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MBR Bookwatch

Volume 4, Number 8 August 2005 Home | MBW Index

Table of Contents

Donovan's Bookshelf Harold's Bookshelf Klausner's Bookshelf
Laurel's Bookshelf Shelley's Bookshelf Shirley's Bookshelf

Donovan's Bookshelf

Handknits for Kids
Lucinda Guy
Trafalgar Square Publishing
PO Box 257, Howe Hill Road, N. Pomfret, VT 05053
1570763100 $23.00 1-800-423-4525

Over twenty original hand-knitted designs for kids ages 2-5 offers a range of styles for all seasons and pairs fun cartoons with bright color photos of finished products in HANDKNITS FOR KIDS: 25 ORIGINAL DESIGNS. Yarn, needle and gauge details accompany step-by step instructions knitters will easily follow.

Mog Time
Judith Kerr
Collins/Trafalgar Square, Dist.
PO Box 257, Howe Hill Road, N. Pomfret, VT 05053
0007193602 $24.99 1-800-423-4525

Six stories of Mog the cat will make perfect read-aloud choices for parents seeking warm tales to involve the kids at bedtime. MOG TIME: 6 STORIES ABOUT MOG presents a cat which has been whimsical for thirty years: six of the most popular tales are included here, celebrating the cat's popularity for new generations and including plenty of Mog color drawings on every page.

The New First Dictionary Of Cultural Literacy
E.D. Hirsch, Jr.
Houghton Mifflin
222 Berkeley St., Boston, MA 02116
0618408533 $15.00

All the facts kids in grades 1-6 should have at their fingertips - and their parents, to help them out - are packed into THE NEW FIRST DICTIONARY OF CULTURAL LITERACY: WHAT YOUR CHILD NEEDS TO KNOW. Parents typically find themselves less than helpful when asked to help a child with common denominators or world history questions: here are 3,000 definitions, with entries organized by subject area and an index and organization which lends to parent/child interactions. An excellent reference encouraging answers to common school questions and homework.

Time & Eternity
Antje Jackelen
Templeton Foundation Press
81 Maple Avenue South, Westport, CT 06880
1932031898 $29.95 1-800-621-8476

You might think a book titled TIME AND ETERNITY belongs in the science review section, but if the subtitle, THE QUESTION OF TIME IN CHURCH, SCIENCE, AND THEOLOGY, isn't a tip-off otherwise, the chapters covering links between knowledge of time and religious perspectives certain supports its feature here. Scholar Antje Jackelen blends science, religion and philosophy to consider modern understandings of time, eternity, and more, using texts of church hymns in English, Swedish and German to consider relationships between God, time, and mankind. From connections between time and the Trinity to Christian understandings of death to overall Biblical references to time and its nature, TIME AND ETERNITY is a stimulating read.

Contemporary Asian Pools And Gardens
Karina Zabihi and Chami Jotisalikorn
Periplus/Tuttle, Dist.
364 Innovation Drive, North Clarendon, VT 05759-9436
07894601766 $30.00

Homeowners interested in landscape architecture ideas from Asia will want to watch for CONTEMPORARY ASIAN POOLS AND GARDENS, a survey of modern design options in new Asian gardens, from paths and sculptures to water features. Gorgeous, bright color photos of modern garden designs explore different home layouts, materials options, and what helps create the atmosphere of an Asian garden setting.

Randall International
PO Box 7628, Capistrano Beach, CA 92624

Three outstanding new titles offer not just design options, but historical backgrounds on their developments and contemporary interpretations of classics. Charles Randall and Melanie Bysouth's DREAM WALLS (1890379077, $19.95) is the second title in the 'Dream' series, covering all types of wall coverings from wallpaper and paint to stone and paneling. Over 700 color images accompany a fine historical background of wall choices and design, and a source guide offering homeowners ideas on where to locate specialty items - including handy websites for more extensive browsing by manufacturer. Kathleen Stoehr's DREAM FLOORS: HUNDREDS OF DESIGN IDEAS FOR EVERY KIND OF FLOOR (1890379085, $19.95) examines flooring for both home and workplace, pairing color photos with explanations of pros and cons of each type of floor choice. Add details on maintenance and actual style numbers for specifying flooring choices and you have a handy reference source catalog as well as a designer's manual of tips. Charles T. Randall's ENCYCLOPEDIA OF WINDOW FASHIONS: 1000 DECORATING IDEAS FOR WINDOWS, BEDDING AND ACCESSORIES (1890379034, $19.95) completes the extensive references in covering all kinds of coverings, from draperies and blinds to shutters, toppers, and bedspread and pillow matches. From historic treatments to modern options and cost-saving styles, all kinds of treatments for all budget levels offers a satisfying catalog of choices.

Six Secrets of Successful Bettors
Frank R. Scatoni & Peter Thomas Fornatale
Daily Racing Forum Press
100 Broadway, 7th Fl., NY, NY 10005
1932910964 $24.95

If you play the horses and want to win, you can't be without SIX SECRETS OF SUCCESSFUL BETTORS: WINNING INSIGHTS INTO PLAYING THE HORSES. This isn't just a single man's strategy, but a discussion of who consistently wins at a racetrack - and what their secrets are for successful gambling. Research and interviews have identified the winners through two dozen pro player insights - and the traits they share. Using business analysis with traditional handicapping methods and lessons from these pros, a model has been developed to assure wins. Read it and use it.

Langenscheidt Publishers
46-35 - 54th Rd., Maspeth, NY 11378

Two excellent 'Eating In' titles in the "Insight Guides" series to local big-city restaurants, bars, diners and pubs are highly recommended destination-oriented take-along totes: their slim size lends to pockets, their clear descriptions of neighborhoods and local offerings provide plenty of history and background beyond a mere establishment listing, and each establishment listing includes hours, affordability ratings, websites and descriptions. With all this offered you'd think the content would be well-packed and dull - but there's a host of color photos to enliven the books even further. So if you're heading for New York City be sure to bring EATING IN NEW YORK (9814120-812, $10.95), and if it's Paris, don't forget to pack EATING IN PARIS (9814120790, $10.95): the abundance of detail - including color maps - is extraordinarily handy.

Barrier-Free Travel
Candy Harrington
Demos Medical Publishing
386 Park Avenue South #201, New York NY 10016
1932603093 $19.95

From wheelchairs to walkers, there's a host of accessible travel options available to travelers, and the second updated edition of BARRIER-FREE TRAVEL: A NUTS AND BOLTS GUIDE FOR WHEELERS AND SLOW WALKERS covers all aspects of such travel; from maneuvering a wheelchair through new airport security systems to locating the right travel agent and understanding disability laws and rights. Both domestic and overseas travel are covered, cruises and land travel alike, and information is based on logistics and changing environments as much as common sense. No other book delves into the needs of mobility impaired travelers, from special oxygen requirements to challenges in hotel rooms. An essential reference.

Used Book Lover's Guides
Book Hunter Press
PO Box 193, Yorktown Heights, NY 10598

Travelers who are also book hounds will find there's one particular guide which is a 'must' to back on any browsing vacation, and that's one of Book Hunter's USED BOOK LOVER'S GUIDE titles. You can get a print book to take along of either of these latest for $19.95 each- or you can obtain a subscription to their online service and get the print version of the same guide for $25.00. THE USED BOOK LOVER'S GUIDE TO CANADA (1891379003) packs in over 800 used book dealers by location, offers a specialty index to narrow down the choices, and easy travel directions. Ditto for the second revised edition of USED BOOK LOVER'S GUIDE TO NEW ENGLAND (1891379938), which includes the same format and packs in the maps and comments about shops. From number of volumes in the collection to hours of operation, these books are much more than mere listings - they're bibles of information.

In the Realm of Rivers
Sue Walker & Dennis Holt
NewSouth Books
PO Box 1588, Montgomery, AL 36102
1558381722 $39.95 1-334-834-3556

The Mobile-Tensaw Delta is part of Alabama's history, providing an ecosystem rich in animal and plant species and, like most such systems, is currently threatened by urban development. Prose, poetry and non-fiction narrative by Sue Walker blends research - interviews with scientists, historians and preservationists as well as hunters - with Dennis Holt's stunning color photos of animals and nature to provide a fitting tribute to the lasting importance of Alabama's Mobile-Tensaw Delta region.

Garlic and Sapphires
Ruth Reichl
Penguin Press
375 Hudson St., New York NY 10014
1594200319 $24.95 1-800-847-5515

Ruth Reichl was a well known food critic for The New York Times: so well known that she began to suspect her restaurant appearances were being met with bias. So she went undercover as a critic to get to the meat of the real restaurant experience, overcoming the barrier to anonymity by wearing disguises. It's hard to review a restaurant when your face as a food critic is well known by every professional restaurateur in town: GARLIC AND SAPPHIRES takes a look at the real results of dining, telling of her development of the 'double review' experience contrasting her meal as a known critic and again, the same service and food as an anonymous member of the public.

Church Suppers
Barbara Greenman, Editor
Black Dog & Leventhal
151 West 19th St, New York NY 10011
1579124534 $19.95 1-800-722-7202

Churches across the country submitted their best recipes for this collection: some fifty cookbooks from across the country presented their 'perfect dish' for church socials, represented in wide variety in CHURCH SUPPERS: 722 FAVORITE RECIPES FROM OUR CHURCH COMMUNITIES. The lay-flat binding which is also hardbound with title on spine makes it easy to both locate and use the cookbook, the hardcover format makes it durable in contrast to the usual flimsy paper church presentation, and the dishes, ranging from Pecan-Crusted Swordfish to Chicken Gumbo, are easy to make and tote. No color photos, but the easy format doesn't need them.

Harvard Common Press
535 Albany St., Boston, MA 02118

There are numerous sauce books on the market; but most focus on cream or Italian-based red sauces for pastas and don't hold nearly the variety nor applications of GET SAUCY: MAKE DINNER A NEW WAY EVERY DAY WITH SIMPLE SAUCES, MARINADES, GLAZES, DRESSINGS, PESTOS, PASTA SAUCES, SALSAS AND MORE by Grace Parisi (155832237X $17.95). An addition plus is its international focus, which adds the zestiness of Thai chilies, the coolness of Indian Tandoori, or the Southwest influence of tomatoes and corn salsas to the mix. Another major plus: GET SAUCY is arranged by type of cooking to be paired with the sauce, from Pan and Stir-fry sauces to Marinades, making it easy to pick a sauce for an intended dish. And when the time comes for dessert, don't leave out Lauren Chattman's ICEBOX DESSERTS (155832271X, $17.95), packing in dozens of no-bake desserts which are a snap to prepare. The line-up includes puddings, pops, cupcakes, truffles and even pies, presenting a wide diversity usually not seen in competing 'no bake' dessert guides. Many of the dishes are the author's own creations, furthering the unique touch of ICEBOX DESSERTS.

Taylor Publishing
4501 Forbes Blvd #200, Lanham, MD 20706

Three excellent cookbooks feature unusual themes and inviting dishes. Anne Lindsay Greer McCann's THE LOW-FAT, LOW-CARB SOUTHWEST COOKBOOK (1589791789, $19.95) appears in a new edition packed with recipes and tips for reducing fats and carbs. In case you're wondering, the original book entitled ULTIMATE LOW-FAT MEXICAN BOOKBOOK has been completely revamped and revised to include McCann's own Southwest dishes. Try a low-fat Chili Cheese Puffs, Black Bean Turkey Chili, or Tortilla Pizzas for maximum flavor impact, and learn how to reduce carbs and fats in the process. Dotty Griffith's THE CONTEMPORARY COWBOY COOKBOOK: RECIPES FROM THE WILD WEST TO WALL STREET (1589791568, $16.95) isn't just for the campfire: Western cooking has evolved into urban fare and here both traditional recipes and contemporary versions of Western foods. What sorts of dishes are Western? Try Rancho Smoked Sirloin, Green Beans with Sweet Onions, or Buttermilk Pie with Blackberries: hearty trail food adjusted for modern tastes and modern kitchens. Joseph Carey's CREOLE NOUVELLE: CONTEMPORY CREOLE COOKERY (1589791304, $29.95) features recipes from a range of New Orleans chefs who redefine traditional genre recipes with new additions and tastes. How? Chef Joseph Carey is himself a native New Orleans chef, so he's in the perfect position of authority to demonstrate Shrimp Creole, Crayfish Ravioli, and more.

Hippocrene Books
171 Madison Avenue, New York NY 10016

Two lovely new additions to Hippocrene's cookbook specialties are recommended picks for cooks seeking authentic - even unusual - fare. Jose Sanchez-H.'s MY MOTHER'S BOLIVIAN KITCHEN: RECIPES AND RECOLLECTIONS (0781810566, $24.95) is as much a memoir of the author's Bolivian childhood as it is a recipe collection packing in his favorite dishes. From Fake Rabbit and Tongue with Wine to a fava-bean infused Chuno Soup for potato fans, many of the dishes here are simply unavailable elsewhere. Brian Yarvin's FARMS AND FOODS OF THE GARDEN STATE: A NEW JERSEY COOKBOOK (0781810833, $18.95) provides an examination of New Jersey's farms and recipes alike - but don't expect regional American alone; like most of the U.S., New Jersey's dishes have been changed by the melting pot influence and thus an Indian Chicken Vindaloo, Italian-Style Stewed Peppers, and Portuguese Kale Soup reflect the state's ethnic influences. No color photos, but the easy recipes don't need 'em.

ESRI Press
380 New York Street, Redlands, CA 92373

Three excellent new computer titles focus on GIS statistical programs, one of the hottest newer employment fields around, providing some basic and important keys to linking GIS functions and programs with real-world mapping needs. The second updated edition of Tim Ormsby, Eileen Napoleon,'s GETTING TO KNOW ARCGIS DESKROP: BASICS OF ARCVIEW, ARCEDITOR AND ARCINFO (158948083X, $59.95) has been updated to include ArcGIS 9, and presents a technical workbook packed with insights on the three GIS products which make up ArcGIS Desktop. Step-by-step exercises teach the basics from mapmaking and spatial analysis to using the software features, while a fully functioning 180-day trial version of the latest software on CD-ROM makes it easy to learn first, buy later. For a narrower focus, choose Ian Masser's GIS WORLDS: CREATING SPATIAL DATA INFRASTRUCTURES (1589481224, $49.95), presenting a leading world authority's overview of SDI, from its evolution to its local, national and transnational developments. A technical discussion of spatial data systems in different countries lends to a global understanding of different reports and concerns. David Arctur and Michael Zeiler's DESIGNING GEODATABASES: CASE STUDIES IN GIS DATA MODELING (158948021X, $39.95) both analyzes domain data models which represent commonly used GIS data sets, and analyzes them for commonalities in practical GIS database designs. GIS professionals will welcome a technical survey of designs from real-world case studies, from river networks to federal lands surveys, cartography and more. All are highly recommended choices for the professional and student GIS mapper.

Cisco Press
800 East 96th St., Indianapolis, IN 46240

Three weighty technical new Cisco guides provide overviews and solutions for systems managers and administrators. Stefan Raab and Madhavi W. Chandra's MOBILE IP TCHNOLOGY AND APPLICATIONS: REAL-WORLD SOLUTIONS FOR MOBILE IP CONFIGURATION AND MANAGEMENT (158705132X) tells how the internet and wireless communications are changing how people access information. The challenge is effectively moving data across different networks, and Mobile IP is reviewed as one solution to this problem, standardizing operations and addressing its practical applications. Lay readers will be able to access this and even more so, Jim Doherty and Neil Anderson'' HOME NETWORKING SIMPLIFIED: AN ILLUSTRATED HOME NETWORKING HANDBOOK FOR THE EVERYDAY USER (1587201364, $24.99), which explains how anyone can build a home networking system. From networking computers and securing them against hackers and viruses to going wireless and understanding the latest home networking options, HOME NETWORKING SIMPIFIED is written in simple enough language that all ages can easily understand how to get the most of the computer system. Technical network managers involved in IP communications systems will want to keep Danelle Au,'s CISCO IP COMMUNICATIONS EXPRESS: CALLMANAGER EXPRESS WITH CISCO UNITY EXPRESS (158705180X, $70.00) close at hand. Not for the amateur, CISCO IP COMMUNICATIONS EXPRESS packs in detailed technical information not available in other resources, showing how to use product features more effectively, providing solid examples from real life to help in the configuration of the program, and aiding in common troubleshooting problems. Any taking the CCIE Security written exam will want to use Henry Benjamin, CCIE's CCIE SECURITY EXAM CERTIFICATION GUIDE, SECOND EDITION (1587201356, $79.95) as their basic guide. CCIE as an important security certification - and is one of the most highly valued networking certifications one could obtain. Here's an in-depth, detailed study tool for the 2.0 exam version, which has been updated and reviewed b past and present members of the CCIE Security team at Cisco.

Yahoo! To the Max
Randolph Hock
CyberAge Books
c/o Information Today
143 Old Marlton Pike, Medford, NJ 08055
0910965692 $24.95

Yahoo! Has a lot to offer these days, and if all you do is using it to occasionally surf web sites, you're not taking full advantage of the latest options. Ron Hock's user-friendly guide to these tools covers everything from communications and e-commerce to investment. Tips offer valuable insights into how to most effectively use these tools, from understanding Yahoo Groups and how they function and are moderated to selling items on auction sites. An essential guide geared to the common Internet browser.

Secrets of the Game Business
Francois Dominic Laramee
Charles River Media
10 Downer Ave., Hingham, MA 02043
1584503998 $39.95

Game developers won't want to miss the second updated edition of SECRETS OF THE GAME BUSINESS: a programmer's development guide which covers everything from changes in how the game business works to starting up your own game company. Middleware, licensing, working with producers, pros and cons of global or country deals, and more are all covered in an important review of how the industry as a whole operates.

Peachpit Press
1249 - 8th St., Berkeley, CA 94710

Two outstanding new titles shine above competitors in their approaches to popular topics, and are highly recommended picks for discriminating library holdings, promising lasting lending value. Cynthia L. baron and Daniel Peck's FILEMAKER PRO ADVANCED FOR WINDOWS & MACINTOSH (0321199561, $29.99) is another fine Visual QuickPro Guide; this teaching how to use the Visual QuickPro approach to master the advanced facets of Filemaker Pro. From using conditional scripts and importing data in batches to mingling FileMaker with other common programs and creating relationships and subscripts, FILEMAKER PRO ADVANCED is simply a 'must' for any beyond the beginner stage. Cher Threinen-Pendarvis' THE PHOTOSHOP AND PAINTER ARTIST TABLET BOOK: CREATIVE TECHNIQUES IN DIGITAL PAINTING (0321168917, $44.99) will especially appeal to artists who use digital media and want to know the finer points of using the artist tablet with Photoshop. Projects are presented on a step-by-step basis to enhance learning of drawing and composition through practice, and chapters cover basic concepts using this method to teach basic composition and conceptual processes in the digital world. Plenty of color photos drive home the points and add interest.

Adobe Press
345 Park Avenue, San Jose, CA 95110

The 'Classroom in a Book' series is designed to offer training workbooks with as many visual examples as the actual classroom would offer, and as much detail as a teacher would provide - complete with QuickTime Movies on CD, tutorials from Photoshop itself, and tips by Julieanne Kost. The result is a virtual home classroom in Russell Brown's ADOBE PHOTOSHOP CS2 CLASSROOM IN A BOOK: THE OFFICIAL TRAINING WORKBOOK FROM ADOBE SYSTEMS (0321321847 $49.99). From adding depth and vector drawing to a Photoshop image to even more advanced techniques such as setting slice options and liquifying a layer, any owner of Adobe Photoshop's CS2 version will want this as their 'teacher': it's a virtual bible of basics. Don't leave out Amy Standen's MAGGIE TAYLOR'S LANDSCAPE OF DREAMS (0321306147, $40.00), either: Taylor's digital photo collages created through Photoshop offer a Surrealistic focus on animals and people alike, using objects found on eBay and in flea markets, a scanner, and Adobe Photoshop to produce unusual results. From idea to execution, MAGGIE TAYLOR'S LANDSCAPE OF DREAMS shows how Photoshop users can accomplish similar results. As much an art display as a Photoshop book, this is also recommended for Surrealist art fans.

1151 Marina Village Parkway, Alameda, CA 94501

Three new computer guides promise long-term reference importance. Dan Gookin and Robert Birnbach's EBAY PHOTOS THAT SELL: TAKING GREAT PRODUCT SHOTS FOR EBAY AND EBYOND (0782143814, $29.99) teaches home seller how to create high-quality photos using basic digital camera and some tricks of the photography trade. From taking initial good shots to creating props from items found at home and knowing how to use a camera's features, EBAY PHOTOS THAT SELL covers the many common problems beginners face, and how to overcome them. Usders of the MAYA program will welcome George Maestri's MAYA AT A GLANCE (0782144047, $24.99): unlike competing Maya tomes, it uses a color visual approach to pack pages with graphics supplementing 'how to' descriptions. Pair these visuals with easy step-by-step tutorials and you have not just a reference, but a workbook packed with examples by a director and producer. For a more complex guide, turn to Alias Learning Tools' third edition of THE ART OF MAYA (1894893824), which delves further into UV coordinates for maximum texturing, 3D texture placement, tesselation, and more. From adding special effects to understanding their properties, Maya users beyond the beginner's stage will welcome a guide to the finer art of tweaking Maya productions.

Adobe After Effects 6.5 Magic
James Rankin & Anna Ullrich
New Riders
1249 - 8th St., Berkeley, CA 94710
0321267230 $39.99

Over twenty projects designed by motion graphics pros are designed to illustrate solutions and tips of using Adobe After Effects 6.5, using real-life projects to illustrate more advanced techniques of the program for those who already have the basics down. From using third-party effects and animating layers to designing an animated collage and using dynamic text-animation sequences with pre-built presets, ADOBE AFTER EFFECTS 6.5 MAGIC: 22 UNIQUE PROJECTS 100S OF TECHNIQUES takes users to the next level of expertise.

Jeff Gordon
Jeff Gordon with Steve Eubanks
Atria Books
1230 Avenue of Americas, New York NY 10020
0743499778 $13.00

Race car fans all know the name Jeff Gordon: here's his own memoir of his racing life, JEFF GORDON: RACING BACK TO THE FRONT-MY MEMOIR. 16 pages of lovely color photos display Gordon at different ages and phases of his racing career, while his memoir speaks of his long experience behind the wheel from the California junior circuit to his professional status today. From triumphs to failures and disappointments, Jeff reveals experience and feelings in a vivid memoir.

Larceny and Old Leather
Eldon Ham
Academy Chicago
363 West Erie Street, 7th Floor East, Chicago, IL 60610
0897335333 $25.00 1-800-248-7323

Want a humorous review of baseball's less than finer moments? LARCENY AND OLD LEATHER: THE MISCHIEVOUS LEGACY OF MAJOR LEAGUE BASEBALL gathers some winners for baseball fans to enjoy: snippets of history which range from incidences of spitballs, grease balls and corked bats to stealing and spying between competitors. Any interested in the bizarre, entertaining side of baseball will consider LARCENY AND OLD LEATHER a real winner: engaging, fun, and packed with history.

Boxing Mastery
Mark Hatmaker with Doug Werner
Tracks Publishing
140 Brightwood Avenue, Chula Vista, CA 91910
1884654215 $12.95

Any boxing would-be pro serious about learning the sport simply must obtain a copy of BOXING MASTRY: ADVANCED TECHNIQUE, TACTICS AND STRATEGIES FROM THE SWEET SCIENCE for supplemental reading. It illustrates and tells how to cut off the ring, fight off ropes, cultivate various hooks, and combine single punches into a uniform strategy. Packed with 900 black and white action photos, boxers receive clear visuals on how to hone strategy and refine routines. Mark Hatmaker has produced numerous instructional videos and tapes as well as other fighting books; his background lends to an important guide supplemented by co-author Doug Werner, himself the co-author of two best-seller boxing guides.

Catch Wrestling
Mark Hewitt
Paladin Press
Gunbarrel Tech Center
7077 Winchester Circle, Boulder,CO 80301
9781581604733 $20.00 1-800-392-2400

Wrestling fans have an excellent history in Mark Hewitt's CATCH WRESTLING: A WILD AND WOOLY LOOK AT THE EARLY DAYS OF PRO WRESTLING IN AMERICA. Catch wrestling appeared in North America in the late 19th century and quickly become one of the most popular sports from Europe. The evolution of an elite group of catch wrestlers and their sometimes-brutal achievements is covered in a fine survey which also explores promotion, gambling, audience influence on the sport's evolution, and much more. Catch wrestling is now re-emerging as a self-defense system, making Mark Hewitt's history more important than ever.

Sport Classic Books
21 Carlaw Avenue, Toronto, Ontatio M4M 2R6, Canada

SportClassic specializes in vivid, memorable sports references but two stand out from any competitors as particularly important and very highly recommended for any sports reference collection. Donald Dewey and Nicholas Acocella's TOTAL BALLCLUBS: THE ULTIMATE BOOK OF BASEBALL TEAMS (1894963377, $19.95) brings all 124 teams to life, including 6 long-gone leagues which were part of professional baseball's early years. Coverage from 1871 on describes the evolution of baseball franchises, presents statistics as well as anecdotes of the sport, and packs in 300 black and white photos of team history. Avid fans who already own TOTAL BASEBALL: THE ULTIMATE BASEBALL ENCYCLOPEDIA will find this companion volume fills many gaps and rounds out the reference information, making both together a virtual bible of references. JANET GUTHRIE: A LIFE AT FULL THROTTLE (1894963318, $24.95) includes Guthrie's autobiography plus an introduction by fellow female sports pro Billie Jean King. From Guthrie's Florida roots and involvement in flying airplanes to the years she spent campaigning her own sports cars at tracks around the country, finally to achieve many commendations as a winning female racecar competitor, A LIFE AT FULL THROTTLE offers inspired, even passionate writing and reflection on what it means to be a woman driver in the male-dominated racing circuit.

The Hitting Clinic
John Stewart
Burford Books
32 Morris Ave., Springfield NJ 07081
1580801315 $12.95

Baseball players and coaches alike who want drills for better hitting will welcome John Stewart's player's handbook THE HITTING CLINIC: SKILLS AND DRILLS FOR BETTER HITTING. Here's a professional how-to course from a pro scout who knows what he's talking about: everything from the right bat and grip to stance, swing types and more. Black and white drawings throughout provide clear illustration in this 'coach in a book'.

Arcadia Publishing
420 Wando Park Boulevard, Mt. Pleasant, SC 29464

If it's regional California history which is of interest, especially vintage black and white photos and details on local areas seldom given much publicity coverage in more general California history books, don't miss Arcadia's rapidly-expanding regional California collections comprising their 'Images of America' series. Each book is a virtual masterpiece of detail, with many appropriately narrowing the focus to an area of larger cities such as San Francisco, which rarely enjoys closer neighborhood inspection. Thus the latest additions of Robert W. Bowen's SAN FRANCISCO'S PRESIDIO (0738529869, $19.99) and Robert F. Oaks' SAN FRANCISCO'S FILLMORE DISTRICT (0738529885, $19.99) assembles fine images which serve as the foundation for telling Presidio and Fillmore area history. From the Presidio's roots as home to the Ohlone natives to its later use as a military base, and the Fillmore District's cosmopolitan beginnings and home to a large Jewish settlement, vivid vintage photos bring changing times to life. Travel outside the City to nearby communities and Arcadia doesn't leave you hanging, either: choose from Sabine Goerke-Shrode's FAIRFIELD (0738528889, $19.99), once home to the Patwin Suisuni Indians whose Chief Solano was one of the few native landowners in California in the 1830s, the Dixon Women's Improvement Club's DIXON (9738529729, $19.99), another Solano County exploration which details the community's change from a prosperous farming region to a quaint small town; Dean L.McLeod's BAY POINT (0738529079, $19.99), telling of the nearby High 4 small area which began from smaller neighborhood roots and changed its name to Port Chicago during the depression, only then seeing the restoration process which it needed; and Daniel Kasser's DOWNTOWN STOCKTON (0738529427, $19.99), telling of a gold rush town which became a major city. You don't have to be a native or even a visitor to appreciate these lovely coverages, which pack in not only vintage photos but insights into underlying influences to local change. Arcadias extensive image histories are rapidly expanding throughout the state: go further from the City and bring along Leroy Radanovich's MARIOPSA COUNTY (0738529494, $19.99), one of the original 27 counties of the state which is located in the Sierras and has a colorful history, from gold mining to modern times. Author Randovich is a photographer and a longtime resident, so he's in the perfect position to not only gather the images, but tell the stories of his home city. Laura L. Alioto's SEAL BEACH (073852980X, $19.99) reveals a history of the Southern California beach town which was originally begun as Bay City and changed to Seal Beach after mail to San Francisco, the 'City by the Bay', was thwarted. Alioto is president of the Seal Beach Historical and Cultural Society and provides a rich collection of images and stories. Norma H. Gurba's LANCASTER (0738529818, $19.99) tells of a town created by a railroad's needs and a real estate developer who purchased the land from the railroad and oversaw its development. 200 historic images from the City of Lancaster Museum/Art Gallery's holdings are presented by author/curator Gurba and enlivened with plenty of local color. Arcadia is developing and expanding their 'Images of America' theme across the country: Yanni Tsipis' BOSTON'S BRIDGES (0738535710, $19.99) is only one example of an outstanding feature narrowing the Boston survey to it's remarkable bridges and spans. Tsipis holds degrees in civil engineering and urban planning, and is in the perfect, unique position to cover this aspect of Boston's bridge and engineering history.

The John Deere Story
Neil Dahlstrom and Jeremy Dahlstrom
Northern Illinois University Press
310 North Fifth Street, DeKalb, IL 60115
0875803369 $24.00 1-815-753-1826

The John Deere tractor is a foundation of American history and THE JOHN DEERE STORY: A BIOGRAPHY OF PLOWMAKERS JOHN & CHARLES DEERE is an essential key to understanding its evolution and importance. While modern lay readers immediately think of John Deer as the inventor of the steel plow, in reality he began as an indebted blacksmith fleeing debt in new England who set up shop on the Illinois frontier and designed a new plow which began his involvement inventing a wide range of farm equipment. His vision of a supply company furthered not only his own inventions but the rise of the midwest farmer, providing reliable, affordable equipment which fostered the industry as a whole.

American Traveler
James Zug
Basic Books
387 Park Avenue South, New York NY 10016
0465094058 $25.00 1-800-242-7737

John Ledyard dreamed of walking the world and in the mid 1700s set off with just an axe, a pipe and two dogs to survey the world. James Zug provides his story in AMERICAN TRAVELER: THE LIFE AND ADVENTURES OF JOHN LEDYARD - THE MAN WHO DREAMED OF WALKING THE WORLD. Ledyard's ability to relate to people of all classes despite his Connecticut gentry roots and his ability to travel across half the globe by raising support from various individuals and groups makes for a vivid piece of American history and culture, telling of a self-made man's hard work and dedication to adventure.

Living Smart New York City
Craig Wroe
Limelight/Hal Leonard
7777 W. Bluemound Road, Milwaukee, WI 53213
0879103086 $16.95 1-800-637-2852

Newcomers to seasoned Big Apple residents will find LIVING SMART-NEW YORK CITY an essential key to budget-minded living in the big city. From stress reduction and health clinics to bargain shopping areas for clothing, provisions, and books, LIVING SMART NEW YORK CITY is packed with recommendations for locating all the good, affordable things in the city.

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

Ever felt like cracking the whip for real? Then Andrew Conway's unique NEW BULLWHIP BOOK is just the ticket for you: all it requires is ownership of a bullwhip and reading skills. Three basic cracks are presented in step-by-step instructions easy for whip owners to follow. From follow-through on the crack to analyses of what went wrong, THE NEW BULLWHIP BOOK is loaded with detail.

Andrews & McMeel
4520 Main Street, Kansas City, MO 64111-7701

If it's a collection of comics from popular newspaper syndicated features which is needed, chances are Andrews and McMeel will have it: they specialize in producing compilations of strips from the best of cartoon strips across the country and produce works of such high consistent quality that even if you haven't had prior exposure to a particular artist, the book will still prove attractive. Among the latest recommended picks: Baby Blues fans will relish Rick Kirkman & Jerry Scott's DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE OF CHILDREN (0740750054, $16.95), juxtaposing black and white and full color strips of the latest highlights from the 'Baby Blues' family-oriented comic strip about harried parents and demanding kids; Pat Brady's ROSE IS ROSE: RUNNING ON ALTER EGO (0740751271, $10.95), an aptly-named exploration of the Rose is Rose comic strip character who has two personalities: her conservative everyday demeanor and an inner wild 'motorcycle woman', Number 10 of Patrick McDonnell's Mutts comics is WHO LET THE CAT OUT? (0740750062, $10.95), packed with black and white strips about a simple dog's view of life; Bill Amend's ORLANDO BLOOM HAS RUINED EVERYTHING (0740749994, $8.95) provides a fun account of a precocious kid with a big imagination. Paul Gilligan's NO COLLAR, NO SERVICE (0740750038, $10.95) provides a funny survey of a dog who can't seem to follow the requirements of his owner, Vic Lee provides a contemporary gathering of modern comments on life in PARDN MY PLANET (0740751298, $10.95), telling of a modern couple's encounters with life; Tony Cochran's AGNES: I HAVE TAMPERED WITH THE DIVINE PLAN (0740750003, $10.95) packs a Dilbert-type humor into a small girl's body and comments on life's ironies; sharks take on new underwater meaning in the 9th Sherman's Lagoon collection by Jim Toomey A DAY AT THE BEACH (0740751301, $10.95), fans of Lynn Johnston's 'For Better or For Worse' will appreciate a STRIKING A CHORD (0740753150, $10.95), presenting the ongoing growing-of-age of a close family which experiences further dventures as the kids grow into adults; Stephan Pastis' third Pearls Before Swine collection NIGHTHOGS (0740750097, $10.95), returning the characters of Rat, Pig, Goat and more to the realm of fantasy and talking strange animal encounters; and the new Zits collection by Jerry Scott and Jim Borgman, THRASHED (0740751174, $10.95), which gathers the 9th collection of Zits comics centering around the self-centered teen's selfish and often one-sided, fun world.

Greenwood Press
PO Box 5007, Westport, CT 06881-5007

These fine new sets and titles will appeal to high school, college and public library holdings with excellent references certain to receive constant consultation. Jon L. Wakelyn's BIRTH OF THE BILL OF RIGHTS: ENCYCLOPEDIA OF THE ANTIFEDERALISTS (1313317399, $199.95) uses a 2-volume set to blend biographies with major writings on the topic. The Antifederalists opposed the US Constitution because they felt state governments should hold more power: their campaign against the Constitution failed, but they succeeded in making the Bill of Rights a strong part of the document. Volume 1 of the set provides biographies of well over a hundred prominent figures in the movement, from Samuel Adams to Benjamin Gale, with each listing receiving up to several pages of background detail. Volume 2 gathers speeches and writings of the movement, along with historical notes to help readers place them in context. Primary documents include pamphlets and broadsides as well as speeches and articles, while the volume's organization by date of state ratification conventions allows users to understand the on-going debates. Readers interested in helping young adults understand teen abuse will want to be sure Joan F. Kaywell's USING LITERATURE TO HELP TROUBLED TEENAGERS COPE WITH ABUSE ISSUES (0313307156) is part of the collection. Featured fiction includes such diverse young adult novels as Chris Crutcher's IRONMAN, John Marsden's SO MUCH TO TELL YOU and many others. Each novel receives a synopsis and a discussion of how it relates to a particular abuse issue, as well as a survey of how counselors and teachers may use the novel as a stepping stone for communication and understanding. Martin Manning and Herbert Romerstein's HISTORICAL DICTIONARY OF AMERICAN PROPAGANDA (0313296057, $69.95) packs in well over 300 entries covering the range of American history as it examines styles, approaches and contents of American propaganda campaigns. From events and publications fostering such propaganda to government agencies and private organizations, hapters provide historical reviews, discussions of mechanisms of propaganda, and bibliographic references for further research. Steven D. Gish's biography DESMOND TUTU (0313328609, $29.95) includes original quotes from Gish's own interviews with Tutu as it follows his progression from boy to man, the evolution of his social consciousness, and his struggles against apartheid. His perseverance against all odds makes for a particularly strong account. Barry Moreno's ENCYCLOPEDIA OF ELLIS ISLAND (0313326827, $75.00) provides a fine A-Z compendium of Ellis Island people and events, tracing important paths in immigration, tackling major subjects and history pertaining to immigration trends and laws, and serving as an excellent high school or public library reference for any patrons studying U.S. immigration history.

Star Wars Empire V. 4: The Heart of the Rebellion
Welles Hartley,
Dark Horse Comics
10956 SE Main St., Milwaukie, OR 97222
1593073089 $17.95

Princess Leia is the leader of the rebellion and the one woman whose courage can turn the war: four stories in THE HEART OF THE REBELLION follow her actions, providing a graphic novel short story collection covering her first experiences with armed rebellion to her romance. Striking full-color panels throughout provide vivid eye-catching action and drama suitable for any Star Wars fan.

Diane C. Donovan
West Coast Editor

Harold's Bookshelf

Radical Gratitude
Ellen Vaughn
Zondervan Publishing
5300 Patterson SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49530
ISBN: 0310257492, $19.99, 237 pp.

This is a book of transformation designed to help change your point of view to one of gratitude toward God and as a result a life of peace in the midst of turmoil. The text if filled with anecdotes that illustrate a true attitude of radical gratitude extending far beyond the common conceptions. Do you want to get past obstacles that interfere with your joy in life? The answer is to practice the presence of gratitude.

Ellen Vaughn gives practical ways you can recover your joy in life. We all know we have the ability to choose our attitude. The problem is that although we know this to be true we often find that we are unable to actually do it in difficult circumstances. This book teaches how to make gratitude the prevalent attitude in your life. Focused on Christ and everyday thankfulness this book is sure to change many lives. Radical Gratitude is highly recommended to everyone.

Russell the Sheep
Rob Scotton
HarperCollins Children's Books
1350 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10019
ISBN: 0060598484, $15.99, 40 pp. Ages: 4 - 8

A delightfully funny story about Russell the sheep and his trials as he tries to fall asleep. What do you do when no matter how hard you try, you just can't fall asleep. Russell tries everything from a pillow to counting stars to counting sheep. Laugh along with Russell and he finally finds a way to fall asleep. Humorously illustrated and a just plain fun read, Russell the Sheep is recommended for all young children.

Harold McFarland
Senior Reviewer

Klausner's Bookshelf

Jeff Abbott
ISBN: 0525949046, $23.95, 368 pp.

Twenty-four years old documentary filmmaker Evan Casher feels he owns the world and the universe is next in his grasp. The reasons he feels euphoric on life are his career seems on the verge of major success as he is in demand and he cherishes his girlfriend Carrie, who seems to reciprocate his high regard. When his mother calls in a state of panic, a stunned Evan races to Austin to insure she is okay. However, he arrives as someone brutally murders his mother and tries to kill him too. Evan knows he is fortunate to escape with his life and that only because some weird former CIA operative Gabriel rescued him. On the run, Evan begins to learn what he thought was his heritage is a total fabrication. He has no idea what is going on or who to turn to for information. He quickly realizes he must trust no one including the agent who saved his life, law enforcement, the CIA, or even his maybe biological father he seeks for answers. He wonders if he has turned paranoid as Evan even questions whether Carrie was part of the fraud that he once called his life. PANIC is a powerhouse of a thriller filled with twists and turns that keep readers guessing what is going on. Evan is a terrific center holding the tale together while coping with his shock that nothing about his life is true. The support cast adds depth to this Kafka existence in which the beleaguered hero feels like the Prisoner starring in a deadly version of The Truman Story.

The Grizzly Maze
Nick Jans
ISBN: 0525948864, $24.95

Grizzly bear guru Timothy Treadwell spent thirteen summers living amongst these giants. He became a media favorite because he was always available for a quote. In 2003 while camping in the GRIZZLY MAZE of Alaska's Katmai National Park, Treadwell and his girlfriend Huguenard were attacked and eaten by the bears that he loved. The occurrence captured on tape was the first known human death of this kind in eighty-five years. Nick Jans explores what happened piecing it together like a sleuth on an investigation. Besides covering that gory incident the author looks deep into Treadwell's life so that the audience understands what drove this self-proclaimed expert who defied biologist' beliefs that his contacts were not good for the bears. However, what makes this insightful bio more than just retro sensationalism is the wider discernible perspective in which the author discusses human interactivity with animals in the wild. Mr. Jans makes no apology that he feels this type of interaction is foolish bordering on insanity. Readers will enjoy this deep biography but especially the wider scope that Mr. Jans explores in depth at a time when mankind is tearing down the wilderness.

The Real Lucky Charm
Charisse K. Richardson
ISBN: 0142404314, $4.99, 80 pp.

Though taller and perhaps a better athlete than her brother Marcus, Mia Robinson was only allowed to cheer for her sibling at his basketball games until now. The Titans are going coed so Mia tries out and makes the squad. Her dad gives Mia a good luck charm that she believes works as she plays quite well on the court. However, her belief in the magic soon has her missing practice and the coach is ready to bench her even if she is a star. Will Mia learn her lesson that she is the magic through hard work and talent not her father's gift or will she be benched permanently? The sequel to THE REAL SLAM DUNK, THE REAL LUCKY CHARM is a whimsical tale starring a wonderful young protagonist who believes the charm has made her a star not talent or hard work. Mia is the center of the solid story line, but gets strong support from her brother, her parents, and her teammates. Older elementary school children will appreciate Charisse K. Richardson's fine slam dunk tale.

The Silver Anniversary Murder
Lee Harris
ISBN: 0449007308, $6.99, 256 pp.

Christine Bennett Brooks gets a phone call from a woman who tells her that a body will be found later that day. After hearing another voice in the background and a loud sound like a gun going off, the phone calls ends abruptly.. Thanks to some quick thinking on Chris's part, the police are able to find out the address of the party who phoned her. When they arrive the apartment, rented out to Holly and Peter Richards is totally devoid of furniture. The house has been cleaned with bleach and the only thing they find is a phone and blood on the floor. A few weeks later the body of a woman is found presumably the woman going by the name of Holly Mitchell. There is no record of any Mitchell by that name in any of the city of state databases and Chris soon learns think they were using the name of Rosette Parker and Charles Proctor. His body is found a few days after his wife's was located with a bullet in his chest. Chris meets their daughter Ariana when run into one another at Ariana's parent's apartment. She tells Chris that her parents were on the run since she was a little girl constantly changing names and moving every few years. Chris takes a liking to Ariana and together they trace her parent's footsteps to find out who was after them and hopefully find their killers. Once again Lee Harris delivers a cleverly constructed who-done-it that is full of false leads and red herrings. This is one of the toughest cases the protagonist has ever solved because nobody knows why Ariana's parents were on the run and why someone called Chris to get her involved in the investigation. Readers will come to care about Ariana and hope she finds the answers she is seeking. Chris wants to do everything in her power to her find the answers to mystery her parents took to their grave. This wholesome and deliciously entertaining mystery with a great support cast will please Lee Harris's many fans.

Dearly Devoted Dexter
Jeff Lindsay
ISBN: 0385511248, $22.95

Miami-Dade police forensics lab blood spatter analyst Dexter "the Avenger" Morgan obsesses in euphoria when he slices and dices a person, but he also is selective in who he carves up choosing the dregs of society, and psychopaths especially serial killers. He recently notched number forty, homicidal pedophile photographer Steve Reiker and eagerly awaits his next victim. A serial slicer Danco apparently leisurely over a few weeks surgically removes extremities from his victims who he keeps alive as he slowly mutilates them one body part at a time. When a still alive Salvadoran Manuel Borges is found, he has no body part hanging off his torso; the medical examiner estates he underwent at least a month of torture as some of the slits left by the carved off body part healed. Dexter admires this newcomer to the slice and dice game, but also decides to stop this rival although some DC outsider Kyle Chutsky claims lead until he is abducted and loses a finger with more to follow. Now Dexter goes hunting to find the killer. As with DARKLY DREAMING DEXTER, DEARLY DEVOTED DEXTER is a wild macabre perhaps insane South Florida police procedural starring a psychopathic hero who enjoys the finer things in life, eviscerating serial killers. How crazy Dexter is comes out loud clear when unlike his peers and his adversary in the police department who are horrified by Danco's work, the Avenger recognizes a fellow artisan albeit one that he must stop. Readers expecting a High Noon showdown between two professional slashers will enjoy the duel when it occurs but will wait for quite a while as Dexter the sleuth investigates.

Double Cross Bind
Joel Ross
ISBN: 0385513887, $24.95, 372 pp.

On December 1, 1941, American Thomas Wall becomes alert in a London asylum though he aches all over. He is recovering from severe wounds received in battle on Crete where his Canadian unit was slaughtered due to a betrayal. Thomas's diplomatic brother, Earl, sold his troops out to the Nazis. When Thomas recovers fully, he plans to confront and probably kill his sibling. British M15 intelligence officers coax Thomas to work with them masquerading as his brother in order to gain information from captured German spy Sondegger and protect the Twenty Committee of double agents. Sondegger gives him clues to microfilm that contain Japanese information on a pending attack of American Pacific bases. Needing help, Thomas turns to his former lover and now Earl's British Intel wife, Harriet, but he quickly wonders if that was an error as he struggles with who is a friend and who is a foe. DOUBLE CROSS BLIND is a rousing World War II espionage thriller that sub-genre fans will gain immense pleasure from. Ironically though the reader knows the big picture event that will happen in less than a week, the beleaguered hero tries to obtain the information to prevent or at least prepare for the attack. Though the secondary characters come out of stereotypical espionage 101, Joel N. Ross provides an exhilarating tense thriller that grips the audience due to its reluctant champion, a soldier forced into the cold.

Street Level
Karyn Langhorne
Harper Torch
ISBN: 006074782X, $6.99, 384 pp.

In DC the vicious 52nd Street Crew led by prison escapee Jango, a local fief, rules the neighborhood through violence. Currently the gang is mugging Guy Brooks until former Ranger Thea Morris led here by her psychic skills rescues the battered victim. He calls her his angel, but she says she is a Ghetto Cinderella who needs to leave before the cops arrive. Jango is coming for Thea while she protects a child from him and his crew and searches for the boy' missing mother. Her goals are to send the abusive gang lord back to prison and reunite mother and son. Her visions paint a deadlier landscape that contains no happily ever after as she and Guy appear inside Jango's torture chamber. She concludes that to protect the man she believes she loves she must keep him at all costs out of her showdown with Jango, but Guy refuses to heed her pushing him aside as he needs to be at the side of his princess. This is an exhilarating dark paranormal romantic suspense with the emphasis on the action that culminates in a contemporary gender bending High Noon. The story line leaps from one action scene to another while readers never quite catch their breath as we root for the fabulous protagonist, whose prime ally is Maurice the 9 mm to defeat her evil adversary. As the author did with A PERSONAL MATTER, Karyn Langhorne provides a strong deep urban tale that this time looks at STREET LEVEL life.

Only You Can Save Mankind
Terry Pratchett
ISBN: 0060541865, $15.99

Twelve years old Johnny Maxwell loves to play computer games especially those with alien battles. His favorite game at the moment is ONLY YOU CAN SAVE MANKIND in which he battles the ScreeWee. However, something weird out of virtual reality happens when a ScreeWee Captain announces to him that she and her troop surrender and ask for safe passage back to their sector of space. She explains that this is no game for when a ScreeWee dies they really are dead. A stunned Johnny does not know what to do with all these prisoners of war as he is only a preadolescent. Adding to his burden is when he sleeps he seems to enter the computer world in which he can only wake when he dies as the Americans bomb Baghdad in Gulf War I. Written during the first Gulf War, ONLY YOU CAN SAVE MANKIND is a powerful condemnation of war as a means to solve disputes. The story line targets the preadolescent crowd, but adults will enjoy the action-packed tale as the bewildered hero makes a plea for peace. Making no apology with his in your face claim that we are all humans whether we live in America, Darfur, Iraq, North Korea or ScreeWee, Terry Pratchett argue we need to live together in peace and harmony instead of sending our young (that is someone else's children) to fight when we ought to seek respectful peaceful solutions to a crisis.

Men from Boys
John Harvey (editor)
Dark Alley
ISBN: 0060762853, $13.95

The sixteen short stories and one novella (Andrew Coburn's My Father's Daughter) focus on men coming of age when faced with a crisis that makes each protagonist have to use a path that will hopefully leave them with self-esteem and respect. Interestingly none of the characters are similar in temperament, varying in social or economic class and even age as some boys do not become men until their thirties and older. The settings also vary from Manhattan to the World War I front and obviously differing time periods. What they have in common is that each tale is a superb suspense thriller with the center being a boy turning into a man trying to cope with difficult situations that mature someone rather quickly and that the authors are all men. John Harvey of Charlie Resnick fame brings together a virtue hall of fame of male suspense writers and each hits a thrilling home run.

They're Not Your Friends
Irene Zutell
Three Rivers (Crown)
ISBN: 1400097584, $12.95

Valley girl Charlotte "Lottie" Love promises her dying mother that she will never become an actress. To keep her death bed vow, but taste Tinseltown, Lottie becomes a correspondent reporting on the misbehavior of the stars for Personality magazine. Her boss assumes Lottie is a bimbo wannabe so she plans to prove to him that she is a serious entertainment reporter by obtaining an interview with media reticent rising star Chris Mercer. She has two prime rivals. British journalistic has-been Lem Brac, who desperately misses the three martini lunch paid for by his "clients" hopes Mercer is his return ticket to the classy bars. The other adversary, the magazine brass' favorite son New Yorker Mike Posner, has reported numerous exclusives that he made up. As the trio struggles to be the feature gossip columnist, ethics is flushed down the commode. The key characters are stereotypes coming out of gossip magazine casting 101 starring in a shallow plot that readers will love and laugh. The office wars are cleverly handled with zingers and dirty tricks yet an interesting code is adhered to especially by the three competitors. The cosmetic surgery reminds this reviewer of two mercenaries in Swamp Thing comparing injuries. In other words nothing is sacred in THEY'RE NOT YOUR FRIENDS as Irene Zutell lampoons the ooze at the bottom of the LaLa Land food chain.

The Myth of You and Me
Leah Stewart
Shaye Areheart (Crown)
ISBN: 1400098068, $22.00, 288 pp.

The letter contained a handwriting that looked familiar to that of the recipient twenty-nine years old Cameron Wilson. It came from her former best friend Sonia Gray; they have not talked to each other in eight years. Now Sonia wants her to come to her wedding in Cambridge. Her employer and companion, nonagenarian Oliver Doucett pleads with her to go see her former friend but Cameron refuses still feeling that Sonia betrayed her. Oliver dies, but leaves one last request of Cameron. He wants her to deliver a wedding gift from him to Sonia. Stunned Cameron realizes her two best friends were communicating. Cameron honors Oliver's last wish of her, driving from Oxford, Mississippi to Sonia's house, but she is not there. She thinks back on when they first met in Clovis, New Mexico and became best buddies and later when Sonia was seeing Will Barrett who Camazon as she was called for her height hid her love of him. As Cameron tracks down her missing friend, she finds Will who she still loved and others from her past, but wonders what will happen when she runs into the girl she loved as her sister until she committed the ultimate betrayal. THE MYTH OF YOU AND ME is a fantastic look at friendship from the perspective of a person who felt her best friend betrayed her so she deserted her former pal. The story line follows Cameron as she tracks Sonia, but also looks back on her relationship with her beloved "sister". Readers will want to know what Oliver tried to give Sonia and Cameron, what was the betrayal and root for a happy ending with this insightful look at friendship.

Senses Working Overtime
Naomi Nash
Smooch (Leisure)
ISBN: 0843954043, $5.99

Teenager Kaylee suffers from synesthesia, which provides her with a different way to perceive her environment; that can prove a handicap when the world she has been forced to adjust to radically changes. She is in Manhattan having cut school on the hottest day of the year so far when a black out shuts down the city making it difficult for anyone to cross the harbor to Brooklyn where Kaylee lives, but her condition makes it that much more difficult for her to get home. Frightened she gets her first break when she meets Ramon who promises to help her cross the bay to her home. On the way they pick up his sister Rosa. The trek in the darkened city turns dangerous as two-legged predators are on the prowl looking for easy prey. The teens look like easy pickings for the marauders canvassing the city for mugging victims. Only her new friend Ramon, risking his life, keeps Kaylee safe on the journey home. Having the beleaguered heroine have Synesthesia seems unneeded as the excitement of a teen in trouble during a blackout makes for an exhilarating thriller. The story line is action-packed yet the key cast members, Kaylee, Ramon, and Rosa seem real especially with the danger of a city out of control looking to devour the innocent. Readers will appreciate this fabulous teen thriller that never lets up as the audience will wonder if Kaylee will make it home in time.

A Patchwork Family
Charlotte Hubbard
ISBN: 0843955511, $6.99, 374 pp.

In 1866 Kansas, Meredith "Mercy" Monroe and her spouse Jake own one of the Holloday Stagecoach line rest stops. The couple works hard to insure the travelers receive the best possible attention whether it is her renowned cooking or his handling of horses and the coaches. Though the work is hard, both Monroes feel they live a good fulfilled life much more than the affluence they left behind in Philadelphia. Perhaps their only regret is a lack of offspring. That changes when driver Michael Malloy brings two abandoned children to the ranch stop. He asks the Monroes to take the kids in as he knows they have with their help Nathanial and Asa. Though they have doubts, the pair follows the Lord's way and they make a home for Billy and Christine Bristol. Though facing many hardships and tragedy, Mercy through her inner strength and her faith remains the center of her extended family. A PATCHWORK FAMILY is an inspirational Reconstruction Era novel. The story line enables the audience to obtain a deep look at life on the Great Plains in the late 1860s through a strong fully developed ensemble with Mercy as the hub. Mindful of Little House on the Prairie, Charlotte Hubbard writes a delightfully deep and rich mid nineteenth century inspirational Americana tale.

A Dollar Short
Karin Gillespie
Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 0743250117, $19.95

In Cayboo Creek, South Carolina, Wagon Wheel waitress Chiffon Butrell wins a video store's Be-a-Movie-Star contest, but cannot go to Hollywood because her baby is ill. Instead her handsome husband Lonnie heads west where he meets actress Janie-Lynn Lauren and forgets his wife and three kids back home. Chiffon loses her job and she cannot pay her bills because Lonnie has had his paycheck sent to California. Her friends want to help, but they are distracted with other matters. Elizabeth is about to give birth and the remaining Bottom Dollar Girls sisterhood are busy raising money for the Cayboo Creek Senior Center. Chiffon turns to her estranged sister Chenille to help her with her crisis accentuated by the media descending on Cayboo Creek like vultures seeking dirt on Lonnie. The sequel to the BOTTOM DOLLAR GIRLS, A DOLLAR SHORT is a fine look at modern life in a small rural southern community invaded by the outside world. The story line is amusing as the Bottom Dollar sisterhood goes about protecting their own, but also serious with the serious subplot of Lonnie abandoning his children besides his wife. Readers will appreciate this regional slice of life tale especially when the barbarian horde assaults the townsfolk who treat the outsiders like parasites that need special handling. This is one contemporary that is not A DOLLAR SHORT of fun.

Trophy House
Anne Bernay
Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 074327055X, $24.00, 288 pp.

On Cape Cod, the residents are depressed as the one year anniversary of 9/11 occurs. Children's book illustrator Danforth "Dannie" Faber is sad and somewhat guilty because her life is near perfect while summering on the dunes of the Cape. She and her spouse MIT anthology Professor Tom is an ideal couple and their two adult children seem to be doing well. Perhaps the only glooms are that she dislikes the lover of her daughter, Beth and wealthy Mitchell Brenner has built an affluent monstrosity in the middle of Truro. However, her perfect life begins to unravel when Beth comes home heartbroken as her lover dumped her. Stunned Beth quit her job as accessory and make-up editor at Scripy teen magazine. An even worse shock is Tom leaves Dannie for someone younger. Upset but refusing to mope, Dannie finds solace with a publishing peer. TROPHY HOUSE is an intriguing character study that focuses mostly on a middle age woman whose life radically changes when her long time spouse leaves her, but also provides a look at other individuals like a nouveau riche show-off, etc. However, this is clearly Dannie's tale. Thus, after the initial shock is over, Dannie begins to regain her equilibrium seeking solace elsewhere. Though action readers need to visit a different house, Anne Bernay writes a fine contemporary fiction novel that stars a strong ensemble cast kept together by the strong lead protagonist.

Shredder: Iron Angel
Karen Koehler
Black Death Books
KHP Industries
P.O.Box 588, Effort, PA 18330
ISBN: 0976791420, $15.00, 286 pp.

Almost every night in the quiet like town of Morningvale, Kansas, high school senior Amy Perry is beaten by her drunken police officer father. When the pain gets too bad and the anger rages out of control, Amy uses the power of the glimmer to keep her father away from her. Everyone knows the secret of the Perry household but nobody does anything about it and soon the town will have more to worry about them a child abuse. Soon being hit will be the least of Amy's woes. In the catacombs below the town teen club known as the Iron Angel, Cyn, a disturbed and alienated teenage girl has made a pact with Azazel, the Shredder of Human Souls. This entity is bound by iron in a statue and needs thirteen human souls to break free. Amy meets Grendel; a Bane who is a soulless immortal who never sleeps nor eats and can heal from any injury. Grendel informs the teen that she too is a Bane, born to be the one to send the Shredder back to hell. As she sheds her humanity to fight in the upcoming battle, it is her human love for her younger brother Charles that will determine whether she contains the resolve needed to win victory from a being more powerful and older than Lucifer. In the new millennium one of the premium writers of cutting edge horror is Karen Koehler with her distinctive gothic style, vivid imagery and dark characters. Amy is an attractive "coming of age" character who goes from fighting her fate to accepting the mantle of responsibility thrust upon her; this endears her to readers. Azazel is fascinating in a macabre malevolent way. Their confrontation makes this book worthy of a Bram Stoker award nomination.

Crimson Snow
Jeanne M. Dams
ISBN: 1880284790, $13.95, 256 pp.

In 1904 South Bend, Indiana, student Erik Johanssen rushes to the Studebaker Mansion to ask a favor of his older sister, the housemaid Hilda. Upset because his favorite teacher Miss Sophie Jacobs failed to show up at Colfax School and knowing his sibling solved mysteries that baffled the police, he wants Hilda to search for the missing teacher. Hilda says she is unable to leave her job at this time, but will meet with him later at the nearby firehouse where her boyfriend Patrick Cavanaugh works. Not long afterward, the local newspapers scream out that someone murdered Sophie, whose body was found in a shed. Hilda prefers to stay out of this case, but Erik pleads with her. Believing her younger brother needs closure through justice, Hilda begins making inquiries into who might have been the victim's boyfriend as rumors surface that she was pregnant. The latest Johanssen amateur sleuth historical tale combines a deep look at social issues of the times like a Swedish Lutheran unable to attend her best friend's Irish Catholic wedding due to religious reasons and emphasizes the gap between rich and poor inside a strong who-done-it. The homicide occurs somewhat into the first half of the tale so for the first quarter readers obtain a look at the era through the perspective of several characters, especially the heroine. The who-done-it is cleverly designed to keep readers guessing while also fostering further insight into Chicago at the turn of the century.

Paradise Lost
Taffy Cannon
ISBN: 1880284804, $13.95, 286 pp.

At the Paradise Plaza Women's Health Spa in Santa Barbara, guide Lora Emerson leads an early morning hike of two customers, TV star Vanessa Wyatt and Stanford coed Holly Constantine on a walk in the Las Padres National Forest. Not too long into the walk, two thugs assault the three women with pepper spray. Lora's eyelids are taped shut and she is tied to a tree. The assailants take Holly and Vanessa with them. As Lora is rushed to the hospital in severe pain, Santa Barbara Police Detective Suzanne Mathis investigates. The Parks for the People kidnappers send an email to the Paradise Plaza home page demanding a ransom to build parks in weird locales. Holly's entertainment lawyer mother Constance goes berserk partially because she brought her daughter here to lose weight not herself. She yells at the cops including FBI Agent Eric Stonehouse and the spa management while her husband drinks to forget how he will raise $8 million demanded by the kidnappers. In their own ways the two victims negotiate with the culprits to make their stay a little more comfortable as for Holly this is no worse than staying at the spa with her mother. Change that, this much better. PARADISE LOST is a terrific crime thriller due to the strong cast. Readers will appreciate Holly, who plans to make life changes if she survives negotiating with the kidnappers in a different way than the whining sexy Vanessa. Holly's parents are a hoot as her mother rips skin off everyone who has the misfortune to fall into her sphere while her father hides from his wife with alcohol. Fans will take immense pleasure with Taffy Cannon's strong stand alone acerbic thriller.

In The Ruins
Kate Elliot
ISBN: 0756401925, $25.95, 544 pp.

Three millennia ago, the Horse People (centaurs) and seven sorcerers from seven different human tribes wove a spell that sent the Ashioi (elves) into the aether. Now that Liath, a half-human, half daimon of fire has stopped Anne and her agents from renewing the spell, the Ashai and their land has come back to Earth causing a cataclysm of epic proportions. Millions died in the resulting earthquakes, flooding of the seas and volcanic eruptions. The sun doesn't shine very much or as brilliantly, making it almost a certainty that famine is coming. The only reason Liath stopped the spell from being rewoven is that if it was; the very earth could have been destroyed. She makes her way back to her husband Sanglant who is now the king regnant of Wendor. They travel through lawless, lifeless and unstable lands making Sanglant realize that he wants to make Wendor a haven of peace and stability in a world gone mad. The old alliances are gone as rulers vie for even more power and land; there are those who would like nothing better to see Sanglant and Liath gone from the political scene. This book does not end the Crown of Stars saga but readers will find themselves glad of it because there is still much of the story to be told. Series fans will want to know what the Ashai will do and how Sanglant and Liath will deal with their enemies including the church who regards them as a heretic because of her use of sorcery amongst other dangling threads. Kate Elliot, an excellent fantasist, writes lush and lyrical scenes and uses her characters to scale down cosmic events to a human scale.

Darkscape: The Rebel Lord
R. Garland Gray
ISBN: 1553164806, $16.00

In 3210 the solar system peace between the clans is fragile. Many pray that the upcoming peace conference will strengthen those wanting cooperation rather than war. However, one of the attendees, Commander Lin Jacob Rama leads an attack on Clan Douglas on Ceres. He takes Lachlan de Douglas, heir to the clan, prisoner. Combat pilot Lieutenant Kimberly Kinsdale worries that madness is taking over her commander's mind. She fears the assault and abduction of Lachlan will lead to clan warfare. Her only hope to prevent what seems like Rama's deliberate sabotage of the peace conference is to rescue Lachlan, which she succeeds in doing though she is branded a traitor and deserter. As the two warriors try to expose a deadly conspiracy that has the planetary clans at war, they fall in love, but saving humanity remains the prime directive. The premise behind the Darkscape tales is simply placing pre-Culloden Scotland in outer space; thus clan wars are all over the solar system and where they are not, hostilities are one incident away from exploding. Kimberly is a remarkable protagonist struggling between performing her duty by doing the ethically correct thing vs. loyalty to her superior officer and her clan by obeying orders. Her dilemma makes the early segment of the story line very appealing while the rest of the tale continues that strong ethical exciting start. For instance, Lachlan is terrific in the co-lead role as he must sacrifice his personal quest for vengeance for the better good of all the clans. Together they make quite a force though the enemy seems quite insurmountable. R. Garland Gray provides readers with a superior stimulating space opera.

The Big Over Easy
Jasper Fforde
ISBN: 0670034231, $24.95

In Reading, England Nursery Crimes Davison Detective Jack Spratt is upset that his latest open and shut homicide case fell apart as the court declared those three murdering pigs not guilty of first-degree murder of Mr. Wolff. However Jack has no time to wallow over his next meal as he is assigned the case of Humpty Dumpty who fell from a wall. Assigned to work with Jack is quite contrary rookie know-it-all Mary Mary. Jack and Mary, Mary dig deep into the world of yoke learning that Humpty's life was in the dumps. His wife divorced him for womanizing with more women than the king has horses and men. His former lovers hated him enough to want to see him fried. So many suspects wanted HD scrambled and had the opportunity as the victim liked to sit on a wall and think, but the nimble Jack and his sidekick Mary two times struggle to figure who would commit the act. This is a weird often satirical and amusing police procedural in which nursery rhymes serve as an alternate world. The story line is clever and literary to the point that writing about solving crime receives more accolades than solving the crime. The little encounters with nursery rhyme characters are fun sort of mindful of Shrek. However, the irony of the story line is that the sidebar nursery rhyme anecdotes though fun at times overwhelm the plot; if only Jack was as nimble as Thursday.

When the Day of Evil Comes
Melanie Wells
ISBN: 1590524268, $12.99

In Texas, when she first saw the chalk white, totally hairless skeletal man at a faculty picnic, psychology professor Dr. Dylan Foster thought he was a cancer victim, not a survivor; he introduced himself in the cold lake water as Peter Terry. Presents begin showing up and he seems to come out of nowhere any time of day. Worried Dylan concludes Peter is stalking her. Weirdness always follows his eerie appearances like the necklace, her dead mother's wedding ring buried with her and the overwhelming odious odor. Finally troubles assault people associated with Dylan to include a suicide of a healthy colleague and the insanity of a seemingly hale and hearty student. Other strangers visit her discussing her theology degree. Dylan does not understand what is going on, but knows she is at least in a battle to maintain her sanity. She begins digging to learn the truth behind who Peter is, why he haunts her, and what is harming those she knows. She soon finds a link to a nasty incident three decades ago that has enabled evil to grow and foster with each new death. Only Dylan can stop this malevolence, but he must risk her life to do so. This is an intriguing tale in which the eternal war between good and evil is fought within each person's soul. Dylan is a reluctant heroine drawn into a skirmish that she does not understand nor particular wants to be involved in, but also knows she cannot disavow as Peter, who constantly shows up, frightens her on sight and always lead to tragic aftermaths. Though the Peter dilemma is never fully resolved, readers will enjoy this strong mystical war.

Dark Star: Confessions of a Rock Idol
Creston Mapes
ISBN: 1590524721, $12.99, 397 pp.

Everett Lester and DeathStroke are musical superstars; however fame and fortune are not as fulfilling as he thought that would be. He turns to drugs and alcohol to fill his emptiness and to Madam Endora Crystal, his personal psychic for spiritual guidance. Through Endora's guidance, Everett turns his back on Christianity and encourages his impressionable young fans to do likewise. However, Everett soon finds himself on trial for the murder of Endora. He is depressed with no hope for the future. As he contemplates suicide his only regret is badly injuring a teen fan. The letter from Karen of Topeka, Kansas makes it clear she dislikes his music but prays for his soul. No one has ever cared what happened to him except when the music sold. More letters arrive and soon Everett begins to wonder why he crossed to the Other Side instead of turning to Jesus. Though he still faces the possibility of capital punishment, Everett is beginning to find solace with Jesus, but he wonders if it remains too late for him to give his lost soul to God. This is an interesting character study that showcases a lost soul who has fame and fortune yet feels empty. The beguiling story line shifts between Everett's present woes and his memories while she knows he needs Jesus to save his soul. Profanity and implied drug abuse add depth to the characterizations of Everett and the band, and the Jesus is where it's at message can feel heavy handed at times but fans of insightful modern day Christian fiction will want to read Creston Mapes' strong realistic tale of salvation.

Shred of Evidence
Kathy Herman
ISBN: 1590523482, $12.99, 400 pp.

Former newspaper editor, Ellen Jones and her husband Guy, a lawyer, have moved into their new home Seaport, Florida. Ellen works on a novel while Guy commutes to Tallahassee to practice law. At a supermarket Ellen meets two other newcomers depressed and lonely Julie Hamilton and her two years old daughter Sarah Beth. Not long afterward, Ellen is at a diner when she overhears a conversation that accuses Julie's husband Ross of child abuse. Out of fear for the child and the mother Ellen reports what she heard to police chief, who says he will make inquiries. Not feeling that is enough, Ellen investigates Ross. She soon realizes her initial opinion and that of others that he was an abuser seems wrong although he is someone with a shady deadly past as a newspaper article claims he killed two boys, ran over his own son, and is the prime suspect in the disappearance of two missing girls. Ellen fears she waited too long too speak out as Sarah Beth has vanished. The story line grips readers who will worry that Sarah Beth perhaps has been killed by parental abuse, which overshadows the return of the Baxter series stars Ellen and Guy in the first Seaport saga tale. The story line serves as a reminder not to jump to conclusions especially based on gossip and rumors (mindful of Harriet the Spy). Though the moral message is overly pounded with unnecessary cul de sac sidebars, fans of the Baxter tales will enjoy the relocation of the stars.

Billy Goat Hill
Mark Stanleigh Morris
ISBN: 1590524063, $17.99

In 1958 Los Angeles, infant Matthew Parker stops breathing. His parents and two older brothers are stunned with his death. Not long afterward, their dad deserts his family leaving their emotionally numb mom to bring in income. Eight year old Wade takes care of his six years old brother Luke. Still boys will be boys as the two siblings along with pal Gooey climb Billy Goat Hill to cardboard slide down the Crippler at four in the morning when they run into Scar, Miss Cherry and their gang. Already frightened Wade tries to brazen their way out when murder occurs. They escape, but as usual no one is there for Wade who is there for Luke; he turns to the Dodgers and Charlie Neal and Duke Snider as imaginary friends. Now forty, an age he never expected to reach, Wade looks back at his life. He is at a crossroad in which he can join the materialistic world of his biological father or he can turn to the heavenly world of the Father. He thinks both deserted him along with his mother when he was eight; only the imaginary Duke and Luke was there for him. BILLY GOAT HILL is a deep look inside a man whose childhood is shattered when neither of his parents coped with the death of their youngest. Readers will empathize with Wade who lost more than just his innocence during that year; he lost his beliefs in God and adults. Scar in a twisted way becomes his role model. Readers will cherish this powerful character study while asking the same question that Wade ponders about going home to a nightmare of grief, alcohol and homicide.

Rolling Thunder
Mark Mynheir
ISBN: 1590523768, $12.99

Governor Ronald "Mac" MacClartney is irate, embarrassed, and fears he could be a one term leader when the Orland Sentinel broke the story of Dylan Jacobs placed in foster care at four years old six years ago only to vanish. Acting like a Mack truck running over everyone in his path, Mac demands instant answers, which a Grand Jury would take to long to provide. Florida Department of Law Enforcement sends its best team, Agents Tim Porter and John Russell to find the child. While the police partners follow the trail, John past rises to haunt him. His estranged father, Frank Moore has been paroled after thirty-three years at Union Correctional Institute in Railford, Florida for murdering his wife. Frank pleads with John to give him a second chance saying he has changed since he found the Lord. An idealist who believes in second chances John wants to refuse his murdering dad's request to see any family member especially John's wife Marie and their children Brandon and Joshua. However, he also knows how un-Christian he behaves if he fails to forgive the man who sired him but also destroyed his childhood. ROLLING THUNDER works on two fronts, the police procedural thriller and the family drama. When John follows the clues to the disappearance of Dylan, the audience receives an exciting investigative tale; when the plot concentrates on John's personal dilemma of not wanting to forgive his father, readers obtain a deep introspective character study in which the hero's private debate impedes on his official capacity. Mark Mynheir provides a strong inspirational mystery.

The Birdcage
Marcia Willett
ISBN: 0312327757, $24.95, 384 pp.

In 1956 Dunster, though married to Marina and raising a son Piers together, Felix is unhappy with his loveless life though he loves his son. He meets Angelina when he attends the theater as she is performing on the stage. They begin a tryst as he visits her often at the Birdcage. He is falling in love with his Angel and cherishes her delightful young daughter Lizzie, who thinks Felix is the dad she never met. When Marina learns about her husband's infidelity, she forces him to decide between his second family and his son. Four decades later, a grieving Lizzie, whose mom just died, needs to understand why Felix abruptly dumped them. When she catches up to the man who was so kind to a girl that needed attention, she hides the truth that she is married to a philanderer. Felix is happy to see Lizzie and introduces her to Piers. With Lizzie as the catalyst the estranged relationship between father and son heals, but she knows she lives a lie from the two men she cares so much about. The vital element in this deep relationship drama is the significant cast members seem genuine whether it is the 1950s or the 1990s. The story line focuses on the characters especially Felix in the first half and Piers and Lizzie in the latter segment of this profound drama. Readers will emphasize with Felix as he chooses his beloved son which means Marina over his treasured Angel and her dearly loved daughter. Fans will be pleased with this strong family drama starring wonderful fully developed protagonists regardless of the decades that the subplots occur.

Nora Jane: A Life in Stories
Ellen Gilchrist
Little, Brown
ISBN: 0316058386, $14.95

As a child, Nora Jane Whittington loved her grandmother's Blue House where the youngster learned that she is the product of generations of strong women who are not afraid to take charge as it is a God gift for them to use their strength when needed. At nineteenth she heads west where her mentor Sandy teaches her to rob people using a prop gun. In the San Francisco Bay area, she tries to rob bookstore owner Freddy Harwood, but instead of leaving him in a wasteland, she ends up sharing his hot tub. She loves both her men and soon gives birth to twins. She chooses Freddy and with him raises their daughters in Berkeley. Over the next two decades, Nora Jane continues her belief to gravitate towards those you love; others follow her lofty ambition. All is joyful in Mudville until Freddy has leukemia. Now Nora Jane has her toughest task of all: bringing all her love into nurturing her beloved. The fourteen short stories have appeared in other publications over the years, but the novella Fault Lines is a new entry that adds to Nora Jane's cycle of life and love. The tales are all well written as most fans already know, but for the first time they appear in one book. The poignant effervescent heroine is perhaps at her best in NORA JANE A LIFE IN STORIES because the well written often amusing bit, always with a serious undertone, comes across more as a biographical fiction than anecdotal shorts. The novella enhances Ellen Gilchrist's wonderful collection.

Trace Evidence
Elizabeth Becka
ISBN: 1401301746, $22.95, 336 pp.

Medical Examiner's Office forensic scientist Evelyn James and homicide detectives Bruce Riley and David Milaski stare at the young woman in chains and her feet stuck inside a bucket of cement drowned in the Cuyahoga River. Making matters worse Mayor Daryl "Mobbuster" Pierson arrives; he was once Evie's lover before she married and since divorced her cheating spouse Rick. At home, their teenage daughter Angel blames the split on Evelyn while Rick and his girlfriend Terrie play the good guys. A second victim surfaces, the mayor's daughter Destiny making the case the top story. Evelyn crosses the thin line into cop territory fearing her daughter might be part of the inner circle of targets of a serial killer as she begins seeing a pattern. The killer becomes aware that the forensic scientist is closing in on him so he plans to lure her into a trap. David, who was attracted to Evelyn from the moment they first met overlooking that first corpse by the Cuyahoga, worries about the safety of the scientist he is falling in love with, but he may not be enough to keep her safe from a clever consistent killer. Readers who appreciate the details will enjoy this strong forensic police procedural. The heroine is a super person who enjoys her work and worries about her relationship with her daughter even while fighting an attraction to the new homicide detective. The suspense takes somewhat of a back seat to Evelyn on the job and at home, but though the tension is not stratospheric, the investigative depth seems genuine, candid, and insightful making for a fine tale held together by its star.

Bloody Mary
J.A. Konrath
ISBN: 1401300898, $22.95, 307 pp.

Cook County Chief Medical Examiner Phil Blasky informs Chicago Violent Crimes Unit Detective Jacqueline "Jack" Daniels that the morgue has a slight problem, a pair of extra arms handcuffed together. Jack and her partner Herb Benedict, thinking that the 100 plus degrees outside is cooler than their office, stop by the morgue where Jack's handcuffs link the arms. Soon other body parts surface at the morgue as if an insider is toying with the medical examiner and the cops. After several people are killed, the two cops finally catch the apparent culprit aspirin popping Barry Fuller; Jack and Herb feel they have stapled the case shut until the accused takes a lie detector test. While the serial killer case looks suddenly lost Jack's home front turns weirder then ever when her mom, assisted by her former son-in-law Alan, moves in with her while her current boyfriend Latham Conger wonders what is going on; for Barry a new list of Jack's circle now exists. BLOODY MARY is a zany roller coaster police procedural that the alternates perspectives between the cop and the killer. The story line starts off grippingly eerie, picks up weirdness and speed, but slows down towards the middle as readers know too much, only to suddenly detour yet accelerate into hyperspeed once Fuller is caught but apparently will walk due to lack of evidence. Jack's personal life adds craziness that is so out of control that a serial killer aimed in some perverse way at her seems like a lark. Fans will need to toast Jack with a WHISKEY SOUR for handling her personal life with chocolate and a murder investigation as her escapes.

The Pirate Coast: Thomas Jefferson, the First Marines, and the Secret Mission of 1805
Richard Zacks
ISBN: 1401300030, $25.95

In the early nineteenth century, Tripoli ruler Bashaw Yussef uses a force of pirates to terrorize the seas (nation sponsored terrorism even in early 1800s). Countries have choices to either pay him for safe passage or risk the seizing of their ships. Most nations choose to remit the fee. America is the exception refusing to bow to any form of tyranny. Instead, the tiny US Navy sets up a blockade off North Africa, but the Philadelphia runs aground off Tripoli; the 300 man crew is enslaved. Outraged President Jefferson sends diplomat William Eaton to allegedly negotiate with the abusive Barbary pirates though he also has a secret agenda to cause regime change. This is an interesting look at a rarely detailed chapter of early American "diplomacy". The first part of the book reads almost like a historical action thriller as the audience is gripped by what really happened. When the negotiations occur, the account slows down, but remains insightful and intriguing (no wonder the media pushes for hostilities - those are more exciting than back room diplomacy). Known for his bio on Captain Kidd (see THE PIRATE HUNTER) Richard Zacks provides an excellent insightful look at the Jefferson presidency with this powerful, deeply researched historical description of the Barbary Pirates encounter.

Naked Truth
Amy J. Fetzer
Brava (Zebra)
ISBN: 0758211031, $14.00, 352 pp.

Undercover secret agent Alexa Gavlin has lost one month of memory somehow chemically erased, but has no idea why though she is confident that she knows who. She knows that her peers branded her a traitor and are coming for her. Alexa trusts no one as her only objective is to survive until she can prove she did not betray her country and name who set her up for the fall. Former marine Killian Moore wants nothing to with his former world of black operational retrieval, but he is an expert so has been ordered to take Alexa back in custody dead or alive. Although he believes she cost him his career he still wants to refuse the mission, but is given no choice; he must retrieve her or else. When he catches up with Alexa, she is nothing like he expected. His beliefs are destroyed and he wants her to be innocent, but he wonders if he is thinking with the wrong head as he knows she is the best con artist in the government. Alexa knows he has come for her and should run from him, but her heart wants to trust Killian with her life and her soul. NAKED TRUTH is a thrilling espionage romantic suspense that never slows down whether the heroes are undercover or under cover. Alexa and Killian have reasons to distrust one another and no logical argument to rely on each other except for their attraction, which both believe is undependable yet keeps them together. Fans of action-packed non-stop thrillers with a critical romantic subplot will enjoy the female spy alone in the cold until love joins her.

The River Devil
Diane Whiteside
ISBN: 0758207948, $14.00, 384 pp.

In December 1871 in New York Nicholas Lennox will do anything including kill to insure he controls the wealth of Rosalind Schuyler though he plans to marry her first. A stipulation in her inheritance insists that if she marries in the next fifteen months she loses control of her money. To avoid that fate especially with the dangerous Nicholas, Rosalind flees west hoping to hide until she can claim her wealth without any proviso. To hide in plain sight, Rosalind dresses like a man, but Nicholas seems to be closing in on her. At a poker game, she meets Mississippi-Missouri riverboat captain Hal Lindsey. She is attracted to him but fears revealing her gender; he knows that "he" is a she and he needs to learn why because he wants her too. Diane Whiteside's latest devilish tale, THE RIVER DEVIL, is a terrific historical romance that stars two likable lead protagonists, a vile villain, and the rivers with their riverboats. The story line cleverly meanders like the rivers that flow throughout the descriptive plot. However, the cast makes this a fine novel as readers will root for Nicholas and Rosalind (perfect name for a woman disguised as a man) and appreciate the return of the stars of THE IRISH DEVIL in a secondary role.

Who's Been Sleeping in My Bed?
Gemma Bruce
ISBN: 0758211414, $14.00, 304 pp.

"Wicked Widow". On Long Island, Mathilde Sims hired Women-Tek private Eye Hannah "Nan" Harrington-Scott to investigate her wealthy husband Rupert when she notices that a James Bond clone is doing likewise. She decides checking out Damon Connelly is more fun especially when he reciprocates by inspecting her with enough heat to melt her clothing off. "Man with a Past". A decade ago teen Geena Cole helped Cabot Vandermeer III escape town before he is arrested as a killer. He has come back with a need to prove his innocence and a greater desire to kiss the neighbor who helped him flee. Cab hires private eye Geena to find proof that he is not a murderer though his real motive is winning Geena. "Love Bites". Delia Petrocelli hates her life as a boring socialite married to a wealthy loser. Geena assigns her to investigate whether Ben Michaelson killed his last lover as the victim's sister insists. As she stirs her mark's juices, she falls in love with him, but the evidence seems to point towards his guilt, which could mean he might kill his next paramour, her. These three former bad girls turn wicked women investigative romances are fun to follow because the female stars and the men they nab make for a fun fine time for the audience. It will not take a sleuth to know that Gemma Bruce has provided a fabulous who-done-it anthology.

Not Just For Tonight
Susan Johnson, Katherine O'Neal, & Diane Whiteside
ISBN: 0758206968, $15.00, 336 pp.

"American Beauty" by Susan Johnson. In 1889 Epsom, England, American Evelyn Sweet knows her horses while Marquis Nicholas DeLacey has the reputation for the best stable in England. With the Derby coming up shortly, they agree that their thoroughbreds belong together while each plans to make love with the other. "Dr. Yes" by Katherine O'Neal. In 1912, following three annulled marriages due to certain marital problems, rich San Franciscan Sierra Winston travels to Buenos Aires seeking to become sexually liberated. British expatriate sexual therapist Dr. Alistair Lange plans to be her liberator but also sees her as a sexy distraction who can seize a damning political document he desires to possess almost as much as he wants to possess her. "The Seduction of Mrs. Rutledge" by Diane Whiteside. In 1863, his father warns Colonel Brett Rutledge that if he fails to take a bride soon he will have him removed from the military. Knowing he can do this, Brett visits his childhood friend Venetia Davidson to ask her to be his wife. Though twelve years have passed since they saw each other in Maryland, Venetia accepts as she worries about her future. However, she vows to never fall in love as that only leads to pain, but Brett has mounted an assault on the heart of the woman he loves. These three heated historical romances star wonderful protagonists who grip the audience in each case. Readers will appreciate these naughty yet nice novellas.

The Matchmaker
Jamie Denton
ISBN: 0758210124, $14.00

He is the ultimate matchmaker insuring that the dead receive what they deserved, but did not get out of life. He insures that the recently departed and their soulmate spend eternity together even though he may have to expedite moving the survivor on. Former FBI profiler turned deputy sheriff Greer Lomax fears her current assignment that brings back the memories of why she fled the agency and the agent she loves. Two years is not enough to rid herself of her nightmares, but the court demands she exhume a corpse now. Greer is stunned as the deceased shares his last resting spot with a dead woman. She needs help so she asks her former lover FBI agent Ash Keller to investigate. Ash still loves Greer, but is angry that she left him. AS they work together to uncover the culprit, the matchmaker believes they are a perfect couple to spend eternity together. THE MATCHMAKER is a tense serial killer suspense tale with a strong romantic subplot. The killer is cleverly employed so that the audience along with Greer slowly see a picture of a maniac murderer matching the living with the dead. The relationship between Ash and Greer accentuates the troubled case. Though similar in tone to police procedurals involving a psychopathic serial killer like Copycat, Jamie Denton hooks her audience from start to finish with this taut thriller.

Larger Than Life
Alison Kent
ISBN: 0758211120, $14.00, 309 pp.

Smithson Group agent Mick Savin awakens in West Texas wondering how he ended up there. He knows he was attacked, hog tied and dragged before being left to die by Spectra hoods while on a mission in the New Mexico desert. Mick soon learns that former attorney Neva Case saved his life. She saw his battered dog on a remote road and followed the canine until she located the tattered bleeding Nick. She took him to safety. He is already grateful to her for saving his life, but soon also admires Neva as she left her urban legal practice to manage the Big Brown Barn shelter, which protects young girls from being sold into polygamist marriages. However, Mick is concerned that someone wants to put Neva out of business permanently even if that means killing her but he refuses to allow any harm to come to the woman he now loves. The latest Smithson Group thriller is an electrifying espionage romantic suspense novel that starts off at supersonic speed, accelerates, and never slows down until the climax. The story line is loaded with action, but also contains two terrific congenial yet tough lead characters whose love for one another comes at the right time as first he needs her nurturing and then she needs his protection. Alison Kent has added a winner to her Smithson saga.

Painted Kiss
Elizabeth Hickey
ISBN: 0743492609, $24.00

In 1944 Vienna, septuagenarian Emilie Floge fears the Nazis either absconding with or viciously destroying her most prized possessions. Willing to risk her life to see they are safe, she flees Vienna with the only things she thought important in her life, a portfolio filled with the drawings of her beloved Gustav Klimt. On the trek to her Austrian countryside hideaway, Emilie reflects back to when she was a teenager and first met her Gustav in 1886 Vienna. Her father hired the near starving artist to provide her with some rudimentary drawing lessons. .Over time they became lovers inspiring each other to greater heights though he also was a womanizer. She became a renowned designer while his paintings became popular. He turned to her for inspiration as she was his motivating muse for his most reflective work, The Kiss. This is a well written biographical fiction starring two intriguing individuals who's on and off love affair enhanced their artistic endeavors. The story line is loaded with historical insight especially Vienna in 1944 and the late nineteenth century; this makes for an interesting comparative analysis. Though the book is too crammed with sidebar details that never fully get integrated into the prime story line, fans of novelizations of real life persona will take much delight with what inspired the renowned PAINTED KISS.

Robert K. Tanenbaum
ISBN: 0743452909, $25.95, 396 pp.

Twelve years ago five Bedford Stuyvesant teenage gangbangers were convicted of raping twenty-eight years old new mother Liz Tyler when they caught her jogging from Brighton beach towards Coney Island; they left her dead under a pier. After a decade behind bars for four of them, the one who turned witness had died; Enrique Villalobos, a lifer at Rikers Island, confessed to the crime as the lone assailant; Kings County DA Kristine Brennan admits that the only DNA found at the crime scene besides the victim matched that of Enrique. Politically ambitious attorney Hugh Louis demands the immediate release from prison of the Coney Island Four and persuades the oldest Jayshon Sykes to sue the city for $250 million. Since Brennan capitulated, Mayor-elect Denton demands New York's Acting District Attorney Butch Karp to defend the city. Meanwhile, Butch's wife Marlene Ciampi, defends visiting Russian Professor Alexis Michalik from the rape charge of NYU graduate student Sarah Ryder. While the married couple struggles with highly visible cases, they hear rumors that murderer David Grale, thought dead, is alive, and that terrorists plan to blow up Times Square at midnight on New Year's Eve. The seventeenth Karp-Ciampi legal thriller is terrific when the story line focuses on the two rape cases; on the other hand the terrorists and Grale subplots seem cartoonish and unnecessary in comparison. The lead duet remains as fresh and solid as ever as they work difficult cases under the media spotlight and the heated political reactions to the negative publicity of being on the accused side of both fights. Though the ending is obvious, fans of the series will cherish this installment and look forward to the next one, already set up.

Once Upon a Prince
Holly Jacobs
Silhouette Romance
ISBN: 0373197772, $4.25, 187 pp.

In Erie, Pennsylvania, Shey Carlson intercedes when she agrees to keep Prince Eduardo Matthew Tanner Ericson of Amar away from his chosen bride, one of her two best friends Princess Parker Dillon (see ONCE UPON A PRINCE). Shey succeeds in her mission taking the Royal pain on her motorcycle while Parker marries her beloved Jace O'Donnell. Tanner leaves town not because he is embarrassed or hurt by losing his princess to a private sleuth, but because he is confused how by his attraction to Shey. Tanner now knows what he wants and returns to Erie to persuade the co-owner of the Monarch Coffeehouse and Titles Bookstore that she is his caffeine and together they can have a fairy happily ever after. Though she loves his kisses and caresses, Shey is unable to accept the possibility of her being a regal outside of a cafe. The second royally Pennsylvania romance is a fun contemporary tale starring a wonderful outgoing protagonist and the regal who loves her. The return of Shey's pals adds a sense of belonging to the warm tale. Tanner is terrific as she struggles with his upbringing as a prim proper prince and his desire to ride the wind with the wild woman he cherishes. Readers will enjoy this story, the previous one and look forward to the final entry in a charming trilogy, ONCE UPON A KING.

The Contestant
Stephanie Boyle
Silhouette Bombshell
ISBN: 0373513666, $4.99

A former Olympics diver who won a silver medal at Sydney has a will to win in all competitions because the win was done with a broken hand. Talia Mooney knows why she is in the middle of the Pacific Ocean. Her father owes $50K to Rocco, a loan shark known for breaking bones of late payees. Talia looks over her rivals and thinks she has an excellent chance of winning the million dollar winner take all prize though she acknowledges her prime competitor on the Ultimate Endurance reality TV survival show is the in shape former cop Reuben Serrano, who makes no pretension that this is a team sport as he plans to go alone. However, a storm strands the contestants and crew on the isolated island. Not long afterward, someone decides to change the rules of the game by killing off opponents. Talia wonders if she can trust anyone as any of the other marooned folks could be the killer although she is most wary of Reuben as she fears her judgment of him due a strong attraction. Perhaps being an ex-cop, he is even more suspicious of his competition although his libido screams for teaming with Talia. THE CONTESTANT is a fabulous romantic thriller starring two real individuals with flaws that make each hesitant to fall in love. The exciting story line is mindful of Ten Little Indians (especially the Hugh O'Brien movie) with the TV reality show twist modernizing the plot. Fans of action-packed pot boilers will enjoy this strong romantic suspense.

Once a Thief
Michele Hauf
Silhouette Bombshell
ISBN: 0373513631, $4.99

One year ago Rachel Blu fled France to escape from her mentor Christian who raised her to be a master thief. She relocated in the American Midwest using her thieving skills to become a security consultant. Her current assignment, keeping a priceless gem safe, will make her reputation. However, the impossible has occurred and the gem is stolen and she knows who the thief is because only her former mentor could have pulled off such an impossible theft. Rachel knows that if she fails to recover the gem she will be the prime suspect especially when her previous occupation surfaces. She also concludes she needs help from a specialist when she begins her quest to regain the stolen gem. Thus she goes to friend and thief Jason Marland not knowing that turning to him in her hour of need will prove even more complex to her heart than stealing back the gem. This intriguing romantic suspense will grip readers with its cat and mouse contest between the teacher and the student. Rachel is a terrific protagonist who chose the right side of the law over the morality of her instructor. Jason is her perfect foil as she grants to herself that she loves him but also detests him due to his profession. Christian steals the show though his appearances are comparatively brief as he is not evil yet stealing is in his blood except when he suffers the severe head pains. Michele Hauf provides a fun thriller as it takes a thief to catch a thief.

Hot Pursuit
Kathryn Jensen
Silhouette Bombshell
ISBN: 037351364X, $4.99

NASA scientist Dr. Kate Foster assumed her troubles would be in space not on earth. Instead someone broke into her secure lab holding a gun on her and seven members of her staff, stole valuable data, and "abducted" a HW-1 satellite that she operates. She assumes that the intruder is a corporate espionage agent from a rival of her prime funding Alternate Source Energy Corporation (ASEC) until this Zed kills one worker and shoots and abducts another. Civilian anti-terrorist expert and retired marine colonel Daniel Rooker is hired to find the criminals and recover the information and the satellite. As he begins his inquiries with Kate, the thieves demand ransom money from the government. He questions Kate as if she is the felon and is even harsher with her about her loyal crew as he is convinced someone inside had to expedite the caper. She cannot give credence to his theory that she has a traitor on her team though that is the only plausible way the theft could have occurred. Instead she knows each person personally and each one is dedicated, knows their stuff, and has cleared security checks. As they dispute who is behind the escapade yet work closely together, Kate and Daniel fall in love. HOT PURSUIT is an exhilarating thriller that never slows down from the moment that Zed enters the NASA Weston Research Facility until the final confrontation. The relationship between the scientist and the anti-terrorist expert starts early with a dispute over alarms and continues arguing over the turncoat and even over falling in love. Kathryn Jensen writes a fun romantic suspense thriller filled with plenty of action and a neat final twist.

Courting Danger
Carol Stephenson
Silhouette Bombshell
ISBN: 0373513658, $4.99

A scandal involving sleeping with her boss Harold Lowell cost wealthy Palm Beach criminal defense attorney Katherine Rochelle her job at the U.S. Attorney's Office. So when she feels a proper amount of time has passed she opens up a partnership with two friends, Carling Dent and Nicole Sterling. Her Aunt Hilary orders Katherine to defend family friend Lloyd Silber accused of killing Grace Roberts. Katherine reluctantly agrees and cautiously hires private investigator Gabriel Chavez to make inquiries; her hesitation stems from her attraction to the ex-cop and not his competency as he is acknowledged as one of the best. As he digs up information, the case takes a wicked spin as it is connected to the disappearance of her grandparents years ago. Before deciding whether she should recluse herself due to a possible conflict of interests as she always wanted to know what happened to her relatives, someone tries to kill Kate. Only Gabriel keeps her safe, but she wonders who will keep her heart safe once he steals it. Fans of romantic legal thrillers will enjoy this stirring tale. The story line stars an attorney struggling to regain her reputation shattered when she had an affair with her boss; both losing their jobs. Though Gabriel is a fine male lead, Katherine is the star from her first sterling performance bringing to heel a felon, a judge, and a prosecutor in the courtroom until the final efforts to prove her client innocent and learn what happened to her grandparents. Readers will want more stories starring the "Debt, Default, and Miscarriage" legal team especially COURTING DANGER.

Happily Never After
Kathleen O'Brien
Signature Select
ISBN: 0373836562, $5.99

Thomas Beckham thought Sophie Mellon was the most beautiful woman he ever met. He courted her and proposed to her; she accepted. However, as the wedding day grew nearer he saw a dark insane side to his fiancee. She also pales in comparison to the sweet kind hearted bridesmaid Kelly Carpenter. Unable to marry his lunatic betrothed and half in love with Kelly, Tom flees New York for Atlanta. Though most members of the Mellon wedding party assumes the runaway husband fled with the bridesmaid that everyone could see he ogled, Tom and Kelly went their separate ways in spite of their attraction to one another. Neither thought it appropriate to build a relationship off the misery of someone else. A decade has passed when someone begins killing the Mellon wedding party. Kelly fearing for her life and thinking Tom must be a target too looks him up. Though ten years since they have seen one another, both have thought of the other many times and realize the desire is as strong as ever. Assuming unhinged Sophie went off the deep end, they team up to keep one another safe while trying to stop a matrimonial serial killer. HAPPILY NEVER AFTER is an exhilarating romantic suspense with a strong cast that will have the audience reading the novel in one sitting to learn why Tom jilted Sophie and whether Sophie is, as the lead couple suspect, the killer wiping out her extended Mellon family. Though the motive seems twisted, the story line never slows down gripping fans until the end. Kathleen O'Brien writes a solid contemporary romantic thriller, which asserts you can't go home.

Not Without Proof
Kay David
Signature Saga (Harlequin)
ISBN: 0373836716, $5.99

The International Diamond Dealers Association wants to hire Stratton O'Neil to uncover a thief stealing valuable gems from their members. Stratton insists he is out of that business, but the offer is so good so he accepts the IDDA as a client. The prime suspect is a Houston dealer Am Leonadov, owner of Leonadov Diamonds. Insisting he needs her ability to speak Portuguese, Am shocks his assistant Jennifer Rodas by taking her on a business trip to Rio, the first time his assistant goes on the road. However, someone kills Am in his hotel room and targets Jennifer next. Stratton, who followed them to Brazil, rescues Jennifer. He concludes she is an innocent dupe, but someone needed her and her boss out of the way. When the lead couple meets and remains on center stage the story line is a gem of a romantic suspense; when the sidebars push the stars off the stage, the tale slows down as the audience feels overwhelmed by seemingly excessive subplots. Stratton is a fabulous hero who wants to get out of the game, but has one last play in which the stakes are the highest he ever participated with, the safety of his beloved, and innocent soul. Fans will appreciate this strong suspense thriller.

Velvet, Leather & Lace
Suzanne Forster, Donna Kauffman & Jill Shalvis
Signature Spotlight
ISBN: 0373836546, $5.99

"Red Velvet" by Suzanne Forster. Several months ago playboy Jamie had the night of his life with Lorna, but stupidly walked away. Now, the CFO of Velvet, Leather & Lace needs someone built just like her to pretend to be him with the media as everyone wants to meet the "women" behind the successful "Hot at any age, sexy at any size" lingerie catalogue company. As he tries to persuade her to masquerade as a female him, they fall in love, but she does not trust him with her heart and he does not trust him with her heart either. "Black Leather" by Donna Kauffman. VLL partner Samantha is a control freak at work, but also uses her acumen in her sex life needing to always be in charge. Her lover Marsh wants her to let go and let him be in charge in bed even some of the time or else he will leave in spite of being in love with Sam. "White Lace" by Jill Shalvis. VLL graphic designer Mia needs help when her set is not right so she turns to her best friend Jake to fix her problems. Jake agrees but wants more than gratitude from the woman he loves. These three steamy VLL romances heat up the sheets as each well written tale makes the case that mixing business with pleasure with the right person is hot and sexy.

Making Waves
Julie Elizabeth Leto
Signature Spotlight
ISBN: 0373836538, $5.99

During the divorce hearing, the Prince of West Palm Beach Daniel Reese and his team selected by his powerful father lie on the witness stand that his soon to be ex-wife Tessa Dalton is a sexual deviant as they want part of her wealth. The proof they insist that she sleeps with any male is that she writes erotic fairy tales that they hint are her memoirs. The media loves scandal especially that of a socialite and she becomes the nymphomaniac butt of their stories and jokes. Her friends flee her side as they do not want her deviant taint to touch them. Surprisingly nationally acclaimed reporter Colton Granger is the exception as he defends her in his column while attacking the father-in-law. Colin has a reputation for honesty and encourages Tessa to get back into writing. She does, but it is not the same until he collaborates with her. As they work together, they fall in love, but someone plans to use the smut written with the slut as a career move not caring what happens to either Colton or Tessa. MAKING WAVES is a solid contemporary romance starring two intrepid lead characters and a powerful secondary cast. The tale focuses on how a powerful individual can manipulate and buy public opinion with innuendoes, hyperboles, and fabrications if the media fails to do its job. Readers will especially root for Tessa to overcome her reluctance to trust anyone after her reputation is nuked by her vicious former father-in-law.

The Anglophile
Laurie Gwen Shapiro
Red Dress (Harlequin)
ISBN: 0373895291, $12.95, 320 pp.

Thirty-five years old Shari Diamond has been fascinated with Anglo-Saxon history since she met Christopher Robin as a kid when he starred in her copies of the Winnie classics. Studying for her PhD in dead languages at NYU, Shari searches for the last known person alive who speaks Volupuk as she has for several years. In Chicago to give a talk on Volupuk, she meets British bloke Christopher "Kit" Brown, who makes her forget her boyfriend back home Kevin Bernstein. However, to her shock, Kit is studying Volupuk and insists the last user lives near York. Ignoring Kevin's concerns, Shari rushes to England where she meets a boy from her past, but neither Owen nor Kevin hold a candle to Kit until she learns in a garden his secret connection to the last speaker of Volupuk in the world. Besides highlighting the rapid loss of languages as the world grows smaller through modern day communications, THE ANGLOPHILE is a fine chick lit tale starring a dynamic heroine, her Jewish New York stereotyped mother and the men in her life. The story line focuses on the rivalry between Kit and Shari in search of the last known user of a shortly to be extinct language. When that is gone, like many languages which are oral only, cultures die. The romance is an 18 carat diamond that includes the efforts of Kevin and Owen to compete with Kit for Shari's heart, but it is the language that steals the show though that plays a minor role in this fine thought provoking tale.

Marrying Up
Jackie Rose
Red Dress
ISBN: 0373895305, $12.95, 368 pp.

Dr. Martingale suggests to his high strung client, Buffalo Bugle obit columnist Holly Hastings to write her own obituary, which she does. By doing so Holly realizes she is lonely in spite of fine friends and her life is boring. When she sees the Marilyn Monroe film How to Marry a Millionaire, she decides to make that her quest culminating with How to Book, but mostly so she can begin living her own life rather than precariously that of dead people. With the help of girl pal George, Holly takes a leave of absence and begins searching for a wealthy mate; this means leaving Buffalo, which may have been the millionaire capital of America but that was two centuries ago or so. After several aborted efforts, Holly thinks she has found her affluent hunk in San Francisco so why is it that Remy next door is the one that touches her soul. Holly comes across as shallow as she chooses to seek money over a loving nurturing relationship until Remy makes her reconsider her choices. The amusing story line is somewhat inane, but chick lit fans will appreciate this MARRYING UP to a millionaire romantic romp.

With or Without You
Carole Matthews
Red Dress
ISBN: 0373895453, $17.95, 432 pp.

Four strikes and you are out. At least that is what Dunstan and Bradley advertising specialist Jake tells his live-in girlfriend Global Magazine Publishing Assistant Editor Lyssa. Four times they tried in vitro fertilization, four times they failed. Jake cannot deal with Lyssa's obsession to become pregnant and leaves, but fails to inform her that he has moved in with a mountain climbing wealthy amazon beauty Neve. Stunned by his abrupt departure and further shocked that he is living with Lara Croft, Lyssa decides to go out and do something crazy to reclaim Jake's heart. Since Neve is climbing Mt. Everest, Lyssa takes a leave of absence from My Baby to do like wise. While Jake finds he misses Lyssa and detests some of Neve's selfish actions, his ex meets American tour guide Dean, who shows her a vast world at her beckoning starting at the top of the Himalayas if she takes a chance. The key to this chick lit romance is the metamorphosis of Lyssa from a brain with one icon: that of pregnancy to that of daredevil adventuress; those who can accept her sudden change of heart will appreciate this fine tale; those who can't need to pass. Readers will emphasize with Jake who is frustrated with Lyssa's obsession until they learn he already has another squeeze even before strike four. Chick lit fans will enjoy this interesting look at a young woman seeking her groove at the top of the world.

The Daughter He Never Knew
Linda Barrett
Harlequin SuperRomance
ISBN: 0373712898, $5.50

On the night of graduation from Pilgrim Cove High School, his twin bother died in a DUI incident. Jason Parker, unable to cope, fled the sanctuary of his grieving family and left behind his girlfriend Lila Sullivan though he loved both. Over the years Jason became a successful songwriter, but avoided returning to his home where ghosts live in his mind. However, now nine years since he took flight, Jason finally comes home. To his shock, he finds he left a piece of himself with Lila as she has raised THE DAUGHTER HE NEVER KNEW by herself, but not for long as she is engaged to marry. Jason now realizes what he lost when he ran from his demons. He wants a second chance with the two women that mean everything to him, but the older one distrusts him to stay with them when the going gets rough and the younger one is warily adjusting to her biological father. The latest Pilgrim Cove romance focuses on two likable protagonists and the usual delightful support cast including stars from previous tales. Interestingly in spite of Jason's cavalier treatment of Lila and THE DAUGHTER HE NEVER KNEW, the audience will want a happy ending for this fine trio though like the lead pair readers will remain uncertain to the end whether Jason regains what he lost. As usual Linda Barrett escorts her fans through another fine Pilgrim Cove engagement.

Judging Joshua
Mary Anne Wilson
Harlequin American
ISBN: 037375082X, $4.99, 249 pp.

When his father suffered a heart attack, Joshua Pierce left the Atlanta Police Department to come home to Silver Creek, Nevada to help his dad and to work as a deputy in the sheriff's office, temporarily at least in his mind. While on mobile patrol, Joshua stops a speeder. The check of the plates reveals a stolen vehicle so he arrests the driver Riley Shaw who insists she is driving the car legally to San Diego. However, her confirmation in Chicago fails to back her because the owner Alvin Nyland is out of pocket at the moment. As Joshua learns about Riley's arresting past, he begins to fall in love with his vivacious prisoner. She reciprocates and feels great affection for his beloved daughter JJ, but believes that someone who should one day soon become the elected sheriff cannot afford an albatross of a spouse with a mile long rap sheet of a past. Besides she knows he loves his late first wife Sarah. When the air is cleared she will leave with JJ's drawings, but her heart will remain behind. JUDGING JOSHUA is a joyful Return to Silver Creek for readers and ultimately the title hero. The story line is fun to follow as Joshua adheres to police procedures with his handling of the potentially stolen car scenario, but outgoing Riley makes him want to throw away the book not just because of his attraction, but with her tender nurturing of his daughter because inside his heart he knows the truth. Readers will enjoy this fine tale.

Homeward Bound
Marin Thomas
Harlequin American
ISBN: 0373750838, $4.99, 249 pp.

After spending much of the last seven years in College Station, Heather Henderson returns to her hometown of Nowhere, Texas to allegedly bury her father, who died when he fell asleep in bed with a lit cigarette. However, Heather knows she is not coming home to honor her abusive dad who never cared one iota for her; she is returning to confront her knight in shining armor Royce McKinnon, who as an older teen took care of her after her mother fled from her father. She plans to demand he explain why he rejected her three years ago. Royce cares for others, which is why the rancher became mayor. He still sees Heather as a rebellious adolescent needing food, water, and at times shelter and protection. She wants him to see her as a nurturing capable grown-up willing to care for him while he minds others for Heather knows that her adulation of her hero has turned into adult love, which she believes deep inside his heart her stubborn champion reciprocates. The latest "Homeward Bound contemporary romance is a fine tale starring a rigid soul who feels a need to be responsible for everyone in his sphere of influence and the woman who matches him in degrees of obstinacy who demands that she be responsible for him at times. Readers will believe this couple belongs together, but wonder if Heather is still hero worshipping and also ponder why Royce rejects what is obvious. Although Royce can become irritating with his Bushian principle of my way or the highway, fans will welcome this refreshing small town Texas tale.

Almost a Family
Roxanne Rustand
Harlequin SuperRomance
ISBN: 0373712847, $5.50

Divorced from her husband and having adopted three preadolescent children within the last ten months would be enough to send anyone over the edge. However merging into a family and relocating to start her new job as Blackberry Hill memorial Hospital Administrator seems nothing to Erin Lang compared to having Dr. Connor Reynolds on the staff. Back in college Erin was attracted to Connor, who became married to her now deceased cousin Stephanie. Worse she has a secret about one of her children that Stephanie made her swear to hide from Connor. As Connor and Erin avoid their attraction to one another, she is concerned over the number of deaths at the hospital that should not have occurred. She begins to investigate only to place herself in jeopardy. Connor, who is so nice her children, tries to help her as he sees the trend too, but someone paints him in a negative light that leaves Erin to wonder if her heart could be so wrong about the man she loves. ALMOST A FAMILY is an exciting medical romantic suspense thriller that fans will enjoy though the culprit is in the reader's face. The story line is action packed but filled with plenty of angst over decisions made involving Stephanie. Connor and Erin are a fine pairing while the trio of children brings out the best in them. Fans of hospital romantic intrigue will want to read this fine tale.

Montana's Standoff
Nadia Nichols
Harlequin SuperRomance
ISBN: 0373712871, $5.50, 299 pp.

When a Tainer, Skelton, and Goldstein lawyer was unable to attend a public hearing the firm sends Molly Ferguson. Her job is for the most part is to remain silent, but if needed sell how much the mining will mean for the community. Molly calls her boyfriend to break a date because she will be at the hearing at Moose Horn, Montana adult population 27. The attorney for the Native Americans, who oppose the mining of their mountain, Steven Young Bear gives a lift to a stranded Molly. At the meeting site, he scoffs at the claims of Ken Manning from the mining company. Though very attracted to one another, Molly and Steven are on opposite sides of the issue as she emphasizes jobs and he points out heritage. This is a terrific environmental vs. development tale starring two ethical attorneys (and this is not a fantasy) falling in love but differing on what is best for the locals. The story line is at its best when the disagreeing dynamic duo dispute with one another. Though an intrigue involving questionable deaths add suspense and enables the lead couple to meet, that subplot seems unneeded as Nadia Nichols packs her contemporary tale with plenty of super romance within a complex keenly developed societal issue.

A Treacherous Proposal
Patricia Frances Rowell
ISBN: 037329364X, $5.50

In 1814 London, Lord Wynmond Corby dies from injuries he suffered leaving behind his wife Diana and their two small children Bytham and Selena. Lord St. Edmonds offers to help the beautiful widow with an "arrangement" to pay off her debts; however, Earl Vincent Inglets intercedes as Wyn was his only friend. Vincent persuades St. Edmonds to roll the dice for who would protect the widow. They "exchange" dice and Vincent wins to the relief of Diana. Following the funeral someone abducts Bytham, but before the hoodlum can escape with the child, Vincent rescues him; the thug escapes. Vincent wonders if the return of Napoleon from exile, the death of Wyn, and the kidnap attempt are related to the deceased's work at the Home Office. Vincent takes the widow and her kids to a safe estate of his to keep them safe, but someone believes they have information Wyn accumulated leaving no haven for the grieving family. However, he never expected Diana to prove that he is worthy of being loved while demonstrating she can be trusted to safeguard his heart. Though similar to many entries in the sub-genre, readers will gain pleasure form this tremendous Regency romantic suspense. Wyn is a fabulous protagonist trusting no one as he learned his life lessons as a child under the odious tutelage of his sire; Diana needs him not just to keep her offspring safe, but because she trusts him with her heart and soul. The espionage subplot engages the reader mostly because it propels Wyn to hang around though he finds his guest to be A DANGEROUS SEDUCTION and fears his lack of control will lead to A SCANDALOUS SITUATION.

Sexy All Over
Jamie Sobrato
Harlequin Blaze
ISBN: 0373791941, $4.75

Image consultant Naomi Tyler ends her relationship with her two timing boyfriend. However, the rat blames her for his indiscretions, insisting she could put someone to sleep while allegedly making love to them. Just like she teaches people how to improve their public figure, Naomi decides to find a bad boy to train her in the art of lovemaking. The station brass warns reporter Zane Underwood that if he fails to clean up his bad boy act he will be fired for behavior unbecoming a TV journalist. He loves his job as much if not more than he does the women so Zane agrees to an image make over under the tutelage of Naomi though he detests changing what he believes is the essential zany Zane. To her chagrin, Naomi is attracted to the bad boy, who she hopes becomes her tutor, but to her amazement he wants more than to be her boudoir pedagogue. Jamie Sobrato provides her audience with a wonderful, often amusing, but also serious contemporary romance. The key is the lead couple, initially suspicious but wanting one another, slowly becoming interested in the other, and soon falling in love. Adding depth is the metamorphosis of Zane whose understanding of his image on his chosen profession follows the same path as the relationship. SEXY ALL OVER lives up to its title.

Indecent Suggestion
Elizabeth Bevarly
Harlequin Blaze
ISBN: 0373791941, $4.75

They met in the first grade and became friends; now two decades plus years later they remain best friends while both work at the same advertising firm. As best friends, Becca Mercer and Turner McCloud agree to support one another kicking the vile smoking habit, but they need outside help as nothing has worked so far. They go to a hypnotherapist for the cure, but that fails too. In fact they are smoking more than ever especially following sex as they have become lovers. Both fears the friendship will end if their libido stops as Becca and Mercer wonder if they can be both friends and lovers to each other. Place When Harry Met Sally inside of Office Space to have an understanding of this amusing white collar romance. The story line is very humorous as Becca and Mercer fear risking their friendship going into a different direction because neither wants to lose the camaraderie as there is no going back. When they become friends and lovers, the likable delightful duet dare do what they avoided, but both still worry that they can't be both to each other. Elizabeth Bevarly writes a fine office romance.

The Baby Scheme
Jacqueline Diamond
Harlequin American
ISBN: 037375079X, $4.99, 251 pp.

Five years as a reporter at the Orange Coast Outlook had not prepared Alli Gardner to have someone steal her story from her computer, but Payne Jacobson, nephew of an assistant editor, did just that. He got the byline for exposing the Serene Beach, California Mayor LeMott running gambling tournaments. She complained and was fired. Out of work and outraged, her career seems over until she gets a tip from a reliable source centering on an illegal baby adoption ring. She knows the danger of trying to uncover the people behind this money maker so she asks private detective Kevin Vickers to help her. They approach the case in opposite ways; she is filled with adrenaline and rushes into danger while he is much more cautious. As they work the case and try to also trap Payne, these opposites who belittle one another fall in love, but first there is a case to solve. THE BABY SCHEME is a fabulous police procedural romantic suspense that really goes into hyperspeed when a reluctant Alli asks Kevin for help; reluctantly because she desires him yet tries to hide that with caustic humor. The plot is deftly handled so that the audience roots for the likable sleuths while wanting Payne to suffer pain and hoping the "big shots" behind the infant sales are caught. Fans will enjoy this diamond of a tale.

A Texas State of Mind
Ann DeFee
Harlequin American
ISBN: 0373750803, $4.99, 246 pp.

Port Serenity, Texas Police Chief Lavinia "Lolly" LaTullipe has a filled plate between raising a fourteen years old son and a ten years old daughter alone and the small crimes that occur in her jurisdiction. The Peaceful Cove "Inn" calls to have her remove underage drinkers when she notices a high school crony Cookie Baker at the bar with a stud. She says hello, but the hunk yanks her onto his lap so she zaps him with her stun gun. Texas Department of Safety Narcotics Division undercover agent Christian Delacroix knows he deserved the shock, but that he thought she could have just shown him her badge instead of leaving him on the floor. Christian is in town working on a case of dead drug dealers floating onto the nearby beach. As they share an office and work closely together, they fall in love, but she has two kids with a picket fence while he has always lived on the edge. A TEXAS STATE OF MIND is a wonderful police procedural romance that works on two levels: the investigation and the relationships. The murder mystery is cleverly handled so that the two law enforcement officials must work as a team following up on that opening zap. Lolly is a strong amazon who does Herculean work as the chief and as a single mom. Christian is her ideal counterpart as he is intelligent and courageous. However, kids, dogs, and fences are outside his norm so the audience will wonder if he chooses to stay out in the cold or enter the warmth of a loving family.

Tears of Pride
Lisa Jackson
ISBN: 0373770464, $6.99

The fire killed her father Oliver and destroyed the family's Cascade Valley Winery. Though she knows her beloved dad would want her to rebuild, Sheila Lindstrom cannot finance the project. Instead her lawyer informs her that Wilder Investments President Ben Wilder was Oliver's partner and over the years lent money to keep the winery afloat. The insurance goes to Wilder. However, to Sheila what is worse is her dad's shredded reputation as most people believe Oliver set the deadly inferno and must find a way to tell her daughter. Unable to sit back idly, Sheila confronts Wilder Investments temporary president Noah Wilder. He has troubles with his teenage son Sean who is missing from school; he also runs the family company that he does not want anything to do while his dad recuperates in Mexico from a heart attack. Feeling like a traitor to her beloved father, Sheila is attracted to a man she considers a pirate. In spite of the angry termagant behaving as if she wants to skin him alive, Noah reciprocates. However, the winery business impairs their potential loving partnership. This is a rewrite of a strong character driven contemporary romance that holds up quite well even though the plot has a historical feel to it because the investigations into the fire are pre-Internet. Sheila is a terrific protagonist struggling with the loss of her late father's reputation as much as or more so than the family business while delaying her need to grieve and falling in love with the enemy. Noah is an ethical individual who wants to learn the truth, clean up his father's questionable practices, help Sean, and persuade Sheila they belong together. Readers will enjoy this fine character driven tale.

Hot Number
Carly Phillips
ISBN: 0373770553, $7.50, 384 pp.

Her parents died in a plane crash in the Andes when she was ten; her Uncle Yank "Yack" Morgan raised Micki Jordan and her two older sisters though he knew noting about girls. Still he showered them with love and ultimately brought them into his sports agency. Micki became a partner with her siblings and publicist at The Hot Zone, an offshoot of Yank's agency. Unlike her girly girl sisters, Micki is a tomboy who thinks nothing of entering the locker rooms of professional sports teams. However, she decides to change her appearance from one of the boys to a HOT NUMBER. Though New York Renegade Rick Carter thinks he is the one she wants to impress since he took a drunken kiss from her, Micki leans towards his teammate renowned playboy Damian Fuller. As she succeeds in catching Damien's full attention, she panics, afraid of rejection and defeat, unlike the baseball star who will lose plenty of games during his career. Damien tries to prove he is her only one, but a paternity suit apparently strikes him out. The second Hot Zone sports romance (see HOT STUFF) is a fun tale that the audience will adore as Micki the tomboy becomes a HOT NUMBER that her clients want in their bed. The story line is often amusing while providing insight into the drudgery of professional sports from an athlete's perspective. The support cast, especially her siblings and uncle and Damien's teammates add depth to a well written contemporary tale that will leave fans waiting for the final game starring middle sister Sophie.

A Fragile Trust
Helen Kirkman
ISBN: 0373770774, $5.99

By 872, the Viking raids have devastated the English countryside. Everyone is frightened as only Wessex remains as the last kingdom barely resisting the Viking assault, but have little hope of holding out much longer. The Viking won the last battle overwhelmingly. Near the Mercian border, Lady Gemma finds a bloodied male lying in the forest. She knows he must be a warrior most likely a Viking as he has muscles while her side is skin and bone from starvation. Still she nurtures the injured man in spite of his warning her to leave him because he brings danger to her. Ash, an Englishman raised by Vikings, has sworn his fealty to the King, but has been betrayed by an Englishman not a Dane; his men murdered by treason. He plans to avenge their death, but first he must prove he lives up to the honor of Beowulf that Gemma expects of him while keeping her safe from a sly traitor as they begin fall in love with one another. A FRAGILE TRUST is typical of the Dark Ages romances, but yet contains a fresh plot due to the courageous lead couple. Gemma risks all to nurse Ash back to health while he vows to keep her safe in a world where betrayal and violence are the norm. The story line brings out the late ninth century through tidbits like the Beowulf reference (could they really know of this Danish poem in England at that time?) and especially the impact on the people by the Viking raids. Helen Kirkman provides a terrific tale starring two honorable heroes struggling against treason and duplicity.

Code of Honor
Catherine Mann
ISBN: 0373770499, $5.99

Two years ago in Iraq, Green Beret Cooper Scott and his squad were trapped under hostile fire even as his wife World Weekly photojournalist Brigit Wheeler, in country on assignment, knows her beloved is dead. Captain Joe "Face" Green tries to rescue his best friend, but fails. Not long afterward Brigit quit her job. Two years later, widow Brigit enjoys her leisure life at Ft. Walton Beach, Florida though she still misses her spouse. Joe has been there for her helping her make her adjustment that much easier. Though feeling guilt, Brigit is attracted to Joe, but he shows no indication that he reciprocates. In fact he has loved Brigit from the moment Cooper introduced them to each other, but out of respect for his pal never acted on his deep regard. As they begin to show their strong feelings, they learn that Cooper lives. CODE OF HONOR lives up to its title as the lead couple try not to act on their attraction and admiration for one another out of deference to the fallen hero whose has his own guilt to deal with when it comes to his wife. Loaded with action, a vile villain, and a terrific romance, fans of suspense thrillers will enjoy this fine tale and look forward to Catherine Mann's next novel, the Captive Returns.

Key of Sea
Mary Stella
ISBN: 1932815406, $6.99

Growing up in the Keys, Dora Lee Hanson looked forward to escaping as the quiet beauty bored her. She thought her ticket to the bright lights would be modeling, but instead married a wealthy suitor J. Walter Morrison III. After twelve years of marriage Dora Lee knew it was over when she realized she bonded with her trophy peer a tarpon her spouse caught just like her and hung on the wall. J. Walter dissolves the union dumping her for a younger model. Dora Lee returns to the Keys where she knows her grandfather would welcome her with open arms. Fishing guide Bobby Daulton is stunned to learn the big one that got away in his youth is back in the Keys though she has lost a bit of her spirit. Bobby plans to hook his beloved star fish permanently this time as he hopes Dora's wanderlust is over. Dora finds herself attracted to a man she inadvertently hurt when she felt the Florida Keys had nothing to keep her there a dozen years ago. Readers will be ALL KEYED UP with Mary Stella's fun contemporary romance starring a rejected former trophy wife and the man who has loved her since they were teens. Bobby knows he will not quit until he reels in the catch of his life, the woman he has always loved. Dora Lee is a bit more difficult to feel empathy for as she left the Keys to follow a dream only to allow herself to turn into a bird in a gilded cage. Still the KEY OF SEA is a stellar tale.

Erin Samiloglu
ISBN: 1932815244, $6.99

Residents of the Big Easy are not living up to the city's nickname as fear has gripped New Orleans. A serial killer has been mutilating young females before dumping the corpse into the nearby Mississippi River. Because the victims are tattooed with weird diagrams, New Orleans Homicide Detective Lewis Kline concludes that the killer is performing some form of a ritual slaying. As his hemorrhoid flared up, he knows that in a city like New Orleans there is virtually no clue as the occult shines big time here. Following a nightmare, Sela Warren goes to the Black Kitchen on Bourbon Street with her friend Mandy who deserted her, but left her cell phone behind when it rings. Thinking it is Mandy, Sela feels compelled to answer the ringing phone, but quickly regrets that she did. The caller says she is Chloe Applegate, the serial killer's last victim. Sela is shocked with the impossibility of apparently either hearing from the dead or more likely a cruel trick, but will soon realize how deep the insanity can go when evil comes calling for her. DISCONNECTIONS is a strong thriller that moves on two levels, that of a police procedural struggling to stop a serial killer from murdering again and that of a paranormal connection between Sela and the malevolence coming for her. Readers will be hooked from the moment Sela picks up the phone and keep reading to learn whether the supernatural in terms of the devil or a devilish killer are behind the homicides and the assault on the heroine's senses. Erin Samiloglu writes a powerful who-done-it that is part wonder suspense and part supernatural thriller.

Giver of Roses
Kathleen Morgan
ISBN: 0800730941, $13.99

The enemy has laid siege on Astara in the Kingdom of Gadiel with only Prince Vartan Karayan standing in the way of conquest. Though physically and mentally exhausted, Vartan continues to lead the counterinsurgency until he is betrayed and subsequently critically wounded in combat left blind to die. A Hylean Lady Danae, who escaped from abusive religious tyranny, saves his life. When Vartan recovers his health including his sight his outlook has changed as he feels a bond with his nurturer though he still struggles with the truth turning towards Danae's God. When the Dragonmaids invite Danae to join them she believes she has found her life's calling. However the price is high as she has fallen in love with Vartan; he makes her decision harder because he not only reciprocates her feelings but needs her at his side praying to the true God to enable them to save his people. The queen of romantic fantasy Kathleen Morgan returns to her regal roots with GIVER OF ROSES, a terrific saga filled with religious symbolism and starring two courageous, battle fatigued champions trying to overcome impossible odds to save their people and each other, not necessarily inclusive. The story line is action packed from the moment Vartan falls in battle, but also insures the relationship between the healer and the patient and their beliefs in the true God evolves. The audience sees the dilemmas and choices that the two heroes must face though that insight at times diminishes the epic proportions of the plot. GIVER OF ROSES is a fine tale with strong spiritual parables that sub-genre fans will cherish.

Song of Redemption
Lynn Austin
Bethany House
ISBN: 0764229907, $12.99

Following the blasphemy of his father, Hezekiah sits on David's throne. He wants to do the right thing for his people starting with a renewed belief in Yahweh and a cleansing of the Temple. However, adhering to the laws of Yahweh is complex and dangerous. The young monarch has enemies who make demands on him. Making matters worse the Assyrians are demanding tribute that his country can ill afford though prosperity has begun to return. More critical to Hezekiah, he believes God will protect the Jews though his closest advisors counsel him to pray. When he meets Jerusha, a Jew who fled from Assyrian captivity; he knows he has found his queen. As the Assyrians march closer to Jerusalem, pressure on Hezekiah to abandon the Lord grows, but though he has doubts shared by his frightened spouse, he stays the course. SONG OF REDEMPTION continues the fascinating biographical fictionalized account of King Hezekiah (see GOD AND KINGS) trying to return his people to the one God while struggling with his council recommending bowing to the Assyrians instead of Yahweh. Readers will feel they have been transplanted to biblical times as Lynn Austin brings to life Hezekiah trying to stay what he believes is the proper course that Yahweh would expect him to lead his people down. This is an insightful well written biblical biographical fiction that readers will treasure.

Always Green
Patti Hill
Bethany House
ISBN: 0764229389, $12.99

Her husband Scott has been dead for twenty months, but Mibby Garrett still mourns her loss though she is starting to go out on dates as he would have expected her to do. She is more concerned for their son Ky who has been acting strange lately even for a teenager. She wonders if he misses the influence of an older male. Mibby is elated that her stepdaughter Andrea, a San Francisco schoolteacher, is spending the summer with her, but worries that the 100 degree weather is devastating her gardening business with a customer claiming incompetence and firing her. However, even worse than a busted water heater is that her best friend Louise suffers from cancer. Praying all the time for Louise, Mibby meets Louise's son Larry who moved home to help his mother. Larry and Mibby are attracted to one another; perhaps something good can come out of something potentially bad as God works in mysterious ways. ALWAYS GREEN, the sequel to the first Garden Gates tale LIKE A WELL-WATERED GARDEN, returns much of the cast from the previous novel. This fine family drama focuses on a wonderful protagonist struggling with teen angst, budding romance and associated guilt, her business tottering near ruin, and the health of her best friend. Through all this Job-lite woes, Mibby keeps an optimistic attitude for fear of letting down her loved ones who depend on her for inspiration. She wonders who will she turn to though Larry applies for the job, but Mibby doubts they are suited for one another, Mibby is a strong character who keeps the deep poignant yet gentle story line focused. Patti Hill provides a wonderful healing of love story.

The Crow Queen
Elaine Corvidae
Mundania Press
6470A Glenway Ave. #109, Cincinnati, OH 45211
ISBN: 1594260575, $13.00

Ax the wizard warns Londah the Crow Queen that Jahcgroth of Argannon will turn kingless Jenel into a frozen wasteland as he has done with his own kingdom unless a monarch is crowned soon. Ax tells Londah to keep an eye out for Lord Auglar of Kellsjard who is the hope for the future. To be anointed ruler of Jenel, Auglar must assure the Council of Lords that he is worthy of the honor. Auglar is accompanied by his steward Suchen, Yozerf the Wolfkin and the Sworn on the trek. While Lord Fellrant makes a claim for the throne, Augur and his party are trapped inside dangerous Nava Ner in Segg. Yozerf knows his birth city detesting having to return but willing to die for Suchen. Only Londah and Yozerf can get Auglar and his party out of the city alive, but even with them the odds are insurmountable. The sequel to the WOLFKIN is a terrific supersonic speed fantasy tale that keeps the readers on edge pondering what will happen next. The key characters are fully developed and the city seems very real to the audience who will wonder how we ended up there. Readers will enjoy the trek through the "urban" cesspool as each distrusts their companions especially when secrets are revealed but need one another because danger and death lurks around every corner. THE CROW QUEEN is a fabulous Lord of Wind and Fire tale that can be read as a solo entry, but the audience will understand the cast even better by reading the previous exciting saga.

Donita K. Paul
ISBN: 1400071291, $13.99, 352 pp.

Kale was once a slave, but was freed by her village elders when she found a dragon's egg; they sent her to study at Hall, but on her trek there she found more eggs and battled an evil wizard (see DRAGONSPELL). Eventually she made it to the Hall where she expected to be in service, but instead is a student, a difficult adjustment for one who has always been in servitude. The Wizard Fenworth learns of the exploits of the dragonkeeper of Paladin as Kale is known; he sends for her to come to The Bogs as his apprentice and to nurture his youngling a recently hatched meech dragon-infant. Her teachers at the Hall send swordsman and fellow student Bardon to accompany her. Kale dislikes Bardon, but the journey is long and dangerous and he seems to always be there when she needs him until the evil Wizard Risto makes his latest move. He has attained a new meech dragon that makes him nearly invincible; he plots vengeance on the slave girl who defeated him recently before conquering Amara. This spectacular sequel stars a delightful young heroine still struggling to understand the change in her circumstances from servitude to student. Bardon is a fabulous sidekick as he irritates and fascinates Kale, whose just discovering the attractive non-mischievous side of boys. The evil villain Risto is the perfect adversary in DRAGONQUEST as he obsessively needs to defeat the little girl who humiliatingly defeated him before and then conquer the world. Donita K. Paul provides a delightful fantasy that both the Potter and Tolkien crowds will treasure.

Beyond the Blue
Leslie Gould
ISBN: 1578568226, $13.99, 368 pp.

In 1975, ten years old American Genevieve learns that her mother died in a war related plane crash in Viet Nam while trying to adopt a child. At about the same time, not that far away, the civil war destroys the family of seven years old Vietnamese Lan when her brother, a Viet Cong soldier, drives them out of their home. Years later partially in homage to her mother, infertile Gen accompanied by her spouse Jeff come to Viet Nam to adopt. Though she detests doing so, an impoverished Lan gives up two of her children for adoption so they have a chance for a better life. Separately impacted by the war, Lan and Gen will soon meet with both still trying to make sense out of what happened to their families back in 1975. BEYOND THE BLUE is an intriguing tale of two women from differing backgrounds co-joined by family events in Viet Nam almost two decades earlier. The story line follows the preadolescents as they grow up in radically dissimilar environments, but the tragedies of 1975 haunting both of them until they converge as adults. Ironically though quite realistic, the pace shows down when Gen and her husband struggle through delays, detours and unnecessary impediments caused by the unsympathetic Communist government, which in turn adds plenty of realism. Leslie Gould writes a strong two women character study that provides her audience with a fine story that nurtures hope in the future.

Nectar From a Stone
Jane Guill
ISBN: 0743264797, $15.00

In 1351 Wales, evil Maelgwyn performs his "husbandly attention" to include yelling at his spouse Elise, who has the gift of visions. When Maelgwyn starts to abuse Elise, she, not fearing him and refusing to cower, kills her husband. With the help of her older servant Annora, she dumps the corpse into the nearby river and flees. On the lam, the two women meet gloomy Lord Gwydion who seeks vengeance for the murders of his father and sister. Attracted to one another, Elise and Gwydion soon realize they have a common enemy as Sir Nicholas killed his family and tried to rape Annora and Elise. As Gwydion and Elise fall in love while she heals his physical and mental wounds, Maelgwyn survived with plans to avenge his affront. The keys to this great medieval Welsh romance are the relationship between the lead couple and the insightful historical tidbits that bring to life the mid fourteenth century. However, there is too much nectar in the story line as well written and interesting sidebars take away from the prime tale of malevolent thugs accosting and interfering with the romance between the good guys. Still sub-genre fans will want to join Gwydion and Elise on their trek filled with detours towards love.

Cooking for Mr. Right
Susan Volland
ISBN: 0451215249, $12.95, 240 pp.

In Seattle, twenty-six years old sous chef Kate Linden feels like drowning in her toilet when her former lover and still friend Gaston informs her he is marrying an elementary school teacher Courtney Davis he just met. Though previously Kate decides that Gaston was too regimented for her, suddenly she feels obsessed that she should be the bride so she cooks up a plan to get Gaston back in her life as her lover. To achieve her objective, Kate leaves Sounds Bistro to work full time on a recipe for success starting with obtaining work at his office and enlisting his mother as an ally. As her memory of her time with Gaston comes back into focus, she recalls why they were wrong for one another. Still she remains steadfast and obstinate staying the course even as her efforts leave her target, their mothers, his fiancee, and cute Sam who wants her cooking for him, bushed. Though well written, this chick lit tale is difficult to swallow because Kate is obsessively nasty and willing to do any dirty trick regardless of who she hurts; Gaston is so superficial he belongs in Congress;, and Courtney is a bubbly dope. Only Sam seems nice amongst this generation in which even secondary characters like Chef Dierbocker are cruel, stupid or both. In spite of questionable antics that readers might find amusing (as long as it is someone else), Kate concocts quite a banquet, but shocking herself she remains unhappy even when her intended gourmand seems to desire her home cooking.

Good Night, Henry
Jennifer Olds
ISBN: 0451215184, $12.95, 352 pp.

Professional polo player Tucker Twist-Black suffers a career ending injury. While in the hospital he reflects on what is important and knows he let down his wife Melvina Brown and their two children ten-years old Archie and nine years old Theo when he left them years ago. Now he wants back in their lives, but Archie loathes him for deserting them and Theo who has one arm wonders if it was his imperfection that sent dad leaving as he believes it did before. Tucker knows he has no chance with Mel who has a boyfriend Walter Beech who helps her along with her dad and her sister. Mel allows Tucker to try to regain what he lost with the kids though her family and her boyfriend would prefer Tucker left. Every evening before going to bed she says GOOD NIGHT, HENRY hoping that one day her brother will return home; he fled town a decade ago after a fight that she caused. Still feeling guilty over what she did to Henry's life and unable to forget, she allows her estranged spouse a chance with his children giving her renewed strong that one day her sibling will come home. GOOD NIGHT, HENRY is a powerful deep relationship drama. The simplistic yet delightful story line intelligently focuses on the complex connections between people; sister with sister, father and his daughters, mother and her sons, father and his sons, people and animals, woman and man, and finally a "ghost" and his sister. Readers who appreciate fully developed casts starring in realistic situations inside an entertaining tale will want to read Jennifer Olds' astute family drama.

Drive to the East
Harry Turtledove
Del Rey
ISBN: 0345457242, $26.95, 608 pp.

As World War II explodes, the Confederate States of America attack its neighbor to the north the United States of America; General Patton leads his armored divisions towards the Great Lakes in an effort to split the USA in half before driving to the east. Japan launches an assault on the Hawaiian Islands. Finally Occupied Canada and Mormon Utah see an opportunity to toss out the USA and regain their respective independence. However, the four prong attack that has caused a multi front war for the USA not only fails to break the morale of the Americans, but actually provides a common resolve to repel the invaders. Even the death of President Smith in a Confederacy bombing raid over the capital Philadelphia fails to deter the Americans as Vice Preside Charles Lafollette takes over. In the Confederacy, President Featherstone continues his campaign to dramatically eliminate the freed slaves by making the blacks build concentration camps for their containment and death. USA War Secretary Roosevelt sanctions devastating reprisals against the Mormons and Canadians with the goal to keep themt from the conflict. War is all over North America once again. Book two in Harry Turtledove's alternate World War II trilogy, Settling Accounts, is an action-packed saga that grips readers from start to finish. As always is the case in a Turtledove novel, fans will try to find the comparative real event that the author brings into his universe. The story line is fast-paced even when the descriptions of past events that were described in book one, RETURN ENGAGEMENT, are provided. The sub-genre audience will appreciate this appealing entry that makes the Turtledove universe seems like the real one.

Crawl Space
Edie Meidav
ISBN: 0374130752, $25.00, 400 pp.

From 1940-1945, Emile Poulquet served as the Prefecture of Finier in which he exiled thousands to die. After the War, he had cosmetic surgery to disguise himself by eliminating the facial hump his father thought personified evil, but would identify him to authorities on their Nazi sympathizer witch-hunt. In 1999, the authorities catch eight-four years old Emile, who stands trial for his role in genocide over five decades earlier. However, he remains spry and sharp, and escapes. Emile takes the train south to Finier. In the train's lavatory he writes his last will to give to his Arianne, a resistance hero's widow, for he expects that upon returning for the first time since he spent a month there in 1960, this will end his odyssey. In Finier, Emile is sidetracked by the town's wartime reunion that touches his withered soul as he knows he can never participate though he obsesses with the need to join even at the cost of his wasted life. CRAWL SPACE is a deep character study of an octogenarian who knows that even death will not eliminate the guilt that haunts him. His need to "go home" grips readers, but Emile knows that he can never truly go home. Interestingly he feels more remorse over one incident than over sending thousands to their certain death as the latter is more a statistical consequence of his job while the former was caused by his emotions. Edie Meidav does the impossible turning a Nazi butcher into a sympathetic protagonist though the audience will believe he deserves an abode in hell; Emile would affirm that a life with no place to call home is hell.

Resurrecting Langston Blue
Robert Greer
Frog, Ltd.
North Atlantic Books / Frog, Ltd.
P.O. Box 12327, Berkeley, CA 94712
ISBN: 1583941363, $23.95, 390 pp.

Carmen Nguyen grew up believing that her father, a highly decorated US Army Platoon First Sergeant Langston Blue, deserted in Viet Nam, his country, his spouse and her. Since she also assumed he was probably dead, Carmen grew up in Denver not caring to know anything further about her biological father. However while in Denver on a sabbatical at the University of Colorado Cancer Center, her beloved sixty-one years old Aunt Ket mentions that Congressman Peter Margolin knows why Langston deserted and ofthat her dad might still live in backwoods West Virginia. Realizing she had been in denial for all her life, Carmen needs to know why. She travels to Mae's Louisiana Kitchen to hire two bounty hunter friends of her boyfriend Walker Rios, who is out of the country. Reluctantly CJ Floyd and Flora Jean Benson agree to search for Langston. Neither realized the danger when they accepted the assignment that they thought was a daughter needing to meet her father for the first time, but turned into a deadly look at an Amerasian baby market, illegal military operations, and Margolin as he runs for the Senate. RESURRECTING LANGSTON BLUE is a superb suspense thriller that runs on two levels: the dangerous intrigue focusing on continual hiding of a web of lies two-three decades old and on a child, even an adult one, needing to connect with her roots. The story line is action-packed especially when the bounty hunters are on center stage, but also insures the key characters seem genuine particularly Carmen. Fans will enjoy this tense chilling drama with the same obsession that Carmen has to know why.

Playing with Destiny
Phillip Thomas Duck
ISBN: 1583145249, $14.00, 273 pp.

Colin Sheffield's first novel was critically acclaimed that a new talent had surfaced. He followed with other novels that also received much accolades, but none of his books sell well. Besides he struggles to reach that bar of excellence he achieved with his debut. Adding to his problems is his estrangement with his pregnant wife Liza. Finally someone threatens to reveal Colin's darkest secrets that will ruin him. A superstar college junior Courtney, Colin's younger brother, is thinking of passing up his last year of eligibility to enter the NBA draft. His real goal deep in his psyche in going professional is to finally win his mother's approval and subsequently her love from Colin, who he once worshipped, but now loathes. However, his feelings for his former girlfriend Chante remain strong even as he wonders if her daughter is his as he prays is so. Courtney is reconsidering leaving school so that he can try to regain his relationship with Chante that he hopes for. PLAYING WITH DESTINY is a terrific extended family drama that ducks nothing as it digs into personal issues and concerns. Once the audience meets the flawed Sheffield siblings, readers will follow what happens to them as they make mistakes which compound their estrangement and causes grief with their loved ones until a final crisis makes each brother face the truth. As brilliantly developed Colin and Courtney are, the key to the tale is the female support cast who further bring out the struggles of the siblings especially jealousy. Fans who relish a sharp character driven contemporary novel will want to read Phillip Thomas Duck's fine take on the modern day family.

The Baby Game
Randall Hicks
Wordslinger Press
ISBN: 096316385X, $22.95

In San Diego County, California, recent law school graduate attorney Toby Dillon opens his shingle out of his condo overlooking the Coral Canyon Country Club where he also serves as an assistant tennis instructor. Tony's legal practice deals with adoptions. Movie stars Brogan Barlow and Rita MacGilroy want to adopt so they turn to Toby, who was Brogan's high school pal when they were nerds. Toby arranges things with a single neighbor Sammy who became pregnant from a casual inseminator as the state would say. Toby takes Sammy to the hospital in his nightwear, but instead of her going inside with him, she vanishes with his car. Besides Toby's PJs embarrassment and concern for Sammy, things went great even though the biological mother gives birth outside a hospital. Toby's clients have a daughter to lovingly raise together until a day later a phone call nukes their world; With Tony they go to see the birth mom to obtain the truth, but she has vanished. Other follow-ups go nowhere as those they need to speak with are either dead or never existed in spite of the paper trail. THE BABY GAME is a fabulous tale that starts off as a simple family drama, but quickly turns into an exciting action-packed thriller. Once the call comes, the story line accelerates from a celebrating couple with their friends to a deep tense investigation in which nothing goes right. Randall Hicks insures his exhilarating story line seems realistic with the tidbits involving adoption so that the audience has a one sitting chilling investigative novel that feels as if it could happen.

The Stars at War II
David Weber & Steve White
ISBN: 0743499123, $27.00

"Shiva Option". The enemy's first and only directive is that all other species, sentient or not, is food. Humanity and its three ally races that form the Grand Alliance are under siege, losing the war to the Bugs. Efforts to communicate and forge a truce leading to peace have failed as the Bugs refuse to communicate or perhaps are unable to communicate with beings they consider beneath them on their food chain. Death apparently awaits humanity. "Insurrection". Several generations have passed since the Fourth Interstellar War against the Bugs (see The Shiva Option). The central Corporate Worlds of the Terran Federation refuse to relinquish their war powers though the hostilities are over. They control everything while the Fringe Worlds pay the price. However that is not enough for the avaricious leaders of the Corporate Worlds as they want more power. To expedite matters by causing chaos in the Fringe Worlds, a Corporate World agent assassinates Fringe Worlds leader Fionna MacTaggart. Rebellion explodes on Fionna's home planet. The Terran Federation Navy arrives to put down the revolt by force but instead the crews mutiny refusing to kill fellow citizens; soon rebellion spreads across the Federation leaving the Federation reeling near death. These are two reprints of early 1990s space operas combined into one book. "The Shiva Option" remains one of the most exciting thought provoking thrillers of the past two decades. "Insurrection" is also a well written action thriller as a domino effect leads the Terran Federation on the brink of a supernova, but does not contain the cerebral punch of "The Shiva Option" because much of the cast are throwaways.

Thraxas and the Sorcerers
Martin Scott
ISBN: 0743499085, $22.00

In wintry Turai, the Transport Guild hires Thraxas the Investigator to uncover which of the sorcerers is stealing precious dragon scales. Thraxas freezes his butt off hiding at the docks to observe what happens. He captures Rexox in the act and refuses a bribe although the criminal confesses owning senators to do his bidding; all Turai wants is a warm bed by a fire perhaps with a beer to ease his going to sleep. Deputy Consul Cicerius hires the Investigator as an Observer at the upcoming Sorcerer's Assemblage that gathers to elect a new leader. The city trying to regain its once influential position insists the next chief come from Turai; however the best candidate Lisutaris is addicted to thazis. Named a tribune so he can get inside, Thraxas is to insure Lisutaris is elected. However, the Tribune has a new issue to deal with; an unknown assassin has stealthily begun murdering folks using sinister magic, but the sorcerers are all at a lost as to how, who or why. Thraxas is on the case. The eighth Thraxas private investigator fantasy is a terrific tale as the hero seems as fresh as ever. This time he "defeats" the daughter of his client in a battle of words, stops a connected thief, embarrassed to be amongst the sorcerers having flunked their entry test years ago, and challenges a silent serial killer. The story line is action-packed and the magical world of Turai seems genuine (a trademark of the series). However, the reason this tale and its predecessors are fun and intelligent is the consistent asides based on observations and conditions from the beer-bellied star.

Will Staeger
ISBN: 0060765860, $6.99

In the peaceful British Virgin island of Tortola, burned out Agent W. Cooper heads the local field office, consisting of one person himself. Cooper got this gem post where his job is to drink rum cocktails and chase women by blackmailing the agency's Deputy Director Peter Gates, who is pleased with the arrangement because this wild card has been removed from the deck without exposing or embarrassing him. Royal Virgin Islands Police Force Captain Roy Gillespie known locally as "Cap'n Roy" risks a beating by waking up Cooper at 6 a.m. Roy is fortunate as Cooper takes his ire that his beauty sleep aided by rum cocktails was interrupted out on a window. The cop wants Cooper to dispose of a battered burned corpse that washed ashore on the beach. Cooper reluctantly gets involved especially when he sees the odd tattoo on the male body. He begins digging until he uncovers proof that a massive increase in weapons in China has occurred. Fellow CIA Agent, Julie Laramie finds similar evidence, but Gates warns her to cease and desist and remain silent or face more than just a firing for insubordination. She refuses and Gates paints her has a failed malcontent. Cooper and Laramie serendipitously meet to continue the inquiries as they realize something global is at stake. PAIN KILLER is a wild espionage thriller starring a retired on the job antihero and the woman who inspires him to get back into the game. The story line is action-packed, but has a tongue in cheek quality to it because of Cooper's attitude. Fans of Clive Cussler will want to read Will Staeger's action-packed tale, but just go easy on Cooper's PAINKILLER, Pusser's Rum Cocktail.

The Black Silent
David Dun
ISBN: 078601637X, $6.99, 408 pp.

In Washington State marine biologist Dr. Ben Anderson conducts research into organic molecules at the Sanker Foundation though this is his last weekend there. He did not like the brass accusing his adopted daughter Haley Walthers of stealing the ideas of other scientists and he does not trust the security chief Frick from stealing his work on organic molecular structure impacting on youth retention. Thugs accost Ben in his facility. Haley, who was fired and currently owns a bike shop on one of the Puget Sound islands, is worried about her mentor since she has not heard from him recently and he has been very secretive. She and Ben's assistant Sarah visit his nephew retired private espionage guru Sam Wintripp on San Juan Island to see what he knows. Sam knows as much as the two ladies: nothing. However, Ben's anxious message on Haley's cell phone puts the retired operative back into the field to try to rescue his uncle. Neither he nor Haley is prepared for a nasty corporation that will do anything to own the fountain of youth. THE BLACK SILENT is an exciting suspense thriller that grips the audience from the moment that Ben barely escapes an undersea attack and never blinks until the final confrontation with an avaricious corporation headed by immoral individuals. Though the enemy seems so depraved that they seem more suited for a fantasy tale than a chilling thriller, readers will enjoy the action that never decelerates. While Ben's caring efforts to prolong the quality of life is about to be abused, fans will root for Sam and Haley to rescue him and save the world.

The Fix
Anthony Lee
Dark Alley
ISBN: 0060595345, $13.95

In the Catskills at his father's country home, Felix "Fee" Pasko and his best friend small time hood Martin Quinn discuss betraying fathers when their mutual enemy Terry Hughes arrives to kill them both. Terry murders Fee, but Martin kills the hitman. The New York police arrest Martin for the double homicides; however, the DA offers him a deal he shouldn't refuse. He can start over in the witness protection program if he turns state's evidence against his "family" the Italians who raised him or he can take his chance in court on double first degree murder charges. When Felix's father, the head of the Russian Mafia, sends his goons to kill the murderer of his son, Martin realizes he so far has been fortunate to stay alive. He needs to move out fast if he rejects the Feds' offer and somehow retrieve his share of the heroin money. Wherever he goes, law enforcement and the Russian Mob follow him for he rejects negotiating with either to keep his respect, but the cost could be more than his life, he could lose his beloved Penelope. This is an exciting thriller starring a law breaking antihero who decides to risk his life not just for the loot, but more for his self respect. The story line is action-packed though some of the significant secondary players like the Feds and the mobsters are caricatures rather than full blooded (though they bleed). Still Quinn carries the tale with his chutzpah gauntlet run.

Cimmerian Reign
C.S. Chatterly and Amanda McIntyre
ISBN: 1598360019, $14.99

"Book 1: Forever My Love" by Amanda McIntyre. Lord Canterbury raised the orphan Adam as his own son. As a child his only friends were the neighbor's kids cousins Rosalind Vancouver and devious Reginald. Adam vowed to always keep Rosalind safe. Years later, she is going off to school, but wants him to know that he is her soul mate so she bites him. More years pass before Rosalind and Adam meet up again; she demands he totally gives himself over to her and though confused he needs her too. However Reginald plans to destroy the love that has grown stronger between his cousin and the neighbor because he has plans for his blood relative. "Book II: Guardian" by C.S. Chatterly. Vampire Cade Maguire desires Ann Foster, hired by his sister to care for their dog during the daytime. At first sight (not bite) he asks the pooch walker to become his mistress, but she refuses though she admits to herself she is very attracted to him even if they just met. Disappointed Cade tries to seduce the dog walker who has his blood boiling with lust that he soon realizes is love, but the fire in his soul does not expedite his thirst as much as the fire to her home does. These are two hot well written vampire romances that will stir the audience to want more such works in the Cimmerian world. In both tales, the fully developed key cast members make vampires seem like a real species. Fans of the sub-genre will want to read these two enjoyable erotic novellas starring strong women and the males who thirst for them.

Descent to Avalon
Canis Latrans
ISBN: 1420819992, $18.95

After surviving several battles against vicious armies, a war with the otherworldly Mendikek, and a happy reunion with his beloved parents, Taine accompanied by warrior Joanne Hatakayama head towards Barstow. They plan to visit their friend Chief Doeskin of the Morango tribe, but first track Coyoteman to an isolated hole in the ground where he reveals some of his master plan. Afterward they are welcomed by the Chief into staying with his tribe. Taine and Joanne enjoy their respite, but when some of the tribe's children are abducted they feel they need to go to Los Angeles to rescue the kids. In Change L.A. the followers of Uncle Christ persue the duo capturing Taine, but Joanne escaped due to her swiftness and cleverness. As Uncle Christ brain washes Taine to betray his life long mentor Coyoteman, Joanne meets up with Darth Shadi. They agree to team up to rescue Taine knowing the probability of success is slim at best. The second tale in the Coyoteman trilogy continues the fabulous post-apocalyptic journey of Taine (see LAS VEGAS RITE) this time accompanied by a strong female. Joanne is not afraid to challenge powerful Coyoteman, outrace her lover naked down an empty highway, or try to rescue him from a deadly cult. The story line grips the audience once the couple climbs down the hole to learn more of Coyoteman's master plan through meeting the emissaries from the New United States whose capital is in what was called Denver before the Change and never slows down until the final altercation in Change Los Angeles. Though this tale stands alone, readers will want to read the first novel and look forward to what should be a stirring climax.

Toil & Trouble
C.S. Chatterly and M.A. DuBarry
ImaJinn Books
PO Box 545, Canon City, CO 81215-0545
ISBN: 1933417013, $13.75

"Toil" by C.S. Chatterly. In 1558 Cork, Ireland, an upset Esmeralda combines her witchery with a scorned Molly Claire turning two mages Trevor McGovern and Ian O'Rourke into cats because of their mistreatment of women. To revert back to men, they must find true love, but that person must return their feelings. Witch Tabitha Cole owns a magick shop in present day New York that she inherited from her murdered mentor. She casts a spell to protect herself from the evil who killed her mentor; her stray cat turns into a hunk, Trevor finally human. As he risks his life to keep his beloved safe, he wonders if she is the antidote. "Trouble" by M.A. DuBarry. Tabitha's sister research librarian and witch Marian has also adopted a stray feline. She dreams of a gentle person to love her and Ian enters her dreams. As he falls in love with her, Ian feels hope for the first time since the curse as he believes Marian might be the first person ever to love him. Surprisingly though the uncaring womanizing two males deserved their punishments, readers will feel empathy towards them. That is the key to these delightful interrelated novellas as C.S. Chatterly and M.A. DuBarry make her two hunks more than just using philanders. The Cole sisters are their perfect match loving and adoring their respective mate, but unwilling to accept anything less than love in return. TOIL AND TROUBLE is a terrific romantic fantasy with double the fun.

Goblin Moon
Candace Sams
ImaJinn Books
PO Box 545, Canon City, CO 81215-0545
ISBN: 1893896455, $13.75

Eight years ago calamity devastated the Goblin race. Now there are only forty-six survivors left with no newborn surviving twenty-fours since the calamity struck. Goblin leader Tearach Bruce is despondent as he watches hopelessly the looming extinction. Medical science has failed; their last fading hope lies with the Druid Sorceress Shayla, who concludes species Goblin will be eradicated unless Tearach returns hope to his beleaguered people by siring a newborn. Tearach sees nothing new in that declaration, but figuratively stops breathing when Shayla suggests mating with the hated humans. Setting his loathing aside for the better good, Tearach's loyal followers abduct former firefighter Kathleen Parker, still in mourning from recent losses of loved ones, while she is on morning run. She has vowed never to love again because the heart takes too big a battering from that unwanted emotion. Tearach does not desire love with a human; he just needs to mate with her. Neither expected to find strong feelings with the other, but a species is at stake. Can they collaborate on the future though their cultures see the world so differently? The fourth Tales of the Moon novel, GOBLIN MOON, is a terrific fantasy starring two star-crossed individuals who clash on everything as each perceives, ponders, and deduces from the same information different results and outcomes than the other yet fall in love. The comparative cultural anthropological disparities between humans and Goblins seem so genuine that readers will believe in the existence of magical creatures at least when entering the charming Sams' universe. Newcomers can start here as this novel stands alone, but well written references to the previous books will send the audience seeking them too as GOBLIN MOON is a wonderful tale.

First Love
Adrienne Sharp
ISBN: 1573223107, $24.95

They met as teens and fell in and remain in love. Adam LaSalle and Sandra Ellis are talented ballet dancers, whose careers are just taking off with both looking like future superstars. Sandra dances for George Balanchine at the New York City Ballet while Adam performs with the rival American Ballet Theatre troupe. In the early 1980s, the ailing master choreographer Balanchine thinks he has found his muse to star as Sleeping Beauty when he sees Sandra. He knows she is his last chance to put on the fairy tale production he has dreamed of performing for what seems eternity. However, Balanchine expects Sandra to obey everything he demands from her; which includes putting her personal life on hold. Adam has other plans for his beloved to dance on stage and off together. Sandra must choose which love takes precedence knowing that whoever she rejects will be crushed. FIRST LOVE is a terrific what if alternate recent history tale that builds around the dream of the late legendary George Balanchine wanting to put on a special production of Sleeping Beauty, but in real life never found his star "muse". The story line focuses on Sandra whose loves clash as she wants to be all she can be in ballet, but also desires to be with her beloved Adam. The three men in her life (which includes her father) pull her in an opposite vortex as if she is the center of a triangle. Readers will appreciate this fabulous ballet character study starring a terrific cast and paying homage to a great master.

Freud's Requiem
Matthew Von Unwerth
ISBN: 157322247X, $23.95, 256 pp.

Psychoanalyst Dr. Matthew Von Unwerth jumps off Sigmund Freud's poetic essay "On Transience" written in 1915, but apparently rarely evaluated especially in light of the massive volumes on the works of the "father of psychoanalysis." The appendix provides the entire short work in which Freud describes a walking talk on life and death, mortality and grief with two friends (Unwerth makes a case they are lovers Lou Andreas Salome and Rainer Maria Rilke). The tome provides information on the pair including their break-up and makes an argument that Freud had more of a fatherly relationship with the pair. However, the prime focus of the tome is Freud, brilliant and troubled, sentimental and detached, emotional and intellectual. In other words the doctor is also the patient. This is an engrossing look at Dr. Freud built mostly from a psychoanalytical speculation of the state of mind of the sixty something doctor as war is all over the continent. In some ways it feels like an insightful treatise, but very entertaining as Freud has rarely been seen as more intriguing than with Dr. Unwerth's placing him on the couch for the audience to observe.

Las Vegas Rite
Canis Latrans
1st Books
ISBN: 141406716X, $14.95

It has been about two decades since Phil and Diana fled the Pasadena area with their infant son Taine as the catastrophe apparently eradicated civilization. They were fortunate to meet up with Harbin when punks killed the man's wife. He took them to his mountain sanctuary where survival became the norm. Encouraged by the Coyoteman, who visits only him, Taine needs to leave to find his mate in what apparently remains of Las Vegas. His father is worried about what his son will find out there while his mother encourages him to do what he must do though she will sorely miss him. The trek for his companion begins with him meeting the first human Ray in Independence besides his parents and the deceased Harbin since he was an infant. However, he also spots some vicious souls who he does not trust. After befriending Ray, Taine heeding Coyoteman continues on, but soon encounters dangerous foes like King Peter and Mendikek, who want to enslave him or kill him. His chances of reaching Vegas seem remote even with Coyoteman to guide him. Mindful of Hiero's Journey, the first Coyoteman tale is a fabulous post-apocalyptic tale. The description above barely touches the action of this action packed science fiction thriller. Taine is a strong protagonist who keeps the tale coherent as he travels a ruined United States; his escapades like opening a can of what he assumes is food provides the perspective of a powerful saga that will have the audience reading this work in one delightful sitting and anticipating further adventures.

Lisa Teasley
ISBN: 1582343985, $23.95, 281 pp.

South Florida construction worker Ray Rose killed the rapist of a friend. He also inherited Port St. Lucie property from a throat cancer victim who used his fingers to select Ray randomly from the phone book. Growing up with two older sisters, female neighbors his age, and no young male nearby, Ray believes in romantic love forever though his third wife left him just a few months ago. He plans to perform Florida's most famous profession, reinventing himself but in Alaska. In Los Angeles, children's carton show animator Ruby Falls loves her lifestyle especially living on the Laurel Canyon estate of her best friend, a former porn star Jeannie. Having dumped her last boyfriend not to long ago, Ruby's good times abruptly end when she finds the corpses of Jeannie's beloved dogs and their Walker. Needing to reinvent herself she chooses Alaska. In Alaska, Ruby and Ray meet having in common fleeing the forty-eight. They begin to fall in love, but both have lingering demons haunting them. As they work through their respective problems, Ruby is injured and ends in a coma with Ray never leaving her side while her family arrives to bicker and divide the spoils. This is a terrific contemporary romantic suspense with strong characters especially in Alaska. However, many readers will feel the story line dives short of the gold as the key suspense elements, his committing homicide and her finding a homicide are not fully explored. Still, the solid story line grips the reader from the start as Lisa Teasley writes a fine tale that fans will enjoy because the lead couple with the strong support of the secondary cast provides an interesting tale of love.

Be Mine Forever
Rosemary Laurey
ISBN: 0821776630, $6.50, 350 pp.

Four months ago, they were attacked by a rogue vampire and changed into ghouls with no memories of who they were or what they became. In Chicago Vlad Tepes found them and brought them to Ohio and the community of vampires living there. It was discovered that the women Jane and Angela were ghouls even though none of the vampires know what that entails or what powers they have. Jane stays in Ohio with Kit Marlow and his wife Dixie while Angela goes to England to stay with Justin and Stella, married vampire couples. Tom Kyd is in love with Angela which brings out his protective streak so that Angela finally rebels and goes to Devon without telling him to follow-up on a clue to her identity. Tom follows her and they search for clues together but the vampire that turned Angela into a ghoul has attacked and nearly killed Justin and the leader of the vampire community. He is coming for Angela and she must use the powers of a witch's coven as well as the vampire community if she hopes to defeat him. Rosemary Laurey is one of the best writers of vampire romantic thrillers on the market today. Her characterizations are brilliant and complex, her pacing is just right and there is enough romance and action to keep readers absorbed in BE MINE FOREVER. There are other vampire characters who deserve their own story so hopefully this isn't the end of Ms. Laurey's magnificent vampire series.

One Night to be Sinful
Samantha Garver
ISBN: 0821779427, $3.99

Lord Thomas Wolcott is worried about his sister Abigail living by herself but running an estate quite well. His concern involves large unexplained expenditures and the complaint of their neighbor Viscount Raleigh that she stole his horse. Finally a fire in the stable makes Thomas fear for his sibling. He asks his friend Calvin Garrett to see if she is okay by pretending to be a servant; having been born on the streets Calvin figures that masquerade should be easy but he agrees because Thomas befriended him when no one in the ton acknowledged he had become one of them. Abigail, who wears a brace, needs a new butler, but none of the applicants seem right until Calvin arrives with a note from Thomas asking her to consider him. She hires Calvin but warns him to stay away from her neighbors, Lord Raleigh and his cousin Katrina. As Calvin and Abigail fall in love, Raleigh harasses her to sell her property to him or else. While Abigail tells Calvin she is his boss; he says he will keep her safe though he wonders who will protect his heart once his beloved learns of his deception. This is a fine Regency romance starring a strong lead couple with a solid support cast that enhances the tale. Fans will especially appreciate the brave heroine refusing to allow her "handicap" or a nasty neighbor interferes with her life. Though a key scene comes out of nowhere and the climax seems softly pedaled, fans will appreciate this fine suspense headlined by two likable protagonists who deserve the best of love (and readership).

Final Scream
Lisa Jackson
ISBN: 0821777122, $7.99

In Prosperity, Oregon seventeen years ago, the fire killed several members of the wealthy Buchanan family and devastated their mansion. The blaze was suspicious and most locals assume that the family's nasty patriarch Rex Buchanan was the target because so many people had a motive to kill the SOB. Whoever lit it never was uncovered and remains a cold case. Journalist Cassidy Buchanan survived the inferno that killed many of her loved ones and drove her out of town away from her teenage crush Brig McKenzie. Seventeen years she feels is enough time to return home to face her fiery demons and seek the truth. Instead another nightmarish fire and murder occurs. The townsfolk wonder if Cassidy as the link between the two incidents is the cause or the intended victim lucky to survive twice. Meanwhile as Brig vows to keep the woman he never stopped loving safe and Cassidy wonders if her beloved is the killer, someone plots to hear her FINAL SCREAM of death. Lisa Jackson provides a tense thriller that enthralls the audience from the moment that Cassidy learns you can't come home until the climatic confrontation with the killer. The story line is action-packed as readers will wonder who the culprit is and why while thinking of Hitchcock's Suspicion. Though the answer to the latter question seems a bit weak as a motive, fans of tense suspense with a romantic subplot will want to learn whether the killer gets his or her wish, hearing Cassidy's FINAL SCREAM before dying.

A Season to Be Sinful
Jo Goodman
ISBN: 0821777750, $6.50, 448 pp.

In 1810 the local Bishop sends the Right Honorable Lord Woodridge to "hire" a governess amongst the younger residents. He initially selects Lilith Sterling, but her limp makes him believe she is an abomination. The Abbess persuades him otherwise, but Sister Mary Joseph knowing that the English aristocrat uses, abuses and discards young teenage girls sends Lily to England for her safety. Five years later, Lily sees three thugs ready to assault an aristocrat; one of the felons carries a skiff. She intercedes, but is stabbed for her efforts. The intended victim Viscount Wyatt Grantham assumes that she was the thief, but her compatriots took her away. Not long afterward three urchins, Pinch, Dash, and Midge arrive at Wyatt's home demanding money since his knife stabbed Lily so they can take her to a physician. He denies the knife was his, but intercedes and takes Lily into his home to heal. As they become acquainted they fall in love, but she remains unsafe amidst the Ton because Lord Woodridge will kill to keep his perversion and something even more shocking a secret. A SEASON TO BE SINFUL is a delightful Regency romance starring a courageous young woman and the noble who admires and loves her. Her three street wards add a different flavor to the typical sub-genre story line yet Wyatt measures them as worthy because they hold in common with him a willingness to die to keep Lily safe. Though the final confrontation seems weak, fans will receive immense pleasure from this wonderful historical.

What a Woman Needs
Caroline Linden
ISBN: 0821779303, $3.99

His father holds the title and the related purse strings as Stuart Drake learns when dad cuts him off without any money for the scandalous rumors of impropriety that is rampant amongst the Ton. Refusing to beg or correct the record, Stuart fears the small estate he recently purchased will be lost unless he marries a wealthy heiress. He chooses amiable pretty and most important rich Susan Tratter to court as his future wife though he knows he does not love her. However, her pretty Aunt Charlotte Griffolino is like a lioness protecting her cub though the age difference between the women is slight. Charlotte wants better for her niece than a gold-digger so she fans the gossip fire that further devastates Stuart's already tattered reputation. When someone from Charlotte's past kidnaps Susan, she turns to Stuart to help rescue her niece. As they risk their lives and definitely their reputation, Charlotte and Stuart fall in love. However, she has a secret that once he learns of it she feels he will detest her; while he is abashed with how he sought wealth and believes she will never accept he found love instead. WHAT A WOMEN NEEDS is an entertaining regency romance that sets the tone with the opening bondage scene and never slows down once Charlotte and Stuart begin battling for supremacy. The story line is action-packed as the lead couple turns from animosity to a tryst to amateur sleuths falling in love. Though Stuart's angst seems overly done, Charlotte is a unique heroine with a sexual past; together they make a formidable team starring in a fine historical tale.

Project Eve
Lauren Bach
ISBN: 0821776320, $6.50, 319 pp.

In Richmond, Virginia, Jimmy Purcell persuades his cousin private investigator Rachel Anderson to take on US Senator Thurston Benjamin IV as a client though she believes politicians are pains as image means everything. Benjamin explains that his beloved wife suffers from leukemia diagnosed just after her daughter Cindy died in a car accident. He recently went through Cindy's things only to find a journal that says she was pregnant, but never mentions whether she gave birth. He admits he doubts the veracity because of the source, but wants Rachel to find the child if there is one though that will end any White House aspirations. His stepdaughter attended Shepherd's Cross College in West Virginia where the associated powerful Shepherd's Cross Church headed by influential William Hanson runs a black market baby ring. CIA operative Elijah Trent, who has a past with Rachel, encourages her to go undercover at Shepherd's Cross College. Reluctantly Rachel agrees only to LEARN OF PROJECT EVE, female students brainwashed to become perfect spouses for selected sexual predatory politicians. However, exposing the school seems improbable as William's power reaches to the top of the Hill and across the pond to the White House. Except for the righteous politically activist religious right, fans of romantic suspense will vote up for this tense thriller filled with numerous twists and turns, perhaps too many. The story line is action-packed as courageous, obstinate Rachel learns that image is not the issue, survival is. Elijah is her perfect counterpart as an alpha male willing to die for Rachel, but frustrated with how she ignores his dictates. Lauren Bach composes a fine tale of intrigue that the sub-genre's mainstream readers will enjoy.

Mirrormask -- The Illustrated Film Script of the Motion Picture from the Jim Henson Company
Neil Gaiman and Dave McKean
ISBN: 0060798750, $34.95

Fifteen years old Helena works very hard in her family's circus. She hates her life, hoping to one day escape and become part of the real world. However, one day her wish comes true, just not her real world. She has ended up in a fantasy realm filled with mythological creatures in which two kingdoms exist in natural balance side by side. One eternally in light, the other forever in darkness. However, the harmony is gone as Helena and her double from this world beyond her imagination have switched places. To return home, Helena must restore the balance. Above is an overly simplification of the delightful fairy tale plot that is some ways will remind the audience of the Wizard of Oz. The book is not a novel, but instead the film script with story boards of Mirrormask Motion Picture. This different tome is fun to follow whether Helena is performing as a sock, working at the circus as a juggler or selling tickets, or meeting strange beings in the fantasy realm as she seeks "ruby slippers' to get back home. Interesting but not for everyone, this is an intriguing picture book that tells the fun tale, but keep in mind it is a script not a graphic novel. Appendices add understanding as the MIRRORMASK -- THE ILLUSTRATED FILM SCRIPT OF THE MOTION PICTURE FROM THE JIM HENSON COMPANY is fun family entertainment with a movie to follow in the Fall.

Match Me If You Can
Susan Elizabeth Phillips
ISBN: 0060734558, $24.95, 400 pp.

Sports agent Heath "Python" Champion decides he needs a societal acceptable trophy wife to further his career. The agent of football superstar Kevin Tucker (see THIS HEART OF MINE) does not want to go through the motion of finding someone or bother much beyond the superficial when it comes to the courting ritual. He hires Portia Powers of Power Match, but she wants to control his every move. He then turns around and hires cute but wacky Annabelle Granger, who recently inherited her grandmother's matchmaking business. Between the two companies Heath meets a horde of eligible lovely women, but none of Chicago's finest is good enough for him. Instead he begins thinking of attractive Annabelle who he finds very kissable when they are not arguing and even more kissable when they are. However, Annabelle is the last person a social climber wants by his side so he keeps asking himself why does he want to make a permanent match with the madcap matchmaker? Heath and Annabelle are a fun couple due to their vigorous spats, their vivacious kisses, and finally their undisputed conclusion that each is wrong for the other's career goals. In other words love is a wonderful irritating nuisance. MATCH ME IF YOU CAN is a fine animated contemporary romance starring a delightful duo.

No Man's Land
G.M. Ford
ISBN: 0060554827, $16.95

At Meza Azul, Arizona maximum security facility, former Navy Captain Timothy Driver holds 163 people hostage. He threatens to kill one of them every six hours until true crime writer Frank Corso, who wrote a bestseller that treated the naval officer with respect, meets with him. He has put to death a guard so the authorities are taking Driver seriously, but finding Corso proves a bit of a problem until the Coast Guard locates him sailing in Seattle's Garrison Bay. Corso has no idea why Driver insists on seeing him now even if the writer painted the murderer as a victim too in the crimes of passion killings of his wife and her lover. Although he prefers not to go to Meza Azul, Corso cannot pretend to have A BLIND EYE to the fact that Corso will kill innocent victims. He enters the prison with instructions from law enforcement officials to learn what Corso and his seemingly more unbalanced partner Cutter Kehoe wants. Inside Corso becomes a hostage when riots and chaos break out. With few options if any, Corso's only hope to survive resides in a cold passionless killer whose humanity was sucked out of him by his spouse's betrayal. NO MAN'S LAND is a gripping action thriller that fans will lose sleep over while they try to finish it in one tense sitting. The story line moves forward at hyperspeed and never slows as the audience wonders whether Corso will survive in spite of being the hero of this tale and previous novels. G.M. Ford scores big time with riveting taut tale that once again keeps his works at the top of the line.

Long Time Gone
J.A. Jance
ISBN: 0688138241, $24.95, 352 pp.

In Western Washington, her parents warns five years old Bonnie Jean Dunleavy to stay inside the house until they return or else. Fearing punishment she listens, but looks out the kitchen window when a car pulls into the driveway of her neighbor Mimi. Two people step out of the vehicle and kill Mimi. Bonnie rushes outside to help Mimi, but is warned to leave and say nothing or else. Several decades later in Seattle Frederick Mackenzie visits his high school friend Special Homicide Detective J.P. Beaumont to ask a favor. A person who also attended their high school, Bonnie Jean recently remembered witnessing a homicide when she was a little girl. Beaumont tells Freddy Mac that he only handles cases assigned to him by Attorney General Connors. To his shock Beaumont is assigned the inquiry, which means someone has clout. He visits Bonnie Jean now Sister Mary Katherine to obtain her statement. He begins to follow up on a "cold case" murder that he has doubts actually occurred until people try to end his investigation. Beaumont knows something came down years ago and he plans to find out what. LONG TIME GONE is a fabulous Beaumont investigative tale because of the hero's reaction to working a cold case that he believes never was more than the imagination of a five year old abused lonely girl even if the nun recalling the incident believes it occurred. The strong story line focuses on Beaumont changing his opinion as he finds evidence that substantiates the Sister's story, which is further affirmed by someone wanting Beaumont off the case, dead or alive. J.A. Jance is at her police procedural best with this intriguing Pacific Northwest mystery.

Fruitful Bodies
Morag Joss
ISBN: 0440242436, $6.99, 448 pp.

In Bath, internationally renowned cellist Sara Selkirk plays Dvorek on stage when she notices in the audience the pink suit. Her first cello teacher Professor Cruikshank, who tutored her back in the late 1970s at the Royal Scottish Academy of Music, is attending her performance. Afterward Sara obtains work and treatment for her alcoholic ailing pedagogue as a musical therapist at the renowned Sulis Clinic run by Dr Golightly. While she helps her former instructor, her beloved Detective Chief Inspector Andrew Poole has rid himself of his disaffected ex-wife Valerie, but that fails to improve his relationship with Sara. Andrew explains that regardless of where their romance goes, he must put his kids' needs before their desires. She may detest that, but Sara knows he is right. When a Japanese tourist dies in an apparent homicide, nebulous links surface to the Sulis Clinic but especially to Professor Cruikshank. Besides insuring that her mentor is doing okay, Sara needs to prove that the professor had nothing to do with the murder that Andrew also investigates even as he asks her to stay out of it. A second homicide confirms her belief that all is not well at Sulis and she plans to insure that the killer pays the piper. The third Sara Selkirk amateur sleuth tale (see FUNERAL MUSIC and HALF BROKEN THINGS) is a terrific psychological thriller that grips readers from the opening note until the final coda is played. The story line is filled with several twists that will catch the audience unaware, but like it predecessors stupendous Sara is the star performer who turns the tale into a virtuoso concerto worth reading.

The Undomestic Goddess
Sophie Kinsella
ISBN: 0385338686, $23.00

In London attorney Samantha Sweeting works 24/7 on her legal career in order to achieve her objective of becoming the youngest partner at twenty-nine in Carter Spinks law firm's illustrious history. Having sold her soul to run around at hyperspeed and juggling a ton of cases, Samantha makes a horrendous error involving the Glazerbrooks account that cost her client Third Union Bank a bundle and her firm the legal fee. Her escalator to the top stalled ironically on her birthday and stunned how she fumbled the issue, Samantha already suffering from battle fatigue syndrome, mentally collapses unable to face anyone. She takes the first train out, leaving the city in a mental fog. She disembarks in the middle of nowhere and through a series of misunderstandings obtains a job as a full time housekeeper though she has never cleaned, done laundry or cooked at the Geigers' home. There she meets the gardener Nathaniel, who knows immediately that the newcomer is an "undomestic", but also believes she is a Goddess. As they fall in love, he expects she will leave him once she opts to go back to her real work, which occurs when she begins to unravel a scandal at her law firm. THE UNDOMESTIC GODDESS is an interesting character study of an up and coming professional mentally struggling with a mistake that has derailed her career. Unable to cope, see anyone, and panicked, Samantha flees the city where she soon finds a life something she gave away at Carter Spinks. Readers will enjoy this fine tale while wondering if Samantha will choose the legal rat race or domestic tranquility.

Jane Shoup
ISBN: 1590804260, $14.99, 296 pp.

In 1998 Jack Wilmont is tired after fifteen years as a cop, somewhat from the work but more so from his personal life as his past year has been the year in hell. His father, who walked out forty years ago, suddenly reappeared as he wanted benediction from his son before dying. His long time partner Carson took a bullet and is on disability. His girlfriend Elaine dumped him. With all this eating at him, Jack informs his boss Captain Chester Whitesel that he going on a six month sabbatical. Chester asks Jack to handle one last case, the disappearance of nine-year old Cassie Bennett-Lee whose guardian Cameron raises the child. Although the biological parents live nearby; neither is interested in their child's well-being. Jack wants to ignore the case and that of a dormant serial killer who has resurfaced, but admires Cammie so he makes inquiries concentrating on the divorced parents. He gets Carson to help him with the missing kid but struggles with the FBI take over and butchering of the serial killer inquiry so Jack delays his leave until he finishes both cases. What makes PEDESTALS a refreshing exciting police procedural is the attitude of a bone wary dedicated cop who knows that he can no long give it his best. Still as his superior, who knows Jack, insists, he remains one of the elite guns so Jack reluctantly investigates two cases, one because he is attracted to and admires the dedicated guardian and the other because he knows the Feds are failing and someone will die because of that. Jane Shoup provides a top echelon mystery that readers will cherish and want Jack and Carson to star in future tales.

Pamela Redmond Satran
ISBN: 141650558X, $13.00, 304 pp.

Her husband dumped Alice for a younger model. With the encouragement of their daughter, Alice crosses the Hudson from New Jersey to Manhattan where she meets her best friend Maggie. One look at her middle aged pal upsets Maggie so that she decides a total make over is needed to convert the suburban mom into a hot urbanite. The years come off and forty-four years old Alice looks like she is in her twenties. At a New Year's Eve party Alice meets Josh, who is much younger than her. Though their personal definitions to what are a couple shows the age gap, both insists they are not interested in a relationship. As she continues to see a man old enough to be her son, Alice also obtains her first job. However, pretending to fit in as a fellow twenty-something at work and in her "non-relationship" with Josh proves overwhelming as Alice wants to climb back out of the rabbit hole and confess to being a fortyish mother. YOUNGER is a deep character study that looks at age discrimination especially in the workplace, but to a lesser degree in relationships. The story line centers on Alice who finds lying about her age difficult to keep up with, but knows the truth will not set her free as it probably would cost her job, the friends she has made at work, and Josh. Pamela Redmond Satran writes an intriguing thought-provoking drama.

Happiness Sold Separately
Libby Street
ISBN: 0743499239, $13.00, 336 pp.

Twenty-five years old Manhattanite Ryan Hadley feels she lives an okay life though she finds boredom as her roommate much of the time especially on the job at Geiger Data Systems and in her closet sized apartment. The highlight of the past week for instance is seeing Henry Winkler on the streets. She enjoys spending time with her two best pals, Veronica and Audrey, but is shocked when both leap up the career ladder while she remains mummified below them. Ryan has been saved from cyber-sex by her best friend at work Will, lead singer of the Delicate Blunder band, who is suddenly making it in rock and roll and seemingly with Audrey too. Ryan feels depressed as her three buds are leaving her behind even though not one of them would do that consciously. Then a miracle occurs to lift Ryan's spirits when she spots Charlie her former college boyfriend. Though she can hear her song on his lips, he is engaged to a shrill. Thanks to a strong secondary cast who make New York seem real, HAPPINESS SOLD SEPARATELY is much deeper than the typical chick lit romp. Ryan is the center of the tale as she is jolted out of complacency by the recent gains by her three best friends and inspired by the return of Charlie into her life; the former makes her nostalgic for what she thinks they will lose but the latter turns her into an amazon warrior prepared to fight for her man. Though the fine character driven plot could do without the usual sub-genre lists, fans will want to walk with Ryan as she seeks her groove.

Blood and Memory
Fiona McIntosh
ISBN: 0060747587, $14.95, 480 pp.

Kept alive by the magic of the Quickening, warrior Wyl Thirsk witnessed ruthless King Celimus of Morgravia kill Myrren the Witch; the person who gave him his paranormal skill to switch bodies. He vows vengeance while he resides inside his third body that of Faryl the female assassin. Romen Koreldy had killed Wyl's body, which due to Myrren's Quickening enabled the deceased to move his soul inside his "conqueror". When Faryl killed Wyl's second body that once belonging to Romen, he moved inside her flesh. In each case he kept his memories expanded by that of the body he uses. King Celimus plans to conquer neighboring Briavel either by marrying Queen Valentyna or invasion. Concluding that her country will be slaughtered in a war, Valentyna ponders marriage to the insane abusive Celimus, which she believes would be worse than death, but also fears the outcome to her people if the vicious soldiers of Morgravia attacked. Wyl continues his search for his sister, his desire to return to his beloved beleaguered queen, his need to kill Celimus, and finally trying to understand the Quickening. This terrific dark fantasy will get fans to believe in sorcery especially the Quickening but to better understand what is going on especially with the magic, new readers should start with book one, MYRENN'S GIFT. The story line is action-packed as Celimus puts in motion his scheme to annex his neighbor while Wyl in a female's body (interesting psychological twist) struggles with several potentially conflicting objectives. Readers will question his thinking skills because he makes the same fundamental errors which places him in unnecessary jeopardy, but that cranks up the excitement so that the audience has a fabulous saga to follow.

Storms of Destiny
A.C. Crispin
ISBN: 0380782847, $7.99, 560 pp.

Jezzil is a warrior-priest of the Pen Jav Dal who fights for his leader the Redai of Ktavao. He thinks his future is mapped out until he runs away from a battle in fear. In disgrace, he obtains work as a guard to a caravan protecting the novice priestess of Boq'urak Thia who is escaping the High Priests who perform rites that are abominations to her. They travel to the port city of Q'Kal; at the same time, from a different direction the sentient creature known as the Khith who is a healer with magical powers is heading to Q'Kal after being banished for examining the forbidden tests of the Ancients. Prince Eregard, the third son of King Agivir of the island of Pela sails to the mainland when he is captured by slavers and eventually sold to the freedom fighter Talis. They eventually all wind up in Q'Kal where Eregard is to be sold again. Jezzil, Thia, the Khith, Eregard and Talis all meet in Q'Kal and a friendship is formed. They learn of a plot to overthrow Pela and Eregard is finally able to convince the rest of the group who he is. As they try to stop the scheme, the god Boq'urak is arranging people like chess pieces in a rigged game as he is known to the Ancients as The Player. The five main characters in this novel are all very different yet through common cause, battle and just plain friendship, a bond is formed that might one day take down a god if A.C Crispin continues the adventures of this intrepid and likeable group in future books. The point of view rotates between the five characters, allowing the audience to see inside their psyche so they can understand them even when they don't understand themselves. Surprisingly this technique enhances and expedites the plot in a rapid fashion so that readers will appreciate these exiles struggling to save a society that shuns them.

The Lions of Al-Rassan
Guy Gavriel Kay
ISBN: 0060733497, $14.95

History has condemned Ammar to the role of monstrous butcher as he betrayed an inept monarch by killing him and brought to the Al-Rassan throne a stronger but abusively insane king. Though hated by everyone even the person he put in charge, Ammar will do anything to save his beloved country. As he did once before, he plans to correct his mistake with the same deadly precise solution. Dr. Jehane is a physician just like her father, who had to choose between his life by bowing to his cruel ruler or his oath. His daughter has doubts that a physician can adhere to their oath to heal while kneeling to the savagery of the monarch. She plans to break her oath by killing the killer of her father. Rodrigo is a great swordsman recognized by everyone as a hero for his loyalty to the deposed ruler. Since heroes cannot expeditiously be royally killed, he was exiled by the new king. His beloved wife and his children remained behind in Al-Rassan. He wants to come home to see his woman one more time, which means he must bow to the ruler. Three individuals from different walks of life impacted by the same pivotal moment are coming together perhaps at another focal point. This is a reprint of a classic mid 1990s tale that fictionalizes the fall of Moorish Spain. The three superb main characters struggle with the past and present and have no hope for the future while the support cast brings the era to life. The story line remains powerful and insightful while also entertaining readers with an extraordinary historical fiction thriller that transports audience back to the twelfth or thirteenth century.

First Warning
Anne McCaffrey and Elizabeth Ann Scarborough
ISBN: 006052538X, $24.95, 304 pp.

Khorii, the daughter of Acorna and Aari, is on her first long space faring voyage and hopes for a little excitement. She gets more than she bargained for when a virulent plague sweeps the human galaxy killing millions and her parents are asked to use their healing abilities to save lives. They agree to go to a planet where there are desperately needed while their daughter visits Maganos Moonbase where she makes friends with human youngsters as well as the young water dwelling Poopuus children. When the plague comes to the Poopuus world, the youngsters beg Khorii to go there and save their parent with her horn on the forehead that heals. She agrees to go and is accompanied by some students a teacher, her cyborg friend and her sentient cat. She saves the people and the planet by letting the properties of the horn heal the people and cleanse the water. She then meets up with her parents but it is not a happy reunion. In order to help Aari and Acorna, Khorii must track the origins of the man-made plague and find an antidote that will help her family. FIRST WARNING continues the adventures of Acorna and her family but Khorii is the main protagonist as she comes into her psychic powers and matures into a person willing to heal whole planets and expose herself to danger to keep those she cares closest to safe. The authors give as much attention to the characterizations as they do to the action scenes making FIRST WARNING a great entry in a strong running fantasy series.

Different Kinds of Dead and Other Tales
Ed Gorman
Five Star
ISBN: 1594142130, $25.95, 311 pp.

This fourteen story suspense anthology from short story grandmaster Ed Gorman runs the gamut in terms of sub-genres to include Americana historical, western, science fiction, horror and of course contemporary. With one exception (written in 1968), the other thirteen contributions were published in an assortment of books or magazines so have never been contained within one compilation before. The tales are all well written and in spite of the relative size, each grips the audience who will not be able to guess what comes next. Because of the wide array of settings (past, present, and future), fans of a specialized genre will probably want to pass although those readers will miss out on a strong collection. Those readers who appreciate variety will especially enjoy Mr. Gorman's latest, but will ask the author-editor one question: when next?

Judgment Day
J.J. Ace
Five Star
ISBN: 1594143889, $25.95 286 pp.

After being force fed several Ecstasy tablets at a rave, Elias jumps off a forty story building and dies. When he comes to Mephisto, second-in-command of the legions of hell and the archangel Michael, leader of God's army, tell him he is the new Forerunner of the millennium. A Forerunner is given the powers of the angels and demons to decide who will be in control of the earth for the next one thousand years, Heaven, Hell or humanity. The former Forerunner Matthias lived when Byzantium was a world power. Elias doesn't want the responsibility of deciding mankind's fate but when he saves the people who killed him and the woman he loved as a mortal, he accepts the mantle of responsibility thrust upon him. The fallen angel Warrish doesn't want Elias to make any choice and repeatedly tries to kill him so he can rule over all the realms by bringing about Armageddon. Elias with the help of several allies does all in his power to stop him but while the hosts of heaven and hell clash, Warish reads the scrolls that bring about uncreation. That opens Elias's eyes so he makes a decision that changes heaven, hell and other entities. This apocalyptic thriller is also a coming of age story (even though the hero is dead). Abandoned by his father and feeling that his mother neglects him, Elias goes from a pleasure seeking rebel to a man capable of choosing what he deems is best for mankind. There is non-stop action, great character development and an exciting storyline in this unique work of speculative fiction work J.J. Ace has written a work that will be put on the readers' keeper shelf.

Unforgiving Shadows
Ray Flynt
Five Star
ISBN: 1594143153, $25.95, 287 pp.

Over ten years ago in Philadelphia Frank Wilkie and Eddie Baker murdered the beloved mother and sister of Brad Frame. Stunned Brad brought the two killers to justice. Encouraged by Philadelphia Police Department Detective Nick Argostino, Brad opens up a private detective firm. Meanwhile Baker kills himself on death row and Wilkie invites Brad to witness his state execution. His associate Sharon Porter encourages Brad to go to obtain closure. Instead the reporters act like he is the killing ghoul so he gets no satisfaction. Wilkie leaves his bible with Brad. Inside the deceased had written eighteen words that Brad thinks will lead to the ransom money spent to rescue his family but never recovered. Soon afterward attorney Allesi demands Brad hand over the bible as he has an iron clad contract with Wilkie to represent him in his appeals in exchange for his personnel effects. Brad and Sharon begin to decipher the biblical clues in the hopes of him gaining true closure. UNFORGIVING SHADOWS is a strong private investigative tale starring a strong scarred soul studying the murders of beloved family members that though over a decade ago still haunts him. The story line is action-packed from the moment Brad arrives at the execution and never slows until he confronts the shadowy adversary. Though Ray Flynt makes his position clear where he stands on state executions in which there is no doubt to whom the murderer is, readers, even those opposed to capital punishment, will empathize with the hero, hoping he obtains closure, but most of the audience will doubt he will ever achieve this.

Longevity City
David Murphy
Five Star
ISBN: 1594143528, $25.95, 298 pp.

Due to widespread infertility, the drug Geminizon is taken by women who can bear children. By the twentieth-second century, one twin is allowed to live a natural life while the fetus of the other is stored in a womb bank. When the living twin reaches a designated age, the other fetus is activated and allowed to reach the age of fifteen. At that time the longer living sibling is killed and the memories is placed within the younger twin. The Association forms to fight against this state sponsored genocide. Meanwhile world dictator Ronald Carver, whose father invented Geminizon, is into his second lifetime more repressive than ever. When a cell of the Association is wiped out except for Lee, the fifteen year old twin becomes determined to destroy the world order. His twin Max, a gynecologist, knows nothing about him but questions his placed in society. His lover knows what a vile man Carver is but feels helpless to do anything about it. As the Association gains recruits, Max, Mandy and Lee prepare for the forthcoming war. David Murphy paints a bleak foreboding twentieth second century landscape; a place where the first generation of adult twins don't care that they are killing a life so they can have a second one of their own. That premise seems improbable given the anti-abortion sentiment of today at least in America yet feasible with the state of health care. This is a thought provoking novel that makes readers evaluate issues that they might deal with in the foreseeable future. The point of view rotates between the four main characters, giving readers an intimate look at the viewpoints and state of mind of the principals without slowing down the dark plot.

Black Like Blood
Russ Hall
Five Star
ISBN: 1594143544, $25.95, 324 pp.

While diving in a storm at night, teenage lovers Donnie Spurlock and Karyn Rainey find a corpse at the bottom of the lake. The townsfolk of Kiowa County are already shaken with the recent unsolved murder of Donnie's father, the mayor of Hoel's Dam, Dennie. The corpse found in the lake is Dennie's older brother Hugh, a WW II veteran missing for forty years whose father also went missing. Texas Ranger Tillis Macrory investigates the homicides linked by blood, but rumors also include lost diamonds. As the two youngsters refuse to back off and continue digging for the truth, new sheriff's dispatcher septuagenarian retired schoolteacher Esbeth Walters mistrusts all law enforcement officials although she thinks Tillis is the cleanest except when he thinks with the wrong head involving the new deputy Gala. Esbeth, the star of NO MURDER BEFORE ITS TIME, actually gets involved about halfway into this enjoyable police procedural. Three teams of investigations compete. Tillis assisted by his long time friend and Karyn's father game warden Logan make up the most professional inquiries; the sheriff's office is officially in charge; finally the teen lovers provide an amateur sleuth look. Russ hall brings these divergent competing investigations with Esbeth the retired teacher looking down from her big "desk" with a moral light as she trusts none of the players to learn the truth though her reasoning varies. BLACK LIKE BLOOD is a deep Texas who-done-it with a strong cast.

Cracks in the Rainbow
Mark Bouton
Five Star
ISBN: 1594143498, $25.95, 342 pp.

In Southern California, police detective Stretch drives to inform his partner Rick Dover what he has frighteningly learned on his own time when his Bronco exploded and went over the cliff. Officially it looks like Stretch took a turn to fast, but Rick has problems with this scenario because his friend was too good a driver who had driven this relatively mild curve many times. The autopsy reveals an anomaly that does not fit a gas explosion; the victim's testicles were blown away. Rick enlists an ATF pal Harsha to look at the remains of the vehicle and the accident scene. Harsha concludes a bomb was timed for Stretch to go over the edge. Rick and his new partner Falcon begin finding evidence that Stretch was working on a dangerous case by himself. They find FBI documents on Stretch's computer and a hidden taped card with one word BLACKFLASH. Soon the cops, the Feds, and others will collide with no one expected to walk away unscathed. Though why the victim pursued his investigation without the aid of his capable trustworthy partner seems a stretch, fans will appreciate this fabulous police procedural that step by step uncovers why the detective was murdered starting with proving a homicide occurred. The story line is cleverly devised so that readers see how the case begins with Rick's doubts that soon mushroom into a wild frenzied skirmish in which so called friendly fire might kill the hero. Mark Bouton provides a pleasurable who-done-it.

Heir Today
J.J. Lamb and Bette Golden Lamb
Five Star
ISBN: 1594143560, $25.95, 280 pp.

Heir Apparent, Inc sends letters to married sisters Paige Alper and Sheryl Fenster informing them they can earn $62,500 each if they sign the attached legal document. Apparently, their globetrotting seafaring Uncle Jock Boylan left a fortune. Because of her husband's latest get rich scheme, Sheryl needs the money to pay off loan sharks, but Paige prefers to find the loot and not share it with Heir Apparent, Inc. Paige and her husband Max are investigative reporters; she gets time off while he quits. They begin tracking Jock's last days by visiting the Oceans Shore Nursing Home in San Diego where he stayed whenever he suffered from Lassa Fever. That leads to Asia as Jock had business dealings and a surprising family connection there. As the journalists follow the clues, they soon realize that Jock was murdered to silence him from exposing a white slaver ring. Now the intrepid Americans have a mission besides money to uncover. HEIR TODAY is a terrific private investigative tale that is made even more realistic by the simple act of Max being fired when he wanted time off. The story line is fast-paced as the lead couple hop seemingly everywhere uncovering and including having their clothing taken away one shocking but always dangerous clue after another while Paige realizes how little she knew about her Uncle Jock. Fans will enjoy this fun thriller starring two adept journalists, who spend much of the inquiries in precarious situations.

New Coyote
Michael Bergey
Five Star
ISBN: 1594143226, $25.95, 320 pp.

Sunbow Farms was once a commune but now only Mooney lives there with Coyote, an animal who can talk. Mooney's main crop is marijuana so she can pay the taxes on her multi-million dollar land grant. It is a successful enterprise until the police discover it and arrest Mooney. Now she must find another way to pay the taxes or loose her land. Mooney's friend John visits them accompanied by a blind girl suffering from amnesia. Moose and Coyote bond immediately but when Coyote becomes friends with a werewolf, something magical happens to him so that he change on the night of the full moon. John explains to Coyote that John's totem Fox had him mix human DNA into a cell which reproduced and created Coyote. Though of Native American legend Coyote wants to learn the White Man's Magic (science) and has no memories of his life in the spirit realm. A bad magical entity has entered Coyote and Fox says he will have to kill him to protect others in the mortal realm. Coyote doesn't want to die now that he has found someone to love. NEW COYOTE is a cute urban fantasy showcasing a character who is young in years and wisdom but has the potential to fulfill his mission if he doesn't get killed by the many dangers that he seems to attract. Readers will find him adorable and hope that there will be future books that continue his story. Michael Bergey blends New Age mysticism with Native American mythology to create a work that is quite special.

A Shot to Die For
Libby Fischer Hellmann
Poisoned Pen
ISBN: 1590581857, $24.95

In Chicago, divorced Ellie Foreman raises her teenage daughter Rachel while filming documentaries and training videos. Currently, Ellie is developing a video on the Lodge, a former Playboy Club turned into a popular G-rated resort in Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. At a rest stop between Chicago and Lake Geneva, Ellie meets Daria Flynn, who says she was dumped here but is expecting a ride to come pick her up shortly. Instead a sniper in a pick up truck kills her as Ellie watches in horror. Though the pay is good, the filming is uninteresting. Intrigued by Daria's assassination and experienced with investigations (see AN EYE FOR MURDER, A PICTURE OF GUILT, and AN IMAGE OF DEATH), Ellie still vows to stay out of this one. Instead between Detective Milanovich's questioning her on anomalies and other law enforcement officials asking questions of her too, Ellie begins her brand of investigation. As she begins closing in on the secrets of an affluent family living in an incredible mansion overlooking Lake Geneva, the killer is closing in on her. The fourth Foreman picturesque amateur sleuth mystery is a fun tale as Ellie reluctantly is pulled in the investigation by initially the police questioning her and her increasing knowledge of the victim, a chef in a fancy restaurant. Though the use of a chance meeting at the highway rest stop begins Ellie's quest for the truth, fans will enjoy her efforts to uncover the truth as she sees things differently than Milanovich and the other law enforcement types. Libby Fischer Hellmann provides a fine who-done-it starring a likable protagonist and a strong support cast to include the locale.

Deadly Detail
Don Porter
Poisoned Pen
ISBN: 1590581911, $25.95, 314 pp.

While the pipeline is under construction, flying customers to Fairbanks enables bush pilot Alex Price the opportunity to spend some time with his former prospecting partner Stan and his friend's Athabascan wife Angie. However, Stan asks Alex to meet him in town without his spouse because he is worried about a threat by an unknown assailant who thinks he overheard something; ironically he did not hear anything. They meet at the local, but depart for privacy heading towards Stan's pick-up truck. A bar girl stops Alex while Stan turns on the ignition; the vehicle explodes. Stunned Alex goes to comfort Angie. Not long after his arrival two cops come on the scene, but instead of breaking the news of Alex's death, they start shooting at the grieving pair. Alex and Angie manage to escape by canoe, but the killers give chase. Alex knows they need time to learn what the criminals think Stan overheard if they are to confront the employers of the assassin chasing after them, but first they must elude their adversaries in the stark frozen Alaskan tundra. Though this is Alaska and Hitchcock's North by Northwest uses cornfields and climaxes at Rushmore, this fine thriller will remind readers of that excellent movie because of the innocent hero falling into a deadly situation and also the massive backdrops. The story line is superb as Alex and Angie must first find safety to regroup and figure out what is going on and how to act on this. Readers will take immense delight wondering what ironically Stan did not hear that killed him.

Frederick Ramsay
Poisoned Pen
ISBN: 1590581881, $24.95

The robbery several months ago of 500 million dollars worth of fine art from Callend College for Women made national news. Picketsville, Virginia locals were interviewed and many in-spots like the diner and its customers were on the news. For instance so-so Stonewall Jackson Memorial Church organist Waldo Templeton appeared smiling on TV sets across the nation. However, that proved to be a mistake as the classic butterfly effect occurs; someone enters the church and kills Waldo as the victim ironically touches Sanctuary. Church secretary and all around busy body Millicent Bass finds the body. As she and her posse of friends hysterically and inadvertently contaminate the crime scene, Sheriff Ike Schwartz struggles with a motive. Due to a note the deceased had inside his shirt pocket, Ike focuses on the relatively new vicar, Reverend Randolph Blake Fisher, Jr., who arrived after a scandal back in his previous church in Philadelphia. The killer next murders Millicent assuming that her nosiness gave away information in the church's personnel files. Still leaning towards Blake as the culprit, Ike revises his opinion when the murderer tries to kill the vicar. With regional police procedurals like this one Frederick Ramsay will not remain a secret to readers. The pleasant story line provides the audience with a captivating local group that shows the congregation's loyalty with the naming of the church. Ike is tremendous as he hones in on Blake, who has a history of trouble with his flock while also struggling with the ladies devastating the crime scene. Fans will take delight with this fine mystery in which the chief and the readers will wonder what Blake is hiding.

The Thirty-Three Teeth
Colin Cotterill
ISBN: 1569473889, $24.00, 272 pp.

In Vientiane five months have passed since septuagenarian medical Dr. Siri Paiboun was named by the two year old Communist government as the Lao Peoples' Democratic Republic national coroner, a job the widower did not want, but had to accept. His selection was based on two critical criteria; that he is too old to make waves and he is the only doctor left in the country as the Intelligentsia fled in 1975 when the Communists took control. Siri did not want to leave his beloved deceased wife behind in an unattended grave. The communist bureaucrats underestimate their coroner who in spite of constant tutorials and harangues, tries to do the right thing. Currently, he and his team look at the murders of two males found near a bike. Dubbed Man A and Man B, the better dressed victim suffered from triplicate syndrome as his fingers are mauve colored, which means government. As he works the case, Siri is named the honorary consul to the spirit world and assigned with shamans to warn the spirits to get with the communist program or leave. He takes both situations seriously while the party hacks look over his shoulders. The second Dr. Paiboun investigation is a fabulous look at late 1970s Laos at a time when the royal family lost their "kwun" enabling the Communists to send the monarch into a gardening career. The story line includes a solid mystery, but what makes this tale and its predecessor (see THE CORONER'S LUNCH) worth reading is the insight into the complex society focusing on a deep understanding of politics, religion and customs. Fans will appreciate this fine look at Communism with an influential Buddhist tradition.

Upon a Dark Night
Peter Lovesey
ISBN: 1569473935, $13.00

Things have been so quiet lately; Detective Superintendent Peter Diamond suffers from hypertension caused by ennui as he has not had a homicide to keep his blood pressure level. Normally Diamond would ignore an apparent suicide by a farmer, but with nothing else to occupy his time, he decides to take a quick look. First thing he realizes that the farmer's arms were too small to pull the trigger of a shotgun placed under his chin. Peter simultaneously investigates what he believes is a homicide while trying to persuade his superior that someone killed the farmer. At about the same time, a girl falls off a rooftop during a party. Initial reaction was it was a tragic accident, but Diamond sees incongruities with that explanation. He investigates both deaths while an amnesiac is found in a hospital parking lot by a shoplifter Ada who reluctantly releases the woman to someone claiming to be a sister. Ada talks with Diamond, who reluctantly follows up her comments and links the two deaths and the abduction with a fourth party as he begins to find the buried connection. UPON A DARK NIGHT is a fantastic Diamond police procedural as the cop is at his curmudgeon worst due to absolute boredom from no cases; only someone like Diamond could bemoan a major drop in the murder rate. Thus two homicides would have probably remained under the radar screen with the killer free except that Diamond basically had nothing interesting to do. The mystery is brilliantly established so the audience like Diamond's boss sees no foul play until Diamond's inquiries begin to cleverly prove otherwise. Peter Lovesey is at his best with this awesome who-done-it.

Old Boyfriends
Rexanne Becnel
ISBN: 0373230362, $5.50, 304 pp.

In Southern California, everyone pays respect to the "great" man, but his widow Mary Jane "MJ" Hollander knows her bisexual spouse's final breath was on a round bed of a "pseudowoman". While his adult kids and their spouses salivate over the inheritance, MJ makes it through the platitudes and the sushi served by her stepson only because her two best friends Cat and Bitsey are truly there for her. The three transplanted southern amigos get together to help MJ with her grief and discuss the men in their lives including the one that memory serves as being their ideal mate. Bitsey is married to her lord and master Jack Albertson who never appreciates her efforts because if he didn't do the chore then it is not perfect; however, he never does it with her nor helps with their Stepford kids. Cat has less patience with the lesser gender than her friends having two divorces on her belt. Sick of selfish perfection, avaricious stepchildren, and failing husbands, the trio agree to visit each one's hunk that got away to see if the memories match the realities or their dead, ex, and living husbands. Though middle age female buddies star, OLD BOYFRIENDS is an amusing coming of age relationship drama. The three women learn about themselves during their often comic escapades as they realize how much their behavior as an individual and as a trio impact on the rapport with others. Though the fine story line lacks a specific center to hold the tale together due to the constant rotation of perspective, fans of a jocular tale with a moral "to thine own self be true" will hitch a ride in the Jag.

The Marriage Trap
Elizabeth Thornton
ISBN: 0553587536, $6.99

Six months since Waterloo and the English are flocking to Paris. A vicar's daughter, Ellie Brans-Hill is in the city as a companion to the daughter of the Sedgewicks. There she sees Jack for the first time in fifteen years when he was a teen exiled into rusticating for his pranks at her late father's vicarage; to her chagrin she remains mesmerized by him as she did then though the former soldier and now Lord Raleigh fails to recognize her. To have some fun, Ellie masquerades as Aurora the gambler. He rescues her from a brawl and soon shares a passionate kiss. Not long afterward she is accused of theft; Jack is her alibi which means revealing he compromised her. Forced to marry over her trepidation because she knows she loves her Jack and she believes he does not reciprocate, they soon become entrenched in a murder investigation seeking a killer who threatens Ellie and her brother. Though the premise has been used in varying degrees by the sub-genre authors, this Regency is a fresh look at the compromised scenario as Jack is the alibi that keeps her out of prison but traps him in marriage. The story line is action packed as the couple begins to know one another while falling in love but at the same time are seeking to uncover a deadly criminal wanting to kill Ellie. She is a courageous but very serious individual while he wants to kick back and celebrate the end of the war, but when his beloved is stalked he turns somber as no one knows Jack when it comes to protecting his.

Jon Courtenay Grimwood
ISBN: 0553587447, $12.00, 432 pp.

His Excellency Pashazade Ashraf "Raf" Bey has been selected as the detective chief of El Iskandryia at a time when the Ottoman Empire is divided between religious fundaments and secular nationalists. However, Bey tries not to concern himself at the moment with extremists from either side though he knows not to ignore danger that might follow from zealots. Instead his focus is a brutal serial killer who mutilates his victims. Clues point towards businessman Hamzah, owner of Hamzah Enterprises. Complicating the case for Raf is that he falling in love with Zara, the daughter of his prime suspect starting from the moment she gave a coat to his ward Hani. However, while struggling with an investigation that increasingly looks like he will arrest the man who he would like as his father-in-law, Raf also must deal with assassinations, explosions and abductions terrorizing the residents of El Isk. EFFENDI, the sequel to the delightful police procedural PASHAZADE is quite different in plot design as the who-done-it shares billing with terrorism and political and religious intrigue. The key to why this novel and its predecessor are worth reading lies in Jon Courtenay Grimwood's ability to paint a realistic futurist alternate universe in which the Ottoman Empire is the superpower as it has been for centuries. Raf is a terrific protagonist struggling with his personal life interacting negatively on his official duties. With cross genre appeal, EFFENDI is a strong work of speculative fiction.

Alternate Beauty
Andrea Rains Waggener
ISBN: 0553382985, $14.00

Over salads that would not feed a mouse, her paper thin mother Audrey informs size 28 Ronnie Tremayne that her obesity is driving the overweight customers away from Luscious Landing Large Women's Clothing Boutique. The owner, her mom's friend Cheryl Land, expects Audrey to lose a lot of weight or lose her store manager's position. Upset that even her boyfriend Gilbert cannot help her, Ronnie overindulges in an eating binge. That night she dreams of a world where fat is beautiful. When she awakens her fantasy ahs turned out to be true. She is the centerfold of beauty with her near three hundred pound body. Ronnie attends all the galas and men want her. However, as her she finds a lust for life, she eats less. Over time the perfect 28 becomes an imperfect 10, but inside Ronnie detests what has become of her and misses her Gilbert. This fantasy romance is an insightful look at the American idealization of thinness and demonizing obesity. The story line is fun to follow as Ronnie finds her role as an ALTERNATE BEAUTY in the new world order not quite as captivating as she thought it would be; instead she learns that what is inside a person is what counts not calories. Though health concerns of someone obese or too underweight are passed over too lightly, fans will cherish Andrea Rains Waggener's intelligently insightful look at the cost to a person's happiness of the constant drumming of the never too thin ideal.

C.J. Ryan
ISBN: 0553587765, $6.99

At twenty three, former sheep turned tiger Gloria VanDeen seems on her way up the long bureaucratic ladder at the Empire's department of Extraterrestrial Affairs better known as Dexta though currently she is level XIII in charge of five planets amongst the 2643 annexed orbs. However, a problem at backwater Mynjhino has surfaced that could derail her career. A report says that the local Myn populace is using semi-automatic rifles which are too advanced for them and killed GalaxCo humans. Before she can investigate the massacre of sixteen people, she attends an event hosted by her ex husband, Charles, now the Emperor. They share a night of sex that makes the media news. To escape the sensation of no longer being a faceless bureaucrat, Gloria decides to leap the 862 light years from Times Square to Mynjhino. Nine days later, accompanied by her sheep of an assistant, she begins inquires into the seemingly ephemeral subservient Myn and another indigent race because she learned of several additional slaughters. DEXTA is a terrific science fiction satire that lampoons much of the government-corporate complex that runs the United States and global economy. The structure at Dexta is brilliantly based upon a vast horizontal and vertical formal classification system, but operates under animalistic informal interrelationships. Once on planet the tale spins into another direction though it never loses sight of the classification systems; Gloria the tigress employs her boobs, brains, and body to uncover who is supplying the Myn and how to reach this strange race treated like cattle by most on planet "white man's burden" humans. C.J. Ryan provides a fabulous treasure that will have his appreciative audience anxiously awaiting his next entry in this wonderful universe.

Mission Road
Rick Riordan
ISBN: 0553801856, $24.00, 416 pp.

Former criminal Ralph Arguello asks his childhood friend private detective Tres Navarre for help. Apparently, the San Antonio Police Department believe he shot his wife detective Ana Deleon to prevent her from accusing him of killing Franklin White, a crime boss' son, eighteen years ago. Tres believes Ralph who insists he did not kill White or shoot his spouse, because he knows his pal would not shoot the woman he would die for. While Ana lies comatose and the cops hunt for Ralph, he and Tres begin making inquiries into the White cold case. Tres assumes that Ana had figured out who clubbed the serial killing White to death. That person set up Ralph to take the fall for both crimes especially the present one. Tres knows he must uncover the real culprit before the police catch both of them and throw away the key he as an accessory to Ralph's attempted murder. In his sixth appearance Tres remains competent and loyal as he works a cold case investigation while eluding a dragnet to arrest his friend for attempted murder and he for an accessory to the crime. The case is intriguing especially the flashbacks to what happened to White, an individual who readers will believe deserved to die and justice was served when he did, but the law sees that differently. Though not quite at the multiple-award winning level of SOUTHTOWN due to several "conveniences" that force Tres and Ralph on the lam. MISSION ROAD is a strong entry that fans will enjoy as the hero must serendipitously investigate two crimes almost two decades apart.

Up From Orchard Street
Eleanor Widmer
ISBN: 0553804006, $23.00

Teenage Manya and her spouse accompanied by their infant son Abraham Jacob left Odessa, Russia for New York, but her husband died during the journey. Manya obtained work at Grenspan's Bakery on Manhattan's Lower East Side. When Jack turned four, Manya sent for her much younger sister seven years old Bertha to live with her and her son. Her cooking gets Manya a following and soon a typesetter at the Jewish Forward enables her to open her own restaurant on Orchard Street. In the 1930s, Jack works in the fashion industry where he meets and marries the delicate from childhood illnesses but lovely Lil, who is the opposite of her steel magnolia mother-in-law. They have two children and adopt a starving black child whose name sounds almost like Clayton so they call him Clayton. Through the three generations, Manya is the matriarchal soul of this Jewish family, but changes are coming with a cafeteria opening nearby and a trip to Connecticut. LIFE FROM ORCHARD STREET is told by one of the grandchildren Elka about life in a 1930s Jewish family, which centers on "Bubby" Manya. Elka provides insider depth to life in the Lower East Side of New York as few writers have accomplished. With photos from the era and specific historical places (my Bubby used to take me shopping on Orchard Street, which was in the early 1960s the best bargain around if you were willing to negotiate) included in the fine plot, readers will conclude that this is a superb biographical fictionalized account paying homage to Eleanor Widmer's bubby as well as to the late author who recently passed away.

Sleeping with Beauty
Donna Kauffman
ISBN: 055338306X, $11.00

Her memory of school was being too tall and too clumsy for any of the boys to desire her. This twenty-eight years old elementary school teacher and still wallflower Lucy Harper has doubts about the ten year anniversary reunion yet would like to show up as a sex goddess especially to knock over her high school unrequited crush Jason Prescott. Lucy hires the fairy godmothers of Glass Slippers to turn her into a beautiful desirable princess. They succeed beyond her wildest dream and Jason is all over her seeking more than just a kiss. However, Grady Mathews who liked the old Lucy back in high school, but was to shy and too short to do anything about his feelings is unhappy with her change and with Grady sniffing at his beloved's heels. He wants his former less glamorous Lucy back to show her that love is where it at not some shallow relationship with the hunk. Though the plot of a high school outsider coming back as the queen of the reunion has been told often, Donna Kauffman refreshes the theme with her fairy tale SLEEPING WITH BEAUTY. The key to the novel is actually Grady who brings the brisk newness to the story line by his having the same feelings for Lucy that she has for Jason. However, he wants the real Lucy not the pumpkin at the ball who Jason desires. Though Jason comes across shallow next to a real man like Grady, readers will enjoy the latest fairy godmothers' delightful makeover.

More Than a Scandal
Sari Robins
ISBN: 0060575352, $5.99, 384 pp.

In 1811 shy Catherine Miller cannot believe her odious cousins want to displace her and others to sell her home as they need money. She has no plan at first but knows she must act assertive or else. However, a concept surfaces when she finds the diary of the Thief of Robinson Square. She will be a reincarnation of the thief robbing from the affluent to save the orphanage she calls home. Major Marcus Dunn has just arrived in England after spending time in Spain. He is on a critical key mission, but realizes the reticent Catherine that he met years ago when she was a child is masquerading as the Thief. Already attracted to her, he admires her spirit, but ponders whether to expose her for her safety. However revealing who she is could destroy his mission by revealing who he truly is. MORE THAN A SCANDAL is an entertaining Regency romance starring two delightful protagonists, several fine supportive characters and the heroine's dislikable cousins. Catherine is the center of the fun story line as she willingly risks all to save the orphanage from her avaricious relatives yet her solution is a dandy. Marcus is her perfect foible as he fears for her safety, wants to kiss her all over, and must hide his real reason for being home. Sari Robins provides a fine historical.

Courting Claudia
Robyn Dehart
ISBN: 0060782153, $5.99, 384 pp.

In 1848 Claudia J. Prattley visits London's Illustrated Times editor owner Derrick Middleton to inform him that she will no longer illustrate the Society Fashion Report. He stays calm over her gender deception as he thought C.J. Prattley was male, but cannot afford to lose her as her pictures has brought in a lot of new aristocratic customers. Claudia explains that her father the Viscount expects her to marry soon though she does not want his choice. Derrick's Aunt Chloe tells him to court the girl so that he can be her husband. Though he knows her father openly hates him, Derrick agrees as not only is CJ intelligent but also pretty besides which she can save his paper. Derrick deceives CJ into thinking he desires her and tricks her into marriage. As they work together on a nasty case involving death and blackmail amidst the Ton including her father, Derrick needs to tell his wife the truth about his ruse because secrets can destroy a relationship even between loved ones. COURTING CLAUDIA is a fabulous Victorian romance because of how easily Derrick accepts a female illustrator and the need he has to have her continue to work for him though courting and marriage seems an extreme solution. The story line is fun to follow as Derrick woos Claudia while her father objects to him and tears into paper every chance he gets. A final twist will surprise the audience as Robyn Dehart writes a solid historical tale that reminded this reviewer of the classic play/movie Front Page except a romantic relationship between the stars in the middle of the nineteenth century London.

This Enemy Town
Marcia Talley
ISBN: 0060587393, $6.99, 272 pp.

Hannah Ives is a survivor. She survived breast cancer and is coming on the five year mark of being free of the disease. She also survived the pain and media spotlight that shined on her husband Paul when one of his students Jennifer Goodall claimed sexual harassment. Eventually she dropped the charges and moved away from the Naval Academy. Paul and Hannah put their marriage back together. When Hannah's new friend Dorothy Hart asks Hannah to help her with the set designs for the Glee Club musical, she agrees knowing the woman battles breast cancer. While working on the set she sees Jennifer who has been reassigned to work at the Naval Academy. The two women argue in front of the cast. Not long afterward, Jennifer's murdered body is found in a trunk that is used on the set. Hannah is arrested for murder because the weapon has her fingerprints on it and was wrapped around Hannah's bloody sweatshirt. A witness also put her at the scene even though she was nowhere near the place. Not content to let the FBI handle the case, Hannah decides to investigate on her own which puts her on a collision course with the killer. Anyone who has never read a Hannah Ives mystery is missing a special treat. The heroine is a strong, determined and kind-hearted woman, who is determined to find out who the killer is even though her lawyer, husband and daughter advise against it. There are plenty of suspects who hated the victim enough to want to see her dead and readers will not be able to figure out who the culprit is until the author chooses to reveal it. Award winning author Marcia Talley has written an exciting amateur sleuth novel, a bit darker in tone than other books in this series.

Love According to Lily
Julianne MacLean
ISBN: 0060597291, $5.99, 384 pp.

In 1884 Lady Lily Langdon knows she has always been attracted to her brother's best friend Lord Whitby, but he never seemed to notice her as more than just a little sister. As an adult, Lily realizes that her adulation has turned into a full love, but Edward Wallis treats her as a younger sibling. When Edward becomes gravely ill from what seems like Hodgkin's disease which killed his father, Lily, encouraged by her American sister-in-law (see TO MARRY A DUKE), decides to take matters in her hands so that she can always remember her beloved. Meanwhile Edward detests that his odious cousin Magnus will inherit and probably destroy his sister Annabelle. Lily offers Edward an alternate plan to give him an heir, which he considers not just for Annabelle's safety, but also because he wants Lily in his bed even if in some ways that feels like incest. She seduces him and they agree to marry, but miraculously the illness goes into remission leaving Edward to either disdain or rejoice with his now pregnant wife. LOVE ACCORDING TO LILY is a fabulous Victorian romance that grips the audience with what does not occur as much as what does. Cryptic as that sounds the story line is character driven as the lead couple struggles with his pending death from illness (thankfully not a drawn out attempted homicide) and their attraction especially on his part for one another. Edward is realistically portrayed as he displays anger and impatience behaving like a young person facing mortality. Fans who have waited for Lily to star for a few years will appreciate her love story.

An Offer He Can't Refuse
Christie Ridgeway
ISBN: 0060763485, $6.99 384 pp.

Palm Springs, California resident Tea Caruso is a highly regarded interior designer, who has spent a lifetime or at least since she was twelve and her father vanished, probably killed, loving and hating her family. She loves every member especially her mother and sisters Joey and Eve, even her grandfather Cosimo, but detests what he does for a living as the mob chief. Tea avoids him as if he she might catch the gangster disease. Johnny Magee hires Tea to redo his home, but actually has a hidden agenda. He blames the Caruso family for devastating his father. He has dreamed for years of avenging his sire and now has the economic means to do so but needs someone to get him inside the family. He seduces Tea so that he can accompany her as her boyfriend to Cosimo's eightieth birthday bash. To his chagrin, Johnny believes he betrays his late father by falling in love with the enemy, but fears how she will react when she learns he deceived her. This is an intriguing second generation romance in which the protagonists are tied together by a tragedy that cost the lives of both their fathers. Johnny is a fascinating hunk who knows what he wants until he meets Tea as she is nothing like he expected from the granddaughter of the mob chief. Tea is ashamed of her background until Johnny hires her and soon she sees the other part of her family. Though the mob activity is somewhat underplayed and mostly kept off screen, Christie Ridgeway offers contemporary readers a book they can't refuse to read.

Witch Way To Murder
Shirley Damsgaard
ISBN: 0060793481, $6.99, 304 pp.

Four years ago in a psychic vision, Ophelia Jensen saw her best friend die; she badgered the police until they put out a missing person's report. They found his murdered body four days later and since Ophelia was the last person to see him, she became their number one suspect. Between being harassed by the police and a reporter and feeling guilty because she was unable to save him and Ophelia developed PTSD. She moved to Summerset, Iowa to be near her grandmother Abby who is a witch and a practitioner of magick. She keeps everyone but Abby at a distance until Rick Davis comes to town. She doesn't believe for one minute he is a chemical salesman as he is interested in the county's anhydrous ammonia thefts (an ingredient in cooking meth). They stumble over the remains of a murdered man, Rick is beaten up, and she is warned off by threatening letters and a dead coyote left on her doorstep. Ophelia would leave if she could but she comes to believe her grandmother who says it is her and Rick's destiny to fight the evil that has pervaded the town. Every once in a while a mystery comes along that is so refreshingly original with characters that are totally unique that readers will need to obtain it immediately. WITCH WAY TO MURDER is one such special book. Ophelia goes from thinking of her psi powers as a curse to a desire to learn magick; Abby is everyone's favorite grandmother. These three dimensional characters burrow their way into the reader's heart from the start. It will be hard to wait for the next book in this beguiling series.

Daring the Duke
Anne Mallory
ISBN: 0060762233, $5.99, 384 pp.

The Duke of Marston Stephen Chalmers failed to catch Hermes the thief who apparently retired until now. For an unknown reason, Hermes has committed six robberies in a week, but this time Stephen knows that the long assumed male thief is a she, Audrey Kendrick; once he has her accomplices he will send her and her team to Newgate. Audrey detests the blackmailing Travers who has her sister Faye as a hostage to force Hermes to do his bidding. Travers is upset to see Stephen "Bloody" Chalmers with Audrey and warns her to stay away from the gentleman spy. However, it is difficult to avoid someone who seems to be everywhere you are. As Stephen sets up his final trap to capture the entire Hermes gang, he finds his admiration for Audrey's courage and daring grow and his desire for her interfere with his thought process. Audrey falls in love with the forbidden fruit of an aristocrat who wants to send her to Newgate, Australia or his bed, but Faye's safety must come before her betraying heart. Though readers know who the thief, her "handler" and the sleuth are from the start, DARING THE DUKE is a fabulous Regency romantic suspense due to a terrific triangular cat, rat, and mouse game between the key threesome. Fans will enjoy Stephen's dilemma as he has fallen in love with the obsession he wants to send to prison. Audrey is a brave individual who sub-genre fans will emphasize with about her dilemma, hoping that somehow she overcomes the impossible with Stephen at her side.

Bollywood Confidential
Sonia Singh
ISBN: 0060590386, $12.95

Wannabe actress Raveena Rai has failed to make it in Hollywood so when her agent informs her that he has a starring role in a Bollywood movie, she immediately accepts the job. Without waiting for anyone to change their mind, Raveena quickly heads to Bombay where she assumes fame and fortune await her. However, upon reaching her destination in India Raveena finds nothing is remotely like that described by her agent she now considers slime. Her hotel is a dump, but she cannot move in with her Uncle Heeru as his home is overrun by wild pigeons. Even worse, her script is not written and she must dance more than act. To make her stay more miserable her director uses a hands on method touching her everywhere while trying to get her on the casting couch; all this without a script. On the positive side of this disaster is her leading man, mega hunk Siddharth, who Raveena believes is her destiny though she has a few rivals who consider the most popular Bollywood actor of the moment as fair game. Using stereotypes as support cast, Sonia Singh lampoons the Bollywood movie industry for making inane films that are so undemanding and unoriginal yet at the same time Raveena toasts the industry for its vigor and energy. The story line is well written as the audience wonders whether Raveena will get the leading man and finish the movie while eluding the fast hands of the lecherous director. Contemporary readers will welcome this fine absorbing look at the dynamic Indian film industry.

She's Got Issues
Stephanie Lessing
ISBN: 0060756969, $12.95

Because she is effervescent and optimistic everyone assumes that Chloe Rose is shallow and unable to see the depths of darkness. Currently she works as an assistant to an ambitious assistant to the Promotions Director of Issues Magazine. Chloe always tries to do her best regardless of the dumbing down project that her boss Ruth dumps on her. Ruth detests her assistant unable to deal with the constant idealist who makes Pollyanna look like Murphy. However, being a realist, Ruth cannot truly afford to fire Bubbles because Chloe may be naive when it comes to human nature, but her ideas are terrific, which in turn makes Ruth look good. However, even Chloe knows that Ruth abuses her, but on the other hand she does have access to nirvana, the shoe closet. Chloe seems too sweet and načve yet that works because of the reaction of the secondary characters towards her; people either love her positive approach and volunteer to help or loathe her upbeat attitude and want to hire a hit man to silence her. This Pollyanna chick lit in the office tale is often amusing, but readers will also want Chloe to tell Ruth where to stick it.

The Price of Indiscretion
Cathy Maxwell
ISBN: 0060740574, $6.99, 384 pp.

In 1805 New York, Miranda Cameron consults with her two younger sisters about her going to England to marry a wealthy aristocrat. Having fallen in love with a half breed Pawnee-Englishman, Miranda has doubts, but feels her indiscretion with Alex ten years ago hurt her siblings. So with no prospects and little money, she agrees to go with Lady Overstreet, who will arrange a match for a fee. In the Azores, Captain Alex Haddon of the Warrior is shocked to see Miranda is here. He never forgot or forgave her for what happened between them ten years ago. At a party in her honor, he is nasty to her, but also insists they are married even if it is Pawnee style and they never consummated their vows. A drunken Alex abducts Miranda. As they sail to London they argue until they make love for the first time. In London, Miranda resides in the home of Alex's business partner while he refuses to see her. Instead he tells the wife of his partner to find her an aristocrat husband. Miranda cries as he has left her again, but vows to marry well for her sisters' sakes. The strong lead couple with a solid support cast enhancing the plot turns THE PRICE OF INDISCRETION into a fine historical romance. Fans will appreciate the dilemma facing the likable heroine as she must choose between responsibility and loyalty to her beloved sisters vs. her beloved. Although at times Alex's behavior seems confusing, readers will appreciate this fine early nineteenth century tale and look forward to the sisters starring in future novels.

How to Marry a Millionaire Vampire
Kerrelyn Sparks
ISBN: 0060751967, $5.99, 384 pp.

Though he has been a vampire for several centuries, Roman Draganesti, CEO chemist of Romatech Industries, hates being God's abomination in spite of doing great things for humanity and his species like inventing synthetic blood and blood cuisines. However, his success has made it a safer world for vampires, but a splinter group the Malcontents believe that biting humans is the only way to dine for a superior species. Roman tests a new device, but his fang falls out. He must get it replanted tonight or his vampiric healing prowess will close the gap permanently. Dentist Shanna Whelan works night at a clinic though she fears blood since someone killed her friend in front of her. Roman arrives holding a wolf's tooth, but she refuses to place an animal's fang in his mouth. However, he rescues her from Russians and vampire Ivan Petrovsky, who want her dead since her testimony incarcerated one of them. Instead of gratitude she knees him in his testicles, which hurts severely. Still he takes her with him; soon they fall in love, but relationships between vampires and mortals have lifespan issues although Ivan plans to bite both of them out of existence. Mindful of MaryJanice Davidson's works, the key to this satirical supernatural romance is that the species vampire comes across as genuine within a modern age context. The lead couple is a likable star-crossed duo while the strong support cast augments the belief that vampires live. Though the climax seems rushed and the large vampire population contains many lacking discipline making it impossible to accept that most humans remain unaware they exist, sub-genre readers will enjoy this biting tale and look forward to an upcoming sequel.

It's In His Kiss
Julia Quinn
ISBN: 006053124X, $6.99, 384 pp.

In 1815, his father orders Gareth St. Clair to marry Mary Winthrop as the family needs the money from her dowry. He is stunned because Mary may be a year older than him, but no more than just a child in her mind. He refuses so his sire tosses him out while explaining he is not his son as someone else is his biological father. Stunned, Gareth vows to learn the truth about his roots. Ten years later Gareth finally has a clue, the diary of his Italian grandmother. He asks intelligent linguist Hyacinth Bridgerton to translate it into English for him. As they work together on the translation and interpretation, they fall in love, but someone willing to kill wants to stop them before secrets surface. Fans of the wonderful Bridgerton tales have watched Hyacinth grow up but remain consistent personality wise from her first appearance as a child through the romantic capers of her six siblings until finally her story is told. The seventh and final Regency of this generation siblings is a terrific entry, one of the best if not the best in this strong line as the audience has waited to see who can match up with the brilliant assertive Hyacinth. Readers will not be disappointed with Gareth as Julia Quinn delivers under extreme pressure to find the right hero.

The Hunter
Gennita Low
ISBN: 0060591234, $5.99, 384 pp.

Undercover Navy SEAL Hawk McMillan detests his current assignment, pretending to be a traitor working for evil Dilaver especially as he acts helplessly while atrocities occur. Still he knows the importance of the assignment to find the weapon of mass destruction that Dilaver apparently possesses. CIA operative Amber Hutchins has worked undercover for four years in Macedonia. She hosts the Last Resort, an American style cafe in which she obtains information that she passes on to her contacts. Amber and Hawk meet, but neither wants a partner especially one in which nether can control their desire for the other. Still they have no choice as they work together trying to bring down Dilaver and his cohorts while hoping to not fall in love. THE HUNTER is a terrific direct sequel to the fabulous THE PROTECTOR as the latter novel ends with Hawk joining Dilaver's team to bring him down. The story line is action-packed but Hawk's lament makes it character driven as he feels the taint of his assignment causing him to allow the slaughter of the innocent to occur that will haunt his soul for the rest of his life. Amber is his only light as his disturbed conscience ponders the end vs. the mean. This is a high quality thriller.

Summer Garden Murder
Ann Ripley
ISBN: 0758208170, $22.00, 304 pp.

TV show host and gardener Louse Eldridge is shocked when she sees Peter Hoffman, a murderer who she apprehended five years ago. He was found not guilty by reason of insanity and spent four years in a mental hospital in the Blue Ridge Mountains in southern Virginia. He has the audacity to show his face at his old stomping grounds and makes it seem like he and Louise are going to have a meeting to iron out their differences. Before that can happen, his wife Phyllis overhears a conversation where he sells his arms factory before he leaves the country. His wife is left with the house and a stipend. Soon after that meeting Peter disappears and an anonymous tip leads the police to Louise's garden where they find his body. When another corpse is found on her property, it looks like Louise might go to jail unless she finds the killer. Readers who love good, complex and refreshing amateur stealth tales without any blood or gore will want to read SUMMER GARDEN MURDER. The protagonists is a plucky and independent sort not content to let others find the murderer but is determined to ferret out the person herself because it is her life that is on the line. Ann Ripley has written another exciting garden mystery that is so absorbing readers will read it in one sitting.

Raining Cats and Dogs
Laurien Berenson
ISBN: 0758208138, $22.00, 266 pp.

For a woman who likes order and routine, Melanie Travis' life has dissolved into chaos ever since she married Sam because he moved into her home so that her son wouldn't have to change schools and neighborhoods. Unfortunately her six room house was not big enough to hold two adults, one active boy, and five standard poodles. While they are looking for a bigger house, Melanie escapes one night a week to the South Avenue Obedience Club with her dog Faith. The club members bring their dogs to the Winston Pumpernill Nursing Home in Greenwich so the residents can play with the canines. One of the members of the club Paul Livingston has his great-aunt living there and he loves her dearly. Melanie can understand why when she meets her but that initial introduction is their last meeting because someone murdered her while the canine club was there. The leader of the club challenges Melanie to find the murderer knowing that she solved other homicides so once again she takes up the mantle of a sleuth. Laurien Berenson can always be counted on to write a thoroughly enjoyable who-done-it. RAINING CATS AND DOGS is more humorous than some of the other books in the series as Melanie tries to deal with too many people and dogs in a small house, a new sexy neighbor whose husband is always on the road, and looking for a house that will meet everyone needs especially her canine caper crew while trying to find a murderer. The characters in this series continue to change and evolve making it impossible for fans to grow bored.

Much Ado about Magic
Patricia Rice
ISBN: 0451215915, $7.99, 384 pp.

In 1755 London Lucinda Malcolm Pemroke hides in an alcove of the Royal Art Gallery that displays the infamous painting she drew just to see reactions. Her painting depicts the sinking of a yacht with the heir to Lansdowne on board while his cousin laughs. Everyone assumes that the Prophetess as everyone calls Sinda assumes from her painting that the cousin Trevelyan Rochester murdered his relative to inherit the estate. Trev has just returned from years overseas planning to find a wife in polite society. Instead he is a pariah the center of a scandal caused by a painting from the artist LMP. Trev confronts Lucinda to withdraw her portrayal, but she is not what he expected. She is stunned to see him as she never met Trev before drawing the picture before the vessel sank. As Trev continues to pursue Sinda in disguise as artist Lucy Jones, they fall in love even while she paints new pictures that begin to clarify what happened to his cousin and one that is not quite finished endowed with him in the buff. There is much ado about this fine historical fantasy romance with a touch of the amateur sleuth to enhance its magic. Readers will enjoy the relationship between the fey artist and the beleaguered "model" who leans more towards confronting her with his kisses than forcing her to absolve him of the rumors that he murdered his cousin. Sub-genre fans will want to read all the charming Malcolm Magic novels (see THE TROUBLE WITH MAGIC, THIS MAGIC MOMENT, and MERELY MAGIC).

Invitation to Murder
Elizabeth Bright
ISBN: 0451216342, $6.99, 240 pp.

In the resort town of Rebel Forge, Virginia in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Jennifer Shane opens up Custom Card Creations after failing to persuade her older sister Sara Lynn to expand her shop Forever Memories. While waiting for her first customer, she receives a strange phone call asking for Annie followed by a scream of terror and silence. When her brother Sheriff Bradford arrives to make peace between his sisters, Jennifer tells him about the strange phone call. Not long afterward she gets another call, but silence greets her on the other end. When she goes home, another odd call occurs. The next day she receives an envelop with only her first name written on the outside with no postage or other marks; inside is a letter in which someone tells her to forget what she heard or she will be next. She shows the note to Bradford who leaves her to investigate the death of a young woman. Trying to start a business, Jennifer has inadvertently been yanked into a homicide all because of a wrong number. INVITATION TO MURDER is a wonderful police procedural-amateur sleuth investigative tale. The story line combines family rivalry and nurturing inside an intriguing who-done-it as an innocent Jennifer is unwillingly yanked into the middle of a homicide investigation. The three siblings make the mystery work as they seem like real siblings loving and arguing with one another even as Bradford works the case while Jennifer tries to keep out but fate pushes her back into the center. This is a bright cozy that fans will welcome.

Dangerous Passions
Lynn Kerstan
ISBN: 0451216237, $6.99, 384 pp.

In 1817 Colonel Lord Marcus Cordell returns to England after twenty years away at war only to receive a summons from the Black Phoenix fellowship. The mysterious organization wants him to hunt for an upper-class serial killer; making it easier for Marcus to hide his mission is that he and popular amongst the Ton Lady Eve Halliday will masquerade as an betrothed couple. Marcus can see immediately that his "fiancee" hates his guts, but he has no idea why. His instincts prove correct as Eve wants to destroy him based on letters received between 1810 and 1813 from close friend Johnny Brandon on the Iberian front. As they spend time together Marcus falls in love with his partner, but though he believes she reciprocates he sense that her priority to destroy him remains on top of her list, but he still has no explanation why even as he risks his life to keep her safe from their target that has targeted his beloved for death. DANGEROUS PASSIONS, the sequel to the fine DANGEROUS DECEPTIONS, is an interesting historical romantic suspense thriller starring two solid protagonists, and a heroine who, though falling in love, believes her heart is betraying her life. The story line is well written from the beginning when Sir Peregrine of the mysterious Black Phoenix organization admits to Marcus things often go awry and stays at a fever pitch until after the last murder is resolved. Though readers never learn why Lady Eve suddenly became open minded though disagreeing with her beloved over the Brandon scenario, fans will enjoy this tense tale and look forward to all the threads tied up in the finale.

Diagnosis Murder: The Past Tense
Lee Goldberg
ISBN: 0451216148, $6.99 344 pp.

In Los Angeles, rain has made the area a flood stricken mud hole and when Dr. Mark Sloan walks along the beach he is shocked to find a dead woman in a mermaid's costume near his home. When he goes to work at Community General Hospital, his friend and medical examiner Dr Amanda Bentley tells him that the victim was injected with a drug to induce paralysis and in her stomach was a memory card. When they get it developed, it is a picture of a storm that happened in 1962 forty-three years ago in the same month. The killer is sending Mark a message because that storm began the events that led to Mark solving his first homicide. Five student nurses were killed because they were involved in a blackmail scheme headed by a doctor who was also murdered. The woman who was killed turns out to be the daughter of a patient he treated the night it all began in 1962. Mark is determined to find the killer who seems to enjoy taunting him even if it means putting his own life in danger. Lee Goldberg is a very visual writer so each scene comes alive in the mind of the reader, almost as of this were actually watching an episode of the television show. The author is great at creating characters that are three dimensional and life like and he sets up the who-done-in such a way so that almost anyone could be the killer. Readers will thoroughly enjoy this very exciting and complicated mystery.

First Kiss
Kylie Adams
ISBN: 0451215818, $6.99, 304 pp.

A decade has passed since Kiki Douglas won Miss Texas and was first runner-up in the Miss America contest. She has since been on several soap operas with her character always ending up dead. Currently out of work, she plans to go home to Fredericksburg to attend her brother's wedding to a Jersey girl in which she hopes to bring some class to the reception although one of the other bridesmaids was her ex-husband's lawyer in the divorce. The New York Post catches her in a provocative pose with rising music superstar Tom Brock, making it seem sleazy as he is married. They make quite a scandal in which the town's gross DJs label Kylie the most hated woman in Manhattan. Calling her a housebreaker and other vile names, the worst comment is they inform the world she is soap opera has been at thirty four. Heeding her best friend's advice Kylie hides in a hotel where she meets the playboy owner Maurizio Tomb. As they fall in love, both misjudges the depths of compassion of the other as the media paints both as shallow hedonists. This amusing chick lit tale stars a female who seems schizoid at times, a tabloid delightful bimbo turning into a Socrates clone advising her pals and her beloved. Though linked to the overall wedding of the Bridesmaid Chronicles the story line never really ties back to book one FIRST DATE by Karen Kendall. Still the lead couple is a fine pairing of two individuals much deeper than the media's air brushed fifteen second sound bite.

Latte Trouble
Cleo Coyle
ISBN: 0425204456, $6.99, 256 pp.

Although Clare Cosi and Matteo Allegro have been divorced for years due to his former cocaine habit and his numerous infidelities they are co-managers of the historically famous Village Blend Coffeehouse. Eventually they will buy out then shares owned by Matteo's mother and own it outright. Right now business is brisk as they host a party by fashion accessories designer Lottie Harmon who is making a come back after closing down the business in the eighties. Coffee Barista Tucker Burton is upset that his ex-lover Ricki Flatt is there with another man. He makes a nasty comment that is heard by many of the partners and then has the waitress deliver coffee to Lottie but Ricky and his date drink it instead. They both keel over and Ricky dies, the victim of cyanide poison and his partner is rushed to the hospital in critical condition. Tucker is immediately arrested while Clare vows to investigate until she unmasks the real killer so he can be freed. Cleo Coyle follows up the success of her first mystery THROUGH THE GRINDER with another delightfully percolating and exciting mystery. The strength of this series lies in the characters who are drawn true to life so readers find them believable. This enriches the credibility of the storyline. The heroine is amusing of times as she tries to fight her attraction for her ex-husband who she knows will never change.

The Ghost and the Dead Deb
Alice Kimberly
ISBN: 0425199444, $5.99, 260 pp.

The Buy the Book Bookstore in Rhode Island, co-owned by genteel widow woman Penelope Thornton McClure and her Aunt Sadie, is haunted by the spirit of Jack Shepard, a private eye who was killed there fifty years ago while working a case. Pen is the only one who can communicate telepathically with the ghost in her dreams. She is excited that true crime writer Angel Stark is giving a reading at her store from a book she wrote about the death of her friend Bethany . At the reading, Bethany's sister Vicky makes a scene before being escorted out by friends and Angel flirts with Sadie's friend's nephew Johnny. The next day Angel's body is found in the water a rope around her neck. Pieces of the same rope were found in Johnny's truck. During the same time period Vicky goes missing. Johnny is the number one suspect especially since he disappeared but Pen doesn't believe he is a killer and with help from Jack, she sets out to prove it. Although it sounds paradoxical this is a hard boiled cozy; Jack is a Philip Marlow type while Pen acts like Miss Marple. This is a beguiling and bewitching mystery that will enchant readers as an old fashioned protagonist partners with a gruff ghost amusingly trying to blunt his sharp opinions in order not to offend Penelope's sensibilities. Alice Kimberly is a talented storyteller who allows the reader the fantasy of believing a ghost can be confined to a bookstore and fall for the present owner. There are plenty of separate twists and turns and red herrings that will maintain reader interest in the who-done-it, but it is the ghost and the bookstore owner who make the tale.

Candy Apple Dead
Sammi Carter
ISBN: 0425205320, $5.99, 290 pp.

After her marriage ended because she caught her husband in their bed with his pregnant girlfriend, corporate lawyer Abby Shaw returned home to Paradise, Colorado to help her Aunt Grace run Divinity Candy shop. When Grace died, Abby inherited the shop and is busy trying to carry on her aunt's legacy. She is totally off men until Brandon Mills, owner of Man about Town, asks her out. He stands her up but also misses an important business meeting; Abby walks over to his store to check on him but the building is dark. A car pulls out of the lot and she sees it is an auto owned by her brother Wyatt. The next day she learns Brandon's store burned down with him in it. Her brother becomes the number one murder suspect because he was seen arguing with Brandon over his relationship with Wyatt's wife. Abby doesn't mention seeing her brother's vehicle at the crime scene but gossip about the spat between Wyatt and Brandon add to her sibling appearing guilty. In an effort to clear Wyatt from a murder charge, Abby starts asking a lot of questions which comes to the attention of someone who is not afraid to kill again if she gets too close to learning the truth. CANDY APPLE DEAD is a sweet who-done-it that will appeal to readers of amateur sleuth and cozy mysteries. The heroine learns some shocking truths about her brother, his wife and Brandon and comes away from the investigation wiser about people. Readers will adore Abby whose loyalty to family is admirable but it is Brandon's dog Max who she adopts to save from the pound who steals the show.

The Egyptian Coffin
Jane Jakeman
ISBN: 042520541X, $13.00, 272 pp.

In 1830 seventeen years old heiress Lady Lilian Westmorland enjoyed her country life in West Coventry, England in spite of her late father's scandal though currently she mourns the death of her mother. Lili especially loves to ride however a near fatal riding accident leaves her unconscious and the horse had to be killed. While recovering from her severe injuries, her guardian Micah. Overbury allegedly considering the cool weather decides that the warmth of Egypt will help his niece heal faster. However, Lord Ambrose Malfine learns that the daughter Lilian of his childhood friend was involved in other incidents besides the equine spill. As he assesses what he learns, he concludes too many coincidences and wonders if someone wants her dead so he takes it upon as a token of his high regard for her father to travel to Egypt to see her safe. Ambrose will soon find himself in Cairo battling evil English slave traders with the stake being Lilian's freedom. The sequel to LET THERE BE BLOOD is a terrific late Regency thriller that starts with a superb opening as Ambrose explains why he has an Egyptian coffin in his English home and never slows down until his final confrontation with. a malevolent being. The story line is fast-paced, but provides a deep look at early nineteenth century Egypt especially Cairo. Ambrose is terrific as he heroically tries to keep the daughter of his late friend safe though she is the target of some nasty individuals. Joy to Jane Jakeman for providing a terrific historical tale.

Murder Never Forgets
Diana O'Hehir
ISBN: 0425205851, $23.95, 304 pp.

Carla was working at Susie's health Food Store in Santa Cruz when the Green Brach Manor Nursing Home calls to inform her that her father, a victim of Alzheimer's, had deteriorated and will have to be moved to the "no hope house" for closer managed care. Carla believes her beloved dad, once a renowned Egyptologist, would die in the stifling prison like edifice. She journeys to Berkley to be with him and while there asks for a job as an aide assisting patients with their medicine, etc if her dad can stay in the more independent facility. Administrator Mrs. Sisal hires her. However, odd occurrences begin to happen at the Green Branch starting with a fire, meds missing, the death of an employee, tampered food, and her father blaming everything on a dead woman at the beach that is either near the home or the Pyramids. Mrs. Sisal demands that Carla, who is very popular amongst the patients, spy on them and the staff to learn who is causing the troubles if she and her father are to stay at Green Branch. Reluctantly she begins spying not realizing the danger she places herself in by doing so. MURDER NEVER FORGETS combines an intriguing amateur sleuth tale with some Egyptologist elements inside a deep family drama. Readers get a taste of what happens at a nursing home which operates more like a hospital prison than a nurturing of our seniors facility. Thus the story line grips readers on two levels: that of the mystery and that of senior citizen health care; together they blend into a fine contemporary thriller.

The Gourdmother
Maggie Bruce
ISBN: 0425206610, $5.99, 272 pp.

Former long time Brooklyn resident Lili Marion wonders how a city gal can be street smart when she lives in a place without streets when she earned the cottage as remittance from Tom Ford for developing a mutual fund perspective. Besides her philosophical musings, she enjoys living in Walden Corners, New York though most of the residents remain leery of a city slicker. She makes friends with Nora Johnson and likes the open space for her to convert gourds into works of art or useful pretty functions. On the first day of hunting season, someone kills Nora's husband Coach. Lili fears she heard the scream of death, which she originally assumed was a nightmare. As she gathers her wits about her, Lili decides to investigate the homicide of the spouse of her only upstate friend not realizing she sets herself up as a prime target. Though readers will question why Lili had to investigate the murder even with her best local pal involved and threatened, fans will appreciate this fine amateur sleuth who-done-it. Lili brings her Brooklynese into her inquiries that drive the local police crazy as she interferes in their investigation. Readers will appreciate this urban take no prisoner protagonist as she seeks to uncover the identity of the killer while providing the audience with a glimpse including making a pendant into the world of gourds.

Eye of the Wolf
Margaret Coel
ISBN: 0425205851, $23.95, 336 pp.

The poetic macabre message shakes up Father John O'Malley, the Jesuit Pastor at St. Francis on the Wind River Plantation. The caller stated that revenge has been taken with deaths. Not long afterward, at the sight of an 1874 massacre in which the Shoshone betrayed the Arapaho to the cavalry, three Shoshone are found murdered with their bodies ritually left to look just like the historical slaughter here. Frankie Montana, who was seen recently arguing with the Shoshone and has quite a rap sheet is charged with the triple homicides. His lawyer Vicky Holden believes Frankie who insists he is innocent because she knows this low life would do just about anything but not murder. As she mounts a defense, she wonders if the culprit is cunningly trying to cause an Indian war between the two tribes for some unknown reason or a psychopath is avenging the century plus slaughter. The latest Wind River Reservation Mystery, EYE OF THE WOLF, is a fabulous legal thriller that uses brutal late nineteenth century carnage as the apparent motive to twenty-first century murders. The story line moves out rather quickly when Father O'Malley listens to the high pitched poetry of the killer on his voice machine and never takes a breather as Vicky tries to prove her client did not commit the crime though circumstantially he appears heading for the fall. Margaret Coel is at her best with this tale that affirms why so many readers feel she is the heir apparent to the Hillerman mantle.

Extreme Exposure
Pamela Clare
ISBN: 0425206335, $7.99, 352 pp.

Denver Independent investigative report Kara McMillan is as tough a journalist as there is. However, inside she has doubts especially when it comes to relationships with men accentuated by the father of her child walking out on them. Colorado State Senator Reece Sheridan admires Kara as a reporter, but also wants to make love with her, believing that underneath her armor is a passionate woman waiting for the right man. He wants to be the right man. As he tries to penetrate her shield, she reluctantly begins to give into the attraction she feels by sleeping with the enemy, a politician. However, the highly ethical senator is soon embroiled in a scandal that Kara needs to report on a nearby Adams County plant brazenly violating environmental laws spewing pollutions into the air and water. As Kara's investigates, pressure on her lover to get her to stop mounts while others go a more direct route to end heir inquiries including killing her if need be. EXTREME EXPOSURE is a wonderful investigative tale with plenty of red herrings and terrific twists and turns that keep the reader on the edge of their seats. The Denver area is cleverly described so that the audience will think they are a mile high in the Rockies yet the lush descriptions enhances the mystery. With all that clearly the reason this is must reading for the suspense crowd lies in wondering whether Reece is the heroine's friend and lover or her worst nightmare.

Twin Peaks
Susan Johnson and Jasmine Haynes
ISBN: 0425203034, $14.00

"Wedding Surprise" by Susan Johnson. Schoolteacher Sofie Piper is very attracted to football coach Jake Finn. He feels the same way. However, Sofie believes she has reasons to doubt the sincerity of the coach; he needs a Hail Mary to persuade the woman he loves that she can trust him with her heart. "Double the Pleasure" by Jasmine Haynes. Thirty years old secretary Kristin Prescott loves her boss Ross Sloan, but he only seems interested in her spreadsheets not her sheets. Not wanting to break the organizational rules on fraternizing between workers, but needing to reach Ross, reticent Kristin pretends to be her outgoing sexy twin sister Kirby. She succeeds in getting Ross' love but is heartbroken as he has fallen in love with portrayal of her sister. "Skin Deep" by Jasmine Haynes. Kirby Prescott is both happy and sick of her sister so in love with Ross. Deep in her heart she is elated because she loves her twin, but also is jealous as she wants her own Ross. To alleviate her current sadness, Kirby decides she needs a taste of Jack Taylor. Though in the past he has settled for crumbs, Jack wants more this time from the woman he loves, but how to convince her without being thrown out with the dirty water. These are three extremely hot novellas that the audience of erotic romance will enjoy. The use of profanity adds color to the fine story lines. Though "Wedding Surprise" never fully develops the lead couple's transitional relationship, fans will enjoy their antics and especially take immense pleasure from Jasmine Haynes' twin billing.

Beyond Control
Rebecca York
ISBN: 0425204421, $6.99, 336 pp.

Wealthy recluse Leonard Hamilton a offers deal to Pulitzer Prize journalist Jordan Walker that the latter cannot refuse. In exchange for his cooperation in writing an authorized biography with no strings attached, Jordan is to learn what really happened to his son Todd, who recently died in a boating incident on Chesapeake Bay along with his alleged boyfriend Glenn Borrow. Unbeknownst to either man, the Crandall Consortium is interested in Todd also especially since he and Glenn somehow busted into a highly guarded facility Maple Creek in Princes George County, Maryland. Interestingly, a friend asks Congressional Aid Lindsay Fleming to look into what happened to one of the Maple Creek guards. At Senator Conroy's party, though strangers Jordan and Lindsay exchange a warm embracing glance across a crowded room. When they meet, he touches her hand and both are stunned. That night he dreams of seeing her naked while she fantasizes in her sleep of being with him. As the two connect, they work together to learn what happened at Maple Creek with neither prepared for the danger they encounter or for the love they feel. BEYOND CONTROL is a fun fantasy romantic thriller that plays out on two interwoven levels. The story line is action-packed from the opening sequence when Maple Creek is invaded and never slows down until the lead couple learns what happened there and to Todd. The tale also contains a delightful romance between Jordan and Lindsay that starts off with A Strangers in the Night encounter at Conroy's gala and plays out on physical and paranormal planes. Though the military- scientific complex seems delightfully over the top, Rebecca York provides a strong suspense-laden romantic tale.

For Edgar
Sheldon Rusch
ISBN: 042520409X, $23.95

McHenry County Sheriff Dave Manger shows the skull nailed to a tree with a ribbon hanging down to Illinois State Police Special Agent Elizabeth Taylor Hewitt. She realizes that there is more to the skull, which reminds her of Poe's The Gold Bug and regains a gold scarab that the child witness had taken from the crime scene. Brenda Kaczmarck is the first victim of the killer. Genevieve Bohannon is next, but Hewitt already sees a weird pattern forming that the culprit is paying homage to Edgar Allen Poe with these homicides that emulate his work. Hewitt turns to academia for a Poe expert, her former lover Professor Scott Gregory to expedite the dark literary pattern so that they might stop and capture the Raven before he finishes in a nevermore blaze of infamy. Though some readers may initially object to the coincidence of an ex-lover Poe expert, FOR EDGAR is a brilliant police procedural that uses literary references from the great writer as crime clues and messages from the serial killer. Elizabeth is a dedicated law enforcement official struggling to silence the Raven's macabre reign of terror before others end in the rue morgue. Gregory provides her with able professional interpretation of Poe's works. A final arc of the pendulum will surprise yet excite readers who Rusch to read the delightful FOR EDGAR.

The Perfect Rake
Anne Gracie
ISBN: 0425203956, $7.99

In 1816, Lord Dereham uses a riding whip in a rage on his seventeen years old granddaughter Faith in the locked attic. Nineteen years old sister Charity sends Faith's twin Hope to get the oldest sibling Prudence to intercede with their abusive grandfather. Charity has welts on her face and Hope on her wrists as both tried to intervene. Pru frees Faith and tells him in eight weeks she will be twenty-one and the guardian of her siblings; they will leave even without a cent. When he hurts himself in a fall while angrily running after Pru, she takes her sisters to the home of their Uncle Oswald where she hopes to find them husbands. Oswald takes in his battered nieces, but insists Pru marry first. She informs him that she is engaged to recluse Edward, a duke. Pru goes to see Edward to enlist his help, but his rakish cousin Gideon Carradice intercepts her. She thinks he is Edward while he knows she is his beloved and wants her as his wife though his withdrawn cousin seeks a spouse too. As expected, Anne Gracie provides a wonderful Regency romance that through her ensemble of secondary cast brings to life the era especially the rights of male guardians to abuse and use their female wards. Pru is a courageous person standing up to her violent vile grandfather who blames his late daughter-in-law for her Jezebel ways that killed his son in sin. He takes his feelings outon their children. Fans will appreciate Gideon's efforts to prove to his beloved that he is the man for her, but first must overcome his own duplicity. THE PERFECT RAKE is a near perfect sub-genre entry.

Lisa Valdez
ISBN: 0425203972, $6.99

In 1851, while she waits for her cousin Charlotte to arrive, widow Lady Passion Elizabeth Dare has always behaved in perfect aristocratic decorum until she sees the hunk across the Crystal Palace hall. His eyes speak desire and his touch immediately goes to her breasts. That afternoon, Mark dares to do what no one has done before to her, release the passion in her as they make love all day. However, Mark's brother Matthew reminds him that he is to marry Charlotte Lawrence who he has not yet met because he was too busy making love at the exhibition hall where they were to meet. Instead Mark tells Matthew he had the most incredible afternoon delight in his life, but does not even know the passionate stranger's name. He dares to want more from the widow, but also knows he must marry her cousin due to a blackmail scheme involving their mothers. This erotic Victorian romance will elicit moans form the audience whenever the lead male makes his mark. Passion is his perfect partner, but he is betrothed to her cousin instead. The story line focuses on the twosome struggling with desire that leads to love while he is pledged to another. Luis Valdez heats up the era with a fine historical starring two ardent lovers defying society's norms and owes her audience a sequel starring a nice young lady who deserves the best in spite of her gene pool.

Romantic Fiction
Melanie La'Brooy
ISBN: 042520264X, $14.00

Solicitor Chloe cannot say no to anyone even hiring Ariel the intern who cannot spell her own name though her boss did not give her much choice Her friend Lucy sees the world through pink colored glasses which impacts her on and off relationship with Tom. He in turn loves Lucy, but loves being single much more. Rounding out the quintet are neighborhood fighter Meg and gentle caring Percy. These five are best friends with Lucy and Tom also having been lovers and sharing at least seven exclusive but short run relationships; the other trio knows they belong together forever if Tom would stop sniffing at other women. Chloe enlists Percy to assist her with helping Meg with a relationship. He follows that up with an effort to bring Tom and Lucy back together, but she without the pink glasses so she can know he is the one and he without chasing other skirts as she is the one. Meanwhile Percy likes Chloe, but is shy about how he feels so she enlists help from her girlfriends as she finds his reticence quite attractive. Though obviously a Friends chick lit imitation, ROMANTIC FICTION is a madcap contemporary tale starring five distinct likable protagonists. The relationships, friendship and loving, are fun to follow as each intrudes in the lives of the others trying to support and help their buddies. Secondary characters enhance the overall craziness of the quintet interrelationships by further turning the tale into a Friends-lite.

What Dreams May Come
Sherrilyn Kenyon, Rebecca York and Robin D. Owens
ISBN: 0425202682, $14.00, 288 pp.

"Knightly Dreams" by Sherrilyn Kenyon. After catching her boyfriend Rob Carpenter in a position with his secretary that would make them the centerfold lovers of the Karma Sutra, Taryn Edwards swears off love. That is until Esther the bookstore owner introduces her to an old fashioned knight in shining armor, Sparhawk the Brave. That is literature so how come he is by her side and she is in love. "Shattered Dreams" by Rebecca York. Near Monterrey, California Miranda Grove feels alone while her once teenage lover Caleb Marcuso sculptures her in stone to replace the flesh and blood he still desires even though several years have passed since their families separated them. Yet they share a psychic connection perhaps because their love never stopped flowing, but will that prove enough to bring them together before as she knows only he can save her from an evil trying to kill her? "Road of Adventure" by Robin D. Owens. Jake thought Boris the cat is the ugliest creature he ever saw. When the feline talked to Jake he almost soiled his underwear. Boris is back from the beyond to fix an error he inadvertently caused during one of his lives. Jake and Shauna were supposed to be lovers forever, but somehow failed in spite of their destiny. The ghostly cat plans to give them a second chance together in love on the "Road of Adventure". These are three fabulous fantasy romances that enable the audience to escape into a world where the reading is fun, fine, and fantastic.

Someone like You
Barbara Bretton
ISBN: 0425203883, $6.99, 368 pp.

Joely Doyle left her hometown of Idle Point, Maine to make a life for herself. Eventually she settled in Scotland where she currently lives with William and his daughter. However, though she loves her housemates, the adult relationship is drifting apart and only their adoration for the child keeps the couple together. Her thirty-eight years older pregnant sister Cat begs Joely to come home as she needs her help since their mother, former folk singer Mimi, suffered a stroke, burned down their house, and is currently hospitalized. Reluctantly Joely returns to Maine to see her mother, a woman who has lived in a fantasy world ever since her husband deserted her three decades ago; that "realm" is where Joely feels she and her sister were raised. However, Joely begins to learn family secrets especially that of her parents; this makes the American expatriate reassess mom and reconsider her future. This strong family drama stars three realistic females struggling with the pivotal moment in their respective lives, the abandonment of the male over thirty years ago. Readers will appreciate how that particular key event impacted the three Doyles left behind as none of them trust males and for the most part not one another too. Readers who appreciate a powerful character study that digs deep into cause and effect will want to read Barbara Bretton's fine convincing tale.

A Play of Dux Moraud
Margaret Frazier
ISBN: 0425204340, $6.99, 273 pp.

Since they acquired Lord Lovell as their patron, players (actors) Basset, Joliffe, Elis,Rose and her son have a feeling of security that was missing in their lives and they intend to do everything in their power to please his so he will keep on supporting the troupe. After performing in his home for Michalmas, Lord Lovell asks them to journey to the manor home of his vassal Sir Edmund. Sir Edmund's daughter is getting ready to wed a wealthy merchant but Lord Lovell is uneasy because her first betrothal ended when her bridegroom to be died quite suddenly. He wants the players, to see if there is any sense of wrong doing going on in Deneby Manor. When they arrive, they find a husband and wife barely talking to one another, a mother and the bride at each others throats and Sir Edmund's heir having "accidents". Joliffe discovers there is corruption in the Deneby finally that has led to one murder and very will might lead to others. Set in the same universe as Margaret Frazier's Dame Frevisse mysteries, A PLAY OF DUX MORAUD is a meticulously researched, well written historical mystery that brings to life a bygone era. The working of society as seen through the eyes of the players is entertaining and full of unexpected surprises that add drama and color to the storyline. Historical mystery fans will love this series.

Nothing to Fear but Ferrets
Linda O. Johnston
ISBN: 0425203735, $6.99, 272 pp.

She lost her law license when she was accused of handing over a strategic memo to opposing council. Kendra Ballantine was in a bad situation financially so she rented out her million dollar home, became a freelance pet sitter and cleared her name when she came under suspicion of murdering her clients (see SIT, STAY, SLAY). Now she is studying for the multistate professional Responsibility Exam in order to get her license reinstated. When a driverless car rams through a wall in the house Kendra is renting, she goes to inspect the damage and she finds a murdered corpse of the man her renter dumped on national TV. Ferrets (which are illegal as pets in California are on the body) but Kendra stashes them out of sight before the police arrive so she won't jeopardize getting her license returned. Since Kendra likes her renter, she does some sleuthing even when she is warned off by an anonymous phone call and is injured when she slips down the steps because somebody put oil on them. Linda O. Johnston has a definite talent for infusing humor in just the right places in the storyline so that readers will find themselves chuckling out loud after a particularly tense scene is followed by a funny one. The heroine is a stubborn pet lover who plans to incorporate being a pet advocate into her practice if she passes the tests. Pet lovers and amateur sleuth fans will find this series deserving of an award as well as a place on the bestseller lists.

The Ballroom on Magnolia Street
Sharon Owens
ISBN: 0399152865, $15.00, 368 pp.

In Belfast after twenty years without a vacation a Johnny "Hollywood" Hogan is thinking of spending three months in America though his grandparents have apoplexy when he tells them. He fails to confide to his beloved relatives that he is thinking of closing the Hogan's Ballroom that he and his family have owned since the end of World War II. However, his grandparents wisely fear Johnny is thinking of retirement and consequently closing the Magnolia Street ballroom. People love going to Hogan's on Saturday night as a getaway from the mundane life they lead during the week. Johnny feels the same need to escape but as owner manager he cannot flee reality in the family ballroom. He has loved Marion Greenwood since he first met her in the 1960s and wants her back in his life though she married someone else and has an adult son Declan sired by her husband Eddy. However, Marion has kept two secrets from everyone, but fears that Johnny, trying to get back in her life, will learn both causing hurt for everyone involved. As he ponders shutting down the ballroom, Johnny begins to feel the magic that enchant his patrons that he lost when he lost his beloved. The second Mulberry Street character study (see TEA HOUSE ON MULBERRY STREET) is a deep look at how Belfast residents of three generations escape their everyday lives. The substantive story line focuses on key characters like Johnny, his grandparents, Marion, Declan and two sisterly patrons, but also feels overwhelming at times. Fans will appreciate this deep look with an intriguing twist at individuals of all ages using the ballroom seeking fun and a temporary escape.

Without Mercy
Jack Higgins
ISBN: 0399153152, $25.95, 320 pp.

During a top secret operation sanctioned by England's Special Branch Chief General Ferguson, agent Sean Dillon killed several Provo IRA operatives. and Russian Major Greta Novikova. Russian Josef Belov, who used his multi-billion dollar company, to fund terrorism, also was killed. Special Branch thought Major Yuri Ashimov and Russian Major Greta Novikova were also killed but they survived. General Ferguson's aide Deputy Superintendent Hannah Bernstein was critically injured. Ashimov wants revenge and is backed by President Putin in his desire because he saw too many of his plans and operatives destroyed by the Special Branch. In the hospital where Hannah is recuperating a nurse who is a sleeper agent in the IRA is ordered to kill her. She succeeds and is then killed by her handler. After a few more attempts are made on General Ferguson's agents they find out the two Russian agents are alive and pulling the strings of the IRA. Chasing each other half-way across the world, the adversaries vow to kill the enemy and only luck and skill will determine which side wins. Jack Higgins never writes a dull book. His novels are always exciting so that readers can't turn the pages quickly enough to find out what happens next. One of the author's greatest talents is his ability to make cold blooded killing machines like Sean Dillon sympathetic to the reader. This book is one of Mr. Higgins' best novels to date and will definitely appear on the bestseller lists.

Midnight Plague
Gregg Keizer
ISBN: 0399153195, $24.95, 352 pp.

It is only a matter of days before the Allies land on the beaches of Normandy and the Germans know it is coming though they don't know the correct day. American Doctor Frank Brink who once developed biological weapons is now trying to create antibiotics to counteract any act of bioterrorism that the Germans throw at them. The French Resistance rescues Jews who are then sent by boat to England. They don't know that the people they have saved have been contaminated with pneumonic plague which has a hundred percent kill rate. SS scientist Wollenstein bought the germs from the Asians and is using it on the Jews along with trying to create an antibiotic that will keep the Germans safe from the disease. His plan is to have the planes spray the germs over England. Brink is sent to stop him using any means available. A Resistance fighter guides Brink to Wollenstein's lab but there are other Germans who are willing to have what the doctor created in their hands. Brink fights with the various German factions, but also must quickly find the antibiotic because he and the beautiful Resistance fighter are infected and need the medicine immediately. Gregg Keizer has written a fantastic historical thriller that could be taken out of today's WMD headlines. The use of germ warfare goes back at least to medieval times and there is no reason to believe that countries will stop using it in the future. There is plenty of action in MIDNIGHT PLAGUE while the characters are symbols rather than three dimensional people. This doesn't take away from the enjoyment of reading this book because the stereotypes are easily recognizable and understandable.

My Devilish Scotsman
Jen Holling
ISBN: 0743471075, $6.99, 384 pp.

Only for the dying Alan MacDonell would the Earl of Kincreag Nicholas Lyon heed a summoning as earls do not jump when a chieftain asks. However, Alan is his best friend and the letter says he will die before the night is over. He rushes to the deathbed, but though ailing Alan is clearly going to survive another day though not many afterward. Sitting by Alan's side is his daughter Gillian, who he accuses of the phony note; Gillian denies she sent for him. Alan wants Nicholas to marry Gillian so he sent the message. Gillian is the handicapped of the three MacDonell witches as she has no powers unlike her magical sisters. Her sire orders her to wed Nicholas; she wants to refuse him because she fears he allegedly murdered his first wife. However, she will do anything for her beloved daddy so reluctantly accepts her fate; Nicholas does likewise as he owes Alan, but hates anything connected to witchery. When she enters his castle, Gillian has horrid visions of death and soon someone tries to kill her. Initially she wonders if the cold hearted Nicholas is a killer, but soon falls in love with him even as she ponders whether her heart belongs to someone wanting her dead. MY DEVILISH SCOTSMAN, the second MacDonell Brides' tale (see MY WICKED HIGHLANDER), is a fabulous fantasy romantic suspense starring two wonderful seemingly star-crossed lovers. She is a witch though her powers do not surface until she enters the home of her husband; he detests witches due to what happened to his first wife. A clever third party manipulates their doubts and misconceptions so that the audience obtains a marvelous paranormal historical romance.

My Shadow Warrior
Jen Holling
ISBN: 0743471083, $6.99, 384 pp.

In 1597 Scotland, the youngest of three sisters, healer Rose MacDonell has mixed feeling about her family. While she rejoices that Gillian (see MY DEVILISH SCOTSMAN) and Isobel (see MY WICKED HIGHLANDER) have found happiness she worries that her father Alan is dying from a mysterious illness that she has failed to heal. Rose sends letters pleading with renowned healer Lord Strathwick William MacKay to come help her beloved sire, but he never replies. Desperate as her dad is getting worse, Rose decides to visit Strathwick to force him to see her father. However, William refuses to see her until she tricks her way into his frozen fortress in Glen Laire. He admires her courage and fortitude, but has his own troubles here in his isolated keep. Soon William and Rose fall in love, which geometrically enhance their healing powers. They will need that and more as they battle evil witchcraft that threatens his home and her father. The final tale of the MacDonell Brides trilogy is a charming historical fantasy romance that ties up the loose ends from the delightful previous tales within an enchanting plot. The story line is action-packed from the moment that Rose stands in the rain outside of Strathwick Castle until the final confrontation with an evil adversary. All three novels are worth reading as Jen Holling turns her late sixteenth century Scottish realm into a world of magic fueled by love.

JoAnn Ross
ISBN: 1416501649, $7.50, 400 pp.

The Flamemaster feels quite good as he dials from a distance the explosion that enables him to watch the fire that burns Paddy's Pig Restaurant and Dance Club. The Somersett, South Caroline fire department struggles with the blaze in which rescue team member Daniel McGee dies in the inferno. His last message is to his fiance, firefighter Tess Gannon that he loves her. Two years later, former ATF Agent Gage O'Halloran learns the impossible that the Flamemaster lit a blaze in South Carolina. Gage knows that Randolph Griffith is locked away in prison so a copy cat is out there. Arson investigator Tess looks at a new fire in which a woman died while being tied to a bed when Gage arrives and pompously tries to take over. He thinks a link exists between a strip joint fire, a deadly warehouse inferno, and the latest arson-homicide. Gage informs Tess that he wants sex with her, but also says the rope is the not known signature of the Flamemaster who is in San Quentin. They work together trying to learn who the copycat is and how did this person find insider information on the Flamemaster even as their attraction burns each other with desire. Mindful of Kathryn Shay's fabulous firefighter's series, BLAZE is a terrific romantic suspense that keeps the audience anticipating a showdown, but wondering with whom. The lead couple need one another; however he at first sounds crass and she has not gotten past her loss, so her leaping into bed with him right away seems off kilter; their reasons to avoid commitments on the other hand augments the exciting tale. Readers will appreciate this fiery intrigue.

Raising Atlantis
Thomas Greanis
ISBN: 0743491912, $7.99

U.S. Naval Support Force, Antarctica Lieutenant Commander Terrance Drake is leading the scientific team in a seismic exploration of the eastern side of the continent 1500 miles of frozen ice away from MuMurdo Station. He is currently on recon patrol when he desperately needs to take a leak, but has no bag that he would normally use to urinate in. Although he knows the Antarctic Treaty forbids even urinating on the ice, he figures who would see him let alone report this nitrogen painting of the snow violation. However, the ice breaks and soon Terrance plunges downward where he sees hundreds of humans preserved in time before the ice crumbled on to him. The U.S. military has found ancient ruins beneath Antarctica. General Yeats wants an archeological expert who can think out of the box about ancient astronauts so he selects his professionally ostracized adopted son Conrad as the right person for the job. Conrad says no until he learns Serena Serghetti is on the team. Conrad leaves immediately as he never has forgotten the beautiful Vatican linguist. Together they must find the key of a long lost civilization to shut down the doomsday machine that was inadvertently turned on. RAISING ATLANTIS is an action-packed thriller that never slows down from the moment Terrence finishes urinating on the pristine snow until the exhilarating climax. The heart pumping story line contains intriguing twists including a paranormal feel as Conrad and Serena slowly learn the truth while the doomsday clock speedily ticks away. Fans will want to read Thomas Greanis's Antarctica caper to learn what the heroes learn perhaps too late.

Bad Girl
Alex Mcaulay
ISBN: 0743497333, $10.95

Feeling they have lost control as their sixteen years old child Anna continually defies them and breaks all their rules, the religious Wheelers turn to a radical solution. They hire "soldiers" from Camp Archstone to abduct their daughter and take her to a remote Bahamas Island for several weeks of boot camp. Anna thought her parents were too strict, but they seem permissive as she lives in a survival camp run in the strictest of military styles; insubordination leads to harsh punishment from the in your face 24/7 staff. Anna fears her bunk mates whose behavior seems over the edge past sanity. However, her terror turns to outright horror when on a forced several miles hike up the mountain someone kills the leader; the others react just as frightened. Everyone panics with the girls fleeing into the jungle while deviant drug dealers pursue them with plans to rape and then kill the teens. To Anna the biggest fear remains her violent bunk mates who cannot understand teamwork is the only way to save their lives. BAD GIRLS is a heart pumping thriller that never slows down from the moment that Anna is abducted with the concerned unsure consent of her parents and never slows down until the final tropical jungle feverish confrontation. The story line feels like a gender bending Lord of the Flies crossed with female prison movies like The Big Doll House and The Big Bird Cage. Still this is an adrenalin action-packed tale with the audience rooting for Anna to survive her ordeal.

Highlander in Love
Julia London
ISBN: 0743465083, $6.99, 384 pp.

In spite of the Lockhart and Douglas families feud, Payton Douglas loans a large sum of money to his rivals. The Lockharts agree to repay within one year or their daughter Mared will marry Payton. To their shock and chagrin, the proud Lockharts cannot make remittance at the end of year so Mared will be their payment. Payton is pleased that they failed because he treasures the spirited Mared and looks forward to having her as his spouse. However, everyone knows that courting the cursed Mared means misfortune and probably death so no one has dared try until Payton. Mared knows the Douglas clan as horrid enemies so she does not want to take their surname as hers. She throws women at him to tempt him, and pretends to be simpleminded while incidents occur that would shake a lesser person now that the curse has been activated. Mared obtains a modification to the agreement; she will be his housekeeper for one year. When her family finds the heirloom and pays off the debt, she can go home, but if home is where the heart is, she belongs with Payton. The sequel to the fabulous HIGHLANDER IN DISGUISE and HIGHLANDER UNBOUND is a fun romantic historical tale starring the sister of the two heroes from the previous novels. Mared knows family honor demands she marry Payton, but accepts humiliation to pay the debt without sleeping with the enemy. Payton is patient with the woman he loves as she pulls stunts so he will send her packing but he refuses to allow a curse or a stubborn Scotswoman from achieving his objective of marrying his beloved. This is a fine amusing Highlander entry.

Died in the Wool
Mary Kruger
ISBN: 0743484738, $12.00

In Freeport, Massachusetts, most if not all locals detest landlady Edith Perry. She makes her opinions on controversial issues known usually taking the most unpopular position; she informs her lease holders that she is raising their rent; finally she is developing property just outside of Freeport over the objections of most townsfolk. The police are not shocked when someone murders Edith using purple yarn. The obvious prime suspect is divorced mother of one Ariadne Evans, owner of Ariadne's Web yarn store, who found the corpse in her establishment. Ariadne has the motive since Edith's rent increase could shut down her business; she had the means as her store contains all sorts of homespun yarns including the murder weapon; finally she had the opportunity as the homicide occurred when her shop was closed leaving her with no alibi. Though police detective John Pierce likes Ariadne, she knows she remains at the top of the suspect list so she begins to untangle the threads hoping to knit a new pattern that displays the killer's identity. The author of the "Gilded Age" mysteries, Mary Kruger provides a fine amateur sleuth cozy starring a likable heroine and a fine detective who has just moved into the town. Ariadne, whose first reaction to finding the body is nice yarn around victim's neck, investigates the murder one thread at a time until she decides to become bait. Thus the audience receives a fine who-done-it though like John wonder why Ariadne, whose daughter Megan already suffers nightmares over her mom's involvement, would risk her life as a Nancy Drew imitator.

The Hunted
Andrew Neiderman
ISBN: 0743483200, $7.99, 344 pp.

Al Jones, a hunter who lives in the small upstate New York town of Centerville, goes into the woods a few days before hunting season opens to kill a buck. He is found naked, a bullet in his forehead. A few days later two local hunters who went into the woods at night to hunt were found murdered and naked, gunshot wounds to their heads. Shortly after that, a man who is hunting on his own land without a license is killed. Police theorize that the killer is someone local who knows the area and its people, and is in law enforcement because all the victims broke a hunting law. Reporter Diana Brooks of the Middletown Post is sent to cover the story. She teams up with Aaron, a car repairman who gives her a crash course into the world of hunting so she has a handle of what makes someone want to shoot a deer. When Aaron's brother goes into the woods to kill a doe, Aaron follows him hoping to get him out of there before the killer ends up making him his next prey. Readers can actually see a small Catskill town turn into a place ruled by fear as the residents realize one of their own is on a killing spree. What frightens everyone is that he walks among them and they don't have a clue who he is. The developing romance between Aaron and Diana is a much needed tension reliever because the book starts off fast and never slows down except for the relationship scenes. Though why his sibling, an avid hunter, would risk his life to hunt is shaky, Andrew Neiderman delivers another fantastic work of suspense.

Poison Heart
Mary Logue
ISBN: 0345462246, $23.95, 240 pp.

Sixty years old Patty Jo Tilde looks forward to when her husband octogenarian ranch owner Walter finally succumbs to a stroke. She recently married the eighty years old to gain control of his Pepin County, Wisconsin property so that she can sell it to Daniel Reiner and flee the rural community for the bright lights of the Twin Cities. When Daniel suffers his inevitable latest stroke, instead of calling 9111 she waits because his doctor told her the first three hours are critical; somehow he survives, but is not the same. His daughter Margaret and her husband Mark are concerned that the evil step mom will kill her dad through neglect, but cannot prove their assertion. Meanwhile Pepin County Deputy Sheriff Claire Watkins investigates recent deaths that haunt Fort St. Antoine, population 142 and dropping. She soon finds a link to Patty Jo whose previous spouse died under mysterious circumstances under her care. Claire also sees a connection through Daniel though that is more nebulous with webs of deceit making it difficult to prove. Still the former Minneapolis cop refuses to back down as she plans to stop an amoral killer before someone else is dead. POISON HEART is a fabulous police procedural starring a dedicated cop who struggles to balance her work, her personal needs with Rich and raising her preadolescent daughter who has turned away from her to others for "adult supervision". Patty Jo is something else as she is upbeat evil looking forward to him dying. Readers of the series and newcomers will appreciate this intriguing rural investigative tale that contains the usual Mary Logue twists to compel her audience into a one sitting read.

Dead End
Mariah Stewart
ISBN: 0345483812, $19.95

In Avon County, Pennsylvania, Homicide Detective Evan Crosby is sick when he sees the fourth victim in under a month. Each casualty was pretty young female, ages 12 - 14, attending a private school, and left without shoes. His lover, FBI profiler Annie Marie McCall tries to give him solace, but knows how difficult coping with this case is. At the wedding of Annie's sister to a Shield sibling, Evan feels left out as the happy occasion is more a wake to FBI Agent Thomas Shield, who was assassinated. Upset, Evan leaves when another girl is killed without a word to Annie who is inside the Shield zone since Thomas was her fiance, which bans the detective from entry. Not long afterward, knowing she needs closure, Evan offers a fresh pair of eyes in investigating the murder. As they work together on the Shield murder and the serial killings, an agency insider watches them very closely because he will have them eliminated if they get to close to him or his young girl black market ring. The fourth Dead tale is a potent romantic suspense tale starring two likable protagonists in love yet struggling to form a relationship because of the ghost of her murdered fiance. The Shield Zone is tighter than ever, denser than a black hole as no matter escapes this closely knit family to the chagrin of Evan. Annie is terrific as she balances her second strike of love's lightning bolt with her first hit, but still needs closure, which Evan knows means uncovering who killed Thomas. Mariah Stewart is dead on with this tale and series.

Mine Are Spectacular
Janice Kaplan and Lynn Schnurnberger
ISBN: 0345468597, $23.95, 289 pp.

In Hadley Farms in Westchester-County, New York forty-one years old Sara Turner accompanied by her son Dylan moves into the home of her fiance Bradford. Meanwhile her best friend, Manhattan darling dermatologist Kate Steele is seeing a married man, Owen. Her other best friend Berni Davis has come home after a successful tour as a Hollywood agent pregnant. However, Sara's simple relationship comes under assault when her ex-spouse James returns after eight years in Patagonia with demands on her and their child; and Bradford's nasty ex-wife along with their fourteen years old daughter Skylar visit. As Sara's catering business becomes successful, her personal life dives into free fall, but her two pals are not there for her. Owen has dumped his wife with plans to move in with Kate and Berni has hormonal issues caused by twins battering her insides. At times the three musketeerettes feel like dejÖ vu of teen angst returned though they are fortyish. This middle age chick lit tale is amusing to follow as Sara struggles with the potential of extended family relations and the return of her wandering former spouse; Kate debates whether she wants her lover around all the time rather than some of the time; finally Berni deals poorly with her pregnancy. Though everything is resolved in a perfect climax (no pun intended), the novel is fun when chaos reigns. Only the authors of THE BOTOX DIARIES could do this so well.

Fashion Victim
Sam Baker
ISBN: 0345475879, $21.95, 320 pp.

Investigative reporter Annie Anderson worked extremely hard and had made it when she abruptly quits her job at London Post to accept a position as a fashion editor at Handbag Magazine. Her peers at the Post assume the last case burned her out as she went undercover to expose a juvenile prostitute ring in which an innocent person was murdered. It remains in the blood for Anne to go undercover so she hides her credentials and travels to New York to expose the fashionista class to her readers. Her editor Rebecca Brooks demands she also interviews the hottest designer of the moment Mark Miller. He is forthcoming answering all her questions except anything involving his supermodel lover drug addict Patty Lang or the immediate future of his new company that most insiders believe he will sell. However, the future ends abruptly for Mark when someone shoots him. While the police investigate his murder, Annie interviews associates of the victim though some refuse to speak of the dead. In Milan, Patty is murdered. As Annie continues to investigate, she uncovers a piracy rip-off of designs that places her in jeopardy. Annie is a strong center holding the investigative look into the fashion world together. Her homicide inquiries are fun to follow as she seeks a killer while searching amongst way out designers and misanthropic models who aggressively compete in a to the death queen of the hill (make that runway) contest that make the Yankee-Red Sox rivalry look like chicken salad. Sam Baker provides a wonderful who-done-it and readers will want her to return with more Anne undercover investigations.

Blonde Lightning
Terrill Lee Lankford
ISBN: 0345467795, $24.95, 304 pp.

Hollywood studio executive Mark Hayes is angry with his neighbor screenwriter Clyde McCoy for ignoring his grief at the death of his last conquest. However, Clyde apologizes insisting he does not do death well even as his girlfriend black belt Emily Woolrich blames Mark for Clyde drinking. Clyde tells Mark he has a great script that has backing. Mark is interested because he read Blonde Lightning and thought this had good possibilities. As they begin production on the film, accidents occur that Mark thinks is deliberate; Emily believes it is her former "agent" Mace Thornburg a nasty person feeling she jobbed him out of a fee. Not willing to sit idly by as his movie is being ruined; Mark investigates the incidents that have escalated into murder and sent Clyde into hiding. Terrill Lee Lankford cleverly uses the opening reels to set the stage for the key players in such a manner that the audience knows how they tick and understands the relationships between them; this comes in handy later in the tale. Once the movie starts shooting, the action takes over and goes non stop as Mark tries to save his film from ruin. Fans of Hollywood amateur sleuth tales will want to read the breezy BLONDE LIGHTNING.

Tess Gerritsen
ISBN: 0345476972, $24.95, 352 pp.

Boston Homicide Detective Jane Rizzoli is about to give birth but she still performs her job by testifying against a man she arrested. The man goes berserk and Jane gets off the witness stand, restrains and cuffs him. Her water breaks and she goes to the hospital where her doctor sends her to Diagnostic Imaging for an ultra sound. In another part of the hospital, a Jane Doe kills a security guard and ends up in Diagnostic Imaging where she keeps Jane and five other people hostage. The Feds take over the operation citing national security reasons and before the hostage situation ends the woman and her accomplice is dead. The Feds confiscate the notes and all evidence related to the two dead people. The last thing that the woman says to Jane is "Mila knows". The woman is traced back to a house where five women were murdered, four of whom w were kept against their will in a white slavery ring. Even though Jane just gave birth she is determined to find Mila and expose the people running the ring who erase all traces of their existence when things get too hot. The Jane Doe was found in the morgue by Medical Examiner Maura Isles. The woman was declared dead when she was fished out of the ocean but revived when she warmed up. She is determined to make her story known to the American people even though people highly placed in law enforcement and government won't be stopped until she is dead. Jane is determined to find out her motivation because during the takedown of the hostages, actions were taken that didn't make sense. Tess Gerritsen writes another exciting and mesmerizing crime thriller that is frightening because it is based on fact. VANISH is the type of novel that is written only rarely, one that appeals to reads who like plenty of action and realistic characters in their novels material. The love between Jane and her husband Gabriel, an FBI agent is so strong that it adds heart and soul to a work that would otherwise have too much tension for the plot to sustain.

72 Hour Hold
Bebe Moore Campbell
ISBN: 1400040744, $24.95

In Los Angeles after all these failures Keri Whitmore somehow remains optimistic that the latest treatment will enable her daughter Trina to leave the nest to attend Brown University. However, after a wonderful eighteenth birthday, the day after arrived and Trina succumbs to her bipolar disorder turning back into the little girl who needs her "mommeee". This reinforces to Keri her belief that mental illness can be somewhat controlled but never cured. Making things more difficult for Keri is Trina's dad refuses to accept his darling little girl suffers from a mental ailment. Though an expert who could become a consultant for other abused users by the American health care system, Keri struggles every time for Tina needs; the insurance and treatment poles insure big business never spends medical money on a patient without a war as their attitude is the same as her ex-spouse when it comes to mental health. The key to this terrific tale is Trina's illness seems genuine as it surfaces in many diverse little ways throughout the plot and how other characters react different towards her. For instance her mom belongs to a support group, always there to comfort Trina, not afraid to have her hospitalized in a 72 Hour Hold, or to fight the bureaucratic system. Tina's father is in denial that an offspring of his would suffer mental illness; in fact that refutation represents much of America including the Black community which places mental health issues as stigmas on the soul. Tough condemning a health care system that has failed, Bebe Moore Campbell writes a thought provoking tale of a beleaguered mom giving up much of her life to nurture and love her wounded child.

No Country for Old Men
Cormac McCarthy
ISBN: 0345406778, $24.95

In 1980, Llewelyn Moss hunts antelope in Western Texas near the Rio Grande. However, instead of locating a buck, Moss finds several corpses, a major heroin stash and $2.4 million. Moss figures finder's keepers and takes the cash leaving behind the dead and the illegal drugs figuring both could be more trouble than he wants to deal with. However the cartel that owns the money sends former Special Forces soldier Wells to find the loot and kill the thief. They also send vicious killing machine, psychopathic poster boy Chigurh to insure the thief is brutalized. Finally, aging Sheriff Bell seeks Moss for questioning and to keep him alive. Several years have passed since Cormac McCarthy completed his fabulous Border Trilogy. The highly regarded author returns to the same locale with the thrilling NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN. The four prime testosterone players are potent protagonists who the audience anticipates a convergance while wondering who will be left standing once the war turns full throttle. Fans of modern-day High Noon will enjoy this action-packed western thriller from the moment Moss becomes the prey of two totally different professionals and the title character sheriff ready to retire, but still doing his duty.

Remains Silent
Michael Baden & Linda Kenney
ISBN: 1400044197, $23.95, 226 pp.

Attorney Philomena "Nanny" Manfred works for the underdog, the indigent, and the ones who have nobody else to turn to for justice. Medical Examiner Dr. Jacob Rosen knows many downtrodden and calls on her when a person he meets needs legal help. In Turner, two hours north of New York City, Jake's mentor requires such assistance. Four sets of skeletal remains were found where a shopping mall is supposed to be built halting construction. The bones belonged to patients incarcerated in a mental hospital that used to be located in the area. Two of the patients are identified and the daughter of one wants to know what happened to her father. Manny agrees to take her case knowing at the time Jake's mentor didn't die from cancer but was murdered. As Jake and Manny investigate, attempts on their lives are made. Neither the lawyer nor the doctor has any intention of quitting intending to discover the secrets of the asylum that someone wants kept buried. Readers who love the work of Robin Cook and writers of legal thrillers will find REMAINS SILENT one of the best debut crime thrillers of the year. The romance between Jake and Manny starts slow but eventually picks up steam making it seem believable and realistic. There is plenty of action and many times the protagonists are almost killed, but what makes this book so fascinating is that the readers and characters don't have a clue why.

Divided Kingdom
Rupert Thomson
ISBN: 1400042186, $25.95

After decades of decline leading to despondency, dismay, and depression amongst the citizenry, the English government begins a new program to strengthen the moral fiber of its people. The Rearrangement is simple: Federal agents split families moving people into four psychologically based camps; placing like with like. Whether one was relocated into a choleric, melancholic, phlegmatic or sanguine zone depend on a psychological evaluation of the individual's temperament. In this brave new world, a child was separated from his parents, renamed Thomas Perry and placed within the sanguine quarter. The lad moves in with a grieving adult whose spouse was sent to another sector. Years later, a grown-up Thomas works undercover for the government. However a revelation hits him to learn who he really is instead of a state socially engineered output. He obsesses over this and decides he should start by seeking to find his biological parents. Taking one tiny step on that path let alone a journey means risking all he holds "dear" because if caught he will be reprocessed to insure he never undermines the state again. DIVIDED KINGDOM is a fabulous science fiction thriller that starts off with an incredible well written premise that will grip the audience, especially as Thomas has his revelation and begins his quest into a strange underworld. Ironically the deep story line slows down whenever the action is ratcheted up focusing on Thomas faces potential exposure and death from his clandestine peers. The hero is terrific as he serves as the focus of a social experiment that may seem off the wall, but not as far out in a red and blue world as one would think. Rupert Thomson provides an intriguing look at the future.

DeKok and Murder
Melody Baantjer
ISBN: 0972577696, $13.00, 191 pp.

In Amsterdam, Inspector DeKok looks into the murder of heroin addict Erik Bavel. The victim was strangled to death so the Inspector concludes the culprit had to have strong hands to do that to a twenty-five year old male. The boardinghouse keeper, uncooperative Mina Lyons, reacts as if the homicide was a personal affront to her and is more upset that Bavel broke the rules by making coffee in his room. A second strangulation victim surfaces identical to that of Bavel. The victim, Jean-Paul Stappert, was a young drug user too, but like Erik had no recent needle marks making it seem they also shared in common kicking the habit. DeKok talks with Mina about Erik only to learn by chance that Jean-Paul was a resident of her boardinghouse too. This time Mina faints. Music pedagogue Alex Waaredenberg gives testimony that he was Jean-Paul's teacher, but his New Age mumbo jumbo leads DeKok to think he knew Erik too but said nothing except seeing the corpse when he looked for his star pupil. The case turns cacophonous as the list of suspects grows connected to a musical arrangement. This translation of a Dutch police procedural is a fabulous investigative tale starring a delightful protagonist toiling to solve the double homicides. DeKok is a wonderful lead holding the who-done-it together with his interviews of suspects and follow up on clues that showcase the city. His protege, junior partner Vledder, struggles to understand the logic of the inquiries until the lead cop explains afterward to him (and the audience) without interrupting the superior story line flow mindful of Holmes to Watson, but in a 1980s Holland context.

The Fixer Upper
Judith Arnold
ISBN: 0778321932, $6.99

Director of Admissions at Manhattan's prestigious Hudson School, Libby Kimmelman loves the place and obviously respects it as a center of learning since she enrolled her daughter Reva at the school. The divorced Libby enjoys her job though at times she feels frazzled especially when the bribes to get in and thank you gifts after getting in arrive during open season. Normally she skims over the application essays written by parents who believe hyperbole is the key, but the one written by Eric Donovan intrigues her as he is a ten year old new city resident just in from Woodstock, Vermont. Libby thinks the straightforward preadolescent would make a fine student. His widower father Ned is not pleased as his son used his credit card to pay the application fee over the net without permission and he cannot afford the $25K annual cost. Ned visits the school to withdraw Eric's application and get a refund, but he and Libby surprisingly feel an attraction to one another. She has doubts that he truly desires her instead of just using her to gain a scholarship while he wonders why a beautiful intelligent lady would fall in love with a carpenter. THE FIXER-UPPER is a fine Manhattan contemporary romance in which the Hudson School serves as a matchmaker and potential match breaker bringing the lead couple together, but also school costs linger in their minds. The story line is character driven as the audience sees up close the frustrations of Libby with her job and her daughter, and Ned with starting over and his son's adjustment problems. Though there is little action, fans of urban family dramas will want to read Judith Arnold's astute tale.

The Cinderella Hour
Katherine Stone
ISBN: 0778321967, $24.95

In Quail Ridge, Illinois, eight year old Snow Ashley Gable meets ten years old Lucas Kilcannon. The two lonely outsiders forge a bond to include e sneaking him food as his father, a local hero as a successful swimming coach fails to feed him. When his father decides to kill him, Lucas jumps out his window to escape the fire his dad lit and died in. However, he lands in the glass and nails that his father placed in the dried out swimming pool. Most people blame Lucas who is considered a bad seed. In High school he and Snow begin seeing one another. However he leaves for the West Coast to go to college with plans to come back and marry his pregnant beloved Snow. When she miscarries, she tells him good bye and vanishes. Years later successful Atlanta radio host Snow Gable takes her show The Cinderella Hour to Chicago not knowing that the past that started in Massachusetts before she was born will come back to haunt her. Also Lucas demands to know why she left him. She knows she owes him the truth, but how to make the man she still loves understand that she suffered from post partum depression. Though at first there seems as if there are too many subplots, all tie brilliantly together inside a strong romantic suspense thriller. The story line is character driven, but not just by the second chance at love between Snow and Lucas. The major ensemble support cast plays critical roles with each having their secondary segment fit into the bigger picture. Katherine Stone writes a complex but winning tale.

To the Castle
Joan Wolf
ISBN: 0778322033, $6.99, 384 pp.

Eleanor "Nell" de Bonville has spent the last decade at the Convent of St. Cecilia as a "payment" to God for providing her parents with a male heir. However, her brother Geoffrey died and now her sister Sybilla has joined the angels so her father the Earl of Lincoln feels he owes no debt to God. He removes a stunned Nell from the convent just a few months before she was to take her vows. Her father and the Earl of Wiltshire had arranged a marriage between Sybilla and the latter's grandson Roger. As civil was seems imminent between King Stephen and Empress Matilda, alliances are critical to survival so Nell will substitute for her deceased sister in this political arrangement. Nell and Roger marry and he is very kind to her, even waiting to consummate their vows. As they fall in love, Roger's duty to King Stephen puts him at risk. This twelfth century romance uses the backdrop of the civil war to provide a warm tender tale of love between two deserving nice individuals. Fans will empathize with Nell struggling to adapt to the real world after being cloistered in a convent for a decade just as they will appreciate the patient kindhearted Roger slowly enabling his wife to adjust while being there for her though he seems more twenty-first century with his compassionate outlook. The battle royal augments a fine medieval romance.

Lakeside Cottage
Susan Wiggs
ISBN: 0778321908, $7.50, 416 pp.

Though the column Kate's Fashion Statement did not pay for food or shelter, leasing properties does but Kate Livingston enjoys.reporting. However, the Seattle News put her on hiatus so she takes her preadolescent son Aaron and moves into the family home in Port Angeles to decide what to do next. Any decision she makes has to factor in that Aaron has behavioral problems. That morning she meets runaway teen California "Callie" Evans, who initially frightened Kate. Callie has been sleeping in the summer properties that she cleans for a living. Kate invites Callie to stay with them, which she does. Former Special Forces Medical Sergeant has moved into the cottage next door. He is recovering from death threatening injuries, but mostly running from the national spotlight of risking his life to save the President from a lone gunman at Walter Reed. This foursome shares the most wonderful summer in their respective lives. However, fall is coming which means getting on with lives, but after a couple months like a loving family will the joy end with each traveling a separate path? Though only two of the four key players are related by blood, LAKESIDE COTTAGE is a delightful family drama starring a likable quartet suffering from individual traumas. Each has a trust problem yet that remarkable summer they come together as a tight unit being there for one another. Though the romance is a solid support subplot, this contemporary fiction is a strong interrelation character study with limited but exhilarating action moments.

The Lonely Girls Club
Suzanne Forster
ISBN: 0778322017, $6.99, 384 pp.

In 1980 at the exclusive Rowe Academy for Girls in Tiburon, California, the four unpopular scholarship coeds forged friendships as the Lonely Girls Club. The schools headmistress Millicent Rowe pimps the foursome as prostitutes. However, someone murders Rowe while one member of the quartet Ivy commits suicide. The three survivors (Mattie, Breeze, and Jane) agree to a vow of secrecy. William Broud was convicted of the homicide. In 2005 at San Quentin, true crime writer Jameson Cross picks up just released William who spent over two decades as the convicted finishing school murderer; DNA proved he did not commit the crime. Jameson offers to pay William if he helps him follow clues as to what happened a quarter of a century ago. The three female survivors are all successful in their chosen endeavors with Mattie as a federal judge, Breeze a business woman entrepreneur and Jane as the First Lady. They do not want exposure that could devastate their respective careers, but Jameson is digging while William feels someone owes him a life. THE LONELY GIRLS CLUB is an electrifying romantic suspense thriller that grips the audience from the moment that Broud is released from prison and never lets up until the final meeting between Jameson and the Judge. The story line is action-packed, but it is the reaction of the characters to Jameson's inquiries that makes the tale as each of the three prime suspects has reasons to hide even "edit" the Rowe incidents. Thus the audience keeps on reading while wondering which of the former coeds killed the headmistress.

Dark Sky
Carla Neggers
ISBN: 077832205X, $7.50, 384 pp.

New York based Deputy U.S. Marshal Juliet Longstreet knows she must be cautious as Bobby Tatro was just released from federal prison after serving four years. He vowed to avenge his arrest when Juliet took him down in Syracuse and she believes this violent man will come for her. In New York she finds her apartment house doorman murdered and her place searched as if someone was looking for an edge to get at her. Wanting to insure the safety of her family though most are law enforcement types, Juliet vows not wait for Tatro to make any more moves. While she searches for Tatro, former Special Forces officer Ethan Brooker seeks the actual killer of his wife though he helped expose Nick Jannsen who called for the hit on his beloved Charlene. He believes that they have a mutual enemy as Tatro pulled the trigger. Ethan keeps Juliet on edge more so than the killer coming for her, but she persuades him to team up to keep her family safe as Tatro is coming for them. The latest Carla Neggers deputy US Marshals tale is a tense romantic suspense thriller in which the lead couple tracks down a killer while trying to ignore their attraction to one another. The joint investigation seems at first simple enough to the lead pair and readers, but takes twists into a deadly conspiracy in which avariciousness leads to homicide and places her family at risk. Though similar in tone to previous tales like NIGHT'S LANDING, Ms. Neggers' fans will enjoy this strong tale while wondering if Juliet can capture her men, one to lock away and one to shower with love.

The Devil's Necklace
Kat Martin
ISBN: 0778321991, $7.50

In 1805, Grace Chastain borrows money from her Aunt Matilda Crenshaw to hire Jack Moody to free her father from Newgate. Although she has never met Viscount Harmon Jeffries, she cannot sit by and allow her sire to hang from the gallows for treason even if he is guilty. British privateer captain of the Sea Witch Ethan Sharpe stops the Lady Anne at sea. He proclaims passenger Grace Chastain committed sedition having abetted a traitor to escape justice. Ethan abducts her onto his ship where he demands she tell him the whereabouts of her lover Harmon. Because of a promise she made, Grace fails to correct his error. Ethan is irate with himself because he is attracted to Grace, but outraged that she freed the man who sold his previous ship and crew to the French. Most of the men died while he lingered in prison. Since she remains obstinate, he decides to seduce his enemy's lover; he succeeds only to find he made love to a virgin. As they fall in love, he learns she is the daughter of his foe. Though the Regency audience will empathize with the demons that haunt Ethan and his understandable obsession towards the heroine's father accentuated by falling in love with his enemy's "mistress", Grace's courage whether it is on land or sea makes the tale. She is fabulous, abetting her father who she never met or challenging the sea captain she loves. Though the climax is too neatly and abruptly wrapped up, the sequel to the BRIDE'S NECKLACE, THE DEVIL'S NECKLACE is an intriguing Regency romantic suspense thriller that fans will enjoy and look forward to the jewelry moving on to the next protagonist.

Secrets of Rosa Lee
Jodi Thomas
ISBN: 0778322025, $6.99, 384 pp.

The residents of Clifton park, Texas form a group to determine what to do with the once proud Altman mansion that is showing its age and abandonment. The townsfolk are divided with one side insisting on selling the mausoleum to a group planning to tear it down in the name of progress. Another faction wants to return the home of the town's long dead founding father to its former glory and keep it up as memento of the past. However, someone in the shadows wants to more than just influence the decision making process. This individual prefers the house be torn asunder so that their deadly secrets will remain interred and will blackmail committee members into tearing down the mansion. As the committee forms, storms, norms, and performs, they learn that the "old Altman place" is more than just a dilapidated extinct dinosaur with roses; however the extortionist pressures each member to adjourn in favor of annihilating the mansion to bury its history with the evidence that if it comes to light would destroy this culprit. The committee turns the tale into an interesting look at progress vs. heritage as they go through the stages of group dynamics with the perpetrator causing trust issues between the members. Although the audience sees the differing personalities during the interactions, the intrigue caused by the wrongdoer feels unnecessary though exciting as the tale focuses on the group's struggles (think of Twelve Angry Men) and the house's past. Fans of modern day social issues and Management 101 students will appreciate this fine look at group interplay with a touch of intrigue caused by an assailant whose actions foment mistrust, the death of committees.

Highland Magic
Tess Mallory
Love Spell
ISBN: 0505526247, $6.99

Houston based Dr. Samantha Riley visiting her dad at his Wimberly, Texas ranch notices he has aged rapidly recently and worries about his health though they argue over her love life. Her beloved father, Air Force Colonel (R) Patrick Riley wants her to wed a real man, his friend Highlander Duncan Campbell. Though she remembers their one night of ardor, she insists she will continue to see Luke Carter III over her dad's objections that the man is a spoiled rich brat not worthy of her. When Patrick falls into a coma, Duncan and Sam share a truce as both are depressed. Meanwhile lightning charges up the crystals at nearby Jacob's Well sending Duncan and Sam back to ancient Scotland where the men seem modern hitting on her. That stops partially because of the ferocious Duncan at her side, but also everyone concludes she is Maeve, Queen of the Fairies. Though she misses her time and her father; Sam appreciates the compensation of ordering Duncan around; that is until she jealously learns the Scot that she now loves has traveled time before and is there to rescue Princess Talamar from an evil conspiracy. The Queen of Highlander time travel romance, Tess Mallory writes a delightful tale that her fans will cherish. The stars are a delightful duo as experienced time traveler Duncan returns with his latest fling into the past accompanied by the woman who haunts his dreams. HIGHLAND MAGIC is romantic fantasy at its magical best as the audience will find amusing Sam's conversion into bossy fairy queen inside of a well written dangerous court intrigue plot. Ms Mallory enchants her audience once again.

A Taste of Crimson
Marjorie M. Liu
Love Spell
ISBN: 0505526328, $6.99, 384 pp.

Instead of angels residing in the city, humans, werewolves and vampires live in shaky peace together though both sides loathe the other. Still each species adheres to the truce by staying away from their adversary. No one dares cross the line to befriend the enemy as the friend of my foe is my enemy too even if they are our blood. Though "sufferers" of lycanthropy are banned by law to work in restaurants, Keeli Maddox the werewolf does anyway. She hates the grease, but is thankful to have employment as the fur bearers cannot obtain work even when vacancies exist. She also fears the growing violence between her people and the vampires that have placed the third race the humans in the crosshairs. Thus Keeli Maddox is hiding during a food fur inspection when she gets involved with an incident that leads to her about to rip a man's throat open until shockingly a vampire intercedes. Keeli and Michael are attracted to one another, but she is a wolf and he is a fang. Mindful of Romeo and Juliet starring in Angel, A TASTE OF CRIMSON makes the co-living of three distinct yet similar species (the colors of blood and money are the same) seem so genuine. The story line is action-packed, but clearly driven by the star-crossed protagonists who know they have found their soulmate, but to be with that person breaks society's biggest taboo. Neither Michael nor Keeli will find any supporters as they fall in love. Marjorie M. Liu writes a fabulous paranormal romantic thriller that will grip the audience from the moment the lead duo meet for the first time.

Crimson City
Liz Maverick
Love Spell
ISBN: 0505526220, $6.99

She made a youthful error that cost her future; her two half-brothers taking over instead. When an explosion rocked that sector killing her two vampiric siblings, vampire Fleur Dumont vows to learn the truth because she knows that she should have been her left dead. B-Ops humans Dain Reston worries that the peace amongst the three dominant sentient species has been blown part with that blast shattering the uneasy peace in which the vampires owns the skies; the humans the earth; and the werewolves the underground. While Fleur continues her quest, Dain tries to keep war from happening. Their objectives soon merge as the human and the vampire run from their hunger for one another, but combine their resources to attempt to uncover the identity of the soulless one who devastated the fragile calm. CRIMSON CITY is the exhilarating opening paranormal romantic suspense thriller that will have the audience on the edge of their seat wondering if the star-crossed heroes can avert a cross-species war. The story line is action-packed, but the key to the tale is Liz Maverick's ability to insure her prime players seem genuine in a realistic setting. Fans will believe in werewolves and vampires and want more fantasy tales set in the Maverick universe.

The Remarkable Miss Frankenstein
Minda Webber
Love Spell
ISBN: 0505526379, $5.99

Growing up in a household in which her Uncle is the renowned scientist Dr. Frankenstein and her best friend is Frederick the Monster, has made Claire curious about nature. She has a need to affirm that women can achieve much outside the home like that Wollstonecraft insisted possible; the proof to Claire is winning the 1828 coveted "Discovery of Science" award. She knows her rivals, all males, are almost as famous as her uncle because Dr. Jekyll has done some interesting research into split personalities and the judges are men too. Still she expects to win by proving vampires exist. Claire searches for the coffin of Baron Huntley, but instead of a grave she finds a warm blooded hunk. Since he is obviously not a bloodsucker she switches to her next species discovery, werewolves. Huntley is attracted to the Frankenstein niece while fearing for her safety as she bravely enters places where only a fool or a Van Helsing would go. As they fall in love he worries about keeping her safe from a real vampire who wants to dine on her blood and even more worrisome is his secret that he must tell her but fears her reaction. This wacky satirical paranormal romance will have readers howling in laughter at the antics of Claire and crew. The story line is action-packed and quite amusing, but also filled with literary references that augment the delightful plot. Sub-genre fans and anyone who appreciates an offbeat well written jocular tale will misquote the Raven wanting evermore novels like THE REMARKABLE MISS FRANKENSTEIN.

Anatomy of a Murder
Robert Traver
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312033567, $13.95, 448 pp.

In Thunder Bay, Michigan, hotel and bar manager Barney Quill violently rapes Laura Manion. Laura's spouse Army Lieutenant Frederick Manion explodes into a rage; he fires five shots at Quill killing him. Witnesses saw the homicide and Manion confesses to the crime. The police arrest Manion for murder. Former county Prosecutor Paul Biegler heads up the defense team; his opponent is the lawyer who replaced him as the prosecutor, Mitch Lodwick, also assisted from the Michigan Attorney general's Office. Knowing his client is guilty of the act and in spite of also loathing Manion, Paul hopes to legally defend the murder in the minds of twelve strangers. His plan is to claim his client suffered an "irresistible impulse", an insane rage to get back at the violator of his wife. However, as Paul digs deeper into the background, he begins to uncover other information that puts a different light on the deadly triangular relationship between his client, his client's wife, and the deceased. This reprinting of a terrific 1950s legal thriller that some insist established the sub-genre (Christie aside) holds up nicely five decades after its initial publishing and movie were made. The story line focuses for much of the first half of the insightful plot on the defense team investigation and building its plea, but though interesting is slow as readers see first hand the strategy and discourse they take; the latter half is the trial with both sides verbose as they make points. Though incredibly perceptive with what happens on a highly charged murder case, talking is not as exciting as performing. Still the tale retains its discerning insider's look at the legal process.

Sinners and Saints
Eileen Dreyer
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312330685, $24.95, 384 pp.

Just when forensic nurse Chastity O'Connor believes she has her life on track, a call from New Orleans turns her world upside down. The brother-in-law she never knew she had calls to tell her that her sister Faith is missing. Chastity hasn't seen her sister or her mother in a decade ever since they abandoned her when she was sixteen forcing her to live on the streets. Even though she knows her sister blames her for sending their father to jail, Chastity goes to New Orleans to help in the search for her sibling who she believes disappeared when her mother died in order to escape reality. Three women associated with Faith and the fertility clinic where she was donating her eggs have been murdered all by the same killer. Chastity now fears that Faith ran because she was afraid for her life. Desperate to find her sister, she falls into a murderer's trap but with the assistance of a sexy cab driver, she might escape in time to save her sister. The heroine is one of the most courageous characters to ever grace the pages of a novel. Despite the abuse she suffered as a child and overcoming traumatic fears, she makes the effort to save the sister who discarded her and never tried to make contact with her. The villain is hidden in plain sight and will come as quite a shock to the readers who never would have guessed the identity. Eileen Dreyer writes a brilliant crime thriller that starts off fast and never slows down until the last page is turned while also filled with excellent characterizations, realistic action scenes and terrific pacing.

Death Climbs a Tree
Sara Hoskinson Frommer
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312329210, $23.95

Joan Spencer, manager of the Oliver Civic Symphony in Oliver, Indiana, is concerned that her first violinist Sylvia Purcell is sitting in a tree to obstruct Walcher Construction from a project that she feels is hostile to the environment. Joan's son Andrew, a junior at Oliver College, is one of those providing food to the protester. When Sylvia falls out of the tree and dies at Andrew's feet it is discovered that she was murdered. Joan's husband police Lieutenant Fred Lundquist knows he must stay out of the official investigation because his stepson is a prime suspect, but that does not keep Joan from sleuthing as she sees others with motives like Tom Walcher who needed the project to remain on schedule or even the growing militant The Erath Freedom Fighters. One thing she believes is that her son would not harm Sylvia, who he recently met at college and admired. Sara Hoskinson Frommer provides a fabulous amateur sleuth starring an intrepid woman who believes in her son's innocence in spite of the evidence, much of which she finds that affirms his guilt. The story line is action-packed as Joan ignores her spouse and conducts an investigation into who killed her first violinist only to find a lot of folks with motives and opportunity. Readers will enjoy this fine who-done-it because the heroine makes her inquiries seem desperately real especially as one clue after another enhances the case against her son.

The Malevolent Comedy
Edward Marston
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312342837, $23.95

The Westfield Men troupe has fallen on hard times as attendance for their performances are meager and shrinking. Book-holder Nicholas Bracewell worries because playwright Edmund Hoode seems to suffer from writer's block. Knowing they need a quick fix if the group is to survive, puffed-up playwright Saul Hibbert is hired, but his conceit proves a handicap as the players detest his attitude and his failure to pay his bills at the Queen's Head Inn almost shuts down the performance. However, Hibbert's first play starring the Westfield Men is a major success with the audience especially when one of the performers dies so realistically on stage from poison. Actually the actor really died from poisoning, but Bracewell saves the show. At the next performance, an incident also occurs; this leads Bracewell to conclude someone is trying to destroy their troupe either to get back at the new bard or to shut down this den of iniquities as many believe traveling acting troupes are sinners. In his fifteenth Westfield Men mystery, Edward Marston does his usual terrific blending of Elizabethan Theater comedy of the absurd manners with a wonderful murder investigation. Readers taste the late sixteenth century through the interactions, foibles, and blunders of the prime players. The who-done-it is cleverly devised so that the audience wonders along with Bracewell who wants to insure the show does not go on.

Blood Ties
Ralph McInerny
St. Martin's
ISBN: 031233690X, $24.95

Sheila and George Lynch were depressed because they could not have children of their own until they adopt a little girl after meeting the mother, Northwestern student Madeline, abandoned by her boyfriend. Madeline gives birth to Martha, who is raised by the Lynches with love. Over two decades later Martha works in the Loop as a paralegal at Foley, Farnum and Casey when Bernard Casey, the son of a senior partner, falls in love with her and asks her to marry him. At the same time Martha considers the proposal, her biological father Nathaniel Fleck returns into Madeline's life wanting to meet his daughter. Madeline fears her indiscretion will destroy her happy marriage. However, Fleck dies in a hit and run at the same time that Martha, over the trepidation of the loving Lynch couple, seeks her biological parents so her future blueblood in-laws will know exactly the color of her blood. She starts with Father Dowling and lawyer Amos Cadbury, who already knows the identity of the mother but feels trapped in a moral dilemma while Fleck's death comes under suspicion. The story line is at its best in the first half as several individuals struggle with what is right in areas that are so gray that no sound bite response will work. Father Dowling, Cadbury, Madeline, Lynchs, and Nathaniel internalize what is morally the correct thing because what is right for one person could harm another. When the homicide and subsequent investigation takes over, BLOOD TIES remains a fine who-done-it, but loses some of the strength of characters facing a complex dilemma. In his letter X appearance, Father Dowling starts with an interesting morality play that turns into a solid murder mystery.

Splintered Icon
Bill Napier
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312936680, $6.99, 368 pp.

In Lincoln, England local gentry Sir Toby Tebbit hires antiques documents dealer Harry Blake to evaluate papers he just inherited from a relative who just died in Jamaica. The next morning Harry visits Toby at the latter's home and makes a quick assessment of what look like a several century old journal. Toby asks Harry to take the journal with him to transcribe, but not to mention his connection to anyone. A woman calling herself Cassandra offers Harry a lot of money for the journal; he refuses, but as she departs she warns him that other means will be used to persuade his handing over the journal. Fred Sweet demands it next saying he will use a poisonous pen on Harry. Not long after that Harry learns that someone murdered his client. Knowing that the journal contains information outside his discipline he asks marine historian Zola Kahn to help him understand why someone would commit homicide over a four hundred years old tome before he becomes victim number two. Harry will soon learn that the Elizabethan Era journal could cause a pandemic holy war that would make the Crusades look like child play. This action-packed thriller never slows down as attempts to harm, maim, or kill Harry pile up over possession of the journal. The story line is action-packed but contains an extra edge because Harry is everyman going about his daily business and not a hero; he will remind the audience of Roger O. Thornhill from Hitchcock's North by Northwest. The pair of conspiracies seems a stretch, but fans will not care as they learn what they are and wonder if Harry can survive.

Fall of a Philanderer
Carola Dunn
St. Martin's
ISBN: 031233589X, $23.95, 256 pp.

In 1924 Scotland yard Detective Chief Inspector Alec Fletcher, his wife Daisy, his young daughter Belinda and her pal Deva vacation in Westcombe. While at the beach overseeing the activity of her stepdaughter and Deva, Daisy is accosted by local owner of the Schooner Inn George Enderby. Even when she tells him that she is married he still tries to pick her up as marital status is not an impediment for the philandering innkeeper. Several people warn daisy to stay clear of George. However, on a family picnic Daisy is unable to avid George as his broken body lies dead at the bottom of the nearby cliff. As Alec investigates whether an accident or a homicide occurred, Daisy realizes there are plenty of suspects starting with her landlady Mrs. Anstruther and her husband Peter, but the local police look at Sid the simple minded mute beachcombing scarecrow as the prime suspect; the last person Daisy believes could commit a homicide. The murder occurs almost half way into this historical cozy, but that enables the audience to meet the key support players and understand their respective personalities. That in turn allows readers to observe who might want the womanizer killed as several suspects have motive. This not for the action oriented crowd but Daisy's fans will appreciate her latest investigative tale as she does what drives Alec crazy out of fear for her safety, Daisy investigates.

House in Amalfi
Elizabeth Adler
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312339631, $24.95, 368 pp.

In Chicago, though two years have passed since her beloved husband Alex died in a car crash, Lamour Harrington still mourns her loss. Lamour sees the irony that he was the second man in her life to die in a tragic accident as her father Jonathon was killed in a boating incident off Italy's Amalfi coast. To survive she buries herself in her work as a landscape architect, but refuses to allow anyone even a dog or cat into her life because loved ones die. Only her childhood friend Jammy Mortimer pushes Lamour to join the living; her spouse Matt coaxes Jammy to tell the total truth to Lamour about Alex. Already thinking of returning to the place she was happiest, Amalfi, Jammy's revelation is the final impetus to get her to move. Lamour travels to Italy to learn what led to her beloved artistic father's death and to recapture the magical happiness that has left her bereft. The truth may be freeing, but in spite of meeting Lorenzo Pirata and his adult son, Lamour is unsure that she wants to know the secrets of her heart and that of the HOUSE IN AMALFI. Whether it is Tuscany, Province or now Amalfi no one serves as a better tour guide of Mediterranean Europe than Elizabeth Adler is. Readers feel they are seeing lush gardens, sharing wine or eating pizza in a remote village cafe as she paints a fabulous landscape. The characters are fully developed with Lamour severing as a terrific focus to the Amalfi tour while the support cast either provides insight into her or into the locale. Once again readers will be transported to another place by the magic of Ms. Adler.

She's Gotta Have It
Niqui Stanhope
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312986254, $6.99, 304 pp.

Camille Roberts is marrying for money as she knows the comforts of wealth make up for her itch not properly scratched by her Anthony. Camille is staying at the exclusive Hedonism III on northern Jamaica as her final groove before she ties the knot. At a masquerade party, she meets attorney Harry Britton. That night on the sheets she finds her groove; Harry does too though she wore her mask throughout their sexual encounter. In the morning light, Camille is gone leaving diamonds behind as a payment. The son of Guyana's Prime Minister Harry has access to strong support when he requires it. He needs it because he wants more from this mysterious Camille who flew back to the states in a private jet. He begins his search for her while she wonders if her safe marriage is worth the effort as she cannot get Britton out of her mind or her rebellious body. When Harry finds her as he knows he will; he plans to kiss her all over, but hide his affluent background from her. HE'S GOTTA HAVE IT, the sequel to WHATEVER LOLA WANTS, is a delightful contemporary romance starring two likable protagonists. The key to Niqui Stanhope's tale is that although Camille appears ready to marry for money, she remains a nice person. The return of Lola in a strong supporting role adds depth of understanding what motivates Camille to go for the money though many readers will not like her attitude anyway. Harry is a fine counterpart to Camille as they reverse perceptions about one another. Fans will want to read Ms. Stanhope's fine tale.

Touch of Night
Susan Spencer Paul
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312933878, $6.99, 352 pp.

In 1818 England, Niclas Seymour has the ability to "read" the emotions of people, but had not understood the need to consider human feelings until three years ago when he learned the hard way. He found out that the wife of his best friend Drew was cheating. Feeling it his responsibility he informs Drew, who committed suicide. His magic led to blood spilling, which places the user under a curse to atone for his mistake by performing a life risking deed for a blood relationship of Drew. A despairing Niclas no longer sleeps properly as the guilt fills his mind. He roams the night stopping muggers, but also knows that he is losing his mind with living being more painful than death. The family patriarch, Europe's most powerful wizard Malchi Seymour, warns Niclas that his sanity is slipping, but asks a favor. Drew's distant cousin Miss Julia Linley needs help to rescue her aunt from a forced marriage she does not want. Though not a curse-freeing level deed, Niclas escorts Julia on a dangerous trek through faery land where evil lurks under every rock. To his shock her voice, touch and sight eases his depression. However, he fears her reaction when she learns what he did to her relative. This fabulous romantic fantasy will grip the audience from the beginning as readers meet a tormented Niclas struggling with guilt and slipping into insanity as he cannot cope with what he caused. The story line enables the audience to believe in wizardry and sorcery, but even more so in the healing magic of love. Susan Spencer Paul writes a robust tale in which the worst demons are inside a person's soul.

Gone with the Nerd
Vicki Lewis Thompson
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312998589, $6.99, 400 pp.

In Hollywood, glamorous actress Zoe Tarleton asks her lawyer Flynn Granger to allow her to study him so that she can learn how a nerd thinks as she hopes to land the non sexpot role of Vera Parsons, a research chemist in the film the Billion Dollar Pill. Flynn tells her he is going to marry Harvard professor Kristen Keebler, but he agrees to meet her in Long Shaft, California so that he can teach her to behave like a nerd, but also will tell his fiancee the truth. Zoe wonders how it would feel to have someone protect her like he does Kristen. In Long Shaft, Zoe meets her high school friend Margo Taggart, who has arranged everything. Flynn arrives and one look at Zoe tells him she over killed the nerd bit. He also enjoys the Bigfoot paraphernalia in the area as he appreciates cryptozoology. As Zoe observes Flynn and rehearses her role with him, they begin to fall in love, but questionable accidents and strange sightings seem to interfere with their kisses. The strong lead couple carries this nerdy but fun tale that will send the audience seeking previous nerd novels (see NERD IN SHINING ARMOR, THE NERD WHO LOVED ME, and NERD GONE WILD). The story line is amusing with a touch of suspense caused by the incidents that seem to happen a lot to Zoe. The Sasquatch locale and the two youngsters the lead couple meets add humor. Although the intrigue subplot involving the accidents seems an unnecessary stretch, readers will enjoy the romance between the accounting nerd and the sexpot actress.

Turn My World Upside Down
Maureen Child
St. Martin's
ISBN: 031299754X, $6.99, 352 pp.

Josefina "Jo" Marconi wonders what happened to her world. Her two sisters, Mike (see A CRAZY KIND OF LOVE) and Sam (see AND THEN CAME YOU) are married, pregnant, and boffing or eating all the time. Her father confessed to an affair ten years ago that led to a stepbrother Jack, who now stays with Jo as his mother recently died and their dad is on a cruise. The worst change is hiring woodworker Cash Hunter to repair the Barclay House as he wants to seduce her, but she does not want to make love and then save the world as his previous females apparently have done. Jack struggles with the dramatic shifts in his life while Jo decides to fight fire with fire and go after Cash, expecting to scare him away. He backs off but it is too late as Jo and Cash are in love. As Jo struggles to prove to the two men in her life that they can become a family, the two males are not sure whether to flee towards or away from the female predator who wants to shower them with love. The third Marconi contemporary romance is a fun tale unless you are pregnant. Jo is a wonderful lead character unable to empathize with her siblings while "stuck" with Jack who she does not know or understand, Cash, and the family business. Cash is her ideal counterpart as he feels for her brother-in-laws, provides big brother understanding to Jack, and wants Jo in his bed permanently not globetrotting after a tryst. Maureen Child closes her Marconi siblings with a strong zanier finish.

The Assassin's Touch
Laura Joh Rowland
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312319002, $24.95

In 1695 at Edo Castle, Japan, the chief of metsuke (spies) Ejima Senzaemon collapses, falls off his horse and dies while crossing the finish line victorious during a horse race. Lord Matsudaira, cousin to The Shogun, controls the shoguns and albeit runs the military dictatorship; he thinks a homicide occurred probably by the followers of the man he defeated former Chamberlain Yanagisawa. He assigns his trusted aid, the current Chamberlain and former criminal investigator Sano Ichiro who has come along since being a Ronin, to investigate the death of Ejima and three other senior government officials. Two of the previous three deceased died suddenly in their sleep; the other in a bathtub accident. Sano sees no connection to include the fourth death, but Matsudaira believes a conspiracy to disguise the murders of top officials is occurring. Sano and longtime aid Hirata begins the inquiries that lead to a link to his wife Reiko of a martial-arts adept who seemingly like a ghost uses the mythical dim-mak touch of death to kill his victims without a trace of foul play. If this unknown serial killer is not stopped soon, Sano knows the impact on a government struggling with a counter-insurgence and on his family especially his beloved Reiko. Though Reiko's involvement seems too gimmicky and convenient, THE ASSASSIN'S TOUCH is a terrific Japanese historical police procedural that as is the case with the nine previous novels in the series provides an astute look at Shogun Japan. The story line is action-packed with strong characters especially the hero and his activist wife while also using seventeenth century tidbits to enhance the plot. Fans of the series will enjoy this latest treasure while newcomers will seek other Sano titles.

The Architect
Keith Ablow
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312323921, $24.95, 320 pp.

He is one of the most brilliant architects the world has ever known, a virtuoso who believes that he knows what would suit the client more than the client does. He is not listed in any phone book and most people have never heard of him. He was a member of the secret society known as the Order of Skull and Bones and gets his referrals from them through word of mouth. His talent is such that he was picked to design a new museum in the White House because the president was also a member of the secret society and trusts him implicitly. However, this fine architect, believing he has God's blessing, is also a cold blooded murderer who kills a person from his client's family when the victim makes the lives of their relatives miserable. Forensic psychiatrist Frank Clevenger is called in to profile this serial killer. Frank also tries to help his troubled son Billy who looks like he is going to be serving time as he battles his drinking and drug problem. West Crosse is one of the most sinister villains since Hannibal Lechter. What makes him so frightening is he believes he has a calling to kill those who destroy the perfection of a family and is rational enough to know that if he kills his last victim, he will die almost immediately. Frank is also at his best with his own demons and second guessing himself so he comes across as the more realistic character, one that elicits sympathy from the reader. Keith Abbot has once again shown that he is the master of the psychological thriller.

Marne Davis Kellogg
St Martin's
ISBN: 0312337329, $24.95, 321 pp.

After retiring as the highly publicized Shamrock Burglar, Kick Keswick, with her husband former Scotland Yard Chief Inspector Thomas Curtis, who moonlighted as the Samaritan Burglar, retired to their farmhouse in Provence. With the money and jewels they saved from their various heists, they have enough money to live in the most luxurious lifestyle imaginable if they so choose. Thomas gets called up from Scotland Yard occasionally to work on a tough case and Kick helps him in her own manner and style. Now the Queen Elizabeth has asked personally for Thomas's help because some of the crown jewels were stolen by her trusted footman Bradford who helped her pack them for the royal tour she is going on. Thomas learns that Bradford changed his name to Sebastian Tremaine and is the business manager and companion for opera singer Constantin. Thomas has a plan to get Kick in position to get close to Sebastion and Constantin but she has her own methods of doing things and escapes his scrutiny the first change she gets. She tries and succeeds in meeting one of the world's richest men George Naxos and his beautiful wheelchair bound wife Alma. Kick maneuvers them into letting her visit his large isolated estate (more like at a small hamlet) in Switzerland where the rich and famous stay including Constantin and Sebastion. She concocts a daring plan to steal the jewels back from Sebastion but in this garden of Eden there lies a serpent waiting to strike at her and stop her plan from succeeding even if it means killing her. Kick Keswick is very different than the usual heroine. She is self confident, comfortable in her own skin (even if she is twenty-five pounds overweight) and believes there isn't a jewel she can't rob given enough time. The way she maneuvers people to get them to do what she wants is a talent few people possess and the way she does it seems so reasonable at the time that readers find themselves believing she is an average person . This enjoyable crime caper is delightful and charming.

The Young Widow
Cassandra Chan
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312337485, $23.95

Someone poisons ailing elderly Geoffrey Berowne using lilies of the valley. Local Surrey police feel they have the prime suspect his much younger wife Annette who inherited a fortune when she put her third husband under the ground. They look no further. Detective Sergeant Jack Gibbons thinks the case is too simple if one assumes that Annette got away with killing her previous spouses then one can conclude she would do a better job covering her tail this time too. He wonders if someone is setting her up to take the fall using the mysterious deaths of her first two spouses as circumstantial evidence and the greedy motive of inheritance. However, he is also attracted to her even if she turns out to be a black widow. Jack begins looking at the greed angle honing in who wins if Annette is convicted of murder. Geoffrey's son Paul gains much more without a grieving widow to share money with and the victim's sister-in-law Maddie Wellman from his first marriage detested the intrusion of Annette especially in the will. Jack's best friend amateur sleuth Philip Betancourt worries about his fall into the spider's web so tries to solve the case to avert disaster. Once the reader accepts that a long time pro like Jack would allow his wrong head to rule much of his actions, fans will enjoy a fine English police procedural. The story line is cleverly designed with solid twists so that the audience does not know who will take the fall or whether Annette is a killer or just chooses bad luck husbands. Readers will enjoy this fine tale while wondering if Jack can save the day.

Monroe's Redemption
Elijah Bruce
Boolana Collective Press
ISBN: 1411621913, $9.99, 144 pp.

In Manhattan, Monroe Goolynabura is a confident rookie with only one formal year of chef experience at a top restaurant Cafe Pacifica. Heeding the words of his mother, his culinary school teacher, the media dubbing him a future superstar and encouraged by his wife, Monroe enters the annual Union Square Fair cook-out expecting to win the "Best Chef of the Entire World" award. However, the wild boar kebab he prepared included contaminated meat with over two-hundred participants suffering food poisoning and nine dying. Though legally, Monroe got off relatively soft, his reputation was destroyed. His boss blames him for the restaurant's decline and radically reduces his salary. His wife blames him for their lifestyle's decline starting with the forced move from Soho to Astoria accompanied by their sweet daughter. Monroe blames his failure on those who sell bad meat and knows his chef status died with those who ate his dish. However Monroe gets a second chance at the Union Square Fair, but seeks the perfect lamb for his dish which he finds when he hears her say "Mr. Goolynabura". MONROE'S REDEMPTIONS is an extremely dark tale that showcases how obsession can destroy a shining light and take others down too. The key support cast is purposely flat, allegorically antagonistic and avaricious at a time when Monroe needs help to stop his free fall into hell's kitchen. Surprisingly Monroe is a sympathetic character whose obsession makes Lady Macbeth seems as if she had no ambition. Elijah Bruce paints a world that constantly beats the message of success using any means is all that matters because the victors rewrite the methods they employed to succeed.

One Shot
Lee Child
ISBN: 0385336683, $25.00

The gun man fired six shots, killing four males, one female, and one miss with the five KIAs all shot with precision in the head. Law enforcement believes a military trained sniper caused the massacre. The military database leads to nearby resident, ex Infantry Specialist James Barr. Warrants allow the cops to search Barr's property where further proof surface. Within six hours, James is arrested for mass murder. James fails to respond to any inquiry from the DA except to calmly and quietly whisper they got the wrong guy but also demands they get him Reacher. Hearing the news of the slaughter and subsequent arrest, Reacher is on the way to the city even before Barr's strange request. He knows that Barr has done this before, and there is cause to see the man executed this time around as Barr escaped with no real punishment with the previous incident. To his chagrin, Reacher believes Barr's plea of innocence, and joins the defense team trying to prove the impossible as their client refuses to accept an insanity plea. Though there seems an obvious conflict of interests between the two legal teams and Reacher's disdain for the accused, who he considers the ENEMY, it leaves him less frenzied than normal. ONE SHOT is a fabulous investigative legal thriller. The story line is action-packed as all Reacher tales are while the hero struggles with an ethical dilemma that slows his normal wacky pace yet makes him seem more human. The climax will blow away the audience as Lee Child provides a powerful thriller that fans of the series will relish.

S.L. Viehl
ISBN: 0451460294, $23.95, 320 pp.

On the planet K-2, the dominant life form is the 'Zangians who live mostly in the air but can exist for brief periods of time on the land. K-2 is part of the Allied League of Worlds, who is at war with the Hskstkt, slavers who objected to the league coming into their territories to establish colonies. The Hsktskt were driven out of K-2 and the SEALs, surgically enhanced altered life species who can live for longer period out of the water than their brethren, patrol the skies to make sure their enemy doesn't return. The species who live in the same sector of space as K-2 are holding a peace summit to iron out problems between their peoples. The Skaresh, who are living on K-2, demand their own place preferably a moon of K-2 while the Ninrana need water, which is running out on the planet. The aquatic Yldii want to expand their empire while the 'Zangians desire all the worlds form a peace pact. However not everyone wants the peace summit to succeed and one of the delegates will do whatever is necessary to see it fail. S.L. Viehl is a fabulous world-builder who invented a planet where the dominant species isn't humanoid and most of the sentient people that live there are not terrans; most species hold terrans in little regard as xenophobic idiots with the exception of a few who work for the betterment of the planet. It is fascinating to watch the different species survive in their environs while also interacting with one another. This is one of the best books the author has written with several characters deserving their own story in future novels.

Chris Bunch
ISBN: 0451460308, $15.00, 416 pp.

On his way home Hal Kailas saw the lord's son Nanpean torture a baby dragon; he punches the boy and takes the kit back to his mother. Hal's family is in danger of losing their tavern for Hal's actions so he leaves the village of Caerly in the Kingdom of Deraine. He becomes a vagabond, wandering from job to the job, never finding anything that interested him until he becomes the goferr for a traveling troupe that sells dragon rides. Hal knows he wants to do something with dragons on his own. However, the Queen of Roche uses a land dispute to go to war with Deraine and Sagene. Hal t is conscripted and rises to the occasion to become a leader of men. When his troops are massacred, Hal enlists to be trained to fight on dragons in a new unit. His exploits and daring earn him the hearts and admiration of the populace but the war costs him that what he treasures most. When he is injured, instead of mustering out like the king expects him to, Hal volunteers to lead a new dragon unit as their Dragonmaster. This book is filled with plenty of action and will appeal to readers who love military fantasy. The use of dragons and magicians to aid in the war effort is so much a part of the storyline that readers will find themselves believing that such things are really possible in wartime. As the hero matures, he and the audience observe the toll of war as humans and dragons die at an alarming rate. Chris Bunch is a talented storyteller who entertains his audience with a fantastic sword and sorcery epic.

End In Fire
Syne Mitchell
ISBN: 0451460332, $6.99, 325 pp.

In the year 2027, oil resources are nearly depleted and the Digboi oil field which borders the Himalayas is claimed by India but the Chinese want it for their people. It starts off as a conventional, localized war but China uses a high atmosphere nuclear device before sending in troop. India retaliates using its nuclear arsenal and the United States is on a war alert ready to help India. The America Reliance space station carrying five astronauts is getting ready to launch a satellite that will deploy solar reflectors to use as a cheap energy source. They are witnesses to the nuclear war that broke out between India and China and are desperate to find a way to get home. The Chinese space station whose commander Zhang is willing to help them in return for a ride home but people in both stations fear that war on earth will influence discussions in space. END IN FIRE is a story about the courage of two crews in Chinese and American space stations trying to overcome the distrust that led to war back home. In both crews, there are hostiles unwillingly to trust or work together and it is only through the leadership of Claire Logan that the remaining men and women have a chance of surviving. The premise for the war on Earth is plausible and all the more frightening because oil reserves are depleting now and it is conceivable that nations will go to war sometime in the future to gain control of the oil fields. Syne Mitchell is a fantastic storyteller who uses hard science that can be found in a Ben Bova novel and places it in an outer space thriller.

Thinner Than Thou
Kit Reed
ISBN: 076531195X, $13.95, 336 pp.

Reverend Earl began his preaching as infomercials, but quickly resonated with a population struggling with eating disorders. He simply offered his followers opportunities to be thin without the risks of anorexia, bulimia and constant fad diets by joining his Crossed Triceps health clubs. Soon organized religion fades bowing to the new God of Thinness. Earl's Dedicated Sisters become zealots spreading more than the word on thinness; they are rumored to abduct problem teens taking them inside the sanctuary for cleansing. Though their parents hint they know what happened to their daughter anorexic Annie Abercrombie who has disappeared from her home, they tell nothing to their twin sons Betz and Danny. Upset, the two brothers and Annie's boyfriend Dave assume the frightening local chapter of the Dedicated Sisters kidnapped Annie. They plan to free her. Their mom has second thoughts that she blew it when she turned in her daughter to the dread Deds and joins in the quest to free her leaving her selfish spouse behind. Annie teams up with obese Kelly in an attempt to break out of the Deds incarceration. This biting satire rips into the religious obsessive fervor to be thin at all costs including health. The story line takes no prisoners with its popular obese strippers, health clubs taking over religious edifices and bringing in many more patrons, Afterfat heaven where you can divinely dine on anything and everything but remain thin, and the final solution for the elderly amongst other acerbic shots at the me society. Mindful of Swift's A Modest Proposal, readers who appreciate a cutting edge nightmarish future that applies hyperbole to the present reality will join the Reverend's THINNER THAN THOU movement.

The Dare
Susan Kearney
ISBN: 0765351927, $6.99

For three centuries, Dora was a compliant sentient computer performing her duties without question that is until she met that transplanted twenty-first century heroine Tessa Camen, who befriends her like no one has before. Through the CHALLENGE of being Tessa's pal, Dora meets other people like Kahn and Rystani Captain Zical. Dora falls in love with Zical and wants what Tessa and Kahn have. She observes that Zical spends steamy nights of sexual encounters with a holistic female that she wants to replace. She constructs a duplicate body to the one Zical spends his nights with and creates a new sentient computer to replace her at the helm. Next Dora moves her essence into the new human body she developed. However, plans of mice and computers often go astray as Zical rejects her unable to adjust to her not being a thing and haunted by his failure to save the life of his mate. When Zical accidentally triggers The Sentinel, ancient machines that were to protect the galaxy, he starts what could be pandemic devastation. With Dora at his side, he leads a counterforce with no hope except her love. Dora makes quite and adjustment from secondary character to lead female protagonists, but Susan Kearney makes the adjustment seem so effortlessly even with the added conversion from critical intelligence to human intelligence. The action-packed story line never slows down once Dora decides to accept the CHALLENGE of love and never slows down as she and her beloved along with their allies battle to save the galaxy. The future of the Kearney Universe looks like it is in brilliant hands as the audience can expect more twenty-fourth romantic science fiction adventures.

Revenge Gifts
Cindy Cruciger
ISBN: 0765352257, $6.99

Revenge expert Tara Cole runs her booming on-line business,, located in the Florida Keys. She has a ton of customers though she also receives plenty of hate mail that she chooses to ignore. Business is so good that Howard "Muffin" Payne offers her a business proposal that she is considering except he seems more interested in her bed than the boardroom. Tara does have problems with a poltergeist in her home tossing eggs everywhere and the ghost of Uncle Lester scaring her guests by turning on lights or waking her up amongst other pranks. However that all pales as someone has either hired a Revenge Gifts clone or more likely she has been voodoo cursed. Her car contains gris-gris bags and black cats, rooster and goats constantly cross her path as if she is a magnet; each visit is followed by something terrible. Each is followed by bad events. Tara has been challenged to a voodoo duel, which if she fails to accept could mean her death and if she does accept she could be dead anyway. Even to Tara dead sounds too deadly of a revenge for some slight she may have inadvertently done. REVENGE GIFTS is a humorous paranormal romantic thriller starring a wonderfully cursed heroine wondering if her business has cost her plenty of karma when she is not pondering why someone is after her. The story line never takes itself seriously as Tara runs her business by meeting her customers' needs, but also struggles with someone coming after her probably using voodoo and then there is that ghost to deal with while also meeting and trying to find time for a hunk. Readers who appreciate something off kilter and different will enjoy this wacky Keys (oxymoron?) tale of a very busy and adorable heroine.

Worlds of the Golden Queen
David Farland
ISBN: 0765313154, $14.95, 556 pp.

"The Golden Queen". The insectoid Dronons defeat the human Tharrin, killing Queen Semarritte. Chaos reigns over the 10,000 worlds with the Dronons beginning to take control. Semarritte's consort Lord Versace clones a new queen from the deceased. While the Dronons want both dead to secure their position, Veriasse and Queen Everynne hop from planet to planet buying time and allies. "Beyond the Gate". Allies of the Queen that she met while leaping from planet to planet with Veriasse, Gallen and Maggie hide from the Dronons. While Gallen and Maggie also face local trouble from humans as well, they finally marry. However, they have a royal assignment to go off world to rescue a female Tharrin, Cerravanne, a former leader who the Dronons converted into an Inhuman infecting and converting everyone she meets. These two well received science fiction thrillers are combined into one fine book that readers who enjoy an alien species threatening the human outer space empire will want to read. Both tales are strong action adventures with heroic lead couples. Personally this reviewer enjoyed The Golden Queen more as the planet hopping of the stars seem real and the people met on these various orbs genuine; while Beyond the Gate is well written it needs a leap of acceptance that the champions from a backwater planet can so easily adapt to planet jumping. Still David Farland provides two fine save the galaxy tales of heroes battling unbeatable adversaries.

The Amazon and the Warrior
Judith Hand
ISBN: 0765349361, $7.99, 350 pp.

Just across from Troy, the Greek Commander and the mightiest of warriors Achilles and a few of his men killed the Amazon warrior mother of the then young Penthesilea and apparently abducted her sister. Pentha watched in fear and hiding. Vowing to kill the invincible Achilles, Pentha joined her mother's people. Several years later Pentha is the Warrior Queen of the Amazons. Pentha meets Damonides when he helps her escape from a simple rope trap by catching her as she tumbled to the ground. They become lovers, but disagree about what to do about the Greeks who have laid siege on Troy. Pentha feels this is her opportunity to avenge her mother's death while Damon, once a great warrior, has turned away from the sword and opposes her plan of attacking the Greeks at the walls of Troy. He fears for her and her people as the odds would be overwhelming even with surprise on their side. She says after Troy Achilles will come for Themskyra. He knows he will back his beloved though he prefers the plow to the sword having seen death first hand. THE AMAZON AND THE WARRIOR is a fabulous retelling of one of the legendary short sagas of Ancient Greece. When title characters are on center stage, the plot is filled with action, plenty of romance, and a feel for the era through she as a warrior queen and he a retired warrior wary of war. However, when the author heroically brings the depths and other perspectives of other heroes, the plot creaks from sidebar overload. Still, this is a fine read because Ms. Hand provides an enthralling look at the Ancients.

The Dark Crusade
Walter H. Hunt
ISBN: 0765311178, $25.95, 432 pp.

For decades humanity has been at war with the avian-like species the Zor. Now not only peace and friendship reigns between the two former enemies but they both go to war against the insectoid Vuhl. The two adversaries have Sensitives, people with psi powers, but the Vohl have technology that allows the drones to amplify their powers so that they can control their enemy. The war has been going on for over a quarter of a century and both sides have suffered heavy losses. Admiral Anderson is determined to break the stalemate but the leader of the Blazing Star, John Smith trained by former Guardian Commander Owen Garreth, has found a way to amplify sensitive power without technology. After some stunning results, hope arises that the devastating war will soon end even if it means the unknown Smith will be the real power in the realm. The DARK CRUSADE is Walter H. Hunt's finest writing achievement. His ability to describe a far flung human empire, examine the culture of an alien species, and his descriptions of mundane and metaphysical battles are creatively impressive and entertaining. Although this work is epic in scope, individual characters are realistically portrayed and understood by a grateful audience.

The House of Cthulhu
Brian Lumley
ISBN: 0765310732, $23.95, 256 pp.

In 1967 a treasure of ancient secret tomes were discovered that shed a light on the great primal island continent of Theem'hdra where sorcery wars were the norm. As the scribe of these incredible documents, the White Wizard Teh Atht described a time when sorcerers like Mylarkhrion the most terrible stole or protected magical knowledge from one's peers and other hired hands; a time when summoning of Cthulhu the Great One doomed all. This compilation is predominantly a reprint of a 1984 book. The current book contains the introduction and nine of the eleven tales (lacks "Isles of the Suhm-Yi" and "Curse of the Golden Guardians" for ye purists) in the 1984 book plus one other addition ("To Kill a Wizard"). The tales are all well written as they come across as fantastic horror yet feel as if they historically happened and that the age of The House of Cthulhu existed, perhaps because of the clever set up by Brian Lumley possessing the works of noted but vanished 1960s scholar Thelred Gustau. This early Lumley shows his Lovecraft roots in a terrific collection.

Lord of the Libraries
Mel Odom
ISBN: 0765307243, $25.95

A month has passed since the Vault of All Known Knowledge was devastated leaving librarians to flee for safety and the chief librarian, Grandmagister Edgewick "Wick" Lamplighter, was abducted by the evil goblin Aldhran Khemphus. Wick and the wizard Craugh had been seeking the dangerous The Book of Time, a volume broken into four segments to keep anyone from using it to change the past or future. Feeling guilty for have been the idiotic instrument that razed the library, Halfling First Level Librarian Jugh and Craugh accompanied by elves, dwarves and humans search for Wick. They battle much evil along the way while Craugh explains that Wick's capture is part of a plan to regain the Book of Time. As Jugh wonders if he has been manipulated by Wick and Craugh, he begins to consider an alternate plan to search for the Book of Time instead of Wick. Though readers would be better off starting with the previous two novels (see THE ROVER and THE DESTRUCTION OF THE BOOKS), the magical third tale can stand alone as major references are explained; though that can prove irritating to those who read the first two books. Still this is a terrific conclusion to a fine fantasy especially once the story line goes into hyperspeed (about a third of the way into the plot). Fans of action-packed pandemonium fantasy will appreciate this enchanting charmer.

The Tyranny of the Night
Glen Cook
ISBN: 0765306840, $25.95

For the past century, the Patriarchs of the West have sent crusaders to claim the Wells of Ihrain and the surrounding holy land as there right under God. The Wells, the source of all magic, are controlled by the Pramans. An uneasy truce exists but everyone expects that to be broken soon once Patriarch Sublime V decides it is time to try again. Naive Praman Captain Else Tage battles a brogan Tyranny of the Night; shockingly not knowing he cannot triumph, he kills an immortal God. The impossible has happened; a human has killed an invincible supernatural creature. Else's reward is a new mission. He is sent to the West to prevent Patriarch Sublime V from organizing the next crusade. However, in the Realm of the Gods, the immortals are shaken by Else's blasphemy. He must die as an example that humans must remain in their accepted places. Two soulless warriors, prisoners of the Gods for centuries, are given a chance for atonement. They must kill the traveling Godslayer. The opening entry in The Instrumentalities of the Night Saga is a fantastic fantasy that combines plenty of action with introducing the readers to this realm reminiscent of the medieval crusades world. The fast-paced story line begins the epic journey of Else, but does it with a backdrop of warring religions and realms with supernatural creatures so that though a new world is created for the audience to journey within, the tale never slows down to do so nor neglects the key characters especially the heroic bewildered raw Godslayer. The author cooks up a fantastic epic fantasy with a clear antiwar message that will have his audience hungering for more.

Singer of Souls
Adam Stemple
ISBN: 0765311704, $22.95, 288 pp.

An addict trying to quit, guitarist Douglas knows he must leave Minneapolis and the temptation of his friends. He is estranged from his siblings and parents, so to dry out he heads to his Grandma McLaren in Edinburgh. While awaiting a passport he cuts a deal with Twin Town Guitar owner Zack Johannson. A few weeks later, his grandma welcomes Douglas, but sets three conditions that if he does any he is out. Douglas makes money with his guitar and a gift for rhyme. When the city hosts the annual Edinburgh International Festival and the Fringe Festival, Douglas performs and does quite well until he meets Aine. She gives him a vial promising him he will see the world from a different light. He resists at first but finally takes the drug. Douglas questions his mind as he see fey folks walking the streets of the city; worse they see him with each wanting to either recruit him to their cause or kill him as Douglas learns how dangerous the war between the fey is even as humans thinks he tripped out one time too many. SINGER OF SOULS is a wild urban fantasy starring a likable expatriate American struggling with controlling his addiction while wondering if he finally went over the edge as the only human who sees the Fey and more terrifying they see him. The story line starts off as a character study as the audience sees Douglas trying to kick the habit, but once he takes that step he feels like Alice through the looking glass. Fans will enjoy Adam Stemple's zany joy ride in the streets of Edinburgh from a distinctly weird perspective.

Sarah Monette
ISBN: 0441012868, $24.95, 432 pp.

Robert of Hermione exposes esteemed wizard Felix Harrowgate of once being a prostitute. Felix does not respond, but walks away from his so-called surprised friends as his past as a slave has returned ending his career at least inside the walls of Mirador. In the city proper of Melusine, Geniva Thomson hires cat burglar Mildmay the Fox to steal a clock, a figurine and jewelry from her alleged former lover Lord Otavius. Mildmay easily succeeds, but feels compelled to do more although he knows a wizard, perhaps his client, has enchanted him. This wizard seeks Felix and will use any pawn to achieve the objective. Felix and Mildmay meet on the run and team up as both their lives seem forfeit, but neither was prepared for what they learn about their interwoven past, the threat of foreign strange magic overwhelming Melusine nor how to even survive their trek through bizarre magical realms to confront their common foe. This fine fantasy rotates first person perspectives between Felix and Mildmay until their paths collide. Thus the audience gets a close look at the motives that drive both protagonists, which brings realism to the Monette fantasy realm where magic flows everywhere. Felix is simply escaping a shameful past not of his making but still humiliating while Mildmay may be caught by a wizard's spell but also his childhood training as a thief-slave that molded him comes across too. Fans of character driven fantasies starring two distinct likable but flawed heroes on personal quests of salvation will want to read Sarah Monette's thrilling tale.

Old Twentieth
Joe Haldeman
ISBN: 044101285X, $24.95, 272 pp.

The Becker-Cendrek Process allowed man to achieve immortality. Death only came to those who suffered accidents or died while pregnant when the procedure is temporarily discontinued. Two hundred years after the Immortality War that killed all but 200 million immortals humanity decided to send five spaceships to an uninhabited earth like planet revolving around Beta Hydrii. The eight-hundred crewmembers were going to the planet and they passed much of their time in a virtual reality time machinelike machine. They visited places and events in the twentieth century, the last century when death was a foregone conclusion to life. Jacob Brewer, a virtual reality engineer (and part time cook) is studying the data stream for anachronisms when he notices there is no sense of smell in certain virtual reality years in New York City. When a woman dies in virtual reality, Jacob investigates the problem and meets the sentient avatar of the time machine. Now Jacob has to find out what it wants and what its agenda really is. One of Joe Haldeman's greatest gifts is his ability to always surprise the reader by taking the storyline in a completely unexpected direction. Readers realize the immortals have the same feelings, fears and beliefs as mortals and since the oldest is only a few centuries old ennui hasn't had a chance to settle in. Virtual reality takes on a whole different meaning in OLD TWENTIETH, a science fiction novel worthy of Hugo and Nebula nominations.

Harriet Klausner
Senior Reviewer

Laurel's Bookshelf

Animal Prayer Guide: A Book Based on Bible Scripture
Niki Behrikis Shanahan
Pete Publishing
P.O. Box 282, Tyngsborough MA 01879
ISBN: 0972030123, $12.98, 128 pages

Psalms 36:6 assures us that God loves man and animals alike. It is on this scripture that Ms. Shanahan builds the framework of Animal Prayer Guide. Using scriptures as her guide, along with heartwarming stories and photos, the author takes us step by step through daily life with our animal companions. Animals share our world. They breathe the same air we breathe. Animals suffer and die as humans do, and are resurrected into Heaven as we are. It stands to reason then that the same prayers spoken for humans should be prayed for animals.

The author makes her case for animals beautifully through God's Word. She also shares stories of miracle healings and angelic protection related to animals. For the readers' convenience, model prayers are offered for a variety of needs including:

praying over our pets' food and water;
praying for healing, protection, and emergencies;
annointing with oil;
a pet memorial service.

Most of us grieve over the loss of a pet as much or sometimes more than the loss of a human friend because animals love as God loves, unconditionally. The Animal Prayer Guide offers hope and comfort to all readers who love and care about their pets. This quote from St. Francis of Assisi sums up this book perfectly: "If you have men who will exclude any of God's creatures from the shelter of compassion and pity, you will have men who will deal likewise with their fellow men."

This book is highly recommended for people who love and care about their animal companions.

There is Eternal Life for Animals
Niki Behrikis Shanahan
Pete Publishing
P.O. Box 282, Tyngsborough MA 01879
ISBN: 0972030107, $12.98, 128 pages

Most humans love their pets and think of them as family. We suffer grief and loss when a pet dies, much the same as when a human dies. The author understands such grief. With this book based solidly on Bible scriptures, she offers hope and reassurance to pet lovers everywhere.

Do animals go to heaven when they die? Those who believe the Bible will know for certain that they do, once they've read this book. God ordered humans to be stewards of all creation, including animals. Our lives would lack joy and happiness without them. And yet, animals share man's fate. They suffer and eventually die no matter how much we love them. Step by step, through well researched and referenced scriptures, Ms. Shanahan proves that animals have soul, spirit, and are valued by God the same as humans. And she does not simply quote Bible verses to make her point. She compares the meanings of words in the original Hebrew and Greek texts for added emphasis. I found this technique particularly helpful.

The Disciple John says in Revelation 5:13, after experiencing a vision of Heaven, "And every creature which is in heaven, and on the earth, and under the earth and such as are in the sea, and all that are in them, heard I saying, blessing, and honor, and glory, and power be unto Him that sitteth upon the throne, and unto the lamb forever and ever." John heard every creature, man and beast, praising God and Jesus in heaven. And this is just one of many such scriptures proving our animal companions share the human cycle of life, death, and resurrection.

There is Eternal Life for Animals is a helpful, hopeful, uplifting book. I recommend it to everyone who loves animals and wonders what happens when a pet dies.

Two Friends Blend
Mary-Alice Boulter and Anne Mullen
Blue Scarab Press
P.O. Box 4966, Pocatello ID 83205-4966
no ISBN, Chapbook at $3 plus $1 shipping

This is the sixteenth in a series of Pocatello Blend chapbooks that feature writers from the southeast Idaho area. Boulter and Mullen have been widely published in magazines, anthologies, and other chapbooks. This book is aptly named because their voices do, indeed, blend beautifully.

Ms. Boulter's poetry is introduced by "Thunderstorm", in which she captures the essence of that natural phenomenon through skillful metaphors, as in this excerpt:

huge growling presence

rumble menace behind hills
throated growls
angry rolling roars

And in this excerpt from "Pre-Millenium Winter Solstice Light Fantastic" she transforms moonlight and tree branches into stately lovers:

I finally caught them.
I've suspected it for years.
The Moon, reckless in her rare full beauty
danced with abandon in his branches.

"The Estate Sale" distills the life of a man down to his bare bones. My excerpt cannot do full justice to this finely crafted poem:

They sold my father today for $2,000.

Browsing through the bones
of his life
bargain hunters bought 82 years
this day
tool by tool
parts and pieces
parceled out
taken away in strange hands.

Ms. Mullen is no less effective as she reminisces about life, youth, and passing time in this excerpt from her first poem, "Learning to Wish":

You wanted to read a future certain
as an orbit amidst the dazzle
of infinity. Someone told you
shooting stars predicted death.
Their sudden beauty killed you.

"Drawing the Oriental Lilies" is rich with visual and tactile imagery:

I am lost in the folds
of petals, curves
at the ends of petals,
brown-crowned stamens,
naked glistening pistils, over-all
red that bleeds droplets into pink,
shy white at the edges....

And in "Finish", Mullen muses on the relationship between poets and crows, a bird that presents to the eye "calligraphy clearer than words":

Poets want words strong,
long-calling, sharp enough
for bold messages that don't
stop at what is possible.

I've come to expect excellence in any work presented by Blue Scarab Press. These poems by friends Mary-Alice Boulter and Anne Mullen emphasize the Blue Scarab philosophy ideally.

A Cuppa Jo
Jo A. Parris and G. David Parris
Blue Scarab Press
P.O. Box 4966, Pocatello ID 83205-4966
no ISBN, Chapbook at $3 plus $1 shipping

When Blue Scarab Press announced its plan to produce a chapbook series featuring southeast Idaho writers and poets, I wondered where they would find the talent for an ongoing series. But here I am, reviewing the fifteenth in the Pocatello Blend series and this project shows no sign of running out of steam any time soon. When Blue Scarab Press says southeast Idaho has a strong writing community, they speak from experience.

The prose and poetry of Jo A. Parris has been published in literary magazines and books. This is G. David Parris' first published work. According to the back cover of this chapbook, Mr. Parris has finally sworn off destroying his writings. That gives me the hope of someday reading more from these two fine writers.

Ms. Parris offers a poem and several short stories. I chose this excerpt from "August 1967" as a prime example of her work, which I found haunting and intriguing in style:

It is dark in Nevada at night, even with the casinos less than half a block away. But I could see his face. A thousand miles from now with no moon in the sky years away when even this has slipped from me and I live alone in a room with tea in the cupboards and apples on the table, cushions on the floor and the records collect dust and the books wait on the shelves but I've read them all and still the clutter is not quite what I want yes even then I will see his face. As he lies beside me asleep he is gone, far away from the world of discovery, of last spring, of a silent secret place in the mountains and loud in the background, the jukebox, the glasses and din and roar.

In "Coffee and Cigarettes", Mr. Parris essays his thoughts clearly on governmental legislation of personal choices. He writes with humor and passion, as demonstrated in these random excerpts:

Though I am not yet thirty, I am a dinosaur. I am the last of a long line, one that has nearly been erased from Western society, one so reviled that we have become the exiled. I am a smoker.... How do you explain living in a society that turned a blind eye not so long ago? One that left you alone enough to make your own stupid choices rather than legislating away your right to be an idiot....

The first clean air act I became aware of was passed in Utah in the early 90s. Since then, these laws have passed across the country with varying forms and restrictions. In California, you can go to a bar and flood yourself with poisonous alcohol, but are strictly forbidden to combine drinking and smoking, lest some non smoking patrons object to the pollution of their lungs while polluting their livers.

Each Pocatello Blend chapbook is limited to a print run of 100. If you hurry, there might be copies left of A Cuppa Jo to purchase. This reviewer recommends you read each diverse chapbook in the series.

Butterflies and Willow Switches
Vivian Bolland Schroeder
17502 Typhoon Way, Crosby TX 77532-4126
ISBN: 0975913409, $14.98 + $3.50 s & h, 144 pages

Ms. Schroeder's beautiful book is the result of a lifetime of observing and absorbing life in all its precious detail. From the aesthetically pleasing cover to the poems found within, this book is a labor of love in every way. Regardless of your taste in poetry -- whether free form or rhyming verse -- you'll find something worth reading here. In my opinion, this great-grandmother's range as a poet is phenomenal.

This excerpt from the title poem sets the stage ideally for what will follow:

My mother,
Her limp, faded cotton housedress
Smelling of cabbage and clabber
Earmarked for poultry and pigsty,
Knew more of life and living
Than anyone else I knew.

Schroeder's reminiscences convey a tender pathos. "Peas" for example, which I quote in its entirety, is simple but powerfully constructed for maximum impact:

Methodically she stirred her peas,
Steam rising from the rolling boil.
Tears brimmed silently and fell.
Her stoic shoulders shuddered now and then.
Hands, misshapen with the years,
Trembled as she ladled peas.

His worn blue suit dispatched,
The parlor swept and aired,
The wake arranged,
Dreaded empty hours loomed.

He would have understood.

Mamma canned a mess of peas
The day that Papa died.

And the humor I mentioned? "Ole Buck and Ball" will bring a smile:

Ole Buck and Ball, my momma said,
Transported them about.
I visualized a prancing pair
Of horses, proud and stout.
It wasn't till Ole Buck and Ball
Were summoned for my use
I found that good Ole Buck and Ball
Were stabled in my shoes.

Shroeder speaks of outrages many of us fail to contemplate. A favorite of mine is this excerpt from "Museum Display":

Let our bones rest in peace.
There is purpose in their placement.
Our people do not disturb your sleeping fathers,
Do not question your rites or analyze your remains.

You dig like dogs to placate morbid curiosity
For buried bones you did not hide.

This poet plays with words instinctively, sometimes joyfully. "Captives" is brief, but alive and lively with action:

Music sprang from the keyboard,
Prowled the audience,
Lunged for the heart,
Seized spellbound captives.

Whether musing on the holocaust, the trials of immigrants, love, or loss, Schroeder's words resonate with life. Through poems, she shares summer's "taut, torrid dog-days"; "a plain and perfect stew"; "the retchings of a restless sea"; "days of hollyhock dolls" and so much more. This book is a rare treasure. I highly recommend it.

God This is a Good Time to Say No
Freda Gower Ward
4993 Bacopa Lane South, #404, St. Petersburg FL 33715
ISBN: 0972364099, $14.95, 182 pages

The irrepressible Freda Gower Ward has done it again! This time she takes the real estate game head on with hilarious results and educates her readers in the bargain. How this writer / humorist / public speaker / wife found time to get her realtor's license is beyond me.

After 50 years of marriage, Freda's husband lures her into joining him in the real estate business. After all, this will allow them to spend more quality time together, right? Freda knows her 73 year old brain is already packed with old information that floats around and surfaces when she least expects it. So where will she find room in those old brain cells for new information? True to form, Freda has one of her chatty talks with God, hoping for a word or sign from Him that studying to pass a realtor's exam is not a wise move. God is silent. Somehow she muddles through and joins her husband with high hopes of being Florida's top husband and wife team of realtors.

As with Freda's prior projects, this new career does not turn out as she anticipated. But she's nothing if not generous. She shares her newfound knowledge gained by trial and error in this book. Readers will learn the ins and outs of buying and selling real estate, along with Freda's tips on varied subjects, such as:

-- maneuvering through life with wireless laptops that are not really wireless;
-- dealing with paper cutters that won't cut;
-- showing a prime property with your pantyhose down around your hips:
-- the true meaning and purpose of the word "exponential";
-- the vicissitudes of fine print in a contract;
-- the shocking and unexpected benefits of grapefruit juice;
-- how to deal with buyers who don't really want to buy and sellers who don't really want to sell.

And that barely skims the surface of the humorous situations she encounters.

Everything Freda Gower Ward writes is priceless, funny, entertaining, and zeroes in on truths we face each day in life. If enthusiasm and good humor had a dollar amount attached, she'd be worth a zillion dollars. If you need a laugh, this one is highly recommended. Like potato chips, her books can be addicting so you might not be able to read just one.

Laurel Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Shelley's Bookshelf

Dirty Deeds
Mark Terry
High Country Publishers
197 New Market Center, #135, Boone, North Carolina 28607
ISBN: 1932158529, $12.95

Although his day job centers around the science of genetics, Mark Terry spends his discretionary time as a free lance writer, producing short stories, articles, and one prior novel. He is a mystery reviewer with The Oakland Press, and lives with his family in Michigan.

Meg Malloy grew up with computers, as her father was a professor of computer sciences. Using a tip from her dad, she and her husband found an internet company, which she sells for millions. But too early retirement and shallow relationships grind away at her basic values, and she finds herself hiring out to companies as a computer troubleshooter. Having some experience as a private eye puts her in a unique position to help out when a TV preacher's daughter turns up in a porn video delivered to his door. Meg reluctantly agrees to help, but quickly brings in the heavy guns in the person of Jack Bear, her cousin's ex-beau. Jack is exciting and mysterious, and his Chippewa blood and prowess as a "fix-it" guy comes in mighty handy, especially when things get a little hot for Meg:

"As if in a trance I picked my way around the men and out of the Mason's house. Turning as I stepped through the doorway, I watched Jack reach inside one of the men's jackets and pull out what looked like a slim leather wallet. He flipped it open and read it before tucking it back inside the coat. Something flitted across his dark features like bats across the night sky, then he pocketed their two guns and followed me out the door."

It takes real skill as a writer to craft a story around sleazy subjects, such as prostitution and the mob, and not get caught up in the murkiness of the tale. But Mark Terry manages to not only sidestep the darker side, but to focus on the unresolved sexual tension between Meg and Jack to kick out a great mystery. Meg has no problem carrying the story...she's smart, rich, and has just enough issues to be fascinating. But Jack's character is sheer brilliance, and the tight dialogue between him and Meg absolutely sizzles. Mark Terry is coy enough to use their relationship as a finger beckoning the reader toward his next novel, while the reader can't get enough of DIRTY DEEDS. This is an airy page turner and a good old fashioned Nero Wolfe type of good time.

A Small Case of Murder
Lauren Carr
iUniverse, Inc.
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
ISBN: 059530253X, $20.95

Lauren Carr is a resident of Harpers Ferry, West Virginia, bringing to mind the song The Ode to Billy Joe. Lauren's career has spanned having her work produced for television, the theater, and published books, and she obviously knows her way around the act of writing.

Chester, West Virginia is a small but interesting town. Joshua Thornton, now a retired JAG lawyer, grew up there with his cousin, Dr. Tad MacMillan, who was known for his sexual exploits and experimentation with drugs and alcohol. But that was then, and now Tad and Joshua are reunited, with Josh's five children from his now deceased wife, Valerie. Both he and Tad mourn the women they loved, but Tad's situation is more complicated. Only the original doctor in town whose office Josh has bought, Doc Wilson, knows the secrets of the town's inhabitants and the ultimate reason for Tad's heartbreak. Reverend Orville Rawlings is the richest minister around, and at one of his services Joshua is attacked by the minister's outlaw daughter, Vicki, who has a gun and an unreasonable hatred of Tad:

"As the man and girl hit the floor, the bullet discharged from the barrel, struck one of the hanging lamps, and sent a shower of glass down onto the shocked congregation. The bullet continued its flight upward until it planted itself into one of the oak panels high above the church members."

There is nothing more fun for a mystery reader than a tale of murder surrounding an overly pious preacher with too much money and not enough oversight. In this case, it takes a shrewd ex-military lawyer in the person of the delectable Joshua Thornton to sort through decades of murder and injustice. Carr weaves an extraordinary story that is gripping and crafted at the highest level to entertain the reader with its touch familial centerpiece amidst evil and chaos.

Joshua Thornton is a hero most sublime, and his five children provide the perfect backdrop for a man searching for the next plateau. Chester, West Virginia is every town, and its inhabitants are fun and pivotal to the plot. The story is complicated, and Lauren Carr feints and thrusts to bring her various villains to the forefront. This is a fine tale for a beach blanket read.

Deadly Illusions
Chester D. Campbell
Durban House Publishing Co., Inc.
7502 Greenville Avenue, Suite 500, Dallas, TX 75231
ISBN: 1930754655, $12.95

Chester D. Campbell, former journalist, writer, speechwriter, ad copywriter, public relations executive, and now mystery writer, is someone with an obvious zest for life. He served in both World War II and Korea, and now enjoys life with his wife, children, and many grandchildren.

In this latest Greg McKenzie mystery, the newly formed McKenzie Investigations, run by Greg and his wife, Jill, is off to an auspicious beginning after solving their first case. Greg has run a bit amok with the local police, but still has contacts in the Nashville Police Department. But when a high profile personality is gunned down in a local hotel just when Greg and Jill are dining a new client, they have no idea that their next case will be integrally connected. In the meantime, they take on a case for a questionable character named Molly Saint who is a shirttail relative of Jill's. Molly's husband, Damon, is not quite who he seems, and Molly has a nagging feeling that she may be at risk:

"'As I told you on the phone, Damon's wife Molly hired us to look into him. He had made some threats that were quite worrisome. But before we could get very far with our investigation, she left a message on our answering machine to call her back as soon as possible. She was really excited about something. But when we tried to call, we found they had moved.'"

Chester D. Campbell has his own unique style of writing that is both dashing and touching. His obvious affection for his wife shines through just as he outlines a nefarious plot based on his own military experience. Greg McKenzie is a senior investigator who relies on his experience to compensate for the brawn he might have engaged in the past. His wife, Jill, is an accomplished pilot, cook, and is the perfect partner for her husband. Campbell juxtaposes her correction of Greg's "blue language" and her obvious spirituality with her determination when the going gets rough and she has to use some of the private investigator skills that most people would shrink from. All in all, DEADLY ILLUSIONS is another winner in the Chester D. Campbell literary cabinet. Campbell obviously has many stories to share, and he continues to write fabulous mysteries.

Murder at Midnight
Marshall Cook
Bleak House Books, Inc.
953 E. Johnson St., Madison, WI 53703
ISBN: 1932557067, $14.95

A fellow Madisonian, Marshall Cook has credits in the murder milieu with MURDER OVER EASY and has also published THE GREAT WISCONSIN MANHUNT OF 1961, as well as over twenty titles on baseball, writing, and time management. He is presently a professor of creative writing at the University of Wisconsin-Madison Division of Continuing Studies. He also edits a newsletter called CREATIVITY CONNECTION for writers.

Beloved priest Father O'Bannon, priest for the small St. Anne's parish in Prairie Rapids, is found with his throat slit by Monona Quinn, the town's newspaper editor. It just so happens that Mo just solved a prior murder mystery, and her husband Doug is worried about her propensity for putting herself into the murderer's paths. Mo quickly befriends Dane County detective Lashandra Cooper, an African-American with an attitude and a heart of gold. Lashandra and Mo are instinctive soul mates, after they settle the question of how to deal with sleuthing in the rural area outside of Madison:

"'Sure seems to around here. Folks stare at me like they've never seen a black person before.' 'It's possible that some of them haven't, except maybe on television.' 'Come on. You gotta be kidding me.' She shook her head, scanning the room. She nodded toward Dilly, taking orders from the Ladies of the Communal Crossword at the big round table in the center of the room. 'Doesn't he ever write the orders down?' 'Can't read or write. But he never gets an order wrong.'"

Although Cook is a native of Almaden, California, he has embraced the Wisconsin Way from the University of Wisconsin-Madison to the rural communities. His obvious prowess as a writer shines through in a tight plot, well-defined characters, and stunning local color. Attention to detail drives this plot that may or may not have been inspired by the real life murder of a local priest that was never solved. Whether real time events have interceded in Cook's tale is irrelevant, though, as his version jumps to life for the reader. His red herring is most believable, and he even throws in a Hitchcockian twist in the end, much to this reader's delight. MURDER AT MIDNIGHT is a polished and entertaining read written by a master.

Evil Intentions
Denise Osborne
Perseverance Press
John Daniel & Company
P.O. Box 2790, McKinleyville, CA 95519
ISBN: 1880284774, $13.95

Feng Shui is the ancient Chinese art of manipulating and arranging your environment. The idea is to attract chi, a positive life energy, so that it flows smoothly, unblocking any obstructions in your body and environment. Feng Shui evolved from the theory that people are affected in a positive or negative way by their surroundings. Denise Osborne is a Feng Shui practitioner with ties to Hollywood. She has written short films and screenplays, created inter-active web characters, is highly traveled, and has expertise in native American Arts. She gives Feng Shui presentations around the country and owns a studio which sells Feng Shui products called Wind and Water House.

Salome Waterhouse and Germaine Brilliante are friends. Germaine is a member of a four-person woman's group called SOW (Stewardship of Women) who help out less fortunate women. They run a safe house called the Women's Place, and vote to hire Salome to conduct a Feng Shui presentation. But all is not well. June McGann has hired Germaine, an ex-reporter, to follow her wild sister, April. April was the former fiance of Salome's worst enemy, a Duncan Mah. As Germaine and Salome drive to Salome's home after her presentation, they find that someone has thrown a molotov cocktail through her living room window. This is all a prelude to the murder of Honey Lee, June McGann's home organizer:

"'Oh dear,' Germaine whispered. She pulled up to the curb just short of the street and behind a small crowd of onlookers. Salome grabbed her handbag, and with a worried look said, 'Do you mind waiting while I find out what's going on?"'

EVIL INTENTIONS is clearly written like a screenplay, with obvious scenes in mind. It takes a little while for the reader to identify the characters, who are well drawn and interesting. Salome Waterhouse is a gentle Asian woman with high intelligence and an interesting background. Her ex-husband is a best selling author of mysteries, and her background work with him plus her keen powers of observation make her the perfect sleuth. Feng Shui permeates the tale, creating a nice juxtaposition to the unsavory characters that make up the underworld that Salome, her friend Jude, and her ex-husband, Gabe explore. New alliances form in this skillful tale.

Shelley Glodowski
Senior Reviewer

Shirley's Bookshelf

The Gift of Life
Jean Lynch
2021 Pine Lake Road Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
ISBN: 0595318827, $12.95, 93 pages

In this work we find author Jean Lynch opening her heart concerning the heartbreak of losing her beloved daughter Linda from a lung disease called, Alpha-1. A disease that is treatable if diagnosed early on; for Linda this was not the case.

Ms. Lynch tells her story with raw emotion and deep conviction. She takes us into the life of Linda, at times a young child, at others a mom and still at other times a loving daughter. The author impresses upon our hearts and minds that Linda was a person, with a husband, children and a purpose in life.

We are taken with Linda through her illness, her lung transplant and the failure of that endeavor. We walk with her through her final days and we share with Ms. Lynch the sorrow of losing her.

This work is a mom's tribute to her daughter and to a soul that could have been here longer had things been handled differently.

A heartwarming story of family, love and loyalty and one that brings the awareness of a disease that those with lung problems should be tested for.

Thank you Ms. Lynch, my heart and prayers are with you.

The God Particle
Richard Cox
Del Rey Publishing
Division of Random House
151 Hudson Avenue, New York, NY
ISBN: 0345462858, $13.95, 320 pages

I have to say the author did an outstanding job of drawing you into the storyline of this book from the beginning. I probably would not have continued the read if he were to throw the physics at me right away, but he didn't.

Instead he draws you into the life of a man, Steve, who was chosen to be part of an experiment that he never volunteered for and introduces you to one of the men, Mike, who is working on finding the Higgs field. You see there are those working to find a particle that binds the universe together, if uncovered it will give whoever has the knowledge great power. Mike is an honest man, truly believing in his lives work but of course with anything like this, you always have the bad guys, and in this work believe me these guys are very bad and will stop at nothing to be successful in their quest.

Our main character Steve seems to have had something implanted in his head that he knew nothing about after a bizarre accident in Zurich. Upon arriving back in the states he begins to experience some disturbing things and after much investigating realizes he was targeted as part of this experiment. In his attempt to find answers, he seeks out Mike. Thus, the lives of Steve and Mike are thrust together to fight the evil men that covet the God Particle.

This was a very interesting story, strange in part, yet compelling and thought provoking as well. A little bit off the beaten track, this book will keep you guessing and leave you wondering. Nice piece of work.

Here Comes The Old Man Now
John Perrault
Oyster River Press
10 Riverview Road, Durham, NH 03824
ISBN: 1882291875, $15.00, 77 pages

In this work by poet, John Perrault, we are showered with a variety of subjects, from aging to grief to family. Our emotions are stirred as we read, perhaps a tinge of sadness prevails, perhaps a smile, perhaps a moment to reflect and think or perhaps a work that pricks our own memory. all in all a great work reflecting our journey through life.

Poetry in a way is like a flower in bloom. Some pass by and do not stop to see it's beauty or smell it's sweet gift of scent that fills the air. And for the wise who do, each will receive within themselves only what they allow and so with the reading of a poets work, each reader takes within themselves their own meaning to the words penned. So it is with this work, a reflection of life, the emotions and drama it brings to each of us are private, personal, heart-felt. A work to be shared and a work to be cherished.

Self Help
Jacqi Lumer
Caffeine Society
516 Cole Street, San Francisco, CA 94117
ISBN: 0975359711, $11.95, 96 pages

Author Jacqi Lumer does it again in another delightful work, "Self Help."

Within the pages of this book, we are given beautiful pictures nestled in the glow of pink color that portray the beginning of our expressions.

We are given the start of a sentence, such as, " I have no regrets about," It's okay to be selfish about," or "Little things that make me happy are," and we are encouraged by the page alone to fill the blank with our inward feelings.

It's always helpful to be able to write down our emotions, be free to express our heart, and in this well constructed book we are given the nudge that maybe needed to complete that task.

I enjoyed this and intend to put it to good use. Very nice work; simple, yet effective.

Shelby and the Shifting Rings
A.M. Veillon
Parity Press
1450 W. Horizon Ridge Pkwy, B304-226, Henderson, NV 89012-4480
ISBN: 0976201542, $18.75, 176 pages

In the beginning of this outstanding read, we meet 12-year of Shelby Shodworth, who is orphaned after the death of her mother. Shelby is shipped off to live with her Uncle Leviticus, her father's brother. Shelby's father was presumed dead years ago after a fire ripped through the lab at a school where he was a professor.

We are taken with Shelby as she tries desperately to adjust to life without her beloved mother, makes a great friend in a young boy named Casey, and just when she is feeling a little better, she is whisked off to a private school.

Here, she befriends a young girl named Molly and through an amazing course of events, Shelby and Molly discover that this was the school that her father lost his life so many years before. What is the mystery behind it?

As the girls investigate more, they find a hidden time travel portal underneath the school hidden in tunnels. It is when Shelby finds the courage to use the time travel portal that the answers to so many of her questions are finally answered.

I have to say, this is one of the best young adult books that I have read in a long time.
Right from the start you are deeply involved in the life of young Shelby and as her questions mount concerning her life, you can't wait to turn the page hoping she will find the answers. The author brings into play many colorful characters that add mystery and draw mix emotions within you; and even though this story leans towards science fiction, the author does not leave out the problems a young girl could encounter beginning a new school. Making new friends, battling the school bully, and dealing with a teacher who appears to dislike her, all make for a realistic story.

It is with great pleasure that I highly recommend this read. The story moves along nicely, keeps your interest peaked with mystery and suspense, and makes you hunger for more. A Top of the Notch, don't miss this one matter what your age may be.

Room For Improvement
Barbara Kavovit
Rodale Publishing 800-848-4735
ISBN: 1594861331, $24.95, 249 pages

If anyone ever says a woman is not able to fix things up, and make improvements in their home, they have not been blessed in reading this outstanding book.

Author, Barbara K takes the guess work out of many projects that seem impossible for the average person to do. In this work, she takes you step by step, often with the help of pictures to show you how to do many improvements in your home.

Some examples are, wall coverings, lightening, floors and doors. She targets problem areas and gives solutions and she does all of this in an easy to understand manner.

I have to say by the time you are done reading through this book, you are energized and ready to transform your home. You just know you can do it. If you have been holding back, but wanting to make those changes, pick up this work. It just might be the encouragement you have been waiting for.

The Little Guide To Your Well-Read Life
Steve Leveen
Levenger Press
420 South Congress Avenue, Delray Beach, Florida 33445 800-544-0880
ISBN: 1929254178, $17.50, 120 pages

I have to admit being a reviewer, when I first received this book I did not think it would be of interest to me. I was very wrong. Don't think this work will be boring, no, it is far from that. It is packed full of great suggestions to help you find more time in your busy schedule to enjoy a good read.

The author covers so many topics, from helping you to list books you would like to read, to explaining about audio books and right into helping others understand the joy of reading.

This is a great little book, a very helpful and enjoyable read. I recommend this for those of us who read, read, read and those of us who don't. You will find many helpful tips in it that will help you along the reading highway.

Adventures of Riley: Mission to Madagascar
Amanda Lumry & Laura Hurwitz
Sarah McIntyre, illustrator
Eaglemont Press
15600 NE 8th #B-1, Bellvue WA 98008
ISBN: 0974841129, $15.95, 36 pages

We are taken on an exciting trip to Madagascar, an isle of Africa in this fifth installment in the Adventures of Riley series; and what an adventure it is.

Riley and his cousin Alice join Uncle Max, Aunt Martha and a film crew as they creep along this mysterious land at night in search of the illusive Lemur. In this book you will learn all the wonderful traits of this incredible little animal, along with facts of other wild life that inhabit this land. Want to know about the Hissing Cockroach and what the Painted Mantella Frog is? How about a tree that looks as if it is growing upside down called a Baobab Tree. Did you know that Madagascar is the fourth largest island in the world? So much to learn in this wonderful book that is packed full of delightful colored illustrations, brilliantly filling your minds eye ,bringing every word of this work to life. Great job!

You and your children will greatly enriched your lives with the reading of this book. Not only in learning interesting facts about wild life, but gaining an understanding of the importance each creature plays in our world. An absolutely fun learning experience awaits you within its covers. One that you and your children will enjoy reading together and treasure for years to come. Very highly recommended. This is one great book!

Rascal and Rainbow: The Beginning of an Unusual Friendship
Janice Braun Williams
Sanbun Publishers
New Delhi
A-78 Naraina Indl Area Ph-I, New Delhi 110 028, INDIA
ISBN: 3473470280, $5.99, 30 pages

In this delightful tale for children ages 5-8, we meet Rascal, who is a new German Shepherd puppy.

Rascal is born on a farm and begins to make friends with the barnyard animals.

He meets Penelope, the pig; Daisy the cow; and Samuel the goat and a host full of other fun barnyard animals. He also meet Barney, the loving and friendly mailman, and Rascal loves him almost as much as Mrs. Winters; the lady who owns the farm.

When Rascal's mom and his brothers and sister are taken away to be show dogs, Rascal stays with Mrs. Winters. One day one of the chickens asks Rascal to look after her nest, while he does an egg hatches and since Rascal is the first thing the chick sees, she assumes Rascal is her mother.

Try as he might, Rascal cannot make the little chick understand he is not as the little chick jumps on his head and refuses to come off. What do you think will happen when a chick and a German Shepherd become friends? A lot of adventure is in store in the future.

This is a wonderful story that children will want more and more of. Colorful illustrations and loveable characters await them in this read.


The Adventures of Rascal and Rainbow
Janice Braun Williams
Sanbun Publishers
A-78 Naraina Indl Area Ph-I, New Delhi 110 028, INDIA
ISBN: 3473470211, $5.99, 30 pages

In this second book of this series Mrs. Winters is going on a trip and the loving mailman Barney is watching out for the farm and the farm animals; with the help of Rascal of course, a wonderful German Shepherd. Rascal takes his job very serious, but his friend Rainbow, the chicken, thinks they should take advantage of this time and go see the world.

Rascal isn't quite sure, but soon finds himself miles from the safety of Mrs. Winters' farm. He certainly didn't think the world held that much attraction once he was out in it. What were they to do now? How will they get back home?

This is a great tale, full of just the right amount of adventure for children and of course with a happy ending that will bring a smile. An adorable read; one that will delight young and old alike.

A King's Quest
A.V. Wedhorn
Helm Publishing
3923 Seward Avenue, Rockford, Il 61108
ISBN: 097609195X, $16.95, 468 pages

This exciting adventures opens with the brutal murder of a Royal family. You are thrust into the Kingdom of Kings and Nobel's, elves and magicians as you begin this page turning read. Who is Damien Daverge, and is he truly the rightful ruler of these Kingdoms? Why is his cousin claiming Kingship and will Damien prove himself as rightful King before it is too late? Can he save the Kingdoms from the rule of the ancient evil Masters who would once again enslave them?A lot of questions, a lot of adventures packs a wallop of a punch in this fast pace mystical read.

The author does an outstanding job pulling the many characters together, weaving them into their proper places in the storyline and bringing to light their colorful personalities and magical gifting.
This is no small feat in this work that is but part one of "The Kingdom Chronicles." If you like a book that is brimming with supernatural powers, swordsmen of mystical powers, teachers with unearthly wisdom, loyalty, betrayal, and a quest of grave importance, this is the one for you.
A book of the finest quality, with a medieval flavor, captivating and attention grabbing. Recommended.

Women in Shadow and Light
Jan Goff-LaFontaine
Creative Minds Press
Beagle Bay Books
3040 June Meadow Rd., Reno, NV 89509
ISBN: 0974961051, $23.00, 146 pages

Abuse and women have gone hand in hand throughout the centuries; the battle for liberty and freedom rages on even now in our modern times. The subject matter of this book is not new, the stories told and the tears shed are not surprising, but what is, is the courage found within these women and the positive reflection their words leave with the reader.

As author Jan Goff-LaFontaine shares the heart of these women with frank interviews, she somehow shatters the wall of secrecy that has been carefully laid, and takes you to the other side of their prison wall where liberty awaits them. At first I was surprised to see naked pictures of these women, but for them this too was a liberty, a breaking free of abuse and negative impressions of their inner-self; as they shared the parts of their body where healing began.

Abuse in any form is not a pretty picture; the degrading of another human being must never be tolerated. This work, I believe, will give hope to thousands of women to take that first step to freedom.

Gertrude's Cupboard
E.J. Cockey
E.J. Cockey and Company
P.O.Box 4132, Lutherville, Maryland 21094
ISBN: 0975886916, $14.95, 122 pages

I suppose for all of us there are times when someone or some experience touches us, charges us, in one way or another. Sometimes it is for the good, and sometimes it is not. Life often challenges us with circumstances concerning ourselves or our loved ones, and we desperately search for meaning and answers to questions and problems that seem to linger . But then, there are those who finally find the peace, learn the lesson, even though they may not have all the answers, they have learned what is important and how we all play a part in the lives of others. This is what I saw in the work, "Gertrude's Cupboard.

As Cockey struggles with extreme challenges concerning the son she so loves, her life is also hampered with the ever present financial needs of mere existence. Through the life of a 90 year old woman, who herself is suffering from Dementia, she is shown that what is within her, her gift, her talent can touch and change lives; and in doing so can only enrich her own. A book that brings to light the true struggle of so many suffering people, and an encouragement that one person can make a difference. I believe this work may be an awaking to some and a source of peace to others.

The Art of Managing Everyday Conflict
Erik A. Fisher and Steven W. Sharp
Praeger Publishers
88 Post Road West, Westport, CT 06881
ISBN: 0275981843, $39.95, 230 pages

I have read countless self-help books; some I have taken to heart and others I have not. This work I found to be very interesting and enlightened me in many ways. The author gives you some clear revelations concerning conflicts that you will encounter in life; the emotions you will deal with and the why's of feeling as you feel.

He explains the concept of the 'power struggles' that we have within ourselves, and how important it is to work to understand them and make the necessary changes.

It is always hard to see ourselves as others see us, our flaws and weaknesses; but with understanding, comes the ability to change.

I enjoyed this work and plan on doing a little more study with this book and some self-examining. I think this book would profit all that take the time to read it and put into practice what is being told them. An interesting spin, not boring, but very insightful.

Fix-It and Forget-It Diabetic Cookbook
Phyllis Pellman Good
Good Books
PO Box 4910, Intercourse PA 17534 800-762-7171
ISBN: 1561484598, $15.95

I always enjoy reviewing a cookbook, but when I come across one as outstanding as this one is the joy is doubled. Author Phyllis Pellman Good, with The American Diabetes Association, has compiled a book filled with recipes for diabetics that you make in a slow cooker. Yes, you read that correct, what a great idea for use in our busy lives.

Let me tell you this is no small work, but is absolutely packed full of page after page of wonderful recipes to plop in your slow cooker, walk away and come back to a delicious meal or desert.
Yes, again you heard me correct, there are page after page of deserts that you can make in your slow cooker and all will be loved, not only by those with diabetes, but the entire family. From main dishes to deserts, this book brings the entire family together with recipes that allow you to easily make an entire meal that can be eaten by every member of the family.

I cannot recommend this book highly enough; this is definitely one that should be in every home.
Healthy for every member of the family and delicious too, how can you beat that? Outstanding work.

The Complete Being
Tami Brady
220 Huntstrom Bay NE, Calgary, Alberta T2K 5W6
ISBN: 0973859903, $8.50, 136 pages, ebook

In this informative packed work, author Tami Brady sets you on the course for success. Have you agonized wondering why others seem to achieve and you do not? Have you wanted to know something that may turn your odds around? If so this book is for you.

Ms. Brady explains in her work some key points to use that are within yourself. She breaks these down into four separate categories, explains each and draws them all together for one big picture of success. The main point I saw in this work, and one I thought was outstanding, is that we are all individuals, unique and that one set formula may not work for everyone. I believe that is what makes her work different than other self-help books. No two people are alike and she shows we must look at our own personalities, gifts, emotional baggage, physical strengths and weaknesses, mental ability and spiritual needs and use them to our benefit. If we can understand more about ourselves we can correct weaknesses and increase our strengths; that is my take on this work, and to me this was the main theme. A very good one: I believe.

I enjoyed this writing; I feel it definitely is thought provoking and could be instrumental in helping people to achieve goals in their lives if they would implement what is put before them.

Children Of The Dream
Mary Triola
Quiet Storm Publishing
PO Box 1666, Martinsburg, WV
ISBN: 0977007073, $11.95, 157 pages

I settled back with the excitement of a child in anticipation of what awaiting me in this second work by Mary Triola, Children Of The Dream. I was already familiar with the colorful characters having read book one, Merlin's Door, and I knew I was in for another enchanting read. Ms. Triola's talent as a writer surpasses most authors that I have encountered. The descriptive power in her words make each page alive and active to the mind's eye and draws you into the very essence of the read allowing you to partake of the adventure. Quite an accomplishment.

We see again Carter,a young boy who discovered his supernatural talents in book one, his friend Penny, who is also gifted and their family of magicians; we are introduced to more exciting characters, such as Imani, a little girl who can change the weather and her father, a man who heals with music. We encounter a magical wooden horse, Sasha, who now belongs to Carters sister Peggotty. Strong-willed, Peggotty seems to have developed her own gifts and talents in this mystic world and adds a splash of charm and humor to this read.

It is Christmas vacation and Carter's family travels once again to Uncle Mortimer's house, where the great Enchanter Merlin, Mortimer and Penny eagerly await their coming. Carter and Penny are to begin training in their gifts, but evil will once again rear it's head in the form of a magician named Balor, who is taking children to steal their life force unto himself, that he may rule the world. Balor is an old enemy of our Enchanter Merlin, and one that will not be conquered easily.,

We are whisked to Bermuda and meet Carter's Uncle Will, Aunt Elizabeth and cousin Robbie who will join their magical talents with Carter and his group to battle the evil Balor. As the race to save the children and the world begins, we are once more thrust into the world of mystical happenings. Walking through the land of dreams, we watch the children fight their own nightmares, battle grotesque supernatural warriors, meet heroes of the past, and learn the power of unity,love and bravery. Outstanding!

If this book were a roller-coaster ride, it would have to be the king of them all. Soaring you high in excitement, anticipation, supernatural happenings and magical adventures then plunging you down into the comfortable world of natural living that you are accustomed to. What a ride! Through this work, your imagination will soar,the child within you live, and the excitement of the magical awakened. Children Of The Dream, a work of pure reading enjoyment that will leave you with a smile on your face and a skip in your walk. It doesn't get much better than that. Highly recommended!


There are some books that you read that truly take you into their world; this was the experience I had with both of Mary Triola' works. I knew this was definitely one author I wanted to know more about as her talent screamed from the pages of her books; I was sure she would have much to share with you. I am sure you will enjoy this interview as much as I have. Let's begin,

SPJ: Mary, I have read both, "Merlin's Door," and "Children Of The Dream." and I loved them. I felt like a kid again and devoured every page. Would you please tell us what made you decide to write these books? How did you come up with the storyline?

Mary: When I was in the fifth grade I discovered the five-volume series, The Chronicles of Prydain, by Lloyd Alexander. I loved those books and spent many happy hours reading them and "playing" in that world in my imagination. This was before the advent of "fan fiction." They were inspiring stories of endearingly human characters who did their best to meet some of the greatest challenges life can offer. I later read the books to my children, who enjoyed them as much as I did.

Ever since I learned to write I wanted to be an author. One of the things I wanted to do with my books was to inspire my readers in the ways that Mr. Alexander inspired me. I wanted to first of all create a world that would be fun for me and my readers to explore, with interesting--and a few downright peculiar--characters. I wanted to be able to give kids and "kids-at-heart" positive messages about themselves and the world. Anyone can be a hero if they dig deeply enough to find their inherent goodness and courage.

My interest in the latest discoveries about ancient cities buried under the ocean around the world, which may be the source of our myths of Atlantis, coupled with my fascination with mythology, culture and symbols, gave rise to the basic elements in my storyline. The idea of having magical powers is fun, too, while it also serves as a metaphor for the gifts each of us has inside us. While some people may not even discover they have any special talents, others learn about them and develop these wonderful gifts over a lifetime.

SPJ: Thank you for sharing, that was so interesting. Please tell us, what, if any reaction did you receive after your decision to write these books?

Mary: My family was extremely supportive from the beginning. My youngest daughter, Lauren, and I used to go to a local ice cream shop and write on our respective novels, which only added to the fun.

SPJ: That's wonderful, sharing with a daughter is always special. How long did it take you to complete your books?

Mary: I took my time with Merlin's Door, which I completed in a couple of years because I was also working on editing my first novel, Caroline Rose, and finding a publisher. By the time I started Children of the Dream, I had the added motivation of a supportive, (and excited), publisher and a contract, so it took me a little less than a year to write.

SPJ: To me, these seem like difficult works to write, please tell us, what was the most difficult part in writing your work?

Mary: The first book in the series was the biggest challenge because I was creating a lot of my world as I went. (I'm still creating more parts of it now.) I wasn't sure if anyone would even like the book! Maintaining continuity in the story was also a challenge because I took so long to write Merlin's Door. Sometimes I even forgot important little details like eye-color, so I had to edit the work very carefully. Luckily, Lauren caught most of the inconsistencies I missed when she read through it for me.

SPJ: You did a great job. Now please tell us what was the most enjoyable?

Mary: That's a tough call. I love playing in the world of ideas and trying different ones on like a kid playing dress-up. I can't tell you how exciting it is to see my books in print with their beautiful cover art. It's extremely gratifying to get the terrific reviews I've gotten so far, and to marvel at the wonderful creativity the reviewers have themselves used to express their feelings about my work. There are a lot of fine writers out there reviewing books. But best of all are the responses I get from my young readers who seem to be thoroughly enjoying the series just as much as I enjoy writing it!

SPJ: Isn't that the truth, knowing someone actually enjoyed reading what you wrote. Did you base your characters on real life people? I know that may sound strange, but I think as authors we tend to do that.

Mary: Absolutely! Most of my characters are conglomerates of people that I have known, personally or through stories and/or myths. I often utilize archetypal figures and add personal details that bring them into the human realm.

SPJ: Why did you decide on writing a series? And how many more books can I look forward to reading?

Mary: I have a contract for four books but I anticipate writing several more books than that. I put a lot of effort into creating the world of The Magic of Merlin and I plan to play in my world as long as I like! That's why I couldn't see writing just one book when the "world" is as full of possibilities as the wonderful world we live in.

SPJ: I definitely look forward to reading all of your books. Did you have to do research for your writing?

Mary: Oh, yes, indeed! I love research and I wanted to satisfy my curiosity about people, places and cultures, just as much as I wanted to create a world with enough details that would make it real to the reader. I do a tremendous amount of research for my books, but I have also done a lot of reading throughout my life, so I have a broad background from which to draw ideas, too.

SPJ: Tell us, did you find it difficult to find a publisher and if so what did you do to remedy that?

Mary: Quiet Storm had already published my first novel, Caroline Rose, what I like to call a mystery with a social conscience, so the president, Clint Gaige, was ready to publish the Merlin series once I told him about my ideas. Finding my publisher for the first book was really a result of networking and being a member of an incredible writers group. So, I was extremely lucky to find his company.

SPJ: Quiet Storms is indeed a great company and Clint Gaige, I know, is a very nice person. You certainly were blessed to find them. What advice would you give to authors who are looking for a publisher?

Mary: Network, network, network, and have as many manuscripts ready as possible for when you find your publisher.

SPJ: Do you have an agent? A publicist? How important do you feel this is to an author?

Mary: I don't have an agent and I didn't try to find one. In watching other authors I haven't observed any advantage to having an agent. My colleagues who have had them end up back at square one after a few months, so if you can find a publisher on your own you might just be better off.

I haven't tried to utilize a publicist yet but some of my fellow authors are experimenting with them. I think I'll work on my own for now and see how well my buddies do with them.

SPJ: I'm sure your books will and are selling like hot cakes. How much promoting do you do? Any tips for other authors?

Mary: The biggest surprise for me as an author was marketing. I do a lot of my own promotion, partly because I am with a small publishing company and partly because it is a necessary part of any author's work these days. We really do have to sell ourselves! People want to have more than just a book. They want a piece of something unique and special. I think that people desire connections with people who demonstrate qualities they themselves value, particularly success in a respected or just plain fun field like writing, but are also likable as people.

SPJ: Do you belong to a writer's group?

Mary: I did, and that is the most important thing for a writer is to get out there and write for a good group of people who can offer constructive criticism as well as moral support for your writing. We had a terrific writers group, the Creative Writers Forum, at a big bookstore in Fredericksburg, Virginia. All of us were at various stages of our writing careers and in our lives. We had a spectrum of ages from teens to senior citizens. Some wrote poetry, others wrote screenplays or novels or all of the above. We enjoyed a wonderful camaraderie but we also strove to be honest in evaluating each other's works.

SPJ: What has writing this work done for you and what do you hope it will do for your readers? What do you hope they will take away with them after reading your work? I know it left me feeling like a kid again and at my age that is a good thing.

Mary: It's a good thing at any age, I think! Sometimes I wonder if all kids actually get to feel like kids in these days of frenetic activity both during and after school. Writing these books has taught me an incredible amount about writing. It has given me a place for my own creative expression as well as a place to go and just have fun! The more you draw on your creativity the more you have, like a well that never runs dry. That experience of creative flow has opened me up to a plethora of new and fascinating ideas and projects, some as a direct result of the books and their subjects.

For example, an energetic couple, Fran and Don Bush, owners of Book Lovers Bookstore in Aiken, South Carolina, brought me down to do several programs in area public and private schools. I had never done any before, so it was a little scary at first, but I discovered that I loved visiting the kids and creating a presentation about my books that they would enjoy. I wanted to show them things that they may have never seen or even heard of before, such as traditional African instruments and the Celtic harp. It was a new way to reach out to my readers and tell them how wonderful our world is and that each of us has an almost inconceivable amount of potential as human beings.

I hope my readers feel a childlike wonder at life's possibilities. I hope they gain an appreciation for peoples and their cultures all around the world and feel proud of their own heritage, as people in the human family and as people with various, fascinating cultural roots.

SPJ: Thank you so much for sharing that. Would you tell us how supportive was your family in your writing experience and how important do you think this is to a writer?

Mary: My family is completely supportive of my writing. During the writing of Caroline Rose, my then-teenage kids learned to respect my writing time and waited for me to get my work done before engaging me in conversation. My husband is my most fervent supporter. He believes in my abilities and encourages me to keep growing as an author and a businesswoman. It takes time to develop a writing career and writing novels is not often a lucrative business.

John Steinbeck once said that the profession of writing books made horseracing look like a solid, stable business. A family that supports a member who is an author is very important. Writers need emotional support but they also need some financial support or a paying job so they can live in the world.

SPJ: Again, truth is spoken! Do you have any other works in progress? If so in what genre and when will they be released?

Mary: Right now I'm working on Dragon's Lair, the third book in my series. I have a sequel plotted out for Caroline Rose because so many readers of that book would love to hear more about Kate and Walt and their growing relationship. I am planning more Magic of Merlin books, and possibly even some adult spin-offs as well as chapter books for children near Peggotty's age. I'd love to explore Peggotty's personal adventures with her magic horse. I am also working on a novella about some pre-Merlin's Door characters and how they had to rescue two of the Ladies of Avalon along with some enchanted pigs who are really a band of musicians.

I'm preparing school programs for Fall 2005. Part of that preparation involves learning to play the mbira dzavadzimu, the classical mbira of the Shona people, and the kora, a 21-string African harp. Learning the traditions behind these instruments as well as learning to play them is also helping me write about their use in my sequels, since my character Imani, and her parents, will be permanent additions to my roster of characters in The Magic of Merlin.

My publisher is considering the possibility of producing an audio version of Merlin's Door. I would enjoy recording it, and may add some background music on the various instruments I mention in the books.

I recently met with a gifted and talented teacher at a local school. She is interested in developing a curriculum based on my books. It would likely include studies of cultures, mythology, geography, leading edge technologies, and other areas of interest for educators. She plans to have me present videoconference classes at her school, the only one in my area that produces such courses.

I have a ghost story in the works that is actually based on the Yoruba belief that people reincarnate through their family line. The Yoruba are an ancient African people mostly from what is now called Nigeria.

My Celtic band, Moch Pryderi, is about to go back into the studio to record our third CD. We're looking forward to some exciting gigs including the big Pennsylvania Renaissance Faire in August and the Philadelphia Folk Festival in September. We're getting bookings even into the spring of 2006 in the Southern and Mid-Atlantic States.

SPJ: My goodness, you are one talented busy lady. That is wonderful and I wish you the best in every area of your life. Would you tell us how many hours a day do you write?

Mary: I tend to do my writing in spurts at times of the year when I'm not so busy with musical gigs. At this time of year things have just settled down musically so I'm working my way up to writing two to four hours a day except for Wednesday, when I teach harp and voice.

SPJ: Is there a special place that you write, one that inspires you? Has there been a special person who inspired you to write?

Mary: I write in the living room on my ancient laptop in the most comfortable chair in the house. Lauren and I both use this computer just for writing. I have a wonderful view of nothing but trees outside my window. It's convenient to the kitchen for all those cups of coffee, too!

When I was a little girl my dad used to tell me a story when he tucked me in bed for the night. He made up all kinds of tales right on the spot. He also told stories around the fire when our big family of seven went camping every summer. He is a highly creative man and I am sure he has been the greatest inspiration for my lifelong desire to write.

SPJ: I love that Mary, thank you for sharing about your dad. Has having a book published changed your life in anyway and if so please share that with us.

Mary: Yes, it has changed my life. I'm living my childhood dream, except for the large income I imagined I would earn as an author! Writing has sent my life into new and unexpected directions, from learning African harp to developing curricula based on my books. I've met so many wonderful people through the writing, publishing and marketing process, and there are more to meet!

SPJ: Where do you hope your writing career will be in 3 years and what are you doing to achieve that goal.

Mary: Three years from now I hope to have completed at least three more books in my series and to have appeared at schools and other author events up and down the east coast. To get there I am working through bookstores or directly with schools to schedule programs. I'll continue to plan bookstore events but not as many as I used to get, since I can best reach my audience through the schools. I am setting up events for home school groups as well.

Sci-Fi/Fantasy festivals may be another area to investigate. One such festival has shown an interest in having me as a presenter, particularly since I play Celtic harp, an instrument often featured in fantasy novels.

SPJ: A question a little off the beaten track, do you read and if so what genre is your favorite?

Mary: I read a lot, maybe more than I should at times. But a writer should read - at least that's my excuse! For the past several years I have mostly read non-fiction books in a wide range of topics, from world religions to ethnomusicology to new findings about ancient cultures. I love Graham Hancock's books in particular. His latest, Underworld, contains photographs of megalithic cities and ancient structures buried in the seas off various continents and islands. His books were part of my inspiration for The Magic of Merlin series.

SPJ: Would you tell us a little about yourself, outside of being a published author?

Mary: I am a harpist and I perform as both a soloist and as a member of the Celtic band, Moch Pryderi. The name means "Pryderi's Pigs" in Welsh, which refers to stories of a prince named Pryderi in the Welsh epic, the Mabinogion. We play music mostly from Wales and Brittany, (in western France), with some Irish, Scottish and Cornish tunes as well. We have produced two CDs, Dancing in the Pigsty and Belly Jerk, which are available through our website at You can also find our performance schedule and fan-fiction there.

I sing, and I play classical and folk harp, as well as the Irish wire-strung harp. My bag of tricks also includes various whistles, folk flutes and fifes; odd percussion instruments; mandolin; bouzouki, (the Celiticised version of the middle-eastern instrument); mountain dulcimer; and various types of African mbiras and harps. I've also recorded for other bands, for a University of Mary Washington project on James Monroe and his family, and for storyteller Megan Hicks.

Our band also has an incarnation as an old timey band, Hard Tack and Sow Belly. We perform at Civil War balls and other events celebrating that time period. Civil War history is big in Fredericksburg and the surrounding areas.

SPJ: Thank you Mary, again I can only say you are one talented lady. I absolutely LOVE Celtic music and will have to get one of your CD's to enjoy. Now, if you would, please use this space for anything you would like to share with our readers concerning publishing, writing or your publishing experience in general.

Mary: I tell students to write because they want to write, not because they hope to make money. The writing business is constantly changing so writers should be ready to roll with the tide. The president of Quiet Storm Publishing always has his hand on the pulse of the writing world and is ready to experiment with different markets, so my books are also available as e-books. Details can be found at Who knows what new forms books will take in the future?

I keep a notebook of ideas for future writing projects. I better live a long time because that book is filling up fast! I plot out each scene before beginning a book so I know where I am going with it. As I write I stay open to changes in those scenes and even in the storyline. I often deviate from my plan, which is good because I've gotten a better book out of making the plan and then discovering new possibilities. They become the new plan.

The best way to prevent writer's block, which I've never had, is to know what you're going to write before you sit down for a writing session. I always have the scene in mind before I go for the laptop. Otherwise you risk making your writing into a tedious task that you will later want to avoid.

Make your work as enjoyable as possible! It truly is your work and no one else on the planet can do it for you. My favorite inspirational quote is from Winston Churchill when he was addressing a graduating class at Oxford, (where he graduated, by the way, as a "C" student): "Never give up; never give up; never give up!"

SPJ: Wasn't that a wonderful interview? I want to thank Mary for sharing with us.

I know it has certainly been a pleasure for me reading her books and getting to know her better. I strongly recommend you check out her works, you will be glad you did.

I wish Mary the best in her future, even with as much as she has accomplished; I feel she has only just begun. Thank you Mary.

Shirley Johnson/Interviewer


Mary Triola
9 Seneca Terrace, Fredericksburg, VA 22401
Quiet Storm Publishing,


SPJ: I have had the honor of working with Steven reviewing many of the great books his company represents and I have learned to greatly respect him. I know many of you wonder just what would a Publicist do for me and would it be worth my money to secure one. I am sure in this interview many of your concerns and questions will be answered and you will certainly enjoy getting to know a man whose heart is towards you, the author. Let's begin.

SPJ: Steven, please tell us the name of your company, your position and how long you have been with them

Steven: I work for BookPros, formerly Phenix and Phenix Literary Publicists. I'm currently a senior publicist going on two years.

SPJ: Please tell us exactly what your duties are

Steven: I promote authors to the media using their book and their credentials. The first step we take once an author becomes a client is have an inter-department strategy session to discuss which hooks and angles about the author and book will interest the media. Many times, an author is so close to their book that they fail to realize there are topics in a book that are more interesting to the media than the book itself. As a publicist, my job is to find those interesting angles that the author might not have considered. I draft supporting press material for authors, as well as pitch media outlets - radio, television, print, online - and give my authors the opportunity to spread their message.

SPJ: Wow! Steven all of that should certainly help the author, that's wonderful. Please tell us why you chose to be in this line of work: the plus of it, and the negative side.

Steven: I chose to become a publicist because I enjoy reading. I also like working with the media and helping authors get their message out to those who are interested. The plus side of being a publicist is challenging myself to become an expert on a variety of topics, from the latest business trends to the lifestyle of the Amish. My job is always interesting and every day I get to talk about something unusual and unique. The downside is not every author I represent will be the next John Grisham, no matter how much I want them to be.

SPJ: Indeed sometimes the reading world is unpredictable isn't it? Why do you think it is important for authors to have a publicist? What exactly will you do for them that they cannot do for themselves?

Steven: There can be a great book on the shelf, but if nobody hears about it or the author then the book won't sell. An author could have one of the best books ever written, but without a push, then it's not going anywhere. Professional publicists have established relationships with the media. We work with the media everyday and know what they're looking for and how to pitch them, which most authors do not know how to do themselves. As a publicist, we give them the opportunity to promote their work in ways they've never considered.

SPJ: I can understand that and also see the value in it. Is this expensive for writers and is there a good return for their investment?

Steven: According to Biblio/NBN, the distributor we use for our Synergy Books titles, publicity is the best way to push a title. It is one of the best ways to ensure that a large number of people hear about your book. It is difficult to generalize a return on investment for an author, because each person has his or her own idea of what a "good return" is. For one author it could mean they sold 500 books due to their publicist's efforts and to another it could mean they were able to develop name recognition in their local area. Authors have to understand that publicity is one facet of marketing their book; there are so many other parts that need to be incorporated such as word-of-mouth, advertising and speaking engagements.

SPJ: How long do you continue the campaign for the author and what happens if they are not satisfied?

Steven: Campaign length can vary depending on the author and their goals. BookPros' campaigns range from two months to six months with opportunities to extend. From the beginning of the relationship we work with the author to establish realistic goals and expectations. If they are unsatisfied at the end of a campaign then it's usually because of personal reasons - not getting on a particular show or not being reviewed by the newspaper they hoped would cover them. We do everything in our power to make sure the author is happy with their campaign, but in the end, we don't control what media outlets cover. As you well know, this can be a frustrating industry.

SPJ: Yes Steven, frustrating is a mild word in this industry. Do you read every book that you represent?

Steven: Absolutely. We not only read the book, we also analyze it and dig deep into the text for topics of interest the author might not have thought about.

SPJ: I know there must be some books that you do not like, it happens. How do you handle that situation? What if their book is downright terrible and you know it has no hope for any success, will you decline representing them and tell them your feelings? Has this happened?

Steven: BookPros is very selective when it comes to what books we work with. We are not going to work with a book that isn't marketable. Upon initial receipt of a book or manuscript, our client services coordinator conducts a thorough media analysis - looking at it from all angles to see if it's marketable and can stand the scrutiny of the media.

Obviously there are going to be books that are against my values or what I believe, but I'm a professional and can put those feelings aside and do everything in my power to help my author promote their work.

SPJ: Thank you Steven, now let me ask you this. Do you find authors are generally easy to work with or extremely demanding? Do you think they expect more than you or any publicist can give them? I am sure in this line of work you must wear many hats, such as an encourager and counselor along with a publicist.

Steven: No two authors are alike. They all have different styles, personalities and expectations. Some are demanding, while others are laid back. At BookPros, we do our best to work with authors from the beginning of the relationship to establish realistic expectations and goals for each and every campaign. Of course every author wants to be on Oprah or the Today Show, but so does most of the living world, so we have to set realistic expectations. It's true, publicists wear many hats. We are the support, as well as the bearer of bad news; such is the role we play.

SPJ: Is it difficult to bring the work to the attention of the world?

Steven: It can be. As a publicist, I have to see a book as a product, and just like any other product there is a target market. Obviously the whole world isn't going to be interested in one product, so I have to research which target would be interested in a certain book and message. That's what makes the job interesting and challenging at the same time.

SPJ: What would you like to tell the authors that would make for more success in working with you, and making their book a success?

Steven: Begin thinking about marketing while you're writing the book, after you're done writing, it's too late. Be open to feedback and suggestion. Often times first time authors have never allowed someone outside their network read their book with an objective eye. Understand that just because your friends and family love the book and think it's the next bestseller, doesn't mean everyone else with think the same. Step away from your book and view it as a product rather than your life's work. Understand that there are other opportunities out there besides book reviews, such as features, radio interviews about a timely topic associated with your book, not just the book itself. Understand that everyone is an author and everyone has a story to tell, so there is competition out there. And understand that books are judged by their covers, so packaging is extremely important.

Authors should begin thinking about promoting their book the day they sit down to write it. Considering your promotional options after the book has gone to press is too late. If you are still working on your manuscript, here are five tips from our media room to help you on your journey:

1. Have an audience in mind from the beginning. Imagine someone reading your book (someone NOT related to you) and think of reasons they would seek out your title on bookshelves as opposed to the competition.

2. Include a table of contents. This is especially important if your book is non-fiction. Chapters allow media outlets to quickly reference appropriate sections that might apply during an interview. If each chapter stands alone, it helps producers and editors glean important nuggets of information without doing much more than a quick skim, which is all they have time.

3. Become part of a bigger issue. Fiction authors who are associated with a non-profit group or other types of organizations will have credibility over authors who are not part of a bigger picture.

4. Look through the newspaper and count how often an author is quoted or used as a source. From that, determine how often you might have been appropriate and how many times other books in your genre could have been used almost interchangeably. Be honest with yourself, do your writing and credentials provide something unique to media outlets that your competition has overlooked? If not, it is not too late to differentiate yourself and your book.

5. Become a news junkie. You are more likely to be used as a source if you know what the media is talking about. Even a book about something as straightforward as animals will have the potential to be used on more media outlets than Animal Planet.

SPJ: Steven, those are some great tips, thank you for sharing them with us. I like number one; family seems to always think whatever we write is absolutely the best, and sometimes it actually stinks. Just being honest here folks. Now, do you accept all authors that approach your company or are you selective?

Steven: BookPros is very selective when it comes to what books we work with. We are not going to work with a book that isn't marketable. Upon initial receipt of a book or manuscript, our client services coordinator conducts a thorough media analysis - looking at it from all angles to see if it's marketable and can stand the scrutiny of the media.

SPJ: Steven, are you a published author or dabble at all in writing? Would you tell us a little about yourself?

Steven: I dabble in writing, but I'm not a published author. I freelance and also write book reviews for business publications.

SPJ: Steven, please use this space for anything you would like to add, you think we should know, or you would just like to share with us.

Steven: I encourage authors looking for a professional outside opinion on their book's media worthiness to send in their work to our client development team for a free media analysis. If you would like information on submitting your work, please contact Amanda Sammons at

SPJ: I want to thank Steven for allowing me to do this interview with him. I don't know abut you, but I certainly learned a lot and I greatly appreciate it. Now you have some answers to your questions and I hope this interview will help you decide if a publicist is right for you. I wish Steven the best in his future and I appreciate all he does.

Steven Morse
Senior Publicist
work: (512) 478-2028, ext. 216 fax: (512) 478-2117

Shirley Johnson
Senior Reviewer

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

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