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Reviewer's Bookwatch

Volume 10, Number 9 September 2010 Home | RBW Index

Table of Contents

Reviewer's Choice Amy Henry's Bookshelf Ann's Bookshelf
Bethany's Bookshelf Buhle's Bookshelf Burroughs' Bookshelf
Carson's Bookshelf Christy's Bookshelf Clark's Bookshelf
Daniel's Bookshelf Debra's Bookshelf Gary's Bookshelf
Gloria's Bookshelf Gorden's Bookshelf Harwood's Bookshelf
Henry's Bookshelf Hila's Bookshelf Janie's Bookshelf
Karlene's Bookshelf Karyn's Bookshelf Logan's Bookshelf
Margaret's Bookshelf Molly's Bookshelf Nicole's Bookshelf
Paul's Bookshelf Peggy's Bookshelf Regis' Bookshelf
Richard's Bookshelf Riva's Bookshelf Sandra's Bookshelf
Theodore's Bookshelf    

Reviewer's Choice

Divine Appointments
Charlene Ann Baumbich
Waterbrook Press
12265 Oracle Blvd., Suite 200, Colorado Springs, Colorado 80921
9780307444721 $13.00

Alma H. Bond, Ph.D., Reviewer

"Divine Appointments," written by Charlene Ann Baumbich and published by Waterbrook Press, is a character driven page-turner. It is a fascinating read from the first paragraph on. A charming novel about the renewing aspects of close friendship, as Josie developed with her new friend Amelia, faith, and the magic possibilities in second chances, the book reminds those of us who may have forgotten what really matters in life.

The character development is excellent and sharply drawn, so that no one ever could confuse one person with another. I never had to return to earlier sections of the book to find out who a character was, as frequently happens in poorly written books. Josie and Marsha are especially well defined. In describing Josie, who is a particularly unique heroine not likely to be forgotten by anyone who reads the book, Baumbich writes, "She would not buy another handbag until she got rid of the one she owned." And, to the question, "Where do you actually call home?" she answered, "Wherever I am." "Interesting," Josie says, "the way career paths unfold, the influence of parents, the moments that define us - or at least how we think they do (p. 205)," all of which is beautifully described by Baumbich, who skillfully leads Josie through a mid-life crisis down the path to self knowledge and a happier existence. Baumbich's originality is apparent in her description of Josie's relentless hot flashes. A researcher, Josie searched the Internet for a solution to her problem. Finding that some women found relief by sticking their head into a freezer, Josie was driven in a below-freezing February morning to try the peculiar"cure." Much to her surprise, it worked. Josie had no need to pinch pennies, but still looked after her dollars. In keeping with her lifelong rule to simplify, she owned only four sets of pajamas, all of the same powder blue cotton with three-quarter-length sleeves, which she wore the year around. At 5:30 am, whether she had slept or not, it was time to get up and work out.

The book is full of witty remarks. For example, Josie and her new friend Amelia are in stitches when they agree that finding a bra that is both comfortable and fits well is exhausting, and that once they do the manufacturer is sure to discontinue the model.

It is praiseworthy that Baumbich was not afraid to make Marsha a mediocre and cliche writer who had received Cs in English throughout her grammar and high school days. In considering writing a romance, Marsha said to herself, "Nah. Stick to murder, fantasy, sci-fi, or action adventure. You stink at love anyway." Love was not the only writing Marsha stank at. Her sections on "Helmoot, the Reaper Rephotsirch" are particularly obnoxious. Whatever her gifts or lack of them, I did not enjoy reading much about Marsha and found myself skipping the parts that dealt too heavily with her writing and philosophy. Other readers may feel differently about it.

Another well-drawn character is Barb, a generous, pleasant, highly religious individual who provides the emotional backbone of the company. When her colleagues are fired left and right, Barb begins the Encouragement Club, to help them deal with the pain of being fired and finding a new job. Baumbich's excellent method of describing the tragedy Barb meets with adds suspense to the book. Nevertheless, despite the fact that I would like to have a close friend like Barb, she spouts much too much religion to suit me

I also was not too fond of the sections of the book dealing with the magic snow globe, as I never was certain if the globe were magic or simply a figment of Josie's imagination. I think the writing is good enough and Josie's character sufficiently clear without the necessity of resorting to gimmicks.

Besides being humorous and witty, the book is also educational. For those who have never experienced "down sizing," the book changes the concept from a word read in the newspapers to a live experience. The reader lives with and grieves along with the suffering characters. This reviewer fortunately never has gone through such a tragedy, but after reading "Divine Appointments" I feel as though I actually have had such an experience.

Despite what I consider its minor shortcomings, "Divine Appointments" is an astute, well-written book, which I would recommend to anyone who enjoys a delightful love story, psychological insight, and distinct and well-documented character development.

Hilary Jordan
Algonquin Books
PO Box 2225, Chapel Hill, NC 27515-2225
9781565126777 $13.95

Carma L. Walsh

MUDBOUND, by Hillary Jordan, chronicles the lives of the McAllen family, Henry and Laura and their two young daughters who move to the Mississippi delta to farm cotton at the end of World War II. Laura, who is against the move, is a city bred, cultivated individual who is faced with culture shock and a raging racist of a father-in-law who moves in with them and sets about making life even more miserable. They live in a primitive shack after being duped out of a proper home in town and live without modern conveniences such as indoor plumbing and electricity, with only a pair of sharecropper families living nearby. Laura stoically shoulders the responsibilities of a rural wife and mother, determined to make the best of it, supporting Henry's dream of owning his own farm.

Told in first person voices, those of Henry and Laura; of Henry's brother, Jamie; of Hap and Florence Jackson, sharecroppers who work the McAllen farm; and of their son, Ronsel, the novel never lags as the deftly drawn characters pull you irretrievably into their day to day travails. Simmering beneath the surface, however, is rabid racism that slowly builds to the inevitable

Ms. Jordan has woven a dramatic and abiding tale that is timeless in it's appeal and at it's heart, reminds us of lessons learned. Her voice is a blend of William Faulkner, Harper Lee, and Carson McCullers. This incredibly satisfying novel is one I could not put down and could not possibly forget. It is my hope that Ms. Jordan is prolific in her writing as this, her first effort, has earned
a perfect score of 10.

Same Kind of Different As me
Ron Hall & Denver Moore
Thomas Nelson Publishers
PO Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214
9780849919107 $14.99

Mary Crocco

Same Kind of Different as Me is a true story about Denver Moore. He was a victim of slavery in the mid 20th century. He escaped on his own and was taken under Deborah Hall's wings to overcome poverty and homelessness. Miss Debbie, as Denver called her, was a religious, spiritual zealot who helped the homeless. Ron Hall was Deborah's phony husband who was 'coaxed' by his wife to do nice things for the homeless. He complied only after his affair was exposed. Throughout the book, the reader is supposed to grow to like Ron, but it did not work for me. He may have learned to be less judgmental and prejudice, but he remains to be an egotistical jerk in my opinion.

The book is based on Denver Moore's life, but there is an excessive amount of over the top preachy religious and spiritual nonsense. For example: God talking through Denver, a voodoo rain making aunt, Deborah blaming herself that Ron strayed into the arms of another woman and then to top it off, on her death bed she tells him she has her permission for him to go back to her when she dies. These are just a few.

I think the book should have been written exclusively by Denver Moore. We could have learned more historical facts that would have been enlightening rather than the nonsense we had to endure reading about Ron. Still not sure how Ron got invited to Obama's inaugural address! The author just threw that in out of nowhere, which validates my opinion of Ron.

For the very religious, there were words and phrases of godly wisdom that will do your heart good. But when we have to read through Miss Debbie's gruesome and tortuous two years of dying, it had me believing this was way too much suffering that should have been ended long before. I know I am supposed to come away with all the godly thoughts such as, it is in god's hands, not ours, but this story had me thinking just the complete opposite.

I always try to acquire something positive from any book I read, whether I enjoy it or not. With that being said, I liked the history Denver related to his readers, but there should have been more. A pearl to realize is that some people can improve their lives when given a chance. We all know this to be true, but I just don't see or hear of many Deborah Halls in this world. She was an over the top extremist, even Denver realized that.

I would only recommend this book to the very religious and spiritual who could relate to the extreme views and feelings of Miss Debbie and Denver Moore. The book left me with mixed feelings, mostly about Ron Hall, and mostly negative. I was not left with pondering thoughts, but with distaste.

Go Tell It On The Mountain
James Baldwin
Dell Books
c/o Bantam Dell Publishing Group
1540 Broadway, New York, NY 10036
0440330076 $6.99

Gay Donahue

James Baldwin's, Go Tell It On The Mountain, tells the story of two generations of an African-American family who began their migration from the south to the northern city of Harlem beginning in 1900. John, the 14-year old stepson of Gabriel Grimes, begins our journey as an up and coming preacher on his 14th birthday, March of 1935. Walking that night with his family to the storefront church in Harlem, the story jogs backward to the previous generation's struggles migrating north to escape the oppressions both outside and inside the family--finding its way back to the storefront church to witness John's cathartic awakening. Each family member has his or her own riveting story of the past, yet each is interdependent and leads back to young John's awakening. John, a young black man in 1930's Harlem must deal with a religious zealot of a step-father, a community of poverty and violence; yet he finds hope in this insular black community in America which preached the self-worth and intelligence of the black for the first time. Baldwin speaks through a style of veiled biblical references dotted with nuggets of prose that transcend any race and time. This recommended read will challenge and grab you at the same time.

Cookie and Me
Mary Jane Ryals
Kitsune Books
9780981949567 $15.00

Donna Meredith

Thirteen-year-old Rayann Wood narrates the poignant tale of her dysfunctional family and the redeeming power of friendship in the novel Cookie and Me, by Mary Jane Ryals (Kitsune Books, $15). Sassy yet poetic, southern yet universal, Rayann's voice rings out as true and wise and unforgettable as Scout's in To Kill a Mockingbird.

Set in Tallahassee in the turbulent '60s, the novel leads us once again through those days of bus boycotts, segregated swimming pools, and speeches by charismatic black ministers.

The author's love of poetry and the natural world is apparent as she describes leaves with "fifty-eight shades of green looking tender enough to eat," a sun "warm as butter," and the way the "early crickets bree'd." Yet other than the setting and a familiarity with horses, very little else about the novel appears to be autobiographical. The novel is Ryals' first, though she is well known in the Tallahassee literary scene as the Big Bend Poet Laureate. In 2008, she published a collection of poems, The Moving Waters (Kitsune Books, $14). Ryals teaches business communications at FSU and has also written a related textbook, Getting into the Intercultural Groove.

As Cookie and Me opens, Rayann is obsessed with bones, associating the fragility of bodies with her mother's delicate mental condition: "Just the thought that under all our finery, clothes, manners, and smiles, under epidermis, tissue, and blood, as my sixth grade biology teacher called them, we're just bones. Easy to break, easy to crack. Cracking up. Like Mama." In a burst of anger toward her alcoholic father and his lowlife friends, who want to lock her mother away in the mental hospital in Chattahoochee, Rayann burns the word "bones" into the dining room table with a cigarette butt. Ironically, when she lets her mother bear the blame for the table's defacement, she pushes her mother one step closer toward a breakdown and this feared confinement. But like most children, Rayann fears the punishment sure to come if she tells the truth even more.

One afternoon Rayann follows Cookie, the only colored girl in her class, down a dirt road. Thus begins Rayann's awakening to the prejudice surrounding her. She is attracted by this girl who belts out gospel and Marvin Gaye with equal enthusiasm, accompanied by her honking geese, Margot and Waldo. Cookie, the fastest runner in their class, projects a confidence Rayann admires. Rayann learns white boys shoved Cookie off the school bus because "they didn't want no niggers riding on their bus." Though Rayann realizes what the boys did was wrong, it isn't something she can say out loud. Through most of the novel, she lacks the courage to acknowledge Cookie publicly, partly because her friends and family would disown her, and also because any public demonstration of their friendship could be dangerous for both of them.

Rayann shares her hiding place in the woods with her new friend, where she is setting up housekeeping "just in case." She isn't sure in case of what. The what comes soon enough when Rayann overhears her father's drunken friend call her "ripe" and he searches the upstairs for her. In her innocence, Rayann doesn't truly understand his intentions, but her instincts lead her to hide until she can escape to her special place in the woods. When she needs food and support, she turns to Cookie and her Aunt Jessie, the Woods' long-time maid.

As Rayann enters Cookie's life in a more intimate way, she realizes "Colored people were a mystery" because whites had such limited interaction with them. In time, she discovers commonalities. She and Cookie both bite their nails. They are curious about what it will be like to be kissed for the first time. And they both love the same pop songs on the radio. Another bond grows between them when Rayann develops a crush on Cookie's older brother, Ivory Jones, who works in the hospital where Rayann's father is an administrator.

The split in Rayann's family intensifies as her father fools around with "hoochie coo" women. He plans to stash Rayann in a boarding school and her mother in a mental hospital while he lives well off her mother's money. Racial tensions also escalate with the summer heat. Cookie and Rayann walk together openly through each other's neighborhoods, finding danger and prejudice everywhere. After a day full of confronting hatred, the girls finally stand "face to face, their masks washed off." One can hardly read that line and not be reminded of Paul Laurence Dunbar's poem "We Wear the Mask."

Set against key events of the Civil Rights movements, "Cookie and Me" is a story about color, "the hues that don't have names…The royal blue of late afternoon,(and) the color of forgiveness." It is a novel dreaming of great grandchildren the "shades of ebony, mahogany and pistachio," great grandchildren Rayann hopes she and Cookie will someday share stories about while they rock on a porch as old women.

More than a story about race, the novel demonstrates the power of love and friendship. Ivory Jones risks his job to help Rayann keep her mother out of Chattahoochee, and Rayann takes great risks to help Cookie when she is injured as a bystander during a protest.

This novel sings like a poem, a love song to the North Florida Ryals grew up in, a poem that took ten years, off and on, to write. At the novel's end, Miss Jessie tells Rayann she's "done been (her) pearl all along," affirming her love. Likewise, after reading this novel, one is left feeling it has been Ryals' pearl all along.

Doing the Opposite
Patricia Jackson
Fresh Start Press
9780615393858 $TBA

Emanuel Carpenter, Reviewer

In the debut book by newcomer Patricia Jackson, the author provides a simple remedy for leadership failure, do the opposite. More specifically, do the opposite of what bad leaders have done if you want to be successful at leading. Did you bad manager micromanage? Do the opposite. Was a supervisor too timid to take risks? Do the opposite. Perhaps your director intentionally set people up for failure. In that case, do the…you get the idea.

Jackson makes some valid points in "Doing the Opposite," based on her years of experience as a leader herself. For example, on becoming a new leader she writes the following good advice:

"As a new leader, it is not advisable to immediately come into an organization and make changes until you have taken the time to understand the organization and the culture. How many times has a new person come into a leadership role who obviously had no clue what they were doing? All they wanted to do was make instant changes for short-term wins. By taking time to meet with people, learn the culture, the organization and the processes, you stand a greater chance at long-term success."

Though the chapters in this book are too uneven (some chapters are only a page) and there tends to be a few too many life lessons from home instead of from a business setting in this book, the book itself is still worthwhile. While leadership advice from the likes of Sam Walton, Colin Powell, and Tony Hsieh of are relevant, it would be nice if the author expanded a bit more from her own experiences in the future.

All in all, "Doing the Opposite," is a practical and sound book ideal for those who want to lead, those just chosen to lead, and those whose leadership efforts may have failed in the past. Packed with leadership assessment tests and advice from some of the greats, "Doing the Opposite," is worth taking a chance on.


Walk the Blue Fields
Claire Keegan
Black Cat
c/o Grove Press
841 Broadway, New York, NY
9780802170491, $13.00,

Hannah Woodward

Claire Keegan's work provides us with a captivating and often tragic portrayal of rural Ireland, a place where some find hope and redemption while others are forced to flee painful pasts. It is a world in which the supernatural sometimes crosses paths with the real, where women use storytelling to gain power and priests fall into love and out of grace. Her stories capture something truly elusive and remarkable - a timeless Ireland, true to itself in both its flaws and its beauty.

New York City Girl
Rose Anna Sottile
Advocate House
c/o A Cappela Publishing
9780981893392 Hardcover $24.95
9780984617708 Paperback $19.95

Jodi Grant, Reviewer

Reclaiming Life

Do you know what it's like to be attacked by bi-polarism? Even those who suffer this disease often go undiagnosed, unable to understand what is devastating their lives. In this autobiography, we are given the opportunity to walk through the years of one such sufferer who finally found a doctor who correctly diagnosed her and prescribed meds and lifestyle changes that allowed her to regain her life.

Born to a loving Italian family in Brooklyn, Rose Anna Sottile began life as a bright, happy child. Her intelligence and singing talent sparkled at an early age. She won honors and awards in school, then started a distinguished business career in New York City. Rosie loved life and the New York Yankees. She was on top of the world - until her chemistry, pushed to the limit by her husband's thefts, lies and gambling, drove her into a mental hospital.

There followed years of struggle to overcome the insidious enemy that no one seemed able to correctly diagnose, let alone cure. But Rosie struggled on, in and out of hospitals and treatments, until she found "Doc," who recognized her ailment and prescribed meds and lifestyle changes that turned her life around.

This heartwarming story of struggle, pain and finally success offers a roadmap to other sufferers. It is a story of perseverance, hope and courage. She couldn't have done it without Doc and her supportive and loving family. As Rosie says, "Here I am today, at age 62, feeling like I'm 22 years old again."

Walk with her through the frightening years and discover with her how her nightmare was ended, allowing her to once again pursue her dreams.

New York City Girl is available at or at your favorite bookstore.

House of Reckoning
John Saul
Ballantine Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780345514240 $26.00

Loreen Isaacs

John Saul has written 38 New York Times best selling novels which include many tales of psychological suspense and daunting thrillers.

"House of Reckoning" is about the supernatural at its macabre best - and a modern-day Cinderella story with an eerie twist about Sarah Crane, Nick Dunnegan, and an eccentric art teacher, Bettina Phillips. These three charming characters will psych you out! There was a strong connection between them and peculiar unexplainable happenings. Towns' people believed the trio was responsible for these strange events, but this was not the case!

At the age of 14, Sarah Crane had been left with no option, but to take care of the family's Vermont farm after her mother died. She watched over her grief-stricken father who had taken to the bottle. After a night of heavy drinking, Ed Crane was jailed for killing a man in a barroom brawl. He accidentally hit his daughter on the road while she was riding her bike to the bar. Sarah was hospitalized with a broken hip and a broken leg. She was left alone after her father went to prison.

As if life wasn't hard enough for Sarah, she was forced to live with cold-hearted and cruel foster parents. Uprooted from her home town, she had to start a new school and make new friends so that she could be near her imprisoned father. She was the new girl in school with a limp! Bullies made fun of her and called her a cripple.

Nick Dunnegan, a fellow student, was a former mental patient who had been plagued all of his life with strange voices and bizarre visions. He became Sarah's friend. Sarah had a talent for art, which impressed her art teacher, Bettina Phillips, and thus, art class became her favorite place to be. Bettina would become her friend as well.

The plot developed a dark aura when something strange happened in art class. Sarah's hands moved quickly across the canvas as she drew an image of a mansion that had been haunting her all her life - a stone house with big shutters. After careful review of the drawing, Ms. Phillips recognized the house as a smaller version of her home which had been left to her by her ancestors. It was called "Shutters" and she had lived in it her whole life.

After being drawn to "Shutters," Sarah and Nick joined Bettina in her home sensing something evil was stirring in this house. What happened next makes your flesh crawl! "Shutters" was indeed haunted by generations of the dead who used it as a gateway to make their presence known by doors banging loudly, creating musty smells, and were monstrously disruptive.

Graphic details of death are described that are frightening and unfathomable depicting what it would be like to die if you were an evil person. Quoting Saul: "Then he saw it. Ants, red ants…Mitch opened his mouth to scream, but as soon as he did, the ants were in his mouth…he knew he would never scream again." Mitch was the foster parent of Sarah who became a victim of the house.

You will want to know what happens, why these three characters are connected, and what this house is trying to tell them. John Saul knows how to reveal the hearts of good people, expose the bad side, and reach into the unknown realms of death. This book is a great read for thriller fans or maybe a Halloween bedtime story.

The Uncommon Reader
Alan Bennet
Picador USA
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312427641 $12.00

Louise Leetch

Literature is a Commonwealth

Five stars are just too paltry for this book. Awesome, bright, clever, droll, only begin the list of adjectives that could be assigned to it. The plot is a blatant, if delightful, vehicle for Alan Bennett's philosophy of reading. The Queen, her very self, meets one of her pages in the traveling library. Norman takes her on a jolly trek to becoming "a reader". She finds that the briefings from her staff in preparation for her tours and travels are 'terse, factual and to the point'. 'Briefing closes down a subject, while reading opens it up.' Norman shows her how to read for pleasure, not just for enlightenment. When told that security had confiscated her current book from the carriage and likely exploded it, she is indignant. 'Exploded? But it was Anita Brookner.' She muses, "A book is a device to ignite the imagination."

Inevitably, her secretary Kevin, the Prime Minister, the household in general and even the Corgis find that the Queen's reading is causing disruption. She's tardy for luncheons and openings. She perfects reading in her coach, keeping the book below the window level so as to maintain the royal wave as she travels. She prefers discussing books with her tea party conversants rather than their method of travel and how far they came. Foreign dignitaries are unprepared as she discusses their nation's authors. Walkies no longer include ball-throwing.

Perhaps as Bennett shows the Queen becoming enamored with reading, the rest of the world will catch on. So, turn off the TV, put away the iphone, unplug the Wii and pick up a book - or even a kindle. Be encouraged, the thumbwriters of the world may yet discover adjectives and adverbs. Alan Bennett is the quintessential Englishman. Read An Englishman Abroad or rent the DVD for even more of Bennett's wonderful take on the psyche of the English. Most importantly, buy this book, save it, savour it, quote it, and realize for yourself what an extraordinary gift it is to be able to read.

My Father, My Son
Zoe M. Lymas
Advocate House
c/o A Cappela Publishing
9780981893389 $TBA

Patrika Vaughn

The Bootstrap Method for Success

How do you inspire disadvantaged youth to reach for their dreams, to overcome the obstacles that arise from living in neighborhoods entrenched with the lure of easy money and drugs? Zoe M. Lymas believes that she knows how these adolescents, in search of their identities and struggling to free themselves from the streets, can learn to conquer fears and feelings of hopelessness.

In her career as a Rehabilitation Counselor, Zoe worked with at-risk youth in the Massachusetts and New York prison systems. Simultaneously, she raised her own five children and her adopted daughter. All five of her children are now adult with their own families. All earned college degrees, and her adopted mildly disabled daughter is now l iving independently. Now retired (but still actively volunteering with the disadvantaged), Zoe has written a novel to demonstrate that young people can pull themselves up, no matter what their status or circumstances happen to be.

My Father, My Son is the fictionalized account of one of her sons who took the lessons learned from his black heritage and, adding his own talent and skills, used them to propel himself into a prosperous and respectable life. He then used these lessons to help others. The book includes fictionalized profiles of disadvantaged youth the author worked with, showing how they overcame hardship...

"The inspiration for this book," says the author, "originated from my work with teenagers and observing their lack of self-esteem, their poor self images and their lack of vision for their futures. It is my hope that this book will give young people some insight into what they can accomplish."

My Father, My Son teaches the lessons of courage, perseverance self-discipline and hope. It should be required reading for parents, teens, and in all juvenile correction facilities and agencies working with teens.

My Father, My Son is available ($14.95) at

Amy Henry's Bookshelf

Parrot & Olivier in America,
Peter Carey
c/o Random House
1745 Broadway, 3rd Floor, New York, NY 10019
9780307592620 $26.95

Don't read the book reviews….

A strange way to start a book review, yes? In regards to this title, however, and all the buzz that has surrounded it since its release, I think it's necessary to offset some of the descriptions of this book.

Many, if not all, of the reviews of Parrot & Olivier in America refer to Democracy in America by Alexis de Tocqueville, pretty much the standard for history in the early US. They connect the character of Olivier with that of de Tocqueville himself, and suddenly the idea of reading this book sounds like a snooze. It's not that way at all, and I think while the similarity exists and may be intentional by the author, it's not a very good way to introduce this book.

Parrot & Olivier is an insightful yet amusing narrative of the lives of two wildly different characters, as well as the time they lived in. First, Olivier…the son of French aristocrats who needs an escape plan that doesn't necessarily look like an escape. He needs to get out of France for his protection after the French Revolution, so after some thought it's decided to send him to America to research the penal system in the colonies. It's a useful out, as whatever he may learn is politically valuable in France, plus it gets him out of the country in a perilous time. Parrot is an older man, a survivor of many political battles and social conflicts, and his ability to survive in desperate conditions makes him the perfect chaperone for Olivier. Parrot, of course, hates the thought of babysitting the privileged son, and has to be coerced into leaving. It should be noted that before the departure ever takes place, Carey tells the story of both of these men separately, relating their character as well as significant details about the Revolution and how they had to use their wiles to survive.

Once they leave France, the story picks up even more, and the pace is fast as they both journey into both a new land and new situations. They end up bickering, fighting, separating, and finally bumping into each other again. The scene that finds them reunited is a street fight, where Parrot thinks he's saving Olivier, only to be unexpectedly saved by the well-armed boy. It's a funny moment, one of many, but it points to the difficulties of survival in this new place without some sort of backing.

For his part, Olivier has no interest in the study of the prisons, and yet his actions lead Parrot to have to experience them firsthand. The interaction between the two and the period details, especially in New York, make this a fun, lighthearted read. One thing that Alexis de Tocqueville said, however, in his book, does apply beautifully to the theme of Parrot & Olivier:

"The growth of nations presents something analogous to this; they all bear some marks of their origin. The circumstances that accompanied their birth and contributed to their development affected the whole term of their being."

Carey uses this novel to actually study how these two men developed from their vastly disparate births, with a conclusion that leaves you pondering the entire concept of class, friendship, and the sense of belonging.

A Little Party Dress
Christian Bobin
Translated from the French by Alison Anderson
Autumn Hill Books
PO Box 22, Iowa City, Iowa, 52244
9780975444481 $10.95

First, I have to admit I didn't know what a lyric essay was, so I had to look it up. Turns out it has nothing to do with music (LOL), but is rather a sort of hybrid between an essay and a poem. Then I started reading this book, A Little Party Dress, by Christian Bobin, and I realized there must be a better definition. In these lyric essays, each section is more like an informal commentary on a theme, without coming across as being a lecture or a self-help book. The book itself defines it as "meditative prose".

However you define it, it's lovely. It includes thoughtful reflections on time, books, family, and indirectly, our attitude in life. Bobin discusses books in many places, such as in "A Story Nobody Wanted":

"The wall between readers and everyone else goes far deeper into the earth, beneath faces. There are wealthy people who never touch a book. There are poor people who are consumed by their passion for reading. Who is rich, and who is poor; who is dead, and who is living? Those who never read are a taciturn race. Objects take the place of words: cars with leather seats for those who have money, ornaments on doilies for those who don't. A life without reading is a life one never leaves, a life piled up upon itself, stifled by everything it holds on to...." He describes the void felt by those who can't look out into another world in books, who are left closed in by their own fences. Given that he's essentially preaching to the choir, because those reading these essays are obviously readers already, it might seem self-aggrandizing and smug. It isn't. Instead it reminds the reader to read meditatively and to slow down and enjoy simple pleasures.

In "May He Be Left In Peace", he talks about fatigue and life's constant rush, set in the context of Percival's quest and his ultimate realization:

"Tired people are good at business, they build houses, pursue careers. To flee their fatigue they do all these things, and in fleeing they sumbit to fatigue. Their time is lacking in time. Everything they do more and more of, they do less and less of. Their lives are lacking in life."

One of my favorites is "Promised Land" where he describes the plight of the 'mass-produced' businessman, travelling, rushing and controlling:

"In his haste he takes the void with him. However often he speaks, he hears only himself. However far he goes, he finds only himself. Whereever he goes he leaves behind a stain of gray; he sleeps in the midst of what he sees. And so you say to yourself: these people who travel so much never take a single step forward. To really see something, you have to be able to touch its opposite... The businessman is merely the latest avatar, the most recent version of the pale man... He is the man with the weakest identity-that of keeping things in their place, that of the eternal lie of living in society."

He contrasts this man with a simpler man, of seeming no importance. And comparitively reflects on the meaningfulness of each in a way that isn't dismissive but insightful.

The translator, Alison Anderson, describes Bobin's work: "He's not edgy, or trendy, or experimental; he's deeply reflective, almost religious. Maybe people aren't used to thinking about life in a philosophical way, at least not through literature." -- From Scott Esposito at Two Words: Center for the Art of Translation at

Of everything I've read this past year, this is one I think I will return to, enjoying the short essays and the honest style of the prose. The author writes in such a beautiful way, it's almost as if this review needs a special font to illustrate it. There is no arrogance in the writing, even though it points at many of the flaws in modern life.

Thomas Barfield
Princeton University Press
41 William Street, Princeton NJ 08540
9780691145686 $29.95

Ever since "The Kite Runner: A Thousand Splendid Suns, and Three Cups of Tea", I've found Afghanistan to be a strangely compelling region. In those books, there was a different sense of the humanity of the people compared to what is seen on the nightly news, and it was difficult to align the two in my mind. Mention Afghanistan to someone and all they usually come up with is the notorious Taliban or the crumbling ruins that appear on the news. How accurate is that image?

When I first received Afghanistan: A Cultural and Political History, I hoped to find that answer and at the same time, that the book wouldn't be too dry or heavy on political rhetoric. I was pleased to find that it's an incredibly readable history book that makes the subject understandable and reveals the complicated lives of the people of Afghanistan. The author manages to compile the history without a political agenda or motive.

First off is recognizing that culturally, Afghanistan is made up of both tribal and nontribal ethnic groups. These groups mean everything to the people, and unlike some cultures, "tribal and ethnic groups take primacy over the individual." In other words, "individuals support decisions made by their group even when such support has negative consequences for themselves." This is a somewhat unique trait, and contributes to the devotion many have for their leaders. They also have an intense oral history that is repeated through the ages that also creates a sense of cohesiveness between past and present. These people live in a land crisscrossed by history, from Genghis Khan to Alexander the Great (see the photo of his castle above right). It was conflict between tribal regions, a civil war, that made the ordinary Afghan people eager to have the US come in to intervene with the Taliban, as "a drowning person is not too picky about who throws him a line….Afghanistan had either been ignored or abused by the outside world as it descended into chaos."

The Taliban, known for their desire to spread extremely conservative Islam, had riddled the nation with violence towards women and other religions. They've managed to alienate even those countries that were providing needed humanitarian aid. They do not have the support of the 'ordinary' citizen, as at times the Taliban members have numbered below 150 members. A good portion of the book deals with how and why the Taliban gained such power. Another portion discusses the occupation by Britain and Soviet Russia prior to more recent actions with the US.

The historical details are interesting, but it was the smaller things that were more revealing. For example, why is it that on the news you usually see only children or old people? Their hardscrabble lives, tending outdoors to agriculture and focused on manual labor, shows up on their faces and they appear prematurely aged. Are the devastated streets of broken concrete typical? Actually no, as the majority of citizens live in small villages far from urban areas such as Kabul. Is it just a land of dust and opium poppies? No again, as stone fruit, grapes, nuts, citrus fruits, melons, and rice are grown in different parts of the country, depending on what areas are irrigated. The famous mountainous region, known to have been a hiding place for bin Laden, is in the center of Afghanistan. Its steepness creates dynamic changes in climate in just a few hours of travel, and creates a diverse variety of crops.

The current situation in Afghanistan is covered in the sixth chapter, where Barfield addresses the complicated social concerns that continually plague the country. The resurgence of the Taliban and their religious ideology reverses social progress, while modern policies want to focus on reducing the religious power of clerics. Additional goals include establishing rights for women, tolerance of non-Muslim faiths, implementing educational policies, and modernizing archaic laws to better represent the desires of the majority.

Proust's Overcoat
Lorenza Foschini
c/o Harper Collins
10 East 53rd Street, NY, NY 10022
9780061965678 $19.99

The True Story of One Man's Passion for All Things Proust! -- You'll find "Proust's Overcoat" in the biography section of the bookstore, but at first it's difficult to decide who the biography is about....One the surface, it would seem to be a book about Proust, author of the iconic Remembrance of Things Past (which is incredibly difficult to get through), and/or his overcoat. Actually, the biographical elements are about several intriguing people in the orbit around Proust's life, and all of them would make worthy topics of their own biography. Combined, they make this study fascinating.

Foremost, the biography is of Jacques Guerin, an avid (rabid?) collector of all things Proust. His obsession leads him to search for anything related to the author, from old letters to furniture to ultimately, a personal garment of the man. At times his devotion is creepy, yet he seems to be completely harmless. His own life story is interesting, and his biography is well-researched. Foschini shows her skill as a biographer because she skillfully reveals personal characteristics about Guerin, but she also knows Proust's work, so when she makes a statement about Guerin she's able to actually use a Proust quote to elaborate on his fetish. As she tells about Guerin, she is also relating the biography of Proust, from his birth to his death. It's an interesting way of switching back and forth from the collector to the collected. So is it a biography of these two men? Where does the overcoat come in?

The overcoat itself, seemingly trivial, becomes part of the mystery of Proust, as many pictures (included in the book) show him in it. Foschini quotes various authors of the era, all who referred to the overcoat as one of the elements of Proust's persona. Foschini even incorporates her own search for the overcoat within the book.

She also intertwines the story of a collector who helps Guerin in his search, and who is a fascinating character with his own complicated connection to Proust. Adrien Proust, Marcel's brother, and his wife, Marthe, are also discussed in detail. The revelations are never dry, but often amusing. For example, Marthe gets a glimpse of what she is marrying into when her mother-in-law arrives at the wedding in an ambulance, and her brother-in-law tells others the wedding nearly killed him and he had to retire to bed for weeks to recover. Nice!

Marthe is an intriguing person at the center of the biography as she had much of Proust's works destroyed as soon as her husband died and she could get away with it. Foschini reveals why Marthe harbored so much anger at Marcel Proust, and how intently she tried to escape the family connection. The combination of all these interesting people makes this a too-brief biography that reads much easier than Proust (I believe it was Jon Stewart who said that anyone who reads Proust at the beach can be clinically defined as an insufferable ass).

The Weather Fifteen Years Ago
Wolf Haas
Stephanie Gilardi & Thomas S. Hansen, translators
Ariadne Press
270 Goins Court, Riverside, CA 92507
9781572411661 $21.00

"I think that's...pretty wonderful. That someone even pays attention to the weather of the past. The weather is the kind of thing you're only interested in to know it's going to be tomorrow."

I've never read a book quite like The Weather Fifteen Years Ago by Wolf Haas. It doesn't proceed in any typical sort of narrative, but instead is simply a conversation between an author and a book reviewer. That's it. Back and forth, chatting. Sometimes trivial, sometimes bitter, but always, back and forth. It should be boring as hell, but it's wonderful.

When I first began the book, I wasn't sure I could tolerate the style. Then I became hooked, on both the underlying story and the snarky conversation of the two. Over the course of several days, the reviewer and author meet and discuss different elements of the story. The reviewer questions the use of certain words and phrases, asks why characters behave as they do, and generally tries to get the author to admit to certain prejudices in the story (regarding women, national culture, etc). The author, for his part, gives new meaning to the term "unreliable narrator", because you never really know if it's the author Haas or a character created by Haas who is beguilingly called Hass (who happens to be an author). It's really not as confusing as it sounds!

The book they discuss is the account of a man who is obsessed with the weather at the resort he stayed in as a child, where all kinds of influential events took place. Even as he seems to forget the place, the habit remains: he finds out the weather and keeps track. The story is told backwards, and characters are introduced randomly that fill out the plot and keep it lively. Yet, it has to be remembered…as interesting as their conversation is, there is no book for you to pick up to read. The interview is the book. It's an entirely different way of reading, because every detail has to be discerned by direct (or offhand) comments by the speakers. It's almost like eavesdropping on a juicy story.

And while it's clever and witty, it's also sort of profound. Haas describes the complexities of writing and creating characters:

"You can't tell everything about a person and still make them appealing. People are appealing because you don't know too much about them."

"After all, I think that for the purposes of the book, having one defined direction is more dynamic than multiple compass points. I always say that artifice begins with symmetry."

The reviewer tries to draw out intentions from Haas that may or may not exist, and provokes him a bit as she tries to uncover sentiments that she senses are there. Thus they discuss the ways people interpret and misconstrue plot and character elements. Essentially, this is two stories in one: the interview, and the plot of the book that you'll never get to read. When you finish, you actually feel bummed out that you can't go and order it immediately.

Amy Henry

Ann's Bookshelf

My Blood's Country: In the Footsteps of Judith Wright
Fiona Capp
Allen Unwin
PO Box 8500, 83 Alexander Street, NSW 2065, Australia
9781741754872 A$27.99

Fiona Capp was just twelve years old when she first discovered Judith Wright's poetry; and just a few years older when she first met her. Judith Wright was forty-five years older than Capp - an old woman in her eyes - but a correspondence began between them which lasted until Judith's death in 2000. "I could not claim to have known her as a close friend", writes Capp, but over the years Judith's letter endings progressed from "Sincerely Yours" to "Best Wishes" and, finally, to "Love", as a relationship of affection and trust was established between them.

My Blood's Country is Capp's journey to those landscapes in which Judith lived and from which her poetry and her activism grew. For Capp, it was not "a pilgrimage", but a way of learning what Judith might have experienced in those places she loved, and, especially, a way of making connections with Judith's poetry.

Capp's long familiarity with Judith's poems, and with Judith's other writings, makes her journey, and this book, rich and absorbing. It takes her from the Australian, New England Tablelands, where Judith's family had been early settlers and where Judith had grown up; to the Queensland home which she and her partner, Jack McKinney, shared at Mount Tambourine; to Canberra, where her growing relationship with the prominent Aboriginal activist, Herbert Cole "Nugget" Coombs, was a closely kept secret; and, finally, to the house at Edge, in the Half-Moon Wildlife District, which she designed for herself. Along the way, Capp explores the way in which these very different landscapes are reflected in Judith's' poetry, her deep connection with the land and her increasing awareness of the "interconnectedness of all things". It was this awareness which lay at the root of her growing ecological activism and her concern for the rights of Aboriginal people.

My Blood's Country is not a biography but inevitably it deals with the people, events and experiences which shaped Judith's life and underlay her beliefs and her work. At the same time, the book reveals Capp's own responses to Judith's homes. "I might never be able to see and know this place as Judith had", she writes after immersing herself in a bushland waterhole beside which Judith, her daughter, Meredith, and Nugget Coombs often used to camp, "but at least I could taste something of its pleasures and, in doing so, ease my way deeper into the poems themselves."

She paints us pictures of Judith's lands, digs a little into their history, tries to discover their secrets and the meaning they had for Judith and, constantly, she comes back to the poetry. It is this which makes the book satisfying and, for me, meant that I returned to Judith's poetry with a new admiration for her spare, pared back, beautifully crafted art.

Capp's journey also reveals Judith's character, showing her as a strong, determined, sensitive and very active woman for whom the raw experiences of life were the foundation of all she did and all she achieved.

Judith was forty-seven, and already an established poet, when she helped to found the Wildlife Protection Society of Queensland. Their activism and the growing public awareness of the unique and threatened nature of much of the Australian environment eventually led to the establishment of the National Parks of Cooloola, the Great Barrier Reef and Frazer Island. In 1979, with Nugget Coombs and a small group of scholars, Judith helped form the Aboriginal Treaty Committee, which fought for Aboriginal land rights and self-determination. And because of her involvement with a number of different groups, in particular the Fellowship of Australian Writers, which was suspected of having communist leanings, she came to the notice of the Australian security services. This did not deter her. "Change", as she wrote in one of her poems, "is my true condition, / to take and give and promise, / to fight and fail and alter"*.

Her ability to evoke the uniqueness, the fragility and the strange beauty of the land which she called her "blood's country", lives on in her poetry. And it is this for which she will best be remembered.

* These lines come from 'Some Words'. A sample of Judith's poems can be found at

Queen Elizabeth: The Queen Mother
William Shawcross
9780330434300 A$26.99

I am not A 'Royal Watcher' although I do enjoy the theatrical pomp and circumstance which Royalty provides. Nor am I usually a reader of Royal biographies. However, I knew Ted Hughes
when he was British Poet Laureate and I knew that he got along especially well with Queen Elizabeth, the Queen Mother. "She's a great flirt", he told me (she was in her 80s at the time), and he greatly admired her abundant energy and her sense of fun. She also used to send him salmon which she had caught on her Scottish estate. So, I was interested to read more about their friendship.

My other reason for wanting to read this book was that Queen Elizabeth (as she is called throughout the book) was a favourite with my mother, who was of the same generation and shared some of the Queen Mum's "indomitable" character traits. When Queen Elizabeth II sent her ninety-three-year-old mother a special stick with a letter saying "Your daughters and your nieces would very much like your to TRY this walking stick", I knew just how she felt.

Shawcross delivers on both my interests. There is a whole chapter entitled 'Poetry and Pain' in part of which he writes of Queen Elizabeth's special friendship with Ted Hughes. On Hughes's first private poetry reading for her at a Musical Weekend at the Royal Lodge at Windsor, "he was captivated by her and she by him". Their friendship, Shawcross writes, "was a continued pleasure" for Queen Elizabeth. They corresponded with each other, fished together and shared a love of nature. Hughes would write whimsical poems especially for her, and he clearly knew what sort of poems she would enjoy. The poem he wrote for her eightieth birthday, she said "gave her great joy". She was still re-reading it ten years later and several passages, she said, made her cry every time she read it.

Shawcross delighted me, too, with his accounts of Queen Elizabeth's sense of fun and her love of the unexpected. And, again, I recognized her daughter's worry whenever her elderly mother delightedly "went outside her programme".

I enjoyed many parts of this book. I was lost by the pedigrees discussed in the early chapters but interested to read of the black sheep of the family, who were responsible for fluctuating family fortunes and for some tempestuous and disastrous marriages.

Queen Elizabeth's own early family life was very happy, although one of her six brothers was killed during the First World War, a second was wounded in the foot and suffered badly from shell-shock, and a third had to have a bullet-shattered finger amputated. Elizabeth, herself, was too young to train as a nurse but she was responsible for making the soldiers who were convalescing in her family home feel relaxed and comfortable. She was clearly very good at this and her experiences, then, clearly shaped the way she cared about the ordinary people during the bombing of London during the Second World War.

A good deal of Shawcross's book seems like lists of events which, as official biographer, he clearly had to mention, but Queen Elizabeth's character shines through and her great sense of fun frequently enlivens the text. Shawcross uses letters, diaries, and much other archive material, and he is good at encapsulating the historical and political events which Queen Elizabeth lived through during her hundred-and two years.

Queen Elizabeth never expected to sit beside he husband as Queen of England, wife of King George VI, and it is interesting to read that when they took the throne after the abdication of King Edward VIII, she and Albert (the name by which the family knew him) were not immediately accepted by the British people. However, she handled this difficult challenge with the aplomb, sensitivity, stamina and sense of duty which eventually made her, in her later years, the most popular member of the Royal Family.

Other reviewers have noted Shawcross's "manful" handling of countless descriptions of clothes, charity work, constant public tours and duties. I did find these over-long and tedious, and the book itself is thick and heavy, but Shawcross is a meticulous historian. What I really enjoyed, however, was the way his book revealed a remarkable woman, a loving wife and mother for whom family was of the greatest importance, a caring family matriarch, and, especially, a "Granny" who loved poetry, ballet, jokes and unscheduled adventures.

Two for Sorrow
Nicola Upson
Faber & Faber
c/o Allen Unwin
PO Box 8500, 83 Alexander Street, NSW 2065, Australia.
9781571246335 A$38.99

"London. Holloway Gaol, Tuesday 3 Feb. 1903": Two women are about to be hanged for baby killing and, in the frosty, early-morning darkness of one cell, warder, Celia Bannerman, prepares to awaken one of them for the 9 a.m. arrival of the hangman and his escort. Thirty years later, writer Josephine Tay recreates the scene in an untitled chapter for her latest book. She is interested in the lives of the two women and in the effect of their actions and their deaths on those who knew them and were close to them.

If you look up 'Josephine Tay' on the internet, you will find that this was, in fact, one of the pseudonyms of a popular Scottish author, Elizabeth Mackintosh, who died in 1952. In Two for Sorrow, Nicola Upson has borrowed her name and some aspects of her life to tell her own mystery story.

Chapters purportedly written by Tay are interspersed with Upson's own chapters on imagined events in Tay's life and the horrific murder of a young woman employed by close friends of Tay. The murder is in some way connected to the hanging of the two women which Tay is investigating but now, thirty years later, the web of connections between this event and the current murder involves many of the Tay's friends and acquaintances. As the search for the killer evolves and the tangle of events is gradually unwoven, Upson skilfully and slowly reveals details which intrigue and puzzle everyone, including the reader.

The hanged baby-killers really did exist and Upson has used newspaper reports of the time as a basis for Tay's book research. Elizabeth Mackintosh (alias Tay) really did study at the Anstey Physical Training College, where Upson's Celia Bannerman has been a senior teacher. And the Cowdray Club, where much of Upson's dramatic action takes place, really did exist and was frequently the residence of Tay when she was in London. Two for Sorrow, however, is a work of fiction and no matter what real names there are amongst Upson's characters (Noel Coward and Gertrude Lawrence, for example, make an appearance) their thoughts and actions are Upson's invention.

Her Josephine Tay is a strong-minded, intelligent and independent woman, dedicated to her work but, now, embroiled in a real-life mystery. Her close friend Archie, who had been a friend of her lover who died during the 1914-18 war, is now the detective investigating the murder; and his cousins, Lettuce and Ronnie (both women) run a dress-making business which specializes in theatre work. All this provides Upson with varied and fascinating material, as, too, do the various women who frequent the Cowdray Club and the attached College of Nursing and who are also involved in the murder investigation.

In spite of the developing love interest between Arthur and Tay, the women's club, the nurses, and the theatrical acceptance of unconventional behaviour all allow Upson to inject a lesbian flavour to parts of her story, but this is lightly done and is unlikely to offend many modern readers. It is also the source of much humour and of some perceptive writing about female friendships, which were common in the aftermath of the Great War, when so many young men were killed and so many single women had no chance of marriage.

Two for Sorrow, I discovered after reading it, is the third of a series of books by Upson which feature Josephine Tay, but it can certainly be read on its own. And I found it gripping enough to make we want to read the earlier books.

Ann Skea, Reviewer

Bethany's Bookshelf

Dona Isidora
Dorila A. Marting
Vantage Press
419 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016
9780533162512, $13.95,

Love so often leads one in the direction your head says not to go. "Dona Isidora: A Story of Love, Romance, Betrayal and Repentance" tells the tale of Ishi as she faces her coming of age and her pre-arranged marriage in her small Andean town. But when her heart pulls her away from her plans, her life becomes much more complicated. "Dona Isidora" is a charming novel of love and life in a small South American town, highly recommended.

Windows of the Heart
Silvia M. Mendez Robinson
Vantage Press
419 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016
9780533158980, $8.95,

Although a business woman by education, you can't put Silvia M. Mendez's Robinson's love for poetry in numbers. "Windows of the Heart" is a collection of poetry as she unleashes her creative side of an experienced and successful woman. "Windows of the Heart" is charming and gives readers plenty to think about and enjoy.

My Angry Letters
Bonnie Zilinski
Privately Published
9780557398195, $15.99

The customer is always right has been wrong for years. "My Angry Letters: One Person's Attempt to Bring Back Customer Service with Wit and Humor One Letter at a Time" is a collection of musings from Bonnie Zilinski as she continues her own amusing quest to gain the almighty purpose of service and success in a world where the customer has been minimized. "My Angry Letters" is a fun and intriguing look at the customer and the service provider, highly recommended.

(Re)Making Love: A Sex After Sixty Story
Mary L. Tabor
701 C Street, Third Floor, San Diego, CA 92101
No ISBN, $TBA / $9.99 kindle

The drive never dies once it begins. "(Re)Making Love: A Sex After Sixty Story" is the musings of Mary L. Tabor as she ponders what sex means after decades of experience and hopefully decades to go along with it. With much humor and much to think about, "(Re)Making Love" is a charming read with much inspiration for anyone who still loves sex but is approaching seniority.

Favorite Daughter
D. L. Northway
Vantage Press
419 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016
9780533163021, $23.95,

Most children who run away were in fact driven away. "Favorite Daughter" is a story from D. L. Northway discussing the tragedy of run away children and why they are driven to do so. Telling the story of one specific daughter and how her abuse in life destroys her childhood and finds her in a far more dangerous situation, "Favorite Daughter" is a fine read with real world implications.

Do No Evil
Kymberly Goltermann & Ashley L Goltermann
Outskirts Press
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432751500, $15.95,

A corpse isn't a very good present when your business first starts. "Do No Evil" follows sisters Phineas and Phoebe as they start their own private investigation agency, and they soon find their business isn't welcomed when a corpse shows up almost immediately. Faced with such odds, it's clear they have no choice but to fight back anyway. "Do No Evil" is an exciting read following two aging would-be sleuths and makes for a highly entertaining read.

Crib Sheets Are You Covered
Elizabeth Gardner
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9780595292851, $12.95,

Sleep is important to a new infant, but the parent's sleep is important too. "Crib Sheets: Are You Covered?" discusses the sleep deprivation of new parents and their challenges of getting the sleep they need while still being attentive parents who are caring for their child. From tips on minimizing cooking time, paying bills quickly, siblings, and more, "Crib Sheets Are You Covered?" is a must for any parent who is about to collapse from lack of sleep.

The Knight Family legacy
Marilyn R. Hill-Sutton
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432743055, $40.95,

The Civil War had a vast array of people on both sides of the conflict. "The Knight Family Legacy: One Family's Story" is the story of a unique family of the south. When patriarch John Knight, a confederate civil war veteran passed on in 1886, he left his plantation to his mulatto wife and her children, many of which were his former slaves before the war. A story of Knight's family revolt against his wishes, his son and his honor of them, and more, "The Knight Family Legacy" is an intriguing look into a truly unique southern family.

It Was the Blood
Beverly Rosas
PO Box 151, Frederick, MD 21705-0151
9781448948468, $24.95,

Helping everyone is a good quality, but there are weaknesses. "It Was the Blood" tells the story of John Barrester, a god-fearing man who goes out of his way to help others. But he finds that although he lives for others, he doesn't live for himself and finds more to the story in this regard. "It Was the Blood" is a story of finding the desires of the self when being selfless, recommended.

Moments of a Lifetime
Victoria Sue Nellie
Vantage Press
419 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016
9780533162543, $10.95,

When overcoming a fear, one might find a new love entirely. "Moments of a Lifetime" tells the story of Alice, a girl who grows to bond with a Siberian Husky named Cara, overcoming her life long fear of dogs. Through her bond, she faces the world and faces a new life along with her new dog. Touching and charming, "Moments of a Lifetime" is a serene and thoughtful read.

Mannie's Diet and Enzyme Formula
Emanuel Barling & Ashley F. Brooks
Outskirts Press
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432750961, $36.95,

A good diet goes a long way in good health. "Mannie's Diet and Enzyme Formula: A Change of Lifestyle Diet Designed for Everyone"" is a guide for those who want a healthier diet and that conventional wisdom may not be the most clear and helpful thing in the matter. Saying that the typical practices of health come with pitfalls and some dangers not commonly exposed, he gives recipes for organic foods that help the PH balance that often goes ignored. "Mannie's Diet and Enzyme Formula" is a health guide that shouldn't be missed.

Fantasy Time Inc.
Sherri Rabinowitz
Outskirts Press
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432758110, $11.95,

As many advances in science, as many advances in life, the human experience will remain the same. "Fantasy Time Inc." is a fantasy tale from Sherri Rabinowitz, a women with a love for writing. Her affection shows through in this story set in the future - yet the more things change, the more they stay the same. "Fantasy Time Inc." is a fun read with much to think about.

Scattered Pieces
Flora Season
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781426920738, $16.50

The classroom is a child's first chance to grow outside the home. "Scattered Pieces" is the memoir of Flora Season, as she recounts her own childhood memories blending them in with her own experiences as a teacher and a mentor to her students in life. Facing domestic violence in her own youth, she tries to help other children in similar situations, and hopes her volume will help those who have been affected to help others who have faced the same tragedy. "Scattered Pieces" is a fine volume an a solidly recommended read.

Angel's Destiny: A Novel Story of Poems & Illustrations
April Martin Chartrand
Privately Published
9780615302515, $13.00

Emotion doesn't know just words alone. "Angel's Destiny: A Novel Story of Poems & Illustrations" is a collection of art and poetry from April Martin Chartrand as she brings readers into her own emotion and passion, transmitting these messages well through her chosen mediums. "Angel's Destiny" is an enticing collection, highly recommended. "Taking It Back": In our silence you had power/ to lie, cheat, beat, and steal.//A scene that later/became surreal.//Taking back the power of my birthright/reveals the sins of you.//Taking back my power,/I reveal to those who never knew.

Eternal Armoire
Heidi H. L. Jones
Vantage Press
419 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10016
9780533157631, $17.95,

At some point in one's life, one must leave one's safe haven. "Eternal Armoire" is a collection of poetry from Heidi H. L. Jones as she reflects on the safety of home and the perils that come with stepping into the world for the first time. "Eternal Armoire" is a charming collection and a solidly recommended read. "Did You Find...": Once the hourglass runs empty-- what then shall come/for you and me?/For years you've plagued my mind -- slivers --/upon pieces with you around, do I have to shine./Once the time comes to make me one -- will you -- or finish destruction already begun?/What shall come unto us? What shall be, aggravation's disgust?/For years I've plagued your mind --/silver gleams reflecting you, did you find./Once the moment permits my lips to yours,/What shall be known for sure?/For whatever time, I embrace you -- feeling as/ subtly as do you.

Teens - Beat Future Economic Crisis!
Laura Lyseight
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781450034517, $15.99,

Entrepreneurship knows no age. "Teens - Beat Future Economic Crisis! Habits of the Go-Getter Entrepreneurial Teen" discusses how teens can embrace the entrepreneurial spirit and get themselves off to a good start as business people. With plenty of tips and advice, as well as a good dose of business education, Laura Lyseight gives readers an intriguing and fascinating look, and makes for excellent and highly useful reading for teens. "Teens - Beat Future Economic Crisis!" is a must for any teen with high aspirations in business.

Susan Bethany

Buhle's Bookshelf

Don't Wound What You Can't Kill
Jason Ross
1663 South Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781450036177, $23.99,

Betrayal is the most vicious when loyalty is involved. "Don't Wound What You Can't Kill" is the story of Vincent, a loyal to his cousin accountant and his organized crime syndicate. But when his loyalty is ignored and he's nearly killed, Vincent finds that vengeance could be most sweet when he's expected to be dead. "Don't Wound What You Can't Kill" is a fascinating and fun crime thriller, not to be missed.

Legends of the Black Orchid
Ian Murray
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781450209953, $27.95,

Friendship knows no nationality. "Legends of the Black Orchid" is the story of Tiggy and Hands, an Englishman and a German who find their friendship strained but the oncoming first World War. Through events, they find themselves on opposite sides of the field and then surviving the war, they find they're apart of something greater, a union of elite families that makes their purpose bigger than national pride. "Legends of the Black Orchid" is a riveting thriller not to be missed.

Jack Fell Down
Kennth Underhill
Privately Published
9781439253649, $17.99

All good things come to an end, and sometimes they end viciously. "Jack Fell Down" is the story of Jack Stabbish, con artist extraordinaire who finds his cons suddenly failing to work as the countless businesses he's conned find the truth that what he's selling isn't going to make them the millions he's promised. "Jack Fell Down" is a fun thriller of cheats gone wrong.

Bearly Obsessed
Gary W. Moore
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781440182808, $23.95,

When your plight is ignored, some answer to their own call. "Bearly Obsessed" is the first book of the Flannel Chronicles, a series of novels following a group of gay friends. When one of their own is murdered and the police drop the case, they answer the call of the sleuth and find themselves at the danger of meeting the same fate. "Bearly Obsessed" is a riveting read and a top pick for those who enjoy gay fiction.

Devin O'Branagan
Infinity Publishing
1094 New DeHaven Street, Suite 100, West Conshohocken, PA 19428-2713
9780741459497, $15.95,

When the weight of the world is on your shoulders, many things often seek only to add to that weight. "Glory: The Legend Begins..." is the story of Glory Templeton and the quest put in front of her to save the world from a plague. But no altruism goes unpunished, as there's little that some won't do to stand in her way. A fantasy on the shoulders of a strong willed girl, "Glory" is not to be missed.

Mormon Underwear
Johnny Townsend
Privately Published
9781609100445, $15.95

Faith is not chosen by birth, and neither is sexual orientation. "Mormon Underwear" is a collection of short stories focusing around Mormon men who are coping with their own sexual identity in a faith that condemns them as abominations. From the power of temptation to undermining the oppressors, facing homosexuality in the family, "Mormon Underwear" is a fascinating collection with plenty to think about for gay studies and literature collections.

Winter Journey
Jaume Cabre
Swan Isle Press
PO Box 408790, Chicago, IL 60640-8790
9780974888163, $28.00,

Life is a broad picture and the actors in it are many. "Winter Journey" brings a collection of short stories which twist into something greater and encompassing as Jaume Cabre brings readers a take on the lives of several individuals as they question their own existence and what t means to be human. Expertly translated by Patricia Lunn, these stories give readers much entertainment as well as much to think about. "Winter Journey" is not a read to be overlooked and ignored.

The Truth
Maurice Streeter
Outskirts Press
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432742171, $29.95,

Everyone has their own truth, and understanding it is key to understanding life. "The Truth: An Autobiography of the Life and Times of Maurice Streeter" is his own take on the world surrounding him, as he provides his own food for thought, giving plenty of his own creative expression along the way and proving to be plenty to think about. "The Truth" is a fine read and a choice pick for memoir collections.

The Ice Cream Theory
Steff Deschenes
7290-B Investment Drive, Charleston, SC 29418
9781439230053, $15.99,

Just because you like Rocky Road doesn't mean you always want Rocky Road. "The Ice Cream Theory" are the reflections of of Steff Deschenes as she goes through life seeking to explain why people can change so much over life, using a metaphor for ice cream in the sense one's favorite flavor might change, but there's still the fact you still like ice cream. Charming and humorous, "The Ice Cream Theory" is an intriguing and highly recommended read that shouldn't be missed.

No Family Album
Edward S. Blotner
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781450212526, $17.95,

Family is a sketchy term sometimes. "No Family Album: Chronicles of a Foster Care Survivor" tells the story of growing up under the leering eye of foster families, in particular, the story of Ron Huber who came under a family that beat and abused him for farm labor. A story of waiting for the chance of freedom, "No Family Album" looks at the dark side of the foster family system.

Mexican Madness
Andrew J. Rafkin
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Rd., 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432755096, $23.95,

Evil has no issues with collaboration. "Mexican Madness: Another ORCA Adventure" is an adventure novel following an internationally independent group called ORCA as they combat the rise of a terrorist group backed by the world's organized crime syndicates. Andre Petrov and his associates in ORCA must meet them head on and use every advantage they can to win it. "Mexican Madness" is a riveting read and a solid recommendation for adventure fans.

Tropical Immersion
Ethan Rogol
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
Lengua Rica (publicity)
PO Box 806, Olympia, WA 98507
9781440168123, $17.95,

There's more to Costa Rica than a beautiful coast. "Tropical Immersion: A Year in Costa Rica and Beyond" is a travel memoir covering Ethan Rogol's year he spent in Costa Rica, gaining a deeper appreciation for the place than as a simple tourist. Culture, customs, and more, Rogol will educate readers on the deeper Costa Rica they don't know about. "Tropical Immersion" is a top pick and solidly recommended read.

Willis M. Buhle

Burroughs' Bookshelf

A Few Moments With John
John Wesley Waddell
Vantage Press
419 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016
9780533162994, $12.95,

John Waddell has lived for the better part of a century, and has experienced much in that time. "A Few Moments with John" is a collection of poetry from the eighty-five year old US Army Veteran and business man, and he gives his experience and love for art in the form of poetry. Thoughtful and wise, "A Few Moments with John" is a collection that shouldn't be overlooked. "Reflection": The love smiles from heaven, Fall on the departed faces of those "he" loved most./The remaining must wait their turn.

The Persian Project
Mark Irving
Outskirts Press
10940 S Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432753948, $32.95,

The Cold War was rarely fought between Americans and Russians. "The Persian Project" is a novel of the Cold War, following American troops through Vietnam veteran Jagger as he works in Tehran to ease the violent and volatile state of the city and country of Iran during the late 1970s. A riveting novel with plenty of twists, turns, and actions, "The Persian Project" is not a read to be missed for action thriller fans.

Jim Chambers
860 Aviation Parkway, Suite 300, Morrisville, NC 27560
9780557091003, $14.00,

After the war, there was a relative peace on the home front. "Recollections: A Baby Boomer's Memoirs of the Fabulous Fifties" is a memoir of Jim Chambers as he remembers his childhood of the 1950s, a time where America was booming after a decade of war and a decade of depression. Remembering these times fondly, Chambers gives readers a charming read and something to lift the spirits of a happier time. "Recollections" is well worth considering.

An Empty Sky
Frank Drury
Privately Published
9781449974909, $14.00

Vengeance only inspires more vengeance. "An Empty Sky" tells the story of neurotic trader Cecil Clemenzi as he digs his own hole of paranoia when he has a rival trader's daughter killed and soon finds himself on the opposite end of the revenge game. Fleeing and starting over are not things easily done, and makes "An Empty Sky" a fascinating and thought-provoking read.

The Potter's Keeper
Kevin Cochrane
Privately Published
9781451567878, $12.95

Busted pottery is what will take man to Mars. "The Potter's Keeper: 25,000 Years of Pottery and Trade Told by the Characters That Lived It" uses pottery as a cornerstone of human history and evolution, linking everything together from how the most primitive pottery of the neanderthals lead to our high tech world where wires are a relic of the past. "The Potter's Keeper" is an intriguing read and is not to be missed.

Show Me the Money
Cia-Li Chien
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
Chien Associates (publicity)
13016 Eastfield Road, Suite 286, Huntersville, NC 28078
9781450215213, $28.00,

Getting started is hard, but maintaining it is a different challenge in itself. "Show Me the Money" Run Your Business Like a Prosperous Investor" is a guide to pushing one's business further after you've gotten started. With empowering advice to help along the way, understanding true business value, attaining financial independence and knowing when to quit, "Show Me the Money" is a fine guide to the world of making a profit.

The Training Physical
James H. Hopkins
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
Smith Publicity (publicity)
1930 E. Marlton Pike, Suite I-46, Cherry Hills, NJ 08003
9781449088781, $24.95,

The annual physical is a key to long term health. "The Training Physical: Diagnose, Treat, and Cure Your Training Department" delves into maintaining one's business training department, where many of a corporations problems can happen before they start. Using the metaphor of the medical physical, James Hopkins gives readers a good deal of advice for the process. "The Training Physical" is a solid tool for businesses.

Robert H. Sarkissian
Privately Published
9780984273508, $12.95

The idea of some things is worth a laugh all its own. "Squibbed!: Satires and Other Oddities" is a collection of humor from Robert H. Sarkissian as he gives readers a thoughtful collection of humor offering his own satirical view of the world. In short and rapid fire format, "Squibbled!" is good for quite a dose of laughter.

Handbook of Christian Morality
Tom Ellis
Vantage Press
419 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016
9780533162888, $13.95,

Through all doctrines and faiths, the one universal thing in all of Christianity is God. "Handbook of Christian Morality" discusses the broad morality of Christian faiths through denominations and sects throughout the faith, as author Tom Ellis gives his won take on faith and hopes to educate and enlighten readers. "Handbook of Christian Morality" is thoughtful and thought provoking.

John Burroughs

Carson's Bookshelf

Staring Into the Sun
Joshua Fields
Outskirts Press
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432759537, $11.95,

To understand love is to understand happiness. "Staring Into The Sun" is a collection of poetry from Joshua Fields as he gives readers a thoughtful insight into love and its importance to life. "Staring into the Sun" is an upbeat and charming chapbook, highly recommended. "The Lesson": Why keep trying?/Never learn/Must be biology or something/You got a F in biology/Maybe it's emotional/You said it/Exhilarates/Like gambling or alcohol/Which is worse?/Depends on who you talk to/Maybe it will be different next time/Never learn/Never know/Never learn.

Mind U
J. D. Guiness
Outskirts Press
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432748357, $27.95,

When conventional thinking fails, it doesn't mean it's time to stop thinking. "Mind U: Stories from a Different School of Thought" is a collection of short stories from J. D. Guinness offering the world an assortment of offbeat and quirky stories about the many aspects of life both very attractive and unappealing. With plenty of food for thought and no shortage of humor, "Mind U" is a top pick.

Moments of Mystery and Wonder
John Garland Thayer
Vantage press, Inc.
419 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10016
9780533162932, $21.95,

Faith sometimes needs a sight to empower it. "Moments of Mystery and Wonder" is a collection of tales from John Garland Thayer as he discusses events he has witnessed in his life that have empowered his fate well and made him believe in God and his grace all the more fervently. Thoughtful and with plenty of spirituality, "Moments of Mystery and Wonder" is a fine read for anyone who wants a greater grasp of faith.

Garden of Heaven
Malcom R. Campbell
PO Box N, Jefferson, GA 30549
Create Space
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200, Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781453601990, $24.50

A journey is more than simply traveling. It allows much for introspection. "Garden of Heaven" tells of the travels of David Ward, a young man who is out to piece together his life after the Vietnam war and the failure of love. Traveling throughout the world across many continents, he gains an appreciation through the world in a tale that blends the natural with the mystical. "Garden of Heaven" is a thought provoking novel, recommended.

In Job's Sandals
Rudolph V. Vanterpool
Vantage Press
419 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016
9780533161775, $26.95,

Faith through the worst is the story of Job. "In Job's Sandals: From Riches to Rags to Rewards: Topical Studies on the Book of Job" discusses Job and his tale and its meaning to the rest of the Bible as well as the world today. From Job himself to the characters in his story, providing insight into their roles of Job's fable. A scholarly and thoughtful collection on this popular Biblical figure, "In Job's Sandals" is a choice pick.

Elephants Have the Right of Way
William D. Stewart
Vantage Press
419 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016
9780533162734, $23.95,

The road to independence is never easy, even if it is granted. "Elephants Have the Right of Way" follows William D. Stewart as he recollections his time working in Uganda as he lands a teaching position at a girls school. A unique experience, he gives a glimpse of this African nation and its struggle to become its own country with its own identity. "Elephants Have Right of Way" is a must for any who want a peek at modern African life.

The Janus Project
Brad Anderson
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 S. Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432753887, $18.95,

Witness protection has gone far in its time. "The Janus Project" tells for a story where reality is manufactured to protect witnesses, and John Callan finds himself within this reality when his wife and child are murdered. But when the man responsible escapes, nothing will stop him from finishing the job he started and taking John too. A thriller with original science fiction elements, "The Janus Project" is not to be missed.

Did You Know?
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 S. Parker Road, -515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432750978, $12.95,

From Iran, Mohammad Reza Aazami Bafrani has seen much of the world and has used his experiences to craft eight short stories in "Did You Know?". Thoughtful and thought provoking fantasies, entertainment and knowledge are presented together well. "Did You Know?" is a read that shouldn't be overlooked.

Michael J. Carson

Christy's Bookshelf

Sporting Murder
Chester D. Campbell
Night Shadows Press
8987 E. Tanque Verde, Tucson, AZ 85749
9780984604401 $14.95

Jill and Greg McKenzie, owners of McKenzie Investigations, have been hired by an attorney for a group of Nashville Predators NHL hockey fans to investigate rumors there are efforts to bring an NBA basketball team to Nashville. Greg receives a phone call from a young man from Germany that he has important information about this, but when Greg goes to their meeting place, he finds the young man dead. Greg begins a parallel investigation into this death which ties into what look to be ominous mechanisms of the financiers behind the basketball deal. To make matters worse, he learns a man he put in prison years before has been released and is in the area. When Greg and Jill are almost poisoned and their jeep blown up, they're not sure whether the culprit is the felon or has connections to the basketball financiers. But they continue onward, more determined than ever to solve these two cases and find the murderer.

This series is cozy mystery's answer to Dashiell Hammett's Thin Man series. Greg and Jill McKenzie are a charming couple who complement one another and work well together. Their interactions are heartwarming and refreshing and a nice bonus to the story. The plot moves at a fast pace, offering a mystery readers will be challenged to solve.

Dying For A Date
Cindy Sample
L&L Dreamspell
P.O.Box 1984, Friendswood, TX 77549-1984
9781603182485 $16.95

Laurel McKay, a recently divorced soccer mom who works as a mortgage loan underwriter, signs up for a six-month membership with a dating service called The Love Club. Her first date ends abruptly after she breaks her date's nose when he gets too frisky. Laurel's ready to give it up but can't justify losing her money, so decides to try once more. But before that occurs, she finds herself the number one suspect when her first date's body is found in his car with his head bashed in. If that isn't bad enough, Laurel's definitely feeling something for the hot detective investigating the case but can't tell if the heated looks he's sending her are reciprocal or skeptical. When her second date dies during their dinner together, the police have a large target painted on Laurel's back, which sends her into panic mode. Before they come for her with handcuffs, Laurel, along with her mother and a couple of friends, decide to do some amateur sleuthing, leading them down a hazardous road filled with danger.

Dying for a Date is packed with zany characters, humorous situations, and laugh-out-loud narrative. Laurel McKay is amusing, her antics entertaining, and her interactions with her family and friends bring smiles as well as nods of recognition. There are several standout characters but this reviewer's favorite is Laurel's mother. The relationship Laurel has with her mom, who is a bit jaded and critical, is not only realistic but hilarious. The sizzling chemistry between Laurel and Detective Hunter adds a nice touch to this comedic mystery. Consider reading this book in one setting, because once you start, you will be reluctant to put it aside.

Hair Of The Dog
Cindy Davis
L&L Dreamspell
Box 1984, Friendswood, TX 77549-1984
9781603182980 $15.95

This follow-up to A Little Murder finds former ER nurse Angie Deacon co-owner of a theater and in a relationship with Detective Colby Jarvis. Angie and Jarvis hope to spend a few days relaxing in nearby Weirs, but the constant barking of a dog in the cottage next to theirs proves a deterrent. The dog finally stops barking, to Angie's relief, but soon after, she finds the body of the dog's owner, Simon York, on his living room floor. Due to an altercation Angie had with York over the dog, she's targeted by the investigating detective as a suspect. Angie subsequently has the bad luck to discover the body of York's ex-wife, Darlene Lonergan, dog breeder and owner of Lonergan Cosmetics. The common denominator between the two murders: Angie. Angie and Jarvis suspect the deaths are related to suspicious goings-on at the local bar, Hair of the Dog. In an effort to clear Angie of the murders, they begin their own investigation while caring for York's dog, only to find their lives in mortal danger.

This well-written mystery offers plenty of suspects as Davis takes the reader into two diverse worlds: the dog show venue and the cosmetics industry. Angie and Jarvis are unique in that they are portrayed so realistically, each with their own strengths and weaknesses; a couple trying to work out the kinks of their relationship. The mystery will challenge readers as they follow the clues and filter through suspicious characters and circumstances. Dog lovers will appreciate the presence of Guinness, an Irish Setter, along with a nice dose of information concerning dog shows and breeding.

Julie Dolcemaschio
Krill Press
9780982144350 $17.95

LA homicide detective John Testarossa harbors a dark secret, one connecting him to the death of his father, an undercover cop with the New York Police Department, and Testarossa's brief career there. When an arm is found on Santa Monica Beach, Testarossa and his partner, Alex Ortiz, are called to the scene. It doesn't take long to find the decomposing body of the arm's owner, a young college athlete. Although the young man's death is suspected to be suicide, Testarossa and Ortiz think otherwise and determinedly pursue their investigation, taking them into the dark world of collegiate and professional athletes and their illegal efforts to perform better than their colleagues.

Testarossa's a jaded man who looks at life through a cop's eyes yet cares deeply for those around him. He holds women at a distance simply because he doesn't want to put them through the pain he watched his mother go through when his father was killed. All this changes when he meets Dr. Karen Gennaro, an open woman who expects nothing but the truth from him. But how can he tell her the dark secret from his past and expect her to stay?

Dolcemaschio takes her reader into the gritty world of police officers, their comrades, and the grim world they inhabit. Testarossa is a welcome character to the mystery community; a man fueled by events from his past with a deep need to connect with others and be the best cop he can. The relationship between Testarossa and his partners is nicely portrayed, as is the chemistry between Testarossa and Dr. Gennaro. The Italian dishes described guaranty a growling stomach. The romantic interludes are sizzling and sensual, a nice bonus for romance readers. Dolcemaschio's well-written debut novel is an intriguing, powerful read, proof positive she's in position to "run with the big dogs".

Christy Tillery French

Clark's Bookshelf

House of Reckoning
John Saul
Ballantine Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780345514240 $26.00

John Saul has written 38 New York Times best selling novels which include many tales of psychological suspense and daunting thrillers.

"House of Reckoning" is about the supernatural at its macabre best - and a modern-day Cinderella story with an eerie twist about Sarah Crane, Nick Dunnegan, and an eccentric art teacher, Bettina Phillips. These three charming characters will psych you out! There was a strong connection between them and peculiar unexplainable happenings. Towns' people believed the trio was responsible for these strange events, but this was not the case!

At the age of 14, Sarah Crane had been left with no option, but to take care of the family's Vermont farm after her mother died. She watched over her grief-stricken father who had taken to the bottle. After a night of heavy drinking, Ed Crane was jailed for killing a man in a barroom brawl. He accidentally hit his daughter on the road while she was riding her bike to the bar. Sarah was hospitalized with a broken hip and a broken leg. She was left alone after her father went to prison.

As if life wasn't hard enough for Sarah, she was forced to live with cold-hearted and cruel foster parents. Uprooted from her home town, she had to start a new school and make new friends so that she could be near her imprisoned father. She was the new girl in school with a limp! Bullies made fun of her and called her a cripple.

Nick Dunnegan, a fellow student, was a former mental patient who had been plagued all of his life with strange voices and bizarre visions. He became Sarah's friend. Sarah had a talent for art, which impressed her art teacher, Bettina Phillips, and thus, art class became her favorite place to be. Bettina would become her friend as well.

The plot developed a dark aura when something strange happened in art class. Sarah's hands moved quickly across the canvas as she drew an image of a mansion that had been haunting her all her life - a stone house with big shutters. After careful review of the drawing, Ms. Phillips recognized the house as a smaller version of her home which had been left to her by her ancestors. It was called "Shutters" and she had lived in it her whole life.

After being drawn to "Shutters," Sarah and Nick joined Bettina in her home sensing something evil was stirring in this house. What happened next makes your flesh crawl! "Shutters" was indeed haunted by generations of the dead who used it as a gateway to make their presence known by doors banging loudly, creating musty smells, and were monstrously disruptive.

Graphic details of death are described that are frightening and unfathomable depicting what it would be like to die if you were an evil person. Quoting Saul: "Then he saw it. Ants, red ants.Mitch opened his mouth to scream, but as soon as he did, the ants were in his mouth.he knew he would never scream again." Mitch was the foster parent of Sarah who became a victim of the house.

You will want to know what happens, why these three characters are connected, and what this house is trying to tell them. John Saul knows how to reveal the hearts of good people, expose the bad side, and reach into the unknown realms of death. This book is a great read for thriller fans or maybe a Halloween bedtime story.

Manifest West
Kenneth D. Jackson
WhoooDoo Mysteries
c/o Treble Heart Books
9781936127061 $24.95

Dr. Kenneth D. Jackson's "Manifest West" is a very good debut novel for which he does not have to seek a second opinion on whether or not it is worth reading. Jackson states this book has been welling up inside of him for the past 30 years while he practiced medicine both in the Anglo community and out on the Indian reservations of Arizona.

He is the physician who is emblematic of the 'The Hippocratic Oath' and exemplifies his credo by living it day by day treating those who do not have a lot of exposure to the medical world of modern medicine, because of their living in remote areas. He goes weekly, not for recognition or glory, but because he cares and wants them to live better, healthier, lives.

The background of Jackson's life had laid the groundwork for him to write about a doctor who treated patients in the remote area of Southwestern Arizona on the Fort Apache Reservation. The main character is Dr. Michael Ganson, who made a questionable decision while treating a patient who had come to his hospital during his emergency room residency. His decision proved to be fatal. The pregnant mother died and her child lived. Unfortunately, Ganson's life was now ruled by the medical profession who banished him to a simplistic practice in a rural community. He was restricted with regard to the type of medicine he could practice and was constantly confronted with situations which would have made the less timid turn away from the medical profession entirely.

Exploration of several Indian customs and traditions are featured in this novel. Coming from a society of big city living we are not generally cognizant of the Indian way of life. Medicine men that have treated their patients without the benefit of modern pharmacology were able to gain respect from their fellow tribesmen because they healed with unrefined natural herbs. Dr. Jackson discusses the role of the Medicine Man in modern society through the eyes of Dr. Ganson. A very enlightening set of observations demonstrated that two very different medical men were able to show respect for each other. This story is keenly perceptive on the part of author Jackson as he unfolds a series of conflicts and mystery in penning his tale after so many years.

Perseverance of a cause is what this book is about. It demonstrates that good in people can overcome many obstacles. Dr. Ganson epitomizes this concept. Dr. Jackson has demonstrated that he indeed can be called an author. One who has described locales with emotion, conflicts without swearing, and warmth because of his deep love of the West. These elements, together with his medical knowledge, make "Manifest West" a wonderful read which will leave you wanting to read his next book that might be written sooner than in 3 decades. This book is highly recommended.

Mamalita: An Adoption Memoir
Jessica O'Dwyer
Seal Press
1700 - 4th Street, Berkeley, CA 94710
9781580053341 $16.95

Mamalita is a memoir of one couple's harrowing journey into a foreign land to adopt a child. From the opening paragraph of the book: "I've never given birth, but I know the exact moment when I became a mother: 10:00 a.m. September 6, 2002. My husband and I sat huddled on a sofa in the lobby of the Guatemala City Camino Real Hotel. On sofas in every direction, other light-skinned American couples cooed over their brown-skinned infants."

Jessica O'Dwyer and husband Tim are like many Americans, longing for a child, but unable to have their own. This is an inspiring story about their journey to adopt an infant girl from Guatemala and the overwhelming odds to bring her home.

Jessica and Tim had reasons why they chose adoption. When Jessica checked one adoption website, she felt an instant connection with a 2-month old baby girl named Stefany. She left her job at the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and went to Guatemala to begin adoption proceedings where she would spend many months. Little did she know about the unforeseen obstacles and heart-wrenching disappointments she would face! Not until a great deal of time passed did she realize that adoption was a business transaction in Guatemala. She was willing to bring her child home no matter what.

Being away from home and living in a strange country was hard. The adoption measures became problematic. She needed a new birth certificate for the child and a DNA test from the birth mother. It took Jessica 8 months to get DNA results. Jessica was fingerprinted and files were shuffled around to many people which caused confusion. Her fingerprints were lost and she was forced to get new fingerprints, which added more delay. Stefany would not be theirs until all the paperwork was correct. She was fearful her case could be sabotaged by the corruption of the system.

After being given custody of Stefany, Jessica moved to Antigua, a smaller city, and rented a casita for 6 months with her child whom she re-named Olivia. This was a special time for them to bond while she continued her quest for adoption in Guatemala.

A support group of American mothers formed to assist each other through the complicated process of Guatemalan adoption. They spent quality time together with the children and husbands who joined them for short visits. Bureaucracy and poor paperwork always loomed in the background and was a threat to their completing the adoptions. Completion of adoption cases often depended upon who the mothers talked to and whether they were liked.

In contrast to the corruption of the adoption process, the author has described the beauty of Antigua and its fascinating people. The people maybe poor; but they were entrepreneurial, selling anything to make a living. A couple of the most profitable businesses were washing cars or shinning shoes. Vendors displayed their crafts, sandals, purses, and beautiful artwork. One of Jessica's fondest memories was her purchase of "The Guatemala Bus" by Oscar Peren which now hangs in her living room in California.

Mamalita is an unforgettable experience. The long, hard process of adoption is complicated, but love and perseverance prove you can get what you want under the direst circumstances.

O'Dwyer has written a memorable book that will touch your soul and give hope to those who wish to adopt in a foreign land. A great authentic story with an awesome ending which is highly recommended!

Yogi Berra: Eternal Yankee
Allen Barra
W. W. Norton & Company
500 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10110

Fall is descending upon us and the national pastime classic of the World Series is around the corner. What better time to bring to your attention a classy ball player by the name of Larry "Yogi" Berra. A biography written by a true sportsman Allen Barra, who has penned a best seller "The Last Coach: A Life of Paul "Bear" Bryant. His writing appears in the Wall Street Journal, The Village Voice, Playboy and others.

Yogi came to the Yankees on September 22, 1946, when he made his major league debut at Yankee Stadium; he hit a home run in his first game. This was the first of many he would hit in his stellar career where he contributed his talents so that the New York team would win 10 World Series while he participated. He was voted Most Valuable Player of the American League three times. Also, he hit the first pinch-hit home run in World Series History.

These accomplishments only summarize the highlights of his career as a ball player. As a World War II veteran who had volunteered for a Top Secret mission in the Normandy Invasion, he earned several medals. When his Navy days were over, he returned to pick-up his quest to become a major league ball player.

Yogi spent nearly 20 years on the field and then moved behind the bench to become the first manager to lead teams in both the American and National Leagues to the World Series.

Allen Barra writes a well-researched book which brings out the other facets of the men who played around the diamond. These yarns of the interplay among various writers that created mystic and foibles of our national heroes on the field dared to bring home the truth of what really happened. As a baseball affectionate learning about those who played major league ball while we were growing up, it certainly is a round-trip to the plate to realize many of these icons were really quite young. When a player reached the age of 32 he was considered an old man ready to step aside for the new young players of the day.

Yogi-isms are scattered through-out the book. He was one of the first to admit his limited education made him stumble through some of the thoughts that came out of his mouth. Or were they really just the way he thought?

One of the memorable statements came from Joe DiMaggio when he commented about the strike-zone for Yogi being from the ankles to the tip of his nose. Yogi was an unusual hitter in that he would swing at pitch-outs, high-inside fast balls, or just mediocre pitches near the plate putting each of them over the fence for a home run. He became invaluable to the team as he developed into one of the greatest catchers of all time.

If you love baseball, this is the book for you. Historically, it is about the game. Its stars and accuracy are the statistics which are never failing by that other Barra, the author. By the way, "It ain't over until it's over." This biography is a keeper because of the impact that Yogi made upon the game. Highly recommended!

Clark Isaacs

Daniel's Bookshelf

Mr. Shivers
Robert Jackson Bennett
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780316054683 $19.99

I was more than intrigued upon reading this cover jacket account of the plot by this upcoming young author originally from Baton Rouge, Louisiana. He grew up in Katy, Texas. His imagination stirred interest of a different type of murder story with a tinge of supernatural and a plot of good and evil. The plot carries a theme of revenge, but unveils a key pursuit for the need of justice.

Marcus Connelly is on a journey to seek his daughter's murderer, while the pain he feels is so great. The killer is a scarred vagrant known as Mr. Shivers. Connelly is out and about among the struggling America during the depression where jobs and employment are scarce. He ends up using his feet and riding the rails while stalking the camps where he is on the trail for this Mr. Shivers. He runs into others with the same quest and the adventure begins with people who have the same issues and mind-set for revenge in their hearts. Along the journey the new-founded group are running into others who have helped Mr. Shivers or basically are afraid of him. Marcus faces a truth on this journey which has a sub-line of supernatural and horror. Is he willing to give up everything for the chance of revenging his daughter's death which might be his very soul and family values that he held sacred before he went off on this self-righteous journey? He might have to pay the price in a setting haunted by man's desperation and the realm of murder seems to be everywhere. The moral values he seeks are lost in the dark truth about man suffering from painful losses.

Robert Jackson Bennett's first story set in the Great Depression period with jobs a rarity to find and the hobo jungles being strong in force while people try to ride the trains to get places to find work. A pursuit murderer plot that touched people's lives and affected the impact reaching distances far from the victims original homes. I look forward to seeing his next novel and I hope he is able to have learned a lot from this first effort. I know I did in reading his story even though the hobo signage has been a keen interest of mine for years.

Treasure Hunt
John Lescroart
c/o Penquin Group (USA) Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780525951445 $26.95

One of my wife's favorite authors for a long time now, and this has been the second novel read by me. I have to catch up to her by reading more of his past books, and continue to reading his up-coming new ones. The author is long considered to be one of the 'best of the best in legal fiction' with good characters and fast paced stories. I enjoyed this book and this being his latest effort to- date.

The Hunt Club is a private investigation service is struggling to keep its people working, and Mickey Dade who dislikes paperwork discovers the body of Dominic Como.He is one of San Francisco's most highest activists who is a charismatic man and part of nonprofit boards. A person who Mickey runs into Alicia Thorpe is a a "person of interest" with the detectives. Mickey presents this case to Wyatt Hunt to pursue the fact-gathering data to get the Hunt Club back on its feet with his sister eventually working at the desk. The information learned on the case finds the city's golden fundraiser was involved in some suspect deals and Ms Thorpe is hiding more information than she lets on. It is a thriller with a young protagonist Mickey Dade who learns the hard lessons from Hunt about the truth of the world around him. This keeps the truth from them until the team can investigate further into the case. Mickey finds out through this coming of age story, and being objective to which facts are needed, and what dangers surface to becoming real.

John Lescroart is the New York Times bestselling author of twenty novels including A Plague of Secrets, Betrayal, The Suspect, and The Hunt Club. I guess I have to make the time to get this genre' more under my reading radar. I enjoy his books now that I have discovered his stories can be fun and Wyatt Hunt becomes the young version character while been in charge of a private investigation service. This is totally different from the earlier version in Lescroart writings of a previous lawyer Dismiss Hardy. I keep by sensors on alert to any new offerings now from Lescroart. I have picked up a copy of A Plague of Secrets.

Daniel Allen

Debra's Bookshelf

The Book of John
Kate Niles
O Books
c/o Litmus Press
925 Bergen St. #405, Brooklyn, NY 11238
9781846942914 $22.95

Kate Niles' The Book of John is a short, slow read that explores a turning point in the life of its main character, John Thompson. The action takes place against a backdrop of archaeological detail--the migration and diet and weapons of the Indians of the southwest, lithic analyses and bone experts and academic archaeological disputes and excavations. John is an archaeologist, and he is defined by his career to a degree that most of us are not. It's in his DNA--connecting to the dead through their remains, feeling his way, literally, to an understanding of their history. There was no other career that would have made him happy. John has accommodated his life to his job, made major decisions based on how they might impact his pursuit of archaeology--again, in ways that go beyond the norm. When we meet John, however, he has essentially run away from his job to the ends of the earth, to the Makah Indian community at Neah Bay on the Olympic peninsula. We don't know what prompted his flight initially, but eventually the pieces are fit together. He's run off because of his fear that his crippling dyslexia will prevent him from fulfilling his professional responsibilities. Normally he's able to muddle through the sort of reports he's required to produce, but the latest excavation he was heading turned out to be more complicated, and controversial, than anyone supposed going in. The report can't be a cut-and-paste job. John is burdened by his reading difficulties but also by his father's unspoken expectations of him, by his guilt at having depended for too long on the help of a series of enablers, by old love affairs and roads not taken.

The Book of John is beautifully written, its language often poetic, and it introduces readers to a world that will be wholly unfamiliar to most of us. There's a lot of archaeological shop talk, some of it on the dull side. I would have liked a little more hand-holding from the author: for example, the hobby that John spends so much of his time on, flint knapping, is not explained in a way that allowed me to visualize what he was doing.

John's crisis in this book is an emotional one, and naturally there is much talk of feelings. (At least one character--John's sister--is simply too perceptive about what he's going through to be believable.) The author does a good job of making us understand John's issues. He is a fully three-dimensional character. But if John were among your acquaintances you might eventually be tempted to tell him to stop whining and get on with his life which, after all, really isn't that bad: everyone has regrets; not everyone wallows in them.

Niles' book begins with an intriguing paragraph, which is what made me want to read the book. (Specifically, it was the "green-gray, green-gray" repetition that attracted me.)

"The Makah, who live at the extreme northwest tip of this country, where the seas swell in the rain and everything is green-gray, green-gray, hunt whales in spare and beautiful canoes made of cedar. When the whale is finally dead, which may take three days or longer, one of the fishermen dives into the ocean and sews its mouth shut. He does this so the water will not enter the whale, making it too heavy to drag home. This is John, the story of John Thompson. He is the whale, lips sealed so he can bob along with the crowd, where they cannot tell he has lost his heart to the bottom of the sea all along."

The whale analogy makes sense, eventually, and the book ends very nicely, with a conclusion that revives the image and addresses John's evolution in the story. Very nicely done.

In Utopia
J.C. Hallman
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312378578 $25.99

In his latest book J.C. Hallman explores the subject of utopias. He discusses both the history of utopian thought in literature--from Plato to Thomas More to B.F. Skinner--as well as real-world attempts to create utopia, or, if not utopia, at least a somewhat better world. Going into the book I expected a more straightforward discussion of a handful of communal societies, but Hallman has found examples of utopian thinking in surprising places. The book's second chapter, for example, concerns "Pleistocene rewilding"--an ostensibly crazy idea whose proponents would like to reintroduce to North America the large animals--or their modern equivalents--that roamed the continent during the late Pleistocene period. Utopia may also be found--or sought, at least--at sea: The World is a floating residence that is owned cooperatively by its residents and sails permanently around the world.

In Utopia is at its most interesting when the author is describing his hands-on research--his stay at the Twin Oaks community in Virginia, the four-day defensive handgun course he took in Nevada: "Back on my hip, the gun felt awkward, like a colostomy bag at capacity." I could
have used some dumbing down of the literary sections of the book, however, as they are often thick with the author's erudition. An audience that's better read on the subject than I would probably get much more than I out of those parts of the text.

Read, Remember, Recommend
Rachelle Rogers Knight
Sourcebooks Inc.
1935 Brookdale Road, #139, Naperville, IL 60563
9781402237188 $15.99

Read, Remember, Recommend is a spiral-bound reading journal with six tabbed sections: Awards and Notable Lists, To Read, Journal Pages, Recommendations, Loaner Lists, and Resources. In the introduction to the journal the author explains that one goal of the book is to
"promote great works of fiction and literature," and indeed this purpose of the book is given pride of place. The Awards and Notable Lists section takes up the first part of the book and is over 150
pages long, containing lists of award-winning books from Pulitzer Prize winners to winners of the Scotiabank Giller Prize. Next to each award-winning book listed there are checkboxes: Own, Recommend, To Read, Want. For my own purposes this section is pretty much wasted space, but there is presumably some subset of readers out there who are serious about reading through lists of award-winning books. If so, this would be a great tool for the purpose.

The To Read section is far briefer, with room to list 50 books that one is interested in getting one's hands on, and with the checkboxes Own, Recommend, To Read, Want. "To Read" would seem to be an otiose checkbox, but maybe you could check it off after you're read the book
to indicate that it's no longer among the to be read.

The Journal Pages section ought to be the meat of the book, one would think, but it weighs in at only about 60 pages and it's stuck in the middle. The section offers four pages for simply listing read books by title and date finished. The rest of the section includes pages on which one can write more detailed information about the book--passages to remember, comments and thoughts, etc. Confusingly, some of the entries allow a half page per book, while others provide a page and a half or two pages of space and include additional fields, such as "words to define" and "passages to remember." By my count there is room to journal about 66 book.

The Recommendations section is eight pages long, with room to note to whom one has recommended particular books. I can't imagine anyone being anal retentive enough to want to record their recommendations, but again, there must be someone out there who does this.

Loaner Lists more helpfully provides room for one to record books lent and borrowed. It's eight pages long and half of each page is given to lent, half to borrowed.

Finally, the Resources section provides a bunch of information: websites of book awards, a list of book blogs, definitions of literary terms, etc.

A book journal is like a calendar or planner in that the selection of format and how one uses it is a very personal thing: what works for one person won't necessarily work for another. If you're trying to decide what book journal to get, you'll want to at least see pictures of the potential choices yourself to see if it can fit into your life. As for me, Read, Remember, Recommend simply doesn't fit the bill. I have a number of issues with it:

* The Awards section is unnecessary and takes up an inordinate amount of space
* The Journal Pages section is weirdly laid out and doesn't offer enough space
* Information found in the Resources section could easily be found on the web
* I can't imagine wanting to write down whom I've recommended a book to
* The Journal Pages section has room to write about 66 books; that is, once you've finished those, this thick, elaborate book is defunct

On the plus side, the book is attractive, and the spiral binding and tabs are a big plus.

Read, Remember, Recommend is like one of those thick calendar/planner type books. They look great. They look as if you could organize your whole life around them. But in practice they're too much, corresponding to someone else's vision of how the information you use should best be organized. For me a sturdy blank book would be preferable, a Moleskin maybe, to which you could add your own tabs if you needed to designate different sections. That would not only be
better suited to one's individual needs, but it would in the end provide a lot more usable space.

The Dead Janitors Club
Jeff Klima
Sourcebooks Inc.
1935 Brookdale Road, #139, Naperville, IL 60563
9781402238291 $15.99

It's not something I'd thought of before, but when somebody dies in untidy circumstances--when a body explodes on the pavement after its owner jumps from a balcony, or if a corpse lies undiscovered for weeks in a hot apartment--somebody's got to clean up the mess. Jeff Klima's The Dead Janitors Club is an account of the time he worked as a crime scene cleaner in Southern California. The company Klima worked for was a sleazy one whose employees were untrained. They regularly dealt with biohazardous waste irresponsibly, cheated people when they could, and
stole as much as they could get away with. Klima himself was irresponsible, and not only at work, living as a sort of boy-man in a college frat well past his sell-by date. We are to believe that by the end of the book he is a changed man (the result of a health scare)--that he has renounced his earlier lack of professionalism and his insensitivity to the bereaved--but the redemption angle of the story feels tacked on to me and not terribly credible.

What one takes away from the book, however, is not the redemption story or the sleazy company story but the fact that crime scenes can be really, really disgusting, and cleaning them up is a dirty business. Klima does a lovely job of conveying just how awful the task can be. Here he is describing what remained after a woman killed herself in a bathtub:

"A person, for all the different smells we give off, is really no different when dead than the average piece of meat. If you soak a dead person long enough, say in a bathtub full of once hot water, he or she, too, will fall off the bone.

"The thin patches plastered to the ground were wide strips of the dead woman's skin that, saturated with water, had fallen off her corpse when the paramedics removed her from the bathtub. On the floor, under the heat of day in a house resembling a pressure cooker, the water had evaporated and the flesh had sealed, airtight, to the old tile. It looked as if someone had skinned a basketball and each piece had come off in large, smooth hunks."

Here's what became of the body of a grandmother who died on a chaise longue: "She was evidently a big woman as well, because surrounding the legs of the chair and pooling outward into a corner of the room was a congealed lake of salty, mustard-yellow fat, a puddinglike skin thick across its surface. I'd never seen anything like it. Getting down on my hands and knees to simply be closer to it, I surmised that it was about two inches deep at its thickest point."

The book is full of such tantalizingly repulsive passages. It is also quite politically incorrect. And if there are any potential readers out there who are fine with cultural insensitivity and pools of
mustard-yellow grandma fat but draw the line at cussing, well, this isn't the book for you.

Klima is an interesting guy. According to his author bio, in fact, he is "a devilishly handsome jack-of-all-trades who makes love like a banshee." Which is impressive. I'm not sure that I like him, to tell you the truth, but I like his writing. The book, though, like some of the corpses described therein, is a bit bloated: knock out the frat stuff--who cares?--and a few of the crime scenes and you'd have a tighter, better read.

The Art of Choosing
Sheena Iyengar
Twelve Books
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, NY, NY 10017-0010
9780446504102 $25.99

You may have heard about the jam study, which demonstrated that consumers who were confronted by a large array of jam jars were less likely to buy one than those presented with fewer options. The conclusion is appealing: anyone who's pondered the wide variety of toothpastes available these days, even just the variety within a single brand, has probably thought that the buying decision was being made unnecessarily complicated. Social psychologist Sheena Iyengar, a professor at Columbia University, was one of the authors of the jam study. In her book The Art of Choosing, she further explores the counterintuitive notion that, when it comes to choice, sometimes less is more. Iyengar discusses a great number of topics: how a lack of choice--or a perceived lack of choice--can be emotionally, physically, and psychologically damaging, how our choices are affected by advertisements or by what's available (for example, in the world of fashion), how confirmational biases work, how being responsible for a decision can lead to second-guessing and guilt.

The Art of Choosing is an interesting book, but it's not as accessible as some others that have aimed to present social psychology to a lay audience--Malcolm Gladwell's Blink, for example, or Dan Ariely's Predictably Irrational. Ms. Iyengar's prose is very clear, so that's not the problem. But after reading I often found I was not able to remember the main points of the chapter I'd just finished. I think I would have taken more away from the book if there were more hand-holding, summaries and reminders of what had already been covered, the sort of pointers that a speaker might throw into a talk to help his audience follow an oral argument. That, at least, was my experience, though other readers may not have the same trouble.

Ice Cold
Tess Gerritsen
Ballantine Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, NY, NY 10019
9780345515483, $26.00,

Ice Cold is the latest installment in Tess Gerritsen's series featuring medical examiner Maura Isles and homicide detective Jane Rizzoli. This time out, Maura is off to a medical conference in
Wymoing. An impulsive change of plan has her taking a road trip with an old acquaintance and his friends, but a series of unfortunate circumstances puts their lives in danger--a snow storm, a wrong turn. Their SUV gets stuck in a ditch in the middle of nowhere, and the only shelter around is a ghost town, Kingdom Come, whose inhabitants apparently fled in the middle of eating dinner. Things get worse from there. It takes very little for their jaunt to turn into a nightmare, only a few moments to make a happy-go-lucky character beg his friends to kill him: one's life really can turn on a dime.

The first half of Ice Cold, before its various mysteries begin to be resolved, is a scary, gripping read, and I had a hard time putting the book down (and turning off the lights) in the midst of it. When the answers start coming the book continues to surprise: what happened at Kingdom Come isn't what we might expect.

Once again after finishing one of Tess Gerritsen's novels I find myself wondering why I haven't read all of the books in her Rizzoli and Isles series by now, start to finish. But this time I did
something about it: immediately after finishing Ice Cold I downloaded the first book in the series, The Surgeon, to my Kindle.

Debra Hamel, Reviewer

Gary's Bookshelf

Death in Daytime
Eileen Davidson
c/o Penguin Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780451225641, $6.99

Davidson, who has starred on several daytime soap operas, is now a very good mystery writer with this first of a series of novels. Alexis Peterson finds she does not get along with Marcy Blanchard, the head writer for a soap opera she is currently starring in. Alexis thinks Blanchard is edging her character out of the show after she confronts her in a nasty fight in Blanchard's office. Later Blanchard is found bludgeoned to death. Number one suspect is Alexis. She has to prove that she did not kill Blanchard. As the novel moves along Alexis becomes an amateur detective and she helps solve the case. This is a witty new entry into the mystery field. It is also nice that readers are treated to a behind the scenes look at the world of soap operas as well.

Raquel: Beyond the Cleavage
Raquel Welch
Weinstein Books
345 Hudson Street, 13th Floor, NY, NY 10014
9781602860971 $26.95

Raquel Welch talks to women about everything from her being a sex star to becoming older and how to stay young looking. What's interesting about the sex symbol image is that she never took off her clothes like other sex goddess. She tells women that they are the controller of their lives. She talks about staying fit and having a long life. This year she will be 70, and she still looks very good. This book has a lot of insightful tips for women to follow to have a better life.
Mr. Monk Is Cleaned Out

Lee Goldberg
c/o Penguin Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780451230096 $22.95

Monk is out of work because the police department has made some drastic cuts. Now he and Natalie must find employment somewhere else. Goldberg has Monk upset over the fact that the company of bottled water he drinks goes out of business, and he works in a grocery store where he rearranges the store shelves. These are two of the elements that make this one of funniest Monk adventures ever. This one will have readers laughing out loud as they plow through the novel.

James Patterson & Maxine Paetro
Little Brown and Company
c/o Hachette Book Group USA
1271 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9780316096157 $27.95

Normally titles by these two authors are page turning suspenseful tales. I felt that this time that is not the case. The story is a slower pace and filled with too many characters and situations to keep track of. Also the main character is not memorable as in their other stories.

Smash Cut
Sandra Brown
Pocket Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9781439173398 $19.99

Sandra Brown just keeps getting better. The opening has Paul Wheeler, a millionaire murdered on a hotel elevator. Someone wanted him bumped off but who? His mistress Julie Rutledge is one of the suspects. There are several others as well. Julie has to prove that she is not involved so she enlists the aid of attorney Derek Mitchell to help her find the killer. What they uncover is that someone hired the shooter to kill Wheeler. Now they have to find out where the trail leads. The story moves along to a satisfying ending. Brown is one of the best for suspense theilling novels.

RV Canada with Boo the Menopausal Van
Barb Rees
Dreams Inspirations Seminars
#14-7624 Duncan Street, Powell River, BC, V8A 5L2, Canada
9780981180809 $20.00 1-866-373-2607

This is the sequel to "RV Canada on a Dime and A Dream." This time the trip starts where that book ended and ends in Powell River. The author has a series of adventures while she shows that you can travel economically. For those of us in the United States this is an educational resource about the country of Canada.

The Twilight Zone
Martin Grams
OTR Publishing LLC
P.O Box 52 Whiteford, MD 21160
9780970331090, $29.95

There have been plenty of books about the show but never as detailed as this one. The author refutes some of the other books and tells more things that until now have been unknown. There are episode guides that tell who directed, wrote, who starred in each, and synopsis of each show. The author, unlike others, also only talks about the original "Twilight Zone" and not the two other incarnations of "Twilight Zone." This is the most complete title that no fan should miss.

What My Mother Never Told Me About Motherhood
Maria Caldarone
Tate Publishing
127 East Trade Center Terrace, Mustang, Oklahoma 73064
9781615669530, $8.99,

This is a fun little book that has a lot to say on parenting that we take for granted. The author has delved into the subject and has a lot to say about the situation. The statements she has chosen are interesting and educational. This is one of those perfect for any occasion type of books.

The First of May
Questar, Inc.
307 N. Michigan Ave, Suite 500, Chicago IL 60601-5305
9781594643507 $14.99

This movie is one of the finest family films ever made. At Film Festivals throughout the nation it has often been nominated as the best film of the festival. It has Julie Harris, Mickey Rooney, Joe Dimaggio, Charles Nelson Reilly and Dan Byrd to name a few. A few years ago HBO Family played it at such bad times as five am that it could not ever gain an audience. Now, for the first time "The First of May is finally on DVD and that's a great thing.

The story revolves around its two main characters who have a lot in common. Cory (Dan Byrd} and Carlotta (Academy Award nominee Julie Harris). Cory is a foster child no one wants and Carlotta is an elderly woman in a retirement center who refuses to go along with their agenda. The two of them strike up a friendship and decide to leave and run away with a traveling circus. There are some very deep issues and conflicts that move this story along to its final enjoyable ending.

The First of May is filled with great acting, beautiful scenery, and a charming story that is based on the book "Golden Days" by Gail Radley. Filmed entirely on location in Deland Florida. Part of the fun is also seeing the different areas of that city such as parts of Stetson University and the main drag of Deland.

To purchase a copy check out the websites of Best Buy, Movie Stop, or FYE.

5 Top Questions to Ask Your Doctor
Jim Sutton RPA-C and Sagar Nigwekar MD
Outskirts Press Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432758264, $12.95,

The two authors provide 5 questions for different type of medical conditions that patients should ask their doctors to have a better understanding of what they are facing. They have listed things everyone should know to ask in a simple straightforward manner. This is a valuable resource for anyone who has to go to a doctor.

Taxpayers' Tea Party How to Become Politically Active and Why
Sharon Cooper and Chuck Asay
Baen Books
P. O. Box 1403, Riverdale, New York 10471
978143933637, $12.00,

This is only the second time I have seen this company publish something that is not in the realm of science fiction or fantasy. The only other time I can recall is a book by Robert A Heinlein. This time this is an updated version that deals with today's issues. I have to say after reading this that this is why so many of us are turning away from politics because the Tea Party people are not what they appear. They are rude, as evidenced by their behavior at a recent appearance by Rick Scott who is running for governor of the state of Florida. Featuring introductions by Newt Gingrich and Rush Limbaugh, In "Taxpayers' Tea Party How to Become Politically Active and Why" like others the authors take off after liberals but forgets that their own conservative party politicians are to blame for our problems as well. This is another title to add to the list of reasons why people are so sick of politics and politicians -- and the pundits that promote political discord for their own profit.

Gary Roen

Gloria's Bookshelf

The Dead Lie Down
Sophie Hannah
c/o Penguin Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, NY, NY 10014
9780143117490 $15.00

The newest book by Sophie Hannah concerns itself with obsession and revenge, and consists in large part of enigma piled upon enigma. As one reads the first twenty or thirty pages, one thing seems abundantly clear: Ruth Bussey is one very strange woman. In the opening pages, she and her boss/lover, Aiden, have each decided to share one stunning secret from his/her past with the other, after which no questions will be asked. Ruth's is almost impossible for her to speak about, literally. Their relationship is an odd one, to say the least: although love has been declared, and neither is a virgin, they remain chaste. The one essential, it seems, is that much of what each knows about the other is a lie.

But Ruth's is not the only odd, and chaste, relationship, Sergeant Charlotte "Charlie" Zailer, ex-CID currently working with the Culver Valley Police, and her fiance DC Simon Waterhouse, both making a return appearance here, being the other. But dysfunctional connections, familial and otherwise, abound in this novel. Charlie's back-story is not gone into in any detail, except that is clear that yet another past relationship nearly ruined her life, and severely damaged her career. Simon's career is here regularly threatened as well.

These characters come together when Ruth seeks out Charlie, to whom she is a stranger, to tell her that Aiden has told her that he has killed a woman, a woman Ruth knows to be quite alive. Beyond that, the salient story lines take a lot of patience on the part of the reader, or it did this one at the least. It takes a couple of hundred pages before any part of the intricate and convoluted plot makes any sense, and another hundred or so before any clarity takes place. There are several twists and turns, and shocking revelations, along the way.

Fourth Day
Zoe Sharp
Allison & Busby
13 Charlotte Mews, London W1T 4EJ, England
9780749008154 19.99 BPS

[It should be noted that this book is available at this time only in/through the UK and Canada, not yet in the US]

Fourth Day is the name of a once subversive organization formed in the 1960's and known for its cult-like origins, but claiming to work wonders especially with vulnerable adolescents [and others] with delinquency and drug addiction problems. It has more recently been headed by one Randall Bane, its new and charismatic leader suspected of having more sinister ambitions.

This newest in the series brings back Charlotte ("Charlie") Fox and her lover, Sean Meyer, a junior partner in Armstrong-Meyer, a "close-protection" [read "bodyguard"] organization, now tasked with retrieving a man who has been living within Fourth Day's grounds on its large real-estate holdings in Southern California. Their 'target,' Thomas Witney, had initially infiltrated the organization five years prior to get proof that Fourth Day was responsible for the death of his son, but for some reason never left. There is some question as to whether or not he will come willingly, but they are told that that is not to be an obstacle. When things go awry, Charlie volunteers to herself infiltrate the organization, with appropriate back-up. What she finds is unexpected, to Charlie and the reader.

This is a fast-paced and suspenseful novel, as Charlie, now 29 years old, is going through some difficult times, personally and professionally. She is nonetheless at the top of her game, and that is very good indeed. The plot races through to a stunning conclusion, which left me more anxious than ever to read the next installment in the series. Highly recommended. [The title, btw, is a Biblical reference - Genesis to be precise - as well as having a double meaning in the final pages.]

Killer Instinct
Zoe Sharp
Busted Flush Press
PO Box 540594, Houston, TX 77254-05944
9781935415138 $15.00

Just having read Zoe Sharp's eighth and newest book, "Fourth Day," the latest in the Charlie Fox series, I had the additional pleasure of reading the very first book in the series, "Killer Instinct." In fact, this was the first novel published by Zoe Sharp, in 2001, and now issued for the first time in the United States. It is a fascinating look at the introduction of this protagonist, two years after she was "asked to leave" the British Army after a traumatic incident that left her physically and emotionally scarred

Now twenty-five years old, Zoe teaches self-defense to classes of women, many of them victims of abuse and residents of a Women's Refuge. Shockingly, within a short time frame, two such residents are raped and murdered, with no clue as to the perpetrator. Not yet the proficient "close protection" operative she will become, Zoe is nonetheless very capable, using the skills learned in the Army though still without the Killer Instinct of the title.

Zoe also takes on a part-time job as part of the security staff at the New Adelphi Club, in nearby Morecambe, quite taken with its charismatic owner, but finds it more challenging than anticipated, in unexpected ways. When there is a third killing, Zoe becomes convinced that there is a connection to the club, if not to the rape/murders as well.

Just as compulsively readable as the later entries in the series, nonetheless I felt this book slightly weaker in two respects: The foreshadowing which ends the first two chapters, as well as the fact that I found myself at least a bit ahead of the protagonist, with the unsettling feeling of waiting for her to catch up. This is a small quibble. Reading the first in the series was delightful, and I am looking forward to the second, "Riot Act," which Busted Flush Press is publishing in the US in September of this year.

Neighborhood Watch
Cammie McGovern
Viking Press
375 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780670022038 $25.95

Betsy Treading was convicted of the murder of Linda Sue Murphy, a divorcee and a neighbor on her street in suburban Connecticut, and has served twelve years in prison before she is exonerated on new DNA evidence. In the interim, she has lost everything: her home, her marriage, her job as a librarian. In a show of compassion, another neighbor - the only one to visit Betsy in prison - has offered to take Betsy into her home on Juniper Lane when she is released from prison. Grateful, Betsy nevertheless finds that she must still prove her innocence to everyone who still is not convinced that she did not commit the crime.

Most of the neighbors have since died or moved away, one of the latter being her former husband's childhood friend, Geoffrey Steadman, a published author going through writer's block when he moved into Juniper Lane who had charmed every neighbor, male and female, Betsy among them. But she is compelled, even after all these years, to find the real killer. The one constant through the book is that everyone has things they hide, from themselves and others: "All of us carried secrets inside of us, ticking like bombs waiting to detonate."

Betsy is a woman given to panic attacks and parasomnia [more commonly referred to as sleepwalking]. She has never quite broken free of the effects of her troubled childhood, and has been haunted as well by her childlessness [after having five miscarriages], to the extent that she has given names and personalities to each of the babies she was unable to bring to term. She has many blank spots in her memories of the six years she and her husband lived on Juniper Lane [well, many more than that, but these are the pertinent ones], and as the book progresses she gradually remembers bits and pieces of critical events, including the night that Linda Sue died. The intensity quietly builds up as Betsy, and the reader, realizes the truth, coming only in the last few pages of the book. This is a very different, and compelling, novel, and I will be very interested to read more books by this author [this is her third novel].

The Glass Rainbow
James Lee Burke
Simon & Schuster
1230 Sixth Ave., NY, NY 10020
9781439128299 $25.99

From the first page of his shattering new novel, James Lee Burke's gorgeous prose enfolds the reader, who cannot help but be enthralled, to the extent that one finds oneself wishing that the book could just go on forever. Or at least that was my own feeling, so completely was I under the author's spell. And when the stunning conclusion does come, that sentiment was only reinforced.

It is nothing new to say that James Lee Burke's writing includes perfectly drawn portraits of even minor characters, as well as lush descriptions of the Louisiana of his and his protagonist's birth. In this case, he also brings to life the history of the area, in its plantation society, pre-Emancipation days, primarily through two of its characters. One is Kermit Abelard, the scion of the wealthy Abelard family, with its historical New Orleans prominence, who has been romancing Dave's adopted daughter, Alafair, as the novel opens. Dave objects to the liaison, mostly because of the large difference in age, as well as his suspicions about the family and its morality, or lack thereof; another aspect is the relationship between Kermit and Robert Weingart, an oft-convicted felon whose part in Kermit's life is of questionable motive and definition. Robert has become a celebrated author as well, and that in turn plays a part in the two men's influence on Alafair, herself an aspiring novelist.

The other old-Louisiana player is Layton Blanchet, a millionaire who hires Clete Purcell, Dave's life-long friend from their days with the New Orleans P.D., now working as a p.i., to find out who his wife, as he suspects, is sleeping with. Clete plays a major part in this book, where we find him going through suicidal and homicidal rages, as indeed Dave does as well.

The tale begins when Dave, a New Iberia sheriff's detective working on his own time after the rape and murder of seven women, all very young, black and poor, visits a penal work gang outside Natchez, Mississippi to interview a man whose young sister is among the victims, and who claims he knows the identity of the killer. When that man is himself murdered, and the body of another young girl is discovered, Dave and Clete decide that since the deaths of young black girls is likely to go uninvestigated if they don't do the investigating themselves, they chart a course which endangers their lives and those of Alafair and Dave's wife, Molly, among others. More killings follow, and motives are obscure at best. And we are told that no matter the jeopardy in which Dave and Clete are placed, as Clete is fond of saying, "the Bobbsey twins from Homicide are forever." Their friendship goes back more than three decades; both men still are haunted by flashbacks from Vietnam; they have both gone from New Orleans patrolmen to detectives, and their loyalty to each other is boundless. Neither is the reader immune to their goodness and charm, and we must profoundly hope that the Bobbsey twins from Homicide do indeed go on forever. Very highly recommended.

Gloria Feit

Gorden's Bookshelf

Turn Coat, a novel of the Dresden Files
Jim Butcher
c/o Penguin Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780451462817 $9.99

The modern wizard Harry Dresden is a great character for the contemporary reader to escape with. Butcher writes a fast action fantasy that blends modern settings with supernatural mythology into a satisfying escapist treat. Unlike the Harry Potters or the Percy Jacksons, Dresden is an adult character. He is the character you found in the Western dime novels in the 1950s or the spy novels of the 1960s brought to a new life in the 21st Century.

Turn Coat, book eleven in the series, was a pleasant surprise for me. Butcher has a way of keeping the action continuous. It can be so fast paced that the storyline becomes lost in the action. With Turn Coat, Butcher has found a way to write in mini-breaks in the action for the reader to have time to reflect on what has happened in the past pages and what might happen in next chapter. The story is still extremely fast paced but the tale has become a little richer with the slight variation in story pace.

Harry Dresden hears a knock on his door. When he opens it, Morgan, a Warden who has made Harry's life miserable for years, gasps, "The Wardens are coming. Hide me please," and collapses. Morgan has just dragged Harry into a lethal mess that could destroy Harry and everyone he knows. A power struggle between various fractions in the magical world has been festering for years. Morgan has run afoul of a traitor framing him for murder and he has just brought his troubles literally to Harry's doorstep. Death is just a minor problem when dark magic can destroy your soul.

The latest fling into the adult escapist novel is the supernatural adventure. The Dresden Files are a must read series in this niche market and Turn Coat is a title you won't want to miss. If you can wait, the used bookstores will have it in a few months but if you are like me Turn Coat is a must on the discount store shelf. You will not be disappointed.

The Lost History of Christianity
Philip Jenkins
Harper One
c/o Harper Collins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
9780061472800 $26.95

The Lost History of Christianity is about the history of the Asian, African and Middle Eastern churches. This history is as rich and complex as Western Christianity and for most of the last two thousand years had more followers and greater depth. There are a few structural problems with the book. It reads more like a series of essays than a history and the analysis of the demise of these churches is heavily influenced by opinion.

Many facts about these churches will amaze the reader. Centuries before Western Christianity expanded through Europe these Eastern and Southern churches had expanded to the Pacific Ocean. The church structures and the need to translate scriptures into various languages made Christianity the key source of knowledge and information for all of this huge region. Buddhism and Islam both heavily depended on this knowledge to grow and expand. Many of the ideas and knowledge that has been attributed to Islam actually originated through these various churches.

The destruction of these churches is a long and complicated story. They were surviving under Moslem rule for centuries until Islam finally clashed into countries and groups stronger than them such as the Mongols and Western expansion. The climate change caused by the mini-Ice Age prompted rioting against minorities which also caused a contraction of these churches. But surprisingly the final blows to these churches didn't happen in the ancient past for in the near history--the 1800s and 1900s. Massive genocide programs by the Turks and Iraqis wiped out hundreds of thousands and forced the removal of hundreds of thousands more Christians from their homes. Even recent history of the current Iraq conflict has prompted the mass killings of many of the remaining indigenous Christians.

The Lost History of Christianity is a much needed look at a world religion that has been neglected and minimized by both Western and Eastern cultures. The story needs to be examined by the true historian and even with this book's limitations it is a needed first step in this exploration.

S.A. Gorden, Reviewer

Harwood's Bookshelf

John Avlon
Beast Books
387 Park Avenue South, NY NY 10016-8810
9780984295111, $15.95,

When I requisitioned Wingnuts: How the Lunatic Fringe is Hijacking America from my local library, it was on the assumption that it would constitute the same definitive expose of the right wing lunatic fringe as Keith Olbermann's MSNBC program, Countdown. Then I saw the book's cover, and alongside pictures of two of the lunatic fringe's most certifiable lunatics, Glenn Beck and Sarah Palin, was a picture of - Keith Olbermann! Was John Avlon implying that anyone who confronts wingnuts thereby makes himself one of them? Surely not? Sadly, that is exactly what he implies. He quotes the aphorism (p. 211), "When you argue with a fool, you've got two fools." But his denigration of Olbermann goes far beyond that.

Avlon (p. 129) quotes New York magazine's description of Olbermann as, "the Limbaugh of Lefties." He does not quote the Rolling Stone description of Olbermann as "the most honest man in news." And he does not quote Arianna Huffington's recognition that what Olbermann does is, "stop pretending there are two sides to every issue. That's not how it is. Sometimes the truth is on one side." What part of, "sometimes the truth is on one side," is Avlon unable to grasp?

In discussing what he labels "Olbermania," Avlon writes (pp. 124-125), "In the beginning there was Phil Donohue ... he wanted to feel your pain. Then there was Keith Olbermann - he wants you to feel his pain." Since I have no idea what point Avlon was trying to make, I will move on. He then proceeds to say that Olbermann "cultivated a feud with Fox News's Bill O'Reilly, naming him one of 'the worst persons in the world' more than fifty times in four years." Does Avlon see as "cultivating a feud" Olbermann's recognition that O'Reilly is one of the most repulsive, despicable, subhuman turds of tapeworm excrement Hate TV has ever produced? But Avlon does not stop there. He quotes Olbermann's observation (p. 130) that, "Fox News … is as dangerous an organization as the Ku Klux Klan ever was. Fox News will say anything about anybody and accepts no criticism. Half the people there ought to be in an insane asylum." If Avlon disagrees with that, then he is also belongs in an insane asylum. Admittedly Olbermann might have been exaggerating when he called Faux News "worse than al Quaeda - worse for our society," but not by much.

Avlon reports that, in a debate on CNN, he told the unteachable creators of the "Obama was not born in the USA" hypothesis, "You guys are nuts." Clearly he expects his readers to recognize that such an observation was fully justified in the circumstances and did not turn him into a conspiracy freak. Just as clearly he does not see Keith Olbermann stating about Sarah Palin, "That woman is an idiot," as equally justified. To quote Avlon's own words (p. 130), "Pot, meet kettle."

He also reports Palin's claim (p. 153) that her nomination for vice president was "God's plan," but does not point out that any god that would come up with such an unsuccessful plan must be really impotent. Does Avlon himself have an imaginary playmate in the sky? He does not say. I watched him on Bill Maher's TV show, as part of a panel that included an author who insisted that she was an atheist while simultaneously denying that she regards theists as deluded. Avlon's failure to give any indication whether he is himself an addict of the god delusion struck me as trying to have his cake and eat it.

Avlon recognizes (p. 20) that, "The Party of Lincoln is in danger of becoming the Party of Limbaugh." So he got something right. While getting everything else wrong, L. Ron Hubbard was right when he identified the religion of psychiatry as pseudo-medical humbuggery. Ian Paisley was right when he recognized that popes are enemies of the human race. Dwight Eisenhower was right when he recognized (p. 22) that, "The middle of the road is all the usable surface. The extremes, left and right, are in the gutters." And a stopped clock is right twice a day.

Avlon writes (p. 3), "I am not a Democrat. I am not a Republican…. I believe the far right and the far left are equally insane." So far so good. He continues (p. 21), "Our politics are being hijacked by a comparatively small number of people who seek to dominate the debate by screaming the loudest." Self-evidently true, but no less a point worth making. Of the rank and file screamers who parade and wave placards that spew whatever hate message their Manchurian Candidate-izers feed them, he opines (p. 31) that, "These citizens were angry, but they were far from uninformed - they had just gotten their information from partisan sources, professional polarizers like Rush Limbaugh and Glenn Beck, who pump up outrage to pump up ratings." Those statements are typical of a book that, while also descending into the depths of absurdity, gets more right than it gets wrong. But his absurdities detract from and perhaps even destroy Wingnuts' overall usefulness.

Avlon refers to "Bush derangement syndrome" and "Obama derangement syndrome," as if the most insane allegations about Barack Obama and the totally accurate allegations about George W. Bush are equally indefensible. I am in complete agreement when he writes (p. 212), "So let's call the 9/11 Truthers what they are - al-Qaeda apologists." "Wingnuts" is too polite a term for such certifiable conspiracy freaks (although their being anti-Bush does not justify calling them "left wing"). But Avlon also pins the "derangement" label on persons who recognize that Bush was never the legally-elected President of the United States. He was first appointed President by five Supreme Court justices who were fully aware that he had lost the election, and who may yet find themselves on trial for treason, solely because he belonged to the same party as themselves. And four years later he was declared reelected by criminal vote-rigging in the state of Ohio. Bush was the most criminally evil president America has ever had, and one does not need to be deranged to recognize that reality.

Avlon writes (p. 20) that, "the liberal house leadership … are pressuring the president to abandon any outreach to Republicans - despite the fact it was this hyper-partisan approach to politics that caused independents to abandon President Bush." He describes as "left-Wingnut ideals" (p. 188) Democratic complaints that Obama "was too quick to compromise, too eager to horse-trade for a single elusive Republican vote and, most of all, too slow to overturn Bush's foreign policies." I would like to add that in more than a year Obama has made no attempt to reverse Bush's treasonous violations of the First Amendment, and instead has made even more money available for "an establishment of religion." Since Avlon is clearly unaware that only after abandoning his futile attempts to win support from the Party of No (all but two Republicans voted against repealing a policy of discrimination against gays in the military) was Obama able to pass any legislation whatsoever, I can only wonder what planet he has been living on for the past year.

Avlon supplied one piece of information I did not know (my field of history is neither America nor the twentieth century). He reports (p. 91), "Goldwater opposed the Civil Rights Act of 1964. Like Republican icons Ronald Reagan and George H. W. Bush, who also opposed the act…. On advice from Phoenix lawyer and future Supreme Court chief justice William Renquist, Goldwater decided that the Civil Rights Act was an unconstitutional infringement upon states' rights." And those bigots became presidential nominee, president, president, and chief justice? Frightening! I also received some welcome news (p. 111), "Nearly two-thirds of talk radio's listeners are over age fifty.… Talk radio is preaching to a declining demographic." And Avlon asserts (p. 179) that, "Conservatives' greatest patron saints, Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan, would never have met the, 'You're either with us or against us' litmus tests of today's right wing. Not even close." And his quotation of a hate-email, "She is an Adolph [sic] Hitler of this century," showing his awareness that Hitler's first name was Adolf, says much for his literacy. I would guess that only a tiny minority of North Americans know that.

Avlon in several places refers to "liberals and moderates," apparently unaware that that is like saying "sixes and half-dozens." As a liberal /moderate /middle-of-the-roader /pragmatist myself, I am deeply offended and libeled when he writes (p. 212) that, "The conspiracy theories continued to be pumped up [by] disturbingly mainstream liberal celebrity dupes like Charlie Sheen." It may be hyperbole to call Charlie Sheen a dangerous, certifiable theofascist and raving psychopath. But a liberal he assuredly is not.

Avlon refers (p. 109) to a "longtime liberal bias," as if commitment to freedom (the etymological meaning of liberal), tolerance, equality, and justice is a bias. Is belief that homicide and theft are morally wrong a bias? By Avlon's definition it is. At least he recognizes as "self-serving" a Texas Republican's allegation (p. 141) that, "The greatest threat to America is a liberal media bias." In contrast he clearly does not recognize as a simple statement of fact a Democrat's statement that, "The Republican heath care plan is this: 'Don't get sick, and if you do get sick, die quickly.'" As for his contention (p. 242) that, "more Americans are centrist than liberal or conservative," that logically follows from his unawareness that "liberal" and "centrist" are synonyms. He further demonstrates his ignorance when he reports (p. 243) that, "Liberals believe they are fighting for individual freedom in their struggle for civil rights and reproductive rights" (emphasis added).

John Avlon plagiarized Keith Olbermann's "worst person in the world" feature, and converted it to "wingnut of the week." He is allowed to do that. But he then tried to justify himself by denigrating Olbermann. When Harry Houdini appropriated Robert-Houdin's name, he then wrote a book "Unmasking" Robert-Houdin in the belief that he could thereby replace R-H as Number One. John Avalon has written a book equating Keith Olbermann with the right wing fanatics they both recognize as wingnuts, in the belief that he can thereby usurp Olbermann's status as someone who knows what he is talking about. By Avlon's criteria, Winston Churchill's denouncing Adolf Hitler made him Hitler's mirror image. Edward R. Murrow's denouncing Joseph McCarthy made him McCarthy's mirror image. Bobby Kennedy's denouncing Jimmy Hoffa made him Hoffa's mirror image. Eliot Ness's denunciation of Al Capone made him Capone's mirror image. And Keith Olbermann's denouncing the wingnuts of the Republicanazi Propaganda Ministry, aka Faux News, makes Olbermann a wingnut - even though observing that the Fox Gestapo are wingnuts does not make the observer a wingnut when the observer is Avlon.

John Avlon is a fatuous Nobody whose jealousy of Keith Olbermann makes him think that putting Olbermann down will make him the Somebody Olbermann already is. He should not hold his breath.

The Myth of Sacred Prostitution in Antiquity
Stephanie Budin
Cambridge University Press
32 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10013-2473

Religion is good. Sex is bad. Therefore the peddling of sex by religion, in exchange for an offering to a fertility goddess, could not have happened. And if Stephanie Budin believes that, I have some kidney-filtered holy water for sale that I think will interest her.

I have long recognized that Cambridge University Press is a conscious agent of the god hoax's determination to enslave the entire human race as the domesticated livestock of its imaginary Sky Fuhrer, in depraved indifference to the reality that religion has been as definitively falsified as astrology, parapsychology, and homeopathy. This book reinforces that conviction.

The following statement by Athanasius (p. 56) is typical of six pages of quotations from Pindar, Simonides, Herodotos, Letter of Jeremiah, Klearkhos, Justinus, Valerius Maximus, Lucian of Samasata, Lactantius, Eusebius, Augustine of Hippo, Socrates Scholasticus, and Sozomen, that all endorse the reality of nuns-for-rent: "In past times women displayed themselves in front of the idols in Phoenicia, offering the price of their bodies to the local gods, and believing that by prostitution they conciliated their goddess and incurred her favor through these practices." The chapter ends with no rebuttal of any of the passages.

It is standard procedure for apologists for the god delusion to quote arguments falsifying its position, and then proceed from the non-sequitur that quoting constitutes rebutting. For example, a biographer of the first Mormon reported that an unpublished historical novel by Solomon Spalding, in which the alleged lost tribes of Israel became the Native Americans, fell into the hands of Joseph Smith, who rewrote it into the form of nonfiction under the title, The Book of Mormon. She then proceeded to parrot the Mormon party line, as if citing the findings of scholars transformed them into unpersons who could henceforth be ignored.

Budin similarly unpersons, labeling as incompetent, the host of historians who have endorsed the reality that ancient religion utilized nuns and monks who provided sexual services to worshippers in exchange for offerings to their goddesses. She accuses writers such as Herodotos of inventing anecdotes that originated in their own imaginations. Her argument against Herodotos is that, since his entire account of Babylonian customs is uncorroborated by any Babylonian sources, it must have been motivated by a desire to portray the "not us" as reprehensible. David Irving used a similar argument when he declared that the absence of any document signed by Adolf Hitler authorizing the Holocaust constituted evidence that the Holocaust never happened.

As for the myriad of ancient documents that refer to the existence of fertility priestess-nuns, Budin's argument is that every scholar who disagrees with her (e.g., James Frazier, J.B. Pritchard) is an incompetent who translated as "sacred prostitute," or something analogous, words that meant nothing of the sort. But she agrees that passages usually translated as endorsements of nuntupping were written by ten early Christians, including Paul of Tarsus, Clement of Alexandria, Arnobius of Sicca, Athanasius of Alexandra, Firmicus Maternus, and the anonymous author of 1 Timothy whom Budin naively equates with Paul.

She cites as if it supports her thesis the Genesis fable (pp. 34-42) of Tamar seducing Judah, in which Tamar is called both prostitute and nun: "Yahuwdah thought she was a zonah, because she had covered her face" (Gen. 38:15: "He asked the men of the area, 'Where's the qedeshah who was soliciting on the road?'" (38:31) Since the Genesis author used the terms, "prostitute" and "holy woman" interchangeably, and there is no question that the anecdote showed Judah paying for the veiled Tamar's sexual services (38:16), Budin's citing of such a passage in support of a thesis that it falsifies is clumsy, to say the least. She even rationalizes that the Jewish author of the Tamar fable, rather than equating a fertility nun with a prostitute, contrasted the two, and showed Judah's envoy claiming to be searching for a holy woman out of embarrassment at what he was really seeking. If qedeshah (holy woman) and qedesh (holy man), did not refer to practitioners of sacred copulation, Budin needs to come up with a non-circular explanation for why the Deuteronomist (23:17) decreed that no Israelite man or woman could become either.(1) Budin's claim that her translation is right and all previous translators are wrong can politely be described as pretentious.(2)

In her chapter on Herodotos, Budin writes (p. 67), "If one is to claim that Chapter 1.199 is, in fact, a fabrication, the next issue is to ask how Herodotus devised the institution of sacred prostitution." She accompanies that question with 35 pages of the kind of rationalizations that might equally well be used to answer the question, "If the Holocaust is, in fact, a fabrication…." And in the following chapters she expands on the hypothesis that all post-Herodotos descriptions of "sacred prostitution" were simply imaginative expansions of a fantasy Herodotos invented. Sure they were. And all post-Ed Murrow references to McCarthyism were imaginative expansions of a fantasy Murrow invented.

Stephanie Budin is not the first scholar to go to extraordinary lengths to defend an inflexible mindset even at the cost of jeopardizing her credibility. Alister McGrath did so when he wrote what he thought was a sane rebuttal of The God Delusion (It was not). John Mack did so when he wrote that anyone who spun him a fairy tale about an alien abduction with a straight face was telling the truth. Then there was David Irving. Budin does not really belong in the same category as those unteachables, since despite her improbable interpretation of the evidence, none of her individual arguments can be dismissed as indefensible, merely wrong. Her problem is that the totality of her thesis does not conform to the Occam's razor conclusion that the historians she criticizes got it right.

I seriously doubt that more than a tiny minority of ancient historians will be converted to Budin's conclusions. But she offers a reasonably argued case for her improbable hypothesis, and for that reason should not be dismissed as unworthy of consideration.

(1) Budin acknowledges that the Deuteronomist prohibited Jews from becoming nuns or monks, but argues that the words did not imply a sexual element. Her assumption is that her translations are right and the vast majority of previous scholars are wrong - not impossible, perhaps, since the persons she cites as agreeing with her cannot be dismissed as nobodies; but not probable. She also asserts that, when reformer kings banished qedeshoth and qedeshim from Yahweh's temple, such persons were practitioners of goddess-religion rather than Yahweh-religion. While extraneous to her thesis, such a leap of faith calls her whole methodology into question.

(2) This argument cannot be turned against myself. While I assert that The Fully Translated Bible is correct in translating elohim as "male and female gods," and all bibles that translate it as "God" are wrong, I do not accuse their translators of incompetence. Rather, they knowingly and intentionally falsify a dual-sex generic plural into a male, singular, proper name, in order to promote the pretence that bible authors believed the same things taught by modern religions.

William Harwood

Henry's Bookshelf

Famous Monsters of Filmland #251
Richard Corben, et al.
IDW Publishing
5080 Santa Fe, San Diego, CA, 92109
9781600108365 $12.95

This issue revives this noted publication for fans of monster-horror-fantasy movies. And surprising as it may seem, this updated version competes with movies visually; and the articles give background on different aspects of such movies adding to an appreciation of them for fans with broader literary, media studies, and artistic interests. Vivid, brightly-colored illustrations seem to spill off the glossy pages, arousing the chills and thrills of the movies themselves, but also allowing for closer view and study of different monsters and characters (e. g., three stages of one character's "near-fatal 'sunburn'" in the HBO series True Blood). Other illustrations include close-ups of monsters from a forthcoming film, mutilated victims of monsters, and also black-and-white stills from classic monster films. Even the ads are compelling with their imaginative artistic compositions and varied products.

The ten articles too plus the editorial material are varied, relevant, informative, and entertaining in their content. These at points display the campy style spoofing both the films and the fans' attraction to them. Some titles are To Create a Predator - Behind the Scenes with Knb Efx!; Dark Skies Ahead - Upcoming releases from Dark Sky films!; The Visual journey of Karl Freund - A master of classic horror!; Dinosaurs, Blues and Rock 'n' Roll - The fantastic art of William Stout!. The exclamation points are a giveaway of the campy style. Basically though the articles on moviemaking techniques, noted persons in the field, historical topics, and artists and their monster art are solid with unique material. There's also an interview with Ray Bradbury followed by an exclusive, two-page short story.

This is one specialized periodical fans of monster movies for sheer entertainment or for the movies' reflection of aspects of popular culture will want to follow. A final note on a related topic: This publisher IDW is now also doing a series of graphic comics on subjects ranging from science fiction and horror to war heroes of interest for their outstanding graphics and topicality.

How The Crimes Happened
Dawn Potter
CavanKerry Press
6 Horizon Road #2901 Fort Lee, New Jersey 07024
9781933880174 $16.00

For Potter, crudeness is a means of orientation; and is also the gravity of memory and the seeds of vision. Thus one sees her tauntingly parading the garish--as in the opening words of "Sleep" where, "I flaunt my silk underwear,/one more slit-eyed bitch..."; who knows that to the one she is taunting, "Any old hag is the girl of your dreams...[and she is] time's cynic...." Eroticism and reality mingle, crudely mingle to furnish orientation as dead reckoning.

In other poems, the scope is broader and nexus more complex. The five-page "First Game" is not just a lengthy compilation of sights and behavior of parents, infants, students, teams, cheerleaders, etc., at a high-school basketball game--but a weaving of a cosmos of community complete with enthusiasms, romance, trepidations, and other feelings. In the end, all is right: the boys on the floor, embarrassing parents and sisters alike, worrying grandparents, hopeless, and playing in their ardent awkwardness, "They belong to us."

Potter's poems are constructed with a wit and insight which keeps the common imagery and settings fresh and revealing.

Henry Berry

Hila's Bookshelf

A Northern Light
Jennifer Donnelly
c/o Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
215 Park Avenue South, NY, NY 10003
9780152053109 $8.95

Sixteen year old Mattie Gokey has been worked hard ever since her Mom died. It's 1906 in upstate New York, Mattie's father has quit the lumber camps to watch over his children and tend his farm, and with his income severely lowered, money is tight. Each day Mattie is faced with worries over food, money, and the future while also looking after her three younger sisters and trying to keep them-especially the two youngest-in line, and bring them up right.

With all that to deal with, Mattie barely finds time to go to school, pick berries and fiddleheads to sell with her friends, or look up a "word of the day" in her beloved dictionary. But when her father finally agrees to let her work at the hotel a few miles away, Mattie's life is swept up in the guest house life, learning the ropes of cooking, waitressing, and cleaning. Soon she realizes that some things aren't as they seem. A boy who seems unreachable starts to look at Mattie in a different way, her beloved school teacher starts seeming oddly haggard, and a guest who gives her some letters to burn turns up at the bottom of the lake with no sign of her lover.

If all those things are different from how they look on the outside, maybe Mattie is too. Maybe a rough farm girl can go to a big town college; maybe she could find a life for herself between the well educated words of books. Or maybe, all she can do is dream.

This book is one of the strongest and well told stories I've ever read. Mattie's character was strong and well focused, and pulled the story along. I appreciated the first person narrative that brought her voice to life in my mind, and the powerfully constructed sentences and chapters. Each word had a place, and each page drew me farther into the depths of the story until I was lost in it, with my only escape route being the next chapter, the next section, until I reached the end.

The author had a superb way of weaving the story together, bringing in sections from two different times in Mattie's year at just the right moments to create one story, and then joining them into one at the end, like a strong rope. From the first page to the last each character was strong and convincing, the author Jennifer Donnelly made me care about the small town life of so long ago, she made me imagine what it was like, made me explore my own thoughts as I explored the pages she had written.

But even though the book took place in a small rural town, there wasn't a dull moment. There were surprising and satisfying twists and turns and revelations. Although the book was based with daily life, the corn and the beans, the chores, the regularities, the author managed to have a fair share of excitements and mishaps. The author seemed to understand the life back then, she seemed to know Mattie like she was herself, and her other characters as if she had been living with them her whole life.

This is a great work of historical fiction. I highly recommend it to anyone interested in that time period, anyone who wants a superbly crafted novel, or anyone who wants to get to know a character like a best friend. All the way through this book holds up as inspiring, rich and overall, true.

Dark Angel
David Klass
Publisher: HarperTeen
0060887001 $7.95

17 year old Jeff has been running from his family secret for five years. His family moved from their home town shortly after it happened, and since coming to Pineville Jeff's sole focus has been to rebuild his life. He's tried to forget, tried to pretend it didn't happen, tried to hide it from his friends, and most of all tried to make sure that he, his family and his life are safe and secure. Then he finds out his brother is coming home.

With that news Jeff's world is suddenly spun into a new orbit. No body knows he has a brother, not his teachers, not his soccer team, not his best friend, Smitty, not even his fiery and beautiful girlfriend, Beth. As his older brother, Troy, comes home and tries to fit in with the rest of his family, Jeff struggles to keep control of himself. He desperately clings to the life he has built, trying to pretend nothing is different, hiding his relationship with his brother, even as Troy gets a job at the local grocery store and starts meeting the rest of the town.

But when Jeff's soccer rival disappears after Troy pulls him out of a fight with Jeff, Jeff sees that it's almost impossible to hide the facts anymore. That Troy is his brother. That Troy got out of jail after only five years because of a legal detail. That Troy was in there for murdering a kid. That Troy might kill again. And maybe he already has.

In Dark Angel David Klass spins a gripping tale of family ties, self realization, secrets, relationships, second guessing, and of what it means to be brothers. I was sucked into Jeff's world on page one and held there by a firm grip, unable to shake loose my curiosity and intrigue for this story. The emotions are deep and raw and the relationships both sad and strangely fierce.

I enjoyed this book because it grappled with some interesting and tender issues: what it means to have a family member in jail, what to feel about a person who has killed somebody, how to cope with a changing world. And although I'm not sure that the author really nailed the story, and dealt with the emotions and characters in a fully realistic way, I appreciate the author's point of view and efforts.

I had mixed feelings about the way Troy was represented. I wasn't convinced the ending was completely realistic, that Troy would have done what he did, but at the same time, I'm not sure what would be realistic. I thought it was interesting though, how I instinctively wanted to pin some sort of label on him, I wanted him to be either all good or all bad, but in the end I had to be satisfied with a mixture. It was hard to feel that someone who had killed a kid was "good," yet just as hard to believe that someone could be all "bad." And in the end it just made me question my own want to categorize things as "good" or "bad."

It was hard to understand or relate to the relationship between Jeff and Troy, but that was one of the things I thought the author did valiantly. Even if their relationship wouldn't have been like that, David Klass made me understand how it might have been, and did a good job of putting me into Jeff's shoes.

Some things I would change would be the writing style for Jeff's voice, especially in the beginning. I would start out with a different scene, or a different introduction than Jeff talking directly to the reader. I also really wanted to know more about what had happened in the family's previous life. There was no explanation as to how Jeff and Troy turned out so differently. Just tiny hints would have been enough, but not even that was supplied. I wanted to know more about why Troy killed the kid five years ago, but there was no explanation other than Troy saying once that "He had it coming."

I would also change the character of Smitty some, because the "big teddy bear" character is a cliche, and I couldn't really relate to why they were such good friends if all Smitty did was feel depressed about global warming, and cry over logger head turtles. One way to change his character would have been to make him more proactive, maybe signing up with an organization to help marine life or something. I would also have Jeff do a little more showing of what was happening instead of telling what happened. Although that for the most part was well balanced, and seemed to work to make a good pace of the story.

But I would recommend this book, even with its faults. Not because it is a page turner, not because it has a gripping plot, and not because it is an interesting read, though it is all those thins, but because it makes you think. It makes you grapple with your own emotions, question your own values, and ultimately, wonder about the structure of our society. It's interesting, pretty well written, intriguing, satisfying, and definitely worth the

Theodore Boone, Kid Detective
John Grisham
Dutton Children's Books
9780525423843 $9.93

Theo is a thirteen year old lawyer. At least, that's what he'd like to be. He's not quite there yet, but he's trying. Both his parents are lawyers, and Theo goes into the courthouse to view trials almost every day. He knows lots about the judicial system, and likes to use his knowledge to help his "clients," the other kids at school. But when Theo gets caught up in a big murder trial, he comes to realize he may be in a little over his head. He knows something, something that could condemn a man to prison, or possibly even the death penalty. But he can't tell.

John Grisham's first legal "thriller" for kids has a lot of the right ideas, but unfortunately, the book is total bungo. The story is unbelievable, the characters, especially Theo, are too perfect, and the relationships are phony. The story is boring, and doesn't get going until the last pages, where you learn that there is actually going to be a sequel, which the author seems to think is an excuse for a lousy ending. The only reason I couldn't predict this book was that it was too predictable. I kept thinking, "Oh, I bet this is going to happen, wait no, that would be too obvious" and then, disappointingly, it would happen.

John Grisham feels patronizing and seems to think kids can't deal with anything other than paper dolls moving around the page with no feelings, no troubles, and no human traits, only living in a surreal world where everything feels fake and predictable. Don't waste your time on this book. It's not worth five minutes.

Hila Shooter

Janie's Bookshelf

The Haunting of Sam Cabot
Mark Edward Hall
Damnation Books
P.O. Box 3931, Santa Rosa, CA 95402-9998
9781615720309 $4.50

Mark Edward Hall's short ebook, The Haunting of Sam Cabot, is a chilling read. It is the story of a man who buys a house for his young family and discovers there is more to renovations that fresh paint and plaster. Granted for those of us who've been through a major remodel, that scenario can be a horror story in itself, but usually has a happy ending that you can live with for a long time. In this story, however Sam Cabot deals with an uncanny oil-burning furnace, a well that smells like it's the gateway to hell and may even hold monstrous creatures in it, and the former owner turned handyman who knows more than he's telling. Though a short read, The Haunting of Sam Cabot is a clever but creepy story that will make you look closely at any older home, especially a fixer-upper.

John Belushi: His Final 24 Hours
Glen Salzman & John Vandervelde, producers
MVD Visual
H-840 North Circle Drive, 422 Business Center, Oaks, PA 19456
B003BWQDE6 $14.95

John Belushi: His Final 24 Hours is part of a documentary series released by MVD Visual and Cineflix International. Through stills, film footage, interviews, and reenactments, each volume in the series tries to discover exactly what happened to a celebrity during the last twenty-four hours of their lives and what factors brought them to their fatal ends, including brief biographical information that has a bearing on their deaths.

In John Belushi: His Final 24 Hours, viewers get a glimpse of Belushi's private life and his comedic genius. He is compared to Buster Keaton and Charlie Chaplin, both of which were masters of slapstick. The DVD also reveals the extent of his heavy drug habit. Interviews by those closest to him, especially his wife Judy Belushi-Pisano and his best friend Dan Aykroyd, show a human side to this icon and how they had to work to keep Belushi drug free. But insights by Dr. Drew Pinsky reveal the depth of Belushi's addiction and how an addict behaves. This information positioned along side of statements by people who worked with Belushi during the 70s reveals a much different attitude toward drugs than we have today.

John Belushi: His Final 24 Hours is a tasteful rendering of John Belushi's life without any sugarcoating. It is frank and yet sensitive and offers something deeper than a tabloid expose of Belushi's last days. Very well done.

Janie Franz

Karlene's Bookshelf

In Shade and Shadow
Barb Hendee & JC Hendee
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780451462503 $7.99

A new series that continues the original Noble Dead series by the same authors, this one takes up the tale of Wynn Hygeorht, the tiny sage that followed the original heroes through dangers and unknown landscapes. That series left off with her returning to her homelands once again, this time bearing texts believed to have been written by vampires from the time of the Forgotten History and the Great War.

Believing that the best place for these ancient manuscripts would be her Guild of Sagecraft, she quickly finds that isn't the case. The books are taken from her, she's denied access to them. and worse, people are now dying because of them. No one will believe what she says and her mentors make others think she's lost her mind. The one sage who believes her she isn't sure she can trust.

After promising to stay away from her at the end of the first series, Chane reappears to complicate her life. As if having him weren't enough confusion, a majay hi (who she finds a special former connection with) joins her side as well.

This book is slow to start, compared to the previous series, but picks up about the middle and doesn't lose momentum. It ends with the same feeling the other books give of flipping that last page and asking "More?"

Prince of Shadow
Curt Benjamin.
DAW Books
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
0756400058, $7.99

This epic tale starts with a small slave boy on Pearl Island. A near death experience changes the course of his life from the pearl beds to the gladiatorial ring to questioned royalty. The Asian flare to the background is exquisitely detailed, making the imagery rich and almost visible to the reader.

This first book in the "Seven Brothers" series introduces us to Llesho, who was only seven when the Harn invaded Thebin. He believed that he was the only one of his family to have survived the Long March, ending with him being sold into slavery. Through interesting turns he discovers his six brothers are believed to be alive but enslaved in other lands, and that it is the goddess' will that he find and free them. He is joined in his adventure by former mentors in the form of animals and men and women he is humbled to realize will lay down their lives to protect him.

The 426 pages fly by, leaving you wanting more when you close the book. Highly recommended reading!

Karlene Clark

Karyn's Bookshelf

Dean King
Little, Brown and Company
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780316167086 $25.99

In a timely tribute one year after the 2009 death of the last surviving female member of the Chinese Communist First Army, bestselling author Dean King traces the footsteps of 30 women who in 1934-35 participated in the First Army's 4,000-mile march across China. They were fleeing the Chinese Nationalist Army, that was in constant, close pursuit.

In intricate detail that makes for a slow but rich read, King particularly focuses on 15 women who were drawn in the 1920s and early 1930s to the Communist Party's denouncement of long-time practices such as arranged marriages and foot binding. When the First Army and three other Communists Army contingents fled attacking Nationalist forces in 1934, the women thought themselves fortunate to be chosen to participate; just 30 female marchers were among 86,000 First Army members. Over the next year they took part in a horrific walk through unspeakably harsh terrain that ranged from freezing mountaintops to quicksand marshes. Along the way they faced Nationalist gunfire, hunger and illness.

The most jarring accounts are of women who gave birth on the march and left their newborns behind, sometimes with local villagers and sometimes on the side of the road. Repeatedly amid his 335 pages, King recounts such abandonments, drawing on previously published accounts and on new interviews with survivors conducted by himself and a Chinese journalist colleague, but expertly leaves judgment to the reader. Were these women wrong to leave their children to almost certain death for the sake of a political cause? Was it blind devotion to the cause or a calculated choice for these women who were smart and educated enough to be valued by the Communist Party leadership? The sad irony of their choice rears its head less than halfway through the book, as shades of the paranoia that ultimately came to mark the reign of Communist leader Mao Zedong surfaces as marchers accused of disloyalty, including some women, begin to quietly disappear.

King notes that many of the female marchers were later persecuted for disloyalty, some to death, during the Chinese Cultural Revolution that began in 1966. But there's also a case to be made that these women had no other choice but to join the party, and to follow its rules, with the alternative a life of oppression that had plagued Chinese women for millenniums. And having joined in the march, deserting the army with a newborn would have set them up for potential execution as traitors, or for capture by the Nationalists.

The births also often occurred in remote locations, where survival without the support of their comrades, who would continue on, might have been impossible. One account notes that a newborn that stayed with its mother for a short time quickly died of exposure. Deserving of sympathy or condemnation? That's the reader's call.

In addition to culling newly unearthed and existing written resources and interviewing survivors, King walked a portion of the march route himself, lending observations on the terrain and regional culture that add to the tale's depth. An epic account, finely written, that at long last gives due to the women who survived to tell about it, whether or not you agree with their choices.

Crossing the Tracks
Barbara Stuber
McElderry Books
c/o Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
9781416997030 $16.99

Debut author Barbara Stuber offers up a lot of good things in her teen novel "Crossing the Tracks," the best of which is her use of dialogue. Although her characters tend to lean a bit too black and white, with a cast of distinctly good and bad people that could have benefitted from more nuanced personas,

Stuber's excellent use of speech, that magnificently draws out each character's personality through their words and underscores their histories and challenges, makes that misstep forgivable. The spittingly angry drawl emitting from the curling lips of a 1920s-era abused teenager is palpable, as is the alternately unsure and brash voice of Iris, the 15-year-old heroine whose father packs her off to a remote Missouri town so he can pursue a business venture - and a fiance-- in distant Kansas City. Iris' mother died when she was a child.

A few pages into the novel comes the first wonderful back-and-forth, as Iris explosively reacts to the realization that her father is about to send her to Missouri. Her rant is countered by the even-tempered words of Leroy, a young male friend whose presence grows in importance by the story's end. "Don't tell me this isn't pathetic. Don't you dare," Iris rages after discovering the impending move in a letter addressed to her father. "I've just committed a crime to find out that that sneak has been planning to get rid of me for God's sake. It's not fine." To which Leroy responds that she should simply refuse to go. That doesn't happen, of course, and Iris finds herself in rural Missouri, hired as a companion to Mrs. Nesbitt, an elderly woman whose son is the local doctor.

As Iris and Mrs. Nesbitt become acquainted, they help each other sort through a myriad of issues including the deaths of Iris' mother and Mrs. Nesbitt's son and ultimately the death of Iris' father in a tragic train accident. There's also a side story about helping a young neighbor who has become pregnant by her abusive father. As with the too-distinct characterizations, Stuber gets slightly heavy-handed in her use of metaphors such as dusting off memories and, hobo-like, finding your way home. But the tale's warmth, originality and Stuber's generally wonderful writing prevail. A memorable first try, and an author to watch.

Beautiful Creatures
Kami Garcia & Margaret Stohl
Little, Brown and Company
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Ave., New York, NY 10017
9780316042673 $17.99

Debut authors Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl swirl onto the teen fantasy scene with "Beautiful Creatures," a impressively crafted tale of age-old magic, small-town witch hunt hysteria and irrepressible young love, set in a tiny southern enclave with deep Civil War roots. Soon to turn 16, Lena enrolls at Jackson High School hoping for a chance at normality. But with a deeply twisted family background of colliding light and dark magic, that's unlikely. Meanwhile, even before he sets eyes on her, classmate Ethan Wate senses a mind-to-mind connection with Lena in life-like dreams. That connection deepens as Lena and Ethan meet and their relationship grows. Some of the book's best moments are conversations Ethan and Lena hold in their heads, sometimes when they are sitting next to each other, sometimes when they're separated by great physical distance. As the two desperately seek a way to stop Lena from being claimed by dark magic on her 16th birthday, they magically see back in time to the Civil War, where tragedy struck another pair of young lovers on the grounds of a once grand, now ruined local estate. The key to Lena's fate rests with knowing the end of that Civil War era story, and in thwarting the adults who think protecting her from that ending is in her best interest. Great storyline complexity comes in the form of the local librarian and best friend of Ethan's recently deceased mother, who aids in their search of an ancient spell book that might have answers; Ethan's increasingly unbalanced father and spirit-calling housekeeper; and Lena's variety of spell-caster relatives. Unlike in some teen fantasy novels, were you need a glossary to keep track of the various magical elements, Garcia and Stohl thankfully don't get too complicated. They offer readers just enough verbiage about spell casters to lend significant depth to the story, but not enough to overwhelm. And a continuous sprinkling of just-in-time humor, that particularly pokes fun at members of the local Daughters of the American Revolution and their teenage daughters, nicely balances out the more intense moments. An all-around success with follow-ups, hopefully, to come soon.

The Freedom Business
Marilyn Nelson, author
Deborah Dancy, illustrator
c/o Boyds Mills Press
815 Church St., Honesdale, PA 18431
9781932425574 $18.95

Poet Marilyn Nelson pointedly notes in a preface to "The Freedom Business" that 18th Century African-American slave Venture Smith was "wholly destitute of all education," having never had a chance to attend school as a boy. Readers must keep reminding themselves of this as they progress through his gracefully worded memoir, that begins before his capture at age six and transport to the United States and ends in his old age, after he has worked his entire life to buy his freedom and that of his family members.

The memoir, set on alternating pages with Nelson's poetic interpretation of Smith's life in-between, is an uncommonly heroic tale of a man who, despite a lack of education and seemingly insurmountable odds, spent his entire life working long hours on a master's plantation, then worked additional hours in off-plantation jobs in order to pay white masters to free him and his family. Smith's straightforward narrative style is contrasted with Nelson's poems, which chronologically progress alongside the fact-driven memoir. The poems effuse more emotion than the narrative, trying to get at what Smith might have been feeling, not just empirically experiencing.

After Smith's capture and sale to the United States, Nelson writes that he had the "same face, same eyes but (was) inside utterly transformed, harmed past healing by the cheapening of human life." Illustrator Deborah Dancy's drawings require study and quiet contemplation, helped by a note at the end of the book which explains how they are not so much an illustration of the storyline, but a response to the emotions drawn out by the poems. Without the poetic and illustrative contributions, Smith's memoir might have been lost to time. But Nelson and Dancy's efforts elevate it, bringing out things that were too difficult - grammatically and/or personally - for Smith to put into words.

Andy Shane, Hero at Last
Jennifer Richard Jaboson, author
Abby Carter, illustrator
Candlewick Press
99 Dover St., Somerville, MA 02144
9780763636005 $14.99

In the latest installment of the popular series, likeable elementary schooler Andy Shane returns in "Hero At Last." The book's four chapters, which Andy spends thinking of ways he might become a hero, (rescuing a cat from a tree…tossing a rope to someone who has fallen into the river), are filled with warm humor.

The black and white illustrations, also warm and funny, are a perfect compliment. As the story progresses, Andy's heroic aspirations alternate with his desire to win a bike decorating contest that is happening in conjunction with a local festival parade. Ultimately, he has to choose between making it to the judge's stand for the post-parade bike decorating contest or saving the day by rushing a dropped drumstick to a high school bass drum player. Without a drumbeat the high school band is falling into disarray, threatening to derail the entire parade. Of course,

Andy chooses to pick up the drumstick and sacrifices the contest. The plot is simple yet satisfying, filled with child-centered situations that young readers will relate to, and a conclusion they'll smile with.

Karyn Saemann

Logan's Bookshelf

The Brubury Tales
Frank Mundo
Infinity Publishing
1094 New DeHaven Street, Suite 100, West Conshohocken, PA 19428-2713
9780741459756, $14.95,

Through history, things again and again repeat, and the tale of a millennia ago rings much of the tale today. "The Brubury Tales" is a collection of short stories of the format of seven security guards exchanging stories to passing the time after the Los Angeles riots. With inspiration from many literary classics and plenty of original spin, "The Brubury Tales" is a fine collection and not one to be missed.

One Foot In Front of the Other
Andrew Leon LeClair & Angel Logan
1663 South Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781450058308, $19.99,

To lose over a hundred pounds is truly a feat. "One Foot in Front of the Other: A Man's Journey Away from Obesity" tells the story of Andrew Leon LeClair and how he loss one hundred twenty five pounds and kept it off for over three decades. He tells his story of how he lost his weight and how keeping the weight loss was at times harder than losing it. "One Foot in Front of the Other" is a memoir of weight loss with much inspiration, highly recommended.

The Bootlegger's Secret
Michael Springer
Outskirts Press
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432757922, $15.95,

When you're 11, you may play cops and robbers, but when in between real cops and robbers, life gets a lot more complicated. "The Bootlegger's Secret" tells the story of Mark and Swedge, two eleven year old boys who get a gangster's cigarette case after he turns up dead. Now they find themselves aimed for by the treasury and Capone's gang alike, and there's nowhere safe. "The Bootlegger's Secret" is a read that shouldn't be missed for young fiction readers.

The 19th Element
John L. Betcher
Privately Published
9781451521016, $17.95

Nuclear power is generally regarded as safe, clean, and sustainable. But its dangers come in the exploits of evil. "The 19th Element" follows operative James Becker as he's placed against Al Qaeda and their plot to use a Minnesotan nuclear facility for the biggest terror attack in years. With only his wits and experience and a single friend, they are tasked with stopping terror, and it won't be easy. "The 19th Element" is another entry in the John 'Beck' Becker thriller series, highly recommended.

How to Have the Best Possible Life Now and a Perfect and Spectacular Life for Eternity in Heaven
David Nelson Carr
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432757229, $18.95,

Being a son or daughter of God is the ultimate pursuit of faith. "How to Have the Best Possible Life Now and a Perfect and Spectacular Life for Eternity in Heaven: Become a Most Cherished Prince or Princess of the Most Powerful King" is a guide to becoming a better disciple of God through Bible study and living a more intent life under God. With advice for understanding and plenty of wisdom, "How to Have the Best Possible Life Now and a Perfect and Spectacular Life for Eternity in Heaven" may be the advisory some Christians need.

The Approaching Sun
S. D. Hildebrand
Outskirts Press
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432754433, $12.95,

What if Japan wasn't the sole invader of American soil during the Second World War? "The Approaching Sun" tells the alternate history of how instead of attacking Pearl Harbor, Japan attacks the Western Coast of the United States, while at the same time, Germany launches an east coast assault. Pincered on a war on the home soil, President Roosevelt must answer to this stronger and more intense attack. "The Approaching Sun" is a fascinating spin on history, and a riveting and highly recommended read.

The Persistent Objector and Customary International Law
Charles Quince
Outskirts Press
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432756055, $29.95,

Within borders, law is easy. But international law is another matter altogether. "The Persistent Objector and Customary International Law" discusses the history of international law and the strange concept of the persistent objector rule. With discussions on the development of international law, and looks at how law has developed through international trade and war crimes, "The Persistent Objector and Customary International Law" is an intriguing and useful read, highly recommended.

Top 5 Questions to Ask Your Doctor
Jim Sutton & Sagar Nigwekar
Outskirts Press
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432758264, $12.95,

It's your body; you should know what's going on. "Top 5 Questions to Ask Your Doctor" is a guide to five questions that should be asked of your doctor when you receive a diagnosis of a certain condition. Every person is different and every person has their own personal physician to help them face these problems, and knowing the right questions to ask is a key element in empowering one's own health and taking charge. "Top 5 Questions to Ask Your Doctor" is a read that shouldn't be missed.

The Balanced Way
Abdullah Telmesani
7290-B Investment Drive, Charleston, SC 29418
9781439244128, $13.99

A mad dash for the prize leaves you wide open for failure, while fear of failure can paralyze you and never let you near success. "The Balanced Way: The Path to Excellence and Contentment" is a self-help guide designed to help readers come to understand the details and places they need to find their own place in life and understanding, a state where they can comfortably pursue their dreams. "The Balanced Way" is wisdom with a key understanding that living a comfortable life is the first step of success.

Windfall the Cellmate
Gary Turcotte
Outskirts Press
10940 South Parker Road, #515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432757854, $15.95,

Some people truly weren't meant for prison. "Windfall the Cellmate" tells the story of an aging contractor shoved into prison. His only hope lies in a cellmate to protect him from the more vicious of the prison population. A story of a man trying to survive in prison with little to protect him but a bought off cellmate, "Windfall the Cellmate" is an intriguing story of prison and people who aren't cut out for its politics.

Carl Logan

Margaret's Bookshelf

Blood Flowers
Mary Judith Ress
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 300, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781440194580, $17.95,

A bloodless revolution seems like so often a distant myth. "Blood Flowers" tells the story of missionary Sister Meg Carney as she finds herself with two different revolutions thrown at her during her time working throughout South America and the challenges of her life as a sister of the faith and more. "Blood Flowers" is intriguing and entertaining reading.

Through Her Father's Eyes
Sharon L. Comer
Xulon Press
2180 West State Road 434, Suite 2140, Longwood, FL 32779
9781606478066, $12.99,

Lost in life, the finding of faith often offers direction. "Through Her Father's Eyes" is a collection of poetry from Sharon L. Comer, as she reflects on her own experiences being lost in life and finding God through poetry. Thoughtful with plenty to think about, "Through Her Father's Eyes" is a fine read, cover to cover. "What Do You Attract?: Honey": What is your nectar?/Is it your character and grace/coupled with peace and tranquility?/Or is ti charm and tactlessness/coupled with envy and strife?/Is Your Nectar Sweet and Robust coupled with discretion and/discernment? Or is it sour and scornful coupled with/attitude and contemptuousness?/Just be aware, "like the bee is to honey"/also is man.

Fairy Tale Lust
Kristina Wright, editor
Cleis Press
2246 Sixth Street, Berkeley, CA 94710
9781573443975, $14.95,

Who says fairy tales only have to be for children? "Fairy Tale Lust: Erotic Fantasies for Women:" is a collection of erotic fairy tales aimed for women offering many short stories placing a spin on blending sexual fantasy with traditional fantasy. For anyone with a love for the magnificent and heated passions, "Fairy Tale Lust" will prove to be an intriguing read, not to be missed.

The Illness That Healed Me
Janice M. Weinheimer
Vantage Press
419 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016
9780533161997, $26.95,

It's hard to realize anything is wrong until it's too late. "The Illness That Healed Me: An Account of Surviving Sexual Abuse and the Journey into Healing" is a memoir of Janice Weinheimer as she confronted a decades deep depression rooted in her childhood of abuse. But when it starts to affect her health, she finds she has to confront what has welled up inside. "The Illness That Healed Me" is a remarkable journey of the power of self in facing the past.

Canny Granny
Elizabeth Gardner
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9780595475209, $11.95,

Showing discipline is the job of the parent, spoiling them rotten is the job of the Grandparent. "Canny Granny: How to Be the Favorite Grandparent" is a guide for grandparent who wants to earn that special piece of the grandchildren's hearts and create a bond that will last past childhood and further. From long distance relationship problems, living close, and other situations of grandparent/grandchild relations, "Canny Granny" is a top pick for any grandparent who wants to have their own campaign to be world's awesomest grandparent.

Labour Pains
Kay Blugh Gaymes
Author House
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781449061296, $14.49,

Through the discomforts of life, one must remember God is always there. "Labour Pains" is a faith driven inspirational writing as Kay Blugh Gaymes encourages readers to never stop praying and keep up hope through their lives. Poignant and spiritual, "Labour Pains" is a choice pick for anyone looking for the dedication to live their lives in God's glory.

God Didn't Do It
Christiana I. Chineme
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781449058098, $20.49,

The will of God is something that proves ever hard to understand. "God Didn't Do It: He Only Signed Off on it" discusses the plan of God and encourages readers to maintain their faith and stay steadfast even when it looks like God isn't there for you. To keep faith in the worst of situations, and to remember that ti will all work out in the end. "God Didn't Do it, He Only Signed Off On it" is an intriguing work of faith, highly recommended.

When Ties Break
Margaret Norton
Tate Publishing & Enterprises
127 E. Trade Center Terrace, Mustang, OK 73064
9781616632656, $19.99,

Loss is something that one will face over and over again; what matters is how it's dealt with. "When Ties Break: A Memoir About how to Thrive After Loss" is a memoir of Margaret Norton, detailing her vast experience with loss, as she hopes readers will read her tale and use her story to help them deal with their own challenges in life. Inspired by faith, "When Ties Break" is strongly recommended.

Thoughts of a Dreamer
Gale Leatherwood
Vantage Press
419 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016
9780533162277, $8.50,

With a lifetime of experience, Gale Leatherwood brings readers something to remember. "Thoughts of a Dreamer" is a collection of poetry from Leatherwood, looking at 80 plus years of life and coming to readers with a simple and profound collection of work. "Thoughts of a Dreamer" is charming and recommended reading for those looking for heartfelt work. "Not Lonely": I walk the sands alone -- Not, lonely,/As passerby believe//But in their twinkle/I perceive, Their gnawing flesh/Of need.

The Wife Who Walked Away
Sharon L. Clark
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781440166051, $17.95,

Hopeless relationships are most hurtful when they aren't realized as hopeless. "The Wife Who Walked Away: A Journey Through Abuse" is the reflections of Sharon L. Clark as she discusses her nightmare engagement to who she thought was her high school sweetheart and turned out to be a nightmare she almost never escaped. Encouraging women to recognize the signs before it's too late, "The Wife Who Walked Away" is a solidly recommended read that encourages women to remember their lives are theirs alone.

Never Trust a Stranger
Jamie Cortland
Publish America
PO Box 151, Frederick, MD 21705-0151
9781448934003, $24.95,

The slightest attraction can lead to more - much more than can be handled. "Never Trust a Stranger" is the story of Eddie Haywood and his attraction to Danni, and how Eddie's personality disorder leads to a very... unusual situation for Danni. A story of love gone wrong and the worst it can spawn, "Never Trust a Stranger" is a riveting read for suspense lovers.

Margaret Lane

Molly's Bookshelf

Aaron's Wait An Elliot Smith Mystery
Dorien Grey
Zumaya Publications
9781934841402 $14.99

Dorien Grey's Aaron's Wait An Elliot Smith Mystery brings the reader under the spell of Elliot and his 'friend' John once more; if that is, an unseen entity can be called a friend.

Reader's first met Elliot and John on the pages of Grey's His Name Is John An Elliott Smith Mystery. The recently deceased John as well as Elliot Smith himself were not at all sure where they were, or how they had gotten there. Elliot finally realized he was in a hospital room, and someone who is not there sits in the chair beside his bed. If you have not yet read; you may want to pick up a copy.

And now, Elliot's life is filled with his business, buying and refurbishing of properties in Chicago, his family, sister and her detective husband and their children as well as the Elliot and Cessy's parents who are primarily spending their old age in travel, and his almost partner Steve, and, John who still can not be seen is nearby.

Artist Steve has discovered a great old structure to paint, and as he begins sketches and walk about of the building he learns the edifice is for sale. The older couple owning the apartment building need to move, the husband's health is poor.

Talking with the couple Elliot learns the building is nearly empty despite being in perfectly nice, although now the former splendor condition as when it was first built. An offer is made, and accepted, the sale is underway when Elliot visits Mrs Reinerio, the only resident remaining in the site, other than the Wolinski's, the owners who are quickly packing to leave. It is then that Elliot discovers he has just purchased a haunted building.

From that point we follow Elliot and his construction team as they work to renovate the building to its original state, and John's work to learn who the entity is remaining in the building, and how he has come to not make the crossing most do at the time of death.

Steve and his artist's eye leads to a wonderful canvas portrayal of the site; complete with a shadowy figure in the apartment window where Aaron Stiles had lived with his partner Bill. Aaron died 4 years ago, of a heart attack, brought on by a broken heart says Mrs Reinerio. As Mrs Reinerio relates it; Aaron's life was filled with sadness, his only living relative a homophobic brother and business woman sister--in-law reviled Aaron and his gay leanings. That revulsion did not go so far as to turn down monetary help offered by Aaron during his lifetime.

As Elliot juggles work, his family and relationship with Steve; John and Elliot work to discover
just what happened with Aaron's partner Bill.

Grey's brilliance as a novelist progresses with each new thriller he creates. As always Writer Grey provides a well crafted, fast paced, action driven account filled with deceit, greed and treachery all created through unforgettable writing skill. Setting features specificity to draw the reader into the sequence of events, a full cast of credible characters move the tale along, and a marvelously complex plot certain to tickle the fancy and pique curiosity of the most demanding reader are all part of Grey's writing.

With each new book Writer Grey proves his growing accomplishment as an excellent author well capable of creating unique characters to feel affection for, some to despise and all designed to add to reader enjoyment.

John and Elliot, a most unlikely duo, are appealing, attention-grabbing and interesting, the interchanges between living and entity shown in italicized words add much to the narrative.

As the final paragraphs are examined the reader closes the cover having a sense of having been struggling right along with Elliot as he works with John to unravel the mystery, keep his sis at bay and get that new building renovated.

Watch those red herrings. Writer Grey continues moving beyond crafty and down right sneaky to add tingle and trickery in his presentation of those little stumble blocks.

A superb addition to the home library, Grey's Aaron's Wait An Elliot Smith Mystery is sure to be read and enjoyed alike by straight and gay reader's who take pleasure in a touch of whimsy, pain in the neck but lovable family members, and the inexplicable along with down right good writing when enjoying a definitely NOT run of the mill 'whodunnit.'

Happy to know Dorien is already working on the next in the series. Keep 'em coming Dorien!

Happy to recommend Dorien Grey's Aaron's Wait An Elliot Smith Mystery 5/5 stars.

Creating a New Normal…After the Death of a Child.
Sandy R Fox
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln NE 68512
9781450230940 $20.95

Sandy Fox's "Creating a New Normal…After the Death of a Child" commences with a lovely poem 'You Are in Every Sunrise'.

Fox notes early in the work: This book is written in short article form, so that each one can be read individually or a few at a time. As a parent who experienced the sadness of losing her only child, daughter Marcy to a car crash four months after her daughter's wedding, Fox began a never ending grief journey during which she has learned much about grief and the grieving process. In an effort to help other who may be going through their own grief experience Fox has set down on paper some what she has discovered.

Written in eight parts Creating a New Normal…After the Death of a Child is designed for counselors, friends of the grief stricken, and the bereaved themselves.

Part 1 - General Coping Strategies for the Bereaved is a grouping of nearly three dozen articles covering crucial dealing with the stages of grief and how time is important to the grief process. Teaching others about personal grief, making the marriage work following death of a child, coping with the out of place responses well wishers may use when talking with bereaved parents, in addition to many more subjects all pertaining to the death and subsequent sorrow facing parents.

Fox points out there is no one size fits all to the grieving process; each person, even individual parent of the deceased child will face loss and grieve in a different way, and at different tempo along with dealing individually with religious aspect of individual grief in an individual manner.

Often times people who are attempting bring comfort and ease the suffering of the newly bereaved do not understand that grief is a process and each step of the grieving process must be undertaken for the healing of grief to take place. Shock, the awareness of loss, a withdrawal from outside influence for a time followed by healing and renewal are all faced by a grieving parent.

Fox offers tactics for maintaining a child's memory, how to deal with the predictable feelings of guilt and anger following a death, methods for taking care of the self and messages of hope offered by others who have also been travelers along this journey. Learning the variation in how men and women face grief, methods for dealing with pain and suffering, and the beneficial value to writing about grief are all discussed.

Fox offers a brief summary of grief work using the acronym TEAR:

T = To accept the reality of your loss
E = Experience the pain of your loss
A = Adjust to the environment without the deceased
R = Reinvest in the new reality

Part 2 provides insight into and tactics for coping with the special instances likely to cause a renewal of grief to appear. The oft repeated phrase holidays are the hardest is frequently very true to the grieving parent. Ignoring that fact leaves the bereaved unprepared for their feelings when those moments do appear. Fox points out it is okay to know ones own limitations, to change family traditions to take into account the new reality of the family and to use a support system as needed.

Part 3 - offers some twenty articles filled with informational methods for coping with grief.

No longer are grieving individuals left on their own, or simply given a pat on the back and an admonition to get over it, deal with it, or buck up.

If there is no support group in the area; Fox provides information for how to start one in the grieving persons area. She discusses music and conferences all dedicated to the understanding of grief and the grieving process as well as how to write letters of condolence, and taking care of various aspects aside from the grief itself is vitally as important for bereaved parents to learn about, accept and come to terms with in order for healing to take place.

Fox offers this timely quote first written decades ago: In three words I can sum up everything I've learned about life. 'It goes on.' - Robert Frost

Part 4 presents a series of articles from the authors own personal experiences written to provide individual coping strategies designed to aid the bereaved. Life does go on and Fox believes the bereaved must learn to deal with all facets of the process in order to come out on the other side of grief.

Part 5 is a series of ten inspirational stories from bereaved parents in which is reflected the thoughts of single parents and couples as they have faced the loss of their child and how they have learned to deal with that loss.

Fox provides methods for taking the love shared parent with child into a future filled with promise and hope. Fox offers her personal recommendation regarding various books dealing with grief available today. Summing up this section Fox indicates; in the end, we learn that no one ever fully recovers, but instead, learns to live and accept their child's death and moves on with their lives.

Part 7 offers ideas and strategy for finding help when dealing with grief and recovery. Web sites and support groups are available. Fox offers information for where to look and how to find help.

Part 8 is the section filled with Fox' Closing Thoughts and her desire for all bereaved parents in the world that each will find comfort, hope and the courage to face your tragedy in the days, weeks, months and years to come. In doing so, you will come out on the other side of grief.

Write Fox has taken a personal tragedy and turned it into not just a life changing experience but one filled with memory, hope and positive behavior. Fox today writes, attends seminars both as a speaker and as an attendee, has started a support group for parents in her local area and has embraced the new normal of her life as a parents whose child is no longer living.

I found Sandy Fox' Creating a New Normal…After the Death of a Child to be a highly readable work, filled with many important techniques and methods for dealing with the one thing no parent wants to face as well as what to expect from grief itself. Fox fills an important niche in the informational wealth available to us today; child rearing books abound, as do those meant to guide newly weds into marriage which will last.

In a nation filled with self help and furthering understanding there is a notable lack of material available to those facing loss. Sandy Fox' Creating a New Normal…After the Death of a Child helps fill that gap well.

Happy to recommend Sandy Fox' powerfully written, well executed Creating a New Normal…After the Death of a Child for those who may be grieving that loss, for counselors, therapists, friends of the bereaved and those who don't have the circumstance in their own life, but feel they would not be well equipped to face the situation were it to appear.

Return of the Outlaw
C. M. Curtis
Granite Publishing & Distribution
868 North 1430 West, Orem, UT 84057
9781599360478 $16.99

C.M. Curtis' Return of the Outlaw opens as battle rages, it is mid 1800s, The War Between The States is in full sway and 20 year old Jeff Havens, Ham Keyes and Bob Webb find themselves right in the thick of things.

Jeff Havens has loved Anne Hammond from childhood; during his long absence while off fighting in the war Jeff carries a locket holding Anne's likeness and writes to her faithfully, why she does not answer is something he finds puzzling.

Returning home Jeff is ready to put the awfulness of war behind him and resume the life he knew before going to serve his country.

However, much has changed when Jeff finally reaches home. Anne is engaged to marry someone else. Jeff leaves behind the only family he has; his grandfather and a long time, trusted comrade, Amado Lopez. Lopes is the man who raised Jeff.

It is seven years later when a letter finally catches up to Jeff; he learns that his Grandfather has died. It is time to go home.

It doesn't take long before Jeff realizes that much has changed during the interim. Jeff begins to understand he has enemies he doesn't know, and it these enemies who have killed his friends, and taken his ranch and are now running riot in their effort to have Jeff labeled as an criminal and hunted like a outlaw.

It seems pretty hopeless for Jeff as he tries to stand up to the group and their undending quest for more land, riches and influence.

I enjoyed reading C.M. Curtis' Return of the Outlaw. The plot forwards the story through a maze of conspiracy, intrigue and deception.

A page turner; Return of the Outlaw proves itself to be a well written, character driven, fully detailed western. The story moves quickly, characters are convincing, matter-of-fact and nicely fleshed. The well developed account keeps readers thinking, on their toes and turning the page.

Maneuvering, trepidation, ambiguity, letters hidden, the conniving of a mother, achievement along with even a bit of romance are all part of the tale.

Action abounds, the ending is satisfactory and well wrought, Return of the Outlaw has a little something for everyone.

Happy to recommend C.M. Curtis' Return of the Outlaw

Orchards of Deliverance
Victoria L. McColley
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200, Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781450557214 $8.74

Victoria L McColley's Orchards of Deliverance The Descrying Soul of Love is a collection of delicate, ethereal, fresh, poetry set down by a poetess having a tender heart and tender voice.

Opening with a gentle thought to 'Embrace the blessing of Love's Peaceful Unison Through Forgiveness & Devotional Visions of Emotional Wealth…' bard McColley presents more than 100 of her works beginning with 'Love is a purity of Silence' with works centering around The petals of life in bloom.

Here we find beauty 'Beneath the Velvet' with indigo prisms; beneath this velvet sky, a sensual moment in 'Your Kiss' with Intimate throne of passion Unveiled within your kiss and the poignant 'Authentic Life' Image of a broken mirror; Where no illusion lay… The shards of reflective truths; Are the slivers of heartened dismay.

'Offering silence within tenderness: Love touches without words' is found in the 'Spectral Soul' and serenity embraces the portals of creative semblance.

Other titles include Voice of Serenity, Zephyr of Midnight, Within the Unity, Summits of Love, Love's Tide and I Chased Love; all embracing the themes of caring, gentleness and words from the soul.

Desires, Affection, Passions Moon and Love's Voice continue the petals of gentle love and affection. Closing out the work is the reflective I Chased Love in which the writer tells of chasing after love only to realize that love had actually come to her.

'You are a beautiful petal in the garden of love, A glorious blossom; the Effloresce of love' sums up the work nicely.

Orchards of Deliverance is a work of nearly 200 pages including a table of contents, the odes themselves and an index.

I found the stanzas set down by versifier McColley to be tender, having an understated quality and filled with a joy of life. The use of lilies as graphics between the various pages filled with delicate canto continues the sense of a gentle heart and thought. I like the use of black and white photos; they lend an airy feel which colors might overpower in their luminosity.

I enjoyed reading Orchards of Deliverance. McColley is a talented lyricist who sets down free verse flowing from an inspired heart to carrying the reader toward philosophy of life, compassion and affection.

Happy to recommend Victoria L McColley's Orchards of Deliverance The Descrying Soul of Love for those who enjoy kindhearted verse one petal at a time.

Micaela Morris in Jo's Heaven
John Howard Reid
Lulu Publishing
3101 Hillsborough Street, Raleigh, NC 27607-5436
9781430324768 $9.50

John Howard Reid's Micaela Morris in Jo's Heaven is an anthology of some fifteen short stories most of which have been published and many of which have won awards and prizes when entered in various writing contests.

The reader first meets Micaela Morris as she travels a narrow roadway to Jo's Heaven. In the words of Micaela's mum the track is 117 miles of scrub. Micaela was not deterred, she dreamed of Jo's Heaven at night, and she imagined all kinds of fantastic possibilities for what she might find should she actually set out along that roadway. Micaela thought it was a trip worth the drive.

Wright and Wrong leads the reader to Raymond Wright, poet and the mystery which slowly resolves until the reader comes to a surprising ending.

Once again Micaela is the central figure in Plain Glory, while Kawbury, Kentucky is the focall setting in another or more of the offerings. Micaela continues to appear in one then another of the offerings interspersed with other intriguing tales.

Sink or Swim brings the reader to Kings Crescent and one Conrad Joyce, Con to most, and his plans for the future, one that he hopes will be prosperous and filled with some ease. One scheme after another seems perfect only to end in hopelessness. On the other hand, if you keep trying then sooner or later something does come through, doesn't it?

From Fan-Fan, a wee rabbit, to Kinkhead's Dilemma and what do with a local ne'er do well to a new stove as the reader peruses Changing Times writer Reid's broad spectrum writing talent is apparent.

Simon the Seer, Position Chorus Position, Party First and Lacey are more of the varied, appealing and captivating titles for works sure to rouse the curiosity, interest, and intrigue the reader.

John Howard Reid's Micaela Morris in Jo's Heaven is a perfect book to tuck into purse or brief case for those moments when a heavy tome may be too much. The wait at the dentist's office, or while sitting at the railroad crossing waiting for the train to pass, or stopped as the 4th grader runs back to the classroom for something forgotten are perfect times for taking out Micaela Morris in Jo's Heaven. Each tale is told in a few pages, stories are quick paced, filled with language tone, gradation and nuance as only John Howard Reid can create.

I like this Australian writer's style, settings are nicely portrayed to draw the reader into the action. Characters are fleshed with enough detail to allow the reader opportunity to like, dislike, ponder or simply enjoy. Each storyline is set down with skill.

All in all, John Howard Reid's Micaela Morris in Jo's Heaven is an out of the ordinary, and, most enjoyable read.

Happy to recommend John Howard Reid's Micaela Morris in Jo's Heaven.

Molly Martin, Reviewer

Nicole's Bookshelf

The Pack
LM Preston
Phenomenal One Press
P.O. Box 8231, Elkridge, MD 21075-8231
9780984198979 $14.99

LM Preston is back with a vengeance with her second young adult novel, The Pack. The action-packed drama takes place on a colonized Mars where children are disappearing at an alarming rate. But the kidnappings are not random. The perpetrators are targeting the sons and daughters of the planet's security force. Their goal is to create chaos on a global scale in order for their illegal drug trade to flourish. The children are merely pawns in an intergalactic game. Until they take Shamira's brother, David.

Shamira is a teenage girl whose adolescence is super-charged. She is longing for a perfect first kiss. She is a techo-geek with exceptional computer hacking skills. A botched childhood medical procedure fuels an intense inner rage providing her with extraordinary fighting abilities. And her parents are both members of the security force, thereby placing a bulls-eye squarely on her back.

Being blind, it would seem that Shamira is an easy mark. But make no mistake, she does not think of herself as anyone's victim. She is a lethal force similar to Ben Affleck's visually impaired hero in Daredevil. Her other senses are magnified. She can hear an individual by the sound of their approaching footsteps. She can hone in on a person's unique scent. She can feel the slightest change in temperature through her skin. She uses her disability to lure enemies into a false sense of superiority. Shamira always fought her own battles - some of which she even created because she hungered to fight. There was an urge inside her, something she barely controlled. She thought to herself, I may be blind, but I'm definitely not helpless.

That is until she meets Valens, a dead ringer for a curly-haired Justin Timberlake. He tries to save her from an attack that ironically she orchestrated. Her frustration is evident, but there is no denying their mutual attraction. Shamira doesn't want his pity, but little does she know that she has secured his admiration. As an outcast, Shamira isn't good at letting people in, but Valens is determined to breach her defenses. What ultimately brings them closer together is their common goal to find the missing children whose number includes their own siblings.

Like Bella and Jacob in the Twilight saga, they favor motorcycles to follow leads throughout the decrepit underbelly of Mars society. They join forces with other teens who are victims or recent escapees of the underground crime organization, Monev (venom spelled backwards, indicative of their lucrative narcotics dealings). To topple the power structure from within, they form a pack of informants, freedom fighters and jailbreakers.

After a trip to Earth, Shamira returns to the fight physically changed. Yet her transformation doesn't ease her insecurities. Figures he'd be after the double-Ds just like every other guy. Shamira's fists balled up. She took a deep breath and reminded herself again that he wasn't hers. This is dangerous. Kids have never accepted me before. Why should now be any different? She pushed away that false feeling of hope, of true friendship, something she had always looked for when she was younger. The friendship she had tried to give many times as a younger child was only thrown back in her face and used to make her the butt of their jokes. Her younger years of hope had been torn to shreds when her friendship was used for trickery. It caused her power to be revealed and become harder for her to control. She had almost crippled a kid with her strength, a kid that almost killed her as a joke. That was behind her now, and it was a lesson she would always remember. It was this lesson that would keep Valens and this group of misfit kids away from her. She would never give her trust to another; they always used it against her.

Preston creates technology rich in detail. Generators pump fresh oxygen into the air. Holograms relay messages. Bejeweled rings serve as tracking devices. Skin-tight suits offer protection from firepower and the poison of laser shots. Motorcycles are named like pets and obey verbal commands.

Preston's writing includes violence, swearing and sexual innuendo. Teenagers will find these themes commonplace in most entertainment media, but parents should be advised that this book may not be appropriate for younger readers.

Overall, The Pack reinforces the adage - never underestimate an underdog.

The Red Queen
Philippa Gregory
Touchstone Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
9781847374578, $25.99,

A manic desire. A refusal to let things go. An unwavering belief in one's importance. Meet Philippa Gregory's The Red Queen. Margaret Beaufort is the matriarch of England's Tudor dynasty. How she got there is a story of persistence, plotting and piety. Her tale is immersed in the blood of the War of the Roses that divided Britain for generations. Civil strife revolved around two families both claiming the right to rule - the Lancasters (the red rose) and the Yorks (the white rose). Margaret is a Lancaster who during her lifetime sees power shift multiple times. In her heart, she feels with all of her soul that the Yorks are usurpers of authority, and that only the Lancaster line has the God-given authority to rule. As a woman she cannot participate on the battlefield, but behind the scenes she relentlessly campaigns for her side. Every prayer, every thought, every moment of her life is centered on cementing the rights of her family and debilitating her enemies. She is a formidable force - maybe not as famous as her descendants Henry VIII and Elizabeth I - but certainly just as driven.

The aspiration of Margaret's life is to see her son, Henry on the throne of England. Henry's father is Edmund Tudor thereby introducing the ultimate victor of the War of the Roses power struggle. Her son is the center of her world, even though she is separated from him for much of his life. This complete and potentially destructive devotion is similar to Halle Berry's portrayal of Alex Haley's Queen. Maternal love is deeply rooted in fear, both real and imagined. Protective instincts are permanently kicked into high gear - they are constantly on alert. Imminent danger is something to be expected, without exception. Their sole purpose in life is to protect their child from danger. A child whose future will fulfill all of their hopes and dreams.

Margaret sacrifices her entire life for her self-proclaimed royal destiny. She will not stop until she can sign her name with a flourish as Margaret R. - Margaret Regina. When her first husband, Edmund Tudor dies, she falls in love with his brother, Jasper. The two resist their feelings for each other by placing the needs of Henry before their own. Instead of being happy with her gentle, peaceful second husband, Lord Stafford, she sees him as weakling who runs from conflict. He is kind to her and offers her a loving home protected from the violence of civil war. But it is still not enough, she only criticizes him for compromising with the Yorks. Her relationship with her wily third husband, Lord Stanley is based solely on strategy. The two form a partnership based on establishing her son as liege. Nothing more, nothing less - the only thing is Margaret doesn't know if she can trust him. Like Jessica Lange in Hush, she does not establish any formative romantic relationships for herself, instead she focuses on potential matches for her son. She'll even have him betrothed to the daughter of her arch rival - the York queen, Elizabeth Woodville - in order to firmly establish her son's reign by uniting the families.

Margaret's role model is Joan of Arc. As a young girl, she claims to have a vision of the girl warrior. For the remainder of her life, she compares the sanctity of her life to that of the saint. She cannot fail, God is on her side. She twists religion to suit her own needs. As her self-serving spouse Lord Stanley says, "Yes, because you think God wants your son to be King of England. I don't think your God has ever advised you otherwise. You hear only what you want. He only ever commands your preferences. He always tells you to strive for power and wealth. Are you quite sure it is not your own voice that you hear, speaking through the earthquake, wind and fire?" So convinced of her cause, she likens the tactics of her rival, Elizabeth Woodville, to witchcraft. On the eve of Henry's planned invasion a storm swallows his fleet. Margaret thinks, I have no-one to talk to but my God, and I cannot always hear His voice, as if the rain is blotting out His very face, and the wind blowing away His words. This is how I know for sure that it is a witch's wind.

The Red Queen's cast of characters reaches operatic proportions. Keeping tabs on who is related to who and where they fit into history can get confusing for a reader not steeped in British royal lore. Gregory keeps dates clear by listing the month/season and year at the beginning of each chapter. Events are depicted in chronological order from 1453 through 1485. At the end, the narrative suffers from a change in point-of-view when Margaret takes a back seat during Henry's military takeover. At times, Margaret's inner thoughts get repetitive. Her intense focus on her son is admirable, but a more well-rounded personality would be more realistic.

Overall, Gregory tries to make the most out of an unlikeable queen.

Nicole Langan, Reviewer

Paul's Bookshelf

Robina Williams
Twilight Times Books
P.O. Box 3340, Kingsport, TN 37664
9781606191835 $18.95

Third in a series, this fantasy novel is about Quant, a house cat who can cross between physical dimensions (and do a lot more than that).

Gaea (Mother Earth) has had it with mankind's wanton destruction of her resources, including plants and animals. After being physically attacked by a man, and left in a ditch, Gaea is ready to wipe mankind off the map. Quant, now in the form of a humanoid seraph, takes Gaea to visit God, the Lord of All (the Big Boss). God allows Gaea to warn mankind, or otherwise kick him in the rear end, but if there is any vengeance or smiting to be done, He will do it (and no one else). The pair gather a few friends, including Briareos (with fifty heads and one hundred arms), Cerberus, the three-headed Hell Hound, Demeter, Zeus and Triton, to see if they can change mankind's thinking.

Meantime, the brothers at a rural friary are entering the world of green living on the orders of their leader, Brother Polycarp. Their initial reaction is reluctant, at best, but they soon get into the spirit of starting a vegetable garden, baking with fruit from their own orchard, and occasionally walking instead of always taking the car. Quant uses them as an example to Gaea that some humans are trying to live the right way.

When those giant factory fishing vessels, with the nets that destroy the ocean floor, are at sea and about to deploy their nets, they are suddenly best by huge storms that come out of nowhere. They speed back to port to try again tomorrow. The same thing happens time after time; clear skies instantly turn stormy. The sonar systems on all submarines suddenly and permanently malfunction, for no apparent reason. Large parts of the world experience bizarre weather patterns, like dust storms and snow in summer, while those that are living in harmony with nature, like the friary, experience beautiful weather. Does mankind start to get the idea? Does he realize that using the resources of Earth in moderation is actually a good idea?

This is a really well-done novel with a strong, but not overdone, environmental message. The next time you litter or waste resources, just think, Gaea is watching.

Evolve: Vampire Stories of the New Undead
Nancy Kilpatrick (ed.)
Edge Science Fiction and Fantasy Publishing
P.O. Box 1714, Calgary, Alberta, T2P 2L7 Canada
9781894063333 $15.95

This is an anthology of new stories from Canada all about vampires, that mainstay of horror literature.

In the 21st century, Vampires are people, too (so to speak). They go on Oprah, they have teenage daughters (with a unique set of problems in school) and they run for public office. They are jazz and blues musicians, and they have to deal with the fathers of some of the women they have killed. Their bodies can filter out a major blood disease that is ravaging mankind. They breed humans for their flesh, and siphon their blood. When they are born, they need to feed on human flesh, usually the mother's.

They go to clubs, looking for victims, and sometimes run into bored young people who think that being bitten by a vampire will turn them into a vampire, which is not the case. They construct sets of mirrors that allow them to be exposed to the sun, and actually get a tan, without worrying about burning up. Sometimes, they have to deal with demon-hunters, complete with wooden stakes (an occupational hazard for a vampire), who don't always know what they are doing. Occasionally, they appear to bored city workers on public transit (no one else can see them) and convince them that, to become a vampire, they have to murder someone and drink their blood, which is also not the case. There are also vampire vigilantes, who help out people in trouble at night, but who have their own ulterior motives.

Here is a first-rate bunch of stories. I am not much of a horror reader, so I was glad to see that the horror part of these tales was not overwhelming. This is very much worth reading.

Halting State
Charles Stross
Ace Books
c/o Penguin Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780441016075 $7.99

This near-future story is about a bank robbery that exposes a whole lot more.

In Edinburgh, Scotland of the year 2018, a high-tech company called Hayek Associates suffers a bank robbery. A senior officer of the firm panics, and calls the local police, instead of taking care of things internally. Things get weird when Sergeant Sue Smith is told that the robbery took place inside a virtual reality games called Avalon Four. Forgetting for a moment that this is supposed to be impossible, Hayek Associates is about to have its Initial Public Offering of stock. If word gets out, the company (and its virtual economies) will crash hard. This may not be your average bank robbery, but the amount of money involved, over 26 million Euros, is very real.

Elaine Barnaby, a London-based forensic accountant, is sent to Edinburgh to audit the bank from the inside. The unspoken part is that, if anything goes wrong, her firm will plead ignorance, and her neck will be on the chopping block. She is provided with a guide through the world of online gaming named Jack Reed, who, coincidentally (or not so coincidentally) became unemployed the week before.

Very Important People in newly independent Scotland are interested in the case, including the Scottish equivalent of the FBI. Brussels (the home of the European Union) gets involved in the case. There are Chinese hackers involved, who may or may not be assisted by Chinese State Security. Copspace, a sort of private VR database system for the police, which is supposedly secure, gets hacked. It is a world where everyone has access to the Internet through their eyeglasses. There is even a zombie flash mob.

I understood very little of the technical parts, because I know nothing about online gaming, but I loved reading this book. It is very cool and cutting edge, and works quite well as a straight thriller. If I could, I would give this book three thumbs up.

Paul Lappen, Reviewer

Peggy's Bookshelf

Susan Richards
Houghton Mifflin Harcourt
215 Park Avenue South, NY, NY 10003
9780547241722 $24.00

Susan Richards finally found her dream horse in a 3-year old red chestnut Morgan named Georgia. Then only five months after she brought her beautiful horse home, her marriage to an abusive alcoholic fell apart and Georgia became the pawn in their bitter divorce battle. During the year-long ordeal, Susan faced her own demons and quit drinking. Her commitment to giving Georgia the life she deserved helped her begin to live the life she, too, deserved.

Richards' powerful story, "Saddled: How a Spirited Horse Reined Me In and Set Me Free", shows how the animals we love and care for are also a great source of strength and deliverance during the most challenging times. Her honest soul-searching provides a pathway for others to heal from a painful past and make their dreams come true.

Hurricane Mia: A Caribbean Adventure
Donna Marie Seim, author
Susan Spellman, illustrator
Peapod Press
151 Epping Road, Exeter, NH 03833
9780982691106 $12.95

While their mom is dying of leukemia, Mia and her younger brother Jack are whisked off to a remote Caribbean island to spend the summer with Gram and Gramps. With her plans for summer camp ruined and worried about her mom, Mia is stuck in "poor me" mode. She moans and groans about everything. She defies her Gram and sneaks into town where she makes a new friend in Neisha, an island girl. Neisha tells her about Auntie Cecilia, a wise woman who makes a "tea that cures everythin'". Mia decides she must get some of that tea to save her mom. But the woman lives on another island so she drags Neisha and Jack on a reckless and hair-raising adventure out on the high seas.

"Hurricane Mia" is a tale of comeuppance many tweens will relate to. Seim's portrayal of island life and its peoples is vivid. She shows readers the inconveniences and the dangers, as well as the idyllic side. The inclusion of Spellman's drawings - especially the map - add to the story's allure. Seim has also added a glossary, references, plus activities and discussion questions which challenge middle grade readers' imaginations.

Peggy Tibbetts, Reviewer

Regis' Bookshelf

The Moses Expedition
Juan Gomez-Jurado
Atria Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York New York 10020
1416590641 $24.99

You do not have to read much of The Moses Expedition to realize the author is attempting to set up yet another overwhelming action-filled thriller, but I fear it is overdone. Like so many tales before it, the story begins by implanting images in your head that are, on the one hand suspicious, fierce and frightening; but on the other hand they are religious and terroristic; hateful and demonic. In the end, there is simply too much negative action to suggest realism.

The book starts with the horrors of Nazi occupied Austria in 1943 where a Jewish family is hiding in a tiny secret compartment in a judge's home. Mentally unstable after his long confinement in this coffin-like space, one night, a young Jewish boy runs off from his family. Much, much later in the story, this psychically disturbed boy has found his way to America and in ensuing years, has built for himself an enormous industrialist empire known as Kayn Industries.

Another unfortunate son from this same family has been captured and imprisoned in an Austrian hospital where a sadistic Nazi surgeon performs painful, butcher-like, killing experiments on Jewish children to advance the effort of German medicine. Chancing their own deaths, his Jewish parents leave their tiny confinement and dare to offer a precious family heirloom to the hospital's chief doctor to release their son. Of course, the Nazi takes the heirloom and sends the Jewish parents away, only to be captured and left to Nazi devices.

The Moses Expedition jumps to modern times in 2006 where a Catholic priest, after years of searching, locates the hiding Nazi butcher doctor and promises to remain silent IF the long lost killer will give him the heirloom candle he had stolen. Mission accomplished; the Nazi butcher is then found dead. The Vatican has commissioned this priest, through its secret service, to locate the candle. Inside, below any gold that is left over the candle wax, lies a segment of a copper map revealing where the Ark of the Covenant is buried.

But the terroristic radical Muslim world also wants the Ark and will stop at nothing to get it. To them, its ownership will not only justify but enhance their holy jihad mission: converting the non-Muslim world. Not only do they feel justified in their crusade, but they feel obligated to use any means against their foes including merciless torture and death. This, they feel, is the correct interpretation of the revealed word of God.

Then there is multi-millionaire Raymond Kayn (Kayne Industries - above) funding The Moses Expedition to the sacred mountain west of the Red Sea above the Al-Mudawwara Desert in Jordan. He secretly believes that the power of God is inside the Ark. As such the person who has it in his possession will finally be mankind's Messiah. The Ark is thought to contain the Ten Commandment Tablets, given to Moses by God.

To the above mix, add a woman reporter from Spain known for her outspoken tongue, recruited to be part of the Ark expedition hoping to photograph and write a story about the greatest discovery of all time. Of course, the American CIA plays out its hand in this entire affair knowing that some of the world's worst terrorists are involved. Herein lays its chance to nab a few especially those extremists proven as dangerous to America.

Whew! Within the first pages of The Moses Expedition, the reader learns what the quest is. Thus, there are no real secrets left to be revealed; only a multitude of ghastly murders, and betrayals as each Ark "grabber" attempts to sabotage Kayn's unsuccessful expedition. There are sandstorms, scorpion attacks, an assault by an enormous colony of ants, explosions, cave-ins, stabbings, rape, sabotage and a host of formidable weaponry.

All in all, so many things began to happen in the first pages of this book with 95 short chapters that to me, it lost any sense of reality. Few of the chapters ended without something disturbing happening. There are many characters, yet the few the author developed to any extent, are not particularly nice people. Thus, when these persons get killed, their deaths did not bother me. It was just another "so-what-else-is-new" happening.

There are many fascinating books I've read and reviewed, which I could recommend as suspense thrillers, but not The Moses Expedition where the plot carries the story along, not its characters. I think the plot shoved so much intense, negative action into the story that early on the tale lost any sense of excitement for me. I honestly began to grin and think, "Only God knows what will happen on this page."

If you are looking for a great suspense/thriller, I would look beyond The Moses Expedition in spite of the publishing company's hype about the book.

Being Homosexual
Richard A. Isay, M.D.
Random House
1745 Broadway, 3rd Floor, New York, NY 10019
030738957X $15.00

Men who are sexually attracted to their own gender have been discriminated against long enough. Being Homosexual is a doctor/therapist's attempt to help eliminate the tremendous weight of that enduring injustice.

According to Dr. Isay, homosexuals are in every way normal people, normal men, who have all the feelings, hopes, sorrows, loves, desires, as every other person on our planet. In spite of their desire for same sex couplings, gay people must not be looked upon any differently than one person's desire to become a sculptor while another may choose to paint, play a musical instrument, or become a banker, or an athlete.

For generations, homosexuality has been thought of as the result of: 1) too much mothering or a domineering mother, 2) too much fathering, or an insufficient father image, 3) playing with girls as a child, 4) not playing with enough boys, 5) an insufficiency of the male hormone, androgen, 6) fear of women, 7) lack of self control, 8) giving into sinful temptation. The list could go on and on.

After years of counseling both heterosexual and homosexual men, in Being Homosexual, Dr. Isay provides much clinical insight. While a gay man may have experienced one or more of the tendencies above, the observed tendency did not cause his homosexuality. Rather, the man was born with a tendency to be gay. At the present time, there is no proof that homosexuality comes from a specific gene, but it does appear that the tendency to be gay is found at birth.

The damage done to the personality of a homosexual man because of continuing societal attitudes, easily explains why numerous gay men seek psychological counseling. Dr. Isay reports that he counsels men who hide their sexuality, often through traditional marriages, to prove to the world and to themselves that they are not abnormal. One can only imagine what years of denial and loathing can do to this person's self image who accepts and believes society's interpretation of normalcy.

Then too, Being Homosexual talks of those men who accept their male erotic preferences. The sad fact is that, psychologically, these men feel they are weird, queer, fag, abnormal, unbalanced, or in someway freaks of nature - even sinful. Dr. Isay discusses how he has led many of his clients to believe differently. But it takes many counseling sessions, sometimes several years of psychotherapy, before these gay men believe that their preferences are N-O-R-M-A-L for them - to hell with ongoing masculine norms often set by biblical beliefs.

Dr. Isay discusses relationships between gay men. He talks of helping homosexual men accept themselves as normal whether they seek a casual erotic overnight encounter, or a much longer bonding which can last for weeks, months, or even years.

Personally I know two gay men who have been awarded permanent custody of one small boy, and are battling the courts to keep a second child. Thankfully, the issue of custody is not a question of either male caretaker's sexuality. It is a problem with normal parents who have no desire to raise their son, but who are unwilling to consent to permanent adoption.

This short review has barely skimmed the surface of the remarkable insight an individual can gain by reading Being Homosexual. The book is a resource filled with success stories for psychologically troubled men - heterosexual and gay. For men who have been tormented with identity and self-esteem problems, reading about other normal gay males with similar feelings of self-worth can be an end in itself.

The book will be extremely helpful for those men and women genuinely seeking to understand the developmental problems of homosexual boys growing into adulthood. Carrying enlightened information via conversational exchange into the home, the neighborhood, the community, and the church, one educated person can do much to lift the tortuous burden our society still places on homosexuality.

The book is well-written, well-documented, and easy to follow. Of particular interest is the chapter titled, "Psychotherapy with Gay Men." Becoming Homosexual warns of therapists who themselves perceive homosexuality in some way other than normal.

If a gay adolescent or adult seeks counseling because of existing self-acceptance problems, one can only shudder at the harm done by a therapist who makes attempts to cure this individual. Gays are not sick. Gays are not abnormal. Gays are not immoral. Their mental health comes from acceptance of a satisfying expression of natural, sexual preferences.

I would highly recommend this book to all folks, particularly to those who claim disinterest. Burying one's manly brain in hot sand will not make deeply ingrained attitudes about gays and lesbians evaporate. They are normal folks who seek a gratifying life style like everyone else. Because we are all one under the same God, it is only right to embrace all brothers and sisters in a way that brings them the love, honor, and respect, their God-given personalities deserve.

The Whisperers
John Connolly
1230 Avenue of the Americas, New York NY 10020
143916519X $26.00

Why Are They All Dying?

Confession: I am one of those readers who has never read a John Connolly Book. After reading The Whisperers, although I feel I'd like to read other works by this author, I think there are equally mysterious tales, maybe even more credible ones out there, which blend the psychological, the horror, the mysterious, and the paranormal, a bit more realistically.

The story has its beginning in Baghdad (2003) when a bombed Museum of Antiquities is looted by forces of evil and by certain American forces who think they can sell stolen ancient artifacts to pay for the costly recovery of returning troops--those forever broken physically and/or mentally by post traumatic stress syndrome. Some of the artifacts from the museum are smuggled into the United States and eventually across the border into Canada.

Not all the ancient artifacts are harmless. One leaden box, containing boxes within a box from which strange whispers are heard, makes its way stateside along with other priceless bejeweled items and statuary pieces. But the American veterans involved in this Iraqi smuggling operation begin to commit suicide once back on American soil.

The father of one of the dead GIs hires detective Charlie Parker who enlists the aid of his duo of fearless, but well paid protective helmsmen, to guard his hide while he seeks the real reason the distraught GI had pulled the trigger of a powerful rifle, whose shell blew off part of his head. As a nicely paid private eye, Parker slowly, sometimes irritatingly so, begins to assemble what seems to be at first, disparate clues.

Parker has many psychological scars of his own that remain open wounds. My intuition and The Whisperers tells me that this detective's psyche remains disfigured by the murder of his first wife and daughter, followed by the disintegration of his second marriage and the distancing of this wife and his second daughter. Not only does Parker discover a high priced, monumental smuggling ring for a host of contraband between the United States and Canada, but he also opens a forbidding can of worms incriminating the smuggling, suicidal GIs. But why do they kill themselves? Is it sheer guilt; is it really PTSD, or does the answer lie in the mysterious sounds emanating from the box-within-a-box that whispers commands to them.

This intriguing puzzle I will leave for the reader of The whisperers to enjoy. Suffice it to say that this novel includes many horrific scenes: bloodshed, torture, mental pain, and supernatural elements which appear to be a host of good and bad forces/angels waging war against one another--or is this paranormal element merely a contrivance of Charlie Parker's own cortex?

If you enjoy books about the bizarre, the spiritually unknown, the possibility of ancient relics somehow containing real or contrived demonic/mystical elements, or stories where one brave detective survives a host of life ending venues waging war against the netherworld, read The Whisperers. This book will make you understand the horrors of war, while it shows you what untreated PTSD can do to the human soul.

Regis Schilken, Reviewer

Richard's Bookshelf

The Deception Begins
Shawn Patrick Williams
Destiny Image Publisher, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257-0310
9780768432312 $14.99

In his book "The Deception Begins" Shawn Patrick Williams uses the medium of fiction to alert the reader of the sinister dangers of witchcraft and secret sorcery which often result in powerful demonic battles.

Evangelist Bill Batesburg find outs out about a plot put together by Aleister Crowley to use media and business groups to promote his occult activities, which included recruiting young talented unsuspecting teens.

Teenager Paul Heiner became fascinated with the power of secret sorcery. Rebellious and starry-eyed Paul runs a way from home to join a Los Angeles band. Heiner soon faces an ongoing battle of spiritual warfare against the awesome power of prayer

Williams has created believable characters. Pastor Bill Batesburg, young Paul Heiner, Dr. John Farrow and his missing daughter Nancy all play an important role in carrying out an intense plot. Suspense packed drama, strong character development, and stirring dialog all work together to make this a powerful story.

Williams writes with realism. His own life story parallels Paul's a life of drug use, addiction, and dealing. On the brink of committing his life to Satan worship and blood sacrifice, Shawn Patrick Williams had a gripping experience with the Holy Spirit that turned his life around. He later became a minister of the Gospel of Christ.

"The Deception Begins" is the first book in a planned "Secret Sorcery" series. The series is designed to help the reader experience the power to live victoriously as a disciple of Jesus Christ. Convincing and powerful writing with a bold and important message.

The Healing Journey
Thom Gardner
Destiny Image Publications, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768432305 $14.99

Thom Gardner focuses on healing truth that lead to spiritual wholeness in his book "The Healing Journey: An Interactive Guide to Spiritual Wholeness." This is a 49 day interactive devotional guide. It is written for the Christian seeking to revive or experience the process of scripture mediation, and personal prayer, which leads to intimacy with God. Gardner encourages the reader to develop a plan of combining listening to God with journaling what is heard to draw the reader into a new level of intimacy with him. Each daily study is designed to help the reader tune their heart as they meditate on the word of God.

As I considered the guidelines for this 49 day devotional journey I was motivated by a strong desire to experience a deepening of my relationship with the Lord and begin my own healing journey. Each study provides a scriptural truth, a scripture promise, a suggested approach to mediation, as well as life application questions. The reader is lead through each interactive step which culminates in recording a daily entry in their personal "My Healing Journey" journal.

Weekly journal summaries aid the reader in assimilating the focused truth for personal application for victorious Christian living. I found the truths dealing with the topics of fear, insecurity, and anxiety helpful and practical

"The Healing Journey" was designed to be a companion volume to Gardner's earlier book "Healing the Wounded Heart," however this interactive guide stands on its own.

"The Healing Journey" is a refreshing approach to experiencing a life shaping principles that lead to a deeper relationship with God the Father.

The Power of Blessing
Kerry Kirkwood
Destiny Image Publications, Inc.
P. O. Box 310, Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768432329 $14.99

Kerry Kirkwood's describes a lifestyle of blessing others book "The Power of Blessing". I found myself full of expectation as I read the stories and testimonies of the power of blessing, stories of physical and emotional healing, of re-established relationships, and of successful personal breakthroughs.

Kirkwood talks about diverse characteristics of blessing which focus on a lifestyle. He looks beyond materialism as he considers how changing the heart, and prophetic declaration can become creative and restorative. Kirkwood includes both Biblical and contemporary stories to exemplify the ways God restores His divine order. Blessing others brings backs hope, gives back aspirations, and redirects faith to experience the power of answered prayer.

The book comprises four elements of blessing each designed to help the reader better understand the next: the revelation of blessing, the inclusion for blessing, the activation of blessing and the manifestation of blessing. Each section is filled with practical applications which discuss ways we can apply truth to set us free so that we can see things from God's point of view.

The affirmations expressed in the prayers included in each chapter are powerful models which can be incorporated in your personal prayer life. There are also additional suggestions for "Blessing" included in the appendix. There is a direct correlation of life principles to Biblical teaching. These are transforming truths which provide guidelines for living and for reshaping our lives.

"The Power of Blessing" is a written for every follower of Christ. Kerry Kirkwood powerfully leads the reader to open new insight into receiving and giving God's intended blessing on his children. He takes the reader beyond the mundane to pursue a collision course with something big.

Mended by God: The Tony Pack Story
Don Smarto
Frontline Press
P. O. Box 764499, Dallas, Texas 75376-4499
9781424323432 $14.95

"Mended by God" is a story of prayer, perseverance, recovery, rehabilitation, hope and triumph. It is Tony Pack's miraculous account of his recovery after a closed head injury left him in a deep coma as a result of a near death auto accident. Tony was twenty-four years old, athletic, ready for college, with plans to major in the filed of law. The accident left Tony with a dismal prognosis. His family determinedly held to their faith in God and looked for a miracle.

During Tony's recovery and therapy he was blessed with a support team of prayer warriors, his family, his pastor, hospital chaplains, members, as well as countless friends and members of the medical profession.

The sixty pages of photos and a detailed one year journal faithfully kept by Tony's mother Carol relate the events from that fateful day in 1986. Carol kept a day by day account of Tony's progress throughout the trials of his three month coma, his recovery, and his rehabilitation.

"Mended by God" is filled with helpful information for anyone working through similar trials. The story is an uplifting and inspiring testimony of God's grace. It tells of the highs and lows of recovery and of day to day miracles. This is a book for anyone going through the challenge of meeting the difficulties faced in time of the sickness of a child, a son or daughter injured in battle, other times of family crisis, unemployment, or the loss of a loved one. Smarto beautifully weaves the story of how family love and a strong faith played an important part in Tony's healing. These lessons provide spiritual guidance for others going through the testing of adversity.

Strong writing with a powerful message.

Heart of the Young Gladiator
Don Smarto
Frontline Press
P. O. Box 764499, Dallas, TX 75376-4499
9781450706001 $12.95

Don Smarto takes the reader behind the scenes of juvenile correctional facilities and into the minds and hearts of incarcerated gang members and troubled youth in "Heart of the Young Gladiator." The book is the result of Don's four-hour Writing Seminar, taught over a period of six years, in thirty juvenile facilities throughout the United States.

The book includes 55 poems written by youth participating in the seminars as well as 40 photos of prisoners Don photographed in facilities throughout America and Russia. Don explains that the purpose of "Heart of the Young Gladiator" is to show the potential of youth who have only known negative labels, the impact of social prejudice, neglect, and poverty.

The poems are authentic, simple, original, and imaginative marked by a fierce individuality that resonate the inner being of the soul. The writing is haunting, showing amazing insight into self expression, reflection, emotions, and values. They are written in a strong voice, from the depth of their hearts, in a straight forward style.

The still photos of incarcerated teens included in the book portray the pensive expressions of loneliness, hurt, confusion, despair, boredom, hope, and expectancy while in custody.

Don's thirty-three years working with troubled youth and his experience in camera work for NBC News, documentaries, and presswork for PBS qualify him to produce this work of the poetry and photography.

"The Heart of the Young Gladiator" is a heartwarming, eye-opening, account of the realism experienced by youth held in detention facilities throughout our country today.

The Denouement
Hugh Centerville
Create Space
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200, Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781448612635 $12.00

"The Denouement: Christian Theology as Epic Fantasy" is an allegory combining epic literature, mythology, and theology. Hugh Centerville use angels, demons, sorcery, and fantasy as a medium to build a complex plot, which includes a series of events beginning with the Great War in Heaven leading to the final Battle of Armageddon taken from the book of Revelation.

Centerville borrows characters from history to carry forward his plot. These include Alexander, Hannibal, and Caesar. His narrative also includes: Michael the Avenger, Gabriel, Satan, Lucifer, Beelzebub, and Goliath important players found in the Bible. Mythical and fictional characters include: Thebes, Cornelius, Philip, Rowen, Damien, Cobungus, and others.

Well chosen themes of good and evil are reminiscent of the classic writings of: Dante, Milton, von Goethe, and Tolkien. The book is filled with hidden meaning; signs, symbols, that add to the building tension and intrigue of this electrifying saga.

The use of strong verbs and fast moving dialog help keep the story line moving forward toward its crest. Centerville blends a balance of pure entertainment with important background information and theological truth.

Careful research into the Apocrypha, literature, philosophy, and theology provide authority to Centerville's analysis and assumption.

"The Denouement" is a remarkable combination of original thinking, imaginative fantasy, creative conjecture, and thought provoking theology. A timely and important contribution to understanding end-times theology, current events and contemporary mystics.

Richard R. Blake

Riva's Bookshelf

Conscious Footsteps
Dianne Eppler Adams
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781452011479, $22.95,

Conscious Footsteps: Finding Spirit in Everyday Matters by Dianne Eppler Adams is a unique find in the world of books of spirituality. Dianne draws upon her own heightened awareness and her experience as an astrologer to bring an entirely new refreshing perspective to books on spirituality.

Conscious Footsteps: Finding Spirit in Everyday Matters is a self-help book in that it does help highlight practices you could now be doing to help you and the world around you to achieve better balance and happiness.

Adams recognizes we are going through difficult times and acknowledges that more of the same is likely, but she shows ways, such as focusing on the positive or helping with a charity, to get through these times. As she aptly points out the key to surviving these times is to take the focus off of ourselves and put it on someone, or something else.

Another thing Adams emphasizes is the fact it is better to say nothing at all than to tell even a "white lie." She uses the example of someone asking us how we are and the fact we almost invariably reply with "fine." Adams points out that it's better to say nothing than to answer that you are fine if you aren't. Don't be rude or anything, just come up with a true, but non-committal answer.

Adams also strongly emphasizes out uniqueness and how important our opinion is, even when it differs from that of the world around us. Voicing our opinion can help others see another side and may help bring balance, or a better resolution to a situation. She also points out that we need to honor ourselves in our lives, opinions, relationships and interactions with others and the world around us. We need to find ways to both give and receive in our relationships so we can be fulfilled and have an inner well of strength to draw on. We need to not allow fear to hold us back. That only brings about more fear and a constriction in the natural flow of things.

I'm giving away way too much of Dianne's book, but let me point out that these examples are only a very small portion of the life-changing examples of Adams work and these are all in the first few chapters. Also, you can use the book as a daily reference - or whenever you want/need to - just pop it open to a page and apply that point for the rest of the day. It works great.

What follows is an excerpt from Conscious Footsteps: Finding Spirit in Everyday Matters:

"I remind myself that I did not create myself. Therefore, I am not the beginning and end of the strength on which I can call to manage my life. I frequently call on Spirit during the day with an inner thought or wish or prayer. I ask for strength when I feel weak. I ask for clarity when I am confused. I ask for patience when I am frustrated.

The operation of Spirit is not something I fully understand, but I trust it. I consider it humorous that, with our little brains, we think we might understand the vast wisdom of Spirit. For this reason, I believe all religions and belief systems are only partially true. All mystics, seers, and prophets see part of the Truth but not the Whole Truth. They are trying to access the Truth with a puny (relatively speaking) instrument called "the human mind."

When I am fearful, I all on the strength that comes from beyond me and trust that Spirit is handling everything."

The Bourne Objective
Eric Van Lustbader
Grand Central Publishing
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780446539814, $27.99,

The Bourne Objective by Eric Van Lustbader is the eighth title in the series of "Bourne" novels begun thirty-years ago by writer Robert Ludlum. The main character, Jason Bourne is a former covert agent, the end product of a black op government training program named Treadstone. Fans of the character feared that Bourne was finished when series creator Robert Ludlum passed away in 2001, but Eric Van Lustbader took up the series under a Robert Ludlum trademark and has written five books since Ludlum's death.

In this book Bourne is confronted by yet more ghosts from his past. He is haunted by events from his recent past, but also by the ghosts that echo throughout his amnesiac brain, filling him with fear of what his life may yet hold for him to discover.

As The Bourne Objective begins Bourne is shaken by the recent death of a friend and is in Bali where a Mangku, basically a combination of a high priest and a shaman, named Suparwita, is filling Bourne in on a woman from Bourne's past. The woman, a Holly Marie Moreau was killed some time ago in front of Bourne's eyes. Bourne, after killing her murderer has come into the possession of a ring of Ms. Moreau's. With the ring, this thriller begins to move forward; however, before Bourne leaves Suparwita, the shaman shares some grave news. Before the year is over Bourne will die and he must do this in order to save those he cares about. The question now becomes how, when and where will Bourne die?

A man named Arkadin was involved in the much more recent death that has shaken Bourne and Bourne wants revenge. Bourne and Arkadin are two graduates of the black op training program, Treadstone. Different training was used for each man, so they aren't exactly alike, but both are highly trained killing machines. Life, death and circumstance has set the two men on a collision course destined to mean the end for one, or both of them. Time, and the pen of Eric Van Lustbader are the only things in on the secret…at least until you get to the last pages of the book. No peeking ahead, that's cheating.

What follows is a brief excerpt from the early pages of the story. It is written from the point of view of Bourne's foe, Arkadin and recalls a memory of the day he met the girl Jason Bourne now wants to avenge:

"The air had suddenly been perfumed with the tincture of history, a spicy, mysterious scent of rose and cedar. Much later he'd worked out what it was that drew him as well as shamed him. He felt like a student, too ignorant or truant to have learned his lessons. Around her he'd always felt his lack of formal education, like a nakedness. And yet, even from that first meeting, he sensed a use for her, that he could absorb what she had learned. He learned from her the value of knowledge, but part of him never forgave her for the way she made him feel, and he used her mercilessly, treated her cruelly, as he bound her ever closer to him.

This clarity came later, of course. At the moment all he felt was an onrush of anger and, without a word, he whirled away from her, stalking off to find Oserov, whose company, for the moment, seemed preferable to this creature's.

But finding Oserov did nothing to allay his sudden discomfort, so he insisted on changing protocol, removing them from the Hermitage altogether. They walked out onto Millionnaya Street, where he found a cafe before their lips and cheeks grew too chapped from the icy wind.

Snow had begun to fall with an odd dry rustle like predators snuffling in the underbrush, and Arkadin would never forget how Tracy Atherton had materialized out of it. Her deerskin coat swayed about her ankles like icy surf."

Eric Van Lustbader writes lovely prose and spins a good story. There is plenty of tension and suspense in The Bourne Objective. His work is probably as well researched as that of his predecessor Ludlum. Eric Van Lustbader's work isn't as good as Ludlum's was, but it is helped by the fact that Jason Bourne was already an established character by the time he came on board and several movies about Bourne have been made drumming up interest in the character. Finally the fact that Robert Ludlum's name, even as a trademark, is attached to the book gives it credibility. I have even seen the book erroneously reviewed as being written by the two of them. Sadly, this is not the case. Ludlum died in 2001 leaving no known unpublished "Bourne" works behind.

The Bourne Objective is good, but not great. It makes me want to read the books in between The Bourne Ultimatum and The Bourne Objective, but not because of any great merit on the book's part. I want to read the intervening novels because I care about the character of Jason Bourne, his fight against the system and the way he fights back when the wrong things are allowed to happen just under the radar so to speak. If I hadn't already been a Ludlum fan and read the first three books, I would have found nothing about this book to recommend purchasing another one. If you're going to read the novels by Eric Van Lustbader and haven't already read Ludlum's "Bourne" novels I suggest you do as there are wide variations in story lines between the books and the film versions by the same names.

For those of you who might be interested, the titles in the "Bourne" series are: The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy and The Bourne Ultimatum by Robert Ludlum. By Eric Van Lustbader we have The Bourne Deception, The Bourne Sanction, The Bourne Betrayal, The Bourne Legacy and this novel The Bourne Objective. Based on my evaluation of The Bourne Objective, I recommend reading Eric Van Lustbader's body of "Bourne" novels only if you're a die-hard Jason Bourne fan.

Longfellow: Poems and Other Writings
Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, Author
J. D. McClatchy Editor
Literary Classics of the United States, Inc.
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th fl., New York, NY 10014
9781883011857, $35.00,

Longfellow: Poems and Other Writings is a collection of the works of Henry Wadsworth Longfellow. Longfellow is considered, quite aptly in this reviewer's opinion, among the greatest poets of American literature. He was born in Portland, Maine in February of 1807 and he died in Cambridge Massachusetts in March of 1882.

Longfellow: Poems and Other Writings contains examples of some of both the better and lesser known works of Longfellow. The volume is hardly comprehensive and overlooks some of his better known works in order to present lesser known ones, also, two of his more prosaic works, Evangeline and The Song of Hiawatha, appear in their entirety, as do a small sampling of his definitive prose and a novel. Another example of somewhat prosaic work appears in abbreviated form. While recognizing the expediency of a need for space, Longfellow's poems are better known than his prose, so I personally feel the prose should have been given more space.

What follows are two very brief examples of Longfellow's work, the first, a sample from a poem is a personal favorite, read to me by my father as a child. It is from The Landlord's Tale and is entitled Paul Revere's Ride. The second sample is from Evangeline.

Paul Revere's Ride:

"Listen, my children, and you shall hear
Of the midnight ride of Paul Revere.
On the eighteenth of April, in Seventy-five;
Hardly a man is now alive
Who remembers that famous day and year.
He said to his friend, "If the British march
By land or sea from the town tonight,
Hang a lantern aloft in the belfry arch
Of the North Church tower as a signal light,-
One, if by land, and two, if by sea;
And I on the opposite shore will be,
Ready to ride and spread the alarm
Through every Middlesex village and farm…"


"Matrons and maidens sat in snow-white caps and in kirtles
Scarlet and blue and green, with distaffs spinning the golden
Flax for the gossiping looms, whose noisy shuttles within doors
Mingled their sounds with the whir of the wheels and the songs of the maidens.
Solemnly down the street came the parish priest, and the children
Paused in their play to kiss the hand he extended to bless them."

As I already noted, the volume is hardly to be considered comprehensive, although it does provide a reasonable representative sampling of Longfellow's work. Missing are explanatory notes to highlight the text and, as in the case of many other volumes of work from the later part of the eighteen hundreds, and even the early nineteen hundreds, notes to illuminate the lifestyle and obscure meaning of some of the words, which are no longer in use. This is especially necessary in the poems as there are many words which grow out of use over time. A good example of outdated word usage can be gained from the the word "kirtle" in the above quoted example from Evangeline. As with most other things you can find the meaning of the word online, but it is a rather time-consuming task to look up every unfamiliar word online. This gets a mixed review, containing classic, but not providing the best reference material.

Tracy Riva

Sandra's Bookshelf

A Sister's Test
Wanda E Brunstetter
Barbour Publishing, Inc
P.O. Box 719, Uhrichsville, Ohio 44683
9781597892728 $10.99

In the second book of "Sister's of Holmes County," we find the Hostettler family continues to be under attack. "A Sister's Test," is filled with suspense, mystery, murder and a surprise visit from Roman's sister Rosemary, who left home thirty years ago and was never heard from again.

Could the attacker be someone from Grace's past? Or the young Amish man who worked for Roman, and was fired. Why isn't the Sheriff doing more to find the person who is responsible for acts of violence?

"A Sister's Test" is intriguing from the start of the book until the end. If you like this genre you will love this book. -- This book is rated G

A Sister's Hope
Wanda E Brunstetter
Barbour Publishing, Inc
P.O. Box 719, Uhrichsville, OH 44683
9781597892735 $10.99

This is the last book of the "Sister's of Holmes County" series. It is just as good as the other two books were. The attacks on the Hostettler family are still ongoing. It appears that the Sheriff is not helping to find the person, or persons, who are responsible for all the terrible things that have been going on.

Martha is the youngest of Roman and Judith Hostettler daughter's. She has feelings for Luke who used to work for her father before he fired him. Roman is suspicious that Luke may be the person who is doing the terrible things that are happening to his family.

Luke has feelings for Martha also and between them, they try to figure out who is responsible for all the attacks on the Hostettler family.

The end of this book is as visceral as riding on a roller coaster. -- Rated G

Sandra Heptinstall

Theodore's Bookshelf

Forbidden Fruit
Kerry Greenwood
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. 1st Ave., Scottsdale, AZ 85251
9781590587386, $24.95,

It is the Christmas season in Melbourne, Australia and a stifling heat wave bakes the city as Corinna Chapman operates her bakery, Earthly Delights. Corinna detests the season, along with the shopping, the crowds and the festival. Mixed in with making bread and rolls and other tasty goods in a Corinna Chapman novel, of which this is the fifth, there is always a mystery to be unraveled.

It is left to Corinna and her sabra [Israeli born] lover, Daniel, to find two missing teenagers, one of whom is a 16-year-old pregnant girl, assisted by all sorts of characters including a strange bunch of "freegans," vegetarians who proclaim to be free souls. Thus we have the setting of a modern-day manger story, along with a stray donkey and assorted other animals.

Throw in carolers who sing of cooler temperatures and violent actions, and a sinister religious cult, together with a wild chase scene, and you have the makings of another fine story from the author who also has given us the charming Phryne Fisher series.


Junkyard Dogs
Craig Johnson
Viking Press
c/o Penguin
375 Hudson Street, NY, NY 10014
9780670021826, $25.95,

The Walt Longmire series reaches its sixth entry, and judging by the various physical damage the Absaroka County, WY, sheriff absorbs during this episode, one wonders if he can last much longer. He is bitten by a vicious dog in the rear end, suffers from a torn retina, is almost run over by a tow truck and almost shot, among other dangers to his body. Not to mention other injuries, from events in prior series books, some of which have yet to heal.

Common to a Longmire mystery are a series of incidents, which by themselves may not seem important or are just plain hilarious, but usually add up to be interrelated clues to a baffling case to be solved. "Junkyard Dogs" is no different. First Walt is called to the scene of a bizarre accident in which the owner of a junkyard, George "Geo" Stewart, has been dragged two and one-quarter miles tied behind a car driven by his daughter-in-law. After which Geo tells Walt he has found a severed thumb in a Styrofoam cooler.

Then there is the rest of the Stewart clan, son Duane, the aforementioned daughter-in-law Gina, and the Stewart "mansion" with its secret tunnel. Not to mention the developer, Ozzie Dobbs, who would like to have the Stewart junkyard and the adjacent town dump moved far away from his nearby real estate development. And the owner of the severed thumb. All inter-related and keeping Walt and his deputies hopping.

Typical of a Longmire novel are the well-drawn descriptions of the mountains, frigid Wyoming temperatures, and the snow. And more snow. The novel is well-drawn and eminently readable, with the regular cast of characters, undersheriff Vic Moretti, long-time buddy Henry Standing Bear, and, of course, Dog, companion and savior.


Cut, Paste, Kill
Marshall Karp
Minotaur Books
175 Fifth Avenue, NY, NY 10010
9780312378226, $24.99,

A woman, the wife of the British consul in Los Angeles, is found stabbed to death in the ladies room of a posh hotel, a scrapbook recalling her transgression, killing a young boy leaving a school bus while DWI, nearby. Lomax and Biggs, the comic LAPD homicide detectives, catch the call. Then they learn that the FBI has been investigating two other murders with identical MO's for the previous two weeks. Each victim was guilty of some offense but had escaped punishment for one reason or another. And we have the makings of another serial murder mystery.

Additional murders take place, and the wisecracking detectives, teamed up with the FBI, are hard-pressed to solve the case. Meanwhile, Lomax and his girlfriend are pre-occupied with caring for a precocious seven-year-old girl when her mother has to go to China to tend to her dying parent, and Biggs volunteers to write a screenplay based on a concept of Lomax' dad (two ex-cops driving an 18-wheeler and solving crimes on the road, entitled "Semi-Justice").

Not only is the humor twisted, but so is the plot, which keeps the reader twisting with every unanticipated turn in the story. The one-liners come often enough to take the hard edge off a grisly subject and a detailed police procedural. A welcome addition to the series, in which this is the fourth entry, and recommended.

Buy Back
Brian M. Wiprud
Minotaur Books
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9780312601881, $24.99,

Several decades ago, Thomas Wolfe wrote a short story, "Only the Dead Know Brooklyn." Judging from the multitude of bodies strewn throughout the pages of this novel, perhaps that would have been as good a title for it. One would never begin to imagine that an art scam in Brooklyn could result in so much violence, much less double-crossing and improbabilities.

The plot, if one can describe it as a coherent theme, involves Tommy Davin, an insurance investigator specializing in retrieving stolen paintings. In debt to a shylock, he decides to arrange for the theft of paintings from a Brooklyn museum and then "retrieve" them to obtain the funds to repay his debt. Then everything goes awry. The art is stolen, and the thieves apparently paid for the job. Then the money goes missing. Tommy has to go into overdrive to find the paintings or the cash to solve his own problem with the shylock.

Meanwhile, a sniper keeps shooting at Tommy, killing those standing nearby. The victims, of course, are the various participants in the theft, and Tommy is blamed. The madcap story is really overwhelming and incredible, although I'm sure that is what is intended. In any event, the novel is a pretty good tour of Brooklyn. [In the spirit of complete disclosure, this reviewer grew up in the Bronx.]

A Stranger in the Family
Robert Barnard
1230 Sixth Ave., NY, NY 10020
9781439176740, $24.00,

Many adopted children become obsessed with finding their biological parents. That is not Kit Phillipson's problem. His adoptive mother, as she was dying, told him that his birth mother's name was in her address book, and that she lived in Leeds, as well as that he was three years old when he was abducted while the family vacationed in Sicily and ended up "adopted" by the Phillipsons. After the death of his much-beloved adoptive mother, he traveled from Glasgow to visit the Novello family, meeting his biological mother and siblings. He finds out that he was three years old when he was abducted while the family vacationed in Sicily and ended up "adopted" by the Phillipsons.

While in Leeds, he meets visits his supposed biological father, Peter Novello, who is in an assisted living home and in the early stages of senility. He is informed, however, that he is not Novello's son, giving rise to all sorts of questions and leading Kit to investigate his adoptive father's past.

As the past unfolds, many secrets are revealed about the nature of Kit's abduction, and his real grandfather, who has a murky past in wartime Europe and post-war Italy. While this is termed a novel of suspense, it is much more: an insightful analysis of the foibles of human nature and family inter-actions, much less self-discovery on Kit's part, leading to accepting values and morals by which to live. Well-written and intriguing, the book is highly recommended.

Death Echo
Elizabeth Lowell
10 E. 53rd Street, NY, NY 10022
9780061629754, $24.99,

International intrigue is at the heart of the plot which joins Emma Cross, former CIA operative and now with St. Kilda's Consulting, and Mackenzie Durand, former Special Ops leader, the only survivor of his team in its last mission. Now a transit captain, he picks up a brand new yacht, the Blackbird, offloaded from a container ship to bring to a small port where it is to be fitted out. Meanwhile, Emma has been looking for the yacht's twin, the Black Swan, for an insurance company since its disappearance.

The two are thrown together when all the intelligence agencies pick up vibes of an impending terrorist act against a major U.S. urban center. It is not known whether the threat is biological, chemical or nuclear. So Mackenzie becomes the captain of the Blackbird, with Emma as "first mate," on a voyage through the inland passageway on the West Coast of Canada, ostensibly to bring the ship to its new owner. It is quite a trip.

The descriptions of the passageway, the tides, weather and difficulties of steering a ship under various conditions are graphic and exciting. And despite all the dangers from the sea and adversaries, love finds a way.


Skeleton Hill
Peter Lovesey
Soho Press
853 Broadway, NY, NY 10003
9781569478530, $14.00,

Two murders confront Detective Superintendent Peter Diamond in this, the tenth in the mystery series featuring the irascible Bath policeman. Each of the murders apparently took place during re-creations of the battle between the Roundheads and the Cavaliers three-and-one-half centuries ago. The first, which occurred more than a decade before the latest one, was of a female about 20 years old, whose headless skeleton is uncovered by a history lecturer, who is himself later killed.

The two murders seem unrelated, except Diamond's intuition tells him the spectacles on Lansdown Hill in Bath makes them related. Hindered by a lack of clues, the lack of cooperation by his superior, and other obstacles, Diamond has to claw forward, grasping at straws to reach a plausible conclusion.

Written with an eye to Diamond's sense of humor and logical thinking, the novel is plotted carefully to bring the reader forward as Diamond uncovers additional facts and clues. The author includes a significant amount of history and a wonderful appreciation of the Bath countryside.


Death Watch
Jim Kelly
Minotaur Books
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
9780312644901, $25.00,

As far as British mysteries are concerned, this novel is as far out as they go. An 18-year-old case is combined with contemporary mysteries to befuddle the best of detectives, giving DI Peter Shaw and DS George Valentine plenty to chew on, as well as keeping the reader intrigued.

That eighteen-year-old case involved a pregnant 15-year-old girl who disappeared and whose body was never found. However, her twin brother "feels" her death. Two suspects still live on the street where she had lived with her family. Now the charred remains of the brother are found in a hospital incinerator where he was employed to feed waste. The ensuing investigation uncovers other discrepancies at the hospital and it is up to the two detectives to solve the crimes before any more deaths occur.

It is a complex puzzle that faces the police team, one that requires a combination of insight and forensic science. At the same time, Shaw and Valentine are haunted by the botched murder investigation of the young girl, following which Peter's father was virtually drummed off the force. Written with power and a profundity that keeps the reader guessing, the novel is rcommended.

Speak No Evil
Martyn Waites
Pegasus Books
80 Broad Street, NY, NY 10005
9781605980966, $25.95,

Three subplots run through this Joe Donovan novel, the fourth in the series. The main theme involves a book Joe is to ghostwrite based on interviews with a woman, Ann Marie, who murdered a young boy when she was eleven years old. As the interviews continue, further information concerning additional murders of children over the years after her release from prison raise the possibility that she continues to kill. Meanwhile Joe and his team are attempting to recover his lost son, David.

Intertwined with information about Ann Marie's past and present are current-day occurrences, which tend to complicate and frighten her, so she withholds memories from Joe, especially regarding her son, Jack. While she is attempting to come to terms with her evil deeds, it becomes more and more difficult for her, and finally she has to depend on him for help.

The characters are formidable, the prose penetrating, the pace incessant. Highly recommended.

Parnell Hall
Pegasus Books
80 Broad Street, NY, NY 10005
9781605981048, $25.00,

Nobody he knows ever said Stanley Hastings was the brightest PI on the street. In fact, they usually call him "moron." Even he acknowledges his failures at acting and other endeavors, and his main source of income as an "investigator" for a negligence attorney requires little intelligence. In fact he is the only one filling the position who doesn't leave after a very short time.

So it is no surprise (in this or any other novel in the series) that Stanley is taken in and bumbles along some convoluted path until whatever trouble he finds himself in is resolved. In "Caper," he is retained to find out why the client's daughter is skipping school. Well, of course, everything is not as it seems, and at one point a murder complicates Stanley's path to solving the "case." He even becomes a suspect.

Strangely enough, as one reads, Stanley emerges less as a fool and, perhaps, more as an idiot savant. There are major portions of the novel that are very funny. And more important, in today's often dreary world, it is fast reading and an interesting tale, and is recommended.

Dead Line
Stella Rimington
Alfred A. Knopf
1745 Broadway, NY, NY 10019
9780307272546, $25.95,

In the newest entry in one of the better contemporary spy series, highlighting the activities of Liz Carlyle and her co-workers at Britain's MI5, "Dead Line" focuses on the Mideast situation. A conference is scheduled in Scotland for talks between the heads of Syria, Jordan, Lebanon, Iran and Israel. And naturally, intelligence information indicates there will be an attempt at a violent disruption of the conference, blame to be placed on Syria.

And once again it is Liz to the rescue, chasing after all sorts of clues, both*- false and true, relying more on her own instinct than on real intelligence-gathering. That is not to say that a real look at the intelligence apparatus is not provided by the author, who was the first woman to serve as Director General of MI5. MI5, MI6, and the CIA are all involved, along with various security forces, including the Secret Service, and local police guarding the Scottish resort where the meeting is to be held.

Written with a sure knowledge of the subject, the plot is a lot different from the standard spy story, all to the good. The characterizations are vivid, and the prose flows, and it is recommended.

The Whisperers
John Connolly
Atria Books
1230 Sixth Ave., NY, NY 10020
9781439165195, $26.00,

There is always the element of the supernatural in a Charlie Parker novel. And "The Whisperers" is no exception. However, reality plays an important part in the theme, giving the author the opportunity to reflect on the horrors of war and its effects - especially combat stress - on the lives of those who fought them.

There are veiled references to the condition in the Iliad; during the Civil War it was known as "irritable heart;" "shellshock" was the term used during World War I and its aftermath; for World War II it became known as "battle fatigue" and "war neurosis;" then "post-Vietnam syndrome"; and today "post-traumatic stress disorder."

The plot involves a group of Iraqi veterans (all from Maine, Parker's bailiwick), who return home to set up a smuggling operation. One by one they commit suicide, and Parker is retained by the father of one of them to learn the reason for his son's death. This leads Parker to travel an unexpected path

As a result, we meet some old friends, Angel and Louis, who always manage to cover Parker's back. But more important, Parker has to work with an old nemesis, The Collector. And the eerie Herod, a man with strange tastes, and his shadow, the Captain. The characters and the plot interweave on various levels, with prose that mesmerizes the reader. The book is highly recommended.

Julie Dolcemaschio
Krill Press
P.O. Box 396, Rogue River, OR 97537
9780982144350, $17.95,

In case you don't speak Italian, the title of the book means redhead. It also is the surname of the protagonist, a Los Angeles homicide detective by way of Brooklyn and a somewhat ambiguous NYPD background. His father also was a New York cop, which always is in the background, introducing each chapter of the novel.

The plot is a relatively standard detective story, embellished with a love angle to provide an insight into Testarossa's mind and psyche. The main investigation involves the use of steroids by college and professional athletes and those who sell them. It is a pretty good police procedural and gives the reader a good look into how a case progresses and the frustrations of the detectives along the way.

On the whole, for a first effort, the story is well-written and proceeds at a fairly steady pace. There is some schmaltz in depicting the detective's relationship with the love of his life, but, I suppose, that can be forgiven for the dramatic effect intended. Recommended.

Faithful Place
Tana French
Viking Press
c/o Penguin Publishing Group
375 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
9780670021871, $25.95,

Twenty-two years after he left his home on Faithful Place in Dublin, Frank Mackey gets a telephone call from his sister telling him that a suitcase was found in an abandoned house in the neighborhood where he was supposed to meet his girlfriend, Rosie, and together run off to a new life in London all those years ago. Only she didn't show up and Frank believed for years that she had left without him. Instead, he walked away that night and eventually became the police detective/undercover cop he now is.

Frank immediately goes to Faithful Place and in looking over the house, he eventually discovers in the basement human remains beneath a concrete slab. The remains prove to be those of his first love. While officially Frank is removed from the case, an undercover cop has no rules to follow, so he pursues the trail as best he can.

Mackey's efforts to discover who murdered Rosie force him to return and spend time in the poor neighborhood in which he grew up and, more distastefully to him, with his mixed-up family, especially his alcoholic father and domineering mother. He has to re-enter the life and ingratiate himself with old friends to learn about the past. The descriptions and voice grab the reader, and the dichotomy of returning home and hating every minute of it is brilliantly portrayed, as are the foibles and intricacies of Irish families. Highly recommended.

Bill Pronzini
c/o Tor Books
175 Fifth Avenue, NY, NY 10010
9780765318206, $24.99,

The three partners in the detective agency founded by the Nameless Detective undertake three separate cases, each exhibiting a common characteristic: betrayal. In alternating chapters, each case is developed until solved, whether the driving force is personal (in the case of Tamara), involves a child (Runyon) or the elderly (Nameless).

Tamara's case begins as something personal, but evolves into something deeper as she learns more about a sometime lover. It appears he and his mother are con artists bilking gullible marks for phony charities. Runyon's assignment is to find a bail jumper, which leads to finding a different kind of betrayal, pitting brother against brother and husband against wife. Nameless takes on a pro bono case in which an old woman is being harassed, possibly to force her out of her home so her relative can gain access to funds from its sale, and. more importantly, when Nameless returns home to discover his adopted daughter has a secret which leads him to yet another ugly situation.

The Nameless Detective series began in 1966 and now constitutes 34 novels and three short story collections, and is said to be the longest running of its kind. This novel easily could have been three separate short stories, comprising equally entertaining, classic private eye fiction, but is well-written and splendid in its present form nonetheless. Recommended.

The Past Is a Foreign Country
Gianrico Carofiglio
Translated by Howard Curtis
Minotaur Books
175 Fifth Avenue, NY, NY 10010
9780312383961, $24.99,

The evil men do lives long after them. Or does it? That is the gist of this extraordinary tale about Giorgio, a young man studying to be a lawyer in a small Italian city who is drawn into a relationship with a person with few or no morals.

That person, Francesco, teaches him various card tricks and together they begin to play poker as a team, winning substantial sums. Consequently, Giorgio begins to lose interest in his studies as large amount of sums begin to accumulate and he has the wherewithal to buy luxuries, including a BMW automobile. Then little by little, Francesco lures him into other nefarious schemes.

Meanwhile, a serial rapist is active in the town, and the police and other law enforcement agencies are baffled and without a clue. In the end, both elements of the plot come together to provide a moral. While the insights into Giorgio's character and reactions are less than penetrating, the writing is smooth and on the whole this is a fascinating story, and one which is recommended.

Theodore Feit

James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
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