goes well, until a group of thugs nearly drive him off the road and people around him start dying, jeopardizing Jimmy's already fragile mental state.

The young man, frazzled with nerves, is smitten by every pretty woman who crosses his path, particularly singer Yvonne Marshall, with her caramel skin and velvet voice. The woman oozes sex-appeal, creating a trail of shuddering men in her wake.

From one fast-paced scene to another, this book moves. Maeby also displays a deep musical insight, with perception that reflect his history as a band member with acts such as The Neville Brothers, Etta James, and Carly Simon, as well as his accomplishments and awards for his compositions in the film and musical fields. Yet within the action, there are also moments of poignant poetry couched in Maeby's words.

"It was the opening movement of a dance done by demons, the prelude to panic, and then to darkness. If the feeling had sound, it would be an atonal moan in the bass register, accompanied by brittle, frenetic percussion. I knew it as the insistent, cruel pulse of anxiety."

Jack Maeby has created a superb thriller in this taut and colorful novel. Characters jump from the page - such as Shorty, the irascible record shop owner who becomes inadvertently involved in a shady music business deal. Each of Maeby's characters tremble with life; their natural dialogue is easy to swallow. The prose flows effortlessly, with none of the forced literary faux pas often made by first time novelists. There is no excess here, each word is precisely placed and potent. It is clear that in addition to his innate talent, this writer has done his homework.

The Thorazine Mirrorball is highly recommended for all lovers of mystery/suspense, music, or crime novels. The only question remaining is this: when will Mr. Maeby produce his next jewel.

The Uncommon Reader, a Novella
Alan Bennett
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
New York, NY
9780374280963, $15.00

Dr. Alma H. Bond

The Uncommon Reader, a Novella, by Alan Bennett, is a "what if" book that takes the reader into the life of Great Britain's own Queen Elizabeth 11 and shows us what conceivably could happen if the staid, prosaic, TV loving Queen discovered the world of books.

The Uncommon Reader, a Novella, by Alan Bennett, is a charming, delightful book. Wonderfully imaginative and original, this slender book of only 120 pages pictures the Queen developing from a dull, duty-bound stereotyped monarch and matriarch of a dysfunctional family to one caught up in the magic of strange lives and loves.

It all began with her ever-present Corgis, who began barking loudly one day. Elizabeth went to see what all the ruckus was about, and found a mobile library parked outside one of the kitchens of Buckingham Palace. More in an effort to be polite than because of any riveting interest, she decided to borrow a book, as she thought that not doing so would seem to the librarian that the library was somehow lacking. A young man who worked in the Palace kitchen was also taking out a book. He and the Queen began a discussion that was to change her life and that of her empire, along, no doubt, with history. She promptly removed Norman from the kitchen and made him her literary advisor.

To her surprise, she became deeply involved in the book, and soon began a second, a third, and then a fourth. Each one she read opened up new vistas and led to the next on her list. As the Queen became more and more engrossed in reading, her family and advisors were disturbed and yearned for the return of their old, predictable Queen. Passing her bedroom one night, her husband, the Duke of Edinborough, heard her laugh out loud. "All right, old Girl?" he asked. "Of course," she answered. "I'm reading." The Duke said, "Again?" and went off shaking his head (p. 13).

Her attendants were disgruntled at having to vary their routines. Lord Kevin, the Royal Secretary, intensely disapproved of the Queen's new passion, although he tried to cover it up."I can understand," he said, "Your Majesty's need to pass the time."

"Pass the time?" said the Queen, who was growing wiser by the day. "Books are not about passing the time. They are about other lives. Other worlds. Far from wanting to pass the time, Sir Kevin, One just wishes one had more of it" (p. 29).

Unfortunately, the Queen's reading brought out other feelings along with her pleasure. She felt regret and mortification at all the opportunities she had missed. When she had met Masefield and Walter de la Mare, for example, there had been nothing she could think of to say to them. Similarly, she had been speechless in the presence of Priestley, T.S. Eliot, and Ted Hughes. How she would love to have such opportunities now, but unfortunately, they all were dead. "Everybody's dead," she said glumly (p. 10). Years before, she had sat next to Lord David Cecil who had written books on Jane Austen, and these days would have relished the encounter. But Lord David also was dead now and so it was too late. "Too late. It was all too late," (p. 75) the grieving Queen said. But she went on reading determinably, in her attempt to catch up.

The Queen believed that one of the charms of reading lay in its indifference. Books did not care if anyone read them or not. "All readers were equal, herself included" (p. 30). That reflection took her back to one of the greatest joys of her girlhood. On VE night, she and her sister had slipped outside the gates and mingled unrecognized by the crowds. She felt there was a similar joy in reading; "It was anonymous; it was shared; it was common."

One of the Queen's duties was to open Parliament. She had never found the task particularly irksome, but did now, as she regretted the two hours it would take her away from her book. So she developed a system as she rode in the coach where she could do her duty and still follow her newfound desire. She got quite adept at focusing on her book and not the crowds, keeping the book below the level of the window and waving at the same time. The Duke didn't like it one bit, but the Queen rode happily along. If she waved a bit listlessly at the crowds, it didn't bother her, if indeed she was aware of it at all.

The Queen also found that she was bored with her previous method of interacting with her subjects, asking them their length of service, birthplace, where they lived now, and so forth. She soon abandoned these questions for a new conversational gambit, "What are you reading now?" she would ask Few of her subjects had a ready answer, as it was a rare person who was reading anything at all. The Queen would often fill in the silence by fishing out a paperback from her handbag and making them a present of it. The equerries soon began suggesting to the subjects beforehand a list of books they could mention. As a result, the Queen came away with "a disproportionate notion of the near universal affection for Joanna Trollope" (p. 42).

Now that she was reading so intensively, she began to slip up a bit on her previously immaculate appearance, and the formerly rigidly punctual Queen also began to be a bit late for meetings. An equerry was embarrassed by her new behaviour and believed it indicated that she was beginning to show her age. "Like any change of behavior in the elderly, it was readily put down to decay" (p. 81).

At the beginning of her new passion, the Queen read haphazardly, with each book leading to another. In the next stage, she made notes in which she simply wrote down passages that struck her fancy. Only after a year or two of making such notes did she begin to write an occasional thought of her own. I am an opsimath," she said, a word Norman had found in her dictionary, "one who learns only late in life...It occurred to her (as she wrote down the next day) that reading was, among other things, a muscle and one that she had seemingly developed" (p. 99). She who had never been subject to anyone would now be on a par with the rest of humanity. Reading could not change that - although writing might. She found that when she had written something down, it made her happy. It seems the Queen was beginning to show symptoms of becoming a writer.

On the occasion of her 80th birthday party, the Queen said that she didn't know what there was to celebrate, but "one of the few things to be said for it (aging) is that one has at least achieved an age at which one can die without people being shocked." She added, "At 80 things do not occur: they recur." She spoke of all she had learned and wondered what would happen to it..."I think it is time," she said, "that from being a reader I become, or try to become, a writer." She spoke of her ancestors, who had written books, and the Duke of Windsor, who had written A King's Story.

But Ma'am, the prime minister objected, he only wrote the book after he abdicated.

"Oh, did I not say that?" said the Queen.

Alan Bennett has written an utterly engrossing, humorous account of a never never land we all wish would exist. The book is a page turner that is difficult to put down. Nobody who has read it will ever forget Bennett's imaginative world of a reinvented British monarchy. The Uncommon Reader is highly recommended to disillusioned lovers of British royalty, and to everyone who enjoys a good story. I can empathize with Bennett's Elizabeth. Reading has made my life a wonderland, too.

Alan Bennett has been one of England's leading dramatists for half a century, since Beyond the Fringe brought him to New York in the '60s. His theatre experience no doubt has helped him to bring the portrait of the often boring Queen to life, not an easy task! His other work includes the Talking Heads television series and the stage plays Forty Years On, The Lady in the Van, A Question of Attribution, and most impressive of all to this reviewer, The Madness of George 111. His most recent play, The History Boys, won six Tony Awards, including Best Play, in 2006. It was also released as a feature film. In the same year his memoir Untold Stories was a number one bestseller in the U.K., and he was named the Author of the Year at the 2006 British Book Awards.

Paint Me President
Dr. Thomas Moore
Alphar Publishing
130 Church Street, #413, New York, NY 10007
0978602404, $16.95

Anthony Chaytor

PAINT ME PRESIDENT is funny, insightful, and revealing, It is a humorous novel which contrasts the PR images of our presidential aspirant Hillary with endearing characters, such as the maligned survivor Carl Meeks, his granddaughter and philosophical prostitute Carmella, her whistle blowing husband Tony, and the seductive sleaze of her PR agent, Mr. Gingrinch: "Hillary could declassify national secrets. I want Tony to produce a Hillary TV script that will destroy her credibility. Democracy is too fragile a flower to risk in the hands of a woman "

Just as The Newton Show offers a metaphor for contemporary American culture, Paint Me President depicts the plastic images created for our politicians by media giants such as Newton PR, a media landscape of lifelike fantasies of our political candidates and our values. Hillary is trapped in the prison of her manipulated public media image, disguised as the real person. Our entire society may be living in an enclosed, high-tech, drug-induced deception of self-indulgence.
Hillary feels blocked by malevolent simulators and high-tech manipulators who are intent on keeping her inside the plastic bubble of her public image. In the end, Hillary goes on a journey to escape this realm of smoke and mirrors: Dr. Thomas Moore uses a docudrama comedic genre to trace the history of government corruption, questions the manipulation of our youth, and promotes a survival strategy to resist the threat of global catastrophe.

What Legends Are Made Of
Heather Beck.
Rain Publishing Inc.
2025 Guelph Line, Suite 264, Burlington, Ontario, Canada L7P 4X4
9781897381427 $15.00

Carol Butler

What Legends Are Made Of is the latest anthology by my favourite author Heather Beck. This is a collection for an older audience as the content and language challenges the reader. Consisting of four paranormal stories, "Sir Tristan's Estate" begins this amazing anthology. "Sir Tristan's Estate" is about a photographer, Krista, who is on a mission to capture the sad story behind the tourist-driven estate. When she arrives the estate is closed. The only person there is the mysterious man named Tom Dove. The passionate and strange relationship between Krista and Tom immediately drew me into the story. Everything is not as it appears in "Sir Tristan's Estate". A heart-racing ride is followed by another. "Sir Tristan's Estate" is definitely my favourite story of this collection.

The second story, "Blue Water" is beautifully described. The tale involves young love, ancient love, deadly waters and mythical creatures. The complexity of the female lead really struck me as excellent character development. The resolution is very satisfying.

The third story, "Freaky Frank" is so creative. It's a summer romance filled with discoveries, fear and big decisions. Every woman will fall in love with Frank and wish they were Brittany.

The last story brought about feelings of sadness because I didn't want this cool anthology to be over. "One Stop Horror Shop" has a wicked title and excellent writing throughout. A newly married couple own a costume and truck store which sells products that are a bit too real. The whole tale is filled with unexpected excitement, scares and even laughs.

What Legends Are Made Of is another great anthology by Heather Beck. She has an unbelievable imagination that is creatively astonishing. Her writing ability is advanced for her young age. What Legends Are Made Of gets five stars and is highly recommended to paranormal readers.

Trench Warfare Under Grant and Lee
Earl J. Hess
The University of North Carolina Press
116 South Boundary Street, Chapel Hill, NC 27514-3808
9780807831540 $39.95

Daniel Allen

I was very fortunate to pick up his first book in Dr. Hess's planned three-part series on trench warfare and field fortifications. The title was Field Armies and Fortifications in the Civil War / The Eastern Campaigns, 1861-1864. I picked up the second, Trench Warfare under Grant & Lee and it's at the most fundamental level of narrative history of military operations in the Overland campaign of May and June 1864, covering a period of six weeks. Dr Hess uses original research, and careful inspections of archeological remains.

This becomes a thoughtful and readable analysis of the evolution of field works of Wilderness, Spotsylvania, Bermuda Hundred, North Anna, and Cold Harbor. I learned a rich understanding of these two Civil War campaigns. The heavy combat illustrates how the field fortifications influenced the course of the Overland Campaign. Hess points out that " the use of these fortifications were not due to some irrational fear, but due to a real and potent threat: the continued presence of an enemy army within striking distance. Their use was a rational and logical response to that threat."

Hess describes both the Union and Confederate armies field earthworks, and how Grant and Lee used them This new era of field entrenchments kept both armies to dig in for self-protection. Hess uses historic photographs and new maps of trench remnants to explain and strengthen his case. Despite massive casualties Grant pressed forward to gain the strategic control and the initiative. Grant was able to hold it for the rest of the war in the eastern theater. Hess confines the technical details of entrenchment and breastwork design for an appendix, keeping his main narrative brisk and interesting to the reader or student. His work demonstrates a discipline of almost 20 years of research. He kept his researched material crammed in two file cabinets from his travels, while visiting over 303 sites of the Civil War. He made good use of them by writing his two books to reach a new benchmark level on the topic of entrenchments.

After I have read this book, I must be patient and await Dr. Hess's writing of the third planned volume. I anticipate it to mirror his other two masterful works reflecting an important contribution to Civil War literature.

His third book is to cover Petersburg to the end of the war. I generally refrain from any star rating, but books in this series rate easily five-stars.

Joseph's Bones: Understanding the Struggle Between God and Mankind in the Bible
Jerome M. Segal
Riverhead Books
c/o The Berkley Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9781594489396 $24.95 1-800-847-5515

Fred Reiss, Ed.D.

If the Bible is correct, then morality entered the world when Adam and Eve ate from the Tree of Knowledge since after eating its fruit, their eyes were open, they saw that they were naked, and sewed fig leaves together to cover their nakedness. This fruit imparted the special gift that allowed them to distinguish good from evil and right from wrong. Is there, then, a moral imperative that transcends the divine? After all, God did not command them, "Thou shall not go naked," yet Adam and Eve knew it was wrong, and then took the affirmative step to clothe themselves in order to correct the error.

God did command them not to eat from the Tree of Knowledge and later, when they heard God in the Garden of Eden, they hid. Adam and Eve hid because they knew it was wrong to disobey God's command precisely because they ate the forbidden fruit. Suppose God commanded, "Don't chop down any of the trees in the garden," but for whatever reason, they chopped one down. Would they have known that it was wrong? The answer must be a resounding "No" because Adam and Eve were amoral until they ate from the Tree of Knowledge.

The biblical text specifically says that possessing knowledge of good and evil is a god-like quality (according to the Book of Genesis, another quality is immortality, which Adam and Eve could have achieved by eating the fruit of the Tree of Life, which might have happened if God had allowed them to remain in the Garden of Eden.) Now, author Jerome M. Segal jumps in and poignantly asks, if morality is self-evident and god-like, then is God moral? His newest book, Joseph's Bones: Understanding the Struggle Between God and Mankind in the Bible, offers the unequivocal answer that God is not moral.

To arrive at this conclusion, Segal reads the first six books of the Bible, the Five Books of Moses and the Book of Joshua, which he calls the Hexateuch, as novels devoid of any religious significance, a method known as narrative criticism. Joseph's Bones makes four important points. First, God cannot be a God without worshipers, and so he sets out to find a people to make His own. Second, God is an immoral, totalitarian, hot-headed god, as shown in certain biblical stories including: Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden, the Flood, Sodom and Gomorrah, the binding of Isaac, and His interactions with Israelites as they wander in the desert under the leadership of Moses. Third, God's morality is different (and better) by the time Joshua takes the mantle of leadership. Finally, Joseph's persona is the antithesis of God's character.

Segal does a commendable job reviewing the Hexateuch, and I will mention only some of his examples. In the time of Noah, God kills off all living things because some group, perhaps most, of humanity is wicked and lawless. Segal asks if it is possible for newborn babies and infants to be evil? What sin could the animals possibly have committed? He concludes that God is immoral because He kills the innocent with the guilty. Noah might have been the most righteous of his generation, but he lacks the intestinal fortitude to denounce God's moral errors on each of the three occasions that God informs Noah that He will bring an end to all flesh. The biblical narratives suggest to Segal that God regrets what he did after Noah appeases Him with numerous sweet-smelling sacrifices, and consequently, God gives Himself a sign, a rainbow, as a personal reminder never to destroy the world in a fit of anger by flood again.

Segal informs us that Abraham, the father of the Jewish people, was God's match. Not wanting to directly confront an all-powerful being bent on killing everyone who inhabits Sodom and Gomorrah, Abraham asks God if He will sweep away the innocent with the guilty: "Shall not the Judge of all the earth deal justly?" Abraham pleads six different times with God to change the criteria from total destruction to saving the cities if He can find only five innocent people. According to Segal, God fumes over this dialogue and Abraham's price to pay was the near sacrificing of Isaac.

Moses, like a rainbow, is drawn from water. As such, he stands as a permanent reminder to God not to destroy the entire Israelite nation. For example, many, but not all, of the Israelites worship the golden calf. As a result, Moses destroys the tablets holding the Ten Commandments, smashes the idol, and forces the people to drink the gold. God plans the annihilation of the Israelites; killing the innocent with the guilty, and starting over with Moses. The next day Moses asks God to forgive them or to be killed along with the Israelites. God refuses to absolve the guilty and kills three thousand Israelites.

Though Moses fears God's uncontrollable wrath, he demands that God be in their midst and that he be permitted to see God's face. According to Segal, Moses asks these things because he wants to have a deeper understanding of God in order to become a better protector of the people. God does not grant Moses his request and only permits Moses to see His back.

The twelve spies return from the Promised Land. Ten report that the Israelites will lose any war fought with its inhabitants. God does not just punish the ten by killing them through some plague. No, He punishes the entire people by forcing them to march in circles in the desert for forty years. Six hundred thousand will die without ever seeing Canaan. Later, in Korah's Rebellion against Moses, God only kills 14,700 associated with Korah; leaving the innocent alone. For Segal, there is hope for God.

By the time we reach the Book of Deuteronomy, Moses has grown from the humblest person on the face of the Earth who cannot speak without his brother to a dynamic spokesman for and fearless leader and guardian of the Jewish People. Deuteronomy, according to Segal, is not just a recapitulation of God's laws, but a warning to follow God's laws or face total obliteration. Moses truly fears for his people after he is gone, and passes the mantle of leadership on to Joshua because Joshua grasps the essence of Moses teachings. By this time, God is not only in their midst, but he directs the strategy of battle, and is satisfied if the Israelites, themselves, seek out and punish sinners.

The Israelites carried two arks in the desert for forty years, the Ark of the Covenant and the ark that held Joseph's bones. The former was commanded by God; the later as the fulfillment of a promise to Joseph made 400 years earlier when he asked that his bones be carried out of Egypt with the Exodus and buried in the Promised Land. According to Segal, Joseph represents everything that God is not. Joseph was a powerful ruler who chose mercy over justice and love over vindictiveness. The Israelites carried the Ark of the Covenant out of fear, but Joseph's bones out of admiration.

Segal concludes with an Afterword and an Appendix. It is here that he goes far astray. In the Afterword he replaces the method of narrative criticism with a religious analysis of Jesus' life to show that God has further changed from a God who punishes the masses to one who punishes the individual sinner, and that He has evolved into a God of love. He makes the point that Jesus became the Pascal lamb to save the world from sin, just as Moses directed the killing of the Passover lamb so that the blood could be used to save the first-born Jews.

The Afterword relies so little on the narratives of the New Testament that it is difficult to understand if he is referring to Original Sin, or sin in general. If he means Original Sin, then he previously pointed out that Adam and Eve, and subsequently all of humanity were punished for this sin through expulsion from the Garden of Eden, childbirth pains and working the land to obtain food. If his conclusion is that belief in Jesus saves the world from Original Sin, then he contradicts his previous findings. Segal never builds a case that God is so immoral that He punishes for the same sin twice. On the other hand, if he means sin in the general sense, we also have a contradiction, for there is never a claim made that being Jewish and believing in God prevents divine punishment, so how does the analogy of being Christian and believing in God's son avoid divine punishment? Moreover, Segal does not carry this logic to the present and discuss God's morality during the time of the Crusades, pogroms, or the Holocaust.

If Segal had stopped with the Book of Joshua, disapproval could only be leveled at his narrow use of literary criticism to interpret the Bible. For example, in addition to analyzing the narratives, one expects him to consider changes in style within a text, and from one book to another, something that may not be obvious when relying on an English translation. Similarly, God uses various names for Himself throughout the Bible, particularly the quotes cited in Joseph's Bones. Segal leads us to believe that there is just one primary name for God, Yahweh; however he cites numerous passages that use the word the Hebrew word Elohim, which also translates as God. Perhaps God already recognizes His nature, and uses different names to impart different actions.

Segal would have us believe that the narratives speak for themselves, but they do not. In too many places he is forced to make extraordinary inferences to complete his story. Additionally, if the books of the Hexateuch are read as novels, then their stories must be interpreted through the moral frame of reference in which they were written, the Middle Eastern culture. There is a long-standing tradition in the Middle East that an entire family is killed for the indiscretion of one of its members. Perhaps this is the upshot of an even older tradition in which an entire tribe is eliminated for the imprudence of one member. Moreover, until modern times, the truly powerful in all cultures lived by laws of their own making, and the populace bore the sufferance of the sovereign. In the end, Joseph's Bones may not be so much a book about the evolution of God's morality, as of mankind's.

Penny Rudolph
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 East First Avenue, Suite 103, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
9781590583463 $24.95

Rob Kresge

Penning a sequel to a well-received first mystery novel can be tricky. Especially if that first novel was the intriguing Thicker Than Blood, featuring popular Los Angeles garage owner Rachel Chavez, and peopled with well-drawn supporting characters that we all wanted to see more of.

Well, fret no more. Albuquerque author Penny Rudolph has produced a winning sophomore effort in which Rachel returns in top form. As a recovering alcoholic with an arrest record, she can still be her own worst enemy, afraid of reporting suspicious incidents to the police, and so doggedly pursues an investigation that she knows professionals will ignore.

Rachel discovers a locked van in her garage with the bodies of two Hispanic children inside, one barely alive. She quickly takes both to nearby Jefferson Hospital and checks them in through the emergency room. Good citizen Rachel returns the next day to find no record of either child having been admitted. Since the police would have nothing to investigate, Rachel is on her own. Why no record? What's going on in the mysterious fourth-floor ward at the hospital?

Complicating Rachel's search for answers are fascinating subplots that Penny Rudolph is known for. Her fiance Hank is pressing her to name a wedding date. Her compulsive gambler father Marty is on a winning streak and wants to shower her with gifts. Office cleaning shift boss Goldie again provides emotional and practical support to Rachel's bouts of frustration and anxiety. And her friend Irene, a street person, helps out at the garage and bucks up Rachel's courage.

And she needs courage. Two attempts on her life leave her and Hank seriously wounded. Where is Marty after a big win? Why can't she contact him? Do some of the hospital staff, doctors and a pharmacist Rachel is drawn to, have anything to do with the missing children? And are the attacks on her related to her investigation? She has to deal with a frightening "don" of the Mexican Mafia and starts to carry a pistol. None too soon. If Rachel is to keep her own "lifeblood," she'll have to become her own bodyguard.

What I Believe
Anthony Kenny
9780826496164 $25.95

David Roemer

There are three reasons to believe that our freedom is before God: 1) We know from logic and reason that God exists. 2) Miraculous historical events show God has communicated Himself to mankind. 3) When people explain why they don't believe in God, they generally give bad reasons.

The third reason is also why we can tell our children to believe in God as if there was no question about it. Children should be told about irrational people, like Richard Dawkins, Daniel Dennett, and Christopher Hitchens, only when they need to know. These Big Bad Wolves were educated in a tradition created by the Enlightenment and have always assumed that religion is not true. They are crackpots with whom it is impossible to have a rational conversation.

Anthony Kenny, however, was educated by the Roman Catholic Church. He was a priest before he became a professor of philosophy and a nonbeliever. Is it possible to have a rational conversation with him? Does he give better reasons for not believing than the Big Bad Wolves?

The truth of the neo-Darwinian evolution of human beings is an article of faith in the Enlightenment religion, and the biggest difference between them and Professor Kenny can be found in his chapter titled "Human Beings." The following quote from Kenny casts doubt on the absolute truth of evolution. If human beings have something animals do not have at all, humans could not have evolved from animals:

"What is peculiar to our species is the capacity for thought and behavior of the complicated and symbolic kinds that constitute the linguistic, social, moral, economic, scientific, cultural and other characteristic activities of human beings in society. The mind is a capacity, not an activity: it is the capacity to acquire intellectual abilities of which the most important is the mastery of language. The will, in contrast with animal desire, is the capacity to pursue goals that only language-users can formulate." (p. 69)

I am not sure I understand the distinction between "capacity" and "activity." Whatever he means, his comments no more shed light on the question "What is a human being?" than saying human beings are rational animals. The indefinability of the mind and mystery of a human being is why humans are embodied spirits or spirited bodies, at least to people with whom a rational conversation is possible. This does not necessarily mean human beings did not evolve from animals because it is possible that animals possess the potential of having intellects and wills. It is also possible that human beings possess spiritual souls and animals do not, making the evolution of human beings impossible. Regardless of these possibilities, people who deny that human beings are embodied spirits are obsessively and irrationally in love with the methodology of science. Kenny does not say that human beings are embodied spirits in so many words, but he comes close:

"Human beings and their brains are physical objects; their minds are not, because they are capacities. This does not mean they are spirits. A round peg's ability to fit into a round hole is not a physical object like the round peg itself, but no one will suggest that is it is a spirit. It is not any adherence to dualism, but a simple concern for conceptual clarity, that makes me insist that a mind is not a physical object and does not have a length and a breadth." (p. 71)

In this chapter, Kenny takes the trouble to refute Cartesian dualism the idea that human beings are pure spirits and ride their bodies like CEOs ride their desks. Cartesian dualism is often criticized by materialists and atheists when they discuss religion because it is a straw man. Kenny believes in the mystery, indefinability, and spirituality of man, but downplays his views in order, I suppose, to make the book marketable. Marketing is the delivery of goods and services to the consumer and effective marketing requires a decision about the product's market position.

We can also learn about religion from Kenny, something that never happens when you read the writings of those who feel mankind would be better off without religion. The following quote is from the chapter titled "Religion":

"In my view, faith is not a virtue, but a vice, unless certain conditions are fulfilled. One is that the existence of God can be rationally established without appeal to faith. Accepting something as a matter of faith is taking God's word for its truth: but one cannot take God's word for it that He exists."(p. 59)

Kenny has concluded that the existence of God cannot be proven. The most logically rigorous proof is the cosmological argument, which is based on the metaphysical concepts of being and causality. In effect, Kenny is saying the cosmological argument is refutable. Since the Roman Catholic Church teaches that we can prove God exists, this would mean there is a non-theological and non-biblical argument against the Roman Catholic Church's claim to infallibility.

Kenny's uncle was the editor of the English Jerusalem Bible and a teacher at the seminary Kenny went to in Liverpool. When he graduated at the age of 18, he enrolled at his uncle's alma mater, the Gregorian University in Rome. He rubbed shoulders with Hans Kung, and was taught by Bernard Lonergan and Frederick Copleston, to repeat some names he mentions in his autobiography (The Path From Rome, Oxford University Press, 1986). When he was ordained he took the anti-modernist oath, but declined to take it again for his doctorate. In the following quote he explains why:

"In the 1950s, candidates for a doctorate in Papal universities had to swear to a document called the anti-modernist oath, which contained the statement that it was possible to prove the existence of God. Though I had submitted a dissertation and passed the examinations, I was unwilling to proceed to the degree because I did not wish to take this oath. If God's existence could be known, I very much doubted whether it would be known by way of proof. Since then I have studied arguments for the existence of God presented by many philosophers, and I have not yet found a convincing one." (p. 31)

Maybe Kenny thinks you can't prove God exists because you can't prove that the universe makes sense and can be understood. This is a valid objection, notwithstanding the success we have had in science by making the assumption of the intelligibility of the universe. However, we can use this objection to refute atheists who claim they are being rational and believe the universe is not absurd.

In the chapter titled "Why I Am Not an Atheist," Kenny discusses three cosmological changes or transformations: the development of language in human beings, the origin of life, and the big bang. Since there is no good natural explanation for these changes, he argues, you can't exclude the possibility of a supernatural explanation. Concerning the origin of language he says:

"If we reflect on the social and conventional nature of language, we find something odd in the idea that language may have evolved because of the advantages possessed by language users over non-language users. It seems as absurd as the idea that banks may have evolved because those born with an innate cheque-writing ability were better off than those born without it." (p. 25)

This is why common sense and intuition leads non-philosophers to be theists and not atheists. Since human beings are embodied spirits, the existence of humans cannot be explained by the biology of reproduction and evolution. A supernatural being must have created human beings. Kenny argues in favor of a third philosophical option known as agnosticism.

The Lonely Crowd is a landmark sociological analysis that identifies the personality types called inner-directed and outer-directed. Atheists are obviously inner-directed types because they don't care what other people think. Agnostics are outer-directed types, and feel more comfortable saying they don't know whether or not God exists since so many people believe in God and believe their purpose in life is to serve God. I think this is why some people are atheists and others are agnostics.

Concerning the origin of the universe Kenny says:

"The most fundamental reason in favor of postulating an extra-cosmic agency of any kind is surely the need to explain the origin of the universe itself It is not the existence of the universe that calls for explanation, but its coming into existence." (p. 28)

Kenny is referring to the big bang, which was an extremely dense fireball of elementary particles that began our universe. Kenny agrees with the following metaphysical proposition: A being that begins to exist at some point in time needs a cause. If you assume that the big bang was a change from nothingness to a being or many beings, then the existence of an "extra-cosmic" agency can be inferred. However, if the big bang was preceded by a vacuum, this inference is not necessary since a vacuum may not be nothingness. A vacuum may be a real being or beings, not a mental being or an idea. A vacuum may have as much status in being as a photon or elementary particle.

A physicists will not find the idea that a vacuum exists strange because it was once thought that a vacuum consisted of a sea of negative energy electrons and that a positron was a hole in this sea. A physicists is also aware of the reality of kinetic energy which can be transformed into as many electron-positron pairs as you want as long as E = mc squared.

His third argument against atheism comes from the origin of life itself, which cannot be explained by natural selection:

"This is not to say that neo-Darwinians do not offer explanations of the origin of life; of course they do, but they are explanations of a radically different kind. All such explanations try to explain life as produced by the chance interaction of non-living materials and forces subject to purely physical laws." (p. 26)

A metaphysical approach is to rank the cosmological transformations in order of the magnitude of the change in the properties of the different modes of being. The following is my personal ranking:

1. animals to human beings
2. large molecules to single-celled organisms
3. vacuum to big bang
4. single-celled organisms to animals
5. elementary particles to atoms

Concerning the smallest change, modern field theory enables physicists to derive the properties of atoms from the properties of elementary particles. However, the theories are only approximations and are not entirely satisfactory for a number of reasons.

In the two-part chapter titled "Why I Am Not a Theist," Kenny reviews the proofs of God's existence offered by various philosophers and claims to refute them. Kenny fails to mention the idea that a finite being needs a cause but an infinite being does not, which is why an infinite being must exist. This is the crux of the cosmological argument.
A refutation of the cosmological argument that does not consider the contingency of a finite being and the self-sufficiency of an infinite being is not a refutation at all. The cosmological proof, I can call it now, can be analyzed further with the metaphysical concepts of essence and existence. I'll begin an explanation of these ideas with a quote from Kenny:

"For what is meant by 'necessary being'? Surely, a being in whom essence involves existence, that is to say, a being whose existence can be established by the ontological argument." (p. 37)

To me the ontological argument God exists because the concept of exists? makes no sense, however, it does make sense to say that God is a necessary or self-sufficient being. That God's essence "involves" God's existence is not clear or sure at all. According to Thomas Aquinas (1225 to 1274), a finite being is a metaphysical composition of two correlative metaphysical principles: essence and existence. The essence of a being is not added on to the existence, but acts to limit the existence of the finite being.

This analysis explains why finite beings are different from one another and gives a reason why finite beings need a cause. Finite beings need a cause because they are compositions and could not have composed themselves. Finite beings need a cause, also, because they could not have limited themselves. This analysis also means that an infinite being is a being that does not have an essence. An infinite being is a pure act of existence. "I am who am" is the way God explained it to Moses in Exodus.

Continuing the above quote above from "Religion":

"Another is that the historical events that are claimed to constitute the divine revelation must be independently established as historically certain as having the same certainty, say, as that Charles I was beheaded in London, or that Cicero was once consul in Rome. The events that are pointed to as founding charters for the world's great religions can surely not claim this degree of certainty." (p. 60)

The historical event that is "founding charter" of Christianity is the resurrection of Jesus. The Resurrection is an historical event that can't be explained in terms of any other historical event because of its impact on history itself. Nonbelievers consider the Resurrection to be a religious experience that the followers of Jesus had. The faith response of Christians to the Resurrection is to believe that Jesus entered into a new life with God and that if you follow Jesus the same thing can happen to you. Believers in non-Christian religions are responding in faith to the Resurrection too because they are aware of it and hope for salvation.

Kenny acknowledges the historical accuracy of the New Testament:

"I do not share the extreme scepticism of many scholars, including Christian scholars, about the historical value of the Gospels. For instance, that Jesus at his last meal took bread and wine and said something like 'this is my body, this is my blood' seems to me to be as likely to be true as anything that is narrated in the records of the early Roman Empire. With regard to the Acts of the Apostles, I have long been amused to note that Catholic biblical scholars often appear less ready to accept them as broadly historical than are atheists colleagues in ancient history departments. " (p. 58)

What happened to the two benchmarks of historical accuracy: the beheading of Charles I and the consulship of Cicero? What is the point of benchmarks if you don't use them? What religious historical events does Kenny have in mind when he says they are not certain? Is he thinking of miracles performed by Moses and recorded in Exodus?

I went to a college run by Jesuits in the early 1960s. During a theology class one day, apropos of nothing while writing on the chalkboard, the theology professor turned to the class and said, "Does anyone here seriously believe Lazarus rose from the dead? It is just a story." Did Kenny lose his faith and I didn't lose mine because I had better theology teachers?

Why doesn't Kenny just admit that he lost his faith? Why does he give us this hogwash about Charles I and Cicero? My guess is that the market for an honest book about religion by a nonbeliever is pretty small. There is a market for anti-religion books and pro-religion books, but who wants to buy a book from an ex-priest saying I wish I could believe.

Designing Organizations for High Performance
David P. Hanna
75 Arlington Street, Suite 300, Boston, MA 02116
0201126931 $34.00 1-800-428-5331

Sindhuja P N

"The fish only knows it lives in water after it is already on the river bank"
- An Old French Proverb

Managers of Modern Organizations are also in the similar situation. They are immersed in organizations every day. Today's Business organizations face unprecedented challenges. Across virtually every industry, managers are confronted with new conditions of rapid technological change, intense global competition, and growing demands for social responsibility - conditions that demand capacities of leadership, adaptability, and coordination on a scale never before imagined. As traditional sources of competitive advantage are being eroded, organization design is becoming a crucial strategic differentiator. Much has been written and discussed on the excellence of high performance organizations (HPOs). But, comparatively very little is written on how to develop HPOs. Exceptionally, this book speaks a lot on developing HPOs, enlightened by the experiences of those who achieved various levels of excellence across diversified industries or units. This motivated me to select this book for review.

A Good Primer and Introduction to the Concepts in ODD

The book entitled "Designing Organizations for High Performance", authored by David P. Hanna, aims to help lead in the design of high-performance organizations, whether as a manager or a consultant. This is a basic book in the area of Organization Development. The concepts mentioned operate at a cultural level as well as process level. The core is an analysis of tasks, structure, rewards, people, information, and decision-making. The very purpose of the author is to unidentifiably bridge the gap between theory and practice. While doing so, generally High Performance Organizations (HPOs) tend to omit the valuable insights into the processes that were used to translate organizational concepts into bottom-line improvements. The book serves the purpose of mainly two types of managers in an organizational context: Managers who would like to induce higher levels of performance in a discrete business unit and are not aware of how to go about it. Organization Consultant looking for tools to help managers manage the process of developing HPOs.

Bringing Practicality to Obscure OD Practice

The book focuses on how to implement various theories to get better results, and therefore is more of a 'how-to' book rather than being comprehensive in treatment of concepts. The author focused on implementing a different how-to approach to identify how successful others arrived at their plan of change and how it was reflected in the results. Sharing of these experiences would probably help develop new plan of innovative change with unparalleled results. The "how-to" considers two aspects of design. The rational part of this approach includes identifying the desired organizational models, design structuring to produce required results and continuous assessment of progress. The emotional part includes educating members about the new change, developing their commitment and support for the new model, changing habits to fit with the model and renewing the model when situations ask for.

Though approaches differ and transcend different geographical locations and foreign cultures, designing and developing systems capable of high performance involve certain principles of human behavior that are truly universal. The author has supported the above statement with a wide variety of examples taken from diverse organizations like health care units, manufacturing plants, religious institutions, high tech industries etc. So it is certainly evident from the book that Common Design Principles supersede most differences.

The author specifically states that the OD interventions discussed and applied are situation-specific and can be customized to suit any other similar circumstances. Ultimately, the aim should be to transform the organization into one which is capable of high performance.
Chapter-wise Review

Chapter - 1: Understanding How Organizations Function, gives an understanding of the theoretical roots behind high performance technology. Models like bureaucratic model or Machine theory of Organization, which ruled for more than two centuries is being replaced by Open systems Theory, which is presented in a very comprehensive manner. The implications of Open Systems theory for managing HPOs are also discussed and the chapter end on a hypothetical note: "All Organizations are perfectly designed to get the results they get".

Chapter - 2: An Organization Performance Model, presents an overview of organization performance model and its cause-effect linkages which helps in assessing organizational effectiveness and henceforth formulate systematic improvements in performance. Some practical examples where managers implement the principles of open systems theory is also examined.

Chapter - 3: The Assessment Process, discusses the evaluation process of OP model in greater depth and provide more real life examples. This chapter demonstrates there are "more than one way to skin a cat". Means, there are countless ways to measure organizational performance. Marvin Weisbord has summarized some wisdom on assessment and stated that "What you look at is what you see". It also figures out that assessment is very critical to creating high performance organizations. It is the diagnosis that should precede prescription if the ailment has to be uprooted.

Chapter - 4: The Design Process, follows once the assessment is complete and the task is to plan or design, the improvements that will lead to high performance. The process of designing is the subject of this chapter.Two major applications of systems Theory, Open systems Planning and Sociotechnical systems Design are also outlined and their strengths and weaknesses are also discussed here.

Chapter - 5: Approaches to specific Design Issues, details on some more techniques to approach some of the most difficult design issues like setting departmental boundaries, team design and work role design for individuals. It provides guidelines on the above three crucial areas. The Principles and approaches discussed in this chapter is helpful for many high performers to harness the natural energy of their people against the tasks to be completed. Often it is the rigorous design process that jolts members of the organization realize how much better their performance could be. So author defines design process as an exhaustive undertaking.

Chapter - 6: Managing cultural Change, points out that it is not only the blueprint, but also skilled people are required to manage the cultural and political norms when developing HPOs. This chapter explores into some actual experiences that had gone into managing cultural change. Values, attitudes and behaviours of members should be congruent with business and cultural objectives. Managing the cultural change is what truly brings the vision of design into reality.

Chapter - 7: Design Renewal: A Challenge to All, the concluding chapter addresses the topic of renewal. The chapter visualizes high performance as a phenomenon that must be renewed in light of an ever-changing business environment. It offers a parting challenge to all who undertake the effort of redesigning their corporate future. It is a cyclic process and the theory, experience and technology presented in this volume merely equip one to begin the journey.

Reviewer's Conclusion: Need for a Vision of High Performance

This is a practical guide to develop higher levels of performance in large organizations through changes in strategy, organization design, and culture. This guide presents detailed descriptions of ways in which individuals intervened in their organizations, how they arrived at their plans, and how it resulted in improved effectiveness and better business results for organizations by offering "insider's view" of how it has been done successfully in Procter & Gamble.

The old French Proverb given in the beginning, will never look puzzled, after reading the whole book. Also, the process of assessment and design substantiates the hypothetical note: "All Organizations are perfectly designed to get the results they get". HPOs operate effectively in many arenas. To put it in other words, high performance is the ability to get more things done with the same resources. To get the most from the resources is the biggest challenge of high performance. This book aimed and succeeded in providing ways of thinking about HPOs and proposed some universal principles and challenges that would enable the manager or OD consultant to take up this challenge. But, as the author had correctly pointed out, it's all voluntary. It's only a matter of choice or survival.

Author's Background:

A former senior consultant with Franklin Covey and Procter & Gamble, David P. Hanna has worked with clients in North and South America, Asia, Europe, Australia and Russia. He has consulted with executive teams, manufacturing plants, foreign subsidiaries, research & development technical centers, and corporate staff groups. Mr. Hanna is experienced in the areas of principle-centered leadership, strategic planning, and organization diagnosis, high performance work design, executive development, and team development. His list of clients includes Merck, Eastman Chemical, General Motors, Hoechst, Allied Signal, Conoco, Xerox, Saturn, Siemens, Shell, S. C. Johnson, Deloitte & Touche, Trammell Crow, Beverly Enterprises, Novell, Metro Cash & Carry, and Philips. A native of Albuquerque , New Mexico , Mr. Hanna received his B.A. in Communications and his M.A. in Organizational Behavior from Brigham Young University . He is the author of Designing Organizations for High Performance (Addison-Wesley, 1988), considered one of the top 50 Quality books in America . His most recent book is Leadership for the Ages (Executive Excellence Publishing, 2001).

Other suggested titles in the series:

1. Organizational Transitions: Managing Complex Change, Second Edition, Richard Beckhard and Reuben Harris.

2. Organization Development: A Normative View, W. Warner Burke

3. Team Building: Issues and Alternatives, Second Edition, William G. Dyer

4. Power and Organization Development: Mobilizing Power to Implement Change, Larry E. Greiner and Virginia E

Listen to the Mockingbird
Penny Rudolph
Poisoned Pen Press
6963 E. First Ave., Ste 103, Scottsdale, AZ, 85251
9781590583487 $14.95

Michael Siverling

Penny Rudolph's Listen to the Mockingbird combines the historical and mystery thriller genres into an excellent blend. The novel is the story of Matilda 'Mattie' Summerhayes, a single woman of property who owns a horse ranch called Mockingbird Spring in the Mesilla region of the New Mexico Territory in the year 1861. Mattie is a woman with a dark and tortured past, a past that is revealed to the reader in tantalizing glimpses threaded throughout the main story. And it's a story that begins with a murder in the dead of night.

Penny Rudolph's writing voice is both strong and poetic, as well as being immensely evocative. 'There is something about death that curdles thoughts and turns them backward. They converge in the chest like a jagged knot of ice in a winter stream gone dry', is an early example of Ms. Rudolph's facility to draw the reader into the mind of the protagonist. In Listen to the Mockingbird, the time and place of Civil War Era New Mexico become much more then mere setting; the land itself is richly portrayed, as seen in such language as: 'The sunset was painting the organ peaks crimson'. The time and place also provide certain dangers of their own, from the merciless vagaries of the elements of fire and water to the historical facts of law that not only failed to protect women of this era, but also unjustly persecuted them as well.

From the brutal murder of a young man at the ranch, a man who carried with him a map of Mockingbird Springs, Mattie faces dangers and hardships as she struggles to untangle the mystery of the young man's death. A mystery that also threatens her own life and the livelihood of her ranch as well. As the mystery deepens, Mattie is confronted by a varied cast of people, none of whom she can trust, from a world weary traveler to the local townspeople and the soldiers of both the Confederate and Union Armies. Mattie's only true ally in her trials is Winona, a Free Woman of Color, and Winona's support comes at the cost of the associated prejudice and superstition that she evokes in the townspeople. Heaped upon the heroine are the concurrent dangers of the Civil War intruding into the Territory as well as the daily fight to survive in a wild and untamed land, and Ms. Rudolph deftly illustrates the day to day lives of the early American settlers as they fought to carve out a land of their own.

Throughout it all, Mattie perseveres with strength, wisdom and courage that matches the enduring mountains surrounding her beloved Mockingbird Springs. Penny Rudolph smoothly delivers a book that educates as well as entertains with her strong and inspirational heroine, Mattie Summerhayes.

Afrika's Bookshelf

Why I Keep U A Secret
Lamont Carey
Lulu Press
860 Aviation Parkway, Suite 300, Morrisville, NC 27560
9781430305002 $15.00

Available at

This book is a reflection of the softer side of the electrifying spoken word artist known by his birth name, Lamont Carey. Some have said he is the heart of the streets. Lamont's fans will agree that this book is representative of his body of work, and an accurate display of talent from an artist whose stage performances never reveal love as a rose.

Why I Keep U A Secret is an interesting book of poetry that focuses on a wide variety of themes such as passion, humor, love, and relationships. It is very easy to read and his writing style is very unique. Each poem is very different and the message is carefully
thought out. Five Stars Rating

Just A Season
John T.Wills
Trafford Publishing
2333 Government Street, Suite 6E, Victoria, BC, Canada, V8T 4P4
1425107850 $24.95

Available at

Just a Season is a luminous story into the life of a man who, in the midst of pain and loss, journeys back in time to reexamine all the important people, circumstances, and intellectual fervor that contributed to the richness of his life.

This fictional narrative begins with a grief-stricken father visiting the gravesite of his beloved son who was killed in a tragic accident; a moment that he and no other loving parent should ever have to face. As he sadly gazes at his son's headstone and reads what is inscribed there, the dates 1981 - 2001 bring about an illuminating discovery.

The tiny dash that separates the years of one's birth and death represents the whole of a person's life. So if this tiny dash were to tell his life's story, what would it say? In Just a Season, the dash of this man's life is revealed and what emerges from the pages of
this book is a legacy of true benevolence and grace.

Just A Season is a thought provoking first debut of author, John T.Wills. In his book, Just a Season, John focuses on various topics such as pain, suffering, love and life. It is very well written from beginning to end. This is one of those book, where you can not
judge a book based on it's title and cover. However, both the title and cover drew me to reading, Just a Season.

The characters and the plot are captured very well. Congratulations on your first debut, Just a Season! Five Stars Rating

The Write House
Edwin Hurdle
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 S. Parker Rd., 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432704612 $10.95 1-888-672-6657

Available at

This book is a recipe filled with delicious poems that will feed the eyes and hearts of the reader. If you are hungry for poetry, this book will make you feel very full with the right ingredients to satisfy your taste. Come to 1600 Poetry Avenue and experience The Write House for yourself.

The Write House is Edwin Hurdle's first debut poetry collection which was published by OutSkirt Press and the cover was designed by Edwin Hurdle. It is an excellent book of poetry that is compiled by Edwin and focuses on various topics that anyone can relate too. It was very easy to read. My favorite poems were Ingredients for Romance (demonstrates a poem full of imagery, romance and format for showing unconditional love and or appreciation towards significant other. This poem is a vow that should not be broken in relationships),A Special Lady (is a remarkable poem that speaks for itself, any man can relate to this poem!) and Just Because (is a poem that anyone can relate too).

I only wished that he wrote more poetry in his first debut poetry collection entitled: The Write House, but all in all, I job well done!

Congratulations! I look forward to reading your next book! Five Stars Rating

Experience, Strength and Hope
George E Thompson
9781420891171 $13.99

Available at

This is a book of poems came about after my Mother passed away on Valentine's Day. I went through my archives and found some of my older poetry and decided to take up writing again. Having been blessed by God, the poems keep pouring forth onto paper and I wish to share my experience, hope and strength with you, the dear reader. I believe in the power of words, whether written, spoken or through gestures and sign language. Words can enlighten, dampen the spirit, raise us to great heights and take us to the lowest points in our lives.

Experience, Strength and Hope was an excellent book of poetry and a wonderful tribute. The cover is very powerful and the title is very reflective to the themes and messages behind the poems that have been published in Experience, Strength and Hope. George touches of subjects that everyone can relate to and the poems are very vivid. My favorite poems that have been published in Experience, Strength and Hope include Yesterday, Today and Tomorrow, Family, His Creation and Child of God.

After reading, Experience, Strength and Hope is clearly evident that George Thompson has a strong connection and relationship with God and spirituality, that is clearly displayed in his 103 pages worth of poems published by AuthorHouse.

I believe that George Thompson did an excellent job of releasing his pain and feelings, as well as lost for his mother and putting together a book that demonstrates such experience. Furthermore, the title that he chose for his book of poetry, is such an eloquent, that in itself is profound.

Congratulations on a job well done! I look forward to reading more of your work. Five Stars Rating

Afrika Midnight Asha Abney

Andrew's Bookshelf

Accordion War: Korea 1951, Life & Death in a Marine Rifle Company
Charles Hughes
Trafford Publishing
2333 Government Street, Suite 6E, Victoria, BC, Canada, V8T 4P4
1412084377 $16.47 1-888-232-4444

There is nobody more important when a Marine comes under fire than their "Doc." Navy corpsmen live, work, fight, and die with their Marines, and build a relationship with their Devil Dogs that is as deep as that between the Marines themselves.

Author Charles Hughes was a corpsman in Korea with "How" Company, 3rd Battalion, 7th Marines. Too young for WW2, Hughes joined the Navy and volunteered to join to Fleet Marines in order to "see some action." His wish was granted, and this exceptionally well-written book is his memoir of his time in Korea.

Professor emeritus of English at Henderson State University, Arkadelphia, Ark., Hughes is a gifted writer who spent considerable time and effort recalling his experiences and thoughts from some 56 years ago. In comparison to those macho stories of many veterans, Hughes recalls his private mantra when in battle "Oh God; please don't let me die." In between his stories of combat with "His" Marines of H Company, Hughes has skillfully added his philosophy on war and killing and his life after his military service.

This is one of the rare books that begs to be read in one reading. Hughes's stories of combat and life in Korea are lively; the reader can smell both the gunpowder and the kimchi. Korea may be a war unknown to the current generation, but books like "Accordion War: Korea 1951" will give the reader an appreciation of what young men like Charles Hughes and his Marines endured. Well done, Doc.

My Dad's a Hero
Rebecca Christiansen & Jewel Armstrong
9781595712097 $14.95

This is a perfect book for the 4 - 8 year old child whose father is called to deploy overseas. Written in a simple and elegant style that young children can read (or have read to them ); the accompanying pictures just beg to have Billy or Betty color them in and personalize the story. The two authors, one a mother of a deployed soldier, and the other a teacher, have collaborated on producing a book that is designed to explain, if not comfort, Dad's absence to his children.

While the term "hero" is grossly overused, if this book can help comfort a young child on dad's second, third, or forth deployment, then the book has done it's job.

Not only is the book highly recommended, but it would be certainly be helpful if the book was distributed to the children when Dad goes off on yet another deployment.

Marines & Renegades
Gene Rackovitch
PO Box 151, Frederick, MD 21705-0151
1424116880 $19.95

Most books about the Marines in WW2 focus on the fighting and the island-hopping campaigns; author and former Marine Gene Rackovitch takes the unusual focus of the Marines and Japanese on Guam - after the Japanese surrender.

The Marines kill two surrendering Japanese who they think are dangerous, and the surviving (but not surrendering) Japanese officer then seeks revenge. As much a murder mystery as a war novel, Rackovitch is a good novelist who describes the starving Japanese on the island is detail, along with the casual, comfortable, and victorious Marines. There are both heros and villains on both sides of this story, along with an unfortunately typical Marine ending.

Rackovitch was stationed on Guam after the war, and he draws on his experiences to describe the island, the weather, and the jungle. Additionally, he uses his tour in the Marines as a rich source of information in depicting the various types of Marines with whom he likely served.

Both Marines and non-Marines will enjoy this unusual story of the Japanese and Marines on Guam after the war ended in 1945.

The First Marine Captured in Vietnam
Donald L. Price
McFarland & Co.
978786428045 $35.00 1-800-253-2187

Long before the names and battles of Khe Sanh, Hue City, and Firebase Gloria were seared into America's consciousness, there were Marines and soldiers fighting, dying - and being captured - in Vietnam.

First-time author Donald Price's brings back the terror and heartache of these times. Price's thoroughly-researched biography of Marine Col. Donald Cook blends the story of Cook's wounding and capture in December 1964 through his December 1967 death with interviews from several of the POW's imprisoned with him as well as the equally courageous story of his wife Laurette and her four small children.

An advisor to the South Vietnamese Marines, Capt Cook was the first Marine captured by the Viet Cong. Unlike the American aviators shot down over North Vietnam and interned at the infamous Hanoi Hilton, Marines and soldiers captured in the south were normally locked inside small bamboo cages in small camps throughout the Mekong Delta. As opposed to the systematic and calculated isolated torture of Sen John McCain, Adm Jerimiah Denton, and others, life in the south consisted of slow starvation, disease, and simply trying to survive in an extremely harsh environment.

Author Price - himself a highly decorated Marine officer from the Vietnam era - details the abject misery endured by Cook and his fellow captives. Given only starvation rations by disinterested guards who also withheld the few medicines to which they might have access, often made dying easier than attempting to survive another day. But drawing on his strength as a Roman Catholic and a Marine officer, Cook took charge of the other POW's in the camp, and did his best to give them the hope to stay alive.

Through his three years of captivity, his family received only one letter from him. Her major source of comfort came from the Marine Corps, as then-commandant Gen Wallace Greene, Jr. contacted her personally and ensured she and her children were cared for to the best of the Marine Corps ability - indeed, they continued to receive the benefits commensurate with her husband's rank, as he was promoted twice 'in absentia."

Col Donald Cook is the only Marine ever to receive the Medal of Honor while being held prisoner of war, and Col Donald Price has written a story of honor - courage - commitment that encompasses the entire Cook family. Highly recommended !

Life After Deployment
Karen M. Pavlicin
ElvaResa Publishing
9780965748377 $14.95

"Life After Deployment" is author Karen Pavlicin's sequel to her award-winning book "Surviving Deployment". Mrs. Pavlicin has written another important book for the military family and their friends and relatives.

The writer is a wife of a Marine with multiple deployments, and this book deals with the many problems faced by wives and families when their servicemen return from deployment. These are not theoretical problems - these are the problems faced by too many families today: dealing with the children - re-establishing parental authority - PTSD - intimacy how to best handle combat deaths and injuries this book is filled with practical solutions Mrs. Pavlicin has elicited from the thousands of wives and families who have - and are - facing these issues.

With so few Americans volunteering to serve in the military (approx 0.03 % of the population), there is a deplorable lack of data and professional assistance for these families; most therapists have no clue how to deal with the anger of a child whose father died in Iraq or came home missing a limb from an IED attack in Afghanistan - this book is the first step to filling that void.

This book should be given to every spouse as his or her serviceman steps off the airplane back onto US tarmac. Well-written and thorough, the issues raised here are important ones that these families need to recognize and face, and Mrs. Pavlicin - the widow of a multiple-deployed Marine - does a first-rate job taking care of her now over-extended military family. Highly Recommended!

Never Rule Without a Magician, A Sage, and a Fool
Clare Novak
1599266288 $20.99 1-888-795-4274

There are so many "quick-fix" management books on the market today; yet most of them don't contain the common-sense tactics of Clare Novak's book.

An internationally known leadership trainer and consultant, Ms. Novak's breakout first book looks at leadership in a different light; one in which a smart king (or CEO) enlists and utilizes the advice of a few trusted advisors - a Magician, a Sage, and a Fool.

Using a blend of her internationally respected expertise and a sly sense of humor, Ms. Novak discusses the concept of successful management from the viewpoint of King Arthur, Merlin, and similar characters from that period. Concepts such as truth, honesty, and care for others are easily and smoothly blended with instilling a positive and profitable corporate culture. Written in a relaxed and informative style, Ms. Novak explains why a CEO needs to find and listen to a few trusted - yet honest - advisors.

Whether one refers to successful management these days as maneuver warfare, maximizing resources, or Trump's "Take no prisoners," every corporation's work ethic and goals flow from the top down - and if the CEO / King follows Ms. Novak's sage advice of enlisting a Magician, a Sage, and a Fool, then there is a far better chance that the business will do well in today's trying times.

This book is highly recommended for both the future and experienced business executive!

Andrew Lubin

Ann's Bookshelf

Shakespeare's Wife
Germaine Greer
Allen & Unwin
83 Alexander St., Sydney, NSW 2065, Australia
9780747591702 $35.00 AU

"Introduction: considering the poor reputation of wives generally, in particular the wives of literary men, and the traditional disparagement of the wife of the Man of the Millennium".

In this introduction to her 'Introduction', Greer spells out for us the theme and nature of her book. Ann Shakespeare is the maligned or disparaged wife in question and Greer intends to rescue her from this sorry state. She takes on all the well-know biographers of Shakespeare and points out where they err, and she offers her own biography of the wife of the Bard. As usual, she is argumentative, challenging and controversial. As usual, she will infuriate some readers and delight others. But she is tilting at windmills: and given that she provides us with chapter headings in the manner of Cervantes in Don Quixote, she clearly knows this.

In Chapters One and Two, Greer gallops through the genealogies of both Ann and William at such a pace that the reader is left reeling. Parents, brothers, sisters, aunts, uncles, births, marriages, name-changes, contracts, deaths and wills fly past but ultimately prove nothing other than that we don't know and probably will never know why Ann (or Agnes) Hathaway (or Gardner) and William Shakespeare married, or what their marriage was like. All Greer proves is that she can speculate as well or even better than the "bardolaters", in particular the male ones, whose work she frequently quotes. She speculates along the way that Mary Shakespeare, William's mother, married for status and spent her time gossiping and showing off her finery, rather than helping his father in the family business; that a young, love-lorn William wooed Ann with his poems (which, of course, is very likely); and that Ann was blind (although this is probably sarcasm), a milkmaid, or an employee in John Shakespear's gloving business.

Other chapters contain similar gallops through fragmentary archives concerning Stratford, its history and its citizens. Mostly, these chapters concern people whose lives may have been somewhat similar to that of Ann Shakespeare or who may have had some association with her. They provide support for Greer's claims that, for example, Ann was a respected and influential, financially independent townswoman. Which is quite possibly true. Often, however, these chapters bog down in details and connections which are just confusing. They offer speculation supported by too many random and often irrelevant details, which is pointless.

When Greer gets down off her high horse and writes about facts related to contemporary custom and society in general, rather than fantasy, she is very good. Chapter Six, for example ("of handfasts, troth-plights and bundling, of rings, gauds and conceits, and what was likely to happen on the big day"), offers a delightful description of Elizabethan marriage practices, beautifully illustrated by apt quotations from Shakespeare's plays. This chapter is a pleasure to read and provides us with a deeper understanding of the plays as well as some idea of the way in which a sixteenth century audience would have understood them.

Another chapter which I thoroughly enjoyed is that which argues that some of Shakespeare's love sonnets may have been written for Ann, not for some mysterious dark lady (or man). Greer quotes freely from the sonnets and argues her case selectively but well. The romantic in me would happily believe that Shakespeare truly loved his wife and missed her during his long absences from Stratford, but nothing can be proved either way.

It is a pity that in her gallant effort to rescue Ann from oblivion, Greer sometimes contradicts herself. In several places she notes that many people made the three day journey between London and Stratford, and she suggests that Will did this between terms, when the theatres were closed, and for family occasions. At other times she writes of him as having been "estranged from his family for more than ten years". She is also inclined to lapse in slang (Mary Shakespeare was "spoiled rotten", John Shakespeare's business had "flat-lined", someone else "gets an earful"), which is a pity given the overall excellence of her writing.

None of this matters, of course. In the end, all biography is speculation. What does matter is Shakespeare's work, not his life or that of his wife.

As Greer writes in the penultimate paragraph of her final chapter, in which she, "the intrepid author", suggests that Ann may have been very much involved in the publication of the First Folio: "All this, in common with most of this book, is heresy, and probably neither truer nor less true than the accepted prejudice".


The Quiet Girl
Peter Hoeg
Random House, Vauxhall Bridge Road, London, SW1V 2SA
9781846550607 $32.95 AU

Peter Hoeg's second novel, Miss Smilla's Feeling for Snow, was a huge success and I, for one, thoroughly enjoyed it. The Quiet Girl, however, is very different. It is a strange and confusing story.

Part of the strangeness is due to the narrator, Kaspar Krone, who is a renowned clown with a most unusual ability. Due to a childhood accident, he hears the world around him as musical keys. He recognizes places by their sound and identifies the sound with pieces of classical music that he knows and loves. He hears people that way, too, and can often predict how they will behave. All this, he imparts to the reader. Kaspar lives in Copenhagen, but he is not Danish. He is deeply in debt, wanted for tax evasion, and on the verge of extradition.

The book is strange, too, because of the special children who have an inexplicable quality (which Kaspar hears as sudden strange silences) which makes them important to the plans of some very odd groups of people. One girl in particular captures Kaspar's attention, and she has a particular interest in him. At first it seems as if she has been kidnapped and is asking Kaspar for help, but several times she turns up unexpectedly to confront him; at other times she seems to be in control of everything. In trying to help her, Kaspar is constantly in danger. Only at the end of the book does her identity and purpose become clear, and even then nothing is resolved.

The Quiet Girl is confusing, because the narration jumps around in time (which is not in itself a problem) and we are never sure of the nature of the people Kaspar gets involved with. Even those who seem to be helping him turn out to have links with those who are pursuing him. The plot is intricate and tangled, and much of the time I was lost and puzzled. Too many things seemed unreal, too much of the action impossible. Kaspar is threatened on all sides, running, hiding, fighting, tricking people, and even when he is mortally wounded he manages to perform impossible feats. He has a wry sense of humour, but his way of speaking and thinking in abrupt, short sentences made me think, to begin with, that this was a fault in translation. It was not, and I did get used to it.

In the end, however, I lost patience with the story, although the puzzle about the children kept me reading until the end. And the end, surprising as it was, was too unlikely, and the resolution of the plot too contrived, to be satisfying.

Other readers may be gripped by this mixture of mystery, music and mayhem, with a bit of science and philosophy thrown in, and with a few zany characters and a minor love interest to add spice. Sadly, I was not. Yet, since I enjoyed the company of Miss Smilla in Hoeg's earlier book so much, I almost feel I should read The Quiet Girl again and see if it makes more sense the second time around, especially as the publicity blurb describes the book as "a philosophical thriller of rare quality". A"thriller"? Yes. "Rare"? Well it is unique. "Philosophical"? Sometimes, but in a ruminative sort of way. "Quality"? Questionable.

Ann Skea

Bethany's Bookshelf

Our Classical Heritage
Caroline Noble Whitbeck
Switchback Books
PO Box 478868, Chicago, IL 60647
9780978617219, $14.00

Winner of the 2006 Gatewood Prize, Our Classical Heritage: A Homing Device is the debut anthology of free-verse poetry by literature and literary theory student Caroline Noble Whitbeck. Daring to experiment with format verse layout, Our Classical Heritage is a pastiche of images from American adolescence, brimming with energy and inscrutable panache. "Book of Etiquette": What was I after / in the orchard the / roots What was the lesson / he missed the rhetoric And / on the bed the eiderdown / And on the plate the urgency / the peat the impossibilities What / was the string that snapped the golden / plectrum the bedpan the syllables / an unstrung bowl of unripe / the rinds the bracelet the bare wrist

Animate, Inanimate Aims
Brenda Iijima
Litmus Press
PO Box 25526, Brooklyn, NY 11202-5526
9781933959023, $15.00

Animate, Inanimate Aims is the second book by poet and visual artist Brenda Iijima. An assortment of stark, original black-and-white illustrations bookend the free-verse poetry that dissects observations into minimalist composition. Some stanzas shrink to a single word; others expound with luminous, discrete detail in this uniquely vivacious collection. "Inevitably": A horse obeys // But only in relation / To the race // Rhymes with disgrace // Propulsion and steering / Power / Buck / Jump / With arched back // Note the effect of rapidity and / Confusion. Sloggering. No this / Can't be comprehended / By pure reason /Elucidated by ambiguity / Time is pregnant

Eden in the Rearview Mirror
Susan Elbe
Word Press
PO Box 541106, Cincinnati, OH 45254-1106
9781933456775, $17.00, 80 pages

Eden in the Rearview Mirror is a collection of original free-verse poetry by author Susan Elbe. Crafted from loss, the verses reflect heartbreak but also the fondness of memories, and reflections upon the timeless beauty of nature. A gentle outpouring of emotion, flowing freely with every word. "If I Loved Him, It Would Be This Way": Night like a giant manta ray brushes / the screens with hushed velvet wings. / Under the slant roof, in a kelp-sway of trees / I lie on a thin, cottage bed / and whether it is wind or rain blowing through, / I only know it's green, / rolling down through moss, deep / into algae, and deeper, where green declines / to the dark verdancy glyphed / in a plum or the body's first minnowing.

Some Nights No Cars At All
Josh Rathkamp
Ausable Press
1026 Hurricane Road, Keene, NY 12942
9781931337359, $14.00 1-800-283-3572

Some Nights No Cars At All is an anthology of free-verse poetry by community college teacher Josh Rathkamp. Touching upon a medley of topics in everyday life, from getting directions, to interacting with a lunch lady who uses bad language, to listening to a duet on the radio. An eclectic medley combining slice-of-life storytelling with wistful emotion, and brimming with the earthy quality of the everyday human experience. "Before Breakfast": A family, I think, of small mule / deer has taken my shoe // beside the door / in haste. Suddenly as if nature // took the time for this- / the wind blew dust // blanketing a man with groceries.

Susan Bethany

Buhle's Bookshelf

My Loaded AK-47 Vol. 1
Cleveland S. Barrett, Sr.
Vantage Press Inc.
419 Park Avenue South, 18th floor, New York, NY 10016
9780533143511, $21.95 1-212-736-1767

Written by African-American poet Cleveland S. Barrett, Sr., a.k.a. "The Ghetto Poet Hulk", My Loaded AK-47 Vol. 1 is an original compilation of free-verse poetry examines the African-American experience and unique struggles in modern-day America. Passionate conviction marks the pages, as does a lamentation of the deterioration of inner city communities into ghettos and the spark of hope for societal improvement. "Poet-in-Touch": Magnetic sound of poetry, blue prints of a dream / demonstrate my faith and 360 degrees of knowledge. / I do away with envy, jealousy, and negativism. / They are replaced with steadfastness, righteousness / and / positiveness. / My artistic gift has thought, self-discipline, in other / words plan, / prepare and preserve. / I write my verses from deep within. I have found my / voice and / my rage!

Poems that Might or Might Not Change Your Life
Charlie Clouse
Hound Dog Press
191 Rockingham Drive #B, Harrisonburg, VA 22802
9780979591907, $9.95

The second poetry collection by author Charlie Clouse, Poems that Might or Might Not Change Your Life is an anthology of brief, free-verse works that reflect the everyday and occasionally humorous moments of life. Written in the years from 1996 to 2006, the verses offer a flash of brilliant insight into the human condition and each deserves to savored - either one at a time or all at once. "Learning To Be Human": Everyday we have the / ability to do something / great or the ability to do / something really, really / stupid. Either way / we have the ability to learn to be human.

The Last Cavalier
Alexander Dumas
Pegasus Books, LLC
45 Wall Street, Suite 1021, New York, NY 10005
9781933648316, $32.00

Alexander Dumas is best known for his classic novels 'The Three Musketeers' and 'The Count of Monte Cristo'. What is not so well known is that he also authored "The Last Cavalier: Being the Adventure of Count Sainte Hermine in the Age of Napoleon". Thought lost for more than 125 years, this major novel by Dumas was rediscovered in the archives of the National Library in Paris and has now been translated into English for the first time. Count Hector de Sainte-Hermine has been languishing in prison for three years when on the eve of Napoleon's coronation as emperor of France, he final learns what's to be his fate. He is stripped of his title and denied the hand of the woman he loves, but given his freedom on the condition that he serve in the imperial army. Hector subsequently embarks on a series of daring escapades and wins fame and glory fighting against brigands, bandits, the British, boa constrictors, sharks, and crocodiles. At the battle of Trafalgar it is his marksman's bullet that fells the English Admiral Lord Nelson. But his ultimate destiny is to be found in Paris and his father's implacable enemy -- Napoleon. Strongly recommended for academic and community library collections, "The Last Cavalier" has all the excitement and daring associated with a Dumas adventure novel, and at 544-pages in length, will prove to be a substantial as well as substantially rewarding read.

Authoritative Guide To Lionel's Promotional Outfits 1960 - 1969
John W. Schmid
Project Roar Publishing
PO Box 599, Winfield, IL 60190
9781933600024, $69.95

Drawing upon thousands of authentic Lionel documents, "Authoritative Guide To Lionel's Promotional Outfits 1969 - 1969" is an 848-page illustrated compendium showcasing the more than 700 electric train outfits (also known as 'uncatalogued train sets') that the Lionel company created exclusively as promotional items for retailers that included Sears Roebuck & Co.; Montgomery Ward; Spiegel; Western Auto; A&P; Quaker Oats; and others. Because of the limited numbers manufactured, these promotional outfits are among the most valuable items in the history of model railroading. These outfits never appeared in Lionel's consumer catalogs and information about them simply unavailable -- until now. John W. Schmid has been collecting toy trains with his father for decades. After the 2001 auction in which the Lionel Factory Orders and other miscellaneous internal company documents were purchased, Schmid embarked upon years of extensive research in newly found documents and has now distilled that research into the pages of an impressively descriptive catalog. The result is "Authoritative Guide To Lionel's Promotional Outfits 1960-1969", a work of meticulous scholarship that is unique in the annals of the enduringly popular hobby of model trains and railroads. Included is how all the engine and cars came to be individually packed; descriptions of the original outfit box (including outfit inserts and packaging); pricing for the complete outfit (and even the empty box alone); original production quantities; diagrams for packing the outfit in the outfit box; instruction sheets, packed envelopes, as well as peripherals (track, transformer, oil, wire, smoke, etc.) Also available in a hardcover edition (9781933600031, $89.95), John Schmid's "Authoritative Guide To Lionel's Promotional Outfits 1960 - 1969" is impressively informative and enthusiastically recommended for all dedicated model railroading reference collections.

Willis M. Buhle

Burroughs' Bookshelf

Ryunosuke Akutagawa, author
Charles De Wolf, translator
Archipelago Books
25 Jay Street, #203, Brooklyn, NY 11201
9780977857609, $16.00 1-800-283-3572

Skillfully translated from the original Japanese by Charles De Wolf, Mandarins: Stories by Ryunosuke Akutagawa is an anthology of short stories written during the all-too-brief life of Ryunosuke Akutagawa (1892-1927). Fluidly evoking 1920's Japan, in an era when traditions were in flux and the yearning for personal liberty burned brightly, Mandarins features characters who struggle against the society around them. The three stories in Mandarins, translated into English for the first time, are "An Enlightened Husband", "An Evening Conversation", and "Winter". At times cruel, at times fantastically descriptive, Akutagawa's prose resonates with a piercing clarity on every page. A welcome addition to Japanese literature shelves.

Dream of the Dragon Pool
Albert A. Dalia
Jack Estes, Publisher
201 West 89 Street, New York, NY 10024
9781929355341, $18.00

Written by Albert A. Dalia, a scholar of medieval Chinese history and culture for four decades, Dream of the Dragon Pool: A Daoist Quest is an amazing novel based on the historical death-sentence exile of China's beloved poet-adventurer Li Bo (also Li Bai, 701-762 A.D.). A fanciful tale of myth and wonder, told as traditional Chinese-style heroic fiction, Dream of the Dragon Pool follows Li Bo on his journey toward certain death in faraway Burma/Myanmar. Unconcerned about the threat of his imminent demise, Li Bo sees his travels as a quest for poetic inspiration. Along the way he befriends the emperor's most powerful shamaness, accidentally awakens the horrific Blood Dragon and its ghostly slaves, and stumbles into possession of the coveted and legendary Dragon Pool Sword after a dream visit from a Daoist Immortal. Wicked and nefarious enemies and wondrous adventure flow from this exotic and utterly enthralling tale.

Big Mind, Big Heart
Dennis Genpo Merzel
Big Mind Publishing
1268 East S. Temple, Salt Lake City, UT 84102
9780977142330, $17.95

Zen Master Dennis Genpo Merzel presents Big Mind, Big Heart: Finding Your Way, a self-help guide to sorting through the sea of one's mind and reaching for the "Big Mind" state - existing as ever-present, oceanic, "just being" awareness. Traditionally, reaching such awareness requires years of meditation practice; yet Big Mind, Big Heart offers insights to quickly and efficiently achieving the state. An accompanying audio CD guides the reader through the step-by-step process, revealing that practitioners do not need to "attain" the awareness - human beings already are this awareness, and can learn to shift to it, uncovering the great wisdom and compassion required to live happier, healthier lives. A wonderful "how-to" guide to unlocking the power, greatness, and love within oneself.

Nathan J. Winograd
Almaden Books
8721 Santa Monica Blvd., #948, Los Angeles, CA 90069
9780979074301, $16.95

Redemption: The Myth of Pet Overpopulation and the No Kill Revolution in America is a passionate advocacy for ending the killing of homeless dogs and cats in shelters. Telling the story of how the movement of animal sheltering in the United States was born of compassion and lost its way, Redemption counters claims of pet overpopulation with thought-provoking assertions. If there is pet overpopulation, then why do shelters that kill animals have so many empty cages, day in and day out? If there is pet overpopulation, then why do puppy and kitten mills take in so much successful business selling animals? Exposing the utter failures and inadequacies of shelters, and the ASPCA itself - especially failures to properly advertise and promote their animals to homes that can adopt them - Redemption shows the way to a movement toward animal shelters that do not kill animals solely because it is more convenient. The "No Kill" shelter movement is still in its infancy, driven largely by charismatic leaders, when it needs to become institutionalized to counter the institutionalized ruthlessness of shelters that kill; Redemption offers hope that America can yet change its ways. Highly recommended.

John Burroughs

Carson's Bookshelf

Houdini Speaks Out
Arthur Moses
Xlibris Corporation
International Plaza II, Suite 340, Philadelphia, PA 19113
9781425767402, $45.99

Harry Houdini is a legendary stage magician whose legacy and influence have served to inspire practitioners of legerdemain down to the present day. Although very well known as a magician and as an escape artist, over time people have largely forgotten that he was also a believer in an after life and an exposure of fraudulent mediums who tended to prey on a gullible public. "Houdini Speaks Out: "I am Houdini! And you are a fraud!" by Arthur Moses recreates Houdini's 'solitarian' lectures which he gave from 1922 to his unexpected and early death in 1926. Each of the fifty glass lantern slides he used to highlight his lectures are recreated and carefully matched to his original lecture text. Also available in a hardcover edition (9781425767433, $79.99) "Houdini Speaks Out" is a very strongly recommended addition to personal, professional, academic, and community library collections -- and should be considered mandatory reading by anyone with an interest in spiritualism, magic, and the occult.

Frederick Hart: The Complete Works
Donald Kuspit & Frederick turner, essayists
Butler Books
PO Box 7311, Louisville, KY 40207
9781884532853, $70.00

A 328-page monograph enhanced with 246 color plates and 136 black-and-white illustrations, as well as informed and informative essays on the life and work of the acclaimed sculptor, "Frederick Hart: The Complete Works" is based on the premier of the largest exhibition of Frederick hart's works to date and held at the University of Louisville on September 6, 2007. Art historian Donald Kuspit and poet-scholar Frederick Turner provide fascinating background information on the sculptor and his creations. "Frederick Hart: The Complete Works" also features a complete chronology of the artist's life. Of special note are the full specifications, complete documentation, and validation of the showcased works. Hart is famous for creating his powerful and inspiring figurative sculptures that grace diverse settings ranging from the National Cathedral to the Vietnam Veterans Memorial. No academic university 20th Century Art or American Sculpture collection can be considered comprehensive without the inclusion of the Butler Books' superbly published edition of "Frederick Hart: The Complete Works"!

Listen Up!
Eunice LeMay & Jane Schwamberger
Papilo Publishing
PO Box 4197, Santa Cruz, CA 95063
9780978805852, $16.95

The collaborative work of Eunice LeMay and Jane Schwamberger (who together draw upon a total of sixty years of experience and experience working and managing in libraries and the business world), "Listen Up!: How To Communicate Effectively At Work" is a compilation of apply-it-yourself skills for communicating effectively with customers, clients, co-workers, and bosses regardless of gender, cultural, or generational differences. Readers of "Listen Up!" will learn how to identify their own (and others) learning and workplace behavioral types. This will lead to an enhanced ability to foster teamwork, reduce stress, and improve performance. Based on the concept that listening is the foundation of good communication, "Listen Up!" is confidently recommended reading for anyone seeking to increase productivity and job satisfaction for themselves, their employees, their management, their vendors, and their customers.

Religious Architecture In Hispano New Mexico
Thomas J. Steele & Thomas L. Lucero
LPD Press
925 Salamanca NW, Los Ranchose de ABQ, NM, 87107-5647
1890689408, $15.95

A slender, 64-page, profusely illustrated and very highly recommended analytical compilation and survey of early southwestern frontier church buildings, "Religious Architecture In Hispano New Mexico" by architect Thomas L. Lucero in collaboration with Thomas J. Steele, a Jesuit scholar who is the leading authority on the Hispanic devotional arts of New Mexico, offers an informed and informatively descriptive explanation of New Mexico's Hispanic adobe churches. Of special note is the authors classification system which will prove exceptional useful for scholars and non-specialist general readers alike when reviewing the distinct types of religious structures associated with 18th and 19th century religious structures in Hispanic New Mexico.

Michael J. Carson

Cheri's Bookshelf

The Swashbuckler
Lee Lynch
0930044665 $8.00

The Swashbuckler, by Lee Lynch, a 2007 Alice B. Reader's Medal recipient and 2006 Saints & Sinners Literary Hall of Fame inductee, is profoundly inspiring on many levels. Lynch captures the mood of the New York City gay movement, most notably, lesbian culture between 1960 and 1972, and shows how intolerance affects us all. In a homophobic world, the peer pressure to conform, even in non-conformity, is a small price to pay for the support and acceptance of your friends, who often become your family of choice.

The story begins in pre-Stonewall Greenwich Village when the climate for gays and lesbians is oppressive. Same-sex partners could be arrested for openly expressing their love. Our heroine Frenchy Tonneau is twenty-one, good-looking and 100% prime butch, and she loves that side of herself right down to her diddy-bop walk even though she knows it angers straight people. There are two Frenchies during the week she's the closeted, dutiful daughter and reliable cashier at a supermarket checkout in the Bronx, and on Saturday nights, she emerges, dressed to break hearts, as the chick magnet to every femme she can get her hands on. Just thinking about commitment makes the swashbuckler itchy.

Frenchy has no intention of settling down, but she doesn't count on meeting the Jewish teacher Edie from Queens, or the Puerto Rican temptress from El Barrio, Mercedes, or even the Jewish bohemian princess Pam. She wonders why she's always falling for Jewish or Puerto Rican girls, but more importantly, how they succeed in chipping away at her tough butch exterior and rocking her world. Can stone turn to sand? Can a swashbuckler settle down and be happy with one woman? Will Frenchy accept her transformation and find true love and ultimate happiness?

With women loving women across races and religions, what could be better than when love wins out over cultural differences? During her first trip to Provincetown, Frenchy meets Mercedes, a pretty Spanish chick with a butch swagger and a few skeletons in her closet. At first sight, Frenchy is intrigued but can't figure out if Mercedes is butch or femme, and it matters. Can two butches fall in love? Taking this journey with Frenchy and Mercedes is a truly far-out and groovy trip you won't want to miss. The Swashbuckler is an affirming romance where you hope that everyone, butch, femme, black, white, Christian, Jewish, Hispanic, gay, straight etc. comes to her own truth in her own time and before it's too late.

At a time when the bar culture was very much into roles and most women were pressured to choose either butch or femme. It was a put-down to be called Kiki, which according to, is a term that was used in the lesbian bar culture of the 1950s and 1960s to describe someone who was neither butch nor femme or both. The Swashbuckler follows the growth of two admirable women, in an ever changing environment, who must overcome societal and personal obstacles in order to live true to their natures and conform to their own norms.

Pioneer and celebrated author, Lee Lynch finely weaves social commentary throughout the compelling story in a way that informs yet doesn't preach or weigh down the plot. The Swashbuckler is a classic romance reminiscent of Ann Bannon's work but with a much happier ending. It was easier to publish lesbian love with positive outcomes in 1985 than during the 50's and 60's. The Swashbuckler also celebrates the differences among us based on race, religion, and education level and explores how much better life would be if bigotry was abolished.

I give The Swashbuckler two thumbs up. It should be required reading regardless of sexual orientation, race, religion, gender or age. Lynch's story reaffirms our faith in love as defined as two people who give every part of themselves to each other. The Swashbuckler allows an intimate glimpse of two incredibly courageous young women. Their growth feeds our growth. Baby boomers will reminisce and younger women will see where they came from.I cannot rate or recommend this book more highly. The Swashbuckler is a five-star read.

Sarah Waters
Riverhead Books/The Berkley Publishing Group/Division of Penguin Putnam Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
1573222038 $15.00

For anyone who hasn't discovered the literary genius of Sarah Waters, it won't be long before you'll want to devour every word the best-selling, award-winning novelist pens. My admiration goes beyond the author's expertise in capturing the mood reminiscent of Oliver Twist. Waters extensive research enriches the vivid setting. Her spot-on characterizations combined with a highly absorbing plot captivate both critics and readers alike. If I were to go back to Victorian England, more precisely London 1862, I bet it would look, smell, taste, and sound as Waters has deftly described it. If I would have been asked to root for a thief, I should say not. But Susan Trinder, an orphan who through a twist of fate only knows a crooked life, is worth saving. And what of Maud Lilly? Orphaned as well, she lives a seemingly charmed, though lonely life, in a country estate of her uncle, much as a caged bird. Left in the hands of evil folk who prosper by unsavory means, can the fates of both women be spared? How much strife can a woman endure before she loses her mind, heart, and soul?

Fingersmith is the story of two young women who have nothing in common except the acquaintance of a man who goes by the name Gentleman. He's a crook who means to ruin an heiress in order to make his fortune. As part of Gentleman's plan to get rich quick, Susan leaves Mrs. Sucksby, the woman who raises her, and London, the only home she's ever known. When she travels to Briar to pose as Maud's maid, she soon discovers a connection that goes beyond the treacherous scheme that brings her and Maud together. Despite deceit, their kinship is cemented during all the time they spend in each other's company. Their heartstrings are pulled tight with thoughts of what is to happen next. They share a love believed to be so hideous as to be shunned by society and yet through it all, the hope of good coming out of evil is the hope that has readers turning the pages.

Gentleman, a despicable yet thoroughly charming con man, evokes little or no sympathy but he's entertaining in his cunning sort of way. Then there's Mrs. Sucksby, a petty thief, who raises Susan as a means to an end. When Mrs. Sucksby sells the other orphaned infants but keeps Sue as her own, Waters compels us to discover the motive behind baby farmer's actions. Mr. Lilly, Maud's uncle, is a depraved man who enslaves a girl for his gain. It makes us wonder how some people have few scruples to inflict cruelty upon others.

Waters captivates her audiences through vivid imagery as each scene builds the suspenseful plot only to pull a fast one at every turn. Anyone who longs for a Victorian novel told expertly in the Dickens style, who loves surprises, who enjoys characters to sink your teeth into, and who wants to come away uplifted, would do well not to hesitate another moment. Head over to your bookshop or on-line seller and pick up a copy today. Susan and Maud will forever be in your heart. You won't be able to put it down. If you crave authentic historical fiction, clever plot twists, and a fine romance, I highly recommend you don't miss this gem.

Cheri Rosenberg

Christy's Bookshelf

Invisible Prey
John Sandford
G.P. Putnam's Sons
New York, NY
978039154218 $26.95

Lucas Davenport, special agent for Minnesota's Bureau of Criminal Apprehension, is trying to deal with the sensitive investigation of a local politician who has been accused of having a sexual relationship with a minor when his boss calls him in on another case that occurred in one of St. Paul's richest neighborhoods. Two elderly women have been found bludgeoned to death in a home filled with antiques. Although robbery is the suspected motive, not much has been taken, so Lucas asks his intern, Sandy, to cross-match crimes of a like nature. What she discovers takes Lucas back to a cold case and has him researching the antiquities venue as he follows a twisting investigation that leads him away from the killers.

Although this is not the best in the Prey series, it is a good read. The two plots at times seemed to compete with one another, which made the read seem somewhat convoluted. Sandford is strong with characterization and the addition of Sandy, the intern, was a bonus, along with Detective Flowers, both of whom this reader hopes to see in future books. Sandford's tendency to drop designer names grows tiring at times (can't someone just once wear a simple shirt and pants?). One major disappointment for this reader is Davenport's laid-back mellowness compared to the earlier books, where he was sharper, with a dangerous edge.

Marked Man
William Lashner
William Morrow/Harper Collins
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 1002
978006072558 $24.95

Philadelphia Attorney Victor Carl wakes up one morning in the vestibule of his apartment building, his suit disheveled, socks missing, and the name Chantal Adair inscribed on his chest. Victor can't remember what happened the prior night and is on a quest to find out, along with who Chantal Adair is. But his efforts are waylaid by a stubborn Greek woman on her deathbed, demanding he bring her son Charlie Kalakos home in return for a favor Victor's father owes her. Charlie is wanted by the District Attorney's Office and the FBI for stealing a Rembrandt painting from a museum. Charlie wants to return home to tell his mother goodbye but Charlie's partners-in-crime would prefer he stay gone. While negotiating with the authorities as well as considering a shady offer by an art dealer/mercenary named Lavender Hill, Victor hires his own investigator to find Chantal Adair. To his surprise, a young girl with the same name disappeared the night Charlie and his gang stole the Rembrandt. Could the two crimes be connected?

Each outing with self-deprecating Victor Carl is a treat for readers who like a good mystery with wacky characters and a narrative voice that entertains throughout. A flawed man who thinks worse of himself than he actually is, Victor is tempted by fame and money with an internal monitoring system that allows him to step outside the bounds of law, but just barely. Victor, who seems to remain in a self-identity crisis, is joined this time by his partner, Beth Derringer, the moral gauge of their partnership. Lashner's excellent style offers plenty of humor enmeshed within a good story and characters that just can't be matched. This series is a hard one to top.

Tilt a Whirl
Chris Grabenstein
Carroll & Graf Publishers
9780786715848 $23.95

Danny Boyle, part-time cop for the Sea Haven, New Jersey police department, has been partnered for the summer with John Ceepak, former military policeman in Iraq. Danny is bemused by Ceepak, a man of integrity and principles, who lives by what Danny calls the Code, meaning he does not break the law or bend rules in any way. Reginald Hart, a billionaire businessman, is shot point blank while talking to his daughter on the Turtle Tilt a Whirl in their small town's amusement park. Since Danny and Ceepak are first on the scene, their police chief designates Ceepak to head the investigation into Hart's murder. Hart's ex-wife is quickly ruled out and the investigators are looking in the direction of Latino gang members. But when a homeless drug addict called Squeegee kidnaps Hart's daughter and demands ransom, they're hot on his trail, which takes the investigation down another path.

Tilt a Whirl is the first in a new series by Chris Grabenstein, and if this is any indication of future stories, the series is sure to be a hit. Written in a witty style, with characters that demand inclusion in future books, this twisting, turning mystery will keep the reader thoroughly entertained.

Got the Look
James Grippando
Harper Collins
9780060564582 $24.95

Miami attorney Jack Swyteck is emotionally devastated when he learns that Mia Salazar, his girlfriend of the past three months, is a married woman. Mia's husband, Ernesto, a wealthy businessman, finds out about the affair shortly before Mia is kidnapped. The kidnapper's ransom notes demands payment for what Mia is worth, and the betrayed Salazar decides his wandering wife is worth nothing. FBI agent Andie Henning has been tracking this serial kidnapper and contacts Jack after being (facetiously) told by Salazar that he is his attorney. When Jack learns that Salazar is refusing to make payment, he is initially reluctant to become involved but eventually does and negotiates with the kidnapper for Mia's release. Andie, Jack and his good friend Theo Knight begin to unravel Mia's past in hopes of discovering the identity of the kidnapper and learn that she may possibly be connected to a controversial trial several years before. Meanwhile, the kidnapper is sending videos of Mia being tortured, which makes for a frantic effort to find her before the kidnapper kills her.

Got the Look is by far not the best of the Jack Swyteck series with a plot that lags at times and threatens to be absorbed by the subplot of Mia's identity. Theo is an engaging character and offers humorous relief among a cast of unlikable characters. Andie Henning is interesting and looks to play a part in future books in the series. The identity of the kidnapper and his reason for kidnapping Mia were not very plausible and hard to grasp. Of concern is Swyteck's propensity for allowing murderers to, well, get away with murder.

Ann Patchett
Harper Collins
9780061340635 $25.95

This story centers around a small, religious statuette which bears a strong resemblance to Bernadette Doyle. It is tradition in Bernadette's family that the statue be handed down from mother to daughter, but Bernadette and her husband have one biological son, Sullivan, and two adopted sons, African American brothers, Tip and Teddy, but no daughters, so the ultimate fate of the statue is in question. Bernadette dies from cancer when Tip and Teddy are young and Doyle assumes the responsibility of raising them. It is Doyle's dream that his sons share his passion for politics and follow him into a career in same. But Tip is a student at Harvard who wants to be an ichthyologist while Teddy is interested in the priesthood. Doyle, however, asks Tip and Teddy to attend a speech by Jesse Jackson with him in hopes of interesting them in politics. Afterward, Tip argues with Doyle and unintentionally steps in front of a car. A black woman saves Tip by pushing him out of the way but is injured and rushed to the hospital. Doyle offers to care for her young daughter, Kenya, while she is recovering. And this one person stepping into their lives forces each of these men to come to terms with the past, each other and themselves.

Ann Patchett's eloquent prose is exceptional, to be absorbed and savored, as she delves deep into the psyche of her characters and delivers a slowly evolving plot. Although Run does not quite meet the high standards of Patchett's Bel Canto, it is an intriguing, enjoyable read.

Christy Tillery French

Clay's Bookshelf

The Angelic Prophecy
Robert L. Hecker
Mundania Press, LLC
6470A Glenway Avenue, #109, Cincinnati, OH 45211-5222
159426256X $14.00

Michael Modesto is a rock star, a rock star to the full extreme with the alcohol and the girls, living life hard in the fast lane. Than all of a sudden he begins to tire, the pleasure begins to fade and at twenty-five he begins to question if he's getting too old for the music.

Than one night at one of so many parties he meets Mary Schaeffer, a nurse who pushes her way in determined to speak to him. She wants him to do a benefit concert for crack babies. Michael wants no part of it; he has a reputation, a selfish attitude towards such things. But finally agrees to go to the hospital with her to see the babies. While there Mary forces him to hold one of the babies and pain like a bolt of lightning races through his body till he passes out but the baby- the baby was healed! In the parking lot another miracle a fire ball of protection from two thugs who try to rob them.

From then on Michael decides to stay away from Mary and any thought of a benefit concert but he can't he's drawn to her. He tracks her down at her church to tell her he won't help but before he knows it he starts preaching like crazy words he never knew and doesn't even believe begin to flow out of him.

After that surviving the elevator crash with the message written on the wall that he is God's messenger, messenger of what, has him thinking he is losing his mind. While all the while Mary believes he is chosen for a purpose.

Than there's Ambassador Anthony Stonz and his assistant Selene who seem to appear out of nowhere to help the church but really are set on stopping Michael but know he is not like the others this one won't be easy to stop

An awesome storyline set against the end times this novel will have you grabbing for your Bible! The author Robert L. Hecker does an amazing job in this mystery page turner. The showdown of good versus evil is a little typical of most end times books but the rest of the book is well worth the time.

But on a negative note if you are offended by profanity than give this book a pass as some Christians may find the language offensive. But otherwise an awesome read.

Catch a Rising Star
Tracey Bateman
c/o Hachette Book Group

237 Park Avenue New York, NY 10017
0780446698931 $12.99

Former soap opera diva Tabby Brockman feels she has hit bottom. Fired from the number one soap "Legacy of Life" for a misunderstanding with the writer (she caught her husband making a move on Tabby during a party and blamed Tabby), she's forced to work at a bookstore wearing costumes to read to kids which she can't get along with as one of her best friends and roommate Laini puts it "Putting Tabby with kids is like asking the garbage man to cook without washing his hands"- so needless to say she's been fired again.

Than out of the blue she hears from Freddie her old friend and fitness trainer, from "Legacy of Life". That man always seems to know all the latest gossip about the show and now he knows the show wants her back! And to top it off Kyle Preston, everyone's dream agent, with good looks and great negotiation skills wants her as a client! After all her agent dropped her after she was fired from the soap and according to Freddie it seems her agent is friends with Julie, the show's writer, who fired her so now she's starting to understand everything. She can't believe God has opened the door for her to go back. But not everyone shares her enthusiasm Laini and Dancy (the other roommate and friend) and her Mom voice their opinions and they are not too keen on the idea.

Back at the set Tabby wonders if they were right. She still has to deal with Julie, the writer that killed her off in the first place who makes her wear bandages for the first week and gives her lousy lines and the "precious" five year old twins that play her kids on the show that she wants to strangle and their dreamy dad that she finds she's falling for despite the kids and the fact their not hitting it off at all.

Meanwhile her Mother keeps pushing David at her, which she has no interest in and won't take the hint. Her sister is unmarried and pregnant and her brother's new girlfriend drives her Mom up the wall. Her Dad suffers a heart attack and her friends have their own problems. All in all it's not your typical family life!

What an awesome book, this reviewer could not put it down! The author Tracey Bateman does an awesome job in pulling you into Tabby's, Laini's and Dancy's lives and her sense of humor will have you in stitches. The characters are amazing in this first book of the Drama Queens Series. This reviewer is new to the world of Chick Lit but Bateman has given me an amazing introduction and I am definitely hooked not only on Tracey Bateman but on Chick Lit!

Sushi for One? Sometimes romance needs a kick of wasabi
Camy Tang
5300 Patterson SE Grand Rapids, MI 49530
9780310273981 $12.99

Poor Lex - Alexis Sakai is now the OSFC (oldest single female cousin) in her family and her Grandma is out to change that and in the Japanese culture that's not a good thing, slowly everything in her life changes as she realizes just how much influence her grandmother has. Just because her grandmother is determined that Lex is to be in a serious relationship by her cousin Mariko's wedding and that is only four months away or else she will stop all funding for the girls junior high volleyball team that Lex couches.

Since Lex quit her job and though a series of circumstances or was it God she landed her dream job at SPZ her life has become a revolving door of strange men claiming their mother is friends with one of her aunts and willing to date her for college game tickets. Even her brother is bringing men around that he claims are "friends" but seem to be the biggest losers. When she tries not to give into the pressure her grandmother threatens that other things could happen and things do but which is her grandmother and which are circumstances? Suddenly her dad is forced in to retirement from his job and decides to sell the house. Lex tears her ACL and has to have knee surgery just when she lands a chance to play on the ultimate volleyball dream team at Wassamattayu. Her other cousins/friends begin to avoid her. And Lex struggles with the dating thing due to something that happened three years ago that very few people know about especially not her grandmother who blames her not dating on the fact that Lex is too athletic and not feminine enough and even goes so far as to offer to pay for breast implants! Than there's Aiden the one man she has come to trust as a friend and becomes her physical therapist but he's not Christian and does not match anything on her "Ephesians list" for the perfect man but yet she is drawn to him ..

Wow, what a page turner! Enter into the Japanese culture in this Asian twist on Chick Lit. The author Camy Tang will have you in stitches in this hilarious romance. This reviewer just couldn't put this awesome book down and once you finish the novel you'll be wanting more from Tang. Check out the glossary of Asian words (Camy style) at the back of the book and pick up some new words along the way.

A Proper Pursuit
Lynn Austin
Bethany House
11400 Hampshire Ave S Bloomington, MN 55438
9780764228919 $13.99

The time is the late 1800's and twenty year old Violet Hayes is on a quest to experience romance and mystery just like the books her and her best friend Ruth snuck to read at Madame Beauchamps' School for girls. Yes she was taught to be a lady but she wants adventure.

After finding out her father is about to remarry and that her mother really is alive not dead as her father had try to make her believe, Violet knows she must go to Chicago to find her mother, who she hasn't seen since she was nine, she convinces her father to let her go see the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago and to visit her grandmother and her great aunts. But everyone else has their own plans for Violet. Her grandmother, father and Aunt Agnes are out to have her married. Her crazy Aunt Birdie tells her to marry for love and her Aunt Matt tells her she doesn't need to marry. Than all in one week she has three marriage proposals but the men all have their own ideas too and not one includes love. All the while Violet is falling in love with Silas the salesman she met on the train to Chicago who has really tried hard to help her find her mother. But Violet believes he is a thief and not a proper suitor.

She allows the men to escort her to the fair and spends time with her grandmother helping the poor, Aunt Agnes takes her calling on all her high society friends and Aunt Matt teaches her about the Women's Suffragette Movement. Violet learns a lot but feels none of these lives is for her. She knows her time is running out as her father is making her go home and marry Herman Beckett unless she finds someone else but Violet knows she must find her mother!

Her father has instructed her grandmother and aunts to tell her nothing about her mother but Violet finds herself in a mystery, the mystery of her mother and why she left, the truth about her father and the woman he is about to marry and Uncle Phillip which she didn't know she had an uncle and all the while trying to stop the feelings that are growing for Silas.

Will Violet find her mother? Will she marry without love or have her heart broken by the thief Silas only time will tell as Violet finds God along the way and knows He has all the answers even if she isn't sure herself.

"A Proper Pursuit" is an awesome read perfect for teens and adults alike who love romance, history and a little bit of mystery. The author Lynn Austin draws you in from the very first page and takes you back in time and places you there with Violet as she determines the course of her life and searches for her mother. This reviewer loved the detailed history especially Dwight Moody's ministry, the women's suffragette marches and the World's Fair as the time period really comes alive. So if love books like 'Gone with the Wind" by Margaret Mitchell or "Redeeming Love" by Francine Rivers you will thoroughly enjoy "A Proper Pursuit".

Jesus Is No Excuse: The Words and Verses of Gregory St. James
Gregory St. James
E-book Time LLC
6598 Pumpkin Rd Montgomery, AL 36108
9781598245011 $10.95

As Christians we all face questions and struggles as our faith is tested everyday. Satan is out to stop us anyway he can. In this powerful little book (only 124 pages) that you could read in just one sitting author Gregory St. James sets out to answer some of life's most difficult questions such as why do good things happen to bad people, why are some people born mentally or physically deformed and why some people are rich, while others are poor. The author has done an excellent job on these teachings as well as the chapter on the Ten Commandments, explaining more in detail about each one and why we are to follow them; also the chapters on faith and the devil are excellent reads as well.

A good read for teens and adults alike who are seeking to enhance their spiritual knowledge, also excellent for debate and church teachings on these subjects.

This reviewer cannot agree with everything the author has written especially on such subjects as homosexuality, why Jesus was crucified and about Jesus' resurrection as I myself have different beliefs. So with that I cannot give this book an excellent rating as it is meant to teach and inform, but will admit the book is excellently written and easy to understand. Keeping that in mind if you read this inspirational book with bible in hand and remember it is just one man's opinion and not by any means the final word on any of these subjects "Jesus Is No Excuse" is a good read and study guide for some. The "Verses of St. James" in the back of the book are excellent words of poetry and a great inspiration to ponder upon. Also don't miss the "Last Words" for they are so profound and will have you pondering your own life. So read for yourself the words of St. James and reach your own conclusions as I guarantee it will at least leave you thinking and possibly searching for more.

Every Secret Thing
Ann Tatlock
Bethany House
11400 Hampshire Ave S Bloomington, MN 55438
9780764200052 $13.99

After moving around Elizabeth Gunnar - Beth comes home to teach English at Seaton Preparatory School in Hockessin, Delaware her old school where she graduated in 1977. Her parents have long retired to Asheville, North Carolina but actually Beth feels she's come home. Of course it brings back the old memories of times spent with her group the Barbarians and her favorite teacher, Mr. Dutton who taught English. But it brings up bad memories too such as just why did Mr. Dutton commit suicide in her senior year?

She reconnects with her best friend Natalie who she's only stayed in touch with via email all these years. At Homecoming she reconnects with Ken and Ray the other two members of the Barbarians. She begins to date Ray again, her steady boyfriend in high school who is divorced with three kids. She takes one of her students Satchel Queen, a lover of books and loner like herself under her wing and helps her to blossom especially in writing just like Mr. Dutton did with her.

Beth has Ray tell her again the story of what he and Ken saw that April 1st night in 1977 when he and Ken found Mr. Dutton in his cabin after cutting his wrist. They knew he was dead but why had the school staged such a cover up as they told the students that Mr. Dutton had a heart attack and was still alive. Natalie accuses Beth of being obsessed and needs to let his death go and forget about it as the other three have done. But Beth can't let it go.

In this awesome tale writer Ann Tatlock captures your heart and even your mind from the very first page. An unmistakable page turner you'll wonder why too just why did Mr. Dutton commit suicide and why is Satchel so unhappy? You'll find yourself drawn into and relating to Beth especially if you feel invisible, a loner just as she does. See how God brings closure, happiness, and forgiveness in this timeless mystery suspense love story. Also included are reader discussions questions, which helps make this book perfect for book groups. A perfect read for teens and adults alike. Ann Tatlock is a remarkable writer! Don't just take this reviewer's word on it even "Publisher's Weekly ", named her as "one of Christian fiction's better wordsmiths". So if you want to curl up with a good book I highly recommend "Every Secret Thing".

Tribulation House
Chris Well
Harvest House Publishers
990 Owen Loop North Eugene, OR 97402-9173
9780736917414 $11.99

Mark Hogan has killed his pastor Reverend Daniel Glory - at least he thinks he has

Mark Hogan has it all - great job, great family, great church and a position on the church board the only thing missing is a boat. He dreams, he searches boat lots and decides he has to have a 2008 Bayliner 192. When Reverend Daniel Glory announces that the tribulation will happen on October 17th at 5:51 am and has even written a book "107 Reasons Jesus is Coming Back in 2007". Mark puts everything else in his life on hold as he knows this is it he has to have that boat even it means borrowing the money from the mob. But what does it matter if the rapture is coming he won't have to pay it back because he will be gone. But than Reverend Glory was wrong Jesus didn't come back!

Now Mark is running for his life knowing the mob must be after him wanting their money, and the police must be after him after that argument with Reverend Glory and hitting him in the head. All because Mark blamed Reverend Glory for making him believe that the rapture was coming, this caused him to borrow money from the mob to buy that boat . His wife who knows nothing, has stopped calling to see if he's coming to the hospital to see his son who wrecked the brand new truck that he had to have to haul the brand new boat and can't pay for it either ..

The mob's muscle Cleaver and Lamb have their hands full with orders from crime boss Massey to get Reverend Glory to move his church so he can have the land and leaning on candidates for the special election of City Council and keeping tabs on Cleaver's ex wife.

It all falls into the hands of two detectives Charlie Pasch and Tom Griggs to solve the murder and stop the rash of crimes but are they somehow all connected?

You'll find yourself at times laughing out loud at the antics between Cleaver and Lamb and the conversations between Charlie and Tom. And you'll have only sympathy for poor Charlie as he struggles to fit in at his church.

The author Chris Well has done a great job with this page turner, his third suspense novel a definite 4 on the wow scale and a 5 on God moves scale that keeps you guessing till the very last page as to what will happen next and an ending that is totally unexpected.

At times it seems there are too many characters but it all comes together as each one really has a part to play in this really good novel.

Knowing this is the second novel with detectives Charlie and Tom makes this reviewer wonder what will be the next great suspense for these two detectives?

Cheri Clay

Debra's Bookshelf

An Ocean of Air
Gabrielle Walker
Harcourt Books
15 East 26th Street, 15th floor, New York, NY 10010
9780151011247 $25.00 1-800-543-1918

In An Ocean of Air Gabrielle Walker writes about the various constituents and layers of earth's atmosphere and the role they play in promoting life and protecting the earth from the hostile environment of space. The topics she covers are more varied than you might think, including, for example, the ozone layer and the northern lights, the trade winds and the telegraph, antioxidants and crab spiders. Walker's book is written for laymen, and while it is not exactly a light read--there are sections that required a good deal of concentration, at least on my part--it is certainly accessible to the non-scientist. Walker focuses her account on a series of personalities. In her chapter on oxygen, for example, she writes about Joseph Priestley (the inventor of the carbonated beverage!) and Antoine Lavoisier (who was beheaded in 1794); when the subject turns to carbon dioxide we meet Joseph Black (whose experiments with air began with his attempts to find a cure for bladder stones); Christopher Columbus and the aviator Wiley Post come to the fore in the author's discussion of wind.

One of Walker's chapters is downright riveting. In discussing the ionosphere she writes about Marconi and the telegraph. (Telegraph signals seemed to curve around the horizon, though they were in fact bouncing off the ionosphere between sender and receiver and only appeared to be curving.) Two of Marconi's employees--Phillips and Bride--were aboard the Titanic, and Walker tells the story of the sinking from the perspective of these men, one of whom survived.

"Even though the Carpathia was far over the horizon from the Titanic, the waves carrying Phillips's message leapt over the intervening mountain of sea, before bouncing back down to where the Carpathia's aerial crackled in response. Minutes after the Carpathia's captain was wakened with the news, he ordered her to be turned and all power diverted to the engines. Cottam [the Carpathia's telegraph operator] wired his friends on board the Titanic to say they were speeding to the rescue. They were four hours away, he wrote, and 'coming hard.'"

Focusing on individuals was a smart way to write the book. Walker has a knack for bringing her historical subjects to life. Anyone who's interested in the atmosphere--a sexy topic in today's world-- would do well to look to this book for some background.

Gods Behaving Badly
Marie Phillips
Little, Brown & Company
c/o Hachette Book Group USA
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780316067621 $23.99 1-800-759-0190

The Olympian gods used to have it good. Back in the day, when mortals plied the wine-dark sea in wooden ships and everybody spoke ancient Greek, the gods were widely revered. Hecatombs were sacrificed on their behalf, libations poured. The Olympians--a petty, vengeful, randy (some of them) lot--amused themselves by interfering with human affairs, despoiling mortal virgins, stirring up epic wars, championing their favorites.... How times change. When the action of Marie Phillips's Gods Behaving Badly begins, most of the Olympians are holed up in a dilapidated London town house. They are still engaged in their characteristic pursuits: Artemis is a dog-walker, Aphrodite a phone sex operator, and Apollo is trying his hand as a television psychic. But they are increasingly bored with the never-ending sameness of life (even sex with Aphrodite can become tiresome after millennia). Divinity, in short, isn't what it used to be. The gods are losing their power and can't afford to squander any on the promiscuous displays of super-humanity that so amused them in their heyday. So, when Apollo wastes some of his strength in a fit of pique by turning a mortal girl into a tree, well, let's just say all Hades breaks loose.

I'll admit that I was predisposed to like this book. The idea of juxtaposing the ancient gods with modernity just tickles me somehow, and I'm not averse to seeing the Olympians give modern mythologies a run for their money. Even so, I think that Phillips has done an excellent job of translating the old gods to a modern stage, imagining how they would behave in such changed circumstances. The book is charming and clever and quirky and funny. What I most liked about it is the author's portrayal of the gods' attitudes toward humanity--this tribe of short-lived creatures who are beneath their contempt yet ubiquitous. The gods have tried to minimize their interaction with humans, so when one of them knocks on the door it comes as a surprise:

"Artemis rolled her eyes and left the room. She gathered up her keys and opened the front door. There, to her astonishment, stood a small mortal, about five feet high, blondish, a little dumpy, wearing spectacles. The only remarkable thing about her was that she was standing on their doorstep. Word obviously hadn't spread about what happened to mortals who did that."

This dumpy mortal woman in turn finds the goings-on in the gods' house a bit unusual:

"When she was cleaning, Alice liked to keep herself to herself and to respect the privacy of her clients, but the people in this house didn't seem to have much of a concept of privacy, and so Alice sometimes saw too much. She particularly saw too much of Aphrodite, who was often to be found walking around in the nude, or having some quite unpleasant conversations on her mobile phone. And even after only two weeks it was obvious to Alice that Aphrodite was having affairs with all of the men who lived in the house, and while this was understandable, given how beautiful she was, Alice, who tried hard not to judge others, also found it distasteful."

With a spear to my head I could complain that scenes in the Underworld slow the narrative toward the end of the book, but I wasn't very bothered by it. Well-imagined and well-written, Gods Behaving Badly is simply great fun.

Foreskin's Lament
Shalom Auslander
Riverhead Books
c/o The Berkley Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9781594489556 $24.95 1-800-847-5515

Shalom Auslander grew up in the 1970s and 80s in Monsey, New York, in an Orthodox Jewish family, with all that entailed: the arcana of kosher dietary restrictions; the uniform of the Orthodox Jew--tzitzis and peyis and yarmulke; the mind-numbing boredom of Sabbath, when most worthwhile human activity is forbidden by Jewish law.

"It was forbidden to watch TV, it was forbidden to write, it was forbidden to draw, it was forbidden to color. It was forbidden to play with trains because they used electricity. It was forbidden to play with Legos because it was considered building. It was forbidden to play with Silly Putty because if you pressed it against a newspaper it would transfer some of the ink to itself, and so it was considered printing."

More specifically, Auslander grew up in an unhappy Orthodox Jewish family. His father was belligerent and volatile and given to threats involving amputation. His mother wallowed in misery and home decorating. It's hardly surprising that in adulthood Auslander has complicated relationships with both his family and God, the latter an angry entity who, much like Auslander's father, specializes in inconsistent and disproportionate punishments. But Auslander still believes. He believes, for example, that God keeps a particularly careful eye on his misdemeanors, and he is always expecting God to screw him over.

Auslander writes about his fallings-out with both family and God in his very readable memoir Foreskin's Lament. (The reason for the title is made clear about halfway through the book.) He describes the various ways he acted out against both as a teenager; his back-and- forthing on the question of keeping kosher; his self-imposed, frankly shocking acts of penance. The book is a fast read and fascinating for the light it sheds on the lifestyle of the ultra-Orthodox and on Auslander in particular. It is both funny (with one of the most original acknowledgment pages you'll ever read) and poignant, especially when the author is describing his conflicted relationship with his father, whom he manages to portray as both unlikeable and tragic.

Auslander's book serves as a healthy reminder of the perverse influence of religion:

"Thousands of years ago, a terrified, half-made old man genitally mutilated his son, hoping it would buy him some points with the Being he hoped was running the show. Over the years, equally terrified men wrote blessings and composed prayers and devised rituals and ordained that an empty seat be left for Elijah. Six thousand years later, a father will not look his grandson in the face, and a mother and sister will defend such behavior, because the child wasn't mutilated in precisely the right fashion.

"Come see what your sons are doing in the world."

The author is still not fully recovered from the effects of his religious instruction, but he's happier. It's just a shame that he had to waste so much energy and so much time undergoing that indoctrination and, in turn, in attempting to slough it off.

Trial & Error
Paul Levine
Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
978-0440242765 $6.99 1-800-726-0600

Trial & Error is the fourth installment in Paul Levine's Solomon vs. Lord series of courtroom cozies. Steve Solomon and Victoria Lord are perfect opposites: she's Ivy League and Versace, he's street smart and sneakers, but they get along well enough to share living quarters as well as a legal practice. Rounding out their domestic circle is Steve's semi-autistic twelve-year-old nephew Bobby, whose social awkwardness is compensated for by an impressive intellect and near- perfect memory--not to mention a wicked fast ball. The protagonists' respective single parents--Steve's father, disgraced retired judge Herbert T. Solomon, and Victoria's self-absorbed, society matron mother Irene--take a back seat in this outing, appearing only briefly in back-to-back chapters to offer their advice on the legal duo's personal and professional lives.

There's something fishy about the case on Steve and Victoria's plate this time around--both literally and figuratively. A plot by a bunch of animal rights activists to set free a pair of dolphins ends badly, specifically, in felony murder. As it happens, both Bobby and Steve are on the scene--Bobby because he's become obsessed with dolphins, Steve because Bobby snuck out of the house in the middle of the night to commune with the mammals. But the details of the case don't quite add up, and Steve is forced to figure things out largely without the help of his partner: Victoria, deputized for the purpose by the State Attorney, is prosecuting Steve's client on this one. Can Steve and Victoria's relationship survive their stint as opposing counsel? Can they, as the author puts it, successfully "litigate by day and copulate by night"?

Paul Levine gives us a tightly plotted and interesting mystery in Trial & Error, and he has at the same time removed some of the over- the-top cartoonishness that had been creeping into the series. Meanwhile, Steve and Victoria's relationship progresses just a bit more along the path to happily ever after. And a secondary story involving Bobby, bullies, and baseball is laced deftly into the narrative. The success of the book's denouement hinges on our accepting that Bobby has learned how to communicate with the dolphins at the story's center. This seems far-fetched, but not impossible, so I was able happily to suspend disbelief. A satisfying quick read.

Bingo Night at the Fire Hall
Barbara Holland
Harcourt Brace
15 East 26th Street, 15th floor, New York, NY 10010
9780156006651 $12.00 1-800-543-1918

When she was in her early 60's author Barbara Holland moved from Philadelphia to Loudon County in Northern Virginia, to a small house in the Blue Ridge Mountains some 60 miles outside of Washington D.C. It might as well have been a different planet. In Bingo Night at the Fire Hall Holland describes the world she came almost by accident to inhabit, a place somehow "unreachably far beyond the headlines and the evening news." Her house on the mountain overlooks a fertile valley in which the same families have farmed for generations. As she describes it, the people there live (or lived, at least, in the 1990s, when she was writing this book) in a sort of time capsule, a Mayberry-like idyll of 4-H clubs and church picnics. It's a place where nobody locks their doors (locking them would seem unneighborly), where people are defined not by their resumes but by their family ties.

Holland approaches her subject from a number of different angles, with chapters on the area's extensive role in the Civil War, for example, and on the weather and wildlife:

"I was pleased and excited to have a bear, until I followed the tracks to the lower porch and considered the remains of the trash bags. Among the strewn litter of crushed cans and coffee grounds the bear, like a psychotic burglar, had defecated copiously."

But what makes the book stand out is her description of the ethos of this place, where families' lives are intertwined over generations and where one is surrounded by one's family:

"On any given day a person in the supermarket could come across his or her entire extended family, one by one, aisle by aisle, pausing to exchange fragments of news among the canned goods. This would horrify city folk, whose relatives tend to get on their nerves, but we're a low-strung lot around here and our satisfaction with our birthplace spreads to include our kin -- or perhaps we consider them one and the same."

It would horrify me, certainly. But Holland writes about this way of life so well that one not only understands it, one almost pines for it:

"Relatives are more useful here than in the city or suburb. They have tools you can borrow. They're someone to call, in a taxiless world, when you need a ride. Someone to leave the kids with or go hunting with; someone to help get your firewood in or your boat painted. Someone to carry your coffin. From cradle to grave, my neighbors here swing in a hammock of family ties and nobody leaves except for the churchyard. Even the few who fled to Florida get carried home in the end."

The book makes clear how much modern lifestyles differ from the way of life that was natural to so many generations before us: small communities of neighbors living off the land, interdependent, clustered around a handful of public buildings--the bank and post office and general store. Nowadays, Holland writes, people don't need towns. They need highways between their work places and their living spaces, with places to shop in between.

At the same time that Holland is celebrating life in her valley, however, she is also recording its demise. The land that fed armies on both sides during the Civil War is yielding--increasingly, inexorably--to strip malls and housing projects. The fertility of the soil doesn't matter if you're only interested in paving it over. One can see through Holland's eyes how this influx of rootless Others is an affront to the land.

Holland, of course, is herself an immigrant, but unlike the housing developers who are carving the valley into subdivisions, she did not efface her surroundings; she adapted to them. Being an outsider also made her a keen observer of the world around her, which we can only be thankful for. I enjoyed Holland's book enormously. It is charmingly written and wise. I'll be seeking out more from her.

The Book of Vice
Peter Sagal
Harper Entertainment
9780060843823 $24.95

Peter Sagal is the whip-smart host of NPR's news quiz show Wait Wait...Don't Tell Me! Fans of the program will be delighted to learn that Sagal is also now the author of a deliciously titled (and even more deliciously subtitled) exploration of iniquity: The Book of Vice: Very Naughty Things (And How to Do Them). The book is as fun as its title suggests.

Sagal discusses a different vice in each of the book's seven chapters--though sex looms as the dominant theme of three of them--dropping keen observations while describing his research into the subject at hand. For his first chapter, for example, on swinging, Sagal and his wife Beth observed the goings-on at a weekly swinger's party. He describes the logistics of the operation--the uses to which the various rooms of the place were put--while trying to understand the nature of the Lifestyle: becoming emotionally attached to the people you have sex with is not the done thing, for example, yet people who are in it only for the sex are apparently frowned on as well. In the end Sagal finds that he is not cut out for swinging himself:

"We are told, via their occasional interviews in the press, that swingers or Lifestylers or whatever are no different from you and me...they meet up to socialize, talk, drink, and dance with their good friends, old and new. And then they have sex with them. Which makes me stop, and consider the various good friends my wife and I have, and then consider how it would be if one of our suburban dinner parties ended with us removing our clothes and performing sexual acts, and I have to put my head between my knees and take deep breaths."

Elsewhere in the book Sagal writes about strip clubs and pornography. For the latter chapter he visits the set of a live, call-in sex show. (The stars of the show perform whatever acts their caller prescribes while a roomful of camera operators and lighting guys and directors watch, rather bored, from behind a thick glass partition.) Rounding out the book are chapters on gambling, eating, conspicuous consumption, and lying.

Sagal is a charming and funny guide through these particular avenues of sin. Maybe if you've done the things he describes--the $500-a-pull slot machines and 24-course dinners (that leave you hungry for Jack-in-the-Box), lap-dancing and lying and live broadcast sex--you'll find the book humdrum. For the rest of us armchair sinners it's pure pleasure.

The Case of the Missing Books
Ian Sansom
9780060822507 $12.95

Israel Armstrong, the protagonist of Ian Sansom's fish-out-of-water story, is the sort of character Hugh Grant might play, all bumbling and hapless, if Hugh Grant were Jewish and had a paunch. Israel has left his home and girlfriend behind in London to take up a job as a librarian in "the middle of the middle of nowhere," in Tumdrum, County Antrim, in Northern Ireland. Once arrived, however, he finds the library shuttered and his job description much altered: rather than manning a civilized circulation desk, Israel is to run a mobile library, spreading literature around, quite literally, out of the back of a broken-down bus. Provided, that is, that he can find the town's books, all 15,000 of which have gone missing.

During his quest for the missing books, Israel is thrown into a series of bizarre circumstances (like being compelled to sleep in a chicken coop), and innumerable bad things happen to him (like he's punched in the face), and he is forced to interact with an endless stream of quirky locals (who tend to be more sophisticated than he at first suspects). Think Hugh Grant in Northern Exposure, maybe.

The book is meant to be charming. We're told on the back of the paperback that it "combines the off-beat soulfulness of Nick Hornby with the quirky cheerfulness of Alexander McCall Smith." And, really, the book should be charming: how could the plight of a bumbling English librarian stranded among eccentric Irishmen fail to charm? And yet, it just didn't work for me. The locals are odd, but they're not interesting. The author seems to strain to make Israel's interactions with them as frustrating as possible. The dialogue, meant to be cute and filled with funny misunderstandings, is very often just annoying:

"'Aye, save your breath,' said another woman. 'We've heard it all before. Sure, you're all the same.'

"'I can assure you, madam, that--'

"'Who you calling madam?'


"'Are yous the new librarian?'



"'Me?' Israel looked over his shoulder: were there more of him?


"'Well,' said Israel, 'yes. Mes. Me, I mean, yes it is. I am. Although actually I'm what's called an Outreach Support Officer these days.'"

There's an awful lot of dialogue like that, filled with halting speech and almost willful misapprehension. It might work on screen, but not on the page.

I wanted to like this book. I wanted quirky and charming and Alexander McCall Smith-iness. But mostly I was just bored.

Debra Hamel

Gary's Bookshelf

Dead Street
Mickey Spillane
Hard Case
200 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016
9780843957778 $6.99

I've read many of Spillane's novels and loved them. This one is way up there, but I am sad to say it is one of the last books by Spillane. Luckily Max Allan Collins was brought in to prepare it for publication. At the end of the novel Collins talks about his friendship with Mickey Spillane. I am pleased that Hard Case is the publisher because this series of mysteries is in the mold of Spillane. Lets hope they have other books of the works of Spillane.

Florida Leading the Transformation of American Politics
Max Linn
Paribus Press
161 Cherry Street, New Canaan CT
1933705051 $14.95

The author who ran for governor of the state of Florida has a lot to say about the election process in the country. He makes a solid argument for term limits for all elected officials. Before the 20th century citizens from all walks of life could politically serve in their state or Washington D. C. There was a revolving door policy. When it was time to go home someone else took that office.. Anyone could serve and no one stayed for very long. The idea was to have no professional politicians. That plan got tossed out as the nation grew in the 20th century. Elections now are held with only certain types of people who run and they stay in office for way to long. The author concludes that citizens should take back the country by voting for term limits when proposals are put on the ballot. He shows that voters are very lax, because they keep putting in the same people. He also addresses career politicians who never go back to the private sector. Instead they just change the office they hold by running in other elections to take over a different office. This is an expose of one aspect of what is wrong with our political system.

Spare Change
Robert B. Parker
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
978039915256 $25.95

A killer is loose in Boston who leaves three pieces of change with the victim's body. Brought out of retirement is Sunny Randall's father a former detective who worked on a similar case a number of years before. There are many similarities but the question they have is, is the same killer back or is this a copy cat. Sunny Randall is also recruited by her father to help solve this case. I loved the strong relationship Sunny has with her father and Parker explores the one Sunny has with her sister as well. There are numerous conflicts here and Parker breezes the story along with fast pacing and a slam-bang ending. This is one of his best.

You've Been Warned
James Patterson and Howard Roughan
Little Brown and Company
c/o Hachette Book Group USA
1271 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9780316014502 $27.95

I was excited to see another James Patterson this year but was super disappointed. I thought with Howard Roughan back after the great novel "Honeymoon," how can you go wrong? But it did. The story is repetitive of the dream of photographer Kristin Burns and her life problems were boring. I gather what the authors were trying to do is show the progression of mental illness the character goes through. The problem for me was I did not get the feel that there was something mentally wrong with Miss Burns. I hope the next Patterson is better.

Dr. Twistid the Art of Geff Bartrand
TSV Entertainment Inc
Tampa Florida
9780979587092 $20.00

When you say warped, you have to include the work exhibited here. There are many strange black and white and color images of bizarre things from the imagination of this artist. There is one disadvantage. Only a small group of people will be able to purchase this weird book because the publisher has published a very limited run. I am glad I was able to find a copy of this odd book.

Paying the Piper
Simon Wood
Dorchester Publishing
200 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016
9780843957778 $6.99

I read this author's last novel and loved it. This one is better. Its faster and much more chilling. Wood is a master of nail biting suspense with a story that has many twists and turns. The pacing is rapid fire with characters that are believable even if the killer does so many crazy things. This one is a gem that should not be missed by anyone who likes a good suspense novel.

Jury of One
Laura Bradford
World Wide Mystery
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada M3B 3K9
037326562X $5.99

I have to say with this author I read her books backwards. The second one "Forecast of Evil" was my first excursion into the writer's novels. Not a problem because this one like that one is easy to read and enjoy. This is the first Elise Jenkins and Mitch Burns in a series of mysteries. She is a reporter for the weekly paper and he is a detective with the local police department. This time someone is killing people after they have had their fortune read by a palmist. The killer has a reason that the author leaves generous clues throughout the work. I had no problem figuring out who it was and the reasoning behind the murders. The pacing is even while the reader is treated to the unfolding relationship between the two main characters. I look forward to seeing more books by this author.

Chris Jordan
World Wide Library
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada M3B 3K9
9780778324683 $6.99

Kate Bickford's child disappears in the blink of an eye. She let him go get an ice cream and before she knows it he is gone without a trace. At first she thinks he is at home because she hears a noise but learns it is a man with a gun. This is just the beginning of a very well crafted thriller that will have readers turning pages.

Campus Killer
C.H. Rucker
Cork Hill Press
597Industrial Drive, Suite 110, Carmel In 46032-4207
1594080666 $17.95 1-866-88-BOOK

I would have liked this novel more if the author had showed instead of told his story. His writing style was very dry. His characters were not fleshed out as well as they should have been. He used some dialogue and gave a little description of his characters instead of reporting what they did. This showed to me, Rucker has the talent. He was just too lazy. He should do two things to make his work much stronger: have his writing critiqued by other writers, and read other authors in the field of mystery thrillers to see how they tell their stories.

Knights in Dark Satin
Christopher Stoddard
Lulu Press Inc
9781430318552 $18.95

Waldorf Keefer is the head of a sagging company. He is very excited when he gets a mysterious call from a consultant company which makes him an offer he can't refuse. He finds though that there are many changes and strange people he is now dealing with. When I first saw the title I thought of the Moody Blues song "Knights in White Satin" and wondered is there a connection. There is one, if you think about it. The song is the good guys and this novel is the bad guys, like the old westerns where the good guys wore white hats and the bad wore black. The author shows the real behind the scenes world of corporate America and it's not a nice picture. The story is interesting and fast paced. My one complaint is there are too many characters with similar names that caused me to go back and re-read pages to understand which one is which.

Gary Roen

Geoffrey's Bookshelf

Stiff Upper Lip, Jeeves
P.G. Wodehouse
Scribner Paperback Fiction
A division of Simon & Schuster, Inc.
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
0743203607, $13.00

"A Tonic for the 21st Century"

What could the Nobel Prize for literature signify if PG Wodehouse not only didn't win one, but never made the short-list? Good grief. What other writer living or dead, in Nobel's own words, "help[s] dreamers, as they find it hard to get on in life."

Take STIFF UPPER LIP, JEEVES, for example. If you want to read a book that'll grab you by your lapels and hoist you out this mundane, dynamite-scarred world, try this one.

Crisp dialogue, intricate plotting, witty wordplay, amusing situations, and distinct characters make this book satisfying to read repeatedly. In fact, it is astonishing that STIFF UPPER LIP, JEEVES and many other Wodehouse creations seem just as fresh the second, third, and even seventh time around.

I would liken reading this book to drinking one of Jeeves's famous pick-me-ups "and their effect on a fellow who is hanging to life by a thread on the morning after." Wodehouse writes: "For perhaps the split part of a second nothing happens. It is as though all Nature waited breathless. Then, suddenly, it is as if the Last Trump had sounded and Judgment Day set in..."

If heaven's half as delightful as reading PG Wodehouse, (should I get there) I'll be in paradise.

How The Irish Saved Civilization
Thomas Cahill
A division of Bantam Doubleday Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
0385418493, $14.00

"Quite Enjoyable, Anecdotal, and Very Readable"

It always amazes me to ponder how a single person can change the course of history, as Thomas Cahill shows in HOW THE IRISH SAVED CIVILIZATION. For example, if St. Patrick hadn't returned to Ireland to found monasteries which were to flourish and spread to Europe, we would be reading a different history of continental Europe. In fact, there probably would not be a Europe with a common cultural identity today.

Really enjoyable book with interesting anecdotes. Very readable, except for occasional flights of political correctness. Makes me want to find out more about Medieval Europe.

Geoffrey Smagacz

Gloria's Bookshelf

Deadly Vintage
Elaine Flinn
Perseverance Press/John Daniel & Co.
P.O.B. 2790, McKinleyville, CA 95519
9781880284872 $14.95 800-662-8351,

It is always a pleasure to welcome back Molly Doyle, she of the Carmel, CA antique business, her nearly-teenage niece, Emma, her bordering-on-boyfriend, Kenneth Randall, the local police chief, and their sundry and always charming friends. When Molly considers branching out for some business on the side, in addition to running Treasures Antiques, the shop she manages for a friend, and is asked by Carla Jessop, to redecorate the tasting room of her family's prestigious local winery, she jumps at the chance. The fly in the ointment appears in the person of Carla's pompous nouveau riche husband, roundly disliked by virtually all who know him, who has ugly and public arguments with Molly. When he is murdered in the midst of a social gathering at the family manse, and Molly is standing right next to him when it happens, not only Molly but Randall are both under suspicion by the sheriff's office [who handle the investigation since it is outside of Randall's jurisdiction], as is, of course, the wife, Molly's client.

Molly, already having 'assisted' the police in solving two prior murders in the Carmel area, and given the present circumstances, finds herself thinking "I just might decide to find the killer myself," and when reminded by Emma "I thought you wanted to be an antiques dealer," rather than a detective, responds: "just think about how the two professions seem to work together."

The equally interesting sub-plot deals with some mysterious postcards received by Molly from different parts of Europe, and how that triggers events that threaten Molly and Emma's relationship. The book is well-written and a very enjoyable read, and gives the reader tantalizing portents of things to come in the next entry.

False Fortune
Twist Phelan
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. 1st Ave., Scottsdale, AZ 85251
9781590583630 $24.95 800-421-3976

In her fourth entry in the Pinnacle Peak mystery series, Twist Phelan brings back her indomitable protagonist, Hannah Dain, the attorney who recently started her life anew in Arizona to join the firm of Dain & Daughters, specializing in business law. Besides the fact that they are both attorneys, Hannah also shares with her creator a love of outdoor sports, her prior books in the series involving team roping, road and mountain biking, and rock climbing, each of which figures prominently in her plots. This time around Hannah's love of kayak paddling provides the focus around which much of the action revolves, along with the dynamics of convoluted sibling relationships

Hannah's sister, Shelby Dain, has asked her assistance in handling a case on which she is co-counsel, a toxic tort case involving radiation contamination and payment of nuclear waste reparations to the Indian tribe part of whose reservation is on the contaminated land. The storage of such waste was voluntary on the part of the tribe at the time, pre-casino and when poverty was rampant on the 'rez,' since storage fees and jobs resulted from the agreement. Now birth defects and cancers are destroying lives, and compensation and an admission of guilt are sought. As the book opens the government has conceded liability, and it seems to be merely a question of monetary damages being fixed. But Hannah's involvement stirs up unforeseen d angers, and an apparent suicide, various threats to Hannah and those around her, both explicit and otherwise, lead to a exciting tale filled with fascinating glimpses of life on and around the desert and Indian lore and customs [both Native American and those of India]. As Hannah muses at one point: "Car in the lake, boat stolen, nearly buried alive not a good week." In the midst of this her teenaged half-sister, of whose existence Hannah was till recently unaware, appears literally on her doorstep--an utterly charming budding scientist who believes in Martians and ghosts and Hindu curses.

The writing is terrific, and wonderfully evocative: "A mile from shore she abruptly let up, letting the kayak drift while she enjoyed the heaviness of tired muscles. She laid her paddle across her knees and let her feet drop into the water. Her toes brushed against the iciness that marked the end of the sun's reach. Still straddling the kayak, Hannah lay back until her head rested on the deck. She felt the boat move up and down, as thought the lake were breathing. Early stars blinked at her like tiny eyes. Out of range of the insects' cacophony, she heard only air." I was particularly won over by one of the characters, a charming cowboy whose standard departing words are "Shalom, y'all." A very good read, and one that is recommended.

Dexter in the Dark
Jeff Lindsay
1745 Broadway, NY, NY 10019
9780385518338 $23.95 800-726-0600

Dexter, the totally original and distinctly macabre character created by Jeff Lindsay, is now known to millions of people beyond his readership since the introduction of the cable tv series of that name. But I daresay one must read the original creation, on the printed page [or, I guess, the computer screen], to fully appreciate him. As the third book in the series opens, Dexter is about to marry his girlfriend, Rita, to whose two young children he has become mentor [in scary ways].
The marriage is yet another step in his quest to appear outwardly normal to the outside world - as he says: "It would never do to have the sheep see that Dexter is the wolf among them." If you are not familiar with Dexter, he works as a blood spatter analyst for the Miami P.D., but in his off-hours carries out his passion in his role as vigilante serial killer. His cop foster father has instilled in him very specific rules: "Harry had taught me to find and dispose of only those who, by his rigorous cop standards, truly needed it." The only one aware of Dexter's dark side, other than Rita's kids, is his foster sister, now a full sergeant in homicide, who finds a personal, that is, professional advantage in it: "I had gained a small reputation for my insight into the way the twisted homicidal sickos thought and operated - natural enough, since, unknown to everyone but Deborah, I was a twisted homicidal sicko myself."

The author again gives unspoken voice to Dexter's Dark Passenger, the internal guide to his dark side, but when he is called to the scene of a particularly gruesome murder, his Dark Passenger goes mysteriously silent. Without the assistance of his inner monster, Dexter doesn't know if he'll be capable of finding and ridding the world of this new and truly awful adversary, someone or something unlike anything he's come up against before, and he finds himself now the hunted, instead of the hunter.

The writing is often comedic [something one wouldn't expect in a book about a serial killer]. Witness this musing from Dexter, when discussing the wedding and honeymoon: "And so there were actually several very good reasons to go through with this - but Paris? I don't know where it came from, this idea that Paris is romantic. Aside from the French, has anyone but Lawrence Welk ever thought an accordion was sexy? And I would have thought that by now it would be clear that they don't like us there, and they all insist on speaking French, of all things," reflecting on "the land of Rouseau, Candide and Jerry Lewis."

The alliteration in the titles of the three books in this series continues in the narrative, usually keeping with the "d's," hence Dark Daddy Dexter, Demon Dexter, etc., which one would think might be irksome but was instead fun. I did find disconcerting the author's use of both third person and first person, with Dexter referring to himself in the same paragraph as both "I" and "Dexter," but that's just a minor annoyance. The sardonic tone used throughout takes the edge off what might otherwise be just another serial killer book, but this is anything but. This series has been called ironic, sinfully entertaining, inventive it is all those things and more, and is recommended.

String of Lies
Mary Ellen Hughes
Berkley Prime Crime
375 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
978042521672 $6.99 800-847-5515

String of Lies offers the reader an interesting tangle of bead-and-bangle clues in this second of a series. The book stars Jo McAllister, a widowed crafter and owner of Jo's Craft Corner. Her life finally seems to be settling into a comfortable and reasonably profitable routine when she notices that stores in her neighborhood are shutting down and realizes that she may lose the lease to her stop. Devastated, she charges off to present her feelings to the landlord and discovers him dead. The manner of death, an electrical trap, seems peculiarly suited to one of Jo's friends, Dan, who has been working construction on the landlord's house.

Jo turns to the crafters in her beading class to help her clear him, even as they work to fashion necklaces and bracelets. They uncover lies, inconsistencies and clues. The tangled clues dangle like bangles until Jo and her friends fashion them into a satisfying solution.

The experienced mystery reader might consider 'whodunit' to be telegraphed, but the characters are interesting and there's even a bit of romance [there's a handsome detective, of course]. It's a quick and easy read and a wonderful beach book for those with access to such sun and surf at this time of the year. And there are even directions for a craft project of your own.

Life Blood
Penny Rudolph
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. 1st Ave., Scottsdale, AZ 85251
9781590583463 $24.95 800-421-3976

Rachel Chavez, the protagonist in this new novel by Penny Rudolph, is unusual in at least one respect: she runs a parking garage she has inherited from her grandfather in downtown LA, one that does not cater to the public but leases space to nearby businesses. One night she finds a locked van in the garage , inside of which are two young Mexican boys, both unconscious. When Rachel drives them to the emergency room of a local hospital, she is told that one of the boys is dead and the other severely dehydrated. When she returns the next day to see how the boy is, she is told there is no record of either boy ever having been there.

Rachel is not the kind of woman to let this rest, and is determined to find out how the boys, or their records, could have simply disappeared. She wonders if their being Mexican enters into the equation.

Her personal life is in problematical shape, with her ambivalence toward the man to whom she has recently become engaged [being engaged isn't the problem, but getting married is], trying to get information from her less-than-forthcoming father about her Mexican heritage, and the prospect of losing a major tenant at the garage. The latter problem is unexpectedly solved when the same local hospital signs a contract to lease over one hundred spaces for its employees as well as use of the helipad located on the roof, in what is seemingly coincidental timing.

The characters in the book are all too human - Rachel is a recovering alcoholic, her father a habitual gambler, with all the attendant problems to which that addiction gives rise. Rachel's friends are also very interesting creations: one is a street person, an elderly woman who for some reason has a cell phone, the other the head of a cleaning service who knows or can find out-- much of what there is to know in the neighborhood. The author has given us a believable, well-plotted mystery peopled with fascinating characters, including a couple of red herrings. Suspenseful and thoroughly enjoyable, the book is recommended.

Night Work
Steve Hamilton
Thomas Dunne Books
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010, 646-307-5151
9780312353612 $23.95

In his first standalone, following his wonderful Alex McKnight series, Steve Hamilton introduces Joe Trumbull, a probation officer in Kingston, New York, an upstate city in the Hudson Valley. He lives in an apartment above a converted bus station now serving as a gym, where he works out every day to try to keep in shape, at which he mostly suc ceeds. He describes his job as follows: "I'm part cop, part social worker, part guidance counselor, part rehab coordinator, part bounty hunter. Every hour of every day, I'm your official court-designated guardian angel. I can come to your house on a school-day morning and drag your ass out of bed, because going to school is an absolutely nonnegotiable part of your probation." He sees himself as helping the kids with whom he works to make something good of their lives when those lives are at a critical juncture.

Just as idealistic is the young woman to whom he is engaged: she works at a battered women's shelter, and is passionate about her work, up until the day, three days before their wedding, when she is murdered. Her killer has never been caught. As the book opens, Joe has been at a sort of disconnect from the life around him, going into work on his day off, feeling "This was where I belonged, no doubt about it, reading over somebody's PSI [presentence investigation] instead of being outside enjoying a perfect August day," when he decides that "after two long years, it was time to start my life again," and is about to embark on a blind date, his first date since the death of his fiancee, who he still refers to as 'my Laurel.' His dat e goes remarkably, and unexpectedly, well. And then the unthinkable happens, followed shortly by the unimaginable. At which point everything changes, and the book becomes impossible to put down. The suspense kept this reader glued to the page right up until the ending. My one complaint was that the ending was almost anticlimactic, and nearly failed to live up to what had preceded it. Which does not at all inhibit my recommendation of this terrific read.

I particularly enjoyed Mr. Hamilton's protagonist's love of jazz, at one point describing a great saxophone solo "with the perfect smooth tone like the sound of your lover's voice. It was impossible for someone to play that well, absolutely impossible, but that's the thing about live jazz. When it comes together it sounds better than you ever could have expected. As good as anything you've ever heard." In this, as well as in his fine writing, the author joins another wonderful contemporary mystery author, Michael Connelly high praise indeed.

I should also reiterate something that's been said before regarding this book: The flyleaf discloses a spoiler, and the reader is advised to avoid this before beginning the novel.

Cold Moon Home
Julia Pomeroy
Carroll & Graf
1094 Fex Dr., Jackson, TN 38301, 800-759-0190
9780786719815 $26.99

In the sequel to her earlier novel featuring Abby Silvernale, Julia Pomeroy's protagonist finds herself involved in a rather bizarre incident: Driving home after finishing work late one night at the InnBetween, in the fictional upstate New York Hudson Valley town of Bantam, where she is a waitress, she comes upon the scene of an automobile accident, where the driver of the car [which has gone down an embankment] has staggered onto the roadway. Of course Abby stops to see how she can help. The dazed young woman, who identifies herself as Germaine LeClair, asks Abby to drive her to her father's house, and then to wait for her for a few minutes. Abby does as she is asked, and then disbelievingly witnesses Germaine confronting a cane -wielding old man [apparently her father] with a gun before having the gun knocked out of her hand and then stumbling back to Abby's car, whereupon Abby agrees to take her to the home of friends with whom she is staying. Bizarre indeed.

The following day Abby decides to supplement her always too-small earnings with a part-time job as secretary/assistant, or amanuensis [a seldom-used but lovely old word], as it is put to her, for a once wealthy ninety-two-year-old sculptor suffering from Alzheimer's. In a what-a-small-world coincidence [this is, after all, a small town], the old man is none other than the same person she has seen the night before, Germaine's father. Actually, he is apparently her adoptive father, and Abby discovers the reason for the confrontation is that Germaine has recently been told, anonymously of course, that the man killed his wife, her adoptive mother, who has been dead for twenty years, of cancer, she had thought.

An unlikely-seeming friendship of sorts has developed between the two women, and Abby gets involved in the search for the truth behind the mother's death, trying to determine whether she had indeed been murdered, not an easy task twenty years after the fact. Further complicating her life are her inability to commit to a relationship with her handsome lover, from whom she wants nothing but a weekly tryst, and problems caused by a newly hired worker at the restaurant. Widowed and thirty-two years old, Abby is an interesting protagonist. The book is entertaining and well-written, and is recommended.

Gloria Feit

Gorden's Bookshelf

Running from the Deity A Pip & Flinx Adventure
Alan Dean Foster
Del Rey
c/o Random House Trade Group Publicity
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
0345461614 $7.99 1-800-726-0600

Foster excels in creating new worlds and alien creatures. Running from the Deity continues this with the planet Arrawd. The world is just different enough to be exotic but familiar enough to be comfortable in.

Flinx's saga resumes with his ship, Teacher, needing repairs. Flinx decides to land on the nearest planet with the correct mix of raw materials that are needed for the work. The planet has been listed as off-limits by the Commonwealth because of the primitive social and scientific culture of the inhabitants. When Flinx stumbles across a local fisherman, Ebbanai, he discovers an empathic salient who doesn't interfere with Flinx's own troubled mental abilities. Flinx enjoys the first period of time within his life where the headaches and seething emotions of other people aren't assailing his mind. Ignoring the edicts of the Commonwealth, he initiates full contact with the inhabitants of Arrawd. He revels in the joy of helping and the calming affects of the world until he suddenly finds himself used and revered as a god. His problem is now how to get away.

Running from the Deity is a beautiful stop in the saga of Flinx and Pip. The world of Arrawd and the storyline blend into a smooth easy chapter in the large tale. It also places into the storyline Bloodhype. Bloodhype is a Flinx tale written years ago that is integrated into the larger saga with this book. Running is a must read for any Flinx fan and is great story for any SF reader who enjoys speculation about alien worlds and life. It is highly recommended for any SF reader.

The 5th Horseman
James Patterson and Maxine Paetro
Warner Books
Time Warner Book Group
1271 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9780446699310 $14.99

This is the fifth installment in the Women's Murder Club series. This is one of the better series of books produced by the James Patterson group of authors. There are few problems with it until the final pages when it stops too abruptly.

Detective Lieutenant Lindsay Boxer is trying to get into her new role as the boss when a woman's body is found posed in a luxury car. The mother of Yuki Castellano, a friend of Lindsay and a member of the Woman's Murder Club, collapses and is brought to the hospital that is being sued for malpractice. Someone is killing patients in the hospital in such a way as to look accidental. Deaths are happening nearly faster than Lindsay and investigate them. She has to keep on top of the various inquiries and still keep her personal life going.

The 5th Horseman brings out the busy caseload of a large metropolitan homicide squad. It is a smooth layered story that works through the various investigations. The only real drawback is the hurried end to the story. It is a must read for those who liked the other books in the Woman's Murder Club series but because of its weak ending, only an average read for everyone else.

S.A. Gorden

Harold's Bookshelf

The Christian Therapist's Notebook
Philip J. Henry, Ph.D., Lori Marie Figueroa, MS, David R., Miller, Ph.D., editors
The Haworth Press, Inc.
10 Alice Street, Binghamton, NY 13904-1580
9780789025944 $39.95

This workbook is divided into three sections, one for individuals, one for couples and families and one for children and adolescents. Each one of the sections include homework assignments, handouts and suggested activities. The focus of the book is to answer the question of what do you do when the door closes and you have to deal with the practical issue of effective therapy. In the Christian Therapist paradigm you also have to deal with you can connect this person back to God. The purpose statement of the book is very clear - to provide Christian therapists a way to be passionately Christian and still remain clinically professional.

The information provided is very comprehensive. For each exercise there is a guiding scripture, objective, rational for use, instructions, vignette, suggestions for follow-up, contraindications, resources for professionals, resources for clients, and related scriptures. All of the activities are strongly Christian and Bible based. This fact alone makes it an excellent resource for any church pastor or other leader who is counseling in a church setting. It is also excellent for any therapist working with a client with a background in the Christian church. The exercises are honest and point out in the contraindications when it would not be appropriate. When an exercise makes presumptions as to the client's spiritual level or orientation the contraindications spell it out in the contraindications section.

The Christian Therapist's Notebook is an excellent resource for the Christian Therapist working with Christian clients and highly recommended for that purpose. The exercises are on target and integrate standard therapeutic principles into a Christian environment.

The Unwanted Gift of Grief
Tim P. VanDuivendyk, D.Min
The Haworth Press, Inc.
10 Alice Street, Binghamton, NY 13904-1580
9780789029492 $34.95

No one escapes the need to deal with grief at some point in their life. The question is how do we move from grief to transformation? That is the focus of this book. Whether it is our personal grief or the grief of a friend or loved one we all need to move through it. While everyone grieves different people may grieve very differently. By understanding the losses, suffering and eventual healing that others have gone through we come to understand grief as a normal process and a gift from God to help us heal.

One part of the book is dedicated to examining the effect of grief on marriage and family. This part includes looking at the different ways that men and women often grieve and how that can affect a relationship. In this section the author also includes a discussion on how grief can affect sexual closeness.

The author's comments reveal a deep understanding of grief and loss. He examines common ways that people use to deal with sickness and injury including prayers for miracles and making contracts with God. For those looking to help others in their grief part three is an excellent guide. It is titled Sojourners in the Wilderness: How to Help. It provides detailed guidelines and helps for those who are helping others through the grief process. It includes separate chapters on helping people in unbelievable darkness, asking why, praying for a miracle, and wrestling with sadness and depression. This is easily one of the best books I have ever read on the subject of grief and grief counseling. It is very highly recommended to anyone going through a loss or supporting those who are.

Pastoral Care of Depression
Glendon Moriarty, Psy.D., editor
The Haworth Press, Inc.
10 Alice Street, Binghamton, NY 13904-1580
9780789023827 $34.95

This book is primarily concerned with how a person's image of God develops and then using that information to examine how current theories of depression interact with this God image. It is the examination of this relationship between depression and a person's image of God that makes this book unique.

Often people are raised to believe in a God who is loving and accepting but their experiences point to a God who rejects them. Or at least that is how they interpret their experiences. This difference between an all loving God in concept and a very different God in the internalized concept of God is a major part of this book. To resolve depression it is essential to change the God image based on subjective, emotional experiences. People who struggle with depression often have a critical and rejecting God image as a result of critical and rejecting parents.

After discussing the above material the author provides an overview of both the psychodynamic theory of depression, and the cognitive theory. He also examines the relationship between depression, guilt, and religious belief. Throughout the book you will find case examples, exercises, suggested forms, questionnaires, and similar tools. There are several exercises on discovering and understanding your God image. That's followed by an excellent section of how the God image develops.

Chapter 5 covers the God image assessment, and the importance of a good assessment in order to understand the client's image of God. To assist with this he includes a 40 question questionnaire and a 28 question true and false questionnaire as well as instructions on how to score them.

Chapters 6 and 7 cover techniques specific to the psychodynamic psychotherapy and cognitive schools of thought. With all this preliminary information in hand Chapter 8 delves into how to develop a workable treatment plan. The author follows sound, well proven therapeutic techniques couched in the religious belief system of Christian theology. Pastoral Care of Depression: Helping Clients Heal Their Relationship with God is highly recommend to all Christian counselors.

Kerry Patterson, Joseph Grenny, David Maxfield, Ron McMillan, Al Switzler
Two Penn Plaza, New York, NY 10121-2298
9780071484992 $24.95

I'll start by saying that this is a really good book if you want to understand how people influence each other and how to use that information to your benefit. That being said, the beginning of the book can be an exercise in frustration. The authors mention several individuals and how they have influenced others to change whether as an individual or a whole community but they give no details of how it was done. It can leave you wondering if there is anything of practical value in the book. However, if you persevere and read through the book you will find that these questions are answered and you will come away with a much greater understanding of how influence works. By the time you're finished you will understand how to use the principles of influence to change your life and help others make positive changes in theirs. With clear examples of why common myths about influence don't work and why successes do work it is a very interesting read. This is one of the better books on influence that I have read it is highly recommended for business, civic, and community leaders as well as anyone else who needs to know how to get people to take action or think in a new direction.

Harold McFarland

Harwood's Bookshelf

Peter, Paul, & Mary Magdalene: The Followers of Jesus in History and Legend
Bart D. Ehrman
Oxford U. P.
198 Madison Avenue, NY 10016
0195300130 $25.00

Ninety percent of Bart Ehrman's new book is simultaneously totally accurate and totally misleading. That it can be both is a consequence of Ehrman's writing style that intentionally or unintentionally blurs the distinction between the beliefs of Jesus' earliest biographers and Ehrman's own beliefs. Consider the following passage:

"Even though the Samaritans have become followers of Jesus, they have not yet received the gift of the Holy Spirit, which empowered the apostles themselves, starting with the Day of Pentecost" (p. 62).

Nowhere does Ehrman intentionally imply that that synopsis of a narrative in the Gospel of Peter represents his own view of a historical event. But readers, particularly those who are not aware that Ehrman is what might be called a "recovering god addict," are bound to read it as an endorsement of the gospel author's theology. And similarly misleading implications can be found on practically every one of Ehrman's 260 pages of narrative.

The obvious question is: Why? Does Ehrman consistently cause readers to believe he is endorsing early Christian theology out of sheer clumsiness? That explanation is not consistent with his overall knowledge and skill. Is he a prostitute, pretending to believe nonsense in order to protect his bread and butter as a professor of religious studies? That explanation can likewise be rejected on the ground that, if he was a hypocrite, he would not have come out of the closet and acknowledged that he is no longer a believer. What is left is that he is trying to be politically correct, writing a book that, while examining early Christian writings, does not minimize sales by spelling out his rejection of the opinions expressed therein. He is quite simply trying to have his cake and eat it.

That is not to say that Peter, Paul, & Mary does not contain a large number of assertions with which I disagree, and a somewhat smaller number that I can confidently state are plain wrong. Among the former is his dating of the fourth gospel as early as "90 or 95 CE" (p. 16). John was written at a time when it had again become expedient to separate Christianity from the Judaism with which the Roman empire was at war, the time of the Bar Kokhba rebellion, 132-135 CE. Among the latter is his dating of the first gospel to "sometime around 65 or 70 CE" (p. 7). Admittedly he attributes that indefensible dating to "most scholars today." But he nowhere points out that it cannot be accurate, since Mark puts into Jesus' mouth a detailed, accurate prophecy of the destruction of the Jerusalem temple that occurred in 70 CE.

Unless Ehrman is still scientifically illiterate, as I seriously doubt, he cannot be unaware that information cannot travel backward in time. It follows that such an accurate prophecy, like all fulfilled biblical prophecies, can only have been composed after the predicted event had already happened. That Mark was composed no earlier than 70 CE is the unanimous conclusion of all biblical scholars. Persons who disagree are incapable of restricting their conclusions to what is compatible with the evidence, and are therefore not scholars but mythologians.

Future events can be foreseen with a degree of probability dependent on what can be extrapolated from preexisting reality. As of March 2007, I can prophecy with better than 50 percent probability that Hilary Clinton will be America's next president. I can prophecy with a lower but nonzero probability that George W. Bush will end his life strapped to a gurney with a needle in his arm. What I cannot prophecy with any realistic expectation of fulfillment is that the Empire State Building will be demolished within the reasonably near future, so that "not one stone will be left standing on another." Neither could the anonymous author of Mark have invented such a prophecy about the temple at a time when it still stood.

There are dozens of equally erroneous passages. For example, Ehrman refers to "Jesus of Nazareth" (p. xii), as if that designation found in English language bibles were not a mistranslation of Greek words that philologists agree referred to a sect, "Jesus the Nazirite," and under no circumstances could have meant "of Nazareth." He mentions "The Roman Catholic Church, with around one billion members" (p. 14). In 1994, the human population was 5.5 billion, including one billion Christians, only half of them Catholic. And even that figure, endorsed by both Catholic and Protestant churches, would have been at least moderately exaggerated. Unless the one billion by which world population has increased since 1994 were all Christians even though attendance at Christian churches in the intervening 12 years has been plummeting there are now perhaps 1.1 billion Christians, including no more than 600,000 Catholics. Just because the alleged "news" media have been conned into swallowing Christian propaganda, that is no excuse for anyone with a functioning human brain to do so.

To repeat: ninety percent of Ehrman's book is accurate. For example, he recognizes that, "There is little evidence or reason to think that Peter could speak any other language [than Aramaic]," and like any other Galilean peasant, including Jesus, Peter was illiterate (p. 26). Many alleged scholars have argued in all seriousness that Jesus and his cohorts were fluent in Greek. The term "camel excrement" comes to mind. But while Ehrman gets Peter's illiteracy right, he argues against 1 Peter being dictated by "an illiterate, Aramaic speaking peasant who had not been trained to read, let alone engage in Greek composition." In my view, Ehrman does not recognize the significance of 1 Peter's acknowledgment (5:12) that, "I am writing to you through Siloyanus, whom I regard as a loyal kinsman, urging and testifying this to be the god's orthodox charisma." That declaration that Peter was obliged to trust his scribe's honesty, because he was illiterate and therefore incapable of verifying for himself that the letter was an accurate transcription of his Aramaic, is what the real Peter would have dictated. To a forger pretending to be Peter, Peter's illiteracy would have been an embarrassment that needed to be concealed. A forger would have emulated Paul by assuring readers that the letter was written by Peter's own hand.

Other inaccuracies include Ehrman's acceptance of Matthew 16:17-18, in which Jesus appoints Peter as the Catholic Church's foundation "Rock," as an original part of the gospel. He discusses the difference between Catholic and Protestant interpretations of the verse. But he shows no awareness that it was an interpolation, inserted into Matthew at the time Siricius was creating the papacy in 384 CE by unilaterally declaring the four concurrent popes his subordinates, for the sole purpose of bolstering the pretence that Peter was the first pope. He states that Peter was "martyred for his faith in Christ" (p. 23), even though he is fully aware that such an event is attested only by documents he recognizes as riddled with fairy tales. He accepts (or certainly appears to accept) as a fact of history that Jesus had "twelve disciples," even though the best interpretation of Mark is that, because the Nazirite commune in Jerusalem in 70 CE was administered by a Twelve, the gospel author backdated the Twelve to Jesus' lifetime, naming the six genuine disciples whose names he was able to learn, and inventing the rest. And despite his awareness that "son of man" is a mistranslation of "descendant of Adam," used by Jesus to describe himself to overcome the embarrassing reality that he was not a "descendant of David" as the messiah was supposed to be, Ehrman refers to, "a cosmic judge, whom Jesus mysteriously calls 'the Son of Man'" (p. 29), and suggests that, by "son of man," Jesus might not have meant himself. But when Ehrman writes of the modern interpretation of Jesus' preaching as referring to a time after his death, "that was not the apocalyptic view taught by the historical Jesus himself" (p. 37), only unteachables disagree.

Unfortunately, this is not a book I can recommend, mainly because I cannot figure who it was designed for. Scholars will recognize that it is long on descriptions of the contents of ancient documents, but short on new interpretations of those documents. They will also recognize that it says nothing they did not already know, and will not be misled by its ambiguity. The unlearned masses will be misled into mistaking first century theology for Ehrman's own beliefs, and thereby reinforced in their ignorance. On the up side, persons capable of threatening Ehrman's tenure will find nothing in this book to cause them to want him dismissed. Can it be that a handful of Chapel Hill professors are Ehrman's true intended audience? If so, he has gone to a great deal of trouble to add a book title to his resume without actually saying anything. Now that is chutzpah.

The Bible with Sources Revealed
Richard Elliot Friedman
HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, NY 10022
0060530693 $22.95

"The Bible's first books were formed through a long process. Ancient writers produced documents of poetry, prose, and law over many hundreds of years. And then editors used these documents as sources. Those editors fashioned from these sources the Bible that people have read for some two thousand years" (p. 1).

That essentially is the Documentary Theory, that Richard Friedman continues to call a Documentary Hypothesis even though it is a scientific theory that has long since ceased to be a mere hypothesis. A scientific theory is a detailed, defensible explanation of the working out of an observable reality, consistent with all available evidence. Evolution by natural selection is a scientific theory, and the construction of the Torah from a variety of contradictory sources is a scientific theory. Since Friedman presents the most complete, detailed delineation and defence of the Documentary Theory currently available, I can only guess that his continued description of it as a hypothesis stems from his fear of offending the braindead.

And the Theory's most vociferous detractors clearly are braindead. I could hardly believe my eyes when I read that, "Both traditional and radical scholars have claimed that the hypothesis has been overthrown, that 'hardly anybody believes that anymore'" (ibid). I was aware that creationists have pushed the Big Lie that evolution has been discredited. But I was unaware that the same Big Lie had been promulgated in connection with the Documentary Theory. But that Lie is a logical utilization of the dictum, "When you have no defence, attack." Professional religion peddlers tend to be terrified that, if any part of their mythology is falsified, the domino effect will surely wipe out the rest, causing them to lose their bread and butter. Continuing to believe that the Torah is something other than a riffled-together compilation of documents composed over a period of five centuries is analogous to continuing to believe that The Protocols of the Elders of Zion was something other than a fraud concocted by Christians, or that the Brut in which King Arthur's father chased Arthur's mother into Tintagel Castle six hundred years before it was built was something other than a fraud concocted by Geoffrey of Monmouth. Do the persons who deny that the Torah was synthesized from older sources also deny that much of Matthew and Luke was copied from Mark? (Rhetorical question. Of course they do. In order to recognize that the gospels, like the Pentateuch, were compiled from older sources and were ultimately plagiarized from fairy tales originating in Mesopotamia and Egypt, believers would have to read them with their brains in gear. And no one has ever credited Christians or religious Jews with the ability to do that, since if they could they would have ceased to be believers.)

Friedman presents seven main arguments for the validity of the Documentary Theory. Of the seven, the most irrefutable is "Continuity of Texts" (p. 13). Since I cannot improve on perfection, I will quote Friedman's own words. "One of the most compelling arguments for the existence of the source documents is the fact that, when the sources are separated from one another, we can read each source as a flowing, sensible text. That is, the story continues without a break . One can read the texts and see that, when we separate the two flood stories and read each of them each reads as a complete, continuous story." An even better example is the two versions of the selling of Joseph into slavery. As Friedman wrote in his earlier book, Who Wrote the Bible? (p. 59), "The very fact that it is possible to separate out two continuous stories like this is remarkable itself, and is strong evidence for the hypothesis. One need only try to do the same thing with any other book to see how impressive this phenomenon is."

As further evidence, Friedman cites the fact (p. 22) that, "A passage in Ezekiel quotes a passage in P that is divided in the combined texts of the Torah." He adds (p. 26) that, "This following [by P] of the JE sequence of events is not simply a matter of the Redactor's having arranged the P episodes to match those of JE. We can know this because P, when read on its own, still flows in a continuous text." Friedman's explanation of when and why the P Torah was written is identical with my own. He writes (p. 27), "that P was composed later than JE, that it was composed by someone who was familiar with J and E in their combined form, and it indicates that P was composed as an alternative to that JE version in terms that were more suitable to the Aaronid priesthood." P in his worst nightmare never imagined that a Redactor would one day interweave his Priestly Torah with the JE Torah it was designed to replace.

Friedman's translation, which takes up the major portion of his book, follows the King James sequence and verse numbering. He shows the diverse authorship by printing each author in a distinct type and color. He mentions translations that distinguished between authors by using different types and separate columns from as much as a century ago, although for some reason he makes no mention of the James Moffat translation, even in his bibliography. And he is apparently unfamiliar with The Fully Translated Bible (Booksurge, 2007, but previously available in earlier editions), in which I placed different authors' versions of the same story in adjacent columns even though that meant ignoring the King James sequencing. Whether my method or Friedman's is the more useful is an "eye of the beholder" evaluation. I strongly urge anyone who wants to examine the Documentary Theory to consult both. And for persons who want to read the P Torah straight through, as a single narrative with no intervening non-P passages, the place to go is The Priestly Torah: 621 612 BCE (Booksurge, 2006).

Since those are the only two translations that attribute every sentence in the Torah to its most probable author, they should be compared and contrasted. Earlier author breakdowns by Gerald Larue and Peter Ellis, written before Friedman published his recognition that P and R were not the same person (or committee), are largely superseded, although Ellis (but not Larue) does appear in Friedman's bibliography.

There are many points of disagreement. But since even conclusions of Friedman that I consider totally wrong should be viewed as merely dissenting opinions, I will not spell them out with one notable exception. Friedman's persistent translation of elohim as the male, proper name, "God," as if he had no awareness that elohim is a dual-sex, generic plural meaning "the male and female gods," strikes me as indefensible. Compare Friedman's translation of Genesis 2:4b with mine.

The Bible with Sources Revealed:

In the day that YHWH God made earth and skies

The Fully Translated Bible:

On the day that Yahweh the gods fashioned the land and the skies

It is perhaps an exaggeration to call "earth" a mistranslation of arets, since the ancients had no separate word for what we mean by "the earth" today. But it does conceal the reality that bible authors believed the earth to be a flat disc containing a middle-of-the-world-sea surrounded by a landmass that was in turn surrounded by the circumnavigating river Ocean, covered by solid crystal domes called "skies" to which the sun, moon and stars were attached.

Since my review of The Hidden Book in the Bible (reprinted in A Humanist in the Bible Belt) spelled out my reasons for rejecting Friedman's claim that the Pentateuch authors also wrote much of Samuel and Kings, I will only record here that this is still a point of disagreement.

There are very few such disagreements, most of which are of no significance to the non-specialist reader. The impenetrable firewall that Friedman has built around his mind to keep out any awareness that his own research has proven that "God" belongs in the same kindergarten library as Mother Goose probably stems from economic considerations emanating from his current employment. Fortunately it does not diminish the value of his book. My immediate reaction after obtaining The Bible With Sources Revealed from interlibrary loan was to buy my own copy.

William Harwood

Henry's Bookshelf

Metalsmiths and Mentors: Fred Fenster and Eleanor Moty at the University of Wisconsin-Madison
Jody Clowes
U. of Wisconsin Press
Madison, WI
9780932900814 $29.95

Fred Fenster came to the metals program at the U. of Wisconsin-Madison in the early 1960s, followed a decade later by Eleanor Moty. Together they put their stamp of the highest artistic standards and workmanship while allowing for individual penchants and visions on the program. They ideally complemented each other in that "Moty's on surface treatments, while Fenster's [was] on form and structure."

Different sections take up their complementary effects as heads of the metals program and also each of them individually as exceptional, distinctive artists in metalwork. Coming after the chapters on each individually are lengthy photographic galleries of numerous art works over the years. A photographic section at the end has works by program graduates and current faculty.

The metals art works done by and inspired by Fenster and Moty are distinctly, often strikingly, modern, as in Modernism. It's hard to grasp until you see the many photographs the range of creativity and high quality of the art works by mentors Fenster and Moty and those students and faculty influenced by them. Tradition, familiar, objects such as cups, jewelry, and teapots and other pots have innovative forms and details. Most of the purely artistic, aesthetic, works have imaginative shapes and proportions, including often sharp angles and unexpected circular parts. All of the works, despite their individuality, share a boldness of concept and have an almost graphic presence. Fenster and Moty were not only exceptional artists, but gifted mentors who imparted to others how to nurture and achieve the best art within them.

Enriching Children, Enriching the Nation - Public Investment in High-Quality Prekindergarten Robert G. Lynch
Economic Policy Institute
Washington, DC
1932066284 $14.50

Lynch--a professor of economics with specialties in public finance and comparative economics--gives a dollars-and-cents analysis of the financial, budgetary benefits which would be derived from significant investment in high-quality prekindergarten from "raising GDP, improving the skills of the workforce, reducing poverty...strengthening U.S. global competitiveness" and lowering crime rates. Costing $6,300 per prekindergarten-age participant for more than a $40 billion start-up cost and over $30 billion per year for a number of years, within 17 years costs would be down to zero considering money saved from reduced poverty and crime programs, for example, plus taxes from more workers at higher incomes. If started within the next few years, "in 2050, every tax dollar spent on a universal prekindergarten program would be offset by $2.00 in budget savings and [Federal and state] governments would be enjoying $96 billion in surpluses due to their prekindergarten investment." In a policy-wonk, academic sociological style with charts and tables and for example, one appendix titled "Explanation of the methodology for estimating the budget, earnings and crime effects of investments in prekindergarten," Lynch succinctly, yet comprehensively puts forth the financially-based argument for the socially-desirable enterprise of good prekindergarten schooling for all American children.

Strange Tribe - A Family Memoir
John Hemingway
Lyons Press/Pequot Press
Guilford, CT
9781599211121 $24.95

Grandson of Ernest Hemingway, the author delves into the disturbing effects this major author's macho persona had on the author's father and thus inevitably on himself. Ernest Hemingway committed suicide. The author's father, Ernest's youngest son Gregory, struggled with gender identification his whole life, and died in the Women's Correctional Facility of the Miami Dade County Jail in 2001. The author was spared the worst of the traumas of his grandfather and father. But for the longest time, he lived a rootless, vagabond life exacerbated by concerns about his helplessly irresponsible and unpredictable father and trying to fill in gaps in his life his father had suppressed or ignored in his own life. John Hemingway does not emerge from the cloying shadows cast over him by his father and grandfather until the birth of a son with his wife Ornella in Italy in the Fall 2006, so he ends the memoir. The reader is not assured, however, that his turmoils are behind him for good.

Hemingway's tale is told mostly in illustrative vignettes, not an in-depth or intricate narrative searching for the roots of the gender abnormalities of the characters. The style is honest, genuine, and engaging. Hemingway does not strive for the luridness, sensationalism, confessional slant of so many contemporary memoirs. Undoubtedly, the memoir was purgative in some respects for him. But he wrote it as much to present his unique contribution on the Hemingway legend and its reverberations in succeeding generations of his family.

The Triumph of the Sea Gods - The War Against the Goddess Hidden in Homer's Tales
Steven Sora
Destiny Books/Inner Traditions
Rochester, VT
9781594771439 $18.95

Sora places the site of Troy--and thus the sources of Homer's epics the Iliad and the Odyssey--at the western edge of the Iberian peninsula. His provocative view is abundantly supported by etymology, geography, geology, archaeology, and elements of ancient mythology plus a six-and-a-half-page bibliography. The sea god Neptune's trident--a spear or staff with three prongs--is seen as representing the three Iberian cities of Lisbon, Setubal, and Troy. About 1200 BCE, these city-states engaged in a war whose outcome determined the history and culture of the entire Mediterranean region and parts of Europe for centuries. Troy and its allies battled against a group of city-states identified as "Atlantean," the basis for the myth of Atlantis mentioned in Plato's dialogues and elsewhere. One of the most fateful changes brought by the victory of the Atlantean states was the dominance of their patriarchal government and values over the matriarchal of Troy and its allies. Sora develops his fascinating ideas to chart the wanderings of Ulysses after the Trojan War as poetically recounted by Homer in the Odyssey; and also account for the presence of the Etruscans in northern Italy, whose origins continue to baffle archaeologists. Sora has written similar previous challenging, provocative, and enlightening books on the Knights Templars and secret societies in American culture.

What Do Pictures Want? - The Lives and Loves of Images
W. J. T. Mitchell
U. of Chicago Press, Chicago, IL
9780226532486 $22.50

In the chapter titled the same as the book title, in laying out the grounds for his innovative exposition on images and culture, Mitchell explains, "[Images] present not just a surface but a face [italicized] that faces the beholder." Elsewhere in this chapter, he remarks that images may not have the power attributed to them; which supposed power is seen as absolute and all-encompassing in postmodern culture. Not suggesting that images ave no power, Mitchell takes the position that "the problem is to refine and complicate and refine our estimate of their power and the way it works." The author allows that his perspective based on what pictures "want" rather than what they "do" can at first blush seem to anthropomorphize pictures or give them an aboriginal animistic nature. But Mitchell explains that he means this as metaphorical, conceptual, and theoretical; not literal as in animism or even symbolic as with icons. Mitchell's provisional approach thus corresponds to the provisional quality of postmodern culture to bring extraordinary illumination to this contemporary culture.

Fantasy, multiple selves, and virtual reality are other terms used to express this provisional quality of postmodernism. Playfulness is another--and Mitchell's book, while sound literarily and with extensive learning and cogent though, exercises the principle that playfulness can take one farther in some cases. Whereas in postmodernism, play with its provisional, usually somewhat artificial attributes is a manner of avoiding commitment and engagement with fundamentals, with Mitchell it is a technique for coming to grips as much as possible with the elusive, ethereal nature of postmodernism. It is impossible to encompass or define postmodernism; whose primary attributes are contingency, continually changing imagery, and pseudo-events and provisional personas to play to the media. But Mitchell has managed to relate postmodernism's sprawling nature and what accounts for this.

Damming the Grand Canyon - The 1923 USGS Colorado River Expedition
Diane E. Boyer and Robert H. Webb
Utah State U. Press
Logan, UT
9780874216608 $34.95 800-239-9974

Diaries and letters of 10 of the 12 men in the 1923 U.S. Geological Survey to obtain detailed and useful information on the Colorado River including the Grand Canyon stretch make the "backbone" of the book. The 12 men included a variety with particular knowledge and skills to accomplish the purposes of the expedition. Among them were a hydraulic engineer, a photographer, a writer, and topologists and geologists. The main aim was study of the River for favorable places to build dams to supply water to the fast-growing Western states, especially California with its large agricultural areas, and make the area suitable for additional development and tourism.

Though the locations for dams recommended by the 1923 Expedition were not accepted, its findings were used to determine locations where dams were built, notably Hoover Dam. The publicity given to the Expedition, in the periodical Scientific American for example, and appearances and writings by several of its members brought national attention to the large, unique natural area about which little was previously known despite previous explorations and expeditions going back to the first half of the 1800s. The Grand Canyon has since become a popular tourist area.

The format of much of the book is to follow the progress and varied work of the Expedition by excerpts from its members' diaries and letters covering the same day or short period of time. Background on the Expedition and its aftermath are provided in surrounding chapters by the coauthors, both of whom have done much work and writing relating to the region's natural environment.

Private Passions and Public Sins - Men and Women in Seventeenth-Century Lima
Maria Emma Mannarelli, translated by Sidney Evans and Meredith D. Dodge.
U. of New Mexico Press
Albuquerque, NM
97808263822791 $23.95 800-249-7737

Spanish conquest and rule of Peru could not undo the natural sexual attraction between men and women or sweep aside the reasons for sexual relations ranging from love to expediency and calculation. Mannarelli covers the range of sexual relationships from marriage and adultery to concubine or mistress to examine the role these had in maintaining the class and ruling structure instituted by the Spanish. In some cases, the various types of sexual relationships could change the social status of either the man or the woman or work to make for instances of the melding of Spanish and native Peruvian society. An important factor in the effects of a sexual relationship was the handling of offspring. Children could be raised by man and woman no matter what their relationship; they could be taken into the family of one or the other; they could be sent to live with relatives; or they could be abandoned, in which case many were cared for by the Catholic Church in its hospitals.

The society adapted to the large numbers of illegitimate children in ways to maintain the social structure while also face reality. "Illegitimacy formed a particular kind of hierarchal system...[with] a wide spectrum of discriminatory behavior and attitudes against those born out of wedlock." Nonetheless, "[i]llegitimacy did not always prevent men and women from ascending socially or aspiring to a place in the dominant sectors of urban colonial society." As with the variety of sexual relationships between adult men and women, Mannarelli treats the variety of ways illegitimate children were assimilated or recognized in the colonial society, especially the large numbers among Lima's "subordinate ethnic groups."

Mannarelli is an associate professor of history at a Lima university. In this scholarly work, she takes up a largely ignored or peripheral subject to find out how sexual relations and offspring affected the urban society of the time and figured into the future of Spanish colonial rule and shaped Peru's history after contact with the Europeans.

Norman Rockwell - The Underside of Innocence
Richard Halpern
University of Chicago Press
Chicago, IL
9780226314402 $29.00

While Norman Rockwell's paintings are generally seen as imagery of all-American virtues, values, individuals, and scenes, the John Hopkins English professor Halpern sees them as "more challenging and complex" than even the most sophisticated critics have imagined in the recent revival of interest in Rockwell; which revival has mostly reaffirmed the general regard of his paintings. Halpern looks to Rockwell's famous painting "Triple Self-Portrait" for indication--and in a way confession--that there was more to Rockwell's paintings than is realized from the first impressions of their imagery and recognition and often identification with their subjects. Rockwell's insistent, undying "jokey inventiveness," evidenced more directly in his autobiography "My Adventures as An Illustrator," is seen in the often overlooked details of his paintings. The woman in "Rosie the Riveter" celebrating American women's role in the war effort of WWII has Irish facial features which identify her with the ethnic and working classes, not the middle-class matrons, businessmen, and shop owners who see their mainstream, traditional values represented by Rockwell. Also, Rosie's muscular arms go against the typical image of women as slender and in need of male protection. Halpern similarly interprets details of other paintings to find symbols or intimations of homosexuality, voyeurism, and other sexually-laden topics. Halpern does not go so far as to make Rockwell out to be lascivious or meanly subversive. The author does, however, argue and abundantly demonstrate the point that Rockwell's paintings are more complex, more Freudian, than this painter openly admitted to and than nearly all viewers realize.

Shakespeare's Wordcraft
Scott Kaiser
Limelight Editions/Hal Leonard Corp.
New York, NY
9780879103453 $18.95 800-637-2852

Kaiser has the entertaining idea of using brief quotes from Shakespeare--hundreds and hundreds of quotes--to impart lessons for effective, occasionally memorable writing, mostly word usage and sentence structure. Thus one is treated to numerous Shakespearean quotes as examples of notable word usage and fundamental writing techniques identified by Kaiser. He names these words, additions, repetitions, reverberations, transformations, substitutions, omissions, order, and disorder. Within each of the nine chapters are several subsections for different aspects of the technique. Delayed Repetitions and Landings are two of the eight aspects under Reverberations. "Shame, and eternal shame, nothing but shame" from "Hamlet" is one example of the former. "Dost thou teach pardon, pardon to destroy?" is an example from "King Richard the Second" of Landings, explained as "[t]he last word or words of a phrase repeated as the beginning of the next phrase." The unique writer's handbook can be studied systematically or be a bedside companion to dip into randomly for enjoyment and instruction.

Outdoor Living - Courtyards, Decks and Patios edited
Andrea Boekel
Images Publishing
187690755X $55.00

Eighty-one courtyards, decks, and patios from homes in all parts of the world are featured--from Japan to South Africa, Iceland to Australia, the United States to South America. With each are at least two or three and in many cases more sharp color photographs showing the courtyard, etc., from different angles and in varying detail. Where there are the more photos, these are usually of the entire house, then closing in on the outdoor feature. With many of the individual sections for each of the numerous outdoor areas are architectural floors plans of the entire residence so the location, adjacent parts of the home, and the relative size and configuration of the area can been seen. In each section are a few paragraphs on the idea behind the particular patio, etc., and its materials, lighting, and other design elements. With the design and quality of a coffee-table book, "Outdoor Living" is more than an attractive book with pleasing photographs on a subject of interest to homeowners meant to be displayed. With its multiple photographs of each courtyard, deck, and patio, its expertly-drawn floor plans, and the details in its commentary, it provides design ideas and also construction guidance for homeowners, interior designers, and architects.

The Garden at Bomarzo - A Renaissance Riddle
Jessie Sheeler Photographs by Mark Edward Smith
Francis Lincoln Limited
9780711226739 $45.00

Bomarzo is a place in central Italy. The Lord of Bomarzo in the middle part of the 1500s was a Vincino with a wife named Giulia. Vincino lived a long time after his wife died. Though he displayed a sense of melancholy throughout the rest of his life and occasional periods of depression, this cannot be attributed solely to the untimely loss of his wife. For from the garden he founded and remained involved with during his life as well as what other sketchy biographical facts there are to go on, the Lord of Bomarzo had a rather gloomy soul; though one enlivened by intellectual curiosity about diverse interests of the Renaissance, including classical culture, mythology, alchemy, literature, and sculpture. The Garden at Bomarzo was not particularly a memorial to the Lord's departed wife, but rather something of a museum of sculptural representations of the Lord's varied intellectual interests.

A war elephant with its trunk curled around a soldier, a small classical theater, a temple, large stone acorn, the three-headed mythological dog Cerberus, and a dragon being attacked by lions are among the statuary of the Renaissance garden. The "riddle" of the garden is posed by inscriptions in Latin in prominent spots of many of the statutes. "The cave and the fountain free one from all serious thought" and "I want to tell you, and make you in amazement/purse your lips and raise your eyebrows" are two of these. Sheeler--who has a background in classics studies--does not solve the riddle, but to the extent possible makes sense of the garden's diverse objects and cryptic statements. The Renaissance-era personality of the Lord Vincino go a long way toward this explanation. "The ambivalences and the attractive intelligence in his own character find an expression in the variety and puzzling allusiveness of the [garden's] works...." The Lord was a respected soldier who also had leanings toward "Epicurean pacifism"; he sought out the company of his social superiors for intellectual stimulation while chaffing against the social conventions of the time; the balance between his sensuality and intellectuality shifted at different times of his life. The Lord of Bomarzo shows something of the modern spirit of individuality and independence arising in the Renaissance, while still referring to medieval symbolisms and beliefs for expressing itself. The many color photographs, several full-page and a couple double-page, of the moss-covering, in some cases partly deteriorated statutes of the Bomarzo garden are a treat in themselves of classical and baroque statuary.

The Company They Keep - C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien as Writers in a Community
Diana Pavlac Glyer
Kent State U. Press
Kent, OH
9780873388900 $45.00

The fantasy literature of C. S. Lewis and J. R. R. Tolkien is so imaginative and idiosyncratic that one accepts that they wrote such lasting works somewhat obstinately and mainly privately almost as a hobby with little hope they would ever be published, much less popular. The picture of J. R. Rowling writing the beginnings of the first Harry Potter book sitting along at a table in an English shop comes to mind with this image of the earlier authors. Lewis and Tolkien are known to be good friends as well as professional colleagues at Oxford University. But as professor of English at Azusa Pacific U. in California Glyer puts forward, Lewis and Tolkien were part of a circle of academics and writers who had a large, discernible, and often documented influence on their works. From diaries, memoirs, letters, and other sources, Glyer finds that this influence is most evident with Tolkien. This circle which acquired the name "The Inklings," "modeled the behavior of poets and storytellers, provided feedback on his drafts, helped him develop his own critical faculties, recommended reading material that supported and shaped his imagination, and suggested that certain pieces be started, reworked, completed, or submitted for publication." Glyer continues, "It is no small matter that all of this early influence took place within a highly interactive group setting." What the author says with respect to Tolkien applies as well to Lewis, though not quite so overtly recognizably. In their turn, Tolkien and Lewis were active participants in the group offering the same support and suggestions to its other members. Shortly after arriving at Oxford as a student, Tolkien founded the literary society named the "Apolausticks."

In an appendix by a David Bratman, relevant background on 17 members of the Inklings besides Tolkien and Lewis is given. Most became university professors of English or medieval literature or of language studies, with most doing scholarly writings on literary criticism. This work of literary criticism and author biography is obviously timely given the current interest in these authors as evidenced by widely-popular movies made from books of theirs.

The Little Know-it-all - Common Sense for Designers
Robert Klaten, Mika Mischler, and Silja Bilz,editors
Text by Silja Bilz
Die Gestalten Verlag, Berlin
9783899551679 $45.00

This small-size, thick handbook for design of visual materials such as educational material and advertising is encyclopedic in its content though not organized as systematically or logically as a regular encyclopedia. Material includes not only technical guidance and experienced tips, but also historical background on some of the countless topics. The section on paper, for instance, notes, "Paper has different qualities according to the way it is manufactured and according to its composition." Then the section continues to cite what paper is composed of and describe its different qualities; after which, many kinds of paper such as coated, art paper, and even cardboard are annotated. "Perception and reading behavior" is discussed in the larger topic of the many types of script and use of appropriate script for a particular project. A chart with small type (about 7 point) on file formats of digital media covers six pages. Differences between and uses of Adobe Illustrator, Quark Xpress, Kodak PhotoCD, and many other file formats are readily picked out from it.

The broad-ranging, eclectic content extends beyond just technical topics and aesthetic considerations to include the business matters of promotion, intellectual property, and project management. Design departments of corporations, small design firms, and freelance designers would all find the handbook equally useful. A detailed index and an outline of the primary sections of each chapter (e. g., Digital Media, Production, Marketing, Law) at its start are helpful in locating particular material of interest and of use.

Henry Berry

Kaye's Bookshelf

Secrets from the Sofa - A Psychologist's Guide to Achieving Personal Peace
Dr. Kenneth Herman
2021 Pine Lake Rd, Lincoln, NE
059541432X $16.95

Quoting from the back cover:

"If what everyone really wants from life is happiness, success, and peace of mind, then why do people stay at unrewarding jobs or in destructive relationships? Why are people neglecting their physical and mental health? Why do we sometimes have so much trouble just getting through the day?

"Unfortunately, people feel safe and secure with familiar emotions. Even misery is preferable to the anticipated anxiety associated with change. Intellectually, we would like to change; emotionally, we question if change is necessary - or even possible.

"As a practicing clinical psychologist for over 45 years, Dr. Kenneth Herman shares his 'Secrets from the Sofa' - his proven step by step approach to helping people change and achieve a greater sense of purpose, happiness and peace. He offers readers the chance to be their own psychologist; to look at their problems, to address were they are coming from, to make a plan to overcome the issues, and then to execute that plan.

"With motivation and determination, you will find that your personal peace plan can make a change for the better completely possible. Secrets from the Sofa can lead you to a happier, more fulfilling life. And if you really put your mind to it, it will."

The heart of this book and Dr. Herman's therapy is a form of psychotherapy called cognitive therapy which was developed by Dr. Aaron Beck. The basic premise of cognitive therapy is that negative thoughts and attitudes affect our moods. Negative thinking causes depression. Cognitive therapy attempts to help people change their thought patterns.

Secrets of the Sofa is organized into five parts: 1) Understanding Why; 2) Gearing Up; 3) Your Personal Peace Process: 4) Your Emotions and Feelings: and 5) Emerging Stronger. In addition, there are nine exercises: 1) Childhood Log; 2) Childhood Misfortune Checklist; 3) Coping Styles; 4) Defense Mechanisms; 5) Hopefulness Gauge; 6) Life Areas; 7) Self Image; 8) Problem List; 9) Goal Worksheet. His Principle of Change are: 1) Treat yourself with respect and care; 2) Face problems and conflicts directly; and 3) Identify, understand, and let go of resistances. He states . . . "These principles are simply incompatible with unhealthy thinking. Each time you act according to these principles, you are redefining yourself and becoming a stronger person."

I love books like this from experienced psychologists . . . always hoping for something innovative. However, I didn't find anything particularly new (having worked a twelve-step program in the past), but this little book did remind me that the quality of our lives is largely the result of our thoughts. And, I think Abraham Lincoln said it most succinctly: "People are as happy as they make up their minds to be." I also appreciated being reminded that ... "Anger is a healthy emotion. If someone violates our boundaries or threatens to take advantage of us, anger can mobilize us to protect ourselves."

As far as helpful therapy goes, Dr. Herman did not address: 1) making amends to those we've hurt in the past, when possible (a twelve-step chore), which helps us to rid ourselves of guilt feelings and 2) finding a support group, not just a friend, where we can verbalize our feelings, which has the affect of minimizing the intensity of our problems. Other than these two thoughts, Secrets from the Sofa is a well-written, well-edited, self-help workbook you may want to consider if you are thinking about making changes in your life.

Sinking the Ship of State - The Presidency of George W. Bush
Walter M. Brasch
Booksurge LLC
7290-B Investment Drive, Charleston, SC 29418
9781419669507 $24.95

Quoting from the back cover:

"Sinking the Ship of State traces the arc of the Bush presidency from its humble beginnings in the slime of the South Carolina primary to its zenith on a carrier deck beneath a "Mission Accomplished" banner and down to its sorry demise in proposed impeachment proceedings. Brasch lays the whip to the indolent press, "cash register patriots," and a corrupt Congress. It is an exhilarating ride." - Don Kaul, syndicated columnist; retired Washington columnist, Des Moines Register

"When most Americans and the mainstream media were accepting whatever they were told by the Bush Administration, Walter Brasch was meticulously peeling away the incompetence, deceit, corruption and, most of all, their cavalier attitude to the Constitution." - Jim Hightower, syndicated columnist

"Walter Brasch shines a merciless light on the moral hypocrites and constitutional villains who act as the self-appointed protectors of the nation. His writing is propelled by a lively sense of humor and an acute sensitivity to the darker ironies of our times." - Jeffrey St. Clair, co-editor, CounterPunch

"Brasch is one of the first and most consistent columnists to warn about George W. Bush and his neo-conservative administration's plans for a pre-emptive attack on Iraq and the drummed up evidence of WMD. Brasch is an articulate and entertaining writer exposing constitutional and human right violations." - Regina Huelman, Editor, Liberal Opinion Week."

Walter Brasch has used past writings from his social issues column, Wanderings, as the basis for this book. The columns have been presented in a chronological order, starting in 2000, making the book historical, informative, and easily digestible. If you're interested in politics, this book should be on the table beside your bed.

Walter Brasch is a master at weeding through the political lies, deceit, corruption, rhetoric, and hyperbole to help us find the truth. He is a man we need very much in today's complex society. If you want to know the truth, buy this book and help support his efforts.

Why You Shouldn't Throw a Snake at Your Mother - A Coming-of-Age Tale
Phil Gray
iUniverse, Inc.
2021 Pine Lake Rd, Lincoln, NE
9780595448104 $14.95

Quoting from the back cover:

"Connecticut, 1952. School is out for the summer. In a time before computers, X-boxes, and iPods, the neighborhood kids have to get into trouble the old-fashioned way - using their imagination.

"Ten-year-old Sonny Boy get the bright idea for a practical joke involving his mother and a snake. He fears the loathsome reptiles more than anything in the world, but he figures it will be a great gag that will make him a hero to his buddies, Charlie and Pudgy - and to a certain girl. But three bullies harass the boys at every turn, and a battle of wits ensues. Nothing, however, diminishes Sonny Boy's infatuation for, or attempts to impress, the lovely Mary Lou.

"During that hot summer, Sonny Boy befriends an octogenarian named Otto, whose wisdom facilitates his introduction to adolescence - and a final showdown with a snake."

Somewhat of a strange title for a book, but in the end, it all makes perfect sense.

Why You Shouldn't Throw a Snake At Your Mother is one of the most delightful stories I've read in quite some time. Phil Gray has a true gift for story telling, particularly about young boys. He has a marvelous sense of humor, contagious enthusiasm and is a master at description and creating colorful characters. His style of writing is reminiscent of Stephen King's great talent for writing about adolescents and setting the stage with historic trivia. Allow me to share a small portion with you, from page 4:

"This was the summer of l952. Baseball was in the air in America, the Summer Olympics were underway in Finland, and a nasty war was sputtering in Korea. Our world was largely unaffected by these events. School was out, and we were at play...everywhere except, of course, in the Woods.

"The year had started with a yawn - Dimitri Shostakovich finishing his fifth string quartet, the Dutch finishing a new Bible translation, Elizabeth Taylor marrying Michael Wilding a second time - and didn't get the first jolt of consequence until the end of February when Winston Churchill announced Britain's first atomic bomb.

"After that, things picked up. Puerto Rico became a self-governing U.S. commonwealth, the Communists re-invigorated their offensive in Korea, the U.S. Senate finally ratified the peace treaty restoring sovereignty to Japan, and the most important contribution to the pop culture of the civilized world, the very first Rock and Roll concert, called the Moondog Coronation Ball, was introduced at the Cleveland Arena by a local disc jockey named Alan Freed - peace be upon him.

"The Jackie Gleason Show, featuring the Honeymooners, debuted on television that year. Earnest Hemingway published The Old Man and the Sea, and William Gaines published the first Mad comic book. Herman Wouk won a Pulitzer Prize for Caine Mutiny, and Humphrey Bogart received the Academy Award for Best Actor in the l951 movie African Queen. The Academy Award for best 1951 film went to An American in Paris. The big 1952 movie hits were High Noon, The Greatest Show on Earth, and Moulin Rouge." And that's only the beginning.

Let me give you a sample of one colorful character: Charlie Miller.

"Charlie Miller was a ragged little urchin that none of the kids in the neighborhood were allowed to play with. That's because Charlie lived on another planet. He didn't seem to have any rules, or at least he wasn't aware that he did. He was a free spirit way before the '60s.

"All Hail! It was the Charlie's of the world who invented the '60s.

"I never saw Charlie clean, and I always knew what he had for lunch because he wore the remnants of it on the front of him like a badge of honor. To Charlie, meals were an adventure, his mouth was a target, and his hands were the shooters. Every afternoon after lunch, a shimmering rainbow of juices and food particles could be seen dripping from his chin, sluicing down his shirt, pants, and even to his shoes. Ordinarily, shoes don't draw flies, but Charlie's did.

"He was tall for his age, and thin, almost to the point of emaciation (could there be a connection here with his eating habits?). His limbs were long and willowy, their motions first appearing discordant. A closer look revealed more ballet than brawn.

"He had unruly, sandy-brown hair, cut short, as if by a weed-whacker, and an impish grin, as integral to his character as the food on his shirt.

"He had a weak right eye. When he was lazy, agitated, or indifferent, it wandered about, not in cooperation with the left eye that locked on its subject like a mariner on Canopis. I found it disconcerting to carry on a direct conversation with Charlie while his good eye bored into me and the other danced around in search of a place to alight. The effect was even more unsettling when combined with his impish grin. But I got used to it by focusing on the good eye.

"And he would do anything for kicks, short of setting himself of fire (I take it back, he did that once).

"He was adventuresome to the point of recklessness. If you challenged Charlie to test the thin ice, he would do so. If you dared him to stomp on a cow-pie, you would lose the dare. If you bet him a nickel he wouldn't bite into a cow-pie, you would be five cents lighter. ...

"He fancied himself a magician, claiming he could make a bullfrog disappear by the count of three. This, in fact, he accomplished by stuffing an M-80 firecracker down a bullfrog's throat and counting out three hops before it dematerialized in a fine green mist. In Charlie's world, an instantaneous change of state from solid to liquid was sufficient to constitute a disappearance."

This novel is well-written and well-edited and hopefully it will be picked up by a mainstream publisher so that Phil Gray's writing talent can be enjoyed by more readers. If you're looking for a story to brighten your day and lift your spirit, you won't want to miss the adventures of Sonny Boy and his friends, Charlie and Pudgy.

The Valley of Death
Gwynne Huntington Wales
iUniverse, Inc.
2021 Pine Lake Road, #100, Lincoln, NE 68512
0595418899 $23.95

Quoting from the back cover:

"In November 2002, before the invasion of Iraq, the CIA responds to a report from a highly placed British spy about an Iraqi operation to recover and sell nerve gas to terrorists, by dropping Jan Vandermeer into a remote valley in northeast Iraq to determine whether or not the report is correct. He discovers that the lake at the head of the valley is contaminated with VX nerve gas. Using Predator surveillance, the CIA watches the Iraqis recover a canister of the gas and deliver it to the initial transporters. Now the CIA must make a decision - destroy the gas before it moves out of Iraq or let it proceed to protect the source of the report as well as to try to roll up the network of terrorists engaged in moving it to its ultimate but unknown destination.

"The decision to track the gas requires a team of CIA and British agents as well as the National Security Agency and the National Reconnaissance Office. Vandermeer and his Iraqi partner, the beautiful Sophia, are assigned leading roles in the operation. An intensive two-week battle of wits follows, taking Vandermeer and Sophia on a gripping journey through the deepest recesses of the Middle East toward what they come to believe is the final target in the United States."

I must tell you that I did not read the entire novel. When I got to page 35 and the following ...

"I don't need to tell you guys how important it is that we keep track of this thing," said the briefing officer. "If we lose it and it gets into the hands of terrorists, we could be looking at a disaster that would make 9/11 look like child's play. The purpose of this exercise is to find out who is behind this and to put whoever it is out of action. It also shows that Iraq indeed has weapons such as this hidden away and is prepared to use them. If the trail leads to al Qaeda or some other terrorist group, it shows that Iraq not only supports terrorists but also supplies them with such weapons."...,

I felt to' track' rather than 'pick up' the VX nerve gas (a bird in the hand ...) when they could was an ignorant decision, considering the potential deadly disaster nature of the gas, and chose not to read further. I read to page 35 and the last few chapters. My decision certainly does not take away from the quality of writing which is very good. Gwynne Wales is an accomplished, knowledgeable writer, and his novel is well organized, edited and filled with interesting details. If you like espionage thrillers and don't mind poor decisions, I'm certain your will enjoy The Valley of Death.

Medicine Rock Reflections
Kyle Gardner
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 S. Parker Rd., 515, Parker, CO 80134
1432705547 $11.95 1-888-672-6657

Quoting from the back cover:

"In the late 1960s my parent purchased land northwest of Ft. Collins, Colorado. We named it Medicine Rock. I was not born there, but Medicine Rock was a birthplace for me; it was the beginning of consciousness and a place that continues to be vital for my becoming. The reflections of Medicine Rock presented here are like spring waters finally percolating through layers of rock and earth to reach the surface. Medicine Rock was a place where exposure to the elements shaped my inner landscapes to be attuned to the vital spiritual energy inherent in the natural world and to feel a deep connection with it. The place didn't just grow on me; it grew in me. There was an unmistakable feeling of being a part of the greater whole that was instilled in me at a young age, the roots of which continued to grow deeper in my consciousness with each passing year. Will I ever get back to Medicine Rock? The manifestation of the life force I became aware of there is just as profound today, and I return to Medicine Rock each time I am out in the wilds."

Well, I'd say that Kyle Gardner's writing is right up there with other environmentally-concerned/caring authors such as Barbara Kingsolver and Edward Abbey. Medicine Rock Reflections is part personal memoir, part spiritual journey, and part environmental commentary. It is a well-written and well-edited book, and allow me to share a small sample of Kyle's writing with you, from page 13:

"The notion that nearness to nature keeps the spirit sensitive to impressions not commonly felt has also been suggested by John Muir's implication of a chemical reaction. As Muir said when examining the spiritual impact of a wild place, "all that is required is exposure and purity of material because no earthly chemical is as sensitive as the human soul." Taking Muir's insight just a small step further, the chemicals of the soul certainly must be receptive to the exposure to pure materials, because some chemicals, or souls, may not react even under the most perfect conditions. In my experience, the time at Medicine Rock provided the exposure to the natural world. The materials there, all the natural elements and then some, were as pure as I would imagine possible given the time of history. And for some reason, whether purposeful or otherwise, whether through genetic predispositions or family predilections, through soulful sensitivity, via dumb luck or some other reason, I had a reaction to what was afoot, a reaction that continues to send out reverberating waves decades later."

If you're interested in environmental issues and reading about spiritual journeys, you just might be interested in this personal/historical memoir.

More Senior Moments: Getting the Most Out of Your Golden Years
David Wayne Silva
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Rd., 515, Parker, CO 80134
143270107X $13.95

Quoting from the back cover:

""When I first wrote Senior Moments I had no idea of the impact that it would make upon the reader. It wasn't until I began to get phone calls and e-mails about the content that I became aware of what readers really thought. They asked for more senior moments topics. They wanted to know more about self-identity, exercise, family strife, accepting death, sex, and many other topics..."

"In More Senior Moments, the sequel to author David Wayne Silva's popular anthology Senior Moments, you'll find an all-new collection of stories and essays on growing older. Like the first book in the series, More Senior Moments was written to help seniors find the answers to common questions with simple stories told by their peers. The well-thought out and sympathetic advice encourages those entering their golden years to face both the joys and problems that come with aging.

"Silva writes: "Seniors, this is your book. It contains your stories and your ideas. It is about you. I just put it together. Most of the stories and information in this book come from your friends and neighbors, from my own experience, and from the medical profession that takes care of us. After years of working as a counselor, I find it easy to approach my senior friends and ask for their ideas on different subjects. They feel comfortable talking about their emotions and their physical problems even touchy subjects like dressing themselves and sexual matters. Many senior men and women have worked together with me on this book. It is good that we can band together and help each other have more enriching lives while we accept the challenges of aging.""

I reviewed David Silva's first book, Senior Moments, in February 2006 and was delighted with his writing at that time. As the quote from the back cover states, More Senior Moments is a continuation on the theme of senior topics and inspirational stories. This book is also contains thirty-three short chapters.

David Silva was a teacher, school administrator, and family/grief counselor prior to his retirement, and I'm certain these aspects of his life played an integral part in the creation of his well-written books. If you're a senior, young or old, you will find helpful information on many subjects, plus lots of inspiration to help keep us in a positive frame of mind. I'm a senior myself and appreciate the time and effort David has taken to create these inspirational books.

Kaye Trout

Liana's Bookshelf

In the Course of a Dream: EMANUEL FOR LOVE
Ruben Bailey
Lulu Press
860 Aviation Parkway, Suite 300, Morrisville, NC 27560
9780615151786 $23.50

Highly Recommended

Ruben Bailey, a holder of a Master of Science in Information Systems from Strayer University and a Ph.D. in Metaphysics candidate, has been interested in dreams since 1995. This is his first non-fiction book. More details at

In the Course of a Dream, EMANUEL FOR LOVE, is a personal account of dreams and their interpretation in relation to Christian religion and love. The author's near-to-death experience resulted in the writing of this book which refers to Revelation quotes and aims at making mankind better. The message to humanity is that dreams have the power to transform people and offer them the true enlightenment.

Ruben says about religion: 'Religion is like the shell that protects the embryo. It serves its purpose, but once you have come of age there is no need to carry the shell around with you, for you will find the Word written in your heart.'

He says about dreams: 'Dreams hold Universal truths. They are multi-dimensional and are perfectly formed with divine precision.'

The reason he wrote this book: 'It is with an immense love for humanity and a true desire of my heart to see you achieve oneness that I deliver this message of hope and good wishes for a brighter and peaceful future.'

This book caters to people from all walks of life, those interested in metaphysical phenomena and those who love spiritual books. It is written in a simple and clear style, and it is not a scientific book. At times it is moving, as it refers to the author's biographical incidents, while other times it is positive, thus helping people find their 'good' self.

Cooking Lessons
Nina Romano
Rock Press, Inc.
4611 South University Drive #450, Davie, FL 33328 USA
9780967674872 $12.95

Very Highly Recommended

Nina Romano, an adjunct professor of English at St.Thomas University, holds a B.S., M.A., and B.A., and earned an M.F.A. in Creative Writing from Florida International University in 2001.

Cooking Lessons is a poetry collection that involves family, food and culture. The book features the author's experiences of food and family, and depicts her feelings during her travels both outside USA and at home. It is emotional and exciting, yet delicious and flavored with Mediterranean spices. Feelings of love and loneliness, and vivid images of family and kitchen scenes are almost everywhere. It is a uniquely appetizing collection of poems that inspires readers and shows how food affects our lives and feeds both our body and mind.

The poems are written in 'free verse', that is, Nina uses none of the established metrical patterns. In this way, the author succeeds in giving readers vivid detail for our imagination to work with. For example, Roasted Peppers, is a cooking lesson for peppers, yet evokes thoughts about life and death, family persons and cultural events; all in one. It is a very emotional piece of art that will satisfy the inner needs of the readers for culture related with food. Therefore, it caters to everybody who wants a good read of food-related cultural pieces.

Cooking Lessons is a cultural piece of art in itself, not a cookbook, but it can serve both purposes at the same time. The impulse and emotion behind each poem lead the reader to a journey of discovery.

Prose lovers can read these poems too, as the 'free-verse' is appealing to a wider audience. Rich vocabulary selection and rich images comprise each poem that will speak to the readers' hearts and inspire them to add flavor to their own life just as the author does.

Public Lies
Brenda Youngerman
Outskirts Press, Inc,
10940 S.Parker Rd-515, Parker CO 80134
9781432712969 $15.95

Very Highly Recommended

Brenda Youngerman, an avid proponent of domestic violence legislation, has written Public Lies in order to enlighten the public to the plight of the victims. You can visit her at

Public Lies is about domestic violence and the way it affects women from all walks of life. The story starts at the point Nancy, the main character and victim in this story, leaves Vince, her drug addict violent husband, in order to save herself and her two kids from the unbearable life they are living. Nancy lives in a constant nightmare and has no one to turn to but her sister Olivia who lives in another city. But Vince has not allowed them to have any relationship with them so far. Nancy is desperate and decides to be brave and escape. Will she succeed in having a safe life? Will Vince find her and destroy her? The two kids are in the middle of this ordeal and seem to be the only excuse for Vince to go after Nancy. But are they really what he is after? Or is it pure revenge for his wife?

The story is well crafted in every single detail. The 'real' situation the characters are set in is working right. The readers will identify themselves with the family members and follow the plot till the end. It is a real story in real surroundings that will make people think of the consequences of violent behavior in families as well as drug use. Children are abused in many other ways than people may think, so a drug addict parent with irrational behavior may indeed be the beginning of a child's psychological problems. Nancy's feelings towards her husband seem genuine and pure, while his are all the way through based on resentment, jealousy and revenge. The author shows that a woman can not easily realize how a man can be so deceptive and bad even to his own children. On the other hand, the story involves characters that degrade the woman. Christina, Trent's wife, has had numerous affairs despite her loyal husband. The author knows that 'bad' behavior is possible in all people, so there is no discrimination against men. There are other men in the story that are gentle and decent. But it is women who usually suffer and are victims trapped in a violent marriage, and this is the main point of this novel.

The story is written in a simple style that everyone can read. It is fast paced and a good read with a lot of unexpected turns. It caters to fiction lovers, to a female audience and to those who wish to read a story that sounds 'real' such as a life story. Get the book from Ingram, Baker&Taylor or from

Healing Pathway for Hopelessness: An Effective 6-week Faith-Based Program For Youth
Renee Maimone
Hanwell Press
0977223477 $14.99

Renee Maimone, author and public speaker, is an active board member for Florida Right to Life. She has authored 'The Bleeding Rose', a riveting novel based on hurting women.

Healing Pathway for Hopelessness is a booklet that focuses on a program for those who need to boost their self esteem and find peace in their life. It involves a 6-week work that can be done either at home or in classroom settings. The whole program is faith based.

The program starts with a prayer. Then comes the first assignment. There are more assignments as the lessons go on so the participant will have the opportunity to write his/her thoughts that will help them solve their inner problems. There are six chapters in all, and each one of them follows the same format. First is the Inspirational part that deals with the specific problem, then readings from the Bible and explanations, and then is the note section at the back of the book where the participants can write down their thoughts or questions. There is a lesson for every day of the week.

The topics involved in this program are of high value. People who feel worthless and rejected may regain their self esteem and find life enjoyable and good. Participants are urged to stop having negative thoughts and start loving themselves again. This part reminds me of another program I read years ago and involved a phase called 'replacement therapy'. People should learn to forgive and understand others, accept them selves as they are and follow their dream. Who would deny that all these are not important? The author tries to justify every solution to each problem by referring to the Bible. That makes necessary for the student to get a Bible in order to follow the lessons. As a Faith based program it looks practical and effective.

This program is well written and the style is simple and clear. It caters to everyone in need, not only young people. The fact that it is based on faith may be restrictive to some people who are not Christians, but the values involved apply to all peoples, from all walks of life. It is a useful program that needs to get the attention of those in need.

Christmas on Deery Street & other seasonal stories
Steven Roberts
Booksurge, LLC
7290-B Investment Drive, Charleston, SC 29418
141964310X $12.99

Very Highly Recommended

Christmas on Deery Street is Steven Roberts' first book, and 'While Shepherds Watched' is his second one coming out soon. Steven, a PhD in Political Science holder, is active in his church where his stories are read the Sunday before Christmas. He lives with his family in Knoxville, Tennessee where he teaches for Tusculum College.

This book is a collection of wonderful Christmas stories that will entertain and inspire readers from all over the world. The author says: 'There is a small element of truth in them that came from one of my dad's stories.' These are stories that celebrate not only Christmas but family bonds and friendships. They are written in the third person and the lively dialogue Steven used throughout this book it makes them sound 'real' and vivid. The readers can get a lot of cultural aspects as well, such as the way they used to celebrate Christmas long ago. The author is mainly focused on family gatherings, and friendship bonds, revealing special memories that are interesting to read.

The style is simple, the character description is excellent and the use of colloquial language at times helps to highlight the different background of the characters, since each one of them has got his own voice. The stories are humorous, moving and real, and they are all fun to read. A good book to entertain readers at Christmas time! It certainly caters to a wide audience. Each story has got an unexpected turn, and it is gripping enough to make the reader read on till the end.

While Shepherds Watched
Steven Roberts
Outskirts Press, Inc
9781432714017 $15.95

Very Highly Recommended

While Shepherds Watched is Steven Roberts' second book that is filled with Christmas spirit. Steven, a PhD in Political Science holder, is active in his church where his stories are read the Sunday before Christmas. He lives with his family in Knoxville, Tennessee where he teaches for Tusculum College.

This book is a collection of wonderful Christmas stories that will entertain and inspire readers from all over the world. The lively dialogue and detailed description Steven used throughout this book it makes the stories sound 'real' and vivid. The readers can get a lot of cultural aspects as well, such as the way they used to celebrate Christmas long ago in certain places, and feel the magic of family bonds the author knows and describes so well in his stories.

Steven 's style is simple and clear, his use of colloquial language at times enhance the character description, which is excellent, and the use of some literary elements make the overall impression of this little story book a perfect read for Christmas time. The stories are humorous, moving and real, and they are all fun to read. A good book to entertain readers not only at Christmas time but all the year round! It certainly caters to a wide audience. Each story has got an unexpected turn, a mystery of some kind, and it is gripping enough to make the reader read on till the end. Steven's second book is longer than his first one and the stories now are more spicy and well crafted. The cover of the book is very attractive and the size quite handy to carry it anywhere. It is an original Christmas book that no reader should miss!

The Trinity of Health
Carmen Harra Ph.D.
BookSurge Publishing
7290-B Investment Drive, Charleston, South Carolina 29418
9781419665622 $16.99

Non fiction, self-help. Very Highly Recommended.

Carmen Harra, a clinical psychologist, metaphysician and author of three books, is also a TV personality, motivational speaker, singer and radio host on Carmen lives in New York and Florida with her family. Learn more about Carmen at

The Trinity of Health is a self help guide that includes 10 chapters. It consists of two parts: Part One focuses on spiritual values; it offers readers an analysis of the seven guiding principles and motivates them to incorporate these values into their daily life. Part Two is about nutrition. Specifically, it is all about smart nutrition and how people can eat healthily and joyfully. There is reference to the Greek diet on page 31, why the Mediterranean diet is better than other diets, and tips on how to avoid fatty foods and stick to healthy foods. 'Moderation in all things' is the secret, Carmen says on page 41, and this is a wise section. Further on, on page 103, the topic is about self esteem. Loving and changing yourself in order to have a good karma are quite interesting to read. Carmen makes reference to organic foods on page 114, thus urging readers to switch to healthier alternatives. At the back of the book there is a Bibliography section.

This book is a valuable guide for everyone interested in their well-being. Once the readers get the required knowledge, they can change their lifestyle and values. Carmen's book is well-written, simple and clear to read. I love the letter font; it is relaxing for the eyes and obviously it caters to people at an older age, without restricting a younger audience though. This guide inspires and urges people to change, so it is an invaluable tool in the reader's hands. As Carmen says, the secret of good life is balance, which sounds simple but it is difficult to have.' Therefore, balance your life with Carmen's new book! Get it from and

Liana Metal

Margaret's Bookshelf

Becoming Alice
Alice Rene
iUniverse, Inc.
2021 Pine Lake Road, #100, Lincoln, NE 68512
5200 Collier Place, Woodland Hills, CA 91364
0595403395, $18.95

At six years of age, 'Alice' Rene would watch the Nazi soldiers as they marched down her street in Vienna Austria. She and her family were Jewish, which meant that they would escape the looming holocaust in an odyssey that would take her to Riga, Lativa, and finally end with her arrival in Portland, Oregon, where they would operate a family grocery store. The story of her family's narrow escape from death at the hands of the Germans, their struggle as immigrants to adjust to American society, and her personal problems growing up in a troubled family are all related in candid detail in Alice Rene's autobiography, "Become Alice: A Memoir" in which she finds a friend in Elaine, a Jewish girl who shared Alice's newly found interest in boys, and comes into conflict with her parents over issues of dating where American traditions would clash with their old world rules. It was when Rene went to UCLA and experienced anxiety, insecurity, and panic attacks that almost sent her back home, then transferring to Berkeley where she lived in a boarding house with other girls from a variety of different cultures and subcultures that Alice discovers her true self and achieves triumph over adversity, her identity crisis, and emancipation from the restraints of family ties. Strongly recommended for personal reading lists and community library biography collections, "Becoming Alice" is a deftly written memoir that will hold the reader's rapt attention from beginning to end.

Ethnic Knitting Discovery
Donna Druchunas
Nomad Press
418 Goldeneye Drive, Fort Collins, CO 80526
9780966828931, $21.95

In "Ethnic Knitting Discovery: The Netherlands, Denmark, Norway, and The Andes", needlecraft expert Donna Druchunas showcases traditional designs and techniques drawn from three Scandinavian and one Native American knitting cultures in a step-by-step presentation for eight sweater projects and four skill-building small projects, each of which is accompanied by worksheets geared to three levels of knitting experience. Superbly designed and illustrated for beginning to intermediate level knitters, the needlecraft skills include knitting patterns back-and-fourth and in the round; working from charts; puntas; stitch-and-cut armholes; centering patterns; managing repeats; welts; and Andean-style purling. The first of a planned trilogy of instruction guidebooks introducing traditional knitting techniques in a graduated fashion, "Ethnic Knitting Discovery", with its color tips and knitting-specific histories, is an especially recommended addition to both personal and community library Needlecraft instructional reference collections.

Sproutman's Kitchen Garden Cookbook
Steve Meyerowitz
Sproutman Publications
PO Box 1100, Great Barrington, MA 01230
1878736868, $14.95

Sproutman Publications is a specialty publisher with an impressive roster of health books to their credit. One of the best of these is the "Sproutman's Kitchen Garden Cookbook" by Steve Meyerowitz who began his interest in the relationship of foods to health in 1975 when he sought to deal with a lifetime condition of allergies and asthma. After the traditional medical establishment had failed him for some twenty years, he was able to restore his health through diet and fasting. he at 100% live foods for five years, practices 'fruitarianism -- a diet of fruit, nuts and sprouted seeds -- and fasted on raw juices for as long as 100 days. The resulting improvement to his personal health was amazing. In "Sproutman's Kitchen Garden Cookbook", Steve has amassed superb collection of recipes for sprout breads, cookies, soups, and salads, as well as 250 additional low-fat, dairy-free, vegetarian recipes. The recipes are presented after the reader benefits from an informational presentation on the pros-and-cons of dairy, dehydrating foods, nutrition charts, sprouting, food drying, low temperature cooking, how to be a healthy vegetarian, and so much more. From Cashew Cottage Cheese; Mighty Millet Bread; Sunflower Nut Milk; and Banana Chips; to Manhattan Sprout Chowder; Braised Tofu; Spinach Marinade; and Creamed Potato Mash, "Sproutman's Kitchen Garden Cookbook" will prove to be a popular and invaluable addition to the cookbook collection for anyone having to deal with the problems of food related allergies and illnesses, as well as the recipe collections for general vegetarians. Also very highly recommended for those concerned with food related health issues are the other titles from Sproutman Publications (available through their website at including: "The Organic Food Guide"; "Power Juices, Super Drinks"; Juice Fasting & Detoxification"; Wheatgrass: Nature's Finest Medicine; "Water: The Ultimate Cure; and "Food Combing and Digestion".

Janet Smith Warfield
Word Sculptures Publishing
3225 South McLeod Drive, Suite 100, Las Vegas, NV 89121
9780977832460, $19.95

Lawyer, grandmother, mediator and poet Janet Smith Warfield presents Shift: Change Your Words, Change Your World, a remarkable self-help guide to adapting one's consciousness to help bring peace to oneself and to the planet, one person at a time. Chapters encourage the reader to be honest with oneself, and attune to one's own thoughts and feelings, while being wary of negative impulses to judge or control other people, and touch upon the big spiritual questions. "None of the world religions has ever been able to define God. God is referred to as a mystery, something beyond human understanding. The word define means to limit. Of course, religions can't define God. What right do we humans have to limit God?" An utterly insightful guide to making sense of timeless wisdom, applicable to readers of all faiths and backgrounds.

Margaret Lane

Mark's Bookshelf

The Real Estate Agent's Guide to FSBO's: Make Big Money Prospecting For-Sale-By-Owner Properties
John Maloof
AMACOM, American Management Association
1601 Broadway, New York, NY 10019
9780814400432 $19.95

No one said finding a buyer, negotiating a purchase offer or the multitude of other tasks associated with selling a home are easy. But, every year thousands of home owners decide to begin their home sale process by selling-by-owner. Century 21 real estate agent John Mallof recounts his business model of converting FSBO's (For-Sale-By-Owner's) into clients in the just released "The Real Estate Agent's Guide to FSBO's. In today's competitive and transitioning real estate market, FSBO's are an attractive way for real estate agents to farm for additional business.

Chapter titles are: The FSBO, Understanding What It Takes, FSBO Prospecting Plan, Know Thy Competition, The FSBO System, FSBO Sales Techniques, Special Telephone Techniques, The FSBO Listing Presentation, The Marketing Plan, Farming for FSBO's, Putting Your For-Sale Signs to Work, Servicing Your Listings, and Building a Referral Base. Additional features include acknowledgements, an introduction, three appendix's that cover resources, FBSBO facts, and sample forms. A thorough index and author bio are also included.

Mr. Maloof shares his many years of experience outlining to the nth degree, his system for bringing FSBO's into his fold. A easy-to-read book loaded with charts and tips to take the guess work out of establishing a consistent system to market to those thinking that they could save thousands in commissions by selling-by-owner. The author's just-the-facts-please style is perfect for novices or experienced agents who want to take the jump into a lucrative, but often over-looked market niche. A great textbook for real estate educators, who want a companion to classroom discussions on the topic.

Your Guide to VA Loans: How to Cut Through the Red Tape and Get Your Dream Home Fast
David Reed
AMACOM, American Management Association
1601 Broadway, New York, NY 10019
9780814474358 $17.95

Prolific residential mortgage author David Reed's new book "Your Guide to VA Loans" is a must-read for Veteran's looking to take advantage of the program, loan officers and real estate agents looking to understand the recently stream-lined process which offers attractive terms for those who qualify. Mr. Reed explores in great detail one of the common misnomers of VA (Department of Veteran's Affairs) Loans, that being the Veteran's Administration guarantees the loan, but traditional lenders actually fund and service a VA loan.

Chapter titles are: Getting Started, Credit and VA Lending, The VA Loan Approval Process, Finding Your VA Team, Getting the Best VA Rate, Closing Costs and VA Loans, Refinancing, Equity Lending, and Special VA Programs, and When VA Loans Are Not Your Best Choice. Plus six excellent appendix's; VA Regional Loan Centers, VA Contact Information, Request for Certificate of Eligibility (VA Form 26-1880), Request Pertaining to Military Records (SF 180), Universal Residential Loan Application and Payment Tables. Additional features include an introduction, glossary and index.

Navigating the VA loan process can be daunting, but Mr. Reed lays out in an informative style the in's and out's of the bureaucratic process. The author who has twenty years of mortgage experience, including originating hundreds of VA Loans is the perfect instructor for minimizing pesky meandering through the process. Perfect for Veterans seeking a road map, mortgage educators and a must-have resource for real estate brokerages.

Mark Nash

Mayra's Bookshelf

The Right Thing
James Richard Larson
2021 Pine Lake Rd., Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
0595427367 $17.95 1-800-288-4677

Have you ever been rejected by literary agents? Have you ever fantasized about making them pay? If yes, this is the book for you! In this his latest novel, talented author James Richard Larson shows a chilling, terrifying portrait of a rejected, aspiring writer who brings her dreams of revenge to reality.

Deeply depressed by her struggling life as an aspiring author, Elsbeth Malone takes her own life, but not without making a pact with an ancient evil being first. Her husband and the protagonist of this story, Johnny Malone, is left heartbroken and stunned at the realization that Elsbeth had been practicing magic before her death. Soon horrible incidents begin to happen to various literary agents, agents that, as Johnny eventually finds out, are in Elsbeth's ominous list of agents who rejected her manuscript, A Circle of Light.

One after another the agents begin to die under grisly circumstances after meeting a mysterious British man named Mr. William Bagnold, a man clad in black who claims to represent Two Ravens Publishing. There's only one problem Two Ravens Publishing stopped existing in 1944. Then one day Johnny receives a message from a Ms. Lane, one of the agents whom Elsbeth had sent her manuscript to. Due to changes in publishing trends, Ms. Lane believes that Circle of Light, which she had previously rejected, now has great marketing possibilities, and so she offers to represent her. Johnny informs her Elsbeth is dead, but agrees to meet her because nothing would make him happier than seeing the manuscript published. A sort of romantic relationship begins to develop between them, but hell breaks loose when Johnny realizes she is one of the agents on Elsbeth's doomed list. Will he be able to break the 'curse' and save her from a terrible death?

I found the story riveting from the very beginning. The premise is good, and Larson has great skill in developing detailed, absorbing, well-drawn characters. The unsympathetic agents are realistic without being cartoonish, and the secondary characters are as well developed as the main ones. Around the middle of the novel the focus seems to go off Johnny and settle on some of the secondary characters, but these subplots are so interesting, realistically written, and engrossing that they didn't prove distracting, even though I had to ask myself 'Where is Johnny?' a couple of times. I'm not sure whether Larson meant this on purpose, but I think if Johnny would have been more involved in the middle of the story, the novel would probably have been even better.

The ending is ingenious and shocking and took me completely by surprise. I had to read it a couple of times to make sure I had understood it correctly. The Right Thing is definitely a great read this Halloween for everyone who enjoys a chilling, atmospheric modern horror. If you're a struggling author, you will get an extra kick out of it as well.

Judgement Fire
Marilyn Meredith
Mundania Press
6470A Glenway Avenue, #109, Cincinnati, OH 45211-5222.
1594264848 $10.00

Judgement Fire is a sharp little mystery that will keep readers guessing until the end for the culprits.

In the small town of Bear Creek, a mountain community in the southern Sierra, a battered woman is murdered. Is the killer her abusive husband? Or maybe her own son, who publicly claimed he hated her?
Or perhaps her nosy and suspicious-looking neighbor, who supposedly used to be the woman's high-school 'enemy'? Or was the whole thing a mistake, and it was her husband the meant target?

As Tempe Crabtree, a young and level-headed police officer with a long black tress down her back, sets out to hunt the killer, she is simultaneously drawn back to her own origins and Native American heritage and uses her roots as a way to help her memory and find the killer.

The prose is crystal clear and the author doesn't waste time with unnecessary internal dialogues or descriptions. No word is wasted; there's no clutter, no melodrama. The pace moves quickly and the 'spiritual' segments don't slow down the story. On the contrary, I found that they make the protagonist quite unique. This is a short, enjoyable novel and one that I gobbled up overnight. This is the latest Tempe Crabtree mystery from award-winning author Marilyn Meredith.

Little Skink's Tail
Janet Halfmann, Illustrated by Laurie Allen Klein
Sylvian Dell Publishing
976 Houston Northcutt Blvd., Suite 3, Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464
9780976882381 $15.95 www.sylviandellpublishing

One day Little Skink, a blue-tailed young lizard, is basking on a big rock in the morning sun. Leaping to the floor, she begins to gobble up his breakfast, which consists of yummy-smelling ants, when suddenly a big crow appears and attacks. Luckily, Little Skink manages to escape. There's only one problem: her tail is gone! Where did her bright blue tail go? Did the crow snap it off? What will Little Skink do now, without her wiggling, waggling tail?

She's happy to be alive, but sad at having lost her tail. She can't get her lost tail off her mind, so she begins to imagine how she would look with other animals' tails. How would she look with a rabbit's tail? No, too 'puffy-fluffy'. What about with a porcupine's? No, too 'sticky-prickly.' And so on and so forth with the different forest creatures. Will Little Skink's tail ever grow back?

This is a colorful, engaging, beautifully illustrated book that teaches children about animals and their tails. At the end of the book there are activities for 'Creative Minds' a footprint map and a game for matching different types of tails with their corresponding animals.

Princess Caitlin's Tiara
Kim Messenger and Michael LaLumiere, Illustrated by Ginger Nielson
Stagger Lee Books
P.O. Box 442, 7558 W. Thunderbird, Suite ,1Peoria, AZ 85381
9780979100604 $14.95 623-977-0537

What is it about little girls, princesses, and tiaras? From the writing team of Kim Messinger and Michael LaLumiere comes another enjoyable story for kids, though this time the tale is geared towards little female readers and book lovers.

Little Caitlin is in a rotten mood a really "big old funk. A humongous funk. A funk that could eat Chicago."

To lighten Caitlin's spirits, her mom comes up with an idea. She tells Caitlin how when she was little she had something that always made her feel like a princess, a special thing that made her feel "funk-proof" a beautiful princess tiara! But after trying on her mom's tiara, Caitlin realizes it is too big for her; thus she sets to the task of making her own using cardboard, scissors, a stapler, and shiny silver foil. Then, with her brand-new, glittery tiara on her head, her imaginary adventures begin. Snowboarding at the South Pole with penguins, diving deep in the ocean with mermaids, riding in style in a big pink limousine, flying amidst the clouds in her pilot uniform the fun never ends!

Princess Caitlin's Tiara is a delightful picture book that will delight young girls ages 4-8. I found it has a lot of text for a picture book, making it an early reader for young book lovers as well. The colorful illustrations are evocative and whimsical and possess a dream-like quality that suits the plot well. This is a book that touches the 'little girl' in all of us. This is a fun story for bedtime reading, or one a mother may read to her child anytime for mother-daughter bonding.

Mortal Touch
Inanna Arthen
Light Unseen Media
PO Box 1233, Pepperell, MA 01463
9780979302800 $16.95

Vampires must be the ultimate die-heard creatures of all supernatural fiction genres. No matter how many vampires novels are published, more keep coming, and even though we hear that publishers are tired of them, the books keep getting published. Could it be that readers can't have enough of these bloodthirsty fiends either as vicious monsters or beautiful, sophisticated beings trapped in the darkness of their natures? Whether it's kids, young adults or adults, people seem to love them.

I dislike gory novels where vampires are portrayed as demons from hell, as well as romance novels where they're overly sugar coated. The type of vampire fiction I enjoy would fall more under 'general fiction', as in the type of Anne Rice's works, where the creatures are pictured as real-life beings with a certain degree of education and sophistication, but still be the trapped, tortured souls who fall somewhere between good and evil. This type of fiction, though having elements of horror, doesn't fall under the horror category. A closer description would be general fiction with elements of the paranormal or magic realism.

Having read so many vampire novels as I have, it is seldom that I find one that surprises me or that strays enough from the vampire conventions to appear original, and this is why I was pleasantly surprised to read Mortal Touch, by Inanna Arthen, published by By Light Unseen Media, a new press which solely focuses on serious vampire fiction and nonfiction.
For sure, Mortal Touch doesn't follow the general vampire rules and conventions for one thing, Arthen's vampires don't even have fangs. But without giving more away about the nature of Arthen's immortal creatures (I'll leave the pleasure of finding that out as you read the book), let's go into some of the plot:

The protagonist, Regan Calloway, is a psychic who runs a little antique shop in a small town in New England. She has worked with the authorities as a psychic consultant before but now lives a pretty lonely, secluded life, mainly because of the trauma of past experiences when she dealt with murders and serial killers. Regan can 'see' and 'feel' things when she touches objects that have belong to either the victim or killer. Now, a new series of strange assaults is capturing the people's attention and has the press and the police in turmoil. Dr. Hiram Clauson, an old friend and colleague she used to work with during her past involvements with the police, calls her and asks her to help him interview the victims. At the same time, a mysterious so-called writer named Jonathan Vaughn has moved into the town and Regan's beautiful yet mentally unstable best friend Veronica seems to be falling for him. Jonathan seems very reclusive and aloof and Veronica asks Regan to meet him in order to learn more about him with her psychic powers.

But to go back to the strange assaults, Regan agrees to help. The victims show very little recollection of the attack, as if their minds were wiped out, plus, they seem to be missing a lot of blood and sport ugly-looking scars on their necks. Later, when she finally meets Jonathan and 'touches' him, she's startled by the realization that he's connected to the strange crimes which have been haunting the surrounding area. Is he the attacker? What is his nature? Later on, the situation gets more complicated as Regan and Jonathan begins to be attracted to each other and Veronica gets paranoid and suicidal as her obsession with Jonathan gets out of control. This creates a sort of destructive triangle between them.

This is an unusual vampire novel in that the characters are not romantized in any way and are portrayed in a realistic manner. Unlike most heroines from your regular vampire novels, Regan is neither particularly young nor beautiful. The same can be said for Jonathan. One thing that put me off, and this is a matter of personal taste, is that Rowan swears a lot, and for some reason I couldn't associate that to her demure, psychic, antique shop persona. Jonathan is appealing and interesting and his charisma comes through the pages in spite of him being your everyday, nice guy who happens to be a vampire. The setting does offer a lot of atmosphere and Arthen is successful in creating the perfect ambiance for the mysterious New England town, with its picturesque antique shops and long dark roads surrounded by woods.

Though the story is interesting and intriguing, at times I found it a bit slow with some superfluous dialogue of things which are already known to the reader but are being reiterated; something that the tiny print seems to amplify. Taking aside these negative minor points, this is a work that is well written and that at times gets quite suspenseful and horrific. There is a scene where Veronica is trapped in a dungeon-like cellar that made my skin crawl. Also, Veronica's unstable manic behavior is drawn especially well. The dialogue

Mortal Touch is definitely a novel vampire fiction aficionados will want to add to their collection. This is not a novel to be gobbled overnight, though, but one to savor slowly and patiently, so if you like your fiction with a lot of details and a lot of meat in it, this is the book for you. I certainly will keep my eye on this author and this press, and hope to review more of their titles in the future.

Mayra Calvani

Molly's Bookshelf

Drawn from Memory: A Personal Story of Healing Through Art
E. J. Cockey
Ovation Books
PO Box 80107 Austin TX 78758
9780979027512 $13.95

Inspiring Read. Recommended. 5 stars

In the Prologue the author reveals 'Drawn from Memory' is a personal story of healing through art to be a true story about her own life and the lives of persons she knows or has known. She mentions too; that while some of those who are gone from her life have not necessarily died. As a rule long term patients/residents in any care institution want most in life to return to the home where they had lived before the care institution.

In 1990, recently divorced, at the end of a busy day spent enjoying the all day housewarming for her parents new home; the writer, single mother of two boys, was suddenly face to face with a reality most of us dread whether it materializes or not. Her mother became incapacitated. It took many doctor visits before the true medical reasons surrounding her mother's seizure and resultant vulnerability became known.

Writer Cockey offers snippets, peeks and clips into the lives of those for whom she has worked with and worried about over the years. She reveals how bringing those who are now lost in a world from which they can never truly escape into a setting where they can intermingle, mingle and step out of themselves for an hour or two now and then does just that. Patients who had not interacted with anyone prior to the writer and her art classes now do cooperate a little with those nearby and with their surroundings. That communication, fleeting though it might be, is important.

Less than twenty years ago Cockey began working with dementia patients as an art teacher for several long term facilities. Since that time she has expanded her program to include others with special needs. These are the dying, the in poor health and the compliant which our society too often forgets when they are most in need.

Author EJ Cockey sums up her own notions about life and death in three basic questions which she found most of those facing debilitating or life threatening situations always seemed to ponder. Am I going to suffer? Will I be alone? Did my life mean something? Cockey says that it is that pondering of those particular questions, and being willing to answer them, that has made a huge difference to her personally over the past several years.

Writing from the standpoint of one who works in a setting wherein most of our citizenry cannot come to admit might be our own one day, Cockey's 'Drawn from Memory a personal story of healing through art' is not a funny romp or an easy read. Filled with the hurts, the pain and poignancy of lives now ending, or lives continuing forever changed, 'Drawn from Memory' is nonetheless an inspirational manuscript.

Writer Cockey has drawn from her own experiences to set down a script which can serve to motivate readers. Not every situation can be made whole or 'all better.' Every situation can be bettered if we engage in meaningful activity if even for a short time now and then. Cockey faced many disappointments in life, was downcast by her own son's infirmity, her own mother's situation, her life and in particular her own financial problems until at last she began to question the direction of her life. It was with the assistance of one ninety-year-old dementia patient that Cockey came to be sensitive to the notion that there is a higher power and help is obtainable, if you reach out for it. The understanding directs Cockey on a road to regeneration even as it promoted within her an intense zeal. It is through art, that she is able to offer help and the realization that hope is never lost to Alzheimer's and dementia patients.

'Drawn from Memory' has a place on the therapists shelf, in the private reader's library and especially for those who are facing what may seem to be an impossible situation from which there is no escape. Enjoyed the read. Happy to recommend.

Find Your Courage
Margie Warrell
Synergy Books
2100 Kramer Lane STE 300 Austin, TX 78758
9781933538709 $14.95

Illuminating Read . Recommended . 4 stars

FIND YOUR COURAGE is offered in three sections, twelve chapters and 300+ pages of power-packed information and exercises for attaining a more courage filled life. Writer Warrell is a college psych grad, an ontological coach specializing in life and executive coaching, a writer and parent.

Section one FOUNDATIONAL ACTS OF COURAGE sets the stage with chapters titled 'The Courage to Take Responsibility,' 'The Courage to Live with Integrity,' 'The Courage to Challenge Your Stories,' and 'The Courage to Dream Bigger.' I found Chapter three 'The Courage to Challenge Your Stories' to be particularly helpful. The notion that we allow our past rule our present is one most of us little understand, realize or accept. Humans have been creating stories for themselves from the beginning of time in an effort to understand what 'causes' them to act, think and do as they do. 'Often we are trapped inside stories we are not aware we have.

Section two COURAGE IN ACTION offers suggestion 'The Courage to be Yourself,' 'The Courage to Speak Up,' 'The Courage to Take Action,' 'The Courage to Persevere,' and 'The Courage to Say No.' For many Chapter 9, 'The Courage to Say No' may prove especially beneficial. There are so many things to say yes to that we really need to develop that back bone that will allow us to say no. Our quality of life has improved over the decades; along with that comes a responsibility to make wise choices. When lives are so wrapped in minutiae it is almost impossible to accomplish more of the larger goals in life. The ability to weed out the non essential and to concentrate on that we really want to do takes real courage.

Section three COURAGE AS A WAY OF BEING introduces 'The Courage to Live With an Open Heart,' 'The Courage to Let Go,' 'The Courage to be a Leader,' and Exercises for accomplishing the courage filled goals, wants and desires we may have. For those who find themselves spending a good bit of time dwelling on the past, and not enough on the here and now chapter 11 'The Courage to Let Go,' offers many good suggestions. The ability to give up trying to control every aspect of life and trusting in the ability to do well what is need allows one to achieve more of what is needed and not continue to pursue what may be wanted and continually remains just out of reach.

Exercises for Identifying Your Role in Your Problems, Feeling Your Fear of Inadequacy, Removing Your Limiting Labels, Mastering Powerful Requests, Clarifying Your Goal, Escaping the 'Should' Trap and Connecting with Your Sadness are presented along Mantras, Visualizations and Meditations all designed to encourage the reader toward finding the courage to pursue a better life.

On the pages of Find Your Courage the author supports the reader toward taking a good hard look at their life, deciding how or what to change and making the change for the better. Writer Warrell does not shy from the reality before many of us can get started on the here and now we have a lot of past to leave go of: childhood incidents, our need for authentic self understanding along with the often self destructive stories we tell ourselves all stand in our way for pursuing our goals for today. I liked the realistic approach writer Warrell uses to guide the reader a better self understanding and ultimately how to make the necessary changes for leading a more satisfying, productive life.

Find Your Courage is a well written, easily read work meant to aid those who are seeking a better life, it has a place in the personal library, on the therapists shelf and for the school and public library.

I received a trade paper back for review. Enjoyed the read, happy to recommend for the target audience.

From the Rill to the Ocean
Imre Kalanyos
Xlibris International
Plaza II, Ste 340, Philadelphia, PA 19113
9781425735500 $20.99

Attention-grabbing read . Recommended . 5 stars

From the Rill to the Ocean opens with lovely poem bearing the same name as the book. On April 27, 1941 Imre Kalanyos was born in a tiny village, Sivo, Hungary. Sivo did not have a church thus there is no mention of it even on Imre's birth certificate. Despite his ethnic background, Gypsy, Imre grew up with a good understanding of the history of the country. Twenty seven years of life lived as a minority shaped Imre's understanding of what it means to be Gypsy. Life before Imre's birth was simple, modest and uneventful until one April day when the bridge spanning the Drava River was bombed. The incident did not pose a threat for the villagers then, it was about four miles away, and while distracting it was not threatening. World War II was happening in the part of the world the villagers of Sivo hardly knew about.

The war became a reality in June of that year when Janos along with others of the village was conscripted to fight alongside the Germans against the Russians. Sivo suffered evacuation, the village was destroyed, and finally the family returned to their battered home and was reunited. Hardship and privation was the lot of the whole of Hungary, the country fell under the dictatorship of Stalin, and in 1949 due to the village's proximity to the border militarized zone it was relocated. Imre attended school in Gordisa where he soon learned he was not Hungarian . he was Gypsy.

From the Rill to the Ocean traces the life of Imre Kalanyos who parents Maria and Janos were hard working, long-suffering people. From Maria; Imre inherited a capacity for endurance, and a loving heart. From his father Janos; Imre learned modesty and intellect. The years following WWII were filled with poverty and hardship. They were also filled with family, and happiness and joy despite the hard times. Brothers Janos and Jozef married, raised children and took their places in local society. Imre went on to high school, served in the military and maintained a quiet resolute notion that simply being Gypsy did not mean inferior or tainted.

At age twenty six Imre had reached a time of decision; Live Free or Die. His fear of being caught in an escape attempt loomed larger than his fear of death if caught during the effort. For Imre he was leaving everything behind, including his family. In June 1967, without incident, Imre crossed the Hungarian-Yugoslavian border. Crossing the Yugoslavian-Italian border was a little trickier. He had traversed about half of a patch of clear area when a siren sounded and Imre fell to the ground like a rock. He sprang to his feet and dashed across the last of the cleared area and into the woods. Later in the refugee camp at Trieste he learned the siren always sounded at that time to day to signal the shift change at a nearby factory. He was in Italy.

Told in an easy reading style by a man who faced unfairness and adversity for much of his life From the Rill to the Ocean will touch the heart of readers who are electrified by the determination of the human spirit. The discrimination he endured as a child along with the failure of the Communists when they gained power in Hungary served as impetus for Imre to seek a better life. The book is illustrated with family photos, copies of documents and poignant poems penned to explain some of the longing felt by Writer Kalanyos. Included at the aback of the volume is a brief history of the Gypsies, as well as charts explaining a little of the relation of Indo-European Languages.

From the Rill to the Ocean is a compelling outline of one man's life, determination and hope. Imre Kalanyos arrived in American during the Christmas season 1968. Today he lives in North Carolina with his wife and dogs Jesse and Buddy.

I was sent a Trade Paperback for Review. Writer Kalanyos has packed a whole lot of something to say on 120 pages. From the Rill to the Ocean is a must have for the personal reading shelf, the school and public library collection, gift basket for serious readers and the high school library.

Enjoyed the read and Highly Recommend for those who enjoy history, tales of determination and grit, and those who just plain like a good book.

Could It Be this Simple? A Biblical Model for Healing the Mind
Timothy R. Jennings, M.D
Autumn House Publishing
55 W. Oak Ridge Dr. Hagerstown, MD 21740
9780812704358 $15.99

Informative Read .... Recommended....... 4 Stars

Dr. Jennings has produced a sixteen chapter book containing what he has learned about mental illness and the treatment for it gleaned from his years of Biblical study and psychiatric practice. Dr. Jennings has successfully treated thousands of patients in addition to his extensive research into the relationship between Christianity and psychiatry. Two chapters in particular caught my eye. The first, 'The Power of Belief' explores the whether or not belief really matters. Numerous studies are cited centered around how the power of belief can actually cause the believer to suffer less pain, need less medication, and heal more quickly. Dr. Jennings states that 'numerous experiences have convinced me of the important role that spiritual beliefs play in our overall mental health.' I found the chapter to be especially interesting because I too have long believed that what we think has great impact upon our health and daily lives.

Reading over the listing of chapters another title seemed to leap from the page, chapter 12 'Forgiveness' was one I knew I had to explore. Various myths surrounding our misunderstanding of forgiveness are offered by Dr. Jennings. Because so many of us have little understanding of what forgiveness really is we are left fumbling around wondering why things happen as they do. Thinking that we can forgive only if the other party says they are sorry, equating God's forgiveness for salvation or believing that if we forgive then we condone what another has done are all impediments to our own mental happiness and cause us to harbor needless feelings of betrayal or sadness. To forgive does not mean we always forget, or have greater vulnerability or restore trust anymore than forgiving means the other party has somehow 'gotten away' with something.

Dr Jennings suggests that exiting from the morass of darkness that seems to surround those struggling with mental illness may not be a difficult as has been portrayed. Pain is felt, however Dr Jennings offers that the peace found in belief and the gospel can help make the unendurable more tolerable, and the hurting less painful.

The chapter illuminating the dissimilarity between the types of love is instructive and striking. Legitimate guilt and three different types of illegitimate guilt are explored in chapter 10. Dr. Jennings points out that when we don't leave a relationship but want to, we leave ourselves open to guilt and depression.

'Could It Be this Simple?' Is a well thought out work meant to aid those who are hurting and honestly want a way out of the darkness in which they feel they are mired. Dr. Jennings' love for humanity as a whole and his patients in particular comes through in his writing. I like the format and title of the various chapters, 'Could It Be this Simple?' is a book that can be carried and read in small chunks as time permits.

A quick overlook followed by careful perusal of individual chapters and revisits to the chapters containing information for a specific time or place can be accomplished easily. Writing is easily read, filled with enough human interest to keep the reader turning the page and nicely documented with facts, statistics and studies.'Could It Be this Simple?'is a must have for the therapist, the hurting and those who simply are yearning for something better in their life. Excellent read, happy to recommend.

The Last Rose a True Celebration of Eternal Life
Thomas E Pierce
Bridgeway Books
2100 Kramer Lane Ste 300 Austin TX 78758
9781933538853 $17.95

Inspiring Read . Recommended . 4 stars

THE LAST ROSE a True Celebration of Eternal Life is not a story book, it is a chronicle of the lives and deaths of two people by the husband and father they left behind through no responsibility of their own. The work begins with a note that while the accident that took the lives of JoAnn and Lisa Pierce is noted, it is not the accident that is the crux of the book, but rather writer Pierce states that The Last Rose is a book about the power of love.

Following the prologue, the reader will find Eulogies to both women. These are poignant, loving reminders that our lives touch the lives of those around us.

The balance of the work is presented in letter form for the reader. Writer Pierce discusses how he prepared for writing the book, the accident that caused the deaths of not only his wife and daughter but three others as well, and he discusses the aftermath of the tragedy during which writer Pierce begins the difficult task of facing reality and preparing for life without his wife and daughter.

The reason for the one yellow rose gracing the cover of the book is explained in Chapter 5 along with a number of other short stories concerning preparing for the funerals and meeting the surviving families of other victims of the accident. Pierce continues his narrative with accounts of his beginning to reach out to others, beginning his healing by speaking with and to others who also are dealing with grief and the difficulties of the first anniversary.

On 6 March 2004 Thomas Pierce along with his wife and daughter boarded a water taxi. Pierce's life was forever changed when a gust of wind caused the taxi to overturn in Baltimore Inner Harbor and he lost both is wife and his daughter. Such an incident might well have led to bitter recrimination and dwelling upon the past, Pierce however has taken this tragedy and has probed the depths of what he feels is the uplifting power of love to help him overcome his grief and move forward.

THE LAST ROSE details the tragic accident that occurred in Baltimore's Inner Harbor which caused the death of Pierce's wife and daughter before it expresses the inspirational influence of love and how the author used that power to empower his own healing. Because of love he has been enabled to move beyond the tragedy and forge an expansion of his life as a computer programmer and consultant. Today Pierce has become a professional speaker and writer who shares his story through lectures and memorial services.

I received a hard back copy from publicist for review. THE LAST ROSE is a powerful work filled with the thoughts of a man who has faced more than any one person ought to face and has come away victorious, able to honor the memory of precious loved ones and move forward in his own life through service to others.

A must have for the therapist's shelf, the personal reading list and the person in need of an inspirational work.

"My goal is not only to honor the memories of my wife and daughter, but to encourage others who are grieving a tragic loss to share their feelings," Pierce states. "It's important to remember that life goes on after death, and the power of love is able to heal all wounds."

Essential Hitler The Speeches and Commentary
Max Domarus, Patrick Romane, editor
9780865166271 $39.99

Compelling Read Recommended 4 stars

'Essential Hitler The Speeches and Commentary' is both a reference book and a persuasive non fiction read. This abridgement work shrinks a four volume set into a single 800+ page work suitable for home and high school and college student use. The edition is chronological and historical along with being filled with maps and illustrations. Comprised of fifteen chapters, an epilogue, glossary, list of dates important to Hitler's life, maps, a chronological index of speeches and events and subject index 'Essential Hitler The Speeches and Commentary' is a highly usable text for the casual reader as well as the serious student of Hitler. Hitler's beliefs, how he governed, his party and his regard for 'the Jewish Question' are all included in the volume.

The religious community and Hitler as well as how Hitler was able to put Germany back to work following the defeat of World War I help provide younger readers in particular with insight into the forces shaping Hitler and his thinking. Life in Germany before and after he became the Supreme Commander bring the reader into a further understanding of this complex man and the time in which he lived. Hitler's confronting America, fighting World War II, expanding the Reich along with the press view of Hitler round out the work.

As a reference work for the high school and college political science, history or similar class 'Essential Hitler The Speeches and Commentary' will prove valuable. Chapters focus upon important aspects of Hitler as leader of Nazi Germany, and as a person. Hitler was one of the most multifaceted historical players of modern times. He was at times gentle and at others destructive, 'Essential Hitler The Speeches and Commentary' help the reader put both aspects in perspective. His hurt at not being accepted for his artistic ability as well as his deep love for his mother have been chronicled as motivating factors in his life.

Reading Hitler's own words to his people and the world at large regarding his viewpoint, objectives and thoughts is chilling and compelling.

Writer Domarus began collecting Hitler's speeches and writings in 1932. He was a history scholar born in Germany in 1911 who saw first hand what was happening in his country. Early on Domarus realized the significance of Hitler's rise to power. Hitler was obsessive in his belief that Germany must be avenged for the humiliation it suffered at the close of WWI. Facts were something to manipulate, blame must be leveled and the people must agree were all tenets of the Hitler doctrine. That Hitler dominated everyone around him to the point that his own generals rarely spoke against him even near the end of WWII has been documented time and time again. That the German people did not question his leadership has been the subject of studies from the 1940s to today.

Writer Domarus offers a study of Hitler in clear and readable prose. The speeches chronicle Hitler's thinking, intentions and desires. They bring in perspective what the general public was hearing from the man who history records as an iron fisted dictator.

A highly readable work, 'Essential Hitler The Speeches and Commentary' is recommended for the history buff's personal reading shelf as well as for classroom reference use in high school and colleges, and placement in school and public libraries

The Mine - o - Saur
Sudipta Bardhan-Quallen David Clark, Illustrator
G.P. Putnam's Sons
9780399246425 $16.95

Enjoyed the Read . Recommended . 5 stars

My resident critics, fourteen first graders, settled upon the rug to listen to the reading of The Mine-O-Saur. They eyed the cover with interest and quieted as I turned to the first page. Mrs. Raptor had not yet rung the bell, little dinosaurs were playing in the school yard and suddenly a roar sound, 'mine, mine, mine.'

The Mine-o-saur came bounding to the school yard and immediately began grabbing all the toys, at snack time he grabbed all the snacks. During block building he even grabbed all of the blocks. At last holding all his grabbed toys Mine-o-saur realized he had everything except what was most important; the other children were all playing together at the other end of the play yard.

My resident critics listened raptly to the reading of the tale. I had prepped the children for the reading by telling them that as they are learning to write a book report I too read books and write a book report, and this time they could help tell me what to say so that the author, the illustrator and other children might read what they thought of the book.

The children agree The Mine-o-saur is a great book for kids 'our' age. They liked the illustrations, the story and the lesson taught. 'It helps us know how to act so that kids will want to play with us.' The children did admit that they might have behaved in such manner as the Mine-o-saur, 'when I was in Kindergarten.'

I enjoyed the book as well. The Mine-O-Saur is an easily read work, filled with child friendly illustrations and presents a needed message for children in the target audience of 3 - 7. The message that to be greedy and demanding generally leads to no friends and no fun is presented in a low key, child geared manner which was immediately understood by the students in my class. I like the fact that the book can be used as a discussion starter during a lesson about manners, taking turns and friendship; all areas we deal with ongoing in first grade.

The Mine-O-Saur is a read to for the 3 - 7 set, a read with help for the 7 - 9s and a read to the little kids down at Kindergarten for the strong 8 - 9 year olds. This is a book we will read often in our first grade; Wynona, Oklahoma.

Enjoyed the read, happy to recommend.

The Patty Cake Kids and the lost imagination cap
Patricia Dischler, Ashley Kirchner, Illustrator
Goblin Fern Press
6401 Odana Road, Suite B, Barkley Building, Madison WI, 53719
9781595980649 $9.95

Enjoyable Read Recommended 4 stars

The children are arriving at the Patty Cake Preschool where Periwinkle their provider is waiting for them. The day will begin with putting on Imagination Caps and going to the group time circle. Rachel, in her purple cow girl hat, Ivy wearing a tall peaked hat with blue scarves flowing from it and Taylor in his knight's helmet are already ready. Andy, Tara, more children join the circle. All but Austin. Austin has lost his Imagination Cap. All the other children try to help, Periwinkle offers hopeful suggestions and Austin searches. Will he find his cap and where can it be?

My resident critics, 14 six year old first graders settled themselves for the reading of yet another new book. The kids are beginning to realize that teacher receives books ongoing and that they can help by listening and then expressing their opinion regarding the book, the illustrations, the story and their own feelings. Not that far removed from the day care situation, and many with younger siblings who attend the pre school located on our campus the first graders were very receptive to listening to THE PATTY CAKE KIDS. The brightly colored cover caught their attention immediately.

The kids listened raptly, and when the reading was finished voiced their opinion that the illustrations and the story are good, that THE PATTY CAKE KIDS is a good book 'for us' and that the author 'has done a good job.' Each child agreed they will happily hear the story again, and they will choose the book for themselves during 'free time reading.'

THE PATTY CAKE KIDS is a well written work produced by an author who knows children well, writer Dischler has had her own preschool business for the better part of two decades. Filled with page after page of colorful full page displays 'THE PATTY CAKE KIDS and the lost imagination cap' is a book sure to please the younger set. Problem solving, how to go about finding what is lost, is addressed in a nice low key manner meant to guide youngsters into trying to help themselves rather than just weeping, I can't find it, and waiting for others to locate what is missing.

THE PATTY CAKE KIDS provided a springboard for a class discussion about imagination and about helping ourselves and not just sitting weeping or grumpy waiting for mom or someone else to locate our lost possessions. Illustrations are child friendly, the story content is just enough for the beginning of school when we cannot yet sit still for long or involved tales.

Enjoyed the read, happy to recommend. THE PATTY CAKE KIDS will go on our classroom book shelf where it is available for child use.

Marvin Monster's Teacher Jitters
Tabatha Jean D'Agata, Ed Newmann, Illustrator
Moo Press
Keene Publishing
PO Box 54, Warwick NY 10990
9780976680536 $6.95

Interesting read Recommended 5 stars

My 'resident critics' settled in for the reading. Wynona, Oklahoma 4th graders suffer no fools lightly, if you want to make it with this discerning crowd you had better have good writing, good illustrations and a good tale to tell. I took my ARC to school, the kids are used to being part of the review process and like to voice their opinions regarding books I receive for my 'book reports.'

'Marvin Monster's Teacher Jitters' passed the critical eyes and ears of twelve dedicated ten year olds. Marvin and his buddies are aghast, Grim Castle Elementary is in turmoil. Mr Stein is no longer the teacher for Marvin and his class. Mr Stein's promotion to assistant principal means a new teacher. Rumors are rampant, she is said to be mean AND powerful. And, to top it all off today is the day the class was to go on their field trip to the Haunted Hall of Fame. Rowland Werewolf alerted them with, 'I think I smell a teacher.' Marvin popped a few crispy bugs to settle his nerves, Gretchen Goblin whispered, 'she gives lots of homework,' and Bobby Zombie moaned his worry that she won't let them have any more recess. Worst of all, she just might snap you into a human if you didn't watch out!

The door opened and THERE SHE WAS!

What a fun read! I like it, the ten year old liked it, and I'm going to try it out this year on my new resident critics, 14 bright-eyed six year old first graders.

Readers are treated to a day with Marvin Monster and his buddies from Grim Castle Elementary School as they go on a field trip around their town called Marshville. Marvin and the other kids, zombies, goblins, werewolves, and banshees learn an essential lesson about the value of not listening to rumors. 'Marvin Monster's Teacher Jitters' by talented author Tabatha Jean D'Agata proves to be just the thing for youngsters facing a new school year or other new situation.

Marvin Monster's Teacher Jitters can serve to lighten the concerns of children facing unfamiliar situations. It is a good springboard for class discussions for those kids having apprehension with nervousness, shyness or trepidation regarding figures of command in classroom or other settings.

Kids revel in fun, creepy, educational reading. Book 2 in a scary, creepy series that teaches fundamental social skills Marvin Monster's Teacher Jitters fits the bill. Kids will learn an important lesson from Marvin a captivatingly ghastly monster and his acquaintances. In Marvin's strangely wonderful society, chomping gators and swooping vultures recycle trash at the recycle center, not so terrifying slime eating witches teach school, bats sort mail at the post office while stamp licking lizards wait to serve, and flying gremlins re-shelve or fetch books in the library. Parents, teachers and kids are sure to like Marvin and his adventures in this easily read chapter book meant for the 8 - 10 year old crowd.

A read to book for the 6 - 8 year olds, read alone with some help for the 9s and read alone for the 10s.

Fun read, happy to recommend. I'll up date after I read to the first grade for Halloween.

Molly Martin

Peggy's Bookshelf

Tutu Deadly
Natalie M. Roberts
The Berkeley Publishing Co.
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780425214862 $6.99

The Brits have their Bridget Jones, now we have Jenny T. Partridge. As if Jenny's life wasn't chaotic enough running a dance academy, one of the psycho dance moms is poisoned with cookie dough from the fundraiser - and all hell breaks loose. But - can murder be funny? It is in Jenny's world.

Even though the death of the dance mom is connected to her dance studio, the show must go on. Jenny has her annual Nutcracker performance coming up, so her strange life must go on, too. Only now she's tailed by not one, but two hunky detectives.

The murder plot twists and turns through her life which is complicated by a cast of zany characters from a gay dance instructor, to a neurotic costume designer, to her nosy Mormon family, and of course those psycho dance moms. They all seem like they're out to get her.

"Tutu Deadly" is the first book in the Jenny T. Partridge Dance Mystery series. The star of the series, Jenny is a lovable, witty sitcom-like character who is sort of all your BFFs rolled into one. Roberts does a superb job weaving humor into a complex murder plot that keeps the reader guessing right up to the climax. All of this is spiced up with just enough romance to keep readers wanting more fun - and frolic!

"Tutu Deadly" is also a perfect crossover novel for teens. They'll get caught up in the quirky mystery of who killed the dance mom. They'll laugh with Jenny as she stumbles through her love life. And if they've ever been part of any organized sports activity - or just like to watch So You Think You Can Dance - they will totally relate to the characters at the dance studio. Roberts' engaging storytelling and hilarious take on the dance world make the Jenny T. Partridge Dance Mystery an outstanding new series for young adult readers.

Evacuation Plan
Joe M. O'Connell
Dalton Publishing
PO Box 242, Austin, TX 78767
9780974070384 $13.95

Does how you live your life reveal how you will deal with your death? If life is for the living and death is for the dying then somewhere in between must be hospice.

Aspiring screenwriter Matt volunteers at a local hospice facility in search of a good story for his screenplay. What he discovers is that the stories of peoples' lives, like memories drifting in the ether, haunt the halls and rooms like the music from the violinist who plays for the residents.

While the architect Mr. Wright and his family's story is the focal point of Matt's attention, the reader also peers almost voyeuristically into the past lives of everyone he encounters. There's the guy in the hall who screwed up his life so miserably all he has left to look forward to his taking over his dying mother's house. The mortician who lost everything before he even knew what he had. The male nurse who watched his sister die from a broken heart. O'Connell weaves the characters' stories together to create an intimate mosaic that reveals how we are all connected by the mysteries of life and death.

In Matt's dream the banjo player jokes, "Know the difference between death and an electric eel? People aren't afraid to talk about electric eels." In Evacuation Plan, death is as much a character as it is a resident at the hospice. But this book is no funereal dirge. Instead, O'Connell has employed masterful storytelling skills to compose an achingly captivating symphony from all these life stories that could very possibly change the way you view your own life - and death.

Tapped Out
Natalie M. Roberts
The Berkeley Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780425218013 $6.99 261 pages

Jenny Partridge is back and she's up to her dancing shoes in another mystery with hunky Detective Wilson in tow.

The Hollywood StarMakers Convention is in town and Jenny's old boyfriend Bill is the owner. When he asks her to work as a fill-in dance instructor for the weekend, Jenny jumps at the chance to make some extra cash. But after a threatening phone call, an explosion, and an ugly confrontation with a snowplow, there's no question someone really wants her to back out of the gig.

Any normal person would do just that. But not Jenny. Hell bent on proving to Bill and his first-class bitch of girlfriend that she's no slouch - and of course broke as usual - Jenny puts her heart and soul into making the convention happen. As her own dumb luck would have it, Jenny gets snared in a multi-layered trap and can't tell the good guys from the bad guys. Who knew there was a seamy underbelly to the dance world?

Through it all there's still her own dance academy to run, complete with the usual psycho moms, and James the drama queen instructor, who once again seems determined to drive her insane. And just when she thought her relationship with Tate Wilson was doomed to the waste bin of missed opportunities, the romance heats up. And Jenny is more attracted than ever to the danger. But is this a good thing?

In Jenny Partridge, Roberts has created not so much a larger-than-life hero, but a true-to-life hero, who - like the rest of us - feels like she's being pulled in six different directions at once while cleaning up everyone else's messes. Jenny's wit and willfulness are endearing qualities that keep you turning the pages to see how she muddles through each and every predicament. Once you get to know her, you can't wait to see how things work out for this wacky dance detective.

This second book in the Jenny T. Partridge Dance Mystery series is again the perfect crossover novel for teens. They'll be star-struck by the behind-the-curtain look at the dance world. They'll relate to Jenny's cold feet as her romance with Tate sizzles. And they'll totally get into putting together another puzzle in the Jenny T. Partridge Dance Mystery series.

Peggy Tibbetts

Richard's Bookshelf

Our Oneness in Christ
BIan Johnson and Lauston Stephens
Publish America
LLLP, P.O. Box 151, Frederick, MD 21705
1424160359, $19.95, 204 pages

Consistently Living Together As One In Christ

"Our Oneness in Christ" is a refreshing, reminder of the need to live consistent with our position as believers. We are one with Christ and in Christ. Ian Johnson and Lauston Stephens provide insights often overlooked in today's literature, pulpits, and seminaries. These important truths are often overshadowed by church tradition, denominational dogma, and individual indifference or prejudice.

Section one of the book answers the question: Why living consistently in oneness with Christ is important. The authors consider God's expectation of the believer, the benefits and pitfalls of living in conflict to this truth. The narrative goes on to reflect on what oneness in Christ is and is not, including the many different concepts held among Christians regarding living in harmony. The final chapters deal with stumbling blocks to living in oneness. These include misunderstanding of concepts on authority, submission, heresy and the dissimilarity between the essential church and the ordered church.

I personally was moved by the thoughts from John 17 as Jesus prayed to the Father for oneness to be manifest among the believers.

"Our Oneness in Christ" is a book written on an important subject in layman's language. The supporting scriptures reinforce the importance of the subject matter. Detailed bibliography and thorough end notes make this an excellent reference book and resource tool for future study, for adult Bible classes, small group Bible studies, or individual study. This is a much needed book on a subject close to God's own heart.

What Goes on Beyond the Pearly Gates
Miriam Bostwick
Robert D. Reed Publisher
P O Box 1992, Bandon, Oregon 97411
9781931741835 $17.95

The Importance of Attitude and Life Change

Miriam Bostwick in "What Goes on Beyond the Pearly Gates?" presents a case for reincarnation and karma using references and examples from both the New Testament and Old testament, as well as teaching from the fathers of the early church. Other source documents are used to show how Islam, Spiritualism, Religious Science, and Buddhism affirm this teaching.

This topic may be controversial to many readers, however, it is the hope of the author that the principles and discoveries offered will be of comfort and healing to others while dispelling the fear of the unknown to others.

Bostwick provides thorough documented studies of the brain, the nervous system, musculoskeletal system, respiratory system, and digestive system, as well as other bodily and functions. Detailed, illustrated charts show how the physical and karmic interact in determining a person's well being. Therapeutic techniques are presented for reversing Alzheimer's disease, autism, schizophrenia, bi-polar conditions, and other mental disorders, as well as physical illnesses and emotional disturbances.

Bostwick introduces the subject of inter-dimensional concepts, communication, of the physical body and its' importance to the spiritual body, soul development, the sub conscious mind, and attitudinal healing.

The question of finding purpose in life is described as soul unfoldment, "utilizing our relationships circumstances, environmental factors, situations, responsibilities, duties, and work as opportunities to apply spiritual principles - not as religious dogma."

"What Goes on Beyond the Pearly Gates" is an important work, for students of New Age philosophy, providing weighty insights into reincarnation, karma, and life after death.

Blessings of Purpose
Alicia Hill Jones
Destiny II Publications
PO Box 1986, Chesterfield, VA 23832
9780979764607 $12.95

A Story of God's Grace in a Struggle to find His Purpose

As the soul survivor of an automobile accident Lia Conrad is convinced that God had a purpose in saving her life. The accident took the lives of three of her teenage friends. Lia gives herself in complete dedication to a ministry of service in the church.

Nigel Braxton, an aspiring young movie producer, convinced her it was God's will for her to join him and become his wife. As a result she moved to Hollywood. Once married, they were soon swept up in a fast paced lifestyle that sidetracked them from their dedication to God. Chaos follow as marital conflict, financial ruin, incarceration, and a drug overdose keep the reader in and suspense throughout this fast paced, always exciting, complex plot.

Alicia Hill Jones skillfully demonstrates her understanding of her culture and a subculture within the black church community. She writes in a style generous in the subtle use of words and innuendos that underscore her awareness. Jones blends street knowledge and an understanding of and an appreciation for basic Christian core values and ideals. She masterfully conveys the struggle people face in maintaining consistent Christian lives in a sin ravaged battle ground, a world dominated by Satan's cunning attacks. Jones than makes it clear, that God's power includes deliverance from the power and grip of sin on the Christian's life.

The message of "Blessing of Purpose" is strong and clear. God has a purpose for each of us. His love, grace and mercy reach us where we are. Lia prayed. "Father, here I am once again, undeserving of your forgiveness, but thanking you for another chance at life Restore your presence in our lives "

"Blessing of Purpose" gives hope to the reader through a fast paced dramatic adventure packed with a true to life dramatic story of spiritual battle, deliverance, and finding God's purpose. Compelling, strong, and tight Alicia Hill Jones writes with a heartwarming touch that makes the reader aware of God's presence.

Kiss of a Dolphin
Tom Tuohy
Lumen-us Publications
4129 Sauk Trail, Richton Park, IL 60471
9780978778880 $21.95

An Advocate for Hope - Dreams for Kids

Tom Tuohy recounts the heartwarming stories of J. J. O'Conner, Jesse White, Father Walter Brennan, and Clara Kirk in "Kiss of a Dolphin." The book is the story of Dreams for Kids. The story is about ordinary people and how they are making an extraordinary difference in fulfilling the dreams of others. The story begins in the Cabrini-Green area of Chicago, and moves to Chicago's Westside, and to then to West Englewood, rapidly increasing into statewide and then national recognition. I read through tears as I turned the pages.

Jesse White and his internationally acclaimed tumbling team, Father Wally Brennan's ministry in the streets, and Clara Kirk's shelter of hope are all featured Partners in the adventures reported here. These organizations and individual team members have inspired hope to those ensnare by the cycle of poverty, race restrictions, and limitations.

Jim Smith and Dick Marak also provide the inspiration and encouragement needed for J.J. O'Conner to rise above the despair of being a quadriplegic.

J.J. learned a lesson while swimming with the dolphins at an aquatic facility in Puerto Vallarta, Mexico. He learned a lesson in trust, acceptance, and communication. The dolphin's kiss changed J.J.'s approach to life and self acceptance. J. J. now had a strong desire to return something to the community. This strong desire grew into the future mission of Dreams for Kids and became the title of this book.

Tom Tuohy is an effective, convincing, communicator. His writing is gripping. Tom has a way of drawing the reader into each story.
As a reader I felt a strong desire to respond to the need, to become involved and to participate in fulfilling the vision of Dreams for Kids.

"Kiss of a Dolphin" is the kind of book that should be read by every individual involved in community outreach, by agency program directors, and individuals who have been touched by the underprivileged, poverty stricken, or those physically disabled.

Tom Tuohy in "Kiss of a Dolphin" has given a message of hope, inspiration, and the challenge to make dreams become a reality.

Get Your Assets in Gear!
Jan Dahlin Geiger, CFP, MBA
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Rd. #515, Parker, Colorado 80134
9781898009354 $15.95

Money Management Tactics

"Get Your Assets in Gear" provides a formula for financial planning. Well known author, speaker, and Certified Financial Planner practitioner, Jan Dahlin Geiger has packed her book with guidelines, techniques, tactics, questionnaires, tables, and illustrations that help the reader with guidelines for financial freedom.

Attitude changes for, handling debt, budgeting, auto purchases, and buying a home are all included. Important insights are given on the significance of financial harmony in the home. Rewards of tithing, saving, investing, and improving your credit score take on a new importance as the reader prioritizes their spending and saving on the way to getting their assets in gear.

I found Jan's action step suggestions and the format used in highlighting important reminders through the use of insets within the text. I wish I had read and applied these strategies earlier in my formative years. I am taking steps now to consistently apply these exercises, affirmations, and action steps in putting my financial future in order. I am studying my asset allocation, the diversity of my investments, and mutual funds, as well as the consistency and reliability of my financial advisor. I want to initiate a workable budget to assure that my purchasing is in line with maintaining my financial independence. The helpful resources at the end of the book provide an important internet listing for additional material for further study and future reading. Invaluable!

The smart money strategies found in "Get Your Assets in Gear!" are especially important to readers who find themselves swallowed up in credit card debt, those wanting to unlearn childhood misconceptions imitated from misguided parents, or for newly married couples seeking harmony in their financial planning. The book is an excellent resource, a guidebook for attaining financial independence and peace of mind.

Exploring Egypt
Dick Lutz
Dimi Press
3820 Oak Hollow Lane SE, Salem, Oregon 97302
9780931625442, $15.95

A Tour Guide for Travelers Through Ancient and Modern Egypt

Dick and Mary Lutz are part of an International Expeditions Tour group, made up of twenty two members. An EgyptAir flight takes them from JFK Airport in New York to Cairo to begin the tour. Books on Egyptology are made up of conjecture, myth, and historical fact. Gifted travel writer Dick Lutz helps the reader understand the important rudiments of Egyptian history in "Exploring Egypt."

Lutz writes in an informative and informal style which is warm and insightful. I enjoyed the insights from journal like entry which reflected his personal observations, preferences, and opinions. Much of Egyptology is mysterious, sometimes disputed, and often inconclusive. Dick recounts these various assumptions, speculations, and suppositions without bias, or criticism. His excitement in reporting whets the appetite of the reader, making them eager to glean more information from the extensive annotated bibliography included in the book.

This book is a user friendly guidebook for the traveler planning to visit Egypt. The book is divided in to three parts. Part one is an overview of an ancient civilization, part two gives a glimpse into the period between ancient and modern Egypt, and includes an exciting tour of museums, the pyramids, and the Sphinx at Giza. Part three takes the reader on visits to the cities of Memphis, Cairo, and Luxor.

The black and white photos provided by Mary Lutz add another dimension to Dick's easy flowing narrative. There are also some spectacular color photos, credited to various photographers. These photos highlight the Temple of Hatshepsut, Luxor, and Pyramids at Giza, a Cario Mosque, Kom Ombo, Tutankhamen's Tomb, and Karnak.

The final section of the book provides the reader with an up to date look at modern Egypt. Lutz includes an synopsis of Egypt's religions, politics, literature housing, military, foreign relations, business and economy.

Whether this is your first international trip or you are a seasoned traveler, this book will make your visit to Egypt more enjoyable. You should read the book prior to departure, keep it handy as a reference guide while on your visit, and as a reminder of pleasant memories when you return to share the excitement of your trip with your family and friends. This is another important book in the genre of travel and the study of an ancient civilization. "Exploring Egypt" is a great read and an important reference guide.

Avenging Victorio
Dave DeWitt
Rio Grande Books
925 Salamanca NW, Los Ranchos de ABQ, NM 87107-5647
9781890689261 $24.95

Apache Revenge and Retaliation

"Avenging Victorio", dramatic and moving, is the story of an enslaved people whose way of life was completely shattered and altered forever. The U. S. Army Ninth Cavalry were faced with a rabble band of Apache warriors led by an elderly man who rose up against them to revenge the death of their highly esteemed war chief Victorio.

By means of guerilla warfare, armed with poisoned arrows which became missiles of death, as well as revolvers or rifles, the Apaches attacked in surprise raids against the Blue Coats of the white man's army. They would also massacre innocent men, women, and children.

The Apache's would attack and then flee to the US and Mexico border to escape into Mexico in order to evade the American army stationed in the territory of New Mexico. After Victorio's return to Mexico, and his subsequent death, Colonel Edward Hatch, commander of the Military District of New Mexico was faced with a new dilemma. " his problems were equally divided between the Apache renegades, the politicians, his superior officers, and the press." He was left with only solution: to capture or kill the Apache leader.

Nana, the elderly Apache leader, expressed his philosophy this way: "Every struggle whether it is won or lost strengthens us for the next one to come. Sometimes, as we have seen from Victorio's death, we need to be defeated so that we may gain the strength and courage necessary to be victorious again. Our war of vengeance has proven this to be true."

Colonel Hatch described his frustration, "Fighting the Apaches is not like fighting the Mexicans or the Confederates It's more like fighting ghosts. They are an enemy you cannot see, cannot find, and cannot kill. Yet they can strike at you when you least expect it and then disappear into the landscape."

"Avenging Victorio" is historical fiction at its best. I was intrigued by DeWitt's detail in describing the traditions, customs, and celebrations of the Apache Indians. I was also captivated with De Witt's insight into the prayers, songs, and ceremonial dances. His interpretation of their communication with the supernatural was powerful. The careful attention to details, his comprehensive research and the expressive reporting added greatly to the enjoyment of this action packed historical novel of the early 1880s.

Every citizen of New Mexico should find this an important book to read and to pass along to their children. The story is a reminder of the price paid by the early frontiersman and settlers of the West. It is also a reminder of the cost to the American Indian in their attempt to maintain their land, culture and way of life. Brilliantly written, this is a story that will haunt the reader long after closing the cover on the last chapter.

Reese Chronological Encyclopedia of Christian Biographies
Ed Reese
AMG Publisher
6815 Shallowford Road, Chattanooga, TN 37421
9780899573977 $34.99

A Chronological Collection of Christian Biographies

Ed Reese has studied Christian biographies for most of his life, and has become a respected authority on the subject. This amazing Chronological collection of Christian biographies Ed is a compilation of Who's Who among the leaders in the Christian church, from the days of the martyrs of the first century through to contemporary leaders. Tom Malone, Bruce M. Metzger, Gilbert E Patterson, Lee Roberson, Jerry Falwell, and Ruth Bell Graham, are but a few of familiar influential contemporary leaders who served the church right up until their death as late as Ruth Bell Graham's death earlier this year. The book is made up of over 5000 sketches and over 4,000 photos. More than 1,000 organizations cooperated in this effort and attest to Ed's thoroughness and the integrity of the work.

Ed's personal biographical library has over 1,000 books. Selections for inclusion in this work was based on those mentioned two or more times in the books referenced from his impressive collection. Christian organizations, Bible schools, missionary agencies, and major denominations were contacted for additional leadership to be considered for inclusion in the project.

A complete alphabetical index, listing of other influential personalities, a list of abbreviations, and a glossary add to the user friendly reference value of this work. A listing acknowledging the organizations which provided information adds to the validity and integrity of Ed's phenomenal accomplishment.

This is much more than a dictionary of Christian leaders. It is a comprehensive encyclopedia of biographical sketches of men and women who have impacted the growth and evolution of the church through the centuries.

I was personally blessed as I reviewed the years 1946 through the present time. I found I could identify with many of the individuals featured. Some of these leaders and ministries have had an impact on my own Christian life, growth, and spiritual development.

This is a major accomplishment for Ed Reese. "The Chronological Encyclopedia of Christian Biographies" is as an extraordinary resource, and a great tribute to twenty centuries of important leaders in Christendom. The book is an important and should be added to the library of astute Pastors, Denominational leaders, Seminaries, and Bible Schools.

Richard R. Blake

Sullivan's Bookshelf

Winning the Right War: The Path to Security for America and the World
Philip H. Gordon
Times Books
c/o Henry Holt & Company
175 - 5th Avenue, Suite 400, New York, NY 10010-7725
139780805086577 $24.00 1-888-330-8477

This book's title might better have read: Winning the Right Policy. The reason is apparent in what the author writes in the Introduction, "Six years after the start of the 'war on terror,' Americans are less safe, our enemies are stronger and more numerous, and the war's key geographic battleground--the Middle East--is dangerously unstable. In Iraq, thousands of ¸meriican soldiers, and tens of thousands of Iraqi soldiers and civilians, have been killed or wounded while more that 150,000 U.S. troops fight to contain an insurgency and a civil war--at a cost of over $300 million per day. In Iran, an Islamic fundamentalist regime remains firmly in power and is defiantly pursuing a nuclear weapons program, undermining American efforts in Iraq, and subsidizing increasingly brazen terrorists groups in the Middle East.

That line of thought goes on and on in this volume. And the case Gordon makes is irrefutable.

So, what must change? U.S. policy, that's what! America, now at war, has to change to less hostile policies that don't antagonize the Moslems. After all, the Cold War during which we held our fire eventually worked in our favor. Certainly the nation is wise enough and sure of itself enough to do the same with Moslem adversaries.

The country must, also, find ways to make friends with varius countries in the Middle East. And the U.S.. has to become, once again, the honest broker in such face-offs as the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, the Kashmir problem between India and Pakistan, and in other wars. And friendly gestures must be made to the European nations so the U.S. can reclaim the amity of its old allies.

Only when the above is accomplished, through new polices, can the Americans regain peace and security for itself and for others on the globe.

Philip H. Gordon works at the Brookings Institution. With other auhors, he has written several books on U.S. foreign policy and international affairs. He has been published widely in periodicals ,too, including in THE NEW YORK TIMES, THE WASHINGTON POST, and FOREIGN AFFAIRS. Recommended.

Why We Read What We Read: A Delightfully Opinionated Journey Through Contemporary Bestsellers
Lisa Adams and John Heath
Sourcebooks, Inc.
1935 Brookdale Road, #139, Naperville, IL 60563
9781402210549 $16.95 1-800-432-7444

This volume is easy reading and broken down into different genres: regular fiction and romances, for example, by Mary Higgens Clark and Nora Roberts, both of whom are read primarily by women; nonfiction, by John Grisham among many others; history and politics, like Imperial Hubris; literary fiction, such as The Kite Runner; children's books; religious tomes, like the Left Behind volumes; self-help, as in the Chicken Soup series; and do-it-yourself books; mysteries; humor' sci-fi; etc.

The first chapter reveals that Dan Brown's mega-bestseller, The DaVinci Code, was preceded a few years earlier by his Angels & Demons, which had essentially the same plot. But it flopped initially. Why? Perhaps bad timing, church condemnation, lack of curiosity by the public, author obscurity (after all, an author needs a 'platform,' a stature, like that of a politician, best selling writer, or actor, to have an established base of readers if he or she wants to sell a lot of books).

In each section of How We Read..., the reader finds out the attractions of a particulr type of book. There's also plenty of humor, raunchy and otherwise, in the read's commentary for your perusing enjoyment.

The authors personally seem to opt for the more serious fiction and nonfiction. But they make wide allowances for everyone's favorite kind of read.

Adams and Heath review best sellers and worthy books, and maybe some unworthy and downright trashy volumes, too, published over the past sixteen years. They spend a lot of pages on romance volumes, albeit with great fun. The euphemisms, for example, in the love scenes bring a smile to a reader's face, (i.e., "the dark veil shrouding the secret places of her womanhood" and "drawing a pale limb up over his hip, he slowly teased her with the heat of his desires,").

"Our intention here," write the authors, "is to provide a glimpse into the current state of the national psyche by looking closely at the books Americans buy--specifically, at those books they have bought in the greatest numbers since 1990. Bestsellers, we must note, do make up only a very small percentage of all books sold--but still, their success is determined solely by audience demand. More than any others, these books resonate with broad segments of the reading public, and we're out to catch the vibe."

Lists of best sellling books in given years in various categories, e.g., fiction, nonfiction, Trade Paperback, are found in the back of this volume.

Lisa Adams and John Heath have also written or co-written The Talking Greeks, Who Killed Homer, Bonfires of the Humanities, and others. Recommended.

What Would Jesus Buy?: Fabulous Prayers in the Face of the Shopocalypse
Reverend Billy
Public Affairs
250 West 57th Street, #1321, New York, NY 10107
9781586484477 $14.95 1-877-782-1234

Seemingly a legitimate preacher, complete with a white Roman collar and frequently asking his assembled listeners for Amens and other religious affirmations, Rev. Billy, in fact, leads a dedicated group of real life public protesters. They nicely confront shoppers in malls, shopping centers, big box and chain stores, and even Disneyland in California and Times Square in New York City and ask and plead with these people to stop shopping.

Rev. Billy often leads prayers near individuals buying items in stores and/or in public spaces. One of his offerings found in the book: "Now children, we are all Shopping Sinners. Each of us is walking around in a swirl of gas and oil, plastics and foil. We should hit our knees and weep and confess together. We are not evil people, but somehow we have allowed the Lords of Consumption to organize us into these mobs that buy and dispose, cry and reload. Yes, the Rapture of the Final Consumption, the Shopture, is underway."

The Reverend likes to lead his Stop-Shopping group members who are usually garbed in choir robes in an anti-consumerism song. They, musically, playing their instruments and singing, ask consumers to back away from purchases of unneeded things. Rev. Billy also warns them that the 'Shopocalypse' is soon going to happen. Of course, this is a thinly veiled takeoff on the 'Apocalypse' (revelation) from the Bible.

In short, this anti-consumer group gets its message out under the guise of religion, which is basically an attention-getter. And it lends an air of authenticity, at least initially. They've carried this act out across the U.S. Traveling in bio-fueled buses, they've encountered shoppers at the Mall of America in Minnesota, Disneyland in Anaheim, and upscale stores in Manhattan.

Unsurprisingly, the book describes Rev. Billy's arrest for challenging Disney; its creations, Mickey Mouse, Goofy, and Snow White; plus the audience at Disneyland. Rev. Billy was expecting to be incarcerated for this action anyway. After all, he'd been arrested 50 times over the years. Still, he and others of his group never know what to expect when they have these confrontations.

Rev. Billy doesn't disclose his real name in this volume, but if the book's copyright holder is the same person, and he likely is, the preacher's real name is Bill Talen. And in the 'Acknowledgments' section of the book, he refers to his group as a 'theater company.' This volume, humorous and irreverent though it may be, contains a powerful message worth hearing and heeding. Recommended!

What We Say Goes: Conversations on U.S. Power in a Changing World
David Barsamian interviews Noam Chomsky
Metropolitan Books
c/o Henry Holt & Company
175 - 5th Avenue, Suite 400, New York, NY 10010-7725
9780805086713 $15.00 1-888-330-8477

The title, 'What We Say Goes,' refers to America's dogmatic, or should it be said imperial, position in relation to the world. The entire book is comprised of questions from David Barsamian and answers from Noam Chomsky on a wide range of subjects.

Mostly, however, this read covers how the U.S. deals with the world. But it also deals with the present Iraq situation, the Israeli/Palestinian conflict, and relations between various nations around the globe.

Here's an example of a couple of questions and answers from the book:

Barsamian: "You've said it was significant when Wall Street turned against the Vietnam War. That was around 1968."

Chomsky: "Yes, 1968. It was after the Tet Offensive, which convinced the business world that the war was just not worth it. They understood pretty well that the United States had basically won the war, and continuing it was just too costly."

Barsamian: "Why hasn't the business community turned on the war in Iraq?"

Chomsky: "There is no comparison between the two cases. That's all doctrinal/fanaticism. The only comparison between Vietnam and Iraq is the way it's described in the United States. In both cases the framework is that it's costing us a lot, it's a 'quagmire.'

"The business community is only going to turn against this war if it really becomes extremely costly to the United States and to their own interests. But that will take a lot. It's not at all comparable to Vietnam, which was much less important strategically from their point of view."

David Barsamian is the award-winning director of ALTERNATIVE RADIO. He resides in Colorado.

Noam Chomsky, an outspoken American on U.S. policy, is a linguistics professor at MIT.

This volume is one in a series of books under the rubric of The American Empire Project. This organization was formed to question how the U.S.'s tendency towards empire developed and to explain that to the public. Recommended.

Jim Sullivan

Terrilyn's Bookshelf

The Electric Church
Jeff Somers
Hachette Book Group, USA
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780316021722 $12.99

Jeff Somers first novel, The Electric Church, portends of more wonderful things to come. This cyber-punk book about a religious cult taking over the world after unification smacks of an urban view of Revelations.

Avery Cates, the protagonist, leads an eclectic group of criminals on a mission to kill Dennis Squalor, founder of The Electric Church. Cates is a cynical 27-year old barely making a living as a hit-man on the streets of New York. He pairs up with his psionic friend Kev Gatz, super spooky twins Tanner and Milton, technogeek Ty Kieth (who refers to himself in the third person), and a mysterious older man who goes by the name Canny Orel to do the job.

King Worm, Richard Marin, head of the IA police department, is the person who hires Cates, but he becomes a suspicious character as the plot moves forward. Each character is fully explored and an intricate part of the story.

The Monks aggressive recruiting to The Electric Church has tactics reminiscent of the LDS church's indoctrination and theories. The Monks, as a character, are similar to Mr. Smith in The Matrix, identical cyborgs who are run by one overall machine.

The overall feeling of the book is a combination of the system changing struggle of Firefly and the film noir aspects of Ocean's 12. The fast moving plot and interesting characters make for a wonderful read. Somers next novel published will be The Digital Plague.

The Devil's Right Hand
Lilith Saintcrow
Hachette Book Group, USA
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780316021425 $6.99

Saintcrow's latest Dante Valentine installment does not disappoint! The Devil's Right Hand is a visionary piece of futuristic urban fantasy that takes an in-depth look at good and evil.

Saintcrow doesn't paint a saintly protagonist, in fact, Dante is in love with a fallen demon. Dante struggles with herself realizing that sometimes she has an evil streak in her. And Japhrimel, the fallen angel, is a blend of good and evil as well. Within the plot, Saintcrow explores a realistic human nature, that all of us struggle to balance the forces of light and dark within ourselves.

Like Saintcrow's previous heroines, Dante is sexy, intelligent, fearless, and lethal. She is a refreshing look at a strong woman who struggles to allow herself vulnerable moments.

Saintcrow assumes her readers are intelligent, and she writes with a blend of history, mythology, and imagination that is derivative of nothing in the genre. Saintcrow's writing includes gorgeous passages like this one of Dante explaining the feeling of power: "It ran out my toes, a crackling tide of burning leaving me molten and shaken. I blinked several times, something fine and dusty falling from my eyelashes. Closed my eyes, still blind. Let my head tip back like a heavy fruit on my limp stem of a neck" (p227).

Though this is the third installment in the series of five, it can be read as a stand-alone book. Saintcrow balances backstory without being repetitive, and a glossary at the end of the book will clear up any questions a new reader might have. The next Dante Valentine story, Saint City Sinners, is due to be published November 2007, with the final story, To Hell and Back, coming January 1, 2008.

Terrilyn Fleming

Theodore's Bookshelf

Dead Heat
Dick Francis and Felix Francis
G. P. Putnam's Sons
375 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9781399154768 $25.95 800-487-5515

While the familiar racetrack milieu pervades the latest Francis novel, horses and the track play only a peripheral role. Center stage is the restaurant business, as one-star Michelin chef Max Moreton becomes embroiled in a mysterious series of events, including several attempts on his life.

Moreton is an owner and master chef at a country restaurant near the Newmarket racetrack. One Friday night, he cooks at a catered affair for a couple of hundred guests at the track, most of whom, including Max and his employees, suffer from food poisoning that night. The following day, he also is the chef at a luncheon in a private box at the track when a bomb goes off and kills many persons. Thus begins a tale.

Max's reputation obviously is at stake, as the authorities close the restaurant for inspection, despite the fact that the meal which caused the poisoning took place elsewhere. Determined to absolve himself and the restaurant of blame, Max has to find out who is responsible. The story is plausible and typical of a Francis effort utterly charming and delightful, with twists and turns and nary a horse race (except for the one suspended by the bomb blast). Highly recommended.

Head Games
Craig McDonald
Bleak House Books
c/o Big Earth Publishing
923 Williamson St., Madison, WI 53703
9781932557428 $24.95 800-481-9191

Surreal. Unusual. Imaginative. Confusing. These are some of the reactions to this strange novel. The back cover of the ARC states: "Head Games is equal parts road novel, caper, and historical fiction: a black comedy and wistful ballad of lost America rooted in borderland myth and history." Hyperbole enough? If not, then reading the novel will supply more.

This is the tale of Hector Lassiter, a larger-than-life writer of crime novels and screen plays, contemporary of Hammett and Chandler, intimate of Papa Hemingway, Marlene Dietrich, Orson Welles, Jack Webb and others. He served with the Pershing expedition into Mexico chasing Pancho Villa and with the AEF in Europe. Now in his advanced years he becomes involved in the recovery of Villa's severed head, seeking possession of it and resulting in his becoming the target of competing forces, including the Yale Skull and Bones Society.

The novel then goes on to the chase from 1957 to 1970 across the country and south of the border. The conclusion is just as unusual as the rest of the novel. To sum up, for these sore eyes, a lot of it didn't make much sense, but there is much good and intriguing writing here.

Bones to Ashes
Kathy Reichs
Scribner, c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Sixth Ave., NY, NY 10020
9780743294379 $25.95 800-223-2336

This is the tenth Temperance Brennan novel. She is a North Carolina-born, Montreal-based forensic anthropologist. In her childhood, she met and became great friends with an Acadian girl two years her senior. Then the friend, Evangeline, disappeared, along with her mother and sister. For the next few years, Tempe sought traces of her friend with no success.

Thirty years later, a skeleton is found, one of a young girl unearthed in Acadia. Immediately, Tempe theorizes it could be Evangeline. Meanwhile, a number of other missing girls flood the crime scene, with Tempe's partner tracking cold cases, two unidentified corpses and three missing persons. All teenage girls.

While working the cases, Tempe continues to obsess over the possibility that the skeleton is that of her friend. She locates Evangeline's sister in Acadia, who tells Tempe her friend was murdered 30 years before. Some clues implicate the sister's husband, an operator of strip joints, among other shady dealings. Ryan and Hippo, another cop, and Tempe pursue the mysteries of the cold cases, and Tempe keeps up her hopes of identifying Evangeline.

As in previous novels, there is an abundance of forensic anthropological science, details of bone dissections and linguistic analyses, all of which prove useful in the process of solving the mysteries. The customary fast-paced writing and tight plotting brings the novel to an unanticipated conclusion.

Grave Imports
Eric Stone
Bleak House Books
c/o Big Earth Pubishing
923 Williamson St., Madison WI 53703
9781932557473 $14.95 pb $24.95 hc 800-481-9191

Stolen Cambodian art statues, parts of temples, icons--illegally sent through Thailand, Vietnam and China to Hong Kong where it is sold, at the time, legally, brings Ray Sharp to his second adventure. The exotic Far East background provides the reader with real glimpses into the people and locales.

Sharp leaves his journalistic career as a result of an unfortunate incident, which leaves him in a depressed state. A good friend, a former CIA spook, now trying to build a corporate investigation firm, hires Ray. He is assigned a routine look into a Chinese art supplies company in which an American client is considering investing. Instead of mundane art supplies, he finds secret stashes of antiquities. The trail leads to an ex-South Vietnamese General now living in Thailand and to the Khmer Rouge, the ancient temples, and the killing fields of Cambodia.

The author's knowledge of the Far East seems to be quite genuine, and the descriptions of the streets and people of Hong Kong, Bangkok and other locations compelling. The story is believable and the characters real. Insights into the cultures of the area, as well as the horrible plunder of artifacts, are lessons well-told.

Dead Street
Mickey Spillane
Hard Case Crime c/o
Winterfall LLC
301 E. 62nd St., NY, NY 10065
Dorchester Publishing
200 Madison Ave., NY, NY 10016
9780843957778 $6.99 800-481-9191

Said to be the final crime novel from the legendary Mickey Spillane, the final three chapters were prepared by his friend and editor, Max Allan Collins, from extensive notes from the author. It is a relatively simple, straightforward tale of Jack Stang, a retired NYPD Captain, who, 20 years earlier, lost his fiancee to an abduction and presumed murder.

Now the old warhorse is chomping at the bit, at loose ends, watching his old neighborhood and station house fall to the wrecker's ball. Then he is approached with an offer of a house and $100,000 to move down to a retirement village in Florida, next door to a blind woman who really is the fiancee who disappeared. The reason she was abducted by the mafia was information to which she had access. The data was never found (nor was she).

Moving to Florida, he travels back and forth to the Big Apple to slowly discover the background on the whole story. Written and composed in typical Spillane style, the plot moves forward to a rousing crescendo. Stang is no Mike Hammer, but the story is moving and well-told.

Raisins and Almonds: A Phryne Fisher Mystery
Kerry Greenwood
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. 1st Ave., Scottsdale, AZ 85251
9781590581681 $24.95 800-421-3976

The ninth book in the series now appears (publication in the US follows no order), bringing the Hon. Phryne Fisher into another world that of the small but religious Yiddish population of Melbourne, Australia during the period between the two World Wars. We find her dallying with young Simon Abrahams, son of a wealthy Jew, exposing her to the language and culture of the world of refugees, rabbis, kosher cuisine, chicken soup, Kadimah, the Torah, Kabala and Maimonides.

Simon's father asks Phryne to investigate the strange death of a young religious student in a bookshop owned and operated by one Miss Lee in a property she rents from Simon's father. She is accused of the murder. Phryne follows the usual course in the investigation, using all her wiles and helpers--her maid Dot, Bert and Cec the Wobbly cab drivers and Inspector Robinson. The task is complicated by all kinds of considerations, including alchemy, mysticism and politics, including Zionism. Phryne has to learn all of the nuances, and even begins to speak a little Yiddish.

While a mystery, the story takes on a very different flavor from that of other novels in the series. It is not only entertaining in the customary manner of the other books in this series, but is informative and the unexpected descriptions of Yiddish culture are authentic.

Stuff to Die For
Don Bruns
Oceanview Publishing
61 Paradise Rd. Ipswich, MA 01938
9781933515106 $24.95 800-829-7062

A couple of beer-guzzling, 24-year-old ne'er-do-wells, James and Skip, become embroiled in a deadly situation. James, a short order cook, inherits some money and buys a box truck. With Skip, a salesman of security systems who hardly ever makes a sale, they go into the hauling business. Their first job gets them into all kinds of trouble, and they have to run fast to keep ahead of the perpetrators of a developing criminal plot.

While unloading their first cargo, they find a bloody finger and a ransom note. As a result, they become targeted by the criminals who fear the boys have learned details of the plot. And the chase goes on and on. The main characters are hardly believable and the story is a mish-mash. James and Skip can hardly get anything right.

Skip has a sometime girlfriend who turned down employment offers of $150,000 a year to work for her father. She is supposed to be bright, but what's to account for her relationship with a dead-ender? James has visions of grandeur, remembering his father who was a perpetual failure. The story takes place in Miami and environs, where we find a cast of Cubans, CIA agents and a mysterious "Angel." Enough already.

Robert Ludlum's The Arctic Event
James H. Cobb
Grand Central Publishing
237 Park Ave., NY, NY 10169
9780446177108 $15.99 800-759-0190

The latest in the Covert One Series takes us to a remote island in the Canadian Arctic, where a Russian plane carrying weaponized Anthrax crashed 50 years previously at the height of the Cold War. At the request of the present Russian government, the President of the United States agrees to send a team headed by Lt. Col. Jon Smith to the site to verify that the load still exists. Thus begins a tale almost too fantastic to believe.

Not only does the team have to fight the hostile, frigid elements, but two other forces unknown to them: a secret Russian platoon sent covertly to insure that a half-century-old state secret doesn't see the light of day, and a world-class arms dealer intent on capturing the anthrax for sale to terrorists.

The plot has all the elements of the previous Covert One novels, danger, superhuman efforts and even a potential love interest for Dr. Smith. The story moves forward at a brisk and exciting pace, and it is well-told. Somehow, however, one gets the feeling that these types of novels become a parody of themselves.

Noble Lies
Charles Benoit
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. 1st Ave., Scottsdale, AZ 85251
9781590584507 $24.95 800-421-3976

After various adventures in a number of other parts of the world, including having served as a Marine during Desert Storm, Mark Rohr finds himself working as a bouncer in a Thai bar when he is fired for overzealously performing his duties. But the bar's owner and bartender, a long-time friend, steers him onto a job assisting a woman who is looking for her brother a year after the tsunami.

The client offers him $500 a week and a $5,000 bonus if he finds the brother, who Mark believes was either lost to the giant wave or doesn't want to be found. The quest is complicated by a top gangster who also has a vested interest in finding the brother. And the race is on along the pirate-infested waters of Thailand and Malaysia. It is an exciting chase, filled with graphic descriptions of the devastation brought on by t he tsunami, as well as the poverty and corruption in the country.

This novel is the third featuring globe-trotting Rohr, ranging from Singapore and the Raffles Hotel to Casablanca and Cairo, then to India and elsewhere. In each, he introduces a number of surprises, and Noble Lies is no exception. This reader could not even begin to anticipate how he would bring the novel to such a conclusion.

The One Minute Assassin
Troy Cook
Capital Crime Press
P.O. Box 272904, Ft. Collins, CO 80527
9780977627646 $14.95 970-481-4894

Talk about dirty tricks in politics--this takes the cake: By bumping off potentially leading candidates, one can get elected. That's the case in this novel. "Tricky Dick" Steel, a lobbyist for a large pharmaceutical company apparently controlled by the Russian Mafia, is one of about 100 gubernatorial candidates in California and his campaign strategy is to literally eliminate leading opponents with the help of two bumbling assassins.

John Black, a rather apolitical private investigator who comes from a Bush- or Kennedy-like family (his mother is a U.S. Senator and his sister the Mayor of Los Angeles and the leading candidate to go to Sacramento in the upcoming election) and his partner are thrust into the fray when an attempt is made on the sister's life.

The author's previous and initial effort was the award-winning 47 Rules of Highly Effective Bank Robbers. It would seem he enjoys rather longish titles. In any event, the present novel is quite different and very readable, developing slowly but surely to a blasting finish.

Patriot Acts
Greg Rucka
1745 Broadway, NY, NY 10019, 212-782-9008/800-726-0600
9780553804737 $25.00

Atticus Kodiak, who made a previous appearance in Critical Space, is forced to become a cold-blooded killer when he is ambushed and his partner is shot dead. Previously, he protected clients from such violence. He teams up with a woman known as "Drama," one of the 10 best assassins in the world. Atticus thus becomes what he professed not to be a murderer and is now labeled one of the "10" as well.

As a result, he becomes hunted by all the resources available to various authorities. He and has partner lay low for three years, until they decide they have to do something to put an end to the chase. The problem is: they don't know who was behind the original ambush or why. But revenge for the murder of his friend and partner becomes a must for Atticus, and the suspenseful adventures begin.

The novel is finely honed, although in the end a little far-fetched. Nevertheless, as an action thriller, the novel lives up to the best of expectations.

When One Man Dies
Dave White
Three Rivers Press, c/o Random House, 1745 Broadway, NY, NY 10019
9780307382788 $13.95 800-726-0600,

While sitting in his favorite bar drinking beer, PI Jackson Donne, the bartender and everyone else heard a loud crash outside. A popular fellow drinker was hit by a car that sped away. A possible hit-and-run, but the more everyone thinks about it they think it probably was a homicide. The owner/bartender tells Donne that the victim was their friend, and implores him to find the perpetrator.

Thus begins a complicated tale involving corrupt police, a cop with a grudge against Donne, drug traffickers and lots of violence. Donne is warned off the investigation by his former partner on the police force, but he has promised to go on, so he does. Meanwhile he accepts another assignment, and somehow as things progress, the two cases seem to overlap.

The story develops, moving slowly to its finale. But the past continues to haunt the present. Donne is the typical hard-boiled PI found throughout the genre, as well as a punching bag too often. For fans of the genre, it is a very satisfying read.

Kennedy's Brain
Henning Mankell
The New Press
38 Greene St., NY, NY 10013, 212-629-8802
9781595581846 $26.95

Henning Mankell has written 37 novels, with perhaps the nine Kurt Wallender mysteries best known in the United States. The present novel, while a mystery of sorts, really is a polemic based on the author's frustration with the poverty and disease rampant on the African continent. Indeed, it is a written indictment of the greed which is an inherent part of the African AIDS crisis.

Swedish archaeologist Louise Cantor returns home from her job of supervising a Greek dig to find her only son lying in his bed, dead. An autopsy shows the 28-year-old full of sleeping pills, and his death is ruled a suicide. Louise refuses to accept the ruling, believing his death was a murder, and embarks on retracing his various trails to discover the "truth." It takes her to Barcelona, where the son had a secret apartment, to Australia to find her ex-husband, and then to Maputo, Mozambique. Along the way she finds out her sun was HIV positive.

Bit by bit, Louise learns how little she knew about her son. In Mozambique she learns an awful truth about an AIDS hospice, and possibly its link to the son's death. Also, there appear to be links between the AIDS epidemic and Western pharmaceutical interests, giving the author more reason to raise criticism. This book is not a joy to read, despite how well-written it is, but then it is not meant to be. While it is a story full of mysteries, it is not the kind of tale a Wallender novel would be. It is more of a psychological inquiry with social overt ones.

You've Been Warned
James Patterson and Howard Roughan
Little, Brown and Company
237 Park Ave., NY, NY 10169
9780316014502 $27.99 800-759-0190

This novel is surreal. It is the story of Kristin Burns, a young girl with a guilty conscience who is having an adulterous affair with her employer. She works as a nanny to two lovely children and is in love with their father [a widower who has remarried]. So much for reality.

Kristin suffers from a recurring dream, in which she witnesses four body bags being removed from a Madison Avenue hotel and takes photographs (she's an aspiring photographer). Other events take place and she can't distinguish between her dream and reality.

The authors have created a suspenseful thriller that defies the imagination. The psychological implications of Kristin's experiences are probably unbelievable but, of course, that's what is intended. Frankly, this reader didn't particularly like wading through it.

Exit Song
Ian Rankin
Orion Books
5 Upper Saint Martin's Lane, London, England WC2H 9EA
9780752888194 $24.95

This book is at present only available in/through the UK and Canada, not yet available in the US

Say it isn't so, Ian. Has 60-year-old John Rebus come to the end of the line? The popular protagonist spends his last days in his three-decade-old career in this novel in his usual manner, solving crimes, upsetting the powers that be and dealing with his 20-year-old enemy, Big Ger Cafferty as well as setting the stage for tying up loose ends with his long-time partner, DS Siobhan Clarke.

In the mix is a delegation of Russian businessmen, Scottish politicians and a large bank and its executives all seeking to bring business to Scotland. And then a leading Russian dissident poet is found murdered, and everyone wants to sweep it under the rug as a mugging gone bad. But is it? Neither Rebus nor Clark is convinced, especially when a second murder caused by an arson fire seems to be connected to the original case. To complicate matters, Big Ger is assaulted and left in a coma, and Rebus seems to be implicated.

This novel is as good as Rankin gets in the way of a mystery novel, and he works in commentary on Scotland in general, Edinburgh, money, politics, greed and power. Where does Rebus go from here? This reader (and many others, I'm sure) hopes Rankin hasn't permanently retired him he's too good a character to fade out of existence. Highly recommended.

Now & Then
Robert B. Parker
G.P. Putnam's Sons
375 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780399154416 $25.95 800-847-5515

Who would have thought Spenser would allow his past romantic frustration over the temporary separation from his long-time paramour, Susan, to influence his decisions on a case? But faced with a client's adulterous situation, the hard-boiled Boston PI finds himself in exactly that position. Retained by an FBI agent to learn whether his wife is having an affair, Spencer discovers the truth.

When both the client and the wife are found murdered, Spenser can't let go, remembering when Susan left him many years before to be with another man and the pain it caused him. So he pursues the case to find the killer even at the expense of endangering Susan. To protect her, we are entertained by his bringing in the troops Hawk (of course), Vinnie and Cholo.

This novel is Parker (and Spenser) at their accustomed best. No more has to be said. The wisecracks flow, the plot flies and the dialogue is witty and poignant. Highly recommended.

Theodore Feit

Victoria's Bookshelf

Karen Marie Moning
Bantam Dell Publishing
1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019
9780385339162, $22.00

MacKayla Lane is an American who comes from an old Celtic bloodline. She can see the Fae, a mysterious and frightening race that has lived unseen among us for generations. MacKayla, if that's her name, and she's not certain it is, knows that she's among the most gifted of the sidhe-seers. (In Irish folklore the Sidhe (pronounced shee in English) are the Irish fairies. They descended from the Tuatha De Danann, one of the ancient peoples of Ireland.)

The young American arrives in Dublin to find her sister murdered by her lover, a powerful lord of the otherworld. She stays on to avenge her sister and lives at a bookstore. The owner of the store, an enigmatic man named Jericho Barrons, takes on the task of protecting her. Barrons has already saved her life once. They have an understanding for he needs her help in finding a magical object of great power and evil.

MacKayla has another protector as well, a man of fairy known as V'lane. Strange and occult forces are at work here as MacKayla struggles with her feelings for the men who seek to control her. She's learning the hard way that nothing is as it seems and that includes the lines between good and evil. The story drew me in immediately; it's a riveting tale of murder, betrayal and the paranormal. The romance is hot and I can't wait to read the next one!

Bloodfever is book two of the Fever Series. The first book is Darkfever.

Thomas Perry
525 B Street, Suite 1900, San Diego, CA 92101
9780151012893 $25.00

Jack Till, PI and retired cop, helped a young woman named Wendy Harper disappear. Someone was after her, brutally beating and almost killing her. The only way she knew to stay safe was to run. The cops couldn't or wouldn't protect her, so she came to Jack for help. Six years later evidence turns up which points to Wendy's murder. The cops arrest her former partner and lover Eric. Jack goes to the cops and tells them the truth. Unfortunately no one believes him. Now he'll have to find Wendy and bring her back to prove Eric's innocence.

A man and woman, both cold blooded murderers, are watching Jack, waiting to finish the job of killing Wendy. The female killer's a former porn star married to a hit man and their marriage is fraught with problems. Will Paul and Sylvie Turner self-destruct and give Jack and Wendy a chance? Of course that doesn't exclude the fact that the person who hired them still wants Wendy dead. The man is obviously someone with power and money, an almost unstoppable combination.

I had to find out what Jack had up his sleeve next. How could he and Wendy escape such dedicated sociopathic killers? Perry kept springing surprises on me. The action's fast paced and kept me glued to the edge of my chair. Silence is a well written tale of mystery, murder and human values gone awry.

I'm a fan of Thomas Perry's Jane Whitfield novels and I enjoyed every minute of this new novel. Some of Mr. Perry's other books include: The Butcher's Boy, Dance for the Dead, Blood Money, Dead Aim, Nightlife, Sleeping Dogs, Shadow Woman, Metzger's Dog and Pursuit.

Oath of Swords
David Weber
Baen Publishing Enterprises
P.O. Box 1403, Riverdale, N.Y. 10471
9781416520863 $15.00

What a fun book this was to read. The characterization is good and the plot fast paced and interesting. The protagonist, one Bahzell Bahnakson of the Horse Stealer Hradani branch of the human race is one feisty and stubborn character. He almost makes a rock seem pliable. Let's face it a protagonist is never without a problem and is never perfect, for if he or she were the book would be dull and no one would buy it. It's an annoying but necessary fact.

It turns out that Bahzell is in a heap of trouble and on the run from a bunch of lowlife Hradani who want his hide nailed to a mantle, any will do. One of his friends joins him and the hunt is on. Meanwhile Bahzell runs into some gods who want him to go to work for them. He resists but finally gives in. Now he's not only on the run from the bad guys, but he's helping people along the way. All this lands him in more and more trouble, until you wonder how he's going to get himself out of it.

I'm a fantasy buff who loves swordplay and an interesting tale. This one filled the bill nicely. David Weber is the author of many books including: The War God's Own and Wind Rider's Oath.

Victoria Kennedy

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

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