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MBR Bookwatch

Volume 11, Number 8 August 2012 Home | MBW Index

Table of Contents

Cowper's Bookshelf Donovan's Bookshelf Dunford's Bookshelf
Greenspan's Bookshelf Helen's Bookshelf Klausner's Bookshelf
Laurel's Bookshelf Lorraine's Bookshelf Micah's Bookshelf
Shelley's Bookshelf Shirley's Bookshelf Taylor's Bookshelf
Vogel's Bookshelf    

Cowper's Bookshelf

A Recruiter's Guide to Job Hunting
Eric Knott
Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781468552805, $23.99,

Getting a job seems increasingly difficult in today's world. "A Recruiter's Guide to Job Hunting: Effective, Insider Strategies That Will Get You Ahead of the Pack" is an advisory guide from Eric Knott as he touches on the importance of breaking ahead of the pack in today's job field, showing what job recruiters look for out of potential employees. From picking the right schools to using the most of social media and much more, "A Recruiter's Guide to Job Hunting" is a must for anyone in the market for a new career.

Smart - Stupid Nation
Yil Karademir
Privately Published
No ISBN, $4.95,

A slender, 36 page, oversized pamphlet, Yil Karademir's "Smart - Stupid Nation" is a hidden treasure waiting to be discovered. This compendium of sage insights, insightful commentaries, intelligent advice, astute observations, perceptive quotes and enlighten cautions is both thoughtful and thought-provoking. "Smart - Stupid Nation" is highly recommended and deserves as wide a readership as possible -- especially in these troubled and troubling times!

Today, Tomorrow, and Yesterday
Peter Tsaoussis
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781475225136 $19.95

The debut novel of Greece-born author Peter Tsaoussis, Today, Tomorrow, and Yesterday: Emergence of a Shadow is an exotic blend of suspense, romance, and the paranormal, in which organized crime extends its tendrils into the world of high fashion. Even more astonishing is the seemingly supernatural events that completely transform people in heretofore unimaginable ways. The masculine, handsome fashion designer Andrea Domani suddenly finds himself existing as a woman - a transition that propels him to even greater heights of popularity. But amid all of the adventure, mythology, high celebrity, and dire threats, what does it genuinely mean to stay true oneself? Today, Tomorrow, and Yesterday is an extraordinary exploration of what it means to be human, highly recommended.

16 Seasons in Hell
Daniel Bennett
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432786649, $29.95,

Any alliance between the USSR and Nazi Germany was a farce, war was simply inevitable. "16 Seasons in Hell" is a perspective of the Eastern front of the war from Daniel Bennett who uses his own infatuation with history to depict the conflict in a new light, a western perspective on the Eastern war. Showing the impact of the western conflict had on Hitler's surge towards Moscow and how the USSR turned them back, "16 Seasons in Hell" is well worth considering for those who wish to learn more about the lesser known conflict of World War II.

Ben Lazare Mijuskovic
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781469789330, $21.95,

Solitude is a state we all face at times. "Loneliness: in Philosophy, Psychology, and Literature" is a philosophical discussion from Ben Lazare Mijuskovic, a doctor in philosophy also highly educated and literature and therapy. Focusing on the concept of loneliness and how it is reflected throughout our culture and history, touching on what it truly means to be one alone. "Loneliness" is a must for those who want another perspective on the idea of solitude in philosophy and literature.

Eyes Behind Belligerence
K. P. Kollenborn
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781470168162, $18.00,

To be marked as an outcast due to the sins of your ancestors is not an act that inspires great patriotism. "Eyes Behind Belligerence" is a novel set against the Japanese internment camps of World War II. Following a set of friends in the rough conditions of the camps, they are split by their response to it, a split between loyalty and disloyalty. "Eyes Behind Belligerence" is a riveting read that should prove difficult to put down.

Finding the Light
Liz Vincent
Balboa Press
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781452545172, $13.99,

We are all wounded by our past, and conquering that past is not allowing it to dominate us. "Finding the Light: How to Achieve Inner Peace by Forgiving Past and Present Life Traumas" is a devotional spiritual guide as Liz Vincent advises readers to understand their now, and let the wounds of our past life fade away, and to set oneself free in the current day. "Finding the Light" is a strong addition to any modern spirituality collection, highly recommended.

A Kangaroo Court
Shankar N. Kashyap
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781468081336, $14.99,

Corruption seems to leak in everywhere, even when the business is saving lives. "A Kangaroo Court" is a novel from Shankar N. Kashyap, as he tells the story of upstart Orthopedic Surgeon Upaashantha, finds that his co-workers are less than enthused about their jobs and only worry about their own hides. With humor and a strong message throughout, "A Kangaroo Court" is a riveting piece of fiction that explores the corruption in the medical field.

Wiping Out Dyslexia
Dorothy van Den Honert
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781468528107, $14.95,

Dyslexia is a learning setback, but it is easy enough to conquer. "Wiping Out Dyslexia: with Enhanced Lateralization" is an analysis of educational issues surrounding dyslexia and thoughts on her educational career from Dorothy van den Honert as an addition to her Reading from Scratch series. For those seeking a personal take on the educational problems facing America, "Wiping Out Dyslexia" is well worth considering.

Conspiracy of Wolves
Ernie Hasler
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781466443594, $12.99,

The British Isles are quite ancient, built upon themselves with many forgotten pathways. "Conspiracy of Wolves" is a thriller delving deep into the dark underworld of the United Kingdom. Douglas, a native of Scotland, finds himself dragged into a mystery surrounding a body in the River Thames and the scandal that may lie beneath it all. "Conspiracy of Wolves" is an excellent pick for those seeking a United Kingdom based mystery.

The Blind Eye
Marcia Fine
L'Image Press
9780982695234, $16.95,

The Inquisition left many without a home. "The Blind Eye: A Sephardic Journey" is a historical novel that seeks to link modern Miami and Inquisition era fifteenth century Spain. Tackling topics of persecution and being forced from one's home, "The Blind Eye" presents many questions and much to think about among a riveting and hard to put down story, highly recommended.

Mary Cowper

Donovan's Bookshelf

The Relationship Shoppe
Susan Paulson Clark
c/o Amazon Digital Publishing
9780985777104 $2.99

Marian is stuck - both in her bookstore business world and in her romantic life - and she feels betrayed by both her business partner and her romantic interest in THE RELATIONSHIP SHOPPE, a powerful novel of emotional conflict and changes.

Marian and her friend Belle meet at a support group and form a business relationship and friendship, quitting their day jobs to take risks. Now Marian is facing new financial challenges which lead to questions about her choices and approaches to life itself.

THE RELATIONSHIP SHOPPE is about business, but is bigger than the topic of relationships: it's about choices, consequences, and perceptions of love and betrayal that spill over from social to business worlds. It's also about one woman's ongoing patterns and her gradual recognition of the processes she needs to begin in order to effect true change.

The novel opens with a bang of perception: "Marian Sheffield scribbled her initials in the bottom corner of her sketch - a picture that could easily illustrate a page from her own life. Or, as she would say, her former life. It showed a young woman with suction-cup hands, and she was in hot pursuit of a man making his escape." and quickly moves to topics of entwined family interactions, building a small business from the ground up, and building relationships based on new foundations.

Add underlying themes of improving relationships, letting go of past connections, and issues of single parenting and you have a satisfying blend of romance, business insight, and interpersonal connections. All these elements contribute to an overall delightful, engrossing read filled with emotional twists and turns.

Epidemic Of The Undead: A Zombie Novel
P.A. Douglas
Severed Press
9781477627914 $3.99

Chris Commons and his folk music band are away from home on tour when the unthinkable happens: the dead begin to arise! And they're hungry.

Epidemic Of The Undead: A Zombie Novel is a horror story fueled by gore which opens with a powerful image of violence: "He didn't come down with the first heavy swing until she'd taken a chunk out of Mark's neck. Before this thing went down, he had never harmed another human being in his life."

Issues of life, death, and what happens to the souls of the undead are posited within the first few paragraphs of a horror thriller that will have readers on the edge of their seats from Page 1.

Chris faces something much more personal than an undead army when his band member is killed, only to arise again. And there's another problem: Chris also faces a world descending into chaos as the undead begin to take over and remnants of civilization - and the living - begin to decay.

His encounters with one Stephanie who journeys with him through this changed world, his discovery of a fortress that could keep them safe, and his involvement with other survivors who are looking to rebuild in a strange new landscape keep Epidemic Of The Undead fast-paced and rich in twists and turns of plot which move from individual struggles to survive to community-building and military action.

A powerfully surprising conclusion contributes to a zombie novel that is packed with tension and struggle without, especially recommended for fans of the horror and zombie genre who will find a lively and gripping read with some twists other zombie novels don't offer.

The Wild One (Book 1 of the De Montforte Brothers Series)
Danelle Harmon
Danelle Harmon - 2012 (orig. Avon Books/Harper Collins)
9781476349565, $0.99 (introductory price)

Set in 1776 England, THE WILD ONE presents Book 1 of the 'DeMontforte Brothers' series and tells of one Lord Gareth de Montforte, an irresponsible but kindly womanizer who is shot while defending a strange woman from a robbery - only to discover she's his deceased brother's American fiancee who is traveling with their infant daughter. His brother the Duke refuses to acknowledge her, but Lord Gareth is determined to help - even if it means clashing with family and country.

THE WILD ONE is a steamy romance that chronicles the family black sheep's conflicts with his politically powerful brother The Duke of Blackheath as well as his blossoming romance with Juliet. As matters evolve to include a wedding uncelebrated by the bride, further ongoing family conflicts, and a volatile love that wanes, waxes, and changes; readers are treated to a complex series of events that constantly challenge both protagonists.

There's humor, there's satisfying twists and turns of plot, there are changing personalities as mercurial as the events affecting them - and most of all, there's a believable series of events and a historical setting that comes to life as the characters find themselves embroiled in complex social and psychological scenarios.

Gareth interacts not only with Juliet but with her infant in a satisfying, realistic manner. Also realistic and satisfying is Juliet's slow involvement with family affairs and her evolving role as a possible bridge between chasms of misunderstanding and mistreatment.

The conclusion is a complete surprise and while this would seem to conclude the story line, in fact there's room for more - much more - in a rousing story of romance and action, highly recommended for any who like a good historical romance!

The Luddite's Guide to Technology
CJS Hayward
Amazon Kindle
c/o Amazon Digital Publishing
ASIN: B008GKWNHY $2.99
CreateSpace (hard copy)
9781478184911 $19.99

The Luddite's Guide to Technology represents the collected works of CJS Hayward, and is especially recommended for any who have either not read Hayward before, or have had singular or limited access to his writings. It's a gathering of reflections on how technology and science can not only intrigue and involve people, but absorb them to the point that the barriers between humanity and technology become blurred.

There are numerous essays here, from a reflection on technology and faith in 'Religion and Science Is Not Just Intelligent Design vs. Evolution' to 'Plato: The Allegory of...the Flickering Screen', which connects ancient philosophy to modern screen-oriented approaches to life.

Essay titles are contemporary and catchy ('Veni, Vidi, Vomi: A Look at, "Do You Want to Date My Avatar"?' and the title piece 'The Luddite's Guide to Technology') and invite readers to understand the fine line between Biblical and spiritual approaches and technological perspectives.

The author is himself an IT pro, so his approach isn't anti-science; but rather represents a modified view of the perils and potentials of technology and the user's role and experience in handling it: "...I haven't laid the reins on the horse's neck. I only use a well-chosen fragment of my iPhone's capabilities, and I try not to use it too much: I like to be able to use the web without speed being much of an issue, but I'm not on the web all the time. And I have never thought 'My wheels are my freedom;' I try to drive insofar as it advances some particular goal."

As the essays unfold, readers comes to realize that the author is in fact advocating a kind of detachment - and stepping back - from the potentials of technology in order to regain social and spiritual perspectives and values that don't always lie on screen.

From amassing wealth in the face of poverty to what happens when the desire for technology's benefits supersedes and changes the structure and beliefs of religion itself, The Luddite's Guide to Technology identifies widespread and dangerous trends in the worship of technology - and offers Hayward's own clues on how to effect personal, spiritual and social change to counter these trends.

What keeps these writings engrossing and charged is Hayward's vivid language and descriptive choices: "The marketing proposition of texting is an intravenous drip of noise. IM's are similar, if not always as mobile as cell phones, and email is a weaker form of the drug that youth are abandoning for a stronger version."

There are solid political insights as well: "But for all of these things, GPSes, as well as cell phones in general, provide one more means for Big Brother (and possibly more than one Big Brother) to know exactly where you go, when you go there, what the patterns are, and other things where Big Brother will keep closer tabs on your whereabouts and activities than your spouse or parent."

And lest you think these reflections to be solely intellectual or spiritual in nature, the topics offer a surprising range of applications; from surveys of the changing hospitality industry and heating and air conditioning world to business ("There are a number of technologies whose marketing proposition is as a noise delivery system.")

Expect a wide-ranging series of discussions that link technology to values, social and spiritual issues, politics and business, and the changing value in everyday life. Also expect an incredibly lively read, drawing on Orthodoxy and spiced with Hayward's astute observations of worlds modern and past and his own interconnectedness with technology and religious values.

The Luddite's Guide to Technology should be in the hands of any who want to re-consider their use of and approaches to technology in a changing world, and is a top recommendation.

Diane Donovan
Senior Reviewer

Dunford's Bookshelf

"Bye-Bye" Loneliness
Meg Stanton
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781463676940, $16.99,

Loneliness is not a natural state for humanity. "'Bye-Bye' Loneliness: MAT for the Treatment of Loneliness" is a self-help advisory for those who want to conquer loneliness out of their lives, as Dr. Stanton states the many things that may drive us into loneliness, including our tendency to neg ourselves into oblivion and keep us from having the social health we seek. "Bye-Bye Loneliness" is a strongly recommended pick for those who want to break out of their lonely nature.

Codename Aphrodite
Charles S. Faddis
Orion Strategic Services
9780615539676, $14.85,

Vengeance is often lusted after, but few understand the toll it can take. "Codename: Aphrodite" is a spy thriller from Charles S. Faddis as he tells the story of a former CIA Ops Officer Bill Boyle as he jumps at the chance to avenge his wife and fellow officer in Athens, Greece. But finding those responsible will take him in many directions in his search for the truth, and may cost him even more. "Codename: Aphrodite" is worth considering for those who enjoy international thrillers.

Change You Can Really Believe In
Joseph Toomey
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781468572254, $29.95,

No matter what one's political allegiance lies, the presidency of Barack Obama has not lived perfectly up to standards. "Change You Can Really Believe In: The Obama Legacy of Broken Promises and Failed Policies" is a political critique from Joseph Toomey, a business professional who states Obama's policies were not the change believed, and in fact often copy the policies of W. Bush before him. For those looking for legitimate complaints surrounding the Obama administration, "Change You Can Really Believe In" may be worth considering for political selections.

If I Go to Hell
Sami Gjoka
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781475101911, $14.99,

Through cultures, there is a certain bridge of thought that is unique to them. "If I Go to Hell" is a collection of poetry from Albanian-American poet Sami Gjorka who presents a bi-lingual assortment of his work that presents a fine view of the bridge of cultures. For those seeking world poetry with a unique blend of worldview, "If I Go to Hell" is not to be overlooked. "Only This and Nothing Else": Only this I ask,/Please, and nothing else/Just wait a bit till I move ahead!//Let me fade away with all this pain/Far from silent lips and your bitter face/That with no effort/Plays the hurtful game/To laugh and delight/With all but me/Letting me to carry/Both the fault and blame.

The Taken Land
Robin O'Reilly
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781469738758, $17.95,

To make ends meet, sometimes things call for desperate measures. "The Taken Land: (Riro Te Whenua)" tells of a New Zealand couple struggling to get by as Wall Street collapses. Working to reclaim Maori land, they make their claim to restore their heritage, but every chance has its own costs in the process. "The Taken Land" is a strong pick for international fiction collections, highly recommended.

God is Greater
Marc Brown
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781461090878, $8.49,

God's place and power in our lives is quite apparent. "God is Greater" is a devoted Christian read from Marc Brown who explores the nature faith and God and how to apply it to the endeavors of our lives on many levels. With much to ponder for Christian readers, "God is Greater" is a contemplative pick for the faithful, much recommended.

Hot Coco
Cindy McDonald
Acorn Book Services
9781475293357, $14.99,

Some women are nothing but trouble, and cutting through it can prove all the more difficult. "Hot Coco" is a novel from Cindy McDonald telling of Mike West and his encounters with the troubled Coco Beardmore, leaving him faced with her problems, his own problems, his family's problems, and much more. "Hot Coco" is an enticing and fun read of a life in chaos and finding a woman through it all.

When Vaudeville Came to Joplin
Cynthia S. Gillard
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781468119282, $14.95,

Vaudeville was a taste of the earliest times of show business. "When Vaudeville Came to Joplin" is a novel from Cynthia S. Gillard, telling of a blossoming romance in the era of Vaudeville when the show roles into the small town of Joplin, Missouri at the turn of the twentieth century. Young Adella Marie Lawton, with a gift for the piano, finds herself attracted to the troupe and the leading man. "When Vaudeville Came to Joplin" is a fun weaving of romance and historical fiction, highly recommended.

Pests Take a Chance
Gerry Burke
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781462014446, $13.95,

As the world continues to shift and change, trying to keep up with it turns into a joke all its own. "Pests Take a Chance" is a collection of short tales from Gerry Burke who explores the life of crime fighter Paddy Pest through three tales that surround his life and understanding of his place in the bigger picture of the world. "Pests Take a Chance" is a strongly recommended pick for general fiction and humor collections.

Michael Dunford

Greenspan's Bookshelf

Depth of Deception
Alexander Galant
Privately Published
c/o Smith Publicity
1930 E. Marlton Pike, Suite I-46
Cherry Hill, NJ 08003
9780987983510, $13.99,

A cold case growing to a century in age. "Depth of Deception" is a murder mystery seeking to explore the nature of a woman washing up in 1982, with a boarding pass to the Titanic. As Callum Toughill, an insurance investigator, takes it on himself to find what happens to this woman who had been dead for seventy years. Drawing on the little evidence he has, he tries to find the truth, and the truth may hold things far beyond the mundane. With a touch of science fiction, "Depth of Deception" is a riveting read that will keep pages turning.

John Rouse
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781466366855, $TBA,

Rejected by one's own country, one tries to find a new way through it all. "Sendero" is a novel set in South America as Joe Petrini is rejected from the Peace Corps and returns to Peru after a few years, with the civil war there finally ending. Working through the corruption of the town and country to find love and redemption, "Sendero" is filled with intrigue, a very much recommended pick.

Sudden Death Over Time
John Rember
Wordcraft of Oregon
9781877655791, $14.00,

Humor is simply realizing the absurdity of the world as is. "Sudden Death, Over Time" is a collection of short fiction from John Rember, who seeks to bring humor to our lives by presenting a blatantly honest take on the world as we know it, presenting it as it is, pulling no punches on topics such as politics and academia. "Sudden Death, Over Time" is a fine addition to any contemporary short fiction collection.

Darkness Meets Light
Cham Beaumont
Balboa Press
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781452548852, $20.99,

When everything you know seems false, all there is to it is learn once more. "Darkness Meets Light" is the first entry into Cham Beaumont's Infinite Fantasy series, following the companions Tate and Cynthia as they must join together to track down Tate's nefarious twin brother and find something of peace in a land that they may not fully understand. "Darkness Meets Light" is well worth considering for fantasy lovers, recommended.

Across the Mekong River
Elaine Russell
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781466338104, $14.95,

You can flee the terror, but the terror rarely flees you. "Across the Mekong River" is a novel following a Thai family as they flee Laos after a communist takeover, which sends their family to America where they struggle to survive. With much drama and notes on the impact of culture and war, "Across the Mekong River" is a read with much to ponder about family, recommended.

In Mackinac Island Michigan
Melanie Dobson
Summerside Press
9781609366407, $12.99,

Security and desire are common choices we all face. "In Makinac Island Michigan" is a romance set in the gilded age, as Elena Bissette is at a cross roads where her wealthy family is out to wed her to greater money to help keep theirs. But her mind wonders far from what's good for her family, and she finds herself torn apart by her own desires, her family, and faith. "In Makinac Island Michigan" is a choice pick for Christian romance collections.

The Act of Change Management
Steve Mathew
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781462050734, $24.95,

A leader puts forth a good example for the rest of the company to follow. "The Act of Change Management: A Principled Approach for Leaders" is a top down business management change guide from Steve Mathew as he reflects on what he feels needs to be done to change a business for a better with more successful business leadership on many levels. "The Act of Change Management" is a must for anyone who wants to be better leader in their place of business.

Anthony Caplan
Hope Mountain Press
9780981516639, $9.99,

The road will mature you real fast. "Latitudes" is a coming of age novel from Anthony Caplan as he follows young Will as he faces his changing world, divided between their parents, who offer him and his sisters two very different worlds. Being split between them, he must learn much about himself, and makes' Latitudes" a solid read that should be considered for contemporary fiction collections.

A Beautiful Glittering Lie
J.D.R. Hawkins
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781469771748, $14.95,

Civil war tore families apart, and many of those families fought to stay together every step of the way. "A Beautiful Glittering Lie" is a novel of the American Civil War, as J.D.R. Hawkins writes of the Summers family and the rift the war brought to their family. Drawing on her heritage to tell the tale, Hawkins presents an insightful and riveting read of a family at war. "A Beautiful Glittering Lie" is a strong pick for historical fiction collections.

Able Greenspan

Helen's Bookshelf

How Smart Women Achieve Big Goals
Allison J. Foskett
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781462064380, $19.95,

To make it big, you have to think big. "How Smart Women Achieve Big Goals: Motivation To Focus and Follow Through With Your Life Dreams" is an inspirational guide for women who want to find greater success in their lives as Allison Foskett encourages women to outline what they seek, stick to that goal, and realize the success we all seek. "How Smart Women Achieve Big Goals" is full of practical advice for greater success in life, highly recommended.

A Caregiver's Companion
Cynthia B. Stotlar
Crossbooks Publishing
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781462712885, $8.99,

Losing a loved one is terrifying, especially when it's a slow and painful process. "A Caregiver's Companion: Spiritual Support for the Stressed-Out Soul" is an advisory guide for those who are faced with caring for a terminal relative who runs short on time, and the stress of the caretaker begins to take its toll. "A Caregiver's Companion" is a strongly recommended pick for spirituality and caregivers' collections.

Living Beyond the Pain
Gordon Selley
Selley Enterprises
9780985526801, $14.99,

One should never give up on reclaiming their life. "Living Beyond the Pain: Insights for Your Journey of Transformation" is an inspirational and motivational guide from Gordon Selley who tells of is journey of a diagnosis of hopelessness to how he reclaimed his life through it all. He shares his journey and hopes others will take his own notes to reclaim their lives. With a strong dedication to faith, "Living Beyond Pain" is worth consideration for anyone looking to uplift themselves out of their current situation.

Autumn Leaves Dancing in the Wind
Huguette Castaneda
Balboa Press
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781452549316, $11.99,

Our inner search for peace is often a ponderous one. "Autumn Leaves Dancing in the Wind: Your Journey is a Search Within" is a spiritual read as Huguette Castaneda provides a thoughtful exploration of the inner self, and the wisdom that we all carry within ourselves. With plenty to ponder and help us all find our own way through life, "Autumn Leaves Dancing in the Wind" presents plenty to think about, highly recommended.

So L. A.
Bridget Hoida
Lettered Press
9780985129439, $16.00,

Los Angeles sometimes feels like it's on a whole other planet. "So L. A." follows successful business woman Magdalena De La Cruz as she finds the shock of moving into Los Angeles very different from elsewhere, feeling unattractive and marginalized for the first time in her life. Coping with the weight of life and reinventing herself, author Bridget Hoida presents a fun read, making "So L.A." is a strongly recommended pick for contemporary fiction collections.

I Siciliani
Lou Quattro
Friesen Press
c/o Smith Publicity (publicity)
1930 E. Marlton Pike, Suite I-46, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003
9781770678613, $27.99,

The mob's influence in Italy is almost a century old. "I Siciliani (The Sicilians)" is a novel drawing from true history as Lou Quattro touches on the deep history behind Sicily and Tuscany, following the fallout of an attempted hit, drawing deep into the origins of La Cosa Nostra, Godfathers, corruption, and crime. "I Siciliani" is a must for anyone fascinated by the long history of the mob and its origins, enthusiastically recommended.

Strength Within Tears
Shane E. Demorais
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781469781518, $10.95,

Crying is a natural part of coping. "Strength Within Tears: A Path to Crying" is an inspirational book of sadness, as Shane E. Demorais invites readers to better cope with the pain and sadness of life when it has been built into many of us to fear crying, especially as men. With much advice on dealing with emotions in a more healthy manner, "Strength Within Tears" is a must for self-improvement collections and for those who don't think letting sadness fester is healthy.

None But the Brave
Anthony A. Goodman
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781463507985, $18.95,

Surgeons saw a never ending process of the horrors of war. "None But the Brave" is a novel from Anthony A. Goodman that explores the hospital line of World War II, of those surgeons and medics who tried to save the lives of soldiers critically injured on the front lines. Pitting his novel in these tense situations, Goodman creates a riveting novel of being faced with life and death, with the reaper hanging over the medic's heads themselves. "None But the Brave" is a strongly recommended pick for historical fiction collections.

Write Your Own Story
John P. Roche & Katheleen J. Roche
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781462049516, $13.95,

You're in control of your own destiny, and understanding that is key to living a happy life. "Write Your Own Story: Thirty Keys to Becoming Emotionally Fit and Building Successful Relationships" is an inspirational read from John & Kathleen J. Roche as they advise readers to choose the better paths through their life, drawing on their expertise as marriage and family counselors. With plenty of practical wisdom, "Write Your Own Story" is strongly recommended for relationship and self-help collections.

Helen Dumont

Klausner's Bookshelf

The World Between
Belva Rae Staples
Tate Publishing
127 East Trade Center Terrace
Mustang, OK 73064
9781617779633, $22.99,

Georgie O'Dell was eight years old when his elderly neighbor Miss MacAlpin began to tell him the tale of evil Alex Edgecomb, a boy with a dark soul. Instead of paling with his friends, Georgie is hooked on the story and visits next door frequently to hear more.

Young Alex hated everyone including his family but especially his sister. The wicked Alex tries to overthrow the kingdom of Kriterion. However, to Georgie's delight, Alex's coup d'etat fails. Unremorseful Alex awaits punishment for his murders of other children and additional atrocities. Georgie soon learns a stunning truth about his hostess; who has asked him to one day write her fable.

The first Kriterion Saga (see the sequel: Tide Walker) is a superb morality fantasy as the villain's amoral actions impact his family, neighbors and the kingdom. The entertaining metafiction storyline will remind readers of Michael Ende's Neverending Story; as Georgie learns that if he does not change his attitude and behavior towards others like his brother, he will be the next Alex. Fans will enjoy journeying with Georgie to The World Between.

The Next President: How the Man Defines the Office
Dee J. Rammell
Tate Publishing
127 East Trade Center Terrace
Mustang, OK 73064
9781620240885, $14.99,

This is an excellent timely short primer with the election coming in the fall as Dee J, Rammell gives an overview of each of the presidents including their background, accomplishments, famous quotes, failures, personal lives, and more but does so in context of the era in which they served. One of the more interesting tidbits is Hayes overcoming "Rutherfraud" and adhering to his contract with America to serve one-term; by the short entry he comes across as transitional at a time when leadership was needed yet ranked by historian polls as 24th. The death of Pierce's last living son left his wife blaming his political ambitions as being ungodly and probably led to his oath on a law book not a bible. The rankings are interesting as there is a consensus that at a time of crisis, the 1850s include three great failures (Google each president's last name to see when they show up to tell you their contemporary significance). Including Bush the younger when he was only five years into his term and less than four years since leaving seems invalid as too soon and those like the assassinated Taylor may not have had enough time to matter. I would have appreciated more information on the survey mechanism (questions), who participates with overarching summaries of personal biases, and comparative rankings over the decades to include theories for why radical changes occur. Still this is a fabulous quick look at the presidents; summed up nicely by President McKinley with this wry comment over a century before Citizens United: "He who controls the money supply of a nation controls the nation."

Suzy's Case
Andy Siegel
c/o Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl.
New York, NY 10020
9781451658781, $26.00,

In New York City criminal lawyer Henry Benson has given work to personal injury and medical malpractice attorney Tug Wyler that four times has led to the latter being called before the Disciplinary Committee. Once again he is slapped with an ethics violation and a fine of $25.00 as Judge Howell knows Wyler was right. Observer Judge Piccone warns Tug he will throw the book at him if he oversees a lack of zealousness defending a client regardless of cause.

Benson asks Wyler to handle the Suzy Williams tragedy. In a Brooklyn hospital, six years old Suzy went into cardiac arrest; a seizure left her "a spastic quadriplegic with severe brain damage." When Benson's medical expert claims the child's sickle cell anemia caused the seizure rather than staff negligence, Tug knows there is no complaint. However, Suzy's single mom June persuades him to represent her daughter in their multimillion-dollar lawsuit.

Wyler will remind legal thriller fans of Joseph Teller's Jaywalker (see The Tenth Case), as he thrives to do the right thing regardless of personal costs. The engaging storyline is fast-paced though there are too many happenchance incidents. However the cast is top rate starting with the wisecracking Wyler who enjoys busting the chops of righteous shitheads in power, the caring mom and especially Suzy.

The Girl's Still Got It
Liz Curtis Higgs
WaterBrook Press
c/o Waterbrook Multnomah Publishing Group
12265 Oracle Boulevard, Suite 200
Colorado Springs, CO 80921
9781578564484, $14.99,

In circa 1200 BC (give or take a century or two) in Moab, three women stand by graves grieving the deaths of two brothers. The widow mother of the deceased Naomi has decided to travel to Bethlehem. One daughter-in-law hysterical Orphan selects to remain in Moab; the other Ruth chooses to accompany her mother-in-law on her journey. Impoverished, the two women meet Boaz who takes both of them into his home and soon weds Ruth. Their great-grandchild becomes the King of Israel.

This is an excellent retelling of the biblical tale of Ruth using contemporary idioms and metaphor to tell the backstory while also extracting line by line the Old Testament entry; for instance Liz Curtis Higgs explains how Naomi the Jew ended up in Moab not explained in the bible. The three prime stars are fully developed as readers will understand their motives and their beliefs especially in the Lord. Though some fundamentalist might take exception as heresy this entertaining breezy treatment of the story of Ruth, I found the tale refreshing, insightful and lighthearted yet reverent to the Lord. Ms. Higgs takes her audience back over three millennia ago (without a DeLorean) as she provides a unique way to tell the Lord's message.

The Unraveling of Wentwater
C.S. Lakin
Living Ink Books
c/o AMG Publishers
6815 Shallowford Road, Chattanooga, TN 37421
9780899578927, $14.99,

In Wentwater, village matriarch Arlynna begins the naming ceremony of the baby just born to Iris when Ursell the banished marsh witch arrives. Ursell proclaims that the unnamed infant will unravel Wentwater one thread at a time until by the time she is eighteen the village will be no more. Before leaving Ursell tells them to exile the mother and put the babe to death. The superstitious frightened villagers make the parents leave and with the babe inside set the cottage on fire.

All who were witness remain haunted by the incident. Now seventeen years later, Teralyn from the science-based Heights arrives at Wentwater with her lap harp to play at a festival. She meets Iris' two sons Justyn who left for the Heights and Fromer who stayed in the village. She and Fromer fall in love, but an angry jealous Justyn make a deal with Ursell that leads to The Unraveling of Wentwater vanishing one word at a time; only Teralyn is capable of stitching it back one word at a time over seven years, but that final word is jarred from her reach.

The fourth Gates of Heaven fantasy (see The Land of Darkness and Map Across Time) is a terrific allegorical drama based on the premise that one needs to "Be careful with your words - they have consequences!" With a reverse Sleeping Beauty theme and biblical references on wisdom, passion and faith, fans will appreciate this timely tale of two siblings and the harpist, as sticks and stones can break my bones, but words can harm you too.

David L. Golemon
Thomas Dunne Books
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312580803, $25.95,

In 1887 the British Empire hire American scientist Lawrence Ambrose to create a means to change a civilized person into a berserker war machine. In 1888, Jack the Ripper murders his last victim. At the same time, Robert Louis Stevenson visits Scotland Yard with information on the Ripper's identity that he connects to his Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde model, American chemist Lawrence Ambrose. Queen Victoria ended the project and ordered the secret execution of Ambrose who escaped with his notes.

In present-day Mexico, American government top secret Event Group geologist Sarah McIntire leads a team investigating caves where Pancho Villa allegedly stored his weapons. Anaconda the drug lord sends his vicious army to attack the geologist. They abduct Sarah. The Event Group sends a rescue team led by Colonel Jack Collins that uses information from General John "Black Jack" Pershing's 1916 Mexican raid. However they are unaware that Anaconda has Ambrose's notes and plans to use them.

The latest suspenseful Event Group thriller (see Legacy) is an exciting action-packed tale that deftly links Ripper to the contemporary war on drugs. Though the villain and hero are stereotyped, fans will enjoy this engaging entry filled with action and a thrill seemingly around every corridor and cave.

Goddess in the Middle
Stephanie Julian
1935 Brookdale Road, #139
Naperville, IL 60563
9781402251535, $14.99,

Many, many centuries ago, Amity Monroe was Munthukh the Etruscan Goddess of Health. Now she lives in Pennsylvania working as a medical aesthetician in Reading Hospital. Amity learned a long time ago to avoid loving relationships as that always leads to hurt so she focuses on her job where she also uses her diminished deity powers to reduce a patent's pain in order to enhance healing; but that always leaves her weakened at a time a when Charun the underworld god hunts the goddess population; sex refurbishes her strength.

She and her best friend trauma nurse Jill Doyle are at Kelly's Corner where two Etruscan men want her. Werewolf-witch cousins Rom and Remy Caneglosi knows the demon who killed their family wants Amity. They are stunned when she comes over to them offering to buy them a drink and much more. As they team up to kill a demon, their attraction grows.

The third Forgotten Goddesses erotic romantic urban fantasy (see What A Goddess Wants and How to Worship a Goddess) is an exciting paranormal that works due to the vile villain. The sex scenes are well written and hot, but also unrealistic as danger stalks her. The three fascinating protagonists carry baggage as she knows love hurts and struggles with how far she has fallen while the cousins blame themselves for what happened to their family. Readers will enjoy this heated Etruscan triangle.

Pride and Pyramids
Amanda Grange and Jacqueline Webb
1935 Brookdale Road, #139
Naperville, IL 60563
9781402265341, $14.99,

In their thirties, Elizabeth and Darcy have been happily married for fifteen years. They are raising six children ranging from fourteen years old bookworm Beth to six years old Margaret (William, John, Laurence and Jane in between). Darcy's cousin Edward Fitzwilliam unexpectedly visits saying he needs a place to stay for a week before he leaves for Egypt. The kids adore their favorite cousin while Meg ends up with a wooden doll of Aahotep that Edward possessed. All of the children state they would love to join him on his travels under the tutelage of British Museum Egyptologist Sir Matthew Rosen.

By the end of the week, Elizabeth and Darcy decide to join enthusiastic Edward accompanied by their brood when he heads to Egypt. Also coming with them are jilted Sophie Lucus to watch the children and artist Paul Inkworthy to draw their memories.

Putting aside how easily and quickly Darcy puts together their adventure, the sequel to Dear Mr. Darcy is a fun Egyptian Regency. There is some suspense and hints of the paranormal, but for the most part the storyline is a lighthearted extended family drama as each offspring has their own unique personality and a triangle between Sophie, Edward and Paul. Fans will enjoy this entertaining historical as Amanda Grange and Jacqueline Webb takes Jane Austen to the pyramids.

The Next President
Robert Livingstone
Moore House
145 Fifth St.
Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M8V 2Z5
9780615645988, $8.99,

International TV Systems News Division anchor Catherine Cortez is bored as she misses her field days. However, she is bringing in high ratings so her boss Hanson keeps her from doing any investigating. Catherine finally persuades her boss that she will quickly lose credibility with the public and ratings. He finally allows her to cover Presidential front runner Senator Francis Ellsworth, who is favored to defeat incumbent President Walter Graham in the upcoming election, as he visits post-Castro Cuba where President Eduardo Rodriguez leads a fledgling democracy.

In Cuba, Catherine and her camera man cover the local cops attacking anti Rodriguez protesters. Cuban Security Chef Fernandez talks away their footage. During her interview of Rodriguez, her camera crew film violent incidents in the Havana streets. Soon Catherine and her team find evidence that the Cuban democracy modeled after the American is a sham for a dictatorial fascist rule that has ties to Ellsworth.

This strong timely thriller affirms Benjamin Franklin's warning that "Those who desire to give up freedom in order to gain security will not have, nor do they deserve, either one." Fast-paced from the moment the intrepid reporter and her cameraman arrive in Post-Castro Cuba, fans will relish this exciting cautionary with a great final twist that laments the media-industrial-government complex as freedom of the press means unbiased reporting regardless of economic and ideological beliefs if democracy is too thrive.

The Sleeping Night
Barbara Samuel
Bell Bridge Books
c/o Belle Books
P.O. Box 300921, Memphis, TN 38130
9781611941272, $14.95,

In 1926 in Gideon, Texas, white Parker, who suffered injuries in the war, believes God demands that he act with kindness to the poor colored folks. He and his family become friends with colored Jordan and his family. However, "they" kill Jordan. Parker refuses to turn his back on his friend's widow and son as his daughter Angel and Jordan's offspring Isaiah play together while growing up.

During WWII, Isaiah serves in the military in the European theater. He and Angel exchange letters that include recipes and vows of taboo love. He earns the Medal of Honor, an award not given to colored people. Yet his love for Angel places both of them in peril from the townsfolk who refuse to accept him as a war hero. Isaiah and Angel flee to France where they marry. In 2005, they are coming home to Gideon for a different reception than the one that exiled them six decades ago

Most of the action occurs during WWII, but with small bookend segments in 1926 and 2005 and a reference to 1972. Thus readers obtain a strong historical that showcases how far race relationships have come in eight decades; especially since the end of WWII as the Greatest generation vets knew that blood flows red in combat. Character driven by the interracial courageous lead couple, fans will agree we've come a long way baby, but have a long way to go.

Rebooting in Beverly Hills
Marcy Miller
Bancroft Press
PO Box 65360, Baltimore, MD 21209
9781610880466, $22.95,

Rebooting in Beverly Hills is a combination memoir with tips for middle aged single women deciding whether to dive back into the dating pool after a long absence. Though the target audience in many ways is divorcees like Marcy Miller, the short, amusing and witty anecdotes can be used by any mature woman (and some discerning men). The author suggests diverse business cards that either provides your real personal information, disinformation or misinformation depending on the how you relate to the recipient. This reminds me of a tip the Army provided to my husband on answering password questions as the truth may set your information free to an identity thief so misinformation is okay (just remember the answer is the City not the Bronx). Further short discussions surface on "Not So Mr. Big who is a good kisser and caring person, but his lover needs a magnifying glass. The engaging guide for the forty and older crowd can be summed up by deciding where to meet dates as the maligned Internet is not what we used the first time around (shows our age). Readers will appreciate Ms. Miller's marvelous memoir as she focuses on rebooting the mission of finding "The One" (or not) after the previous "The One" proved the not one.

Through These Veins
Anne Marie Ruff
Open Door Press
532 Agnes St
Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada, R3G
9780983249801, $15.00,

In Ethiopia, the villagers considered Nataniel the healer as a witch doctor. They came from all over the country and beyond to see him in his hometown of Chochotte. His daughter Zahara knows that her father is an Orthodox Christian pharmacist who graduated from Addis Ababa University. She is proud of her dad who does what he can using many local remedies to help those ailing.

He found a cure for a terrible disease that was destroying the Ethiopians and much of East Africa. Word spread around Africa and beyond until the American Big Pharma firms learns of a potential cure made from local foliage that violently rids the body of AIDs. Soon afterward, Nataniel is murdered and his daughter wants to know why and who though she thinks she already knows the answers.

This is an engaging thriller that works on two planes. First there is a remarkable discerning look at global AIDs field research that takes armchair readers obviously to Africa but also Asia as well as the labs interwoven into the entertaining storyline; second there is the competition for controlling Nataniel's elixir in which Big Pharma is not the evil kingdom though ruthless businessmen are in the mix. Readers will enjoy Anne Marie Ruff's strong saga as she shines a spotlight on AIDs through what could happen after finding the cure.

The Sacrifice Game
Brian D'Amato
c/o Penguin Putnam
375 Hudson Street, 3rd floor
New York, NY 10014-3657
9780525952411, $29.99,

In the present, the scientists sent math wizard ethnic Mayan Joachim "Jed" Carlos Xul Mixoc DeLanda back to 664 AD. His mission is to learn how his ancient ancestors deployed the divination game to predict the apocalypse on December 21, 2012 and to find a way to prevent the pandemic catastrophe from happening. The time travel did not go as planned when Jed ended up in the body of a volunteer sacrifice instead of that of the king (see Courts of the Sun).

However that landing proves beneficial in Jed's mind as he understands why his host body agreed to die. As he learns more about the Mayan prediction, Jed agrees with his ancestors' noble cause to end the world in order to end suffering; he agrees he must help it happen. However, his 2012 allies realize Jed turned traitor so he must be stopped from triggering the apocalypse.

Opening with a note from Jed to be read on December 21, 2012 in which he explains why he did it, the middle Mayan doomsday thriller is an exciting tale. Jed rationalizes why the end is justified based on what he learns about the Game and observes among the not so noble Mayan in the seventh century; his fascinating defection and betrayal seems like a Stockholm syndrome effect. The storyline slows down towards the middle with too much gruesome repetition of the feral aspects of the culture (better read on an empty stomach). Still fans will overall enjoy this dark tale as the doomsday countdown not only continues but is abetted by Jed.

The Absent One
Jussi Adler-Olsen; K.E. Semmel (translator)
9780525952893, $26.95

Copenhagen Deputy Detective Superintendent Carl Morck heads the police Department Q, whose mission is solving cold cases. Formerly a good homicide cop, Morck almost died on the job while two of his peers did because he blames himself for failing to fire his gun (The Keeper of Lost Causes). He suffers from remorse and survival guilt.

The latest case for Morck and his two exiled undesirable assistants Assad and Rose Knudson involves a 1987 double homicide of teen siblings; both beaten to death at a summer cottage in Rorvig. Neither Carl nor Assad knows why they got the closed solved case, but they study the file. Suspicion back then fell on six boarding-school students staying at a nearby cottage who had several brawls at the local Round nightclub. Five of them (Pram, Florin, Jensen, deceased Wolf and vanished Lasson) were born silver spooners while the other was on scholarship (Thogersen); the father of the victims, a cop, killed himself. Nine years after the brutal murders, Thogersen confessed and remains in prison. Three of the surviving now gold spooners realize the cops are reinvestigating the murders and may find evidence linking them to that and more such violent acts. They need to eliminate the one person who could expose them if Department Q finds her before they do.

The second Department Q Danish police procedural is an exciting cold case mystery as the more Carl and Assad learn, the more convinced they are that all the suspects were involved in the murders and in subsequent killings since. Readers will enjoy following the clues as everyone hunts for a homeless member of the original six.

Line of Fire
Stephen White
9780525952527, $26.95

Boulder, Colorado psychologist Dr. Alan Gregory finds the recent calm in his life seemingly over. His friend and therapist partner Diane, who already was emotionally struggling from an abduction several years ago, cannot cope with a fire that has devastated her home and left her marriage in trouble.

He and his friend Police Detective Sam Purdy try to keep closed the apparent three year old suicide of psychotic J. Winter Brown as an eight years old witness has provided recent evidence that claim a murder occurred. Compounding problems is a drug dealer learns of their involvement. Finally a new patient Amanda Bobbie tells Gregory a story that has the psychologist fearing for his family, his friends and his life as the Brown case has gone torrid.

The first of the final two-part last Alan Gregory thriller (see The Last Lie and The Siege) is a fabulous tale as the cool doc is no longer calm with his cover-up of his indiscretion surfacing. The action-packed thrilling storyline is character driven as the audience will feel Gregory's fears. With a great cliffhanger involving the hero's wife setting up the climatic last Gregory caper, fans will enjoy this entry and look forward to the final curtain call.

Getting Married and Other Mistakes
Barbara Slate
Other Press
2 Park Avenue, 24th Floor, New York, NY 10016
9781590515358, $14.95,

It has been seven years of marriage when John tells Jo he feels guilty but needs space. Jo a wedding photographer looks back at her bride photo and wonders if even then she thought she was making a mistake when she married John on the advice of her mom. However, the shocking finality comes from a stranger Candy who says she and John need to raise Little John as a happy family. She ignores her mom who coached her into marital defeat while her friends (Andrea, Timothy and Georgia) suggest a good lay, and therapist Dr. Rubenstein insists Jo has low self-esteem. Jo wonders if she is a serial follower who never sees anything but someone else's butt until she begins to look at the photos she took of the sad brides who tell her to heed her own advice; easier said than done.

Using insightful jocular graphics, Getting Married and Other Mistakes is a fabulous amusing yet serious look at a woman who has ignored self-actualization by adhering to mom's spousal mantra of perfection. Filled with pathos and humor (the boyfriends and are terrific segues), readers will root for the heroine to find her inner self besides being a devoted daughter to a control freak mom who believes a woman's only roles are first and foremost being a wife and second a mother.

The Absolutist
John Boyne
Other Press
2 Park Avenue, 24th Floor, New York, NY 10016
9781590515525, $16.95,

In 1919 twenty-one years old former soldier Tristan Sadler travels to Norwich, England to deliver letters written by his late comrade in arms and lover Will Bancroft, to his friend's sister Marian. On an errand of mercy, Sadler suffers from battle fatigue as he was one of two survivors from his unit of mostly teenagers who fought on the Western Front.

Principled Will declared himself The Abolitionist. He refused to fight anymore and will do nothing in support of the war machine, as he watched in horror as teens like himself whom he knew die due to the stupid disregard of those in charge back in London and Paris to gain inches of ground from an enemy who fought the same type of trench warfare led from Berlin. Tristan knows the horrible truth how his lover died, but fears telling anyone the truth except Marian who rejects what he tells her.

This is a profound look at war from the perspective of those young expendables at the front lines sent to die by those still living in luxury. The storyline uses the muses of the lead trio and other soldiers to provide a complete picture of all dying on the western front; yet a homosexual love is condemned as perverted. Readers will appreciate this gloomy yet timely condemnation of those always ready to send someone else's child to die for some allegedly patriotic cause yet those same flag raisers declare homosexuality as evil.

False Covenant
Ari Marmell
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228-2197
9781616146214, $16.95,

In Davillon, Adrienne Sati escaped the mean streets thanks to a benefactor only to return to the mean streets as a thief thanks to the minor God Olgun (not one of the revered 147) sharing her skull. Now known as Widdershins, she knows she was lucky to survive the serial killer nightmare over six months ago (see Thief's Covenant). She and her deity agree to go straight so they try to earn a living working at Genevieve's tavern.

While the pair fails at bar-keeping, malevolence hunts the nightlife of the city. Widdershins and Olgun return to what they are good at: thieving. However, they uncover a diabolical dark magic plot. The powerful Church distrusts her after the death of their Archbishop. The Guard distrusts her after what happened to Constable Henri Roubert. The Thieves' Guild distrusts her after she left them twice before. Only Guard Major Bouniard seems to be her ally but neither Widdershins nor Olgun trusts the orphan's attraction to him. If they survive an irate noble who wants her dead; the mortal-deity combo has a night time engagement with an evil serial killer.

Widdershins returns in an exciting entertaining investigative fantasy in which the strong city presence anchors the otherworldly elements. Readers would assume the lead protagonist is schizophrenic, if not for the occasional magic, as she and her guest hold amusing satirical discussions on redemption, death and love. Though there is purposeful stereotyping of secondary players that sets the tone of the Church, the aristocracy, the Guard and the Guild; high school age and older fans will enjoy touring the underbelly of Davillon with the squabbling jocular hosts.

Hunter and Fox
Philippa Ballantine
9781616146238, $17.95

The Caisah massacred the Vaerli so long ago it has become almost a myth. However, the Caisah's Hunter, Talyn knows better as she was once a proud member of the Vaerli before she sold her soul to the beast that murdered her people and still rules the world.

The Caisah's mistress Kelanim fears Talyn's influence on her lover so plots to destroy her "rival". At the same time, Finn the teller of tales and Talyn meet. They are attracted to one another, which each realizes is unrealistic and dangerous. Meanwhile, Talyn's lost brother Byre seeks a means to remove the curse on the Vaerli. Soon all will converge shaking the foundations throughout the Conhaero.

Although the theme of a ruthless vicious ruler and a small band of courageous opponents is an old fantasy theme, the constantly changing Conhaero landscape in which a mountain can become lake in an instant adds some freshness to an engaging storyline. Readers will have mixed feelings toward Talyn who regrets selling her soul to the devil in order to survive while Finn brings hope and secrets; and Caisah and Kelanim are stereotypical evil. Although much of the tale sets up the Ballantine mythos and realm, fans will enjoy this opening act while looking forward to future escapades in this shifting world.

The Last Victim
Karen Robards
Ballantine Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780345535405, $26.00,

When Dr. Charlotte Stone was seventeen years old, due to being sick in the bathroom, she was the sole survivor of the Boardwalk Killer massacre of her BFF Holly Palmer and her friend's mom Diane. She hid from everyone the "visits" in visions by Holly and her mom. That nightmare led to Charlie obsessively dedicating her life to becoming the authority on serial killers.

Fifteen years later at Wallens Ridge State Prison in Big Stone Gap, Virginia, Charlie's interview of death row inmate Michael Garland ends when FBI agent Tony Bartoli arrives to talk to her. Tony informs a horrified Charlie that the Boardwalk Killer is no longer dormant or a copycat has surfaced; as just like with Holly someone abducted a teen after massacring her family. After she leaves Garland, he dies in an attack by another prisoner. Garland's ghost blames his death on Charlie even though she tried to save his life. He continues to harangue her, which radically deviates with what she knows about ghosts after years of contact. Charlie knows this is her bogeyman case, but believes she must rescue the teen while an irate Garland refuses to go away.

This is a great paranormal police procedural starring a fascinating researcher whose worst nightmare apparently has returned. The suspenseful story line grips the audience from the moment the teen stays hiding and never let's go until the final confrontation with a diabolical serial killer. Adding to the fun is a touch of a romantic triangle as Karen Robards proves a fantastic ghostly whodunit.

Silent Slaughter
C.E. Lawrence
Pinnacle Books
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
119 West 40th Street, Floor 21
New York, NY 10018-2522
9780786025633, $9.99,

In Manhattan's Thirteenth Precinct, Detective Leonard Butts consults with profiler Dr. Lee Campbell on a note addressed to the cop received at the station. The memo signed by the Professor taunts Butts and the profiler. Campbell tells Butts the man is literate, intelligent and a real threat. He answers what should we do and the profiler says we wait.

The first known victim is Lisa Adler found in the back of Shinbourne Alley with a note addressed to Butts and friends from the Professor. Forensics Linguistics Specialist Elena Krieger says the culprit is enjoying himself and uses sophisticated amusing language as the Professor plays a game in which he sets the rules. He also removed a finger from the victim. Cop Jimmy Chen and his autistic brother Barry join the investigation.

Although serial killers running rampart are the repeat theme in this exciting series (see Silent Kills, Silent Victims and Silent Screams), the cast makes it fresh as Leonard, Elena, Barry and the Professor bring diverse eccentricities to the investigation. The storyline is fast-paced from the moment Butts and Campbell eat bagels while discussing the first note and never slows down until the final confrontation of a literary predator.

Run to Ground
D.P. Lyle
Oceanview Publishing
595 Bay Isles Road, 120-G
Longboat Key, FL 34228
9781608090570, $25.95,

In Alabama, Martha and Tim Foster struggle to cope with the murder of their seven year old son Steven. DNA evidence in a truck tied Walter Alan Whitaker to the homicide. However Judge Ben Kleiman trashed the reputation of HPD homicide detective T-Tommy Tortelli and disallowed the use of the DNA on a technicality. Whitiker was convicted of perjury and interfering with a police investigation. He received three years and now after nine months at Stone Gate Prison near Huntsville he is freed.

Martha and Tim fear their son's killer as he threatened her. Though they will never see their son's grave again, the pair change their identity and plan to leave the state. However, before they leave for the Carolinas, they fire shots from a distance that kills Whitaker whose brother blames T-Tommy. HPD forensic evidence and criminal behavior consultant Dub Walker, T-Tommy Tortelli and TV reporter Claire McBride search for the Fosters, but find some anomalies in the evidence.

The latest Dub Walker/T-Tommy police procedural (see Hot Lights, Cold Steel and Stress Fracture) is a taut manhunt investigation. Character driven especially at the onset when readers meet the distraught parents, the storyline is filled with a stunning late twist. Fans will appreciate aptly titled Run To Ground while wondering would they act like the bereaved Foster parents who watch an injustice occur.

Rough Riders
Charlie Stella
Stark House Press
4720 Herron Road, Eureka, CA 95503
9781933586397, $15.95,

In Billings, Montana, U.S. Air Force Colonel Robert Schmidt and Washington Stewart agree to a deal. The Colonel will provide uncut Afghan heroine to the hit man in exchange for the killer murdering his cheating wife and part of the sales. Washington, a drug dealing murderer from New York where he was James Singleton, is in the Witness Protection program working with the feds on a sting operation from Vegas to North Dakota. He kills the wife.

At the same time, Washington wants to murder monster Eddie Senta (see Eddie's World) for disfiguring him when the latter shot him in the face ten years ago. He sends a couple of goons back east to kill Senta. When the thugs screw up the hit, one is left dead while the other has to explain what happened to Washington; Senta is in ICU clinging to his life. His wife hires retired NYPD homicide cop Alex Pavlik, who worked the Singleton case, to investigate.

This is a fast and furious thriller that brings back the antagonists in Eddie's World in a good, the bad and the ugly storyline. Rotating between the northern Great Plains and the New York area, fans will enjoy this action-packed noir although the Feds are too scandalously uncaring about collateral damage or simply deadly avarice.

Hard Currency
Steven Owad
Five Star Books
295 Kennedy Memorial Drive
Waterville, ME 04901
9781432825799, $25.95,

In 1992 in a seedy Warsaw apartment, the police rule that prostitute Krystyna Krol overdosed on drugs. Once a political activist, her brother Julian the reporter is shocked by what the cops decide as his estrange brilliant sister had a bright future in the free Poland.

Though feeling remorse for not being there for his sibling, it is the drugs that most disturb Julian as Krystyna was the most anti-drug person he knew. Unable to resist he obsesses with a need to know why she so radically changed. Julian interviews the government officials who investigated his sister's death and her roommates. What he finds is not a picture of the enthusiastic brilliant girl he knew; but instead someone caught up in government corruption that survived the Communists and meth dealers thronging in an otherwise bleak world.

The dream and hope of Solidarity has turned into a collective nightmare of despair in Steven Owad's grim look at Poland just after the Soviet implosion. There are too many odd incidents that seem to serve more as painting the dark venue and subsequently supersedes Julian's investigation into his sister's falling from grace. Still Hard Currency is an intriguing melancholy glimpse at the failure of capitalism following in top of the failure of Communism.

Shadow Show
Sam Weller and Mort Castle, editors
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780062122681, $15.99,

Paying homage to the late Ray Bradbury, twenty-six authors provide strong short entries in the anthology "Shadow Show: All-New Stories in Celebration of Ray Bradbury" honoring the recently deceased superstar whose career spanned decades and many of his works turned into many movies. Mr. Bradbury added a short thank you to his contributing "children" while acknowledging his "true papa" was originally Poe and then Wells and Verne. Neil Gaiman sets the tone with his whimsical "The Man Who Forgot Ray Bradbury" as the narrator knows all the stories but not the name of the author. With a nod to the short story "The Swan", he met her too late as she is "The Girl In The Funeral Parlor" (by Sam Weller). "Something Wicked This Way Comes" to BFFs in "Conjure" by Alice Hoffman. The compilation pays homage to Mr. Bradbury; for instance, Dave Eggers' "Who Kicks" to "A Sound of Thunder"; Bonnie Jo Campbell's "The Tattoo" to "The Illustrated Man"; and Bayo Ojikutu's "Reservation to my personal favorite Bradbury "Fahrenheit 451". This is a fitting tribute to one of the great writers.

Bond Girl
Erin Duffy
9780062065902, $14.99

In 2006 hoping to prove a chip off the financial block of her dad, Alex Garrett feels euphoric when the Street's brokerage firm Cromwell Pierce hires her after she graduates from college. However, the fulfillment of her dreams starts off nightmarish when she arrives at her job on the trading floor to finds she has no desk or office chair; instead she has a folding chair and a boss Ed "Chick" Ciccone who calls her "Girlie" as her tasks are obtaining coffee and lunch while learning.

When she arrives late, Chick punishes her by sending her to the Bronx to buy heroes and a fifty pound parmesan wheel; she is left with the hefty bill. However, she survives her first year and is pleased with receiving an $110,000 bonus. Alex and colleague Will Patrick begin a clandestine tryst though he vanishes every weekend. Hedge-fund manager Rick Kieriakis stalks her, but Alex knows she cannot win in a confrontation with this powerful psychopath. In 2008 the market collapses leaving Alex a chance to regain her soul or continue with the devil's money

This is an engaging chick lit look at macho Wall Street right before and during the financial collapse. The vivid descriptions of the Street's office politics is nauseating with an only the strong survive the devouring of the rookies but seems genuine; while the insight into the finance world reads more like a quantum physics primer. Still fans will enjoy the Bond Girl escorting readers around the Street.

Blood Line
James Rollins
9780061784798, $27.99

Sigma Force Commander Gray Pierce struggles with the murder of his mother. However, the team is assigned by leader Painter Crowe to extract a high value abductee taken by Somali pirates off the Seychelles. Confused by the task as this is not the type of mission Sigma deals with since the kidnapping is not a global threat, which is their mission even if the victim is the First Daughter Amanda Gant-Bennett. Even more bewildering is that former Army Ranger Tucker Wayne and his K9 partner Kane join the rescue effort. Reluctantly as they table their combat against the Guild, Sigma heads to the Horn to meet their two newcomers.

A firebombing in a South Carolina fertility clinic reveals a centuries-old plot to reengineer the human genome. Sigma is assigned to save an unborn whose existence questions the meaning of what humanity is.

As always in a James Rollins' thriller, scientific theories (in this case: genetics, robotics, immortality and canine intelligence) are key to an exciting action-packed tale. The cast is strong with the newcomers fitting in with the likes of Pierce, Bryant, Kowalski and even enigmatic Seichan while the locales diverse. With a strong conspiratorial plot that ties back to the eleventh century and Jesus, Sigma fans will enjoy the fabulous Blood Line (see The Doomsday Key and The Devil Colony).

Miss Me When I'm Gone
Emily Arsenault
9780062103109, $14.99

Best-selling author Gretchen Waters is conducting a research trip into obtaining information on her next nonfiction work. Her memoir Tammyland focused on her divorce and her appreciation for Tammy Wynette, Loretta Lynn, and Dolly Parton. Her new project will follow up with the male country music legends.

However, Gretchen falls down the stairs to her death in a suspicious fall in the Willingham, New Hampshire public library parking lot. She names her best friend since they met as part of the Forrester College class of 2000 Jamie as her literary executor. After reading the incomplete memoir and the notes; Jamie decides to honor her friend by completing the book. However, the sections on the homicide in the late author's family when she was a child makes Jamie wonder if the fall was an accident, or murder to shut up Gretchen.

This an entertaining amateur sleuth in which the plot contains passages from Tammyland and from the unfinished manuscript. The storyline starts off at a rapid clip, but slows down somewhat in the latter half. Pregnant "Madhat" Jamie is an interesting protagonist and Gretchen (from the grave) is a fascinating haunted soul as they make this an engaging mystery.

Whiplash River
Lou Berney
9780062115287, $14.99

After his second time behind bars for grand theft auto, Charles "Shake" Bouchon decides no more committing felonies as at forty-something he feels too old to rob cars and be a getaway driver like he was for the Armenian mob. He knows he must leave Southern California to succeed so he obtains a loan from Baby Jesus the Belizean drug lord and buys a restaurant in Belize.

However, business proves poor, leaving Shake behind on his payments to Baby Jesus who expects full remittance on time or else. Compounding his tsuris is the combat between his staff. Finally to make matters worse, Meg and Terry try to kill former diplomat Quinn in the restaurant. FBI agent Evelyn follows the agency credo that vacation time is still work time as she interrogates Shake over his Armenian mob connection. Quinn thanks Shake for saving his life by conning him into helping retrieve an American artifact held hostage in Egypt at the same Gina the hedge fund manager arrives to enact revenge for Shake dumping her while a killer lurks.

The second Shake zany thriller (see Gutshot Straight) is a wild affair as the cast to match a Cecil B. DeMille production makes life miserable for the hero who finds going straight with one degree of separation dangerous. The key to this engaging crazy storyline is that the support characters seem genuine with their reasoning for their actions understood though several seem to be missing an electron or two in their brain cells. Readers will enjoy this madcap Central American thriller as the American expatriate realizes he failed to go far enough from his roots.

15 Seconds
Andrew Gross
9780061655975, $25.99

Cosmetic surgeon Dr. Henry Steadman drives to a Doctors Without Borders conference in Jacksonville, Florida when he ran a red light to avoid turning down the wrong way on a one way street. Police officer Martinez pulls Henry over and gives him tickets for running the light and driving the wrong way. When Henry argues the charges, Martinez arrests him for obstructing an officer and resisting arrest. Handcuffed he is taken to the station. The cops ask him where his wife is as he was seen driving with a woman this morning. The police soon realize they erred and Martinez tells him he will receive a warning citation.

However, as Martinez writes up the warning, a drive by shooter kills him. After how the cops just treated him, a panicked Henry flees. The police accuse him of murder and begin a manhunt for him.

The above is just the beginning of an exhilarating actin-packed thriller that never slows down as a desperate Henry eludes the law and pursues the killer. Though Henry's escapades seem unlikely, no one will care as the twisting storyline grips readers throughout with the surgeon seeking to prove his innocence while cops in three states seek to silence him.

Welcome Back To Pie Town
Lynn Hinton
9780062045126, $13.99

Catron County, New Mexico Sheriff Roger Benavidez fails to persuade the FBI Agent In Charge Williams they are invading the wrong house on a drug bust. There are no drugs inside only a single elderly female principal who has a heart attack.

In Pie Town, Afghan veteran Raymond Twinhorse angrily carries a gun, which frightens his live-in lover single mother Trina Lockhart. When he shoves her, hot water scalds her back. She grabs her infant Alexandria and locks herself and her baby in the bathroom until he leaves. Trina turns to Father George Morris who brought her to town when he arrived (see Pie Town) for help. He gets the sheriff's wife Malene who works at a clinic to provide first aid to the burns and informs Raymond's father Frank what happened. Meanwhile Deputy Danny White calls his boss to tell him that a robbery occurred at the Silver Spur in Datil and a gun was found in the nearby dumpster. The owner Gilbert Diaz accuses Raymond who acted badly yesterday of the theft. Roger cannot find Raymond while Williams begins a man hunt over $200 missing dollars.

This is an entertaining return to Pie Town as the caring locals rally around the troubled veteran they consider a hero while the Feds go on an expensive manhunt thwarted by the local residents. The well written storyline places a spotlight on PTSD that takes money to treat. Williams is a caricature of the arrogant Fed who should receive the Proxmire Golden Fleece Award for wasting government money who is also the epitome of Putts Law of Success and Failure. Still fans will enjoy this engaging tale as it takes a loving village and professionals to help a wounded warrior.

The Sword & Sorcery Anthology
David G. Hartwell and Jacob Weisman, editors
Tachyon Publications
1459 18th Street #139, San Francisco CA 94107
9781616960698, $15.95,

This entertaining twenty story collection contains entries starting in the 1930s from every decade since except the 1950s; including two tales never published before ("The Year of Three Monarchs" by Michael Swanwick and "Epistle from Lebanoi" by Michael Shea). . The entries represent a who's who of fantasy though some of the contributions are at best loosely sword and sorcery (David Drake's 1970s "The Barrow Troll" feels more like horror fantasy, but still is a super pre military sci fi work by the author). This engaging anthology is a terrific way to meet some of the best fantasists for those unfamiliar with their works and for returning vets a chance to enjoy fun short stories. In the introduction David Drake makes the case that Robert E. Howard's Conan success created S&S as a genre and deserves the opening act with "Tower of the Elephant". The other 1930s contribution comes from the great C.L. Moore (see "Black God's Kiss). Other famous authors included are Glen Cook's 1980 Dread Empire tale (see "Soldier of an Empire Unacquainted with Defeat"), Fritz Leiber's 1962 "The Unholy Grail" starring Fafhad and Grey Mouser, Michael Moorcock's Elric (and Stormbringer) in "The Caravan of Forgotten Dreams, and the current top gun George R.R. Martin with his 2000 "Path of the Dagon". Readers will appreciate this strong compilation.

No Sale
Patrick Conrad
Bitter Lemon Press
37 Arundel Gardens
London, W11 2LW, United Kingdom
9781904738978, $14.95,

In 1998 Antwerp, Chief Superintendent Fons "The Sponge" Luyckx, and Detective Inspector Lannoy investigate the disappearance of Shelley "Dixie" Cox whose husband Professor Victor Cox teaches the History of Cinema at the Institute of Film and Theatre Studies. They find her battered body by the Bonaparte Dock. She apparently was drunk, got hit by a car, and tossed into the water from the Nassau Bridge. The victim was wearing Hollywood prop jewelry from famous films like This Gun for Hire and Some Like it Hot.

The cops search for the murder vehicle starting with the husband whose car matches a description of the deadly auto and is in the shop for body damage repair. Soon afterward an actress dies of carbon monoxide and other homicides seemingly related to the case follow. Cox's student Starr Mortenson vanishes while spending the weekend with him; in their room someone wrote "No Sale," from Butterfield 8. Cox is the only connection between some of the murders and the Mortenson's disappearance.

This is an engaging Belgium police procedural in which classic films play a critical role. Cox makes the storyline work with his commentary on Hollywood including the It Girl and Clint Eastwood that also come across as grandiose delusions so he muddles up the investigation confusing the police (and delightfully the reader too). Although the final reel seems too brusque, fans will enjoy this wonderful whodunit that pays homage to great 1940s and 1950s movies.

Wedded to War
Jocelyn Green
River North
9780802405760, $14.99,

In 1861, The War Between the States surfaces several Union Army inadequacies. One of the most glaring is the understaffed Medical Department that has few combat experienced doctors and is totally not ready for war.

In New York City, several women want to enlist as nurses and other medical staff helpers. One of them is twenty-eight year old Charlotte Waverly from an affluent family. Everyone she knows thinks she is inane to believe she can become a combat nurse as upper class females are too pampered. Her boyfriend strongly objects making it clear it is either him or injured soldiers. However, determined and obstinate as she feels this is God's calling for her, she volunteers especially after a relative joins the Union Army. As one of the first female nurses, Charlotte finds the male doctors reject women in hospitals and especially in the field even though they are understaffed and not providing enough attention to their patients.

Wedded to the War is a great Civil War thriller that focuses on the role of females nurses breaking through a glass barrier that seems inane today with rules like the doctor is always right even at the cost of the patient's life or limbs; as we have come a long way (but have a long way to go). Character driven, readers will believe they are working alongside of Charlotte as she helps the injured, assist other women and meets Caleb who supports her efforts as a nurse. Paying homage to Civil War nurse Georgeanna Woolsey, Jocelyn Green provides an insightful look back to a time just before Susan B. Anthony and Elizabeth Cady Stanton founded the National Woman Suffrage Association.

War Maid's Choice
David Weber
Baen Books
PO Box 1188, Wake Forest NC 27588
9781451638356, $26.00,

Hradani horse stealer Prince Bahzell Bahnakson met Sothoii leader Baron Tellian Bowmaster on the battlefield when the latter outnumbered him by 30 to 1. He persuaded his foe to surrender or die; Tellian chose discretion as he knew his opponent was the War God's Own. They became friends but the Sothoii are upset with what they perceive as cowardice. To add insult the gigantic Bahzell takes a Sothoii steed Walsharno and becomes the first Hradani to be recognized as a wind rider (see the Wind Rider's Oath).

Bahzell and Tellian push a public works project to build a canal that connects the Sothoii city Derm with the Hradani city Hurgrum. The construction symbolizes to too many on both sides a new era of cooperation. However irate Sothoii deploy assassins targeting Tellian, Bahzell and other leaders of the new alliance made even more insulting by the Baron's daughter Leanna choosing this Hradani animal; this group choses civil war. Meanwhile the Dark Gods led by Phrobus try for the fourth time to eliminate Bahzell who is the prime barrier from their taking over Norfressa, but this time they deploy powerful minion but miss the key opponent as they target Bahzell and Tellian; no one would suspect an aristocratic war maid and a one-eyed mare to stand in their way.

The latest Bahzell epic fantasy (see Wind Rider's Oath, Oath of Swords and The War God's Own) is an engaging tale as David Weber enhances his world though it behooves newcomers to read the backlist entries to understand the social dynamics. Loaded with action and filled with fun but obvious twists as well as a once taboo romance (fuel for the purists), fans will enjoy the War Maid's Choice.

No Going Back
Mark L. Van Name
9781451638103, $22.00

Jon the hybrid nano-machine-human obsesses when it comes to keeping children safe. He knows he is a compulsive psychotic over this as he is the result of horrid experiments as a child on Aggro over a century ago. His "partner" Lobo the sentient assault shuttle knows Jon is insane when it comes to kids, but though he grumbles about their suicide rescue missions, he feels the same way as he was created by gruesome experiments on children.

The pair learns of ten abducted kids being sold to the highest bidders. Though Lobo objects to the poorly rushed plan filled with perilous unnecessary risks; the pair intercedes rescuing the youngsters, but not before a very wealthy patron sees Jon's face. Jon knows he should execute this deviant, but does not while the pedophile vows vengeance.

Meanwhile Jon finds out his first love is dying. Over the grumbles of Lobo, he goes to say goodbye though he alters his appearance as he trusts no one since he believes there are plenty out there who would return him to being a lab rat as he still tries to conceal even from Lobo his essence of being a nano-machine-human.

This terrific Jon-Lobo entry is filled with the irony of readers knowing the half-human hero's childhood (see Children No More) while almost no one else does; that is until now as Jon's paranoia proves justified. Fast-paced from the onset even with Jon thinking about his past and filled with A Modest Proposal sarcasm that Jonathan Swift would appreciate, this is a fabulous science fiction thriller that series fans will enjoy as we learn more about Jon and Lobo's history.

1636: The Kremlin Games
Eric Flint, Gorg Huff, and Paula Goodlett
9781451637762, $25.00

Having survived being transported from twenty-first century West Virginia to seventeenth century Europe, Grantville comes out of the recent war (see 1635: The Eastern Front and 1636: The Saxon Uprising) feeling stronger. However, some of the heroic soldiers like auto mechanic Bernie Zeppi feel they no longer have a place in this new world order.

That changes when Russian aristocrat Vladimir Gorchacov comes to Grantville; he hires Bernie to bring the future to backward Russia where serfdom rules the country and imperial power schemes paralyze Moscow. Bernie expects a life of luxury until he faces the deaths of children from typhoid. As he brings technology to the Russians, Bernie also brings American futuristic concepts like human rights starting with freedom at a time in which war with Poland seems imminent.

The latest Ring of Fire alternate historical is an enjoyable thriller with a wonderful second order effect on Bernie and the Russians; he begins to respect and love a nation he thought was barbaric (based on American history books) while the Russians are amazed by his gizmos and activated to demand liberty and justice for all. Though at times overly philosophical as the action starts in 1631 and evolves through subsequent years until part six is 1636, fans will enjoy a Mountaineer in Czar Romanov's Kremlin.

Karina Cooper
Avon Books
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
9780062127648, $7.99,

Cherry St. Croix knows high society considers her an undesirable due to her parents; a dead madman and a deceased mother. Being an outcast enables Cherry to earn a modest living as a collector bounty hunter, which in turn pays for her expensive habits.

Her occupation takes her to parts of London that her societal peers prefer to pretend do not exist or are home to riffraff. She delivers her current bounty to the Midnight Menagerie run by the mysterious Karkash Veil. There the Menagerie ringmaster Micajah Hawke welcomes her in his eerie way while her scientific pursuits above the drift lead to Cornelius Kerrigan Compton. However, neither man can rival the third male in her life, a killer she plans to collect the bounty on.

The first St. Croix Chronicles steampunk Victorian London is an engaging first person account of a young woman not fully part of any of the three worlds she traverses. The heroine is a terrific protagonist who takes readers on a tour of different London's with the steam powered impoverished residing in smog and the steel stilted affluence above the filthy air. In some ways the city steals the show as Cherry stalks a killer stalking London.

Once Burned
Jeaniene Frost
9780061783203, $7.99

The accident scarred Leila but also allows her touch to kill as she controls electricity and can do psychometric readings. She works the carnival circuit until four vamps kidnap Leila because they need her uncanny ability to find Vlad Tepesh the firestarter vampire. Their plan is to kill him.

Leila applies her psychometric skills but finds herself telepathically communicating with an irate Vlad. He kills her abductors, but wonders who was behind the plot. Vlad also recognizes the mortal's uniqueness so he refuses to free her as he feels he can use her in his search. Leila, who has missed touching, finds he survives her touch so puts up little an argument.

This is the first Night Prince urban fantasy starring a fascinating Cat & Bones secondary character with quite a history. Leila brings the electrical charge to this fast-paced action thriller as she and the first person she can touch without electrocuting them since the accident team up to try to find the villain behind the assault on the vampire who one must never call Dracula. Jeaniene Frost has stated an offshoot series with a winner.

Scandal Wears Satin
Loretta Chase
9780062100313, $7.99

In 1835 unprincipled Sophy Noirot's vision is to make Maison Noirot the dress shop she and her sisters own as the only choice for the wealthy Ton to patronize in London. She will use any scenario to give her an edge over her rivals.

A scandal has rocked Maison Noirot so when her best customer Lady Clara Fairfax vanishes just before her wedding, Sophy decides she must locate the chit. She joins Clara's helpless hunk of a brother, Harry, an Earl as he also seeks his missing sibling. Attracted to each other, the trail takes the pair to Portsmouth where Sophy must find Clara without harming her client's reputation.

The latest notorious Noirot sister's nineteenth century romance (see Silk is For Seduction) is an amusing witty tale as Harry can only think with his lower head since he met the sly Sophy; so she has to use her brains even with her libido ignited. Fans will enjoy this engaging historical as the irresistible force paradox of love shakes up two previously unmovable individuals.

A Scandalous Scot
Karen Ranney
9780062027795, $7.99

In 1860 Morgan MacCraig comes home to haunted Ballindair Castle in the Highlands after four years in self-imposed exile in London. He feels some remorse for what he did when he divorced his cheating wife as his breaking up his marriage adversely impacted his family's reputation. His goal is no more scandals.

The aunt of sisters Jean and Catriona McDonald is the housekeeper at Ballindair and finds maid positions for her impoverished nieces. When Morgan and Jean meet they are attracted to one another. As they fall in love, a compromising position leads to them agreeing to marry as each need to avoid a fresh scandal. However, Jean owes him the truth that she is a Cameron.

This is an engaging Victorian Era Highlander romance starring an earl with a lack of self-esteem and a maid with a scandalous past. The lead characters are fascinating with scandal connecting them in several ways. The key support cast is one dimensional especially Cat the flit, his married philandering friend, and the estate steward. Still fans will enjoy this engaging tale wondering what the McDonald-Cameron scandal is.

How To Be A Proper Lady
Katharine Ashe
9780062031761, $7.99

In 1803 Devonshire, the smugglers abducted brazen child Viola Carlyle who was with her sister Serena. She was raised by a pirate.

In 1818, the April Storm privateers led by Massachusetts Captain Violet Laveel sink the Cavalier owned by Jin "The Pharaoh" Seton. He is stunned as he has searched for Viola Carlyle for two years as homage to his mentor Captain Alex Savege and the man's wife Serena (see Captured by a Rogue Lord) and now he has found her. She takes him to a constable, but he buys his freedom and comes after her. Jin escorts Viola back to Serena. Though she loves her sibling, Viola feels like a fish out of water amongst the Ton and their inane rules of behavior while longing for Jin to kiss her again; a notion he loves and fears just like her.

The latest Falcon Club Regency romance (see When A Scot Loves A Lady) is a fun swashbuckling historical as two pirates fall. Though over the top of the Tower, fans will appreciate this exciting gender war as at sea, at port and at the ballroom, Captains Laveel and Seton fight, fuss and kiss.

Willow Springs
Toni Blake
9780062024619, $7.99

In Destiny, Ohio, a fire left two neighbors dead and shook up firefighter Logan Whitaker mentally. Matchmaker Amy Bright and another friend police officer Mike Romo (see Sugar Creek) try to help Logan who suffers from PTSD. When Logan kisses Amy before apologizing as they are buddies; she realizes she love her childhood friend. Desperate the reticent secret admirer Amy sends torrid love letters signed secret admirer to her unrequited beloved.

He wants to know who she is as she has him in a fever pitch. When someone from his past arrives in Destiny, Logan assumes she is the one while Amy fears telling him the truth will end their friendship.

This is an entertaining Destiny romance starring a wonderful woman struggling to tell her beloved how she feels about him and a confused male. The story line is character driven with Logan's trauma palatable only vanishing too quickly. Still fans will enjoy the childhood friends falling in love but one of them must take that risky first step.

Shadow of Night
Deborah Harkness
Viking Books
c/o Penguin Putnam Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780670023486, $28.95,

Vampiric genetic scientist Matthew de Clermont and Oxford historian but untrained witch Diana Bishop have married (see A Discovery of Witches). For a honeymoon, the newlyweds travel from a twenty-first century New York barn to sixteenth century Oxfordshire where they hope she can receive proper training in her craft and they can find the magical manuscript Ashmole 782, last seen in their century in the Bodleian library.

However, these are dangerous times for witches are burned at the stake and a twenty-first century female American professor fits the profile of witch rather than scholar. The pair meets his father and gets assistance from the top secret School of Night. However to solve the enigma of the Ashmole 782 before the paranormal species become extinct sends them on to the content heading to Prague.

Using a deep look at Elizabethan England as seen through the modern filter of the time travelers especially the historian, fans will appreciate this excellent, exciting middle fantasy in A Discovery of Witches saga. The storyline grips the audience from the moment the vampire and witch land five centuries in their past entangled together. Fans will relish touring the sixteenth century as Professor Deborah Harkness provides a fabulous alternate historical fantasy (the Bard will never be the same after this "double, double toil and trouble" role and Christopher Marlowe is a daemon).

Darkness Devours
Keri Arthur
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014-3658
9780451237118, $7.99,

Hybrid Helki werewolf (her maternal side) Aedh (her paternal side) Australian Risa Jones can traverse the gray fields that separates the living from the dead and sees reapers who collect souls. Two years ago werewolf reporter Jak Talbott broke Risa's heart when he courted her for a story that he enhanced with out-right lies. Risa has since been somewhat relationship-phobic choosing a fun but sterile liaison with Aedh Lucian.

Though she loathes Talbott for what he wrote about her mother, she needs his help. She explains that the Directorate of Other Races hunt the surviving leader John Nadler of a consortium that used the ley line intersection in Melbourne to attack her friends; she needs him to find this beast for her before he and his associates can manipulate time, reality or fate. Risa conceals her fears that they find the keys to open the portals to heaven as one has been discovered and used.

At almost the same time, in spite of an execution order to kill her; the Vampire Council asks Risa for help. Their Cazador cell and the Directorate failed to find the serial killing monster that is eating their species. The only link between the victims is they went to Dark Earth, an underground club in Brunswick. Her mission is to kill this beast.

The third entertaining Dark Angels urban fantasy (see Darkness Rising and Darkness Unbound) is an exciting thriller as the heroine works two dangerous fronts though Risa believes contact with Talbott is the biggest peril she faces. The storyline is fast-paced and filled with action. However, the overarching Key theme barely moved; while the beast devouring the vamps is well written and brings freshness to the mix.

Blood Before Sunrise
Amanda Bonilla
9780451237460, $7.99

A hundred years ago, Darian's lover Azriel the immortal Shaede changed her into the gray shadowy walker that he is, but also informed her they were the last two of their species before he vanished without a trace. She became a skilled assassin, but her assignment to kill King Xander Peck stunned her as he was the ruler of the Shaede Nation (see Shaedes of Gray).

Darian and her newly assigned Shaede guardian Raif search for Delilah the oracle who escaped led a coup and tried to kill her. Although it is like capturing the wind, they catch the insane rebellious oracle. Delilah implies that Raif's missing daughter Brakae is not dead as most believe, but still lives. With her Jinn lover and former handler Tyler having her back, Darian seeks to reunite father and daughter at any cost. As she and Tyler begin to break apart over her obsession almost killing him and threatening much more, Darian dives deeper into the abyss while ignoring warnings.

The second superb Shaede Assassin urban fantasy continues the misadventures of the intrepid heroine who's out of control obstinacy to find Brakae without regard to dire consequences. Fast-paced and filled with double and triple crossings, fans will enjoy entering the Bonilla mythos where the Shaedes, oracles and other ilk seem real.

My Lady Mage
Alexis Morgan
9780451237446, $7.99

Cruel Fagan uses evil magic to take control of Agathia following the death of his brother. His iron fist sends his desperate niece Lady Merewen to the nearby river to plead for the Warriors of the Mist to leave their resting places and save the people.

Though it has been many years since their return, the Lord and Lady of the River send Gideon and four companions to answer her call. As Lady Merewen faints at his feet, Gideon knows the cost of being her champion means going before the gods who condemned them to their river existence and pray they earned redemption. He also understands how bad the situation must be for his leaders to dispatch him and his teammates. However, the enemy has also summoned an abomination that has the Warriors of the Mist doubting success while their leader struggles to control his attraction to lady Merewen.

The first Warriors of the Mist romantic fantasy is an enjoyable tale starring a strong cast (including horses), but the otherworldly elements are left too vague. The romance is deftly handled to flow within the fast-paced storyline as the protagonists never lose sight of the mission. Filled with action from the moment Gideon and the others rise from the sea and never hitting the brakes, fans will anticipate the battle between the condemned good and the vilest evil.

A Hunger So Wild
Sylvia Day
9780451237453, $7.99

Elijah Reynolds is the alpha that other alphas bow to as the king of the hunt and ruler of sexual encounters. Vashti is the queen of the vampires who loathes the Lycan for murdering her Neshamia soulmate Charron. As the Wrath Virus spreads, Vash's Fallen leader Syre in Virginia informs her that the Lycans have revolted from the seraphim control. Thinking that your enemy's enemy is your ally though one must watch your back with this Fallen species, Syre sends his second in command Vash to forge an alliance with the Lycan rebel leader Elijah.

Though she feels the Lycans are despicable for more than just murdering her mate, Syre follows orders to arrange an alliance between her species and Elijah. He wants to kill Vash for her killing his friend, but holds his avenging need in check as a pact with the vampires is needed if they are to survive their rebellion. Both are stunned by an attraction beyond anything either has felt before. However, war is imminent with psyop activity already set in motion and with both lovers being critical leaders for their people each understands that he is Lycan and she is Vamp.

The entertaining second Renegade Angels urban romantic fantasy focuses on two fallen groups who took different paths once they fell from grace. The storyline is fast-paced with a wonderful spin (first established in A Touch of Crimson) as the "good" angels, no longer having their sacrificial Lycans to send on suicide missions, use the end of eternal victory to justify any means against their former brethren the Fallen.

Moonshell Beach
JoAnn Ross
9780451237385, $7.99

Captain JT Douchett's last mission as a Marine is the hardest he ever faced as he went ahead without a weapon to visit homes of fallen comrades. Following this last heart-wrenching assignment in California, he heads home to Shelter Bay, Oregon where he does not want to go out on the boat with his father or brother that he loved to do before enlisting; instead he prefers to drink.

Famous Irish movie star Mary Joyce agrees to appear at the Shelter Bay film festival because of her fond childhood memories of the coastal town. Her bodyguard is a stoic sourpuss JT. They are attracted to one another, but his PTSD keeps him from acting on his feelings; as he knows love means watching someone else you care about die; but he never met anyone handle an outreach mission better than her with her selkie tales.

The latest Shelter Bay romance (see On Lavender Lane, One Summer and The Homecoming) is a wonderful contemporary starring a wounded warrior who knows he wants is to be left alone to not feel and a strong actress who goes after what she wants. Their tango, enhanced by the townsfolk, makes for a warm tale of love healing the soul.

Romeo Spikes
Joanne Reay
Gallery Books
c/o Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl.
New York, NY 10020
9781451674446, $25.00,

Once a leading neurophysicist, who researched molecular telomeres that control longevity, Dr. Agnus Day lost his mind when his daughter died. He vanished only to reappear in a coma at a horrible murder scene. Now he resides at Morphic Fields Penitentiary where he suffers from Geschwind syndrome, which leaves him out of control of his mind and body as he obsessively is compelled to write down the "violent, inhuman visions" that haunt him. He is unaware what he sees ties back to the Tormenta demons whose sustenance is devouring the predetermined life not used when a mortal commits suicide, which these beasts "encourage" in their human form.

Homicide Detective Alexis Bianco soon learns about the Tormenta and their adversarial human protectors the Chiro Scuro when she meets Lola who effortlessly places her in a chokehold to get her attention. At the same time these demons are extremely active in anticipation of the arrival of the dark messiah Mosca; while knowing that the arrival of their champion means the Sinistra angels' Moera will follow. All will converge on Morphic Fields Penitentiary where a mad researcher sits on death row while his avaricious shrink sees fame and fortune.

This is an extremely complex opening act of the powerful paranormal thriller that grips readers from start to finish. In some ways the various organizations competing for top gun can prove confusing as there seems to be a Cecil B. De Mille size cast. Though a glossary or "family tree" would have helped, fans will appreciate this superb supernatural that brilliantly brings angels and demons into the contemporary world in which the good go insane, the bad are mortal protectors and the ugly are demons and often angels.

Jennifer Hillier
Gallery Books
9781451664546, $24.99

Seattle PD homicide detective Mike Torrance shows his retired partner turned private investigator Jerry Isaac the corpse of Brenda Stich whose throat was cut in a room at the Sweet Chariot Inn. Mike asked Jerry to come to the inn so he can see the message carved into Brenda's skin by a knife: "FREE ABBY MADDOX". Jerry has a scar across his throat and his voice is destroyed due to Abby's attack last year while he worked a case involving Maddox's boyfriend serial killer Ethan Wolfe (see Creep).

Still suffering from PTSD, Jerry feels ill that some lunatic would kill an innocent to make a case to free a maniac like Abby; though many people feel she committed no crime except her choice in boyfriends. Jerry knows psychologically he needs to stay away from this homicide, but obsessively cannot.

Jerry has not recovered his swagger from his traumatic meeting with Abby (in Creep) though his wife Anne and others are there for him, but feels he must act on the latest murders. Abby is a fascinating person who is a sub in her loving relationships and psychopath protecting her beloveds. Whereas his personality negatively has been changed by their encounter; hers has been strengthened. Although serial killer thrillers inundate the market, sub-genre fans will want to know who the twisted Freak is behind "Free Abby Maddox".

City of the Dead
Daniel Blake
Gallery Books
9781439197622, $25.00

In 2005 Pittsburgh police officer Franco Patrese accepts a FBI position in the New Orleans field office. He attends a Fourth of July party hosted by the city's wealthiest person St. John Varden. At the gala, Patrese meets Varden's personal assistant Cindy Rojciewicz. She arranges for the fed to meet her at a nearby bar by telling him she has harrowing information on human sacrifice.

When she fails to arrive at their rendezvous point, a concerned Patrese goes to her apartment. There he finds NOPD homicide detective Selma Fawcett investigating the horrid ritual murder of Rojciewicz. With a snake near the naked corpse; whose blood was drained from her body and a leg removed. Patrese and Fawcett team up to look into Cindy's homicide and other recent voodoo ritualistic murders as they consult with the current Marie Laveau even while the National Weather Service warns of Hurricane Katrina bearing down on New Orleans.

The second Patrese police procedural (see Thou Shalt Kill) has the cynical cop moving from the Rust Belt to the Wet Belt as he changes jobs but works another gruesome serial killing case. His personality seems opposite of his more upbeat new partner while Katrina seems apropos as the truth does not always set you free when it is ugly.

Great-Aunt Sophia's Lessons for Bombshells
Lisa Cach
Gallery Books
9781416513315, $15.00

Grace Cavanaugh is a Ph.D. candidate in Women's Studies whose thesis hypothesis is beauty leads to misery. Her octogenarian Great Aunt Sophia, a retired movie star, asks her to spend the summer with her as she heals from surgery. Though her aunt hurt her badly when she was a little girl, Grace agrees as Aunt Sophia is the anecdotal poster child of her thesis.

Grace assumes Aunt Sophia is alone in Pebble beach so she reached out desperately to her great niece. Instead Aunt Sophia may suffer from arthritis and have ancient skin, but remains a dynamite queen of her mansion and beyond as it's the attitude that makes a bombshell a bombshell even at eighty-five. Her aunt mentors her into letting out her inner bombshell and soon Grace has two different men Declan and Andrew enthralled by her beauty.

This is an amusing lighthearted chick lit tale in which the triangle participants are overshadowed by the geriatric actress. Sub-genre fans will enjoy Grace gets her groove but seemingly at the cost of her dissertation as Great Aunt Sophia's Lessons for Bombshells is based on the hypothesis that beauty is more than skin deep with the right attitude.

The Care and Feeding of Stray Vampires
Molly Harper
Pocket Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 13th fl.
New York, NY 10020
9781451641837, $7.99,

In Half-Moon Hollow, Iris Scanlon runs Beeline a vampire day-time concierge business. Her clients ask her to take care of just about anything, which she does for a nice fee. Because of her variety of gopher tasks, Iris is an expert on vampirism, something she considers TMI especially for a church goer (at least on the Big days) like her.

She brings welcoming flowers and the contract to her newest client Mr. C Calix. Only he lies on the floor looking pale. He drank poisoned donated O blood. She refuses to give him her blood but provides him two tampered proof sealed bottles. Cal pleads with the daywalker to find him a hiding place while he works on who wants him dead-dead; Iris does for a fee. To her chagrin she is attracted to her acrimonious customer as Iris refuse to break her no fraternization rule.

Though the locale is the same as the Jane Jameson urban fantasy saga (see Nice Girls Don't Bite their Neighbors), The Care and Feeding of Stray Vampires is a new offshoot series. This amusing romantic frolic stars a business minded human and an irritable vampire; who prove that only love can resolve the paradox of an irresistible force meeting an unmovable object.

All Seeing Eye
Rob Thurman
9781451652222, $7.99

Ironically Jackson Lee muses that as a psychic he never saw it coming when he was fourteen years old and he touched the dusty pink shoe in his family's yard. The shoe belonged to his five years old sister Tess who told told him she was murdered. Due to him his family is massacred as well leaving a traumatic Jack left in the Cane Lake County Home for Boys, definitely not for the good. There he meets bookworm Charlie Allgood.

Years later, Jack becomes a carny psychic until he takes out his own shingle as the All Seeing Eye for hire. He keeps people at a distance except for his assistant and adopted sister Abby, and Houdini the dog. Fed Hector Allgood tells Jackson that Charlie, who died ten months ago, told him about his friend's skills. The SOB blackmails the psychic into working for him on solving Charlie's murder and on an experiment that turned violent. Charlie sense deja vu as he expects his life will radically change just like when he touched Tess' shoe.

This is an exhilarating twisting paranormal thriller starring a troubled soul who struggles with his psychic skill, his knowledge of his sister's death and his belief he caused the follow-up massacre. Fast-paced, readers will relish All Seeing Eye as the traumatized protagonist knows you can go home because the truth will never set you free from truly leaving home.

Kris Kennedy
9781439195918, $7.99

In 1294 in Last Fells, England, Sophia plans to steal her odious late father Judge Roger Darnly's ledger on the wealthiest merchants; a tome that would destroy many people. Kier recognizes her by just seeing her neck as they were once lovers until he abruptly left her after being outlawed.

He is on a vengeance quest so has no time to deal with an obstinate Sophia. However, he quickly realizes she has not changed at all when she persuades him to team up with her on both of their missions. She comes up with a scheme to gain access to information; Sophia will masquerade as a shipping magnate with Kier as her trusted employee. However, neither anticipated that their love remains strong or that an unknown powerful adversary wants Darnly's damning ledger to become the most powerful person in England.

Deception is a super medieval romantic suspense starring two lead characters who find their second chance at love more dangerous than their first time. With a fully developed cast, Kris Kennedy provides a fabulous historical as Sophia and Kier follow clues to try to identify the villain who will kill for the ledger.

A Summer of Seduction
Candace Camp
9781451639513, $7.99

Aristocratic friends Alec Stafford and Gabriel Morecombe got into a brawl over the late Jocelyn who had been the former's fiancee and the latter's sister. Jocelyn left behind baby Ruth with Thea Bainbridge before she died. The father is not Alec but another friend (see A Winter Scandal). Married, Gabriel and Thea raise his nephew in a happy home.

Alec and Thea's friend Widow Damaris Howard met during his estrangement with Gabe; but she remains an enigma to her neighbors in Chesley including her best friend. Damaris and Alec meet in London starting at the theater and their already strong attraction explodes. However, her past makes her know she must stay away from him and passion; while he still reels from his late fiancee's infidelity with a close friend. Everything changes in an instant when an unknown predator abducts Damaris.

The second Legend of St. Dwynwen Regency romance is an enjoyable second chance at love tale. The storyline starts slow with a feeling out round as the lead couple wants to engage but their respective relationship histories make each fearful and too pensive over I'm Not In Love (10Cc). The plot accelerates somewhat late with the kidnapping. Fans will enjoy Alec and Damaris as neither wants love, but the heart fails to heed the brain.

Claiming The Heart
Sara Luck
9781451652246, $7.99

A few years after the Civil War ended, workaholic track supervisor Gabe Corrigan lives to see the expansion of the Texas and Pacific (T&P) Railroad across Texas as the deadline of reaching Fort Worth looms. His Louisiana Southern belle wife Marthalee complains that he pays no attention to her she insists his only love is the rails. Disgusted, Marthalee heads home while filing for an annulment.

Gabe does not blink with his spouse leaving him. Instead he finds himself attracted to hotel-shop owner Josie Laclede who loves his dream of rails across Texas. They fall in love and soon travel to DC where they meet the President and First Lady and other dignitaries. Marthalee comes back into his life claiming they remain married; as she wants part of the wealth he earned with his T&P investment and to be part of the DC upper crust society. Her father influential General Galloway offers Gabe a chance to reconcile with his family and to begin a political career; while foundling Josie knows she cannot compete, so she leaves.

This Reconstruction Era romance is a terrific Texas tale starring two fabulous protagonists. The mystery of Josie's birth enhances this strong historical with a fabulous late spin that emphasizes the limited degrees of separation between slaves and the highest social elite. Character driven Sara Luck provides an enjoyable nineteenth century Americana tale.

Kelly Meding
9781451620931, $7.99

The Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives Meta Human Control (MHC) section supervised the Ranger Corps MetaHumans whose prime assignment is to keep the evil Banes from terrorizing civilians. Fifteen years ago many of these superhuman operatives died in the MetaWars. Six months ago, wordspread that MHC had an extinction plan for the surviving MetaHumans.

In dead zoned Los Angeles, while the city still struggles with the aftermath of war, numerous human skins have been found. The horrified police ask the MetaHumans to investigate these gruesome homicides. Reporter Dahlia "Ember" Perkins is a recent MetaHuman who has rookie doubts that she can help her experienced superhero teammates especially against a foe who seems inhuman and non-Meta. When an assassin attempt misses her but hits one of her teammates and she remains a seemingly target, Dahlia realizes somehow she is linked to the grisly killer(s).

The second MetaWars urban fantasy (see Trance) is an entertaining thriller as superheroes struggle with their roles and responsibilities adversely impacting their civilian lives and with their fights against supervillains. Loaded with action and a well written whodunit, fans will relish this engaging entry as super-heroism means super-dud in one's personal relationships.

The Way Back Home
Barbara Freethy
9781451636543, $7.99

In River Rock, California, single mom Alicia Hayden tries to save Hayden River Adventures after the accident on the Smoky left her father using a cane and in total denial about the business or the townsfolk rage towards them as local Brian Farr died and she barely survived a drowning. Three weeks ago she buried her twin brother Rob a marine who died in combat one week before he was to come home. Their competitor Wild River Tours sees an opportunity to drown their rivals as Alicia worries about the future of her almost ten year old son Justin.

Former Marine Gabe Ryder, who was with Rob during that final fatal firefight, arrives in River Rock as he promised his Rob's best friend to take care of the Hayden family. Though she knows she is being unreasonable and bitter, Alicia holds Gabe culpable for the death of her sibling. They have a past that he refuses to talk about as Gabe believes he is unworthy of the love of Alicia and the admiration of Justin. However, when the assaults on the business turns ugly and Justin and his BFF David vanish, the marine in him reacts as he never leaves a man (woman or child) behind.

This is an engaging romantic suspense that focuses on how customized grief is especially in a small-town where everyone not only knows one another but everybody is impacted by a tragedy. Character driven by a strong cast and by the river, fans will enjoy rafting with Barbara Freethy as our guide.

Carrie Lofty
9781451616392, $7.99

In 1880, ruthless businessman Sir William Christie dies. His four children (illegitimate Vivienne and her beloved half-siblings (Alexander and twins Gareth and Gwyneth)) come to New York for the reading of their bombastic late father's will. Executor Alain Delavoir informs Alex that his assignment to earn his inheritance requires him to make a profit after two years at Christie Textiles mill in Glasgow. Though he loathed his father, Alex a widower astronomer knows he must take on the million dollar challenge if he to keep custody of his frail infant Edmund from his vicious father-in-law Josiah Todd.

At the cotton mill, Alex and Polly Gowan, a union leader's daughter, meet and argue over how to make the enterprise a success. He realizes he needs her to gain employee loyalty and she realizes she needs him to uncover the identity of a merciless saboteur, who has no qualms about hurting children. As they fall in love, their seemingly diverse objectives and their misunderstanding of their beloved's respective goals leave them in peril of failure in all aspects of their lives.

The second Christies Victorian romance moves from South Africa to Scotland, but retains the twisting exciting action adventure of Flawless. Fast-paced from the moment the lead couple first argues until their last "confrontation", fans will enjoy Carrie Lofty's excellent late nineteenth century Starlight.

Legend of the Book Keeper
Daniel Blackaby
Russell Media
9781937498047, $14.99,

In Havenwood, Utah, after school, ninth-grade friends Cody Clemenson and Mari "Jade" Shimmers visit Wesley's Amazing Used And Rare Antique Book Store. Clumsy Cody knocks over a pole of books that concealed a door with one word in blood: RESTRICTED. Cody flees while Jade thinks he is a lunatic.

In his bedroom he hears someone calling his name and he sees a figure in his closet holding a knife with a sign above the door in blood: RESTRICTED. Stunned Cody races to the bookstore only to find a For Sale sign. The teen sneaks into the building to witness Wesley Simon scrambling as the old man thinks this was the first time someone stumbled into his secret and escaped from the store. Inside the room Cody tries to look at an antique book by Hawthorne when Wesley catches him and realizes the world is doomed. He tells Cody to run with the tome while he races upstairs with a sword to fight an intruder. Sheriff Messiner announces that Wesley was murdered as Cody tells Jade he caused Wesley's death and something big and ugly is after hum.

The first Lost City Chronicles is an exciting action-packed fantasy thriller. Fast-paced, younger teen readers will root for their adolescent "peers" as the lead duo engage in a deadly odyssey to prevent evil from destroying the world. Although at times the scenes are overly described, fans will enjoy following where the Book takes the Keeper Cody and his sidekick Jade on misadventures against a sinister Master.

Mr. Monk is a Mess
Lee Goldberg
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780451236876, $23.95,

Natalie Teeger joined her employer Mr. Monk on Patrol as uniform cops in Summit, New Jersey. They return to San Francisco to take care of personal business with plans to return to Summit. However, Natalie finds the corpse of Michelle Keeling in her bathtub and money stolen from an FBI sting.

While Mr. Monk debates California vs. New Jersey, the feds looks at Natalie as the prime suspect in the homicide and abetting in the-marked money. At the same Monk's agoraphobic brother Ambrose pleads with him to find his beloved missing Yuko who the neurotic detective is elated to see gone from his sibling. However, Mr. Monk Is A Mess as he biologically remains in Jersey but needs to be operating in California.

Lee Goldberg provides another great Mr. Monk tale as the mentally messed up sleuth struggles to get his San Francisco groove back while still on East Coast time; as his assistant and his brother need him at the top of his game. The storyline is fast-paced from the moment the pair returns home and never slows down as the temporarily Jersey boy, Monk may be a mess but he still is the best.

Sea Change
Karen White
9780451236760, $15.00

Ava Whalen has always felt like a loner who was a fish out of water. In her thirties she accepted she will have no one until she meets child psychologist Matthew Frazier. Just a few months later, they are in love and marry.

Matthew takes his new bride to his ancestral home on St. Simons Island, Georgia. However, once the newlyweds relocate Ava's sense of being alone returns as she learns about the mysterious death of Matthew's first wife Adrienne whose family holds him culpable and other secrets of him and his family. He is not very open to answering her questions. Therefore, with an obsessive need to know, Ava investigates the Frazier brood only to find an unexpected shocker that could end her hopes for happiness.

Sea Change is an engaging modern day gothic starring a thirtyish woman who has never felt she belonged within her family and now in her marriage. Ava will remind readers of Joan Fontaine's character in Hitchcock's Suspicion. Rotating perspective between several cast members, readers learn the strange truth though there are too many improbable spins to the exciting storyline. Still fans will appreciate this well written drama as Karen White provides a delightful twister.

Shadows of the Past
E. A. Jensen
Outskirts Press
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432787967, $13.95,

In Grabenberg, New Jersey, someone murders a ware-tiger. Other grisly assassinations of paranormal follow. The Occult and Paranormal Investigation Agency (OPIA) head Alfred Moore knows only one person could do the job, but besides getting his former best agent Kirsa Heinrich to agree, he has to persuade her surrogate father and the Vampire Council to allow her to leave Germany to come home to work the horrific serial killing case.

Kirsa, who fled the States following the murders of her parents during a nasty inquiry, goes back to Grabenberg. There she looks at the clues and concludes the Church of Light cult who killed her parents and other paranormal is behind the gruesome assaults. The Vampire Council assigns Shadow Ayden O'Brian to keep Kirsa safe as his handlers and he know the Church has targeted Kirsa as their number one enemy; likewise she classifies the Church of Light as her number one enemy too.

Shadows of the Past is a strong urban (actually mountainous) fantasy in which the paranormal behave somewhat normal though have different abilities than humans. The cast is strong as readers will believe these otherworldly species exist. Kirsa is an engaging heroine while Ayden is a dedicated Shadow. Although the egomaniacal prime villain behaves over the High Point of the Kittatinny Ridge, fans will appreciate this superb paranormal Garden State conspiracy thriller.

James Treadwell
Emily Bestler Books
c/o Atria Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
9781451661644, $26.00,

In 1537, the world's greatest magus Johannes Faust plans on his resurrection. He places a piece of his soul into a mirror and buries all magic inside a ring.

His school expels fifteen year old Gavin Stokes for insisting he sees ghosts. His parents are at the end of their rope after he rushes into their bedroom claiming Miss Grey said his mom was dead. Since they received a hand written note from Aunt Gwen, his mom and dad exile the troubled teen to Pendurra, the Cornish estate where Aunt Gwen the flighty wiccan is the housekeeper. At Pendurra, Gavin meets other people who claim to have seen paranormal essences; most have suffered from the ridicule of others. When he and his new friends find a box containing a mirror and a ring, they unwittingly release the return of magic onto an unsuspecting world.

Advent is a great urban fantasy that uses everyday items like flowers to show the return of magic. The cast is solid especially the teen protagonist who finds rusticating unhealthy as he has doubts as to whom he can trust. Rotating perspective though most of the action occurs in the present as the two subplots converge, fans will enjoy this good and evil struggle with the betting line on the bad guys (and gals).

The Playdate
Louise Miller
Emily Bestler Books
c/o Atria Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
9781451656671, $15.00,

In London, affluent married mother of three Suzy Howard and impoverished single mom Callie Roberts are best friends who help each other with their respective children. Callie lacks any self-esteem since her divorce and how the neighbors treat her and her five-year-old daughter with a heart condition Rae as if they have the plague. All the moms make it clear displaying overt hostility that they want her and her child to stay away from them and their family. The one exception is Suzy, who she owes a debt of gratitude for befriending her.

Callie decides to look for work as a first step to regain her lost confidence. When she obtains a job, she knows she should tell Suzy but she hesitates and is not sure why. When Suzy learns Callie returned to work without telling her, she feels betrayed. Meanwhile the new neighbor schoolteacher Debs Ribwell offers Callie friendship.

Rotating viewpoint between the three women, The Playdate is an intriguing psychological thriller that starts as a treatise on how well even best friends and neighbors truly know each other before turning into a taut chiller. The three females are fully developed while the support cast enhances the growing tension. Readers will appreciate Louise Miller's thought-provoking drama as the masks slowly come off.

Ellen Hopkins
Atria Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
9781451626346, $15.00,

As Holly, Andrea and Marissa are turning forty soon, each deals with a crisis differently. Married to Jace, Holly begins to crash diet while starting and writing about her casual affairs, and being there for her teenage daughter Mikayla who is having her first relationship. Andrea's offspring Harley seems well adjusted unlike her serial dating mom who is seeing Jace, who is aware that his wife is cheating on him. Heartbroken Marissa watches helplessly as her four year old daughter Shelby is dying, her spouse has emotionally given up, and she also struggles with her gay son's sexual preferences.

Triangles is an engaging character study told in verse by the three women. Each of the females are fully developed and through their filters so are their family members. Though this contains well written and vivid verse, the constant state of trauma with no respites can feel overwhelming. Still readers who relish something different and poignant will appreciate Ellen Hopkins's fascinating narrative poetry that enables the audience to learn of the past and understand what motivates each of the lead protagonists in the present.

An Officer's Duty
Jean Johnson
Ace Books
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor
New York, NY 10014
9781937007690, $7.99,

Powerful Space Force Navy psychic Ia can slip in and out of the time streams and see centuries into the future. Knowing that three hundred years from now, a near invincible enemy enters the galaxy destroying everything in their hunt for energy, Ia finds only one time line in which the destruction of the Milky Way does not occur. Thus she enlisted in the military when she turned eighteen as the first step towards insuring the one positive outcome happens (see A Soldier's Duty).

Ia returns to her home heavyworld Sanctuary in order to insure the safety of her family and makes sure her brother wins the lottery at a time when religious disputes begin to turn hostile. The money will be used to for Sanctuary to survive one of the wars in which her home world plays a pivotal role. Ia plays a role in a series of armed conflicts with her goal to save billions of lives if every step in the time stream happens. Ia is a part of the Blockade Patrol keeping the amphibian race the Saliks blocked up in their sector. However, she knows they plan to break through the blockade; she must prevent this from happening because if they succeed her efforts to follow that one time stream ends in the earliest stage.

Known for her romantic fantasies (see the Sons of Destiny), Jean Johnson continues to display the width of her talent with her second exciting Theirs Not to Reason Why military science fiction thriller. Fans of Honor Harrington will appreciate heroic Ia who gives up the life she wants and the man she loves to prevent a futuristic galactic wide catastrophe, which, if unimpeded, would occur after she is dead. Fast-paced with terrific battle scenes and deep characterizations, Ia brings a sense of urgency to this deep tale.

The Apocalypse Codex
Charles Stross
9781937007461, $25.95

Due to his incredible field performance in spite of himself (see The Fuller Memorandum), the Laundry top brass considers Bob Howard as a strong managerial candidate. To mentor him, they assign reluctant Bob to the opaque Externalities Department, which outsources to private contractors much of its work.

His superior Gerald Lockhart assigns Bob as handler to paranormally-skilled field agents Persephone Hazard and Johnny McTavish as they investigate American miraculous healing evangelist Ray Schiller who has become a close friend of the Prime Minister. Over the objection of the American agencies, Hazard goes undercover inside of Schiller's Golden Promise Ministry while Bob as her handler must make sure this female bull (don't call her a cow) in a china shop does not cause a cross Atlantic embarrassment. However, the mission changes with the attack of parasites from another dimension and a bible with additional sections.

The fourth Laundry Files is a fabulous out of control paranormal espionage horror thriller. The protagonist is a geek who prefers his wife Mo and computers to Bond put in the tundra missions. He makes the twisting storyline work as he ends up in the middle of another clusterf*** fiasco. Aptly surnamed Persephone is a hazard to his health and that of others as once again squeamish Bob is tested by Lockhart, zombies, parasites, religious fanatics, espionage agencies and his direct reports team.

Doctor Who: Shada: The Lost Adventure by Douglas Adams
Gareth Roberts
9780425259986, $25.95

Doctor Who's friend, Time Lord Professor Chronotis, has retired to Cambridge University. He assumes his eccentric elderly peers will not notice someone living amongst them for a few centuries or so. Although he knows better, Chronotis took mementos of his time traveling days; all of which is junk except The Worshipful and Ancient Law of Gallifrey tome.

He unwittingly compounds his error when he thinks boys will be boys so he lends this powerful arcane to post-graduate student Chris Parsons. Like most males his age, Chris figures he can score with the females by using The Worshipful and Ancient Law book though he would not mind his peer Claire Keightley as his first pick; he is unaware of how dangerous this artifact is. Time Lord Skagra knows the tome is in 1979 Cambridge so on platform shoes he heads to the university town with plans to grab the tome so he can dominate the universe and as a by-product eliminate his opponent Doctor Who, who he expects will go there too. Who with Romana and K-9 arrive in Cambridge circa 1979.

Novelizing a Douglas Adams' script that never was filmed, Gareth Roberts provides a great Dr. Who adventure. The storyline is fast-paced and filled with whimsy from the moment the audience meets Skaga who at five concluded not only God did not exist but a vacancy did and he was perfect to fill it. The Adams' trademark satiric comedy of the hyperbolic absurdity continues from there to Chris who borrows one of the deadliest forces in the universe to pick up girls. Series fans will relish Shada as Dr. Who and his associates take on the Time Lord who would be God.

Blackhearted Betrayal
Kasey Mackenzie
9781937007652, $7.99

Boston PD Chief Magical Investigator Marissa Holloway takes a leave of absence from her investigations into paranormal crime. Instead Riss needs to help her mother deal with in fighting factions amidst the three branches of the Sisterhood of Furies who knows they must show no favorites while serving all Deities.

However, Riss is unprepared with what she sees as the Furies' hostilities appear on the brink of a civil war that would devastate everyone. More disconcerting to Riss and her mother is the Deities are openly squabbling too. The Triad of Deities order Riss, her mother and the Megaera to investigate whether an army of chaos is being forged to destroy the oversight balance as part of a coup d'etat.

The third tremendous Shades of Fury urban fantasy (see Green-Eyed Envy and Red Hot Fury) is a fabulous thriller as the arcane realm is falling deep into dangerous combat. Though somewhat a stereotypical UF kick butt female, Riss keeps the super exciting storyline focused as she risks all to uncover an inconvenient truth while the doomsday clock ticks closer to Armageddon.

Beauty To Die For
Kim Alexis & Mindy Starns Clark
B&H Books
127 Ninth Avenue North
Nashville, TN 37234-0143
9781433672934, $14.99,

Twenty-five years ago, Marcus Stone was waiting for the plane for a meeting with his boss over a faux pas he made about a building that might have a problem with the roof. At the same time Juliette Taylor, a supermodel is also waiting for a plane. That encounter impressed both of them as they said good-bye he promised to change careers as that would make him happy and she would find a job that would make her happy.

Juliette now co-owns a beauty supply company that sells products to salons and spas. Marcus co-owns a disaster prevention company. He is on a FBI consulting job when Juliet's name turns up on a list of a terrorist dealing in counterfeits. Fearing that Juliette is in danger, Marcus heads to the Palm Grotto Resort and Spa where she hosts a conference. Former supermodel from Juliette's era Raven is at the spa and seemingly threatens her. On the first day of the conference someone kills Raven. Marcus and Juliette hook up and both realize they still feel that strong attraction they felt a quarter of a century ago. He watches her to keep her safe as an unknown adversary is watching.

The first A Spa Mystery is an enthralling chick lit whodunit starring two engaging protagonists with a second chance at love if they clarify the air as then and now misunderstandings seem to prevent their relationship from bonding though murder is a strong matchmaker. The storyline also provides the audience a glimpse at what goes on behind the scenes at a luxurious spa, but this enjoyable mystery belongs to the lead couple as he relishes playing the hero role while she insists on being his trusty sidekick.

Hide and Seek
Major (Ret) Jeff Struecker and Alton Gansky
B&H Books
127 Ninth Avenue North
Nashville, TN 37234-0143
9781433671425, $14.99,

In Bishkek, Kyrgyzstan, American military Foreign Affairs officer Amelia Lennon and the country's First Daughter Jildiz Oskonbaeva meet at Blonder Pub to discuss the Manas Transit Center. Jildiz explains that their next door neighbor the Chinese have offered 10 billion and the Russians 2 billion so the American offer of 60 million is not enough. They leave, but the capital explodes into riots while three men try to abduct Jildiz. Amelia uses her car to hit two of the kidnappers. Jildiz get into her car as they flee from the third.

Ranger Master Sergeant J.J. Brantley is excited over seeing the ultrasound picture of his unborn twins. He and his team are in Kyrgyzstan preparing to welcome the two new members. However, before they can train together, Colonel Weidman assigns them to rescue Amelia and Jildiz in the midst of a tinder box that has erupted without bringing attention to American military roaming the streets.

This is a strong military thriller that brings to life the personal cost by those who serve and their family members as well as how volatile the situation in Kyrgyzstan can quickly become with the rivalry between the Kyrgyz and Uzbek populace. The storyline is fast-paced whether the focus is on the two females in peril from an angry pursuer or the team mounting a rescue. Looming in the background is the Bush legacy of our inability to compete with the Chinese monetarily on the world stage while providing an entertaining discerning look at the military operating in a hostile scenario. Hide and Seek is a terrific realistic thriller.

Valley of Ashes
Cornelia Read
Grand Central Publishing
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, 16th Floor
New York, NY 10017
9780446511360, $24.99,

In 1995 Madeline Dare has had many New York adventures and escaped being a homicide victim on numerous occasions (see The Crazy School, A Field of Darkness and Invisible Boy). However, she assumes her dangerous sleuthing days are behind her as she and her husband Dean Bauer live in bucolic Boulder, Colorado. She is a housewife caring for their twin toddlers (Parrish and India) while he travels the globe to places like Tokyo selling state-of-the-art scientific instruments.

Although her daughters keep her busy, Madeline is lonely after years of the hustle and bustle of Manhattan. Her only Colorado friend Carey works at the same place where Dean is employed though in a different section. Dean is emotionally abusive to Madeline, which motivates her to accept a position at a newspaper. She makes friends with Mimi, an arson expert who is investigating a series of fires but Madeline now has a target on her back thanks to Dean.

Changing locations and sleuthing status, Cornelia Read provides fresh adventures for Madeline to leap head first into as Boulder has more in common with the Big Apple than the heroine first thought. The cast is strong while the state of her marriage is not though Madeline has stopped blaming herself though she holds herself culpable to what happens to a friend. Readers will enjoy Madeline's daring Rocky Mountain investigation.

The Girl in the Garden
Kamala Nair
Grand Central
9780446572699, $24.99

Rakhee Singh grew up in Plainfield, Minnesota. Her father Aba was a research cardiologist at the Plainfield Clinic and her mother Amma worked part-time at the Chippewa Mall though she mostly was a housewife. During her first ten years, Rakhee never made a friend as she felt like an outsider. When she was eleven years old, a letter arrived from India that left Amma weeping. Not long afterward, mood-swinging Amma informs Rakhee when school ended for the summer that they would travel to her family's village Malanad in Kerala while Aba stays in Minnesota.

Her three cousins welcome their American relative while the adults warn her to never enter the nearby jungle as that is dangerous. She assumes they are superstitious or playing adult bogyman games to frighten the children into behaving. Rakhee explores the forbidden zone but finds a dark secret that explains what haunts her mother and others. Years later she leaves behind an engagement ring in Connecticut to return to Malanad, India.

The Girl in the Garden is an engaging family drama as secrets are revealed, which torment her mom and frighten Rakhee as she learns the truth does not necessarily set one free until one accepts the truth. Character driven, readers will appreciate this Indian tale while wondering what happened to make Amma unhappy in the States and go home to live as a reclusive ascetic.

Beware the Ninja Weenies: And Other Warped and Creepy Tales
David Lubar
c/o Tor/Forge Books
175 Fifth Avenue
New York, NY 10010
9780765332134, $15.99,

These are thirty-two fun middle school ultra-short stories that live up to the title of weenies, warped and creepy to the delight of the upper elementary school aged audience. Henry is a whiz at winning Alien Waterfront but how well he will do when he faces real aliens in "Playing Solo." Talk about cheesy, "Gorgonzola," smells and tastes as if a Gorgon is a key ingredient. Arlen shows off to his sister his ability to "Blowout" stars and other celestial objects when he blinks out the moon and several stars. Instead of heeding the sound advice to "Beware the Ninja Weenies", the student finds them annoying and stupid until he meets a real ninja at school. It's hard to enjoy "Smart Food" when the broccoli talks to you. All the entries are engaging shorts that young readers, their parents and weenie reviewers will enjoy; as long as we remember to never irritate the witch or the weenie guru (see (The Curse of the Campfire Weenies and Invasion of the Road Weenies) that is if you don't want to end up a "Beastly" or in a what if file.

Dark Companion
Marta Acosta
Tor Teen
9780765329646, $17.99

Since becoming an orphan a decade ago at the age of six, Jane Williams has bounced around the foster care system. She learned rather quickly to hide in plain sight and to work hard at escaping. When she turned sixteen, her diligence pays off when she receives a full scholarship including a cottage to attend prestigious Birch Grove High School. To her shock she is welcomed as a friend by the affluent students especially Mary Violet.

Jane is attracted to both sons Lucian and Jack of Headmistress Radcliffe. Street-wised Jane knows she is naive when it comes to boys. Still she recognizes there is something dark inside both of them, but it is Lucien who she is willing to pay the piper to be with. However, Jane feels a need to know what happened to the previous scholarship student and why Jack loathes her

This is an engaging paranormal gothic thriller starring a unique protagonist and a strong cast. The taut storyline builds on the innocent female in peril as tension of mysterious happenings in an isolated boarding school mount. Although the heroine's revelation about love seems abrupt, young adult fans will enjoy It Happened to Jane (Eyre).

The Coldest War
Ian Tregillis
9780765321510, $25.99

The Soviet Union is winning the Cold War against Great Britain. By 1963, only the warlocks keep the Soviets from annexing the British Isles; however it is just a matter of time before the superpower crosses the Channel as each time a British wizard dies, the power balance shifts in favor of the Soviets.

Meanwhile, twins Gretel and Klaus were once Nazi experiments who became Soviet research specimens. Now with Gretel using her precognitive skills, to guide them while Klaus uses his super strength to break impenetrable barriers, they escape. Their destination is British secret agent Raybould Marsh as she has visions of him. Marsh and mage Will Beauclerk are caught in Milkwood while the Eidolons threaten both sides in the Coldest War.

Though this ends up as a middle book with no conclusion, readers will appreciate this strong alternate historical fantasy. Ian Tregillis cleverly captures the Cold War paranoia and anything goes attitude including collateral damage (that Neocons apparently still cling too like a comforting blanket) with Marsh beginning to question whether the end ever justifies the means. Gretel makes the storyline work as her twisting plot deploys. Readers will enjoy the second Milkweed Triptych (see Bitter Seeds) as the world spins on its axis or does it.

Blackmail Earth
Bill Evans
9780765327833, $24.99

Anyone who kept their head buried in the sand over global warming knows they were wrong as climate change has left the United States suffering from a horrific extended drought. While America is in a heated presidential campaign, around the world weather conditions are not any better as rising sea water from the melting caps threaten to submerge island nations. In the Maldives, al-Qaeda affiliates blame the West for the rising oceans that, if continued on its current pace, will submerge the archipelago. They plan a suicide bombing to reverse the trend from global warming to global freezing; The North Koreans also plan an even more dangerous assault.

Manhattan TV meteorologist Jenna Withers covers a story in upstate New York where she meets and is attracted to farmer Dafoe Tillian who has issues with pagan rites held nearby that turn ugly when their leader is murdered. POTUS names Jenna on a task force working to use technology to end global warming. At the same time reporter Rick Birk is in the Maldives on assignment.

This climate change thriller is an exciting tale as the several subplots begin to converge with Jenna as the focus. The entertaining storyline is filled with action from start to finish except for the unnecessary romance between the intrepid (way too skilled) heroine and the farmer, which feels more like a requirement of the genre. Still fans will enjoy the exhilarating Blackmail Earth.

Mother Of Storms
John Barnes
9780765332516, $17.99

In 2028, the Siberian Commonwealth releases missiles on the ocean floor as part of a preemptive campaign to annex the Alaska Free State. The United Nations world government reacts in kind by deploying anti-matter weapons to destroy the Siberian Commonwealth missile sites. However, a horrendous second order effect occurs when billions of tons of methane is released from the ocean floor that heats the atmosphere to unrecorded temperatures in a Greenhouse Effect and leads to hurricanes off the scale with millions dead and coastlines eradicated.

While many struggles with the apocalyptic devastation; some see opportunity. USA President Brittany Lynn Hardshaw and her top advisor Harris Diem believe America can return to being the superpower it once was, but that means ignoring international catastrophe. Ultimate capitalists GateTech CEO John Klieg and his assistant Glinda Gray know they can make a fortune from the present and even more from future disasters. While meteorologists struggle with reporting the radically changed weather patterns and reporters investigate, earth's only real hope to survive resides in space where astronaut Louie Tynan prefers to remain but works on a lunar landing to keep the sun's rays from the planet until the orb can cool down.

This is a reprint of a 1994 thriller that holds up nicely as the Defense Department recognizes climate change as a major threat to national security. The cast is solid while the super-hurricane is the eye of the exciting storyline. Fast-paced even while rotating perspective, fans will relish this engaging novel; with part of the fun being able to rate how well John Barnes predicted scientific and technology advancements and new theories at the half way point between his original release and the date the world turned greenhouse.

The Great Hunt
Robert Jordan
9780765334343, $15.99

The Dark One's minion Trollocs and Myrddraal raid Fal Dara where the heroes who defended the Eye of the World are gathered. The evil horde free Darkfriend Padan Fain who before fleeing the border village absconds with the Horn of Valere which when blown brings legendary heroes to fight the user's side and also takes Mat's soul-stealing dagger.

Lord Ingtar puts together a team to include the three male defenders of the Eye of the World (Rand, Perrin, and Mat) to retrieve the stolen relics. At the same time their female comrades Nynaeve and Egwene travel with the Amyrlin Seat Aes Sedai witch Siuan Sanche to Tar Valon to begin their training.

The reprint of the exciting second Wheel of Time fantasy is an action-packed thriller especially when the focus is on the quest to repossess the purloined Horn and dagger; the female training comes across as weaker sister distracting from the prime plot. The different people met on the journey enhance and expand the Jordon mythos while the five heroes of the Eye of the World seem to have lost their coming of age maturity they obtained during their previous harrowing adventures. Still overall this is an entertaining quest fantasy that sub-genre fans will appreciate.

The Girl Who Heard Dragons
Anne McCaffrey
9780765333643, $14.99

This is a reprint of a wonderful 1994 short story collection; only the title story occurs in Pern. "The Girl Who Heard Dragons" introduces readers to Aramina and her family on the run to keep her from being abused due to talent to communicate with dragons; to learn more about her fate read "The Renegades of Pern". The space colonists find a planet seemingly abandoned for no obvious cause in "Velvet Fields". Combat Dr. Bardie Makem feels attracted to "A Sleeping Humpty Dumpty Beauty" comatose soldier. Humanity continues to expand across the planet leaving no room for large animals in the wild and consequently there are a dwindling few riders left in "The Quiet One." A woman offers "The Greatest Love" by wanting to carry her brother and sister-in-law's fetus but charges of incest and adultery are filed against the trio and the Ob-gyn who performed the first such fertilization. During the Civil War, the Arab female slave protects a plantation's residents horses included in "Zulei, Grace, Nimshi, and the Damnyankees." B&W drawings enhance the compilation that showcases the versatility of the late great Anne McCaffrey who wrote several other wonderful series besides Pern.

Orion and King Arthur
Ben Bova
9780765330178, $25.99

Aten of the futuristic Creators sends his time traveling knight Orion to Britannia just after the Romans are gone. The archipelago is wrought with feral rivals with no regard for civilians as they seek to be the one high king.

In this bloody chaos, Orion squire to youthful Arthur tries to gently and clandestinely to mentor the monarch towards the greatness of the Camelot mythos. By doing so he defies Aten, who demands Arthur die before he becomes the legend. Aten's peers all gleefully support his demystifying Arthur by an early death except Anya, who Orion loves.

Ben Bova fans will rejoice with the return of Orion and the Creators after a fifteen years absence. Fast-paced, Orion displays his mental independence that he logically concluded about his puppet masters in Orion Among the Stars as he risks his existence to save the path of human civilization. By doing so he adds to the Camelot legend. Although there is some awkward passages that disrupt the reading flow, fans of Orion and the Arthurian audience will enjoy the Orion and King Arthur.

Judgment at Proteus
Timothy Zahn
9780765322135, $24.99

Recently Quadrail investigator Frank Compton and Bayta have found startling evidence of a nefarious genocide plot to wipe out the twelve civilizations tied to the interstellar train system. Frank and Bayta believes the bellicose Shonkla-raa race, a genetic offspring of the Filiaelians, thought extinct a million ago has set in motion a plan to destroy the Quadrail and the races who thrive from this interstellar rail.

They head to Proteus Station where Frank is accused of murder at a time he needs to focus on the clandestine war. However, on the bright side his enemy the Modhri joins the resistance to the Shonkla-raa. Failure means racial obliteration with billions dying.

The latest action-packed Quadrail space adventure (see The Domino Pattern) is an exciting science fiction thriller filled with twists. The storyline is fast-paced though there is a sense of deja vu while the villains spend too much time talking like Blue Dog from the Laredo TV show ("I'm gonna kill that Ranger"). Still fans will enjoy riding the rails across Timothy Zahn's galaxy as increasingly extinction seems probable.

John Scalzi
9780765316998, $24.99

In 2456, Ensign Andrew Dahl is euphoric to learn he has been assigned to the Universal Union starship Intrepid to work in the xenobiology laboratory on the journey on Away Missions. Dahl notices that veterans hide whenever the bridge chooses staff to work a mission and that ship Captain Abernathy, science officer Q'eeng and astrogator Kerensky always join these deadly assignments. Additionally, usually at least one of the junior officers drafted for these tasks die while Abernathy and Q'eeng return without a scratch ready for the next assignment and Kerensky though battered joins them.

Dahl and others investigate what is going on when they meet a crew member hiding. He explains that the Intrepid's enterprises adhere to old scripts based on the principal "to boldly go where no man has gone before"; which means death for support cast who fail to boldly go into hiding.

This is an engaging lighthearted metafiction that obviously satirizes Star Trek. The storyline is lighthearted fun but never quite gels. Still fans who enjoy something different will appreciate the crew's avoidance mantra as they know on all Away Missions, one of them must die.

KOP Killer
Warren Hammond
9780765328274, $25.99

In 2789 on planet Lagarto, Juno Mozambe was once a dirty Koba Office of Police cop who was an enforcer for the chief. He loved his wife who finally killed her abusive drug kingpin father before turning to drugs to numb her guilt. When she died, Juno's life fell apart.

Mozambe decides to destroy Emil Mota, who is using KOP as his personal profit maker. To defeat the influential Mota, Mozambe decides to fight fire with fire. With other dirties, he opens up a hire a thug firm waiting for the moment to end Mota's stranglehold only to find mangled murders haunting him as his deadly foe sends his dirties to kill Mozambe and his partners.

This futuristic science fiction crime thriller (see KOP and Ex-KOP) is darker than the Big Sleep that places the planet in several weeks of no daylight. Action-packed, fans will enjoy Mozambe's Dirty Harry twenty-eighth century beat; as he takes the war to the enemy with each side using any means possible as neither man has any concern over collateral damage.

Glamorous Illusions
Lisa T. Bergren
David C. Cook
c/o Cook Communications
4050 Lee Vance View
Colorado Springs, CO 80918
9781434764300, $14.99,

In 1913 Montana, Cora Diehl returns home to Dunnigan, Montana after attending the first year at the Normal School training to become a teacher. However, her parents fail to meet her at the train station so an elderly neighbor Mr. Miller gives her a ride to her family's farm. In the barn is her Papa with his eyes vacant and his head on her Mama's lap. Her forty-eight years old papa suffered a stroke. Even with help from the neighbors, the family farm is in jeopardy of being foreclosed so Cora tries to sell her necklace.

Not long afterward the affluent Copper King Wallace Kensington arrives to inform Cora that he not her Papa was her biological dad. Stunned Cora learns she has three half-siblings (Felix, Lillian and Vivian) around her age. Cora realizes her necklace led to Wallace coming to see her. He arranges for Papa to get the best care in Minneapolis and for Cora to join her biological family at the lake and on a Grand Tour of Europe with her siblings led by Sir Stuart McCabe and his nephew, William McCabe.

The first Grand Tour tale stars a strong Christian believer who finds her entire belief system shattered when she learns Papa is not her papa. Cora is terrific as she acts like a lottery winner while struggling with adjusting to her new family who has problems accepting the illegitimate farmer's daughter as their equal, and wealth that places her in luxury. Fans will enjoy touring Europe with Lisa T. Bergren as our guide while wondering whether affluence will spoil Cora Diehl.

Emma Lang
Kensington Brava
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
119 West 40th Street, Floor 21
New York, NY 10018-2522
9780758269058, $14.00,

In 1836, Texas Ranger Brody Armstrong arrives at the Circle Eight Ranch to talk with the oldest owner, Matt Graham. Since Matt is away with his wife, the second oldest of eight siblings Olivia demands the Ranger tell her. Reluctantly he says he has a lead on what happened to her youngest sibling five year old Benjy. He explains he has locked away a drunk who worked for Jeb Stinson. The man mentioned a nearby shack where stolen goods were kept. Liv thinks back to when their neighbor the late Stinson killed the Graham parents and abducted their brother.

Brody leaves to follow the lead. He finds the shack and enters it only to have Olivia follow. He is angry and tells her to go home, but she refuses. They find the corpse of Jeb's sister Margaret, but a calm Olivia finds an item belonging to Benjy. Brody leaves only to walk into a man with a shot gun and another man with a rifle. Olivia shoots and kills both of them saving Brody's life. He agrees to her being his partner, but no sex as a distraction can prove deadly. The pair argues and has sex as they follow the trail to Mexico where they meet lethal bandito Rodrigo and the deadlier females in his life.

The second Circle of Eight Lone Star romance (see Matthew) is loaded with action while starring a female with a general officer's personality and a guilt ridden ranger who can't say no to her. Although their behavior on the trail places them in peril especially stopping for trysts at wrong moments for instance when they are prisoners, fans will enjoy this heated nineteenth century Texas romance.

You Don't Want to Know
Lisa Jackson
9780758258571, $25.00

Two years ago the nightmare began. Two year old Noah Garrison vanished from his family's Washington State home. His grief stricken mom Ava mentally collapsed and is placed on meds while spending much time since Noah's disappearance from their island home in Seattle institutions as she is under suicide watches.

The meds fail to eliminate her nightmares and Ava in a rare lucid moment believes her dugs trigger them. Recently Ava has stopped taking the numbing meds and beginning to regain her memory, which brings its own terrorism as she wonders if Noah fell off the dock and drowned. Ava finds it outrageous yet fascinating that sympathy is towards her husband Wyatt who was never there for their son or her. She also thinks he is cheating again. To add to her tsuris, the police suspect a deranged Ava is a brutal serial killer as the victims are tied to her. Stable hand Austin Dern rescues Ava when she falls off that same dock where she fears Noah fell from. Austin helps Ava try to prove her innocence in the homicides and with what happened to Noah.

You Don't Want To Know is a gripping thriller that hooks the audience from the onset and never let's go until the final climax. Filled with twists and spins, and a powerful cast staring with Ava, readers will need to know what happened to Noah in Lisa Jackson's stunning psychological mystery.

Bagpipes, Brides, and Homicides
Kaitlyn Dunnett
9780758272652, $23.00

In Moosetookalook, Maine, Liss MacCrimmon wants a simple wedding ceremony when she marries Dan Ruskin on the same weekend as the Western Maine Highland Games. However, her mom demands a tartan celebration instead of vanilla as her daughter prefers.

Someone murders charming history professor Alfred Leon Palsgrave using the academic's broadsword. Liss has solved homicides before (see The Corpse Wore Tartan and Scotched) but plans to stay out of this inquiry until she learns that her dad Donald is the prime suspect. Thus the Moosetookalook Scottish Emporium manager investigates the homicide and finds plenty of people who wanted Palsgrave dead. However, if she wants her dad to walk her down the aisle in a black (or tartan) tux instead of pinstripes, Liss needs to find the culprit soon.

This is a superb amateur sleuth mystery with a deep look at Scottish history and culture especially in New England; as Liss discovers when she learns of the negative reaction of protestors to the late professor's fifteenth century hypotheses. Fans will enjoy the latest Moosetookalook cozy starring a bride to be fighting her mother for who plans the wedding and fighting for her father to give her away at that wedding.

The Queen's Pleasure
Brandy Purdy
9780758265982, $15.00

In 1553, Princess Elizabeth and her childhood friend, Robert Dudley are imprisoned in the Tower by her late half-sister Queen Mary. He expects to die as his family is in disfavor after the Lady Jane Grey fiasco and she anticipates execution as Bloody Mary seems to believe she plots against her. While waiting death, they forge a strong bond by comforting each other; a feeling his wife Amy failed to achieve in spite of her frequent visits. Surprisingly, Mary frees both of them.

When, Elizabeth becomes queen, Robert remains her favorite. She assigns him influential positions and he spends most of his time at court rather than with his wife who he leaves to rusticate. Many believe he will divorce his wife and wed the Queen. However, in 1560 Amy falls down the stairs to her death. Suspicion falls on Dudley and Elizabeth; as rumors spread their motive for murdering his spouse was to get her out of the way so they could marry. However, if Elizabeth allows her heart to rule by wedding Robert, she could lose her throne.

Tudor fans will relish this excellent early Elizabethan thriller as the storyline uses the suspicious death of Amy as a means to look deep into what motivated the young queen and to a lesser degree Robert. Amy, who historians argue on how she died and little else, enhances the readers' pleasure as we join in the debate. Brandy Purdy provides another great sixteenth century drama (see The Boleyn Wife).

V.K. Forrest
9780758255709, $15.00

Clare Point, Delaware has been home to the Kahill vampire clan for centuries. They differ from ordinary vampires as they die as elders and are reborn as teens with the cycle eternal. Their mission is to save God's humans from the undesirables.

Executioner Aedan Brigid returns to Clare Point for needed R&R after too many battles against evil. At the same time, Jay the monster who returns every half century to disfigure and murder females is back having mutilated a victim that reminds Aedan of what this beast did to his beloved Madeleine centuries ago. He vows this time to end his hunt of three centuries in death; Jay's or his.

Jay stalks his prey in Rehoboth Beach where barmaid Dallas York and her daughter Kenzie reside. Aedan enters the establishment where Dallas works; and to each is amazement sparks fly when they touch. Dallas has the gift of seeing a person's past and present life when she touches that individual. She knows Aedan is damned and regardless of how each feels vampires and humans cannot form a relationship. Aedan fears Dallas is Jay's next selection.

The latest Clare Point Vampires romantic urban fantasy (see Undying, Eternal and Immortal) is an action-packed enthralling thriller focusing on the exploits of a good vampire protecting humanity from evil. Like his clan Aedan has been damned for choosing to remain blood Voracious pagans while rejecting the message of Christianity given to them by St. Patrick in the old country over a millennium and half ago. The Kahill has hopes for redemption by protecting god's humans. His ability to love grips readers when he connects with autistic Kenzie. Then there is the anticipated High Midnight confrontation with Jay.

Off the Grid
P.J. Tracy
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780399158049, $25.95,

Minneapolis Monkeewrench computer guru Grace MacBride and FBI cybercrime desk jockey John Smith met on his first field case three months ago on an internet murder investigation (see Shoot to Thrill). Out of the blue, the older Fed asked her to go sailing with him off the Florida Keys; the lone accepts his invitation. While musing over why she came, she and Charlie the dog realize there is a boat invasion. She sees them with a knife aimed at John. Grace shoots and kills both of them while John struggles with breathing. They realize John was the target of Saudi assassins though he has no idea why; she tosses the bodies into the ocean.

Minneapolis Police department homicide detectives Gino Rolseth and Leo Magozzi investigate the murder of fifteen year old Aimee Sergeant, one of five Native American children kidnapped from the Sand Lake Reservation. Not long after that in nearby Little Mogadishu, two Somali males are executed; followed by three more. The two cops believe the connection between the homicides is a Somali mob that traffics in the sex trade by kidnapping young Native American girls as their commodity. Soon on the sand lake reservation what happened off the Keys, and in Minneapolis converge with the police and the Monkeewrench consultants (Grace, Harley Davidson, Annie Belinski and Roadrunner) facing a diabolical foe who has frightened much of the Midwest.

This powerful police procedural (see Dead Run and Snow Blind) is a fabulous whodunit in which Team Tracy uses the headlines to tell a stunning rousing thriller; whose most frightening aspect is that the plot is very plausible. Action-packed from start to violent finish, fans will appreciate the super Monkeewrench drama.

Jesse Kellerman
9780399159039, $25.95

Decades ago, Arthur Pfefferkorn and William de Vallèe were close friends. Arthur wrote a novel that got tepid critical acclaim and no sales; Bill became a best-selling author. Whereas Arthur never wrote another novel; Bill wrote several top seller thrillers with each one sent to his friend. Besides jealousy over the writing success as the books are not good, he has never forgotten that Bill married Arthur's first love Carlotta.

After a hundred plus days search by the Coast Guard, Bill is declared lost at sea. At Bill's funeral, Arthur reconnects with Carlotta. Meanwhile he also possesses Bill's last manuscript, which he publishes under his name and becomes a best-seller. However, as he succeeds in his personal and professional lives, Arthur soon will learn the price when he becomes embroiled in world threatening double and triple crosses right out of the pages of a thriller.

Mindful of the movie A Murder Of Crows, this tale starts off as a jocular satire of the publishing industry especially the hyperbolic over the top of Olympus Mons thriller plots. In the middle of the storyline, the book slowly converts into a twisting intrigue occurring in Zlabia. Although the humor wears thin by then, overall Potboiler is a fun novel.

Heron's Cove
Carla Neggers
Mira Books
c/o Harlequin
225 Duncan Mill Road
Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780778313755, $24.95,

FBI undercover agent Colin Donavan and special agent Emma Sharpe met at the Sisters of the Joyful Heart in Maine when respective religious mentors asked each for help (see Saint's Gate). Attracted to each other, the two feds are seeing one another.

Currently the pair is in his hometown of Heron's Cove, Maine when jewelry designer Tatiana Pavlova arrives in town from London to ask Emma for help. Tatiana explains that someone plans to steal a prized collection recently found. She proves right that trouble is coming to Heron's Cove in which the unknown adversary has no qualms with collateral damage occurring to the families and friends of the two FBI agents.

The second Donavan and Sharpe fast-paced romantic suspense returns the two intriguing Feds who find love a distraction as they work the Russian case; as once again the fine arts prove deadly. With a clever villain hidden in plain sight, the romance playing second fiddle to the whodunit, and the return of cast like Father Finian Bracken, reader will enjoy this exciting Maine mystery mindful of early Savich and Sherlock (by Catherine Coulter).

The Unholy
Heather Graham
9780778313496, $7.99

Alistair Archer and Jenny Henderson are walking in the tunnels under the defunct Claymore Illusions special effects studio and the still running Black Box Cinema. Out of one of the classic sets from the 1940s a hand with a knife slashes the starlet. The police suspect only Alistair of murdering Jenny as there is no evidence to prove anyone else was down there though he insists the culprit looked like Amun Mopat, an evil priest from the Sam Stone tableau.

FBI Agent Sean Cameron, who used to work for Alistair's father Eddie the genius behind the special effects studio, investigates what looks like an open and shut case. Eddie recommends to Sean that his employee Madison Darvil might be helpful with his inquiry. Eddie and Madison share in common the ability to communicate with ghosts and an attraction to each other. As she fits in with him and his team, they search for the real killer of Jenny Henderson.

This Krewe of Hunters romantic urban fantasy (see The Evil Inside) is an enjoyable investigative mystery due to a strong case and fun references to the 1930s and 1940s film noirs like Madison getting assistance from Bogart's ghost. The storyline is fast-paced as the Krewe and Madison seek clues to the identity of the killer using any available source. In some ways the nostalgic trip down cinema history steals top billing from the lead couple and his team; as Bogie might say "Here's looking at you," Krewe.

One Breath Away
Heather Gudenkauf
9780778313656, $15.95

In Broken Branch, Iowa, the elementary school children look forward to the end of the day as Spring Break begins. Eighth grade student Augie Baker calls her ailing mom Holly a thousand miles away to tell her she is locked in a closet and that a gunman has her brother P.J. and others held prisoner when shots are fired. Soon afterward school secretary Mrs. Lowell announces this is a code red lockdown. A gunman entered the school and now holds teacher Evelyn Oliver's third grade class to include P.J. hostage.

The townsfolk panic over the children while Police Officer Meg Barrett tries to keep everyone calm though she knows she lacks the experience to work this situation. Augie's grandfather Will Thwaite fears he will fail his daughter again if something happens to his grandchildren. Tension mounts while those outside try to identify the violent lone gun and ascertain who the real target(s) is.

One Breath Away grips the audience from the moment a frightened Augie calls her mom as shots are fired and never let's go until the final confrontation. The rotating perspective makes the trauma even more frightening as actions and reactions seem real while the gunman remaining mysteriously unknown through much of the plot enhances the feeling of hopelessness. Filled with tension that constantly grows throughout, readers will appreciate this taut thriller as the worst nightmare of a parent and a town leaves everyone shook but bonded in the tragedy.

Midnight Promises
Sherryl Woods
9780778313489, $7.99

Elliott Cruz married a divorcee over his family's objection when he wed single mom Karen Ames and her children (six years old Daisy and four years old Mack). However, a few years into their marriage, the couple has communication issues as they have gone their separate ways; culminating with him opening a gym in Serenity that she learns about from her friend.

Fuming Karen confronts Elliott that he planned to use their "baby fund" savings to bankroll the gym. His excuse for not telling her is that he wanted everything in order before informing her of his investment. A neurotic when it comes to rainy day money as her first husband left her drowning in debt; Karen and Elliot compound their dispute with miscommunications. As their relationship continues to splinter, the battling duet learns perspective from Elliot's beleaguered sister Adelia and her philandering husband Ernesto.

The latest The Sweet Magnolias contemporary romance is an engaging tale as the Fixx sang "one thing leads to another"; all seemingly making it worse. The cast is strong as bigger family crises put perspective on the inanity of that between Karen and Elliot, which affirms readers desire to Moe these two stooges.

Ain't Misbehaving
Molly Cannon
Forever Romance
c/o Hachette Publishing Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017-0010
9781455515721, $5.99,

In Everson, Texas Marla Jean Bandy still feels humiliated that her now ex-husband Bradley dumped her for another woman; made worse by the fact Libby Comstock is twenty years older than her and frumpier but speaks five languages including Russian. The divorced Marla Jean muses that she encouraged his husband of six years to read more, but in her wildest imagination never expected Bradley to hook up with a fifty-four years old Bookmobile driver who introduced him to Tolstoy.

Tired of the pity of her friends and family, Marla Jean decides to get back into swinging singles lifestyle at Lu Lu's. Her first attempt with Donny Joe is a bust as she feels uncomfortable. Her brother Linc's best friend, Abel "Jake" Jacobson, whose aunt owns her ex, intercedes when Donny Joe fails to remove his hands. Jake decides to be her guardian but begins to wonder who will protect her from his traitorous lower head's fantasies starring her.

Ain't Misbehaving is a lighthearted zany Texas two-step starring engaging protagonists and an eccentric support cast. Filled with zany humor, fans will enjoy this wild regional contemporary with two romances.

Secret of the Wolf
Cynthia Garner
9780446585125, $7.99

Temporary rifts between the human realm and that of the paranormal periodically occur. This enables alien entities to enter human hosts who become various supernatural creatures. These paranormals have gained legal rights though the native earthlings resent these "parasites" leaving hostilities high.

The Council of Preternaturals serves as the governing board over the supernatural in order to keep the peace between their several species and with the humans. However, recently vicious assaults on humans have led to several mortal becoming werewolves. Human Police Detective Dante Macmillan and werewolf liaison to the Council Tori Joseph investigate. As they find clues, she fears she knows the identity of the rogue werewolf as someone very close to her heart; complicating her trepidations the cop also has become very close to her heart.

The second Warriors of the Rift romantic urban fantasy (see Kiss of the Vampire) is a fast-paced police procedural. Tori is a terrific individual torn between the two most important people in her life. Dante reciprocates her feelings without the anguish. Readers will appreciate the fascinating Garner mythos

At Last
Jill Shalvis
9781455503742, $7.99

Tired of bad decisions especially with men, Amy Michaels decides to follow her late grandma's journal to Lucky Harbor, Washington where her ancestor found what she lost: hope. However, as always lately, even in Lucky Harbor as a waitress, nothing goes right as she becomes lost while hiking a trail in the woods. She calls her Chocaholic friend Mallory who sends forest ranger Matt Bowers to the rescue; the one man she avoids as she does not need another failed relationship.

Former Chicago SWAT, Matt enjoys his job as a ranger even if there is no Yogi to keep away from picnic baskets. He is attracted to Amy, but has no plans to act on his feelings as he emotionally cannot deal with a relationship after Chicago. As avoidance and abstinence fail, they fall in love, but neither trusts themselves to not be making another spectacular relationship mistake.

The latest Lucky Harbor contemporary (see Lucky In Love) is a warm tale starring two people who share in common love and relationship phobia. Filled with humor and pathos, fans will enjoy the middle "Chocaholic" romance (Forever And A Day to follow) as love and laugher battle the protagonists' respective pasts.

Thief Of Shadows
Elizabeth Hoyt
9781455508327, $7.99

In 1738 Baroness Isabel Beckinhall knows better than to volunteer as she stupidly did when coaxed by Lady Hero Reading. Thus she is in St. Giles on her way to meet aloof Winter Makepeace, manager of the Ladies' Syndicate for the Benefit of the Home for Unfortunate Infants and Foundling Children. However, the coach stops to find a not so dead corpse in the road. Her servants pick up the unconscious body of the Ghost of St. Giles, protector of the weak, as a mob charges at them. Lady Isabel takes the Ghost to her home, but not before he steals a kiss. By the next morning like his name he is gone.

Lady Hero expects Lady Isabel to tutor Makepeace on the Ton's charitable enterprises as he needs to raise money and awareness for his orphanage. His eyes look familiar to her, but she is unsure why. When they kiss she knows why. As they fall in love, both knows someone wants him dead before he identifies who is behind the abduction of little girls.

The fourth Maiden Lane Georgian romance (see Scandalous Desires, Wicked Intentions and Notorious Pleasures) is an engaging tale as a previous key player takes the male lead role. Action-packed from the rescue until the final confrontation, readers will enjoy this exciting romantic historical mystery.

Survivors (Morningstar Strain)
Z.A. Recht
Permuted Press
9781451628821, $15.00,

First seen in Africa, global authorities tried to contain the spread of The Morningstar Strain by quarantining the continent only. The international leaders chose politics over world safety as they ignored US Army Medical Research Institute of Infectious Diseases expert Anna DeMilio's suggestion to isolate victims wherever the disease surfaced (see Plague of the Dead). Now billions are infected.

The pandemic is global with the strain turning people into raging zombies. Mankind's only hope to avoid extinction rests with Anna who has retreated from the growing menace thanks to special agent Mason who rescued her from agent Sawyer and his Reunited States of America military rogue handlers. Sawyer's orders are to bring the virologist to the Chairman who believes she has the antidote for the disease that is transmitted by bites. Special Forces General Sherman and his unit escort Anna and Mason to a top secret bio-hazard lab in the Omaha area so that the virologist can work on the cure. General Shannon's friend Commander Harris tries to find them as one of his solders was bitten twice by zombies and proves to be immune to the virus. Sawyer and his army continue their search for DeMilio with no regard to collateral damage.

The third and final Morningstar Strain zombie thriller (see Thunder and Ashes) is an exciting apocalyptic tale as the disease appears to be winning partly because of avarice power mongers with no regard for anyone else. That frailty adds to the creepiness as Z.A Recht emphasizes the Survivors rather than the zombies (who are more in the background) as he makes his key cast seem real while humanity's existence seems at its end.

Some Like It Hawk
Donna Andrews
Minotaur Books
c/o St. Martin's Publishing Group
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9781250007506, $24.99,

Former Mayor George Pruitt embezzled funds leaving Caerphilly, Virginia on the brink of bankruptcy. The town became infamous when the word spread that public facilities were mortgaged by Pruitt who took the money. The First Progressive Financial LLC, aka as the Evil Lender, closed the public facilities due to the lack of payment. Only town clerk Phineas Throckmorton remains in the way as for the past year he has barricaded himself in the courthouse basement though he uses a secret pre-Civil War tunnel leading from his abode to a crawl space beneath the bandstand to obtain supplies.

To help Phineas reload without the financiers hearing the old rusty door creak and to take advantage of their recent publicity of losing even the jail, the townsfolk host the Caerphilly Days festival for the summer tourists. However, FPF Vice president Colleen Brown is found murdered in the basement with Phineas as the only suspect though he has a perfect alibi that if revealed will be the curtain call for beleaguered Caerphilly unless the blacksmith and mom of infant twins Meg Langslow and others an find the real killer.

The latest Meg Langslow Mysteries (see The Real Macaw) is a great tale that satirizes the financial industry as a bunch of predatory hawks who will do anything for another golf course. Filled with eccentric characters, fans will relish this jocular whodunit as the bottom line is eighteen holes supersede a courthouse.

Die a Stranger
Steve Hamilton
9780312640217, $25.99

Former Detroit cop Alex McKnight rents cabins on Michigan's Upper Peninsula. He feels for his best friend blackjack dealer Vinnie Red Sky LeBlanc whose beloved mother Hazel just died. Vinnie was further shook up when his mom thought he was his dad who killed three people driving drunk.

Alex is shoked when he finds Vinnie drinking as his buddy has not touched alcohol since his father's fatal DUI. Soon afterward Vinnie vanishes while at an airport, several bodies are found. The second Upper Peninsula war has escalated as smuggling is big business; and Alex fears Vinnie is caught in the middle so he goes after his friend.

The latest Alex McKnight investigative thriller (see Misery Bay) is a powerful thriller due to the pathos of the protagonist, his BFF and the grief of the Bay Mills Indian Community who have lost a precious revered elder. Though the plot is not new, readers will believe they are in the U.P. guided by Alex whose anxiety and trepidation over what may have happened to his bud will be felt by armchair travelers.

Bonefire of the Vanities
Carolyn Haines
9780312641870, $24.99

Zinnia, Mississippi private investigators Sarah Booth Delaney and Tinkie Bellcase Richmond, investigate the mysterious Heart's Desire secret society that caters to an affluent grieving clientele. The star attraction Sherry Cameron the medium claims to unite grief-stricken rich people to their deceased beloveds. Sarah knows it is possible as her family "haint" Jitty plays fictional sleuths so well that the collective Carolyn Keene would appreciate her Drew.

Billionaire Marjorie Littlefield uses Sherry's services to contact her late daughter who drowned years ago when she was ten. Marjorie believes her estranged son Chasley killed his sister and plans to leave her money to her cat Pluto. Sarah and Tinkie masquerade as Marjorie's maids to get inside the maximum security spa resort to investigate the scam only to find a few corpses muddling the inquiry.

This Sarah Booth Delaney cozy (see Bones of a Feather) is an engaging mystery as the heroines look into an apparent scam artist preying on the bereaved. The fast-paced storyline entertains the readers though the villains are obvious especially to Pluto, Jitty and fans. Still Bonefire of the Vanities is an enjoyable investigative gig.

Kathleen George
9781250007490, $15.99

In Pittsburgh, stoned Ryan Rutter decides to scare a female pedestrian walking in a park. He steers his truck towards her planning to just miss her; but he miscalculates and hits her. He and his passenger his younger brother Jack flee the crime scene. They head to a remote Sugar Lake cabin that their family rented when they were kids from Tom Jensen who tossed them out of it due to the vandalism.

Pittsburgh night duty police detective Colleen Greer leads the hit and run homicide investigation. The victim is Allegany General cafeteria staff Joanna Navarro. Colleen's boss Commander Richard Christie joins her as she makes inquiries; also on the case are PPD Artie Dolan and John Potocki.

While Jack obtains handyman work from elderly neighbor Addie Ward, Ryan plots a robbery. When Tom arrives at his cabin, Ryan takes away his rifle and threatens to kill him and likewise Addie too. As law enforcement from the greater Pittsburgh area compete to capture the siblings, Ryan plans to blow away the two witnesses who can identify them.

This is a strong Pittsburgh police procedural (see The odds); as Jack steals the show from the cops and his psychopathic older brother with his obsessed need to protect Ryan, reversing their childhood. Fast-paced from the moment readers meet the brothers when Ryan's friend is rushed to the hospital to save his life from an overdose, fans will relish this psychological thriller as Jack knows right from wrong but defending Jack supersedes his moral barometer, which is constantly tested.

There's a Head on the Beach
Colin Cotterill
9780312564544, $24.99

Thirtyish Jimm Juree remains reeling from her mother's decision to sell the family home and business without warning. The matriarch moved the extended family from the north to the south to Chumphon Province off of the Gulf of Siam leaving Jimm heartbroken as she was on the verge of having the Chiang Mai Daily Mail naming her as the second female senior crime reporter in Thailand (see (see Killed at the Whim of a Hat).

In her new rural home, Jimm finds a head on the beach. The Southern Rescue Mission Foundation sends two thugs to insure Jimm understands she saw nothing. Though she lost her journalism position, Jimm like any good reporter does not accept threats; instead of running away from the crime, she investigates the head on the beach.

The second Jimm Juree Thai mystery is a wonderful jocular whodunit in which mangled phonetic lyrics from pop songs and eccentric family dynamics are merged effortlessly with an insightful look at a major rights issue. The storyline is fast-paced from the onset as readers will enjoy watching the "Dancing Queen" (ABBA) do her investigative gig.

Guilty Pleasures
Tori Carrington
Harlequin Blaze
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road
Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373797073, $5.25,

Veteran Jonathon Reece knows that in spite of his Army Ranger experience, as the rookie at Lazarus Security, he starts over again proving he belongs. His boss Darius Folsom assigns Reece his first solo task in his hometown of Winslow, Arizona; where he is to bring in bail jumper Mara Findlay, murder suspect.

He assumes he will have no problem catching the bobcat. Jonathan's assumptions prove partially correct as he quickly catches up to Findlay; so have Feds and a militia who agree that this hot female must die. Mara realizes that her only prayer to get out of the frame-up rests with the hunk who seems to have only two things on his brain: sex and incarceration with the latter might be fun in combo with the former, but that is not his intent; thus she must work his lower head.

This is an exciting heated romantic suspense as Reece learns that "the best-laid schemes of mice and men often go awry" (John Steinbeck) especially when dealing with a hot chick. Fast-paced and filled with action though over the top of Humphreys Peak, fans will appreciate this entertaining thriller as the bounty hunts the hunter right where he is vulnerable.

Blazing Bedtime Stories, Volume VIII
Kimberly Raye and Julie Leto
Harlequin Blaze
9780373797042, $5.25

"The Cowboy Who Never Grew Up" by Kimberly Raye. Western America leatherworks firm executive Wendy Darlington thinks wild child eight-time Professional Bull Rider champion Pete Gunner is perfect as a spokesperson for their Outlaw Outfitters line. Pete agrees to sign on condition they spend the night together.

"Hooked" by Julie Leto. Since they were sweethearts in high school, former rodeo star James Hooker and Allie Barrie have broken up more times than Mark Twain gave up smoking. However, this time Allie is determined to take their relationship beyond just the greatest sex either has known, but to do so they need to overcome their history.

These two heated Texas rodeo romances are fun short stories starring fully developed protagonists.

Before I Wake
Rachel Vincent
Harlequin Teen
9780373210619, $9.99

Twenty-nine days ago, sixteen years old Kaylee Cavanaugh the bean sidhe banshee's final soul scream was for herself when she was stabbed to death by an incubus math teacher (see If I Die). She has become a reaper working in the reclamation department for Madeline collecting souls. Her boss brought her back hoping a banshee reaper can end the serial soul stealing of an unknown thief. Her dad knows she is dead and she has a new boyfriend Tod the two and a half years old dead reaper at her side as well as Styx the netherworld Pomeranian guard dog.

Now Kaylee faces her greatest challenge yet when she returns to high school pretending to be alive as her death was local headline news. Madeline assigns her to recapture a soul taken by a rogue reaper at the donut shop as a training exercise. Kaylee rushes to the donut shop where she meets Thane the reaper who killed her mom thirteen years ago. He wants Kaylee dead, and was sent to hell by Rod. Using her banshee skills, she takes the soul to Madeline and with seconds to spare makes it to Eastlake where her former boyfriend Nash is. Now she balances life at school with collecting souls and uncovering the identity of the soul thief who makes the war personal.

The latest Soul Screamers young adult urban fantasy (see My Soul to Keep and My Soul to Save) is a great entry with a stunning climax. Fast-paced from the moment Kaylee faces Thane over the soul of the donut shop owner, fans will appreciate this super entry as Rachel Vincent continues to shake up things in the world of Kaylee Cavanaugh.

The Other Soldier
Kathy Altman
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373717903, $5.50

In Afghanistan Corporal Reid Macfarland kills fellow G.I. Sergeant First Class Tim Dean in a friendly fire incident in which he sent the killing drone. Suffering from nightmares that he feels he deserves and ignoring the advice of his counselor, a despondent Reid visits the widow Parker in Castle Creek, Pennsylvania to show respect, apologize, and offer to help the widow mother of a young daughter Natalie with whatever she needs. She angrily tells him to leave but her elderly tired helper Harris Briggs persuades the lad to hang around and likewise convinces his employer they could use the help.

Parker reluctantly assigns Reid to work in her greenhouse that she hopes to turn into a thriving business. Though he only he has a month of leave before returning to Fort Knox, he diligently works at making her greenhouse succeed. As each heals from the tragedy that haunts both Parker and Reid; Briggs, Nat and Chance the dog like the soldier. However as they fall in love, his guilt and her anger leave both of them unable to move on with their grief.

This is a strong and heartwarming military second chance at life (and love) family drama. The protagonists are fully developed with each suffering from the friendly fire death of her husband; while the eccentric support cast enhances the insightful storyline as the aftermath of war comes home to Pennsylvania.

Hidden Agenda
Kara Lennox
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373717910, $5.50

Project Justice investigator Jillian Baxter receives her first undercover assignment to ferret out the identity of the real murderer at Houston-based Mayall Lumber. The firm's CEO Stan Mayall, suffering from cancer, is incarcerated ever since the corpse of Greg Tynes was found in the trunk of his car; temporary CEO Hamilton "Ham" Payne hired Project Justice to prove his friend's innocence.

Jillian's boss at Mayall is Connor Blake, a childhood friend of Jillian's brother and someone she had an unrequited crush that turned to loathing as a teen. He has no idea that his new gorgeous employee was once a short overweight girl he turned high school into hell for her and called her Jillybean. Connor believes his mentor and former grandfather-in-law Stan is innocent but has found no proof amidst the documents to prove otherwise. As she mingles with other employees, betting pools form on when she will quit like everyone else (including his ex-wife Chandra) who worked for the dark Connor. She concludes her gut is right that in spite of employee mumblings he is not the killer. As she continues her inquiries, Jillian realizes she still loves the man who hurt her as a teen. However she knows the assignment comes before telling him the truth.

This is an exciting investigative romance starring two fascinating protagonists who have an ugly history. The storyline is fast-paced from the moment Connor and Jillian meet at Mayall and never slows down until the final confrontation at a picnic (office celebrations are not a safe environment for the heroine) as the killer remains hidden in plain sight. Readers will enjoy the latest Project Justice thriller (see For Just Cause and Outside The law).

The Company You Keep
Tracy Kelleher
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373717927, $5.50

A dozen years ago at Grantham University in New Jersey, Mimi Lodge was the star of the women's water polo team while Vic Golinski was the football hero. They got into an argument over Title IX support to women sports that he called minor and unnecessary, and she claimed important and needed; which led to both of them wet and ready for a tryst at the fountain when the cops arrived.

In the present TV reporter Mimi psychologically deals with PTSD two months after her release from her abductees in Chechnya. Her dad asks her to be part of the Reunions debate on Title IX using the fact she has not seen her family in Grantham since she returned to Manhattan after her ordeal; she agrees if Vic is on the panel. Vic is the CEO of GSI, his family's natural stone supplier business. He reluctantly agrees if Mimi is on the panel. At the reunion, just like she told her father, fire ignites when Mimi and Vic meet. Each wants the other, but her time in captivity leaves her traumatized.

This is an entertaining second chance at love starring an eccentric cast, a heroine whose sense of humor enables her to somewhat cope with what happened to her, and the former football captain who enjoys agitating his Mimi as much as she does him. Fast-paced, Mimi's PTSD adds pathos to an amusing madcap romance.

Dark Crossings
Karen Harper, Marta Perry and Patricia Davids
Harlequin Anthology
9780373837663, $7.99

The Covered Bridge by Karen Harper. Eight years ago Benjamin Kline left his Amish community in Homestead, Ohio after being shunned for an act of violence against someone hurting his sister. He returned home from Cincinnati where he is the prime suspect in a jewelry shop heist. His neighbor Abigail Baughman is attracted to him as she was as a teen though nothing can come of it as he remains an outsider. When she becomes the target of stalkers, he vows to protect the woman he loves even if that means never being allowed to return to the people.

Fallen in Plain Sight by Marta Perry. Englisher Richard Strickland's housekeeper Sarah Weaver finds him dead. Chief Byler thinks he slipped down the stairs to his death, but Sarah thinks otherwise. She tells her childhood friend Jacob Nast why she believes her late employer was murdered but the people do not go to the cops so she tells the estate lawyer instead. When she becomes the target of stalkers, he vows to protect the woman he loves.

Outside the Circle by Patricia Davids. Widower Isaac Bowman, accompanied by his mute ten years old daughter Ruby, leaves Indiana to start over in Mount Hope, Ohio. Isaac prays the move helps his grieving child who has not spoken since her mom died three years ago. Ruby's teacher Lena Troyer is kind to both. Deer poaching by trophy seekers leaves Lena in danger as she protests these acts of violence; Isaac vows to keep safe the woman who has brought back father and daughter to life.

These are three engaging Amish romantic suspense thrillers in which the three female protagonists are BFFs.

Karen Ann Hopkins
Harlequin Teen
9780373210541, $9.99

Following the death of her mom, her father relocated with his family from suburban Cincinnati to rural Meadowview, Ohio where he accepted the position of a hospital's ER chief. Their Amish neighbors welcome the widower and his three children (Rose, Sam and Justin).

Sixteen year old Rose did not want to leave their home to rusticate. However, one of the welcoming committee is Noah. Rose and Noah are instantly attracted to one another. They try to forge a relationship, but he feels guilty as his Amish heritage disallows him to court an Englisher; he would be shunned unless she turns Amish.

This is a warm young adult romance starring two fully developed people whose love for one another is taboo. Rotating perspective between the lead couple, teen fans will understand how each feels about their love and its impact on their respective family though this reader wanted the unfiltered viewpoints (in small doses) of the two Dads and the siblings especially the "spy". Still fans will enjoy the Temptation of forbidden love.

Vacation With A Vampire
Michele Hauf, Lisa Childs, Kendra Leigh Castle
Harlequin Nocturne
9780373885497, $5.50

"Stay" by Michele Hauf. In Paris, after helping a friend by donating vampire blood Lucian Bellisario needs a human to replenish his drained supply. He chooses an American tourist possessed by his dead lover's ghost.

"Vivi and the Vampire" by Leigh Castle. Underground city Terra Noctem vampire King Justin goes on vacation so his staff can have a respite. There he meets and falls in love with vampire slayer Vivi Martin.

"Island Vacation," by Lisa Childs. For four years CPA Patricia Reynolds has had no time off from E. Graves Financial Planning, but recently she won her office vacation lottery so is off to an unknown island for two weeks of regaining her tan. Roarke Monterusso has waited four years to avenge the death of his cousin Rick at the hands of Piper aka Patricia, but now she is coming to his island where he will confront her with his brand of justice; he just never expected it to be desire.

These are three fun vampiric romances starring engaging protagonists.

Dragon's Curse
Denise Lynn
Harlequin Nocturne
9780373885503, $5.50

While her nineteen year old brother Carl lies in a hospital bed, the sorcerer who threatens him forces his older sister and guardian Ariel Johnson to do his bidding. Reluctantly Ariel, who would do anything for Carl ever since their parents died five years ago, goes undercover as a landscape architect to gain access to changeling Cameron Drake's Appalachian resort after being terrorized by a dragon at one of his other properties on the Isle of Mirabilus.

Cam's beast recognizes his mate, but his human side distrusts Ariel who works for his family's deadliest adversary. Ariel feels caught between a rock and a hard place as she is attracted to the man she must betray if she is to save Carl.

This is a terrific romantic urban fantasy as the danger and dilemmas make for taut suspense. Cam is a strong hero who feels schizoid as his beast instinctively wants his mate and will risk their lives to keep her safe; while his brain knows she is a minion of his evil enemy. Readers will enjoy this tense thriller as love is a handicap for Ariel and Cam.

Wicked Nights
Gena Showalter
9780373776986, $7.99

The cops arrested Annabelle Miller for mutilating her parents though she knows it was not her, but the winged monster who marked her as his. She was sent to the Moffat County Institution for the Criminally Insane especially since she sees and hears monsters that doctors over the next four years insist are her delusional imagination. Currently Dr. Fitzpervert humiliates her with plans to rape her.

The Deity is cold towards his angelic commander Zacharel and his troops whose desire to kill demons has led to unacceptable collateral damage to the species they are charged to protect. He warns Zacharel to change or be decommissioned by the loss of his wings; as military excellence without compassion is how the enemy fights. Though he understands logically what the Deity says including the threat, Zacharel feels nothing towards the humans until he meets insane Annabelle Miller as Fitzpervert prepares to assault her. However, Annabelle makes it clear she trusts no one human or otherwise; even this warrior who claims to protect her.

The first Angels of the Dark romantic urban fantasy lives up to the series title as this is a grim exciting thriller. Zacharel's tundra heart has left him and his unit on the brink of wingless banishment, but the human melts his internal polar cap. Annabelle is fabulous as an angry distrusting soul who has met the vilest demons and the ugliest humans; so she is not shocked that her first angel is a nasty uncaring paranormal. Fans of the Lords of the Underworld will appreciate this ultra-dark tale as Zacharel finds a heart that seemed nonexistence from his first appearance in the Darkest Secret.

Temptation and Twilight
Charlotte Featherstone
9780373776627, $7.99

A member of the secret Brethren Guardians, Marquis Iain Sinclair is known as an uncaring rake. However, few know that Iain has one exception; he loves Lady Elizabeth "Lizzy" York though he betrayed her.

Everyone feels sorry for Lizzy who has become blind. They also believe she is a proper behaved lady. Only one person knows differently and he betrayed their love just before she lost her sight. She hates him. When she finds a twelfth century journal about a man having a passionate love with "the Veiled Lady", Lizzy asks Iain to help her identify who the woman is. Iain agrees as he wants a second chance with his beloved Beth. Neither expected danger to arise with their endeavor.

The third Brethren Guardians historical romance (see Pride and Passion, and Seduction and Scandal) is a hot second chance at love thriller. This tale is fast-paced from the moment Iain agrees to be his Beth's "eyes" and never slowing down as working a several centuries-old mystery proves dangerous to the lead couple. Fans will relish this entertaining tale.

The Wrangler
Lindsay McKenna
9780373776894, $7.99

Former Air force lieutenant Val Hunter vowed to never return to the Bar H Ranch in Jackson Hole where her childhood memories of an abusive father and frightened mother make her puke. However, her ailing octogenarian grandmother Gus needs her to run the ranch while her broken femur heals; and Val would do anything for her loving relative even enter hell.

Wall Street investment banker Griff McPherson saw his career collapse with the meltdown. He comes home to Wyoming, a place he was exiled from when he was six years old. His brother Slade makes it clear he should go back to Manhattan because his twin failed to invest in the ranch when the money was needed (see The Last Cowboy). Griff gets work at Andy's Horse Emporium where he meets Val seeking to hire a wrangler; he takes the job. As he and Val work the land, they fall in love while someone covets owning the Bar H using any means to achieve their odious objective.

The Wrangler is a fabulous Wyoming ranch romance starring two intriguing protagonists. She trusts no one except Gus and he needs to prove he belongs in a place he was sent away from years ago. The villain adds suspense, but this western romance belongs to the lead couple as love may not be enough to surmount the hurdles of their respective pasts.

Summer Nights
Susan Mallery
9780373776870, $7.99

Following an ugly divorce, horse whisperer Shane Stryker wants nothing to do with sexy sirens. If he marries again he will pick a rancher as his wife. As such, he moves his horses to temporarily stay at his mom's spread in their hometown of Fool's Gold, California while his stable is built.

When he meets the librarian Annabelle Weiss at a bar, though attracted to her Shane assumes she is wrong for him as a clone of his former wife. Annabelle likes Shane, but cannot understand his rejection of her. As she needs to learn to ride a horse for a fundraiser, Shane reconsiders his initial impression when he observes how good she is with his dangerous horse Khatar who adores Annabelle.

The second Stryker Sibling Fool's Gold contemporary romance (see Summer Days) is a wonderful tale in which the protagonists affirm W.C. Field's lament to "never work with animals ..." due to the matchmaking antics of Khatar and Priscilla the elephant. Fans will enjoy this lighthearted second chance at love tale as Susan Mallery continues to strike gold in California.

The CEO's Unexpected Proposal
Karen Rose Smith
Harlequin Special Edition
9780373656837, $5.25

In Miners Bluff, Arizona, music therapist Mikala Conti and construction CEO Dawson Barrett meet at their fifteenth year high school reunion. She still considers him her hero when he rescued her from a bad prom scenario. Dawson was apparently her unrequited crush before he abruptly vanished.

The widower is coming home to live in order to help his troubled ten year old son Luke who tried to run away to stay with his school sponsored Internet buddy in Kentucky. He hires her to work with Luke who was in the car when his mom Kelly died in a crash while driving on ice. As the adults fall in love, both know disturbed Luke comes first, but neither can resist their attraction a first degree effect may end their second chance relationship.

The third Reunion Brides (see His Daughter ... Their Child and Once Upon a Groom) contemporary romance is a fabulous family drama made poignant by Luke though most readers will guess what is causing his depression beyond grief. The cast is strong as everyone rallies around troubled Luke and the spotlight on music therapy (an occupation my sister-in-law does) enhances Karen Rose Smith's engaging character driven tale.

Lead Me Home
Vicki Lewis Thompson
Harlequin Blaze
9780373796977, $5.25

In Jackson Hole, Wyoming, Last Chance Ranch hires horse-whisperer Matthew Treadway to train problem horse Houdini. Jeb Branford meets Matthew at the airport and suggests they stop at a restaurant for tasty food as the meals of the temporary cook Aurelia Imogene Smith are so awful everyone is on a diet. He says no one eats escargot on a ranch though Matthew would beg to differ.

When Matthew and Aurelia meet, the attraction stuns both of them. He agrees to talk to her about her menu. As they unite to create ranch friendly repasts, they also enjoy a tryst. Though they fall in love, she knows he will leave soon.

The latest Sons of Chance ranch romance (see Cowboys Like Us) is a fun lighthearted affair starring two temps, the cook (part of the job description is falling in love) and trainer, fall in love. Readers will wonder what Aurelia will come up with next while Matthew is a magician when it comes to horses but a failure when it comes to his woman.

The Guy Most Likely To...
Leslie Kelly, Janelle Denison and Julie Leto
Harlequin Blaze
9780373796984, $5.25

"Underneath It All" by Leslie Kelly. Chicago's Winfield Academy class of 2002 celebrates the tenth anniversary reunion at Celebrations. Prom queen Lauren Desantos wonders whether the prom king, her boyfriend back at school, Seth Crowder will show up as he failed to back then when he and his family vanished. Seth has one goal in mind to make up for what he did to Lauren through no fault of his own.

"Can't Get You Out of My Head" by Janelle Denison. Will Beckman hated high school as a computer geek scholarship student who felt like he left prison once he graduated. However, though he could not care one iota about the rich bullies he went to school with, he decides to go to the tenth reunion because of nice cheerleader Ali Seaver. When Will arrives, all the girls who shunned him back then thinks he is hot and his wealth enhances their acceptance of him that he rejects. He makes it clear he came to see Ali, owner of Paper Bliss Designs, as he hurt her in their senior year while her former boyfriend Tim Delgado remains the same barbaric bully he was as a teen.

"A Moment Like This" by Julie Leto. Scott "Rip" Ripley was the school's bad boy; Erica Holt was the school good girl. They were attracted to one another but neither could make that first move. Now ten years later at the reunion, she plans to ride Rip.

These are three fun contemporary second chances at love romances as the adults do what their teen selves could not.

The Song of Achilles
Madeline Miller
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780062060617, $25.99,

Prince Patroclus' father King Menoitius is unhappy with his simple wife and disappointed with his only offspring. The lad cannot compete in anything even against younger children. When he is nine years old his father takes him to court Helen the daughter of King Tyndarus of Sparta. Other royals also arrive while King Odysseus of Ithaca suggests Helens elect her mate so war can be averted. Helen selects Menelaus. Back home Clysonymus tries to bully Patroclus who pushes back killing the lad. Menoitius exiles Patrochlus to King Peleus of Phthia where he meets Prince Achilles.

They become best buddies, which angers Achilles' mother Thetis the sea nymph. When Agamemnon calls for supporters to recapture Helen from Troy, Patroclus and Achilles join the siege. However, Achilles knows his destiny will soon begin to become the greatest warrior ever; as predicted by his mother and affirmed in a warning by his instructor Master Chiron the centaur. Patroclus plans to accompany Achilles when they begin the latter's Odyssey.

This is not a direct rewrite of Homer's Iliad at least not until the second half of the plot. Instead the engaging storyline fills in the blanks with the focus predominantly on Achilles and Patroclus (which is not a shocker since the latter tells the tale) though all of Homer's players are involved. In many ways Troy takes a backseat to the loving relationship of the two BFFs while clever Odysseus steals the show. He sums up love and war in ancient mythological Greece with his saying he has a wife that he has not seen in a decade and whom may be dead but if nothing else he prays he spends eternity with her in the Underworld.

Trash Course
Penny Drake
Carina Press
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road
Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373062560, $7.99,

Belinda Harris arrives at Hawk Enterprise in Ann Arbor explaining to private investigator Terry Faye that she came from Missouri to insure her two elderly uncles are okay. She went from the airport to their home, but could not enter as the door is blocked on the inside by something. Furthermore Belinda says they are hoarders who have lived in this house for five decades.

Terry and Ms. Hawk enter the house where trash and roaches are everywhere while Belinda remains in the car. They soon learn the hard way that Uncle Lawrence has set up a series of "landmines" ready to hammer the unwary. Their friend Professor Slava Cherenko joins them inside the house. They find the corpses of Uncle Howard and Uncle Lawrence as well as catching photographer Zack Archer taking pictures. Belinda asks them to find the missing will while one of the bodies is too young to be one of the uncles.

Trash Course is a superb mystery starring a strong ensemble cast and a hoard of a lifetime, which will surprise readers with the clever full set-up. The rookie sleuth is learning the ropes from her superstar boss while attracted to the photographer she does not trust; their romance is kept to a limit as the case of the hoarding uncles and where it stunningly leads is the focus. Her BFF Slava is a wonderful support character who claims her Chernobyl KGB experience would make her a perfect field operator though she is way too tall and garish to simply blend in. Fast-paced and filled with action, fans will relish this enjoyable serio-comedic detective thriller.

Jude Hardin
Thomas & Mercer
c/o Amazon Digital Publishing
9781612183114, $14.95,

In Florida, true crime writer Donna Prescott asks her former boyfriend private investigator Nicholas Colt to find her missing brother Derek Wahl. Missing for over a year, Derek is a Black Creek, Tennessee cop. He vanished while handling a domestic dispute. At the house where the call came from were two female corpses while two males disappeared. Derek informs Donna he is no longer a P.I. as instead he is part of a band. Donna also says the bodies were mutilated with crucifixes carved into them. Stunned Derek takes the case because he knows what the symbol means as the Harvest Angels violent wing of the Neo-Nazi Chain of Life cult killed his first wife, their daughter and their band in a plane crash.

Derek arranges with his Tennessee private investigator friend Pete Strong to meet him. However his inquiry spins out of control with his family threatened back home and longtime enemy Brother John kidnapping him before brainwashing Derek and turning him into a heroin addict who cheats on his wife. However, this is all part of a wider lethal terrorism plot in Los Angeles.

This is an exhilarating thriller with a great first half and a fabulous coda spin. Action-packed from start to finish, the hard boiled storyline loses plausibility from the moment the hero escapes as he performs exciting daring deeds.

Extended Family
Patrick Kendrick
Thomas & Mercer
c/o Amazon Digital Publishing
9781612183107, $14.95,

The charming handsome man enters the Future-Gen clinic to donate sperm. Afterward, he asks the receptionist to join him for dinner at exclusive Eduardo's. She accepts his invitation while cheekily asking him if he will be able to get it up later.

One generation later, FBI Special Agent Rose Cleary and Fire Marshal Greymon Gift discuss recent homicide arson cases. Someone is torturing including dismembering victims before setting fire to the murder scene; the dead further share in common they all were serial killers. Rose and Grey team up on the investigation, but find horrifying evidence that the recovered DNA is a close match to that of allegedly dead serial killer Dr. Harmon Gettys. This means it is either him or chips off the old block offspring.

Extended Family is an odd but entertaining thriller as the protagonists hunt for the serial killer of serial killers. Overall the storyline is fast-paced and at times very gory as journal entries can be first person explicit. Although the romantic segue feels forced and unnecessary except as a sub-genre requirement when a man and woman work a case, fans will enjoy this engaging tale more complex than the DNA double helix.

The Zurich Conspiracy
Bernadette Calonego, Gerald Chapple (translator)
c/o Amazon Digital Publishing
9781611090932, $14.95,

Several years ago in Zurich, Werner Schulmann sexually harassed Josefa Rehmer before leaving Loyn the leather accessories company. Five years later, Josefa is doing well in the event marketing department in the firm until Werner returns as her supervisor with the same demands of her though he is seeing another employee Clair Fendi. Werner being Werner claims as his plans what Clair and Josefa worked months on. Knowing her career at Loyn is over since they failed to give her the position she earned and would be on life support if she gives this odious person sexual favors and her brain, Josefa quits before he destroys her.

Soon after Josefa resigns, someone murders Schulmann. Not long after that the CEO commits suicide while people from bankrupt Swixan AG begin to die. Josefa realizes she is a suspect in the Schulmann homicide; as such she investigates a tangled web of arrogance, deceit and murder.

Though over the top of the Swiss Alps The Zurich Conspiracy is a fun amateur sleuth; as Josefa provides readers a tour of the old boy's network that in this Swiss account fuels corporate intrigue and malicious mayhem. Though the language at times feels stilted, fans will enjoy the inquiry as the heroine finds one thing leads to another dangerous scenario.

The Celtic Conspiracy
Thore D. Hansen
c/o Amazon Digital Publishing
9781612183473, $14.95,

In May 1945 near Klagenfurt, Austria, a recruit falls into a cave during combat. British Army Major Sean MacLary and two soldiers rescue the injured man. However, they find a room in the cave that Sean an archeology professor, believes is ancient Druid though that is wrong as their culture was handed down orally. He selects a few fourth century documents to send home that claim the Catholic Church massacred the druids and buries the cave with an explosion hidden by the noise of war to protect the rest of the cache.

In the present Massachusetts Supreme Court Chief Justice Ronald MacLary thinks back to his late father who died a few years after the war from combat related injuries. Before he died Sean pleaded with his then six year old son to follow up on his trove in Dublin. Ronald finds the ancient documentation that insists the Druids did not vanish gently into the night but were victims of genocide. He finds allies as he tries to excavate his father's find while others try to prevent him.

Combining the generalization that to the victors goes the history books inside a Brownian thriller, The Celtic Conspiracy is an exciting thriller that makes a plea for the Golden Rule of world peace. Although holding culpability for atrocities done centuries ago is a complicated but healing slippery slope, fans will enjoy this fabulous over the top of Corran Tuathail tale.

Chris Cleave
Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl.
New York, NY 10020
9781451672725, $27.00,

At the Manchester Velodrome, nineteen year old Zoe Castle and Kate Meadows meet when each tries out for a spot on the Elite Prospects Programme for British Cycling. Coach Tom Voss selects who he wants to train. Both teens are attracted to racer Jack Argall, but though Zoe hooks him first, Kate wins that competition as she marries him.

Thirteen years later, Zoe and Kate have remained friends but now compete for the sole British female cycling slot at the 2012 London Olympic Games and with their age it should be their last ride. Kate, who gave up two previous games over the health of her eight years old daughter Sophie, ailing with leukemia; while Zoe is known as a serial sex fiend who plays hard in everything she does. The thirtyish rivals will soon compete in a winner goes to the Games and the loser stays home.

This is an exciting look at the highest level of competitive cycling between two women tied together from the moment they met. Their personalities are different as Kate is a dedicated mom while Zoe has the track only. Jack is a cross between the two ladies as he is driven to win almost to the degree of Zoe but also knows his only important gold medal is his family. Although Kate is too forgiving especially of Zoe who has relationship issues, this is an engaging read that takes readers behind the scenes and around the oval.

Cottage By The Sea
Robin Jones Gunn
Howard Books
c/o Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl.
New York, NY 10020
9781416583455, $14.99,

In Southern California, BFFs Erin and Sharlene open up The Happiest Day wedding planning firm. Their first event is planning the wedding for Erin's son Jordan and his fiancee, Sierra. However, their euphoria ends when Dolores, the second wife of Erin's father, calls to tell that her septuagenarian dad Jack is hospitalized at a clinic after suffering a stroke.

Erin has not seen her dad since he married irritating Dolores eighteen months ago and moved to Hidden Cottage on the Oregon coast. She rushes up to see him before returning home once Jack seems to recover. When he has another stroke a few months later, Erin once again goes to Oregon while worrying she is not holding up her end of the partnership.

This character driven family drama stars a strong lead protagonist who struggles between being there for her widowed father and being there for her business partner. The support cast in Oregon and California enhance the heroine's dilemma of feeling she needs to be in two places at the same time while failing in both venues.

Five Miles South of Peculiar
Angela Hunt
Howard Books
9781439182048, $14.99

On Jul 3, 1968 Charles Caldwell dies at his estate Sycamores near Peculiar, Florida. Avaricious Jackson County officials know that on Jul 3 2018, Sycamores will become county property.

Charles had three grandchildren. Carlene left their home town to become a Broadway star; her career ended when she lost her singing voice due to medical negligence so she has come home. Her twin sister, Darlene, remained behind to manage Sycamores and raise a family there while being jealous of her sibling who she does not want to come home. Their younger sister Magnolia raises her dogs Lucy and Ricky, and works her fabulous garden on a plot on Sycamores.

Though there is too much happenchance moving the tender family drama forward, readers will enjoy this warm southern tale. The viewpoint rotates the third person lead amidst the siblings so that the audience knows how each feels about life, alleged wrongs (MLB should adopt the scoring system), family and Sycamores. As the older sisters turn fifty, fans will wonder whether Charles granddaughters will forgive one another and themselves over supposed transgressions or will grudges keep them apart.

Shadow's Edge
J.T. Geissinger
Montlake Romance
c/o Amazon Digital Publishing
9781612183312, $12.95,

Jenna Moore spent her childhood on the run with her parents who always seemed to look back over their shoulders. She never knew why they hid only her mom became an alcoholic of sorts and her dad seemed always frightened by the shadows. Now she has neither of them as her mom died and her dad vanished and she presumes he is dead too. Never alone before, the scared young woman also is confused by her recent paranormal abilities.

In the forests of England, the Ikati shapeshifters survive in secrecy by deploying a strict code of behavior; those who betray the law die. They recently learned that an offspring of traitors lives in California. Their chieftain Leander McLoughlin heads to the American Pacific West Coast to either kill the "innocent" as most of the tribe prefer or bring her to her people to test whether she can be educated in their customs. When they meet, they are attracted to each other, but she is a chip off the paranoid block of her parents and trusts no one; while he considers invoking the death penalty. Meanwhile in the shadows hides a stalker waiting to pounce on Leander and Jenna.

The first A Night Prowler romantic urban fantasy is an engaging romantic urban fantasy filled with suspense as readers will wonder whether Leander can execute his beloved. The affected dialect of the Ikati anchors the Geissinger mythos with a freshness that needs some adjustment to accept from the audience. The conflict boils down to assimilation as Jenna's DNA may be Ikati but her nurturing is American while a third party waits to pounce. Fans will enjoy this exciting paranormal romantic suspense.

The Holden Age Of Hollywood
Phil Brody
Medallion Press, Inc.
100 South River Street, Aurora, IL 60506
9781605424866, $14.95,

While packing up her father's house after he died, Sam Bateman comes across a collection of rejection letters for his screenplays. Obsessively angry that producer Jon Foster never read the work he sent to him, Sam moves to Hollywood. There he obtains a position at Foster's studio as a reader who determines what scripts are forwarded to the producer to consider.

He becomes enamored with the legend of the greatest screenwriter ever Meyer Holden who just abruptly walked away into the sunset. Sam gets Foster to fire him and persuades his girlfriend Share to move in with him. Holden may have vanished, but he wrote many screenplays under aliases that got buried in the slush pile. Bateman, aware of what Holden does, gets Share to convince writers to send their scripts to him; hoping he will find a disguised Holden gem. Share supports Sam's folly, but begins to wonder if he finds the mother lode would he choose a wannabe actress or the prize that goes with the discovery.

Readers will enjoy watching a fascinating Bateman get sucked into the Hollywood drama machine. Filled with a quirky cast working humorous scenes, readers will enjoy this fascinating character study as Bateman goes the extraordinary extra kilometer to find a Holden screenplay. With a solid romance somewhat abating the darkness of this satirical tale, fans will wonder will success spoil Sam Bateman as this is Hollywood.

The Soul Consortium
Simon West-Bulford
Medallion Press, Inc.
100 South River Street, Aurora, IL 60506
9781605423937, $14.95,

Death has been conquered by medical science; when the host body expires, the memories are placed inside a clone. However, an undesired second order effect occurs as ennui leads to indifference which leads to species extinction instead of eternal artificial reincarnation.

Eighty-four quadrillion years since he was a child, Salem Ben is the last existing human because he fears the unknown of death. He lives in the Soul Consortium warehouse where every soul that ever existed is filed. Qod the AI who manages the Soul Consortium operation is his only companion. Qod informs him there are odd aberrations appearing in some of the digital soul records that should not be there. Using WOOM technology that enables him to explore the memories of those dead souls stored in the archives, Salem Ben enters the lives of these oddities that should not have happened. There he encounters Keitus Vieta who is turning the dead souls' existence into eternal nightmares. Salem Ben must find a way to end the abomination's spreading infection before the Soul Consortium becomes a chamber of horrors.

With a nod to the Zager and Evans' song 2525, this is an entreating science fiction starring the last human whose travels into someone else's history make for a strong tale thriller. The hero witnesses first-hand the horror, but is unsure how to stop the evil from distorting the memories of the souls. Readers will relish journeying with Salem Ben as he becomes a twentieth century serial killer, a sixteenth century Lombard spiritualist, a Castor World monk and the Soul Consortium Creator. However, what grips the reader is the mystery of the malevolent being who is changing humanity's future by creating a hellish afterlife instead of the cyclical rebirth.

The Buffalo Hunter
Peter Straub
Cemetery Dance Publications
132-B Industry Lane, Unit 7
Forest Hill, Maryland 21050
9781587672361, $19.99,

Thirty-five year old Bob Bunting has not seen or spoken to his parents in three years until they call to wish him a happy birthday. They use letters to communicate as his relatives live in Battle Creek while he resides with his tall Swiss executive girlfriend Veronica in New York. In fact Veronica is fiction he created as a cross between Sigourney Weaver and a woman on a bus ad. Simply put Bob is petrified of women, but uses a made up GF to keep his parents, his co-workers and his neighbors at a light-year distance from his inner soul. Bob imbibes his coffee and cognac by sucking them from baby bottles and makes up a life of female girlfriends like Veronica who he claims attended the first two acts of Cats with him. His other escape is into novels where he becomes part of the cast.

This is an odd psychological drama of a psychic increasingly losing his tenuous grip on reality. The novella, which was part of the House Without Doors collection, is not for everybody as the protagonist is a weird phobic with crippling obsessions and grotesque fantasies that blur reality especially his use of baby bottles. Sort of having James Thurber's Walter Mitty fantasizing about life in a psychotic nightmare, fans who relish something radically different will want to read the bizarre strange world of The Buffalo Hunter.

Love On The Run
Katherine Kerr
DAW Books, Inc.
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780756407629, $7.99,

Across the multiverse, there are infinite earths. Nola O'Grady and her psychic family reside on the Level Four earth. Nola works for the top secret The Agency whose mission is to police the Chaos and stop it from entering the worlds. Her lover Ari Nathan is a double Israeli agent for Interpol and TWIXT (Trans-word Interpol X Teams) whose mission is border guard patrol of global crossing.

Both agencies are searching for the Peacock Angel Cult, on an unknown deviant world that is used as a base to spread the chaos to other worlds. Ari and Nola are working on a case involving Earth Three; a radioactive world in which technology is low level and radiation is at a poisonous high rate. The residents would do anything to escape to the any other level. The Axeman and Ash, who fought Nola on a previous caper, are running a scam that proves deadly to the native on Earth Three who want to get away but the freedom on Earth Six is just an illusion. Fourth Level Earth Nola and Ari team up to prevent the spread of the Chaos on Earh Six and bring order to this orb.

The latest Nola O'Grady dark urban fantasy (see License to Ensorcell and Water To Burn) contains several subplots focusing on Nola's family as her relative is under siege from an abusive husband and her younger brother is in trouble for misusing his psychic skills. Though the Agency and TWIXT want the talented O'Grady brood on their respective teams, their entries detract from the prime exciting storyline starring Nola and Ari returning to Earth 3 (see Apocalypse To Go) to deal with a problem that could bring Chaos to the rest of Earths. Love On the Run is a fantastic work due to excellent characterizations, a fascinating who done it and a bit of romance. The quirky secondary cast adds humor to a dark storyline.

The Legend of Jig Dragonslayer
Jim C. Hines
9780756407568, $16.00

"Goblin Quest". In the lairs and hiding places of the mountain, goblins live avoiding other residents. Jig the Goblin runt is on military patrol when he meets adventurers determined to find the Rod of Creation. Jig knows that Straum the Dragon guards the Rod. Expedition leader Prince Bariusforces Jig to take them to the mountain's lower levels where the fight enemies and are betrayed while their quest changes.

"Goblin Hero". Before his adventures with Straum the dragon, Jig the Goblin was picked on by everyone as the weakest of the weak. Now he is Jig the Dragonslayer and has the power to heal. The Goblin leader Kralk wants Jig dead so she sends him on a suicide mission to learn what is magical is killing the Ogres.

"Goblin War". Jig the goblin has come a long way from the elast of the least to a psotion of respect amidst his craven slimy species. Trouble comes their as Billa the Blood, abetted bu Isa the Goddess, invades with an army of monsters. Jig's God Shadowstar helps his worshippers.

This omnibus reprint of this adult fairy tale series stars the lowest member of the most scorned species considered weak cowards by others, but Jig proves his worth as the equal and more than those who before his adventures ridiculed his race and his race ridiculed him. He makes the Hines mythos works in this action-packed fantasy saga.

Even White Trash Zombies Get the Blues
Diana Rowland
9780756407506, $7.99

Angel Crawford has come a long way in a short time from her felonious teen life in the Louisiana Bayous as a poor white trash delinquent living in a dumpy old trailer. Instead she has overcome her addictions, adapted to dining on brains ever since she became a zombie and survived a serial killer assault (See My Life As A White Trash Zombie). She even has a job as a coroner's van driver that enables her easy access to take out fast food and shockingly has friends including a romance with her zombie trainer police officer Deputy Marcus Ivanov.

However, her perfect life turns ugly when someone with a gun aimed at Angel steals a corpse from her. Before the kidnapping, Angels sensed something weird about the victim as her olfactory skill failed to smell any brain smoothie. The media rips her head off due to what she claims as farfetched and her criminal history. Distrusting Marcus as she fears he is a double agent working for the Zombie Mafia, Angel investigates the case of the seemingly brainless corpse that got away only to end up in a top secret lab.

Angel has come a long way from when she was a living loser; for as a dead head she has become a productive member of society. This tongue in cheek zombie thriller is much more serious than its jocular first entry as the courageous protagonist comes across some frightening things including the press vilification that have her wanting to throw up the last brains stew she chomped on. Urban fantasy fans will enjoy the latest Diana Rowland take on zombie fever.

Peril in Paperback
Kate Carlisle
Obsidian Mystery
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780451237620, $7.99,

Book-restoration expert Brooklyn Wainwright and her friends, Suzie Stein and Vinnie Patel drive from San Francisco to Lake Tahoe to spend a week at a luxurious mansion. It is owned by Suzie's computer and engineering genius Aunt Grace. She is celebrating her 50th birthday. Eccentric Grace has converted her house into an odd home with hidden panels, holograms and many other stunners. Because Brooklyn rebounded some of bibliophile Grace's favorite books last year, she places her guest in the Library Suite where she finds incredible first copies of classics; though some were mishandled by morons.

At dinner, Grace tells her guests she plans to read extracts from her unpublished autobiographical novel in which everyone in attendance is in included though she changed their names to protect the guilty. When Grace's employee Bella Santangelo dies after drinking passion fruit iced tea, Brooklyn obsessively investigates as she believes her hostess was the intended victim.

The latest Bibliophile cozy (see One Book In The Grave and Murder Under Cover) is an entertaining amateur sleuth in which the zany mansion steals the show from the cast. Readers will enjoy the guests exploring the madcap mansion at a leisurely pace as the murder occurs a bit later than usual for a Brooklyn whodunit. The fun but strange climax has everyone confessing to something as fans will enjoy the witty Peril In Paperback.

Blood Bath & Beyond
Michelle Rowen
9780451237644, $7.99

In Toronto, Sarah Dearly was bitten by a vampire and consequently became one. She struggled to cope until she fortunately met six hundred years old Master Vampire Thierry de Bennicoeur. He would say that he is the fortunate one as he was contemplating suicide until they met as she has given him a reason to live. The instructor and the student are engaged.

The Ring, who oversees vampiric activity in to avoid human exposure, hires Thierry as a consultant. He and Sarah travel to Las Vegas to hunt a serial killing vampire. Thierry has had public arguments with Bernard; he threatens to kill him if he fails to turn over items that could harm their species and humans. When Bernard is murdered, Thierry is the only suspect. The Ring Enforcer Markus places Thierry under house arrest while he investigates the homicide. All the evidence affirms Thierry killed Bernard. Sarah begins an inquiry that fails to prove otherwise; so she busts her fiance out of his jail; leaving both of them as fugitives from the Ring.

This is the first of a revised Immortality Bites urban fantasy series with a much darker suspense than the original chick lit tales.-The heroine is an independent modern day Canadian while her beloved is a Renaissance Era vamp struggling with her feistiness that he cherishes deadly but fearful that will end her undead life rather quickly. This is an engaging paranormal mystery that ensures the Rowen mythology seems real as a fledgling amateur sleuth and her experienced "elderly" partner search for a killer while eluding the Ring.

Lethal Outlook
Victoria Laurie
9780451236951, $23.95

In Austin, Texas FBI agent Dutch Rivers gives as an engagement present to his fiancee, psychic investigator Abby Cooper, a .38 Special. She is upset while her business partner Candice Fusco thinks it's a great present that shows how much Dutch loves her.

An obviously frightened woman in disguise calling herself Ms. Smith arrives to hire Abby, but tells her nothing except that her client had broken some laws. Abby reads the woman and tells her client hurt and probably killed someone. The woman tells the sleuth to watch the news and leaves. On TV APD asks for public help in the disappearance of Kendra Moreno who vanished leaving behind her one year old baby alone. Abby looks at her image and tells Candice she is dead probably a murder victim. The two sleuths agree to take on Ms. Smith's case even as they get no cooperation from anyone.

The latest Psychic Eye mystery (see Vision Impossible) is a fabulous whodunit as the heroine returns to her roots (and best venue) with a wonderful paranormal detective tale. The wedding plans take a comedic back seat even with Abby's plan-zilla sister Cat aggressively taking charge. Fans will relish the two BFF investigators looking into the murder of Kendra.

Plotting At The PTA
Laura Alden
9780451237491, $7.99

In Rynwood, Wisconsin, single mother of two children, Beth Kennedy serves as the Tarver Elementary PTA secretary and owns the Children's Bookshelf. Beth provides a special delivery service to customers who cannot get to her store. She delivers an order to Amy Jacobson only to learn the acrophobic recluse died from anaphylaxis shock due to bee stings. Stunned as Amy never went out in daylight, Beth is further worried as her customer was found by the neighbor's dog holding a can of bee spray.

Concerned about anomalies Beth visits the police Chief Gus Eisler with her theory but he thinks she has had some lucky success (see Foul Play At The PTA) so he blows her off insisting she is looking for a homicide when none exists. Still doubting the official cause of death, Beth is approached by Maude, a resident at the Sunny Roof Assisted Living Center, to look into the "accidental" drowning death of her niece Kelly decades ago. Most of the townsfolk believe she committed suicide. Maude and Kelly's mom think she was murdered by her longtime boyfriend who dumped her. Beth assumes there was no homicide until she learns Kelly and Amy were best friends. As she goes around Rynwood seeking clues, a vigillant killer watches her closely just in case she gets too close to the truth.

The latest PTA amateur sleuth (see Murder At The PTA) is an engaging whodunit as the heroine knows her customers so well she finds deviations in the "behavior" of Amy leading to her death. The heroine treats her two cases as separate inquires until she finds the surprising link between the deaths. Fans will enjoy Laura Alden's complex murder mystery thankfully without a recall in sight.

How To Dine On Killer Wine
Penny Warner
9780451237866, $7.99

Based in San Francisco, Presley Parker's event planning business is thriving in spite of the economy. Her latest job is at the Purple Grape winery in Napa Valley; as the owners Rob and Marie Christopher introduces their new wine. Besides Presley, connoisseurs and critics, the planner's and her Alzheimer's suffering mom attends.

Serene Napa Valley is filled with intrigued, doubles crosses and malicious gossip. One of the most persistent agitators is JoAnne Douglas, president of the Green Grape Association environmentalists. The activist believes the Christopher couple is destroying the environment with their new wine, which is not green enough. She causes a scene before the event; Rob gets rid of her but not before JoAnne threatens to devastate the gala. The event goes off perfectly; however afterward, JoAnne's body is found under a table. The evidence points towards Rob so the police arrest him. Pressley believes he is innocent so she investigates but finds the victim had a valley full of enemies.

Putting aside that Pressley had no logical reason to investigate, the latest Party-Planning Mystery (see How To Party With A Killer Vampire) amateur sleuth fans will toast Penny Warner with killer wine for this strong whodunit filled with double and triples crosses. The heroine cannot stop herself from making inquiries; while her boyfriend crime scene cleaner Brad accepts her predilection though he hates the danger Presley places herself in. Her mom enhances the tale with her zany shenanigans. Readers will enjoy this engaging treat.

Lie To Me
Tori St. Claire
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780425253076, $15.00,

Two and a half years ago, Irina and Alexei Nikanova met in Russia where they shared an incredible night before he informs her that she was a gift in a business deal. She is euphoric to be able to leave Russia for Dubai even if that means being a sex slave to a Sheik.

The Black Opals sends Alexei into Dubai to retrieve Sasha Zablosky, whose father is internationally extremely influential. When he arranges a menage a trois with Sheik Saaed to get to her, he was unprepared for Sasha to be Irina who he never forgot. Forced to kill Saaed when she recognizes Alexei, the pair flee with his partner Grigoriy as the enemy seems to always anticipate their moves. As they fall in love, he adheres to his mission to return her to her loving father.

The exciting second Black Opals erotic romantic suspense (see Stripped) is a fast-paced thriller that focuses on menage a trois sex, political influence, human trafficking and terrorism; not always smoothly together. The lead pair is an intriguing coupling as Alexei's hardened heart is superseded by his hardened lower head, which makes him miss obvious clues as to how the enemy seems to always find them. Fast-paced with a great late twist, readers will appreciate this tense second chance at love erotica if they stay alive long enough.

Melt Into You
Roni Loren
9780425247716, $15.00

Evangeline "Evan" Kennedy is engaged to Daniel who likes men. Daniel obtains membership for Evan at the exclusive fantasy Ranch. While Daniel is with a sex partner, Evan walks the beach only to have a starfish injure her leg. Jason "Jace" Austin helps her. She is shocked to learn her hero is Jace who she was attracted to in college; he felt the same way about her.

Jace and his roommate Andre persuade Evan to enjoy a menage a trois with her as their sub though they agree no strings once they leave the Ranch. As the trio enjoys the trysts immensely, each knows the final climax will prove bitter sweet.

The second Loving on the Edge erotic romance (see Crash Into You) makes a strong case that an M/F/M can share in a loving adult relationship. The key to this engaging love fest is that the lead trio is each full blooded and not just in the engorged penises. Sub-genre fans will enjoy Roni Loren's hot sizzler as one and one and one make for one heated contemporary.

Kay Hooper
Berkley Books
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor, New York, NY 10014
9780425258743, $26.95,

Fifteen years ago Jessie Rayburn fled her hometown of Baron Hollow, North Carolina. She feels fortunate that she is part of the Haven cell as a psychic investigator. Her estranged sister Emma still lives in Baron Hollow, but recently has suffered from terrorizing nightmares, which she writes about in entries in her journal after waking up. The horrible dreams are different in many ways but share in common someone stalking a woman and ends with the female brutally murdered. Distraught Emma learns that there are no reported dead or missing women, which adds to her fears of falling asleep.

Jessie comes home to confront her adolescent traumas that have limited her abilities. She is shocked and concerned that Emma's dormant psychic powers are arising. Feeling guilty for not being there for Emma, Jessie investigates her sibling's nightmares that she thinks are psychic visions of a serial killer hunting the townsfolk. Meanwhile Haven investigator Nathan Navarro and other parties are in town seeking the serial killer.

The latest FBI Special Crimes Unit paranormal police procedural (see Blood Ties) is an exhilarating action-packed thriller from the sibling reunion to the final confrontation. Each sister is three dimensional but with different personalities; which makes the paranormal seem real. The support cast is strong and the serene town enhances the suspense though the going solo against a psychopath as many do seems more of a teen slasher movie rather than the usual teaming up against a malevolence. Still Kay Hooper provides a terrific paranormal thriller.

Precinct 13
Tate Hallaway
9780425247792, $15.00

As a child growing up in Chicago, Alex Conner's parents thought she had a vivid imagination; claiming to see trolls under bridges, shapeshifters and other mythological beings. When her mother died and her father remarried, Alex believed her stepmother was a demon until she was brainwashed into believing she was insane and locked away.

After leaving the padded cell and graduating from college, Alex wins the election of Hughes County coroner/medical examiner based in Pierre, South Dakota. However, she freaks out fearing the insanity has returned when a corpse calmly stands up and leaves. Stunned and expecting to be fired at best and locked away again at worst, Alex tells her supervisor what happened. Her boss orders her to go to Precinct 13 where the police have psychic and magical skills. Instead of scorn, the cops recognize a peer as she can see the real essence instead of the glamour used to fool humans. They believe Alex is a necromancer paranormal like them. Feeling for the first time since her mom died that she belongs as she even has a lover Valentine the dragon-shifter. Alex investigates the missing body and a case involving crop rings and cattle mutilations

This enjoyable urban fantasy police procedural is a terrific investigative thriller starring a young woman who spent her life thinking she was delusional until she goes to the epicenter of eerie phenomena Hughes County, South Dakota. The paranormal species run the gamut but share in common hiding out in the open. Alex finally finds acceptance amongst the paranormal and even love after being caged by the normal as a schizoid. She makes the newest Hallaway mythos seem real.

Alliance Forged
Kylie Griffin
9780425256015, $15.00

Human Light Blade leader Kalan and his human/half demon Na'Chi wife Annika offer an alliance to her species. Desperate as only purebreds survive especially with the demonic Na'Reish horde hunting them down for genocidal extinction, the Na'Chi led by Varian the warrior accept.

The shaky pact collapses when Light Blade rebels, opposed to the agreement, assault a Na'Chi encampment. In the attack, Varian saves the life of Kalan's blind sister Kymora the temple-elect of the goddess. They are attracted to each other, but the warrior trusts no one not of Na'Chi at a time when the Na'Reish prepares for war and the Light Blade rebels continue their hostilities.

The second Light Blade romantic military fantasy (see Vengeance Born) is a terrific thriller as the endless war between demon and humans is reaching a critical mass with the Na'Chi caught in the middle. The lead couple is a strong pairing of interracial attraction and doubts while the support cast enhance the internal human squabble. With an insightful look at racial intolerance in a time of long-term constant combat and security alert, fans will appreciate Kylie Griffin's superb look at an Alliance Forged does not mean alliance accepted even with a common enemy on the march.

Hot In Handcuffs
Shayla Black, Shiloh Walker, Sylvia Day
9780425247693, $15.00

Arresting Desire by Shayla Black. FBI Agent Jon Bocelli and Professor Lucia DiStefano share the same desire that he be her first lover. Her work on her late father's encrypted message becomes life threatening.

On Fire by Sylvia Day. Fire inspector Darcy Michaels asks Deputy U.S. Marshal Jared Cameron to help her investigate serial arsons. As they work together on the fires, they heat the sheets too until her past places her in peril.

The Unwilling by Shiloh Walker. Mica Greer and former FBI agent Colby Mathis were once lovers bound by psychic skills. They are back together investigating bizarre serial killings and a second chance at love.

These are three heated police procedural erotica though none of the lead protagonists are fully developed except the lower male heads.

Heart of Steel
Meljean Brook
9780425251041, $7.99

When Archimedes Fox found a Leonardo da Vinci sketch, he ordered Yasmeen, captain of the Lady Corsair to give him a ride on her airship to the Ivory Coast; instead she tossed him off of her flying vessel into the zombie cesspool otherwise known as Venice (see The Iron Duke). As he struggles to survive as a human in zombie canals, he also plots to regain his stolen sketch from the mercenary who dropped him from the sky.

When Fox catches up to Yasmeen, he tries to win her love. She accepts him as her lover but no more than that as her heart of Steel regrets emotional attachments. However she loses the Lady Corsair and the sketch while he gets them entangled in civil war in Morocco as adversaries want them dead.

The latest Iron Seas Victorian steampunk fantasy is a fabulous thriller starring two adventurous rogues who seem to get into one perilous escapade after another. The key to this exhilarating trip inside the fully developed and expanding Brooks mythos is the romance for the most part takes a backseat to the dashing duo's daring deeds (and misdeeds). Fans will enjoy Archimedes melting that Heart of Steel (though with justification neither trusts the other) during the small respites between precarious capers. Additionally there is a fun novella Tethered, starring Fox and Yasmeen.

Liquid Lies
Hanna Martine
9780425257241, $7.99

At San Francisco's Embarcadero, the Company's Gwen Carroway the Ofarian meets with a new client Yoshi the Primary who says his boss could not make it. She gives him magical Mendacia to help his octogenarian boss Mikatani conceal his amputated foot. However, Yoshi broke the contract betraying his employer and planned to abduct Gwen, but her hidden in water bodyguard griffin saves her. Though she knows better as he is a threat to her Secondary species, she foolishly lets Yoshi flee.

Afterward Yoshi grabs Gwen showing her video evidence he has of her and Griffin using water magic. He demands she keep him safe and half of what her firm takes from Mikatani. A drunken giant Primary intercedes. Reed Scott turns out sober. He breaks Yoshi's leg and threatens his life before they leave. When he leaves her each knows they are attracted to one another. An avenging woman hires the Retriever to kidnap a target. Only one problem the abductor is Reed and the abductee is Gwen. As they fall in love, they team up to uncover a diabolical conspiracy that shakes both of them to their respective core.

The first Elementals romantic urban fantasy is an exhilarating extremely dark tale based on the unique premise of a pure capitalist species with magical skills for sale to the ultra-wealthy live as Secondary amongst the Primary humans. Filled with love and betrayal, sub-genre readers will relish this fresh thriller as the formula for magic that only the Company board knows proves a stunner.

Night Seeker
Yasmine Galenorn
9780425250327 $7.99

Owl shifting Wind Witch Cicely Waters rescues her soul mate Fae Prince Grieve from the Indigo Court Fae Queen of Winter Myst (see Night Veil). However, her success comes with a cost greater than her biting fee she owed her instructor Fae Lannan Altos. The Summer Queen Lainule ended their alliance and the vampiric fae are raging and marching killing anyone in the path. Worse Grieve struggles with his mind as Myst still has a grip on him.

A desperate Cicely leads an expedition to find the Summer Queen's heartstone while the Winter Queen begins a nefarious avenging counter strike on the New Forest. For them to succeed, Cicely has to voluntarily change into something else regardless of the outcome to her.

The latest Indigo Court romantic fantasy (see Night Myst) is a complex tale as each of the lead protagonists are willing to die to insure their soul mate and others live. Their willingness to sacrifice reminded me of the Gift of the Magi by O'Henry only on a metaphysical otherworldly realm. Filled with action and plenty of lethal roadblocks, readers will enjoy trekking the dangerous Galenorn mythological world.

A Sinister Sense
Allison Kingsley
Berkley Prime Crime
9780425251416, $7.99

In Finn's Harbor, Maine the male corpse is found in the back of hardware store owner Rick Sander's truck. The victim had been seen on Rick's store and the murder weapon came from his shop. Police Chief Dan Peterson brings Rick to the station for questioning.

The townsfolk feel Rick killed the John Doe, but Clara Quinn, who works at her cousin Stephanie Quinn Dowd's Raven's Nest Bookstore employee, rejects the notion he is a murderer. She points out the same jumping to false conclusions happened to another bookstore worker Molly Owens (see Mind Over Murder). However, she also knows she is attracted to Rick. As the evidence mounts against Rick, encouraged by Stephanie to use her Quinn Sense to investigate, Clara knows she must identity the victim and why he was in town in order to find the killer.

The second Raven's Nest Bookstore paranormal amateur sleuth is an entertaining amusing whodunit as the two cousins who are BFF "sisters" land in one mess after another. The investigation is fun while Tatters the dog adds canine humor to the amusing fiasco the cousins land in. Fans will enjoy this lighthearted well written mystery.

Echoes At Dawn
Maya Banks
9780425250860, $7.99

Affluent billionaire Gordon Farnsworth would do anything to save his beloved dying daughter Elizabeth. His last hope rests with alleged healer Grace Patterson. However, his crack team fails to bring her in as a fluke explosion allowed her to escape. Desperate he warns his operative he will die horribly if Elizabeth dies and then contacts Titan to retrieve the healer.

The Kelly Group International led by Rio mount a rescue. When he reaches her, he is taken aback as they telepathically communicate just like her sister does with KGI operative Nathan Kelly (see Whispers In The Dark). As he and his team escort Grace hopefully to safety, a mercury militia group and Titan pursue. Rio realizes his gut-need to keep Grace safe is more than just another mission as he willingly would die for this woman he loves; she feels the same and acts likewise.

The latest KGI romantic suspense (see Hidden Away) is a tense thriller starring an operative who like his teammates works missions outside of the government scope, but this time the task turns personal. Fast-paced time is running out on Elizabeth and subsequently anyone who her father believes allows her to die. Sub-genre fans will enjoy the healer and the operative as they fall in love struggling to stay alive.

Pamela Clare
9780425246115, $7.99

In 1760, her family banished Lady Sarah Woodville to the colonies after a scandal ruined her in London. She was sailing up the Hudson from New York to Albany to plead with her Uncle British army commander William Wentworth to help her, but the ship ran aground due to ice floes. Shawnee attack them scalping all except Sarah, her maid Jane and a young boy Thomas Wilkins. The Indians grab Sarah to take with them; she prays Jane and Thomas follow though she fears otherwise as unlike her they were not given moccasins to wear.

Lord William orders Scottish Major Connor MacKinnon to rescue his niece. Connor loathes his arrogant superior officer and assumes Lady Sarah shares his blood and his despicable loftiness. When he catches up the small band of Shawnee, Connor realizes the only way he can liberate Sarah is to claim she is his spouse and therefore has the right to fight her capturer for her. When he escorts her back to Albany, their roles reverse as she must save her beloved from her uncle.

The latest MacKinnon's Rangers Colonial America romance (see Surrender and Untamed) is a delightful historical as the Scotsman and the Englishwoman fall in love; feelings neither want and sure to anger her uncle. Fast-paced, fans will believe Pamela Clare transported them to the upstate New York colony during the French and Indian War as Defiant is a vivid action-packed thriller.

Beef Stolen-Off
Liz Lipperman
9780425251423, $7.99

In Ranchero, Texas Jordan McAllister is the food columnist for The Ranchero Globe though she can't boil water without burning it and wants to cover the sports beat. Her column has a big readership so cattle baron Lucas Santana invites her to attend the Cattleman's Ball. He hopes a good review by her will increase beef sales hammered by the recession. To further insure she has a good time reflected in her column, he arranges for his ranch manager prime Texas beef Rusty Morales as her escort.

During dinner, Rusty feels ill. He steps outside for air with Jordan following him to make sure he is okay. Instead he dies. The autopsy reveals Rusty was poisoned. Jordon believes someone paid the waiter to add the toxin to either Rusty's food or champagne. Lucas is euphoric with Jordan's wrote-up; he invites her to his Santana Circle Ranch so she can taste a different beef recipe once a week. Her brother Danny, a law enforcement official, is sent to Ranchero to arrest those who are involved in cattle rustling, which makes the ranchers happy. Jordon provides her sibling with the clues that point him in the right direction though her actions come to the attention of a cold blooded killer.

The second complex Clueless Cook Mystery (see Liver Let Die) is an enjoyable cozy that sub-genre fans (even Vegans who should skip the recipes) will appreciate. The entertaining storyline contains red herrings and several suspicious characters. The key to the whodunit is that the heroine does not try to solve the homicide, but instead stumbles into the path of the murderer when she learns no good deed goes unpunished as she helps a friend with an alleged haunted house.

Murder On The Half Shelf
Lorna Barrett
9780425247754, $24.95

Stoneham, New Hampshire, is known for its specialty bookstores like Tricia Mile's Haven't Got a Clue. When Pippa and Jon Comfort open up Sheer Comfort Inn, they invite some locals to spend a night free. Tricia and her cookbook author sister Angelica agree to take up the offer and share a room.

At the inn, Trica finds the murdered corpse of Pippa. Even more shocking to her than tripping over a dead body as she is a corpse magnet (see Bookmarked for Death and Bookplate Special) or that the police suspect Jon killed his wife, is she realizes who Jon is as she begins to receive special packages by mail. Two decades ago he was known to her as her boyfriend Harry Tyler whom she thought died. Her boyfriend Police Chief Grant Baker senses Tricia is somehow involved. Though she knows Harry-Jon is a con artist, Tricia believes he would not commit murder so she investigates.

The latest Booktown mystery (see Sentenced to Death) is an engaging over the top of New Hampshire whodunit. The investigations are entertaining as several pasts surface convoluting the case. Fans will enjoy this regional small-town murder mystery.

All That Falls
Kimberly Frost
9780425250907, $7.99

Etherlin music muse Cerise found her power died apparently with the death of her boyfriend rock star Griffin. Cerise believes that she can regain her lost abilities and learn how Griffin died and why if she can find his missing book of music.

Her inquiry leads to frost fallen angel Lysander who has the music book. Lysander behaves with one end in mind; redemption so he can go home. He scoffs at the mortal muse's efforts to take the tome from him while he refuses to explain to her his seeming obsession to keep the book. However to their respective chagrin, Lysander and Cerise fall in unwanted love even as she continues to try to coax him into giving her the book, unaware how dangerous this tome is.

This exciting romantic fantasy is a great thriller that is summed up by the heroine in the first sentence "the road to hell is paved with good intentions." Fast-paced from the moment Cerise challenges the fallen angel and never slowing down, fans will relish returning to the urban fantasy realm of Kimberly Frost (see All that Bleeds).

Cloaked In Malice
Annette Blair
Berkley Prime Crime
9780425251430, $7.99

Owner of A Vintage Magic clothing store, Madeira "Maddie" Cutler is also a psychic who has the uncanny ability to touch attire and learn much about the person who wore that item. Her gift comes in handy when Paisley Skye enters the shop wearing vintage clothing at a time when Maddie's friend hundred and four years old Dolly Sweet was in the shop too. Dante the ghost is stunned when he sees by Paisley, but Dolly is also shocked as the woman resembles her; she abruptly leaves town.

Paisley asks Maddie to help her find out who she is; all her life she resided inside a compound fortified by an electric fence on a deserted island. Paisley further explains for years all she ever saw was her Mam and Pap who she believes are not her parents and she never left the compound until they both died. Maddie touches an item and sees a very young Paisley while nearby the child's parents are killed. Maddie, her lover Nick the FBI agent and Paisley return to the island while someone diligently watches them.

Annette Blair always provides a delightful paranormal mystery as affirmed by her newest A Vintage Magic Mystery (see Skirting The Grave). The twisting storyline casts a spell on readers; as like Paisley we want to know who she is and why she lived like a hermit on a reinforced isolated island filled with stunning secrets. Fans will enjoy Cloaked in Malice.

Carolina Home
Virginia Kantra
9780425250938, $7.99

In Dare Island, North Carolina, since his teenage son Joshua returned to school, Matt Fletcher sails the Sea Lady II with his dad as mate as they take affluent people out fishing. Upper crust Philadelphian transplant Allison Carter informs Matt, as Joshua's teacher, his son is an underachiever. Matt says he has no time now, but will talk to Josh later. He thinks Allison is like Josh's mom a professor with little involvement in her son's life.

Matt's brother Luke is on compassionate military leave. With him is his ten years old daughter Taylor whose mother just died. Luke was unaware he had a child until now. He asks Matt to take care of her until he returns from Afghanistan.

Allison has a flat tire when Matt arrives. He takes her bicycle to the rental shop for repair. They next stop for a beer where they discus Joshua who has no college plans. Matt says he wants Josh to attend college, something he dropped out of to raise his son. They talk about family and she mentions she has not seen her big brother in years. They kiss as each feels the attraction, but he is one night stands with off islanders and she is no one nighter; besides family matters take precedent over love.

The vivid isolated barrier island location sets the tone of a tender family drama in which the lead couple's families are extreme polar opposites in how they support their respective loved ones. Although the lead couple makes love while his traumatized niece and his son (her student) are nearby and the niece's fears never explored (probably will when Luke's return), readers will enjoy this warm romance.

Ravishing the Heiress
Sherry Thomas
9780425250877, $7.99

In 1888, the wealthy sixteen year old daughter of the tin sardine king Millicent Graves and the new Earl of Fitzhugh marry as he desperately needs money to keep his destitute family from ruin and she obtains a noble title though his late thirty-something predecessor was had dad's first choice. They share their first kiss but Millie persuades her nineteen years old husband to wait eight years before they consummate their vows as she hopes to win his heart, which belongs to Lady Isabelle Pelham; her rationale is she is only sixteen. He accepts her request.

They have lived together as best friends but the couple live separate lives until 1896 when the time to make their marriage real has arrived. Millie has loved Fitz since she first saw him, but believes his heart belongs to the widow Mrs. Isabelle Englewood, who has returned to London with two small children to claim him as hers. The offspring of a manufacturer knows she cannot compete with the lovely widow who is her mate's peer, but though she knows he will fulfill their vow, she will do the right thing for him even though her heart will break.

This is a charming Victorian romance summed up nicely by Millie's friend Venetia when she says "friendship is what gives love its wings." Sub-genre readers will enjoy this tender tale of love as Millie and Fitz distrust their love is reciprocated so hide how they feel out of fear of losing their friendship. Sherry Thomas provides a wonderful historical.

Adventures of the Almighty One
Joe Dieckman
V-Wind Publishing
PO Box 1031; Elgin, Il 60121-1031
9780982877326, $11.50,

"Adventures of the Almighty One." Basher leaves his motorcycle mom to hit the road on a too small moped. At a secluded diner, Basher meets an overweight woman who he calls his lady love. They leave together only to run into violent bikers before Handlebar Hank joins their odyssey.

"The Message." Tridoan the Messenger claims "God is Love" and without the "spirit of love", man does cruel things whether it is Nazi Germany or the early Christian Church, or loses sight of love like prideful Nebuchadnezzar. Tridoan follows this up with a plea to the scribe's home America where slavery in many forms still exist instead of "love thy neighbor".

"Handyman: A Day With The Hot Fox." The widower raises his six year old child alone working as a handyman. A frantic woman demands he make repairs before her daughter's fifth birthday bash. His customer is a hyperactive lunatic who treats him with disdain, keeps adding chores to be done and changes her clothing into increasingly provocative outfits. Finally he flees without the money he earned. Oddly, not long afterward he and his son are invited to attend her daughter's bash.

This is an odd but well written intriguing short story collection about love. "Adventures of the Almighty One" and "Handyman" star fascinating protagonists in weird somewhat comedic yet also grave situations; both are engaging shots that readers who appreciate something entertainingly different will appreciate. "The Message" is an inspirational poem imploring people to love one another. Though well written that feels out of place with the other two entries.

Albert of Adelaide
Howard Anderson
Twelve Books
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017-0010
9781455509621, $24.99,

Bored of captivity, Albert the duck-billed platypus escapes from Adelaide Zoo. His objective is to find the Old Australia in the Outback. However, Albert begins to miss his ennui incarceration as he arrives severely sunburned in the place where he believes modernization has not occurred.

However, the human towns are no longer filled with people, but instead a crew of animals who behave differently from those he knew in Adelaide. He meets Jack the elderly arsonist wombat in the gates of Hell. Albert also encounters gay alcoholic bandicoots. To his surprise he adjusts to the nightmarish land that is nothing like his utopian fantasy by committing roadside robberies. When he is arrested and convicted to hang, Albert meets the legendary Tasmanian devil Muldoon.

This is a terrific parable in which the protagonist learns the Thomas Wolfe mantra You Can't Go Home Again as it does not exist outside your memories or in Albert's case his mythological dreams. The storyline starts leisurely introducing readers to Albert in Adelaide, but once the hero goes on the road and encounters life in the wild, the plot accelerates into a coming of age anthropomorphic action thriller.

A Long Way From You
Gwendolyn Heasley
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780061978852, $8.99,

The parents of teenager Corrine Corcoran are paying for her best friend Kitsy Kidd to spend the summer in New York to include attending art classes at Parsons. The resident of Broken Spoke, Texas has dreamed of coming to Manhattan ever since she and her younger brother Kiki saw Miracle on Thirty-fourth Street. Kiki needs the respite as she has become the adult in her family since her dad left and her mom tuned to alcohol.

Being friendly and guileless, Kitsy meets people rather easily. While Corrine leaves to work at a camp, Kitsy from her friend's West Village apartment visits the Guggenheim and MOMA where she meets the Art Boy. A band member he takes Kitsy around Manhattan and Brooklyn. At Parsons she does well at photography and meets the next It Girl, who has close ties with Tad. Kitsy has learned one thing from her time in the Big Apple is to face your tsuris squarely in an attempt to make them less problematic, which means returning to Broken Spoke.

Kitsy is a fabulous teenager who holds the warm young adult tale together as she finds the best in the city that never sleeps but knows the worst is what she left behind in the Lone Star State. Character driven, fans will enjoy her tour of the Big Apple while she begins to realize you can't run away from home as whatever drove you to leave still remains as a major icon in your brain. A Long Way from Home is a winning young adult character study.

The Key
Simon Toyne
9780007391592, $25.99

In the ancient city of Ruin in mountainous Turkey is the Citadel where the first bible was allegedly scribed. TV cameras catch a monk Brother Samuel climb to the top of the mountain, make the sign of the tau, and leap (see Sanctus). Soon after the violent death, explosions rip into the Citadel. Ten monks and three civilians, all injured, exit through a previously secret tunnel. The media proclaims the "Church on Road to Ruin". Rumors spread that these survivors will reveal the true meaning of the Sacrament.

At the Vatican, Cardinal Secretary of State Clementi is stunned to learn that trillions of dollars have vanished. His prayer to save the Church from what could be a death scandal lies in Ruin. In a hospital, Samuel's sister American journalist Liv Adamsen suffers from amnesia though she recalls entering the Citadel at Ruin but not much else. She is frightened because she keeps hearing a mantra claiming she is the Key. Others accept her as the Key with plans to use her. The mercenary Ghost hopes she can unlock dark powerful secrets; the Citadel monks pray she returns to end the plague that is destroying them; the Catholic Church hierarchy needs her dead before she kills the religion. Liv's savior is charity worker Gabriel Mann.

The second Sancti trilogy continues the exciting Brownian thriller with a fast-paced entry. The key (no pun intended) cast is not as developed as in Sanctus especially the Vatican who come across as an overly used conspiracy crowd (then again this is a Brownian thriller). Still sub-genre fans will want to know the Key to the Sacrament.

Scorpion Winter
Andrew Kaplan
9780062063786, $9.99

Ukrainian billionaire businessman Vadim Akhnetzov stuns Scorpion by doing the near impossible without permission by contacting him. Vadim wants Scorpion to stop an assassination attempt. The owner of the Ukengaz firm says Kozhanovskiy is supported by the West while Cherkesov by the Russians. He explains there is a plot to kill Cherkesov, which would lead to a Russian invasion and a NATO counterstrike. Scorpion asks Vadim re his interest and the Ukrainian responds by saying he would do business with the devil as the Russians would end his company if their man is murdered and that the prototype is the assassination of the Archduke Ferdinand in 1914.

Scorpion agrees to prevent the assassination not for the seven digit fee he accepts, but because his "handler" Rabinowich must think this is a potential crisis by enabling Akhnetzov to contact him. In the Ukraine, Scorpion teams up with political adviser Iryna Mikhailivna Shevchenko to keep the Russian backed candidate alive. As seemingly unrelated events in Siberian Penal Colony 9 and Yemen occur, Scorpion kills several people. At the same he eludes the local police, the state secret police, the Ukrainian mob and several spy agencies including his former mates at the CIA; many of whom work conflicting devious games with no regard for collateral damage. However, he soon realizes he has been betrayed by someone apparently on his side.

The third Scorpion espionage thriller (see Scorpion Betrayal) is a fast-paced tale even before the free-lance spy and the business mogul meet and never slows down until the final confrontation. Fast-paced with a high kill rate, Andrew Kaplan uses the tense 2010 Ukraine election (and the upcoming one) as the basis of a strong thriller.

True Believers
Kurt Andersen
9781400067206, $26.99

Law professor Karen Hollander decides not to go through the vetting process for a Supreme Court nomination as she fears that will allow the Republicans to destroy Obama if they could go after him for a minor acquaintance with a radical. She writes her memoirs which contains bombs that she hid for four decades once she gathers all the information about 1968.

In the 1960s in the Chicago area, she and her two best friends (Alex Macallister III, and Chuck Levy) used to role play as James Bond. By 1968, the trio became radicals. Though she knows she can take what she knows most likely to the grave, Karen plans to reveal the incident that shaped her life over forty years ago once she learns the missing pieces that until recently she chose ignorance as bliss.

This is a fascinating thriller that compares the radicalization of the middle and upper classes in the 1960s to the seemingly complacent acceptance of Big Brother since 9/11. Character driven by mostly Karen who tells her story, readers will appreciate her 1960s activism vs. her granddaughter's "Occupied" activism and the role of intelligence that slices through both.

Cannibal Reign
Thomas Koloniar
9780062025821, $7.99

Green Beret Captain Jack Forrest learns that an NEO will crash into North America. The feds are hiding the information to avoid a panic. Jack and his four team unit begin preparation to hide in an abandoned Nebraska missile silo. They will bring with them selected men, women, children and Laddie the dog for a two year or so stay.

Astronomer Marty Chittenden locates an asteroid that will hit the earth in under ninety days. He visits Susan Denton who he loves unrequitedly about the near extinction event. They go to JPL to speak with Linda Creasey. When they realize the Feds know, he escapes. He heads to Idaho where retired astronomer Ester Thorn lives to tell her about Thor's hammer.

When the NEO hits in Montana, the world is gone as darkness will remain for years to come. Many above ground become raging animals eating human flesh when the food supply dwindles. While Marty struggles to survive the surface horror, Forrest leads his survivors in side their underground "Noah's Ark".

There are several other subplots that enhance the final months before and a couple years after the impact though the two above are the prime segues. What makes Thomas Koloniar's superb thriller work is the focus is on good people trying to survive in bad times without resorting to becoming vile beasts. Fans will appreciate Marty's efforts to stay alive as an astronomer in a world he never imagined; while the underground community deals with social interactions including ennui. Putting aside the misleading sensationalist title (though cannibalism is rampant), this is an exhilarating tale of life before and after a NEO crash rivaling what happened to the dinosaurs.

Never Tell
Alafair Burke
9780061999161, $24.95

NYPD homicide detectives Ellie Hatcher and J.J. Rogan conduct a cursory inquiry into the death of sixteen year old Julie Whitmire before deciding the teen killed herself. Everyone else officially involved agrees with their assertion as the spoiled teen's body was found with slashed wrists in a tub and her body was filled with drugs and alcohol, and she left a note behind. The case particularly hits home hard on Ellie's psychic as a reminder that her father's death was ruled a suicide too.

Though her parents neglected their daughter in life except for material things and social status, they are affluent as Julie's dad is a music bigwig. Julie's mom who got homicide involved in the first place uses her influence again to get Hatcher and Rogan to look deeper as she swears her child would never kill herself. Hatcher and Rogan question Julie's friends like Ramona though Ellie continues to believe a suicide occurred while J.J. has changed his minds.

The fourth Elle Hatcher police procedural (see 212) is an entertaining police procedural due mostly to the lead female cop unable to accept anything but a suicide even when evidence begins to point to murder and her partner is starting to lean in that direction. Hatcher's stubbornness hurts their inquiry when she writes off clues. Ellie's problems with her ADA boyfriend seems shallow when compared to stepparents raping their young and parents emancipating their teens who end up on the street Still this is a strong investigative thriller as Hatcher proves a major toad in the road.

The Long Earth
Terry Pratchett and Stephen Baxter
9780062067753, $25.99

The Stepping process has enabled mankind to cross into a seemingly infinite number of parallel Earths. None of these alternate earths contain human life while the farther you journey from the earth the weirder the planets become. Very few people have the ability to Step out without assistance; those who can are in demand.

"Gold" fever has foolish people greedily Stepping out; many to their deaths. Meanwhile the TransEarth Institute hires one of those with the rare skill Joshua Valiente, accompanied by Lobsang the AI who insists that in a previous life he was a Tibetan, to steer an airship across the endless Long Earth in order to explore the unknown for economic potential.

This is a fascinating science fiction tale that readers will enjoy though in many ways it reads like a series of anecdotal events. The side effects of Stepping grips the audience as the rules of survival become known by early explorers (and readers) and quick visits to a series of worlds by the protagonists begin to shape what is out there. Though the premise is intriguing and the storyline entertaining, The Long Earth would have been better as a series of short stories starring the early explorers not always surviving their visits to multiple earths.

In The House Of The Wicked
Thomas E. Sniegoski
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780451464569, $15.00,

Remiel the seraphim archangel fought on the Creator's side in the civil war against Lucifer's rebel army. Although his side won, he no longer could abide living in heaven after the atrocities that followed after brother fought brother to the death on the battlefield. Thus Remiel becomes Remy Chandler, Boston PI, and in love with a mortal woman who died leaving him a grieving widow who understands Lord Alfred Tennyson's immortal words: "'Tis better to have loved and lost; Than never to have loved at all."

Remy is also very fond of Ashley Berg who he treats like a beloved daughter. When she disappears, Remy vows to find her to bring her home. He learns a sorcerer kidnapped Ashley as an expendable pawn to bring the seraphim to him; he schemes to steal Remy's power and life force in order to become an immortal. Remy is uninterested in the games of Algernon Stearns and Konrad Deacon who drained life forces immediately after Hiroshima; instead he would go to hell to rescue his Ashley, but at what cost as the ensuing battles could leave humanity extinct.

This is a powerful Remy Chandler urban fantasy (see A Hundred Words For Hate) as someone he trusts with his life is loyal to Lucifer; thus the Prince of Deceivers uses his mole to trick Remy into going down wrong paths (leading to twisting subplots). The exciting storyline effortlessly switches back to Deacon's past in WWII and afterward enabling the readers to observe the odious antics of an evil individual planning his coup. House of the Wicked is a terrific fantasy that will thrill readers.

Grave Memory
Kalayna Price
9780451464590, $7.99

Able to raise the dead to solve homicides that baffled the Nekros City police, Alex Craft the grave witch finds it ironic that the cops resent her success that they believe make them look inept. However, Alex is more concerned with the side effect of chatting with the dead and ponders whether someone who has known Death personally since she was five years old and whose main lover Fae Investigation Bureau agent Falin Andrews who is owned by the Fairy Winter Queen can have a love life.

Meanwhile Alex and her friend Rianna McBride, recently rescued from Faerie (see Grave Dance), open Tongues of the Dead Investigations. The pair and others watch as James Kingly commits suicide. However, his shade immediately claims to Alex that he was murdered. Alex investigates and learns her client vanished for three days just before his death; questioning him he says he has no recollection of disappearing or for that matter any of his activities prior to his dying; except witnessing someone else commit suicide. As the grave witch follows clues, she finds a string of suicides that make her fear she may be magically coaxed to kill herself.

The third Alex Craft Grave Witch urban fantasy (see Grave Memory) is a super investigative thriller that focuses on apparent suicides that increasingly prove to be homicides. Alex struggles with the concept that a shade cannot remember its last few days of life as this is a new phenomenon for her to chew on and that powerful magic has healthy contented people killing themselves. Readers will enjoy her inquiry into the unknown as the heroine knows whoever is behind this could add her life as one more dead bead on a growing string.

Tin Swift
Devon Monk
9780451464538, $15.00

Cursed hunter Cedar Hunt leads a band of travelers across Oregon. Their destination is Kansas where the ailing widow witch Mae Lindson may regain control of her mind with the help of her former coven. Also in the party are dead shot Rose Small, the three mining lunatic Madder brothers and Cedar's sibling Wil the wolf. The Madder kin expect Cedar to find the Holder powerful weapon that he can sense.

The weary travelers reach Vicinity, Oregon where they find everyone eerily dead and Cedar senses that the evil Strange Mr. Shunt who he thought died in Hallelujah (see Dead Iron) killed the townsfolk. Rose insists they bury everyone, but the deceased begin to rise. A trap Rose and Cedar spring propels a piece of tin into her shoulder leaving her severely hurt. Captain Hink leads the Swift glim "mining" ship to explore Vicinity as he has heard odd rumors. He and his loyal crew rescue Cedar, Wil and the two females while the Madder threesome tells them they will catch up to them soon. As General Saint sends airships to destroy Hink for betraying his plans to become a dictator, Mr. Shunt offers him a deal he cannot refuse.

The second Age of Steam super old western fantasy is an exhilarating adventure thriller that grips the audience from the moment the magnificent seven enter Vicinity and never slows down as the good confronts the bad and the ugly. The Monk realm keeps the scientific babble to a minimum as the author makes her mythos feel real from the cursed to the reanimated dead. Fans will want to soar with the crew of the Swift as they struggle to survive the pact made by two evil essences.

The Girl in the Blue Beret
Bobbie Ann Mason
Random House
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780812978872, $15.00,

In 1944 over France, the Germans hit an allied B-17 bomber heading to Frankfort. Co-pilot Marshall Stone lands the crippled plane in Belgium saving much of the Dirty Lily crew. The resistance enables him and others to get back to England safely.

In 1978 his wife Loretta suddenly died and soon afterward he is forced into retirement as being too old to fly planes. Two years since his Loretta passed, feeling alone, sexagenarian Marshall compulsively decides to fly to France and Belgium to thank those who saved his life as he scurried from one house to another like a rat. He hopes the Vallons who kept him safe in Paris, Robert the planner of his great escape from France through Spain, and Annette the teenage school Girl in the Blue Beret who lived in one of the safe houses still live as he prays he can find them.

Rotating between the war and 1980, this is a moving historical as the memories and the realties do not often gel. Like Marshall, readers will want to know what happened to those who risked their lives for the pilot. Although a 1980 subplot involving Marshall and Annette feels unnecessary; fans will enjoy trekking from Paris across the Pyrenees as he retraces his trail.

The Age of Miracles
Karen Thompson Walker
Random House
9780812992977, $26.00

Only the night owls realized that something had changed; most people were ignorant. On the sixth of October, a scientist states that the earth is "slowing". Many panicked seeking a haven, but the Slowing impacts the planet so there is no place run to.

In California, Julia, her dad and BFF Hanna ignore the rants of her mom that something hellacious has occurred. Instead the two girls go outside to look around, but everything seems normal. However, all will soon understand why hell has come to earth as the earth's rotation continues to slow down impacting the size of a day and adversely affecting the environment. Julia has enough social issues with her parents' constant bickering, her seemingly unrequited first love and her grandfather's senile behavior without worrying about the new norm of the Slowing.

With a nod to The Twilight Zone's "The Midnight Sun", The Age of Miracles is an exhilarating apocalyptic thriller. The storyline is fast-paced and Julia is a precocious narrator whose struggles change from typical social fears to adapting to a changing world in which she has either a bleak or no future. Although the cause for the Slowing is not provided, this coming of age tale is an insightful look at how people especially those within a couple of degrees of Julia react to the final countdown.

c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780385341400, $27.00,

On December 11, 2012 in Los Angeles, Presbyterian Hospital's third-year resident Michaela Thane calls Dr. Gabriel Stanton, head of CDC's Prion Center. She says she believes she believes they have a case of Prion Disease. Stanton scoffs at Thane's assertion until she says he seems to suffer from fatal familial insomnia (FFI), but he changes his mind when she also mentions the tests indicate the patient had not slept in a week. Stanton rushes to over to Presbyterian.

Nearby at the Getty Museum, epigraphist Chel Manu deciphers a Mayan codex just given to her by a distraught Hector Gutierrez. As she begins to understand why her Mayan heritage ancestors suddenly vanished and what December 21, 2012 means, Michaela's diagnosis proves correct and soon the greater metropolitan area is quarantined as an epidemic of Prion disease has spread to thousands. To understand the patient they bring in Manu. Soon Stanton and Manu race to the Guatemalan jungle to find a cure to the spreading FFI, which will blanket the world by December 21, 2012.

This is a tremendous medical-Mayan doomsday thriller that grips readers from the moment Thane calls Stanton and never slows down as the clock is running out on preventing a pandemic end of the world. Fast-paced throughout, readers will short list this superb tale as one of the best thrillers of the year.

The Red Chamber
Pauline A. Chen
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780307701572, $26.95,

When Jia Min dies in poverty, her wealthy brother Jia Zheng the Under-Secretary of the Ministry arranges for his orphaned niece Daiyu to come to Beijing to live. She moves into the young unmarried women wing of the extended family's humongous Rongguo mansion. Almost upon arrival Daiyu realizes her maternal grandma Lady Jia loathes her as the offspring of an unacceptable father and knows with simple looks how removed she has been from her affluent relatives as her wardrobe is not good enough for the lowest servant.

Xue Baochai is plain looking but chosen to wed Jia Baoyu. However, he prefers his cousin the pretty newcomer over his fiancee. Jia Lian's wife Wang Xifeng has been unable to provide the heir. He and his mom agree he needs a concubine; and selects Xifeng's loyal servant P'inger. When the emperor is poisoned the new ruler incarcerates those who supported the disposed leader to include the Jia males. Now the women have no men to protect them so they must learn to fend for themselves.

Though the extended duo family trees are needed to keep the names straight, this rewriting of the classic eighteenth century Dream of the Red Chamber by Cao Xuequin is an entertaining Chinese historical. The storyline enables readers to obtain a fascinating glimpse into the lives of aristocratic females who when they are child bearing age are a marital political and social commodity. The storyline starts slow as Pauline A. Chen introduces her ensemble cast by rotating the focus. Once done the plot accelerates into a powerful Chinese family drama as fans will want to know how the various triangles will play out especially after the male angles are removed.

The Impeachment of Abraham Lincoln
Stephen L. Carter
9780307272638, $26.95

In 1865, John Wilkes Booth, supported by several co-conspirators, enters the Ford Theater to kill President Lincoln. The assassin fails to murder Lincoln; though Vice President Andrew Johnson dies and Secretary of States William Seward is so severely injured he is unable to carry out his duty. Booth and his team are executed before they can be properly interrogated to determine who else was involved in their nefarious assassination plot.

Over the next couple of years, Lincoln pushes a Reconstruction agenda that faces strong opposition in Congress who prefers punishing the losers rather than bringing them back into the Union. In 1867, the House of Representatives led by Radical Republicans pass a bill of impeachment against Lincoln. The US Senate will try the President. He hires Dennard & McShane law firm to defend him. They, in turn, employ Abigail Canner, a young "dark nation" graduate of Oberlin College allegedly as a clerk but actually as image confection. She refuses to be an idle symbol so she begins her own inquiry in Washington City to uncover the identity of the rest of the Booth team.

This is an entertaining alternate history based on Lincoln not Johnson surviving and being impeached. The storyline captures the essence of Post-Civil War society through a strong cast especially the middle class heroine, and the politics of the era as his own party fails to heed his words of "A house divided against itself cannot stand" when the Republicans prefer punishment over Lincoln's reconciliation; they use his war powers as the rationale to impeach. The thriller starts fast with the assassination attempt, but slows down for a while before reengaging the reader with the trial and with Canner's investigation.

The Crowded Grave
Martin Walker
9780307700193, $24.95

Apparently PETA activists rip open a fence on the Villatte farm allowing many of the three thousand birds to leave; cars run over a few. As Bruno, his team and his dog Gigi work the fowl containment; an archeological team led by German Professor Horst Vogelstern seeks the remains of Cro-Magnon and Neanderthal in the Perigord region. Instead they find the bones of a corpse wearing a St. Christopher medal and a swatch with a bullet in the skull and the hands tied from behind with electrical wire. St. Denis police chief Benet "Bruno" Courrèges investigates the cold case homicide that is over three decades old.

At the same time, Bruno and his small staff are on alert as a major publicized meeting between French and Spanish officials are in St. Denis. He also struggles with the new magistrate who demands the enforcement of the health codes by the local police; this decree forces Bruno to enforce violations of neighbors for slaughtering livestock without regard to government licensing. To make matters worse, Horst disappears.

The latest magnifique Mystery of the French Countryside (see Bruno, Chief of Police; The Dark Vineyard; and Black Diamond) is a delightful potpourri of murder, various types of terrorism, gourmet dining, and intelligent women competing for Bruno. With a sad but realistic exciting climax, fans will appreciate Martin Walker's superbe gendarme procedural.

Talulla Rising
Glen Duncan
9780307595096, $26.95

Talula Demetriou and two hundred years Jake Marlowe fell in love. However, World Organization for the Control of Occult Phenomena (WOCOP) operatives killed The Last Werewolf, leaving Talula a wealthy widow, but also pregnant though her species cannot reproduce. Grieving her loss, Talulla flees to a hunting lodge outside of Fairbanks to give birth in what she hopes is a safe environment.

Talulla births fraternal twins, but vampires kidnap Lorcan as he is born; their mission remaining steadfast when they chased her and her late mate; as they need werewolf blood to bring back to life their founding father, the most ancient vampire. Feeling guilty, Talulla, her other infant Zoë, her familiar and rogue WOCOP agents pursue the vamps.

As graphic as the first novel was (see The Last Werewolf) with Talulla turning into a gigantic monster devouring anything in her path once a month and the torture she receives while on her quest, this is an exhilarating Lycan thriller. Glen Duncan makes to clear that a Mr. (or Ms.) Hyde monster lurks inside everyone thriving to get out. Not to be read on a full stomach due to the queasy vividly graphic descriptions, fans who appreciate something different in their paranormal reading will enjoy the adventures of mama werewolf who even grizzlies fear going after her young.

The Dog Stars
Peter Heller
9780307959942, $24.95

In the not so distant future, a pandemic flu decimated the world's population. Most of those who survived the initial outbreak succumbed to a fatal blood disease. On top of that a drought left most animal, bird and fish species extinct.

Forty-year old Hig watched his wife and friends die in the first outbreak. He has spent the last nine years in Erie by himself except for his loyal companion Jasper the dog. Hig and Jasper reside in an aircraft hangar with his sole human contact being cantankerous elderly recluse Bangley an expert on armaments. He does fly a Cessna in a tiny radius until he hears a radio transmission that gives him hope to chance a one way flight to the voice.

Hig keeps his stoic first person narration brief, which enhances the specter of his being alone except for his canine as he comes across as a sort of like a young man and the air version of Hemingway's Old Man and the Sea. The storyline is not linear as we learn though from mostly the survivalist dreamer what happened to the planet. As he dreams of a more fulfilling human life, Hig learns that "Look like nothing's gonna change; everything still remains the same" (Otis Redding's Dock of the Bay) with criminals still out there yet like a throwback he still hopes and dreams.

Seating Arrangements
Maggie Shipstead
9780307599469, $25.95

The two extended families gather together for the marriage of seven months pregnant Daphne Van Meter and Greyson Duff at the former's exclusive Waskeke Island summer home. Daphne's Boston Brahmin banker father Winn hits on Agatha the bridesmaid while his wife Biddy runs the wedding events like a General with her mantra to insure no scandals occur though she would prefer her daughter marry for love unlike what she did. Their other daughter Livia remains heartbroken over Teddy Fenn dumping her, but considers a weekend tryst with one of Greyson's brothers while rejecting another of the groom's siblings who openly shows interest in her. In between imbibing Daphne's maternal Aunt Celeste looks over the male attendees like a shark seeking her next "marital" meal.

This lampooning of the American family is a jocular look at two clans merging into one during a marriage ceremony. The ensemble cast comes across as fragile with each trying to hide their flaws with varying forms of bravado. Mindful of Meredith Goldstein's The Singles, although over the three day weekend very little happens beyond satirizing the sanctity of family, fans will enjoy this "Meet the" Van Meters and Duffs.

Getting Over Mr. Right
Chrissie Manby
Bantam Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780345529022, $15.00,

After years of failing at the dating game while her friends paired off with their respective Mr. Right with a tsunami of weddings, a financially and emotionally broke perpetual guest Ashleigh decides no more men. However, kismet strikes almost as soon as the thirty-something muttered no males when she meets Michael with his odd attire at a party.

They hit it off and months later, Ashleigh thinks of their future with children. Everything changes when her hunk obtains a promotion. Instead of Ashleigh and offspring, Michael upgrades into a player. She learns he dumped her when he changes his relationship status on Facebook and defriends her. While in denial as she refuses to accept he ended it, Ashleigh stalks Michael giving him flowers, messages on-line and casting paranormal spells. Her friend Becky and her brother Lucas warn Ashleigh to move on as the rat has a new girlfriend Miss Well-Sprung.

Getting Over Mr. Right is a witty look at the end of a relationship in the social networking era as Ashleigh goes through the five stages of grief customized with voodoo spell-casting. Readers will appreciate Chrissie Manby's profound storyline as moving on by Getting Over Mr. Right seems wrong to Ashleigh.

Lake Country
Sean Doolittle
9780345533920, $15.00

Five years ago, on Minnesota State Road 169 after several nights of little sleep Minneapolis architect Wade Benson fell asleep at the wheel, crossed into traffic going in the other direction, and crashed head on into the vehicle driven by Mankato State sophomore Becky Morse. She dies while he gets probation to include two days a year in jail.

Former marine Darryl Potter is a friend of the Morse family. He believes an injustice occurred that he decides to rectify with an eye for an eye. Potter kidnaps Benson's twenty year old daughter Juliet and heads into Lake Country. His Afghan combat veteran Mike Barlowe realizes what Darryl has done and tries to prevent another innocent dying. Reporter Maya Lamb who was there from the beginning of the tragedy, Buck, bounty hunter Bryce, law enforcement officials and other parties with superego agendas pursue.

Everyone collides in Lake Country as Sean Doolittle provides a powerful regional thriller. Fast-paced and loaded with action, readers anticipate the confrontation while wondering whether Juliet will be the sacrifice to "right" a wrong. Filled with a strong diverse cast that run the emotional gamut, Lake Country is a great thriller.

Playing with Matches
Carolyn Wall
9780345525697, $15.00

In False River, Mississippi, white tweener Clea Shine is raised by her black "Aunt" Jerusha Lovemore though her biological mom lives nearby. While she loves Jerusha and the rest of her "family", Clea wishes her mother would spend time with her and stop sleeping with the townsfolk and the guards at the prison. At school, Clea proves academically superior to the other students, but learns the hard way that she is an outcast due to her being white and her mom's behavior. Finally realizing her mother not only abandoned her but will never love her; a heartbroken and traumatized Clea commits an irreversible act by lighting a fire to her mother's house. The subsequent tragedy has the twelve years old child running away.

Two decades later Clea is the mother of two children and a memoir author. A storm destroys her home at a time when she learns her husband is cheating on her. Once again distraught and feeling unanchored belonging nowhere; she comes home to the welcome of her beloved Aunt Jerusha and a chance to finally confront the ghosts that haunt her as they have when she first lived in False River.

This is a powerful character driven Southern drama starring a sad person who suffers from a belief that she does not belong anywhere as no one except her "Aunt" accepts her (think of Maslow's Hierarchy's third step Love/Belonging. The first part of the insightful storyline is one of the best internal musings of the year; while the second half is also well written, but not quite as dramatic. Although the ending seems abrupt, fans will appreciate this strong character study as the adult is still the child.

When Darkness Hungers
J.K. Beck
9780345525659, $7.99

Vampiric companions Sergius and Derrick see war differently as the former wishes the killing would end while the latter sees the chaos as a time for easy dining as he did back in 1812 and is doing during the War Between The States. Needing to control his feral urges to kill, Serge, accompanied by Derrick, visits Evangeline, daughter of voodoo queen Marie Laveau, to asks for a remedy that will abate his bloodlust. Derrick goes on a rage and Serge loses control after exchanging insults with holier than thou Evangeline.

In the present, Serge resides in Hollywood with his need for blood kill; but he targets those predatory beasts who murder humans. FBI Agent Alexis Martin is in Southern California on a strange case of weird homicides that is also personal as she hunts the vampire who took her sister. When the Fed and the Vamp meet, they are attracted to one another and join forces as they stalk rogue killers while adversaries hunt them.

This Shadow Keepers romantic urban fantasy (see When Passion Lies, When Pleasure Rules and When Wicked Craves) is an exhilarating thriller with a fabulous late twist that will shock the audience who will not be ready for it though clues are throughout the storyline. The lead couple is a nice pairing of two hunters falling in love, which may lead to the deaths of both them.

Can't Buy Me Love
Molly O'Keefe
9780440423072, $7.99

Eighty-nine years old wheelchair bound Lyle Baker, owner of the Crooked Creek Ranch, asks his young friend Tara Jean Sweet to play the role p of his gold-digging fiancee in order for his children, hockey star Luc and Victoria to come home before he dies. She hates the ruse but agrees to Lyle's death bed wish as he saved her life.

Luc prefers to tell his despicable dad to go marry his floozy. However, Victoria wants to see their father. So the siblings and her son Jacob head to Texas. When Lyle dies, his will demands that his offspring remain in Texas or they get nothing. As he and Tara Jean get to know one another, each realizes there is more to the other than bimbo and loather. Though they fall in love, each has a past to overcome if they are to have a future together.

This is a warm serio-comedic contemporary romance starring seemingly emotionally crippled protagonists (and sister) as first impressions are hard to surmount even when proven false. Though the theme of a sham gold-digger has been used before, fans will enjoy this engaging character driven tale as love appears not strong enough to overcome the demons that respectively hunt the lead couple.

The Dark Knight
Elizabeth Elliott
9780553575675, $7.99

In 1293, King Edward assigns assassin Dante Chiavari to use any means necessary even murder to prevent the marriage between Avalene de Forshay and Faulke Segrave. Avalene's aunt and other members of her foster family demand she wed Faulke who plans to use the last Welsh royal as a sacrificial lamb in order to ignite a rebellion against the crown.

Dante arrives at Coleway Castle claiming to be Sir Percival loyal knight pledged to Avalene's late father. He is attracted to her but knows he is unworthy of this woman he considers heaven's missing angel. She shocks him when she begs him, out of his "allegiance" to her sire, to kidnap her as she rejects her aunt's manipulations to pawn her on vile Faulke. He agrees, but Faulke counters his measures at the same time Avalene learns the truth about her hero.

This is an engaging medieval romance starting with Edward's strict order to void the nuptials any way Dante can. Filled with action, the truth sets no one free since now the heroine has one more person to distrust while the assassin reconsiders his liege's instructions as marriage to almost anyone except Faulke is acceptable; by Edward so why not Dante; though he knows he has to keep her free and overcome her disdain of him . Fans will enjoy this wonderful historical as Elizabeth Elliott brings back the Chiavari family (see Betrothed).

The Sweetest Dark
Shana Abe
9780345531704, $16.00

In 1909 a mute ten years old girl wanders lost on the London streets until she is sent to the Blisshaven Foundling Home. They call her Eleanore Jones. She begins to speak with a command and accent of the King's English instead of a guttersnipe; but suffers amnesia and hears voices including songs from objects and inside her head that no one else hears.

In 1915 Eleanore attends the Iversion School for Girls as a rare scholarship student amidst the affluent. At the station she meets obnoxious Chloe and her boyfriend the duke's son Armand. Taken to Iverson Castle by Jesse the assistant groundskeeper, headmistress Mrs. Westcliffe warns her to behave. The duke invites her for tea. The manor house looks like a madman designed it while the duke seems ill and haunted especially when he looks at Eleanore. Unable to sleep that night due to the thunder, Eleanore breaks curfew to run in the woods. She finds Jesse's cottage. He explains to her who they are before kissing her. Armand likes spending time with Eleanore while Jesse wants her too but believes she is still too young. The trio learns what the duke plans for the castle leaving it to them to prevent his insane plot.

This is a strong and spellbinding young adult historical fantasy as the deft metamorphosis of the heroine makes the fantasy elements seem real. The WWI on the home front at an aristocratic school and the institutions the heroine was sent to live at anchor time and place. Although the storyline is slow as the emphasis is on developing the characters so they appear genuine, readers will want to find out the mystery of Eleanore.

Fever Moon: The Fear Dorcha
Karen Marie Moning, David Lawrence, Al Rio (illustrator) and Cliff Richards (illustrator)
Del Rey
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780345525482, $25.00,

The Lord Master pulled down the Walls enabling the demonic Unseelie Fae to escape their 500,000 years of incarceration in a wasteland. They swamped Dublin leaving many humans dead and much of the city eradicated; the world has not fared any better. However, these malevolent Unseelie and their Quisling supporters made one major mistake in Ireland when they raped but failed to kill Mackayla "Mac" Lane, as she has become the most potent adversary the evil Fae face.

However though she has matured due to constant combat and has met twisted allies like Jericho Barrons and V'Lane, Mac has not encountered the deadliest Unseelie; a Fae that the Fae fear as the Fear Dorcha who has brutally hunted anyone in his path on several worlds including the genocide of humans, sometimes out in the open. He has come to Dublin to collect body parts from fifteen victims that will become him as he mutilates those in Mac's circle with her being his final target. Mac, with her Spear of Destiny and Barrons, expects her existential existence will expire once this monster comes for her, but she plans to stand her ground against this invincible fighting machine.

This is a terrific graphic comic that apparently occurs just before Shadowfever. The adaptation by David Lawrence engages fans from the moment the vilest villain in the series to date arrives (hat in hand) in Temple Bar to collect body parts and never slows down as he closes in on Mac. The colorful illustrations by the late Al Rio and Cliff Richards enhance the "Fecking-A" superb storyline.

Year Zero
Rob Reid
Del Rey
9780345534415, $25.00

Music is the universal language except copyright law could leave those who illegally downloaded in exorbitant debt. Untalented ETs discover the joy of human music on earth. However, they soon receive a bill for millions in fees. The only way to make remittance is to eliminate the bill holders, which means destroy the Earth so no debt collector can call on them.

However, Frampton the mullah and Carly the nun think eradication is too radical because that would be the day the music died. They explain to music lawyer Nick Carter that they love human pop music since they found earth back in Year Zero (circa 1977). However, no one was aware of copyright laws that if enforced today would bankrupt the universe. They hire him to negotiate licensing before time runs out on planet earth.

This is an engaging amusing satire that lampoons the capitalism of the music universe and hardware-software providers. Nick is an intriguing hero who needs to remember that Dent and Prefect failed to save planet earth as they had seconds to hitch a ride while he has forty-eight hours to save planet earth. The shelf life appears limited due to ironically the engaging storyline's strengths of absurdity, hyperbole and fun footnotes that seem destined (in some cases rather quickly) to become obsolete (sort of like the Cold War movie 1 2 3). Still Rob Reid provides a wonderfully jocular science fiction tale that mocks the music-internet industrial complex.

Sky Dragons
Anne McCaffrey and Todd McCaffrey
Del Rey
9780345500915, $26.00

The plague killed many dragons leaving Pern vulnerable to the deadly Thread more than ever before. Dragonriders led by Xhinna and her blue dragon Tazith fight the Merows and tunnel-snakes for control of an isolated island. However, females never ride blue dragons and never become a Weyrleader. Thus a gender pioneer, Xhinna must overcome sexism by proving her worth in combat as a leader and subsequently gain the support of the reluctant other dragonriders.

Jirana has the skill to foresee multiple possible futures. She vows to help Xhinna at a time when the colony is in trouble with the future lying in the past.

The final Dragonriders of Pern (see Dragon's Time) is an exciting climax to an enjoyable saga that pays homage to the late Anne McCaffrey. The start of the storyline sends readers on to the island without explanation as to how the dragonriders ended up here; readers need patience as the mystery is cleared up much later with a satisfactory rationale interwoven within Xhinna's growing desperation. Although the plot contains that deja vu sense of pending Thread doom, Pern fans will want to dragon ride led by team McCaffrey.

Madame Serpent: A Catherine de' Medici Novel
Jean Plaidy
Touchstone Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
9781451686203, $16.00,

In Florence, her father Pope Clement VII arranges for his fourteen years old daughter Caterina de' Medici to marry the second son of the King of France Prince Henry of Orleans; as she leaves behind her beloved Ippolito. However, when she meets her fiance, Caterina quickly realizes Henry has no interest in her as he loves his mistress Diane de Poitiers.

Prince Henry ignores his wife for his mistress even after they have children. When his older brother the Dauphin and then his father die, Henry becomes the king. Diane's influence is even stronger as visiting dignitaries pay her homage by kissing her hand rather than the Italian wife. However, bitter Caterina accepts the affronts as she stoically plans to insure her offspring one day will sits on the throne while also patiently waiting for the right moment to remind the manipulative Diane just who the queen of France is.

This reprint of the first Jean Plaidy Catherine de Medici tale (released in 1951) is an engaging historical that brings to life the French court during the middle of the sixteenth century. The key triangle is fully developed as fans will understand what motivates the lead to act as each does. However, the action feels tame compared to contemporary written historical biographic fiction. Still readers will know why the late Ms. Plaidy is highly revered by the sub-genre as the author enables her audience to get deep into the heads of the three protagonists especially the maligned queen.

Going to the Bad
Nora McFarland
9781439155578, $15.00

At the KJAY newsroom in Bakersfield, California Lilly Hawkins TV news photographer is on the assignments desk when she hears a cop reporting over the police scanner to dispatch that gunshots were fired at 173 Jefferson St. Stunned as this her address, Lilly fears what happened to her live in lover Rod.

Using her station's equipment, Lilly rushes home to find a mixed blessing; Rod is alive though bloody, but her beloved Uncle Bud is fighting for his life while in a coma as the blood on Rod is his. Lilly is angry and despondent as Uncle Bud loved her and always had her back though he operated in the gray areas of the law. Rod informs her that he never spoke a word to Uncle Bud. While Uncle Bud undergoes desperate life-saving surgery, Lilly looks for his would be killer. She learns Uncle Bud's contacts are linked to something horrible he did five decades ago. A billionaire wants to insure these misdeeds never become known, which means using individuals to watch over Lilly and make sure she never guesses the truth.

The latest Lilly Hawkins Mysteries (see A Bad Day's Work) is a taut investigative thriller as the intrepid news photographer works a case involving her ICU uncle and other eccentric characters; her usual sarcastic humor, enables her to witness the vilest crime scenes, to relieve her stress. Fast-paced and filled with angst, Nora McFarland provides a terrific tense tale that looks deep into the soul of the heroine in the midst of plenty of exciting action.

The Conviction
Robert Dugoni
9781451606720, $25.00

In Seattle, attorney David Sloane's sixteen year old "son" Jake Carter continues to get in trouble as he has since he witnessed the murder of his mom who was Sloane's wife. Sloane has struggled with her death too, but has begun to move on. When Jake is arrested for the second time, Sloane and the lad's father Frank persuade the court not to incarcerate him. His friend police detective Tom Molia invites Sloane and Jake to join him and his son TJ on a camping trip in Truluck, California.

However, the teens are caught breaking into a store trying to retrieve Jake's driver's license taken earlier by the proprietor. Winchester County Judge Boykin coaxes guilty pleas without council from the two defendants. They are sentenced to six months at six months Fresh Start, the Winchester County-owned wilderness boot camp where teens enter but never leave alive.

The latest Sloane legal thriller is an exciting "frontier justice" tale (see Wrongful Death and Murder One) as the legal efforts to free the teens fail. The storyline is filled with action though the actions of the cop and the attorney are at best unlikely while what they failed to do even more improbable. Still fans who ignore their plausibility meter will enjoy this entertaining story.

Cat In A White Tie And Tails
Carole Nelson Douglas
c/o Tor Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765327475, $24.95,

Las Vegas public relations expert Temple Barr accompanying by Midnight Louie travels to Chicago to meet the family of her fiance radio star Matt Devine. While she goes to the Windy City, her former fiance counterterrorist magician Max Kinsella recovers his memory he lost when he suffered injuries while looking for the evil Synth magicians' organization. Police Lieutenant Carmen Molina drafts Max to help her investigate cold case murders in which he is her only suspect; Midnight Louise diligently guards the recovering amnesiac.

Meanwhile Kitty "the Cutter" O'Connor is back in the States after a stint in Ireland where Max was MIA; her return means trouble with a humongous T for anyone unfortunately in her deadly radar . In Chicago, Temple deals with her future mother-in-law's plans for the wedding but the latter's past surfaces with the cat-napping of Louie.

The latest Midnight Louie Anthropomorphic Mystery (see Cat In A Vegas Gold Vendetta) is a wild affair filled with terrific tense thrilling twists and soap operatic family drama. Series fans will enjoy the father and daughter feline duet working the tail of two cities.

The Cryptos Conundrum
Chase Brandon
9780765318770, $25.99

In 1916 twenty something Columbia Professor Dr. Jonathan S. Chalmers serves as an American volunteer in France. Currently the unit of this mathematician-engineer is in Verdun when the Germans release poison gas. Though his friend dies, he miraculously survives because an unknown entity saves his life though he wonders afterward if he suffered battle fatigue or a weird effect of the attack as apparitions don't exist.

By December 7, 1941, Chalmers has a PhD in statistics from Harvard, a PhD in philosophical epistemology and astrophysics from Cornell as well as PhD in mathematics and engineering physics from Columbia. He once again enlists in the infantry as he did back in 1916. However, the OSA recruits Chalmers, who has not aged since he was twenty-six in Verdun. Soon he becomes a high ranking member at the OSS and the CIA where he works at the Covert Staging Compound Office of Strategic Assessments Davison K Task Force. With the help of Savantis Ga'Lawed, if the spirit exists as the genius believes he saved his life back in 1916; Chalmers creates worst-case scenarios involving human survival over several millennia based on past achievements.

The Cryptos Conundrum is a fascinating refreshing tale based on intriguing generational models. The star is brilliant though readers will wonder if what he sees and develops is the result of a mind destroyed by gas or the mentoring by an essence from beyond. At times too much history and speculation overwhelm this cerebral science fiction tale, still fans who appreciate something unique in their speculative fiction will want to set aside plenty of time to read Chase Brandon's engaging epic.

The Far Side of the Sky
Daniel Kalla
9780765332332, $26.99

In 1938 the Nazis deploy Kristallnacht murdering many Jews in Germany and Austria. Those who did not die in the "Night of Broken Glass" live in fear of repeat terrorism.

Adolf Eichmann orders Dr. Franz Adler to leave with his family immediately or he will join his late brother who died on that night of terror. The only place accepting Jewish refuges is Japanese-occupied Shanghai so Franz, accompanied by his daughter Hannah; his widowed sister-in-law Esther; and his gay friend Ernst head to China by sea. In Shangri, Adler meets nurse Soon Yi "Sunny" Mah at the hospital for Jewish refugees. As they fall in love, Adler struggles between the Hippocratic Oath and his family's safety while the Japanese are making the Jewish stay in Shanghai increasingly dangerous.

This is a great historical thriller that focuses on an extremely dark era as readers see first-hand the suffering of the Jews and the Chinese. The key to this engaging WWII drama is that the various ethnic groups are filled with the good, the bad and the ugly as even in its darkest ethnic cleansing there are rays of light by brave souls risking their lives for strangers.

Island Apart
Steven Raichlen
9780765332387, $24.99

No one knows his name. He came to Chappaquiddick years ago and became known as the Hermit. This recluse rarely visits the "urbanized" areas on the island unless he has no choice and never crosses over to Martha's Vineyard.

Book editor Claire Doheney has suffered two major setbacks as she has breast cancer surgery and her marriage ended. Her friend allows Claire to use her home on Chappaquiddick to heal and to edit a biography on controversial therapist Wilhelm Reich. Not a soul would have guessed that the Hermit will save the editor when he finds her unconscious and takes her to the ferry captain. She leaves him cranberry nut bread as a thank you and soon they exchange food gifts and ultimately dinners as they fall in love but his traumatic past still lingers in the way.

This is an engaging island drama starring two people with no chance at love succeeding as the way to a person's heart is through their stomach. The Reich entries are fascinating with insight into the controversial twentieth century therapist, but also detract from the prime storyline of the editor and the hermit forging a relationship as Claire quotes John Donne that "No man is an island."

Burning Midnight
Loren D. Estleman
9780765331205, $24.99

Detroit Police Homicide Division Inspector John Alderdyce worries about his son's Mexican brother-in-law, Ernesto Pasada who has been seen hanging around the city's Mexicantown with the local branch of the Maldados gang. Alderdyce asks his friend private investigator Amos Walker to find a way to inform the Maldados to forget about Pasada.

Walker enters Mexicantown where the Maldados and the Zapatistas gangs compete for control of the turf. Soon after he begins his mission, war breaks out between the rival gangs. As he tries to end the hostilities, Walker finds evidence that an international mob is manipulating both Mexicantown gangs. However what to do with his proof is difficult to decide; as he knows each gang prefers to kill first and ask questions later.

The twenty-second Amos Walker PI thriller (see The Left-Handed Dollar and Infernal Angels) is a great tale that grips the audience from the moment Alderdyce becomes Walker's surprising client and never let's go until after a brilliant climax. Readers will praise Loren D. Estleman as Burning Midnight will be on the short lists for thriller of the year.

Sasha Plotkin's Deceit
Vaughn Sherman
Camel Press
9781603818117, $16.95,

In 1972 after spending two years as a geographical bachelor in Viet Nam while his wife and kids resided in the Seattle area, CIA officer Chris Holbeck is now home with his family. However, he receives a call to come to headquarters. His disappointed wife Lisa warns him that if he works this case, she will leave him. Chris flies to DC where he learns KGB operative Sasha Plotkin has surfaced and wants to defect but only to Chris. The Agency wants Plotkin hoping he identifies the high echelon mole who sold secrets that led to the death of undercover operative Han Weiner.

In 1968 Stockholm, American Embassy's First Secretary Bill Broom invites Chris and Lisa to a gala because they fluently speak Swedish. At the party, he meets Swedish Foreign Office's Chief of Protocol Peter Palmstjerna; a few weeks later Peter invites them to a bash he hosts. There they meet Sasha Plotkin; both spies immediately recognize the other as comrades in arms albeit opposite sides. They become friends. The Russian asks his American counterpart to help him defect. Chris arranges the escape, but on D-Day Sasha fails to arrive and soon afterward the American realizes the extent of the Russian's deceit. Now three years later Sasha wants his friend to help him defect.

This exciting Cold War espionage thriller is a character driven tale that brings to life the Nixon Era through the cast as even the parties display tension while the backdrop of Stockholm during the Swedish anti-Vietnam War protests enhances that sense of moving back to a dangerous time. The storyline is fast-paced as the audience will obsess over what Sasha Plotkin's Deceit is as Vaughn Sherman provides a strong period piece.

Breakfast in Stilettos
Liz Kingswood
Camel Press
9781603818780, $13.95,

Seattle Sun Times Senior Editor Kenner assigns thirtyish Lifestyles Editor Emily Royce to cover the city's "slutterati" community. Emily does some research and chats with her ex Seattle Zealot columnist Frank Trager who ended their relationship abruptly for no apparent reason. When she has no one to go with her, prudish Emily agrees to allow Frank, who has been there, to escort her to the Slutterati Salon.

Emily meets six foot plus fetish friendly sex therapist Dr. Rachel Steiner and sub Pixie Caldwell as part of her research. On line subs beg her to spank them. As Emily waits on line for Frank to arrive so they can enter the salon together, she meets programmer Joe Stratton. Inside, Emily is shocked yet excited by what is going on though Frank dumps her while Joe escorts her. She begins to learn more about herself and Frank over a glass of wine.

Not for everyone, Breakfast In Stilettos is an intriguing unique BDSM second chance at love tale. The magnificent Em makes the storyline work as her metamorphosis rings true albeit perhaps her acceptance is too fast; after she spent too much of the early plot moaning about losing Frank while everyone else groans too frequently he is a loser. Fans will enjoy visiting the Slutterati Salon with Liz Kingswood as out escort.

Nowhere to Run
Nancy Bush
Zebra Books
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
119 West 40th Street, Floor 21
New York, NY 10018-2522
9781420125016, $7.99,

Olivia "Liv" Dugan celebrates her sixth birthday though her toddler brother Hague upsets her. After eating cake, Liv watches cartoons when she hears her Mama cry out. She goes to check on her Mama while noticing the door opened. Mama tells her to go back to the den and she will join her soon. When Mama fails to come to the den, Liv goes to the kitchen only to find her hanging dead.

Almost two decades later, Liv receives a package that Mama had left in trust for her when she turned twenty-five. Inside are pictures, a birth certificate, and a strange note that makes no sense to her. Liv obsesses with knowing the entire truth about her Mama. When she returns from lunch to her office at Zuma Software, Liv is shocked to find everyone murdered. She assumes she was the intended victim with her Mama's package the motive though she is unaware why. She trusts no one and believing she is followed Liv carjacks a random vehicle driven by Detective August "Auggie" Rafferty. She tells him her story, which he believes is either BS or delusional until incidents occur. Now they team up trying to understand why something that happened twenty years ago is leaving innocent people dead while Liv is the prey of a predator.

Nowhere to Run is an action-packed thriller that keeps the romance between the heroes to a minimum (though the attraction is unneeded) as the focus is on survival and the investigation. Auggie's teaming with a civilian even an endangered one seems odd though arguably he also trusts no one with her safety. Readers will be hooked with a need to know the roots of why in this exciting romantic suspense.

Don't Say a Word
Beverly Barton
9781420110371, $7.99

In Chattanooga, the vicious "Tongue Slasher" serial killer haunts the city as even a judge is unsafe from this psychopath. The Tennessee Bureau of Investigation Special Agent Will Brannock and Detective Julia Cass, new to the CPD and sister to his TBI peer J.D. (see Don't Cry), lead the inquiry.

While both law enforcement officials know ending the hideous Tongue Slasher's reign of terror is top priority, they are attracted to one another. However, Julia pegs him as a player so rejects any relationship besides professional and Will has a past that prevents him from pursuing his temporary teammate. As they work the case, they find too many suspects, but diligently try to eliminate most of them before another victim is gruesomely slaughtered.

This is a fast-paced direct sequel to Don't Cry as some of the dangling threads continue in this police procedural. The killer's scrap book will bring chills to the audience as does his gruesome crimes. Fans will appreciate this strong thriller as the late Beverly Barton, known for her taut tales, provides a terrific tense romantic suspense.

Stalking The Others
Jess Haines
9781420124026, $7.99

In New York, H&W Investigations operative Shiarra Waynest is depressed with recent events. She feels she has enough on her plate with her hunter's belt turning her into something she does not want to be. However her unhappiness stems from feeling Deceived By Others; her cheating ex-boyfriend Chaz and his Sunstriker werewolf pack. Not only does she think they are a crime ring, but they murdered Jon Pradiz. Finally as she counts down the days to the Full Moon since being scratched by one of the Sunstriker Lycan mob, Shia fears she may turn into a rogue werewolf if she lives that long as she is Hunted by the Others.

Not one to hide and wait, Shia decides to assault the Sunstrikers. She turns to the White Hats for help. After her first kill, Shia better understands the hunter belt "resident" who persuades her that her enemy is vampiric club-owner Alec Royce.

The latest H&W Investigations urban fantasy (see and Taken by the Others) is an entertaining bloody thriller as the acrimonious heroine takes the war to her paranormal adversaries. The storyline is fast-paced and Shia's angry attitude seems correct for what has happened to her; while the insight into the belt is intriguing. However, there is no climax as this is a set-up book.

Desire Becomes Her
Shirlee Busbee
9781420118445, $15.00

He escaped Madame Guillotine thanks to Emily who married his half-brother Barnaby and her smugglers (see Rapture Becomes Her). So when Emily's obnoxious cousin Jeffery Townsend begins fleecing an intoxicated Harlan Broadfoot, Lucian Joslyn decides to intercede on the foolish lad's behalf. Unable to resist the challenge of beating "Lucifer" as Luc is known in gambling holes, Jeffery accepts a game of hazard. He wins back the boy's losses and takes him home without telling anyone who actually won the game.

Luc comes across a broken phaeton with injured Silas Ordway stranded there. He helps get the elderly man to safety. A few days late, Luc visits Silas to see how he is doing. There he meets Silas' niece Widow Gillian Dashwood, who allegedly killed her gambling odious husband. Also at Silas' home are Gillian's brother Stanley and his friend Lord George Canfield who blackmails Gillian. As Luc and Gillian fall in love, they are forced to marry when caught in a compromising position, but he knows she conceals something from him that he fears could cost her life at a time when Emily and Barnaby need his help against angry avenging smugglers.

The latest "Becomes Her" historical romance (see Passion Becomes Her) is an engaging late eighteenth century tale due to a strong support cast including returnees and the mutual dichotomous distrust and attraction between the protagonists. The storyline is action-packed as the two subplots come together nicely though the romance between the lead couple follows too closely a traditional "path" even with the freshness brought by their interfering families including some nasty ones. Fans will enjoy the tale of the gambler and the Widow falling in love before learning to trust.

21st Century Dead: A Zombie Anthology
Christopher Golden
St. Martin's Griffin
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312605841, $15.99,

This nineteen story anthology follows up on The New Dead with a solid collection based on the premise that death and resurrection is an everyday Z day occurrence. All the entries are well written with no clinkers, but only a few provide freshness (only so many ways you can walk the dead). The best tale is "How We Escaped Our Certain Fate" as Dan Chaon explores the zombie grief cycle starting with the perquisite of love. Exciting "Parasite" occurs in the Robopocalypse world of Daniel H. Wilson. Home, hearth and zombies are a major theme of several contributions like Chelsea Cain's "Why Mothers Let Their Children Watch Television", "All the Comforts of Home: A Beacon Story" by John Skipp and Cody Goodfellow, "Couch Potato" by Brian Keene and Mark Morris's "Biters." 21st Century Dead is an entertaining Zombie Anthology.

Hex Appeal
P.N. Elrod (Editor)
St. Martin's Griffin
9780312590727, $14.99

"Retribution Clause" by Ilona Andrews. Frost giant cousin of Saiman (see Kate Daniels), Adam and his partner Siroun enforce a life insurance retribution clause to assassinate anyone who killed their client.

"Bigfoot on Campus" by Jim Butcher. Bigfoot hires Dresden to find his son because he fears his offspring is in danger.

"Holly's Balm" by Rachel Caine. Holly the witch resurrected Andy (see Strange Brew) but now works a paranormal serial killer case.

"Snow Job" by Carole Nelson Douglas. Delilah Street, Paranormal Investigator, reluctantly assists her enemy Snow by entering the Inferno Hotel and Casino.

"Outside the Box" by P.N. Elrod. Hard boiled (female Vampire Files' Fleming) Mars the witch works as a Company field operative who, along with her partner Ellinghaus the vampire, go after a fledging to bring the newbie back to headquarters.

"How Do You Feel" by Simon R. Green. In the Nightside, Walker informs Dead Boy that his death thirty years ago was deliberate.

"There Will Be Demons" by Lori Handeland. Summer the fairy met Jimmy the dhampir because they hunt Nephilim (see the Phoenix Chronicles).

"Cherry Kisses" by Erica Hayes. The Demon hires Lena the troublemaker to obtain an amulet in Hell (see Shadowfae Chronicles).

"The Arcane Art of Misdirection" by Carrie Vaughn. In Vegas, Julie the blackjack dealer watches a man and then a woman win every hand; magician Odysseus Grant tells her how (see Kitty Norville).

These are nine entertaining entries from each of the contributors' urban fantasy sagas that fans of the respective series will enjoy. For the most part, newcomers will struggle with understanding the specific laws of magical physics.

A Kingdom Divided
Alex Rutherford
St. Martin's Griffin
9781250007292, $15.99

In 1530 the Moghul Empire creator Emperor Babur dies. His twenty-three years old son Humayun is crowned the new Emperor. However, unlike his sire who was considered formidable by all, Humayun is considered weak by many in the inner circle because he is an opium addict and is a sex fiend with a vast harem though married to Hamida, and obsesses with an astrological dependency sated by his key advisor Sharaff the astrologer.

His three half-brothers (Kamrun, Askari and Hindal) unite to oppose him. Dishonoring his late father, Humayan and his army retreat from the wrath of the stronger forces of Bengal humble origin Sher Shah abetted by Kamrun the traitor. He remains in exile for years trying to regain his throne for himself and his heir Akbar until he realizes the Moghul Empire his father created for a thousand miles below Punjab is in peril.

The second Empire of the Moghul is an exciting historical thriller that continues the action from the first tale (see Raiders from the North). The story line is loaded with action especially the battle scenes and filled with a taste of life in the sixteenth century India subcontinent. Although one must wonder whether the opium warped his brain as Humayan meets the classic definition of insanity when he consistently forgives his siblings for their betrayal expecting their loyalty until the cycle repeats itself. Still fans of historical tales will enjoy team Alex Rutherford guiding readers through turbulent sixteenth century Asia.

This Is Not a Test
Courtney Summers
St. Martin's Griffin
9780312656744, $9.99

When her older sister Lily fled from their physically abusive father, she left her younger sibling Cortege High School junior Sloane as his only victim. With mom buried, six months since Lily betrayed her when she abandoned her, Sloane increasingly considers suicide.

Her "To be or not to be" contemplation ends when the world ends. Sloane and five other teens (Harrison, Grace, Rhys, Cary and Trace) are trapped inside the high school prison while outside zombies over run the town. The sextet easily converts the building into a fortress knowing that for now they have plenty of food and water. As they struggle to survive in an oasis surrounded by hell, power fights occur while Sloane thinks of what she will say to lily when they next meet.

This is an intriguing young adult zombie thriller that focuses on staying alive rather than on the nightmare outside the school; ergo the action is limited while how the characters behave during the crisis is the prime storyline. The six protagonists have different personalities though we meet them through Sloane's melancholic filter or in-fighting; Harrison showcases her lens as the readers learn almost nothing about him compared to the others except in Sloane's mind he is a weeping non. Dark with a sort of On the beach (by Nevil Shute) mentality, fans who enjoy a psychological thriller will want to read this fascinating zombie apocalypse now.

Dark Destiny
M.J. Putney
St. Martin's Griffin
9780312622862, $9.99

After helping with the Miracle of Dunkirk and subsequently rescuing Jewish scientist Dr. Weiss and his family in 1940 (see Dark Passage), Merlin's Irregulars have no time to celebrate as one of them lord Justin Allard has a vision of a Napoleon invasion. The Team (Lady Victoria "Tory" Mansfield the mirror master, her boyfriend Lord Justin Allard the mage, Elspeth the healer and the two weather mages Lady Cynthia Stanton and Jack Rainsford) rush back to 1804 to thwart Napoleon's plans but has little success in preventing a French invasion.

When the French land in Wales, Merlin's Irregulars realize they need help so they turn to their friends and allies from the future Nick Rainsford and rookie telepath Rebecca Weiss for assistance. They hope Rebecca can get inside the Little Dictator's head to change his mind about crossing the Channel. Time is running out on England as the Irregulars with Rebecca end up behind enemy lines amidst the Army of Boulogne.

The third Dark Mirror young adult historical fantasy is a super tale that digs deep into the impact on the key ensemble Irregulars by a society in which the upper class disdains magic while the peasants embrace it; as personal decisions made will change the status of some. The insightful story line as plenty of action, but also contains passive reflections on the effect of de facto prejudice by family members and religious fanatics on the Irregulars in 1804 England. M. J. Putney provides an engaging thought provoking thriller that her teen audience will relish as there is no dumbing down, but to the contrary treats fans as intelligent.

Midnight Lover
Donna Grant
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312552497, $7.99,

Deirdre the evil Drough Druid killed Duncan Kerr and left the dead warrior's brother Ian a mental cripple struggling to contain the blood thirsty god Farmire that resides inside him. Making it worse she sent him from 1603 to 2012 where he hid in a cave but now considers going to Macleod Castle as a voice in his head insists.

Since her Aunt Josie died five years ago, Danielle Buchanan the Druid has felt alone. When she finds a key in the snow, she knows her magic compulsively makes her return the object; this time the whispers tell her to head to MacLeod Castle. Wyrran attacks Dani, but Ian, sensing druid blood nearby, saves her life. Dani explains her obsession and Ian reluctantly agrees to accompany her. As she also teams up on his dangerous quest, they fall in love, but even meeting his seventeenth century comrades in arms does not abate the dreaded Deirdre scheme that seems imminent.

The latest Dark Warrior (see Midnight Masters) spin off thriller (from the fabulous Dark Sword saga) is a strong entry as trust issues complicate the good and evil war. Action-packed from the moment Ian rescues Dani and never slowing down, fans will appreciate this superb time travel urban fantasy starring two wonderful heroes and a strong support cast.

Death, Taxes And Extra-Hold Hairspray
Diane Kelly
St. Martin's Press
9780312551285, $7.99

Dallas IRS Criminals Investigations Office chief Lu Lobozinski is on sick leave undergoing chemotherapy. Special Agent Eddie Bardin has been temporarily promoted to replace Lu while she undergoes cancer treatment. Eddie's partner Tara Holloway is working solo on two complicated cases as no other agent is available; that is except Nick Pratt who is the only she has not asked to assist her.

Nick agrees to join her as long as she does not play her Anne Oakley or "Sperminator " acts. Tara and Nick visit militant secessionist August Buchmeyer who refuses to acknowledge the IRS as he claims the Lone Star nation is an independent country. Their other inquiry focuses on Pastor Noah Fischer who claims his Ark Temple of Worship mega-church as a tax shelter.

The latest Tara Holloway IRS criminal investigation (see Death, Taxes, and a Skinny No-Whip Latte) is an engaging thriller filled with humor and serious issues especially the religious con man pulling the wool over the eyes of his flock. The Lone Star Nation subplot would be amusing except for the Governor making similar statements last year showing there is red meat support for secession. Fans will enjoy Tara's taxing cases as she finds Nock the most troubling of all.

A Dangerous Kiss
Francis Ray
St. Martin's Press
9780312536497, $7.99

Manhattan restaurateur Summer Radcliffe and sports consultant Payton "Sin" Sinclair have known each other for years. However, recently both find themselves secretly attracted to the other; wondering if their feelings are a second order effect of the engagements of their friends C.J. Callahan and Cicely St. John (see With Just One Kiss) and Dianna Harrington with Alex Stewart (see A Seductive Kiss).

Summer decides to take a chance on love while Sin feels schizoid as he wants to risk his heart too but hesitates. She refuses to back away as Summer believes her love is returned. However, Sin has a terrible secret that makes him fearful of any permanent relationship.

The latest Grayson Friends Kiss trilogy is a terrific tale that brings freshness to the trite theme of old friends falling in love (When Harry Met Sally). The key to this strong suspense is the secret that has Sin rejecting love; as Francis Ray shows why she is one of the best contemporary writers by keeping the audience's attention with a need to keep reading to learn what Sin hides what disturbs him so much. A Dangerous Kiss is a strong romance with a powerful family issue.

Spring Fever
Mary Kay Andrews
St. Martin's Press
9780312642716, $25.99

In Passcoe, North Carolina, even as a teen Annajane Hudgens loved Mason Bayless, the brother of her BFF Pokey. The Bayless family owns the Quixie Beverage Company where Annajane works. Annajane and Mason eventually wed but their marriage fizzles out though several years after their divorce she continues to work in marketing for his family firm.

Mason's brother Davis hires consultant Celia Wakefield. Celia becomes engaged to Mason. Before she leaves for Atlanta to start over, as a gesture to her stepdaughter Sophie, Annajane attends the wedding of her ex to the 'phony" as Pokey calls Celia. However, as Sophie walks down the aisle, she suddenly falls and shouts to her daddy it hurts. While Davis takes Celia and his mama to the country club, Mason, Poppy and Annajane accompany Sophie to the hospital. As Annajane delays leaving town because of her love of Sophie, the child and her Aunt Pokey plot to bring the divorcees back together while the other brother and the fiance have a scheme going too.

Spring Fever is an entertaining North Carolina family drama that uses a mom and pop operation as the backdrop to an engaging regional intrigue. The storyline rotates between the present "crisis" and the married past of the protagonists as surprising secrets are revealed. Although there is a good, bad and ugly classification to the cast, fans will enjoy drinking cherry pop in Passcoe, North Carolina.

Harriet Klausner
Senior Reviewer

Laurel's Bookshelf

The Extinctive Life
Carol Adler
Dandelion Books
1960 W. Keating Ave. Ste. 236
Mesa AZ 85202
9780978961176, $9.99,

With her typical panache, Carol Adler shatters aging stereotypes through sexy humor in this fictional romp. Whether readers are single, separated, divorced, unhappy, or getting older and unable to change that reality, they'll find a common thread in The Extinctive Life.

Seventy-ish CoCo Bernstein relocates from Florida to Arizona in hopes of enriching a life gone stale. Good genes, a positive philosophy and a bit of work on her part keep CoCo looking and acting much younger than her age. She figures we're all on our way to extinction, so why not have fun on the way? And CoCo does have fun! She still looks great in a bikini, still turns male heads everywhere she goes, and still enjoys all the tasty perks that make living worthwhile.

I don't want to reveal much of the plot because living life through CoCo is a big part of the adventure. But I will say that a much younger man is enthralled by the seventy-year-old blonde beauty who grazes on granola and Godiva chocolates, and he makes her an offer too good to believe. Together, CoCo and Jonas set out to circumvent a world that creates problems - war, drugs, disease - because there's big money in such tragedies. They turn out to be an ideal pairing in every way imaginable.

This is rousing good fun that also addresses some somber topics. I promise that readers will never see senior citizens as old, doddering shells again, once they've met CoCo Bernstein. If you feel stuck or trapped, read CoCo's story to learn how she avoids boredom. This book is a fun read with mature themes, recommended for adult readers.

Laurel Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Lorraine's Bookshelf

Spirit of the Ojibwe
Sara Balbin, James R. Bailey, Thelma Nayquonabe, authors
Sara Balbin, portrait artist
Holy Cow! Press
Box 3170, Mount Royal Station, Duluth, MN 55803
9780982354506, $28.95,

"Spirit of the Ojibwe: Images of the Lac Courte Oreilles Elders" is a stunning collection of 32 sensitive, carefully composed portraits of Ojibwe elders, warrior men and women, members of the Lac Courte Oreilles Band. These individual faces and lives form a web of memory and history for the ongoing members of the Lac Courte Oreilles Band of Lake Superior Chippewa and other Anishinaabeg. The original Band of Ojibwe Indians left Madeline Island (in Lake Superior) in the 1740's and traveled south to "Odaawaa Zaaga'igan, the place where they found the dead Ottawa." This area, in northern Wisconsin, became part of their last reservation,having lost their lands to nonNative takers. This courageous group faced a long history of irregular employment after the lumber industry failed, and the forcible relocation and 'education' of their children in off-reservation boarding schools. Most painful of all, they endured the shame of having their culture held in contempt, their traditions forgotten and dishonored. "Spirit of the Ojibwe" is a magnificent recapturing of individual lives lived in response to these hardships. It is also a gift to present and future Ojibwe and all cultures.

The details of the written thumbnail biographies express a spiritual response of strength, beauty, humor, and determination. These details are further enriched by the portraits themselves, a blend of realistic and symbolic details that tell more of the stories of each individual's background and traditional origin. Some of the names of elders whose portraits are presented are "Judge Edward "Ed Barber (circa 4-19-17 to 4-12-2002), Ruth Carley (circa 3-23-21 to 5-4-2004), Edward "Scoop" Martin Sr. (circa 8-24-12 to 3-27-99), and Mary "Babe" Theresa Corbine Trepania (circa 8-4-1896 to 2-26, 1983). Included in the portraits are haunting images of important or sacred animals, birds, or places special to each individual. A brief reference to an Ojibwe Creation story describes the origins of the Anishinaabeg and family clan system is found in the first chapter, Genesis (pp. 18-19). This tale lists five original totems or clan animals, including the Fish, the Crane, the Loon, the Bear, Moose Tail and the Marten. However today there are between 15 and 20 family clan badges with different Totems. Thus the traditions of clan history and Totems is complex and varied.

In addition to the introduction and the 32 portraits and biographies, the final chapter is a key to understanding "Spirit of the Ojibwe." Titled "Odawasagagegun: A Brief History of Lac Courte Oreilles" and written by Rick St. Germaine Migizi, this illustrated chapter elaborates a history of the area held by the Lac Courte Oreilles Band from the mid 1740's to the present, tracing many shifts, changes, challenges and issues faced by the now 6,000 member Band. Rare black and white photographs illustrate different Band members living in the area over a large time span. Although cultural conflicts may have forced the birth of the Lac Courte Oreilles Band, their endurance has been characterized by a firm clinging to the heart of Ojibwe traditions, religion, and culture. "Spirit of the Ojibwe" is a great gift from that heart.

Saved by Beauty
Michael O'Neill McGrath, author/artist
World Library Publications
3708 River Road, Suite 400
Franklin Park, IL 60131
9781584595762, $39.95

"Saved by Beauty: A Spiritual Journey with Dorothy Day" is a biographical exploration of the life of a modern Catholic saint, illuminated by stunning paintings from the life experiences, hopes, and visions of Dorothy Day (1897-1980). Further illuminated by carefully chosen quotations from St. Francis de Sales, the Psalms, and "The Hound of Heaven," a mystic poem by Francis Thompson about 'the human heart's attempts to run and hide from God, symbolized by a hound on the hunt for a human soul', the life and works of Dorothy Day makes for exciting reading, a vivid life pursued with a continual awareness of being mysteriously haunted by God. A feast for the eye and ear, "Saved by Beauty" is 100 compact pages of exquisitely sensitive narrative intensely underscored by both the beautiful literary quotations, visionary material, and the fabulous colorful modern paintings of possible scenes from the life of Dorothy Day. This inspirational illustrated biography is an absolutely first class study of the fascinating spiritual evolution of a devoted modern mystic, committed to abiding faith in the transformational power of the love of God.

The Caldwell Collection of Viols
Catharina Meints Caldwell, author
John Pringle, notes on the instruments
Thomas G. MacCracken, notes on the makers
Music Word Media
6 Warren St., #1F, Hudson, NY 12534
9781937330187, $54.00,

"The Caldwell Collection of Viols" (book and 2 CDs ) is a spectacular catalog of the amazing Caldwell collection of twenty-two 17th and 18th century viols that have each been restored to playable condition. The catalog includes 2 CDs of performances on 17 of the viols (by the author) of music written close to the time and place where they were made. The large reference text is richly embellished with over 200 color photographs of the instruments, with identifying details featured. This unique collection is displayed to full advantage in this volume, with a wealth of historical background about each instrument's history and making. Including important period representatives of the viola da gamba, quinton, and cello, the Caldwell Collection is uniquely celebrated for the fact that each stringed instrument has been restored to playable condition. Both a work of history and a work of art and pleasure, "The Caldwell Collection of Viols" is a beautiful volume with CDs that enriches both a specialty music library and a general arts library. Students of the viol who consider traveling to Oberlin will find "The Caldwell Collection of Viols" a resource to be savored and treasured.

Children's Dulcimer Chord Book
Lee "Drew Andrews
Mel Bay Publications, Inc.
#4 Industrial Drive, Pacific, MO 63069
9780786676187, $5.99,

"Children's Dulcimer Chord Book" is an easily read chord diagram book for children dulcimer performers. Page 2, How to Read Chord Diagrams shows simple explanations of the chord fingering schema for the child's left hand, playing chords on the strings. Each page following has the title of the chord at the top, with black and white photos of the chord fingering along side the diagrams of the chord and following playing instructions in meter. Thus are presented the placement and fingerings for over 13 basic chords, including the D chord, G chord, A chord, A7 chord, Em chord, Bm chord, F#m chord, C chord, F# chord, GM7 chord, Em7 chord, Am chord, E chord, and the E7-Em6-Em9 chords. The "Children's Dulcimer Chord Book" is a clear and concise chord instruction manual for children ages 6 and up. Also recommended from this publisher are the following children's educational music books: "Easy Classics for Viola with Piano Accompaniment" by Peter, Jannette and Laura Spitzer (978078660131, $19.99), "The Celtic Collection (book and CD, Mountain Dulcimer)," by Lorinda Jones (9780786664832, $19.99), "Celtic Songs & Slow Airs for Mountain Dulcimer (book and CD)" by Neal Hellman (9780786668922, $22.99), and "100 Legendary Rock Drum Fills" (book and CD) by Jason Prushko (9780786683796, $17.99).

22 Sacred Gems
Santorella Publications
13 Pleasant Avenue, Danvers, MA 01923
TS59, $12.95,

Containing intermediate piano arrangements for beloved sacred songs with guitar chords noted, "22 Sacred Gems" is a boon to contemporary Christian worship service music. Some of the favorite selections include Lift Ev'ry Voice and Sing, In the Sweet By and By, His Eye Is On the Sparrow, Blessed Assurance, The Lord is My Shepherd, Nearer My God to Thee, The Holy City, and With God's Hand in Mine. Arrangements are familiar and as originally published, in easily sung registers. All copyrights are secured, and all composers and lyricists are listed. "22 Sacred Gems" is sure to supplement many church musicians' repertoire for popular service music. Gospel, contemporary, and traditional sources of hymns are noted. This collection is very user friendly. Additional songbooks from this publisher that are highly recommended include "Promises, Wedding Classics for Piano," arranged by Jonathon Robbins (TS058, $14.95), "Elegant Wedding Classics," Piano Solo Vocal, (JT51, $12.95), "Irish Favorites for Easy Piano," arranged by Tony Santorella, edited by Jonathon Robbins, (TS121, $8.95), and "Italian Favorites for Easy Piano," arranged by Jonathon Robbins (TS122, $8.95).

Nancy Lorraine
Senior Reviewer

Micah's Bookshelf

God's Prayers
John Canzanella
c/o Buy Books On The Web
1094 New Dehaven Street, #100
West Conshohocken, PA 19428-2713
9780741475381 $18.95

God's Prayers is a collection of free-verse poetry with a deeply religious and spiritual theme. History, English, and philosophy teacher John Canzanella weaves verse from the perspective of God himself, portraying how the Creator might have perceived the inception of His son, the Devil, and Man. Each page of poetry is paired with a striking, full-color photograph of a classical statue or a beautiful natural scene. "You sleep, satisfied with dreams, and awake, / You are frightened by nightmares. / But I sleep with my nightmares, and awake to my dreams. / I dreamed of you, O Man. / Hear my dream." A deeply contemplative work, God's Prayers is an inquisitive imagining of the unknowable mystery that is God's mind.

Breakfast with Satan
Ar Benali
Balboa Press
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781452547893, $12.99,

Stories share experiences, and we learn much about life from those experiences. "Breakfast with Satan: 8 Inspiring Stories" is a collection of short fiction from Ar Benali, who writes of stories exploring faith while not focusing on one particular faith in his looks at faith and life. With a good dose of knowledge and much to ponder, "Breakfast with Satan" is strongly recommended for short religious fiction collections.

I'm Not God
Frank Nunez
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781469979533, $9.99,

It can prove quite had to sell homes when the industry is going to hell. "I'm Not God" is a memoir of one such realtor in the midst of the housing bubble burst and the financial collapse that happened around it. Offering an inside and personal perspective of the problems within, "I'm Not God" presents a fine and much recommended pick for those who want another perspective on the economic crisis.

Hollywood and Catholic Women
Kathryn Schleich
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781469782195, $17.95,

The portrayal of women is swiftly changing in today's society. "Hollywood and Catholic Women: Virgins, Whores, Mothers, and Other Images" explores how Catholic women are portrayed in a vast array of movies from traditionally catholic films like 'The Bells of St. Marys', to darker movies such ash the Godfather and series such as the Sopranos, and even odder cases such as Dogma. "Hollywood and Catholic Women" is an intriguing read for followers of both film and Catholicism.

Dawn at Tepeyac
Dexter Allen
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781468015805, $11.95,

On the backs of firepower and disease, the Spanish conquest of Mexico was swift and drastically changed the region. "Dawn at Tepeyac" focuses on the visions of the Virgin of Guadalupe in 1531 and how this inspired a rise of Catholicism in Mexico that remains to this day. Dexter Allen blends history and creative nonfiction to create a sample of that period, creating an intriguing historical journey. "Dawn at Tepeyac" is a strong pick for history collections focusing on Latin America.

As I Write These Words to You
Samir Georges
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781469773759, $19.95,

Poetry can capture culture and present it to others. "As I Write These Words to You" is a collection of poetry by world traveler Samir Georges as he presents his work that reflects on what he has seen and what he has grown to believe. "As I Write These Words to You" is worth considering for those seeking heartfelt poetry with a world weary vibe. "Odin": Old God of man, Rust ridden, cobweb stricken./Crumble into, shatter into,/Stale, old, and brittle,/Lethal combination of decay./Like all of man's ideals,/Our morals, man, will.

Infinite Poetry
Jakey Ercanbrack
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781468529256, $14.95,

Poetry is the method of using words in ways we never knew, to see things we never knew. "Infinite Poetry" is a collection of poetry from Jakey Ercanbrack as he seeks to bring readers on a thoughtful journey of the mind and how to better understand infinity. "Infinite Poetry" is worth considering for those seeking insightful and thought provoking poetic work. "The Lion": As he sits on his bucket of despair./I'm aware of consciousness that's bare./Do we wish on things that are untrue?/No I'm not going to be blue./ Fragments of thought, o with the lessons I have taught./I have also fought, for this deep thought./Fragments within perpetual bliss./A deep forest of the mind that is made of this./Is this characteristic within the moral of life?/Do I believe there is something more after you die?/Yes I do and it is true and maybe the same./But me I am a lion which is never tame.

Micah Andrew

Shelley's Bookshelf

Death by Bridle
Abigail Keam
Worker Bee Press
P.O. Box 485
Nicholasville, KY 40340
9781467517355, $15.00,

Abigail Keam is a mystery writer and professional beekeeper, and she has won awards in both fields. She lives in Kentucky, horse country, with her husband and pets.

Josiah Reynolds is back in the sleuthing business, with her sexy bodyguard Jake, her gay friends Matt and Franklin, her huge dog named Baby, and various and sundry characters who inhabit the Kentucky bluegrass horse racing area of Lexington, Kentucky. Josiah has a bodyguard because during her last foray into amateur investigating, or being a "nosy Parker," she and her assailant fell off a forty-foot cliff and her dog was shot. It is just the luck of the draw that Jake is the strong, silent type:

"I clutched my robe at the throat while leaning over the steaming water to get Jake's attention. He rose up like Nix, the Norse god of lakes - water streaming from his long, blue-black hair and down his ruddy, muscular body. 'What's up,' he asked, wiping hair from his eyes. He looked at me from under thick, dark eyelashes."

Everyone has been helping Josiah recover, but suddenly she is left alone to solve the murder of a wealthy horseracing neighbor, witnessed by her attorney, Shaneika's nephew, Linc. Linc is in the hospital, is nine years old, and is terrified to speak. Josie swings into action in her usual disarming way and naturally gets herself into all sorts of scrapes along the way. Her usual response is: "Jumping Jehoshaphat!" DEATH BY BRIDLE is as fast-paced and full of personality as we have come to expect from Abigail Keam. A really great read!

Shelley Glodowski
Senior Reviewer

Shirley's Bookshelf

Mystery Time
Janet Hannah
Outskirts Press
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432788445, $16.95,

We are introduced to this story at a conference in Prague, where Scientist have gathered to share information with one another. It is here that Dr. Green is killed on stage as he is about to give a lecture. It is believed that he is the victim of local criminals. Strange however are his last words, could they point to another killer? And why did he mention one man's name? Two Professors, Hildegard Kraus and her colleague Alex Kertesz, are left wondering just that question. There is also a gold watch missing, taken by the killer? Perhaps, but if so why? And just what is so special about this watch, could it be the visions that are sometimes received when certain people handle it?.

I liked this read, I felt the author did very well with her character development and local descriptions. She definitely made you feel as if you were right there, be it at one's home, or in the midst of dire circumstances. I especially liked Alex and the way that she played him in the story and his relationship with Hildegard. He seemed a man of depth, mysterious himself in a way. I was drawn by the mystery of the watch and wish our author had gone a little deeper into that area. Perhaps given some references more to the past and perhaps a few more examples of others having visions. I feel that part of the story could have been developed a little more. This story was not a quick page turner. It was more of a relaxed read. Don't misunderstand me, there were some parts where you hoped the character made it out alive, but it wasn't that frantic feeling that some books leave you with. I am not saying this was a bad thing, actually it was a pleasant read with two mysteries that left you looking for clues and answers. All in all a job well done, a story well written.

Erik Hansen
Outskirts Press
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432786960, $11.95,

I was impressed with this collection of poems by author, Erik Hansen. His words were rich in deep meaning from within. Some use wild life such as Visitors, the Hummingbird. Others reach into our own soul such as, Fear. That poem definitely was inspired. I also especially enjoyed the poem, Spring. Closing my eyes and thinking of the words I could smell the flowers and see the rainbows. I enjoyed this collection and I believe you will as well.

Parrot & Sweeney
Alan Roberts
Outskirts Press
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9780982755082, $15.95,

Inside this outstanding read we meet two very interesting men, Chief Superintendent, George Parrot and, Inspector Daniel Sweeney. These two men work together to solve cases. I liked the way the author developed these characters bringing out their personalities at their job and in their personal lives. In doing this, you, as the reader, are drawn more into caring what happens to them. That definitely keeps you reading.

There are three stories in this read, each one chuck full of suspense and the 'who done it?' question that is a must for any good mystery read. Mr. Roberts did a very good job describing the locals and bringing them clearly to your minds eye. He gave hints along the way, but also added some twists that could lead you down a deadend. I really can't tell you which story I liked the best because each one was an exceptional 'stand alone' read. I truly enjoyed everything about this book and I am happy to give it a high recommendation. Well done, Mr. Roberts.

The First To Say NO
Charles C. Anderson
Outskirts Press
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432791032, $25.95,

I was quickly drawn into this read by author, Charles C. Anderson. The story, if you will, is set in Parkview Hospital emergency department in Virginia. It is here that we meet Dr.Kate Taylor as her story and so many others begin to unravel. It seems many of the doctors and nurses are being rapped and other acts of violence are occurring that are not being dealt with. People come in and use the hospital to 'get fixed up' so they can go back out and do their drugs, stealing and killing, all at others expense.

Kate lost her father at a young age and the one tender memory she had was with him at the local park. Now that memory has been tarnished by a gang called the Plagues who are overtaking the city. The danger or going to the Park, or anywhere alone is wide spread. This gang kills, steals and rapes at will, not being stopped, even by the local police, who are now on their payroll. In this story Kate decides enough is enough and gathers those she can trust to fight back. She does not have the backing of the hospital, or the police, but she has behind her what is right.

I was amazed at this read and upset. I suppose I do not want to think that there are so many who will turn their heads not to stop evil just for the mighty dollar. I was also upset to finally understand how much of our nations finances are being thrown away just to help heal druggies who will not accept help to stop their habit. There are so many needy elderly people that are not receiving help or just the poor that are turned away, this truly is not fair and should be stopped. This is a great book, although troubling, the truth that is brought forth should be read by every American. Thank you Dr. Anderson.

Quest For Good Manners
Karin Lefrane, author
Hannah Neale, illustrator
Emerald Book Company
PO Box 911869, Austin, TX 78709
9780983045908, $16.99,

In this delightful tale we meed a young lady named, Rosalind, and her flame spraying dragon, Sparkler. It seems the Queen is quite upset with their manners. After all burping and shooting flames at dinner certainly is not how one should act. That said the Queen gives them three days to learn good manners or she will banish the dragon. Oh my! Princess Rosalind and Sparkler travel for three days learning manners from different ones such as, a wizard, a fairy and a lady. Does Rosalind and Sparkler learn their lesson or is Sparkler banished forever.

This is a really nice book. the illustrations are bold and colorful and definitely help to bring the story alive. The entire concept of the read is excellent in teaching children good manners because it is done in a fun way. I liked how the author did give consequences to not obeying what the Queen wanted, children need to learn that their actions cause consequences, either good or bad. This is definitely a great learning book that is delivered in a fun entertaining way. Recommended.

Talking With Trees - Be Bigger
Colleen Doyle Bryant, author
Manuela Soriani, illustrator
Love Well Press
9781477403754, $9.99,

I have had the privilage to review other 'Talking With Trees' books by author Coleen Doyle Bryant and I was happy to review this one. As usual you are immediately drawn to the bright, large illustrations that are found on each page. I love the way the tree looks, showing expression throughout the read. Great job. In this book we meet a little girl who finds she is jealous over a certain friend, who also has another friend. Hum.....I think we all have been there. Our tree beings to speak with her, telling her a story about her grandma and how she also went through something just like her. The little girl is amazed that he even knew her grandma and immediately takes note of what Mr. Tree is telling her.

This is another great book by author, Coleen Doyle Bryant. I love the way she uses the tree and the relationship it had with a person the child lovess to help solve the issue. Our author does a good job in playing everything out so children will be able to relate to the hurt and anger, but also see that there is a solution. Also, they are not the first one to ever feel the way they do. If you have not had the opportunity to share one of these outstanding 'Talking With Trees,' children's books, I truly encourage you to. Great illustrations, great lessons, all tied up in a wonderful story. Highly recommended.

Lemon Meringue Pie Murder
Joanne Fluke
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
859 Third Avenue, New York, NY 10022
978-0758211484, $9.99,

I didn't realize how much of a treat I was in for when I began this read by author, Joanne Fluke. I met Hannah and absolutely loved her character. She would fit right in with my friends and myself. I also enjoyed all the other characters that were brought into the read. Norman, someone who has his eye on Hannah, has bought a house and wants Hannah to go and look at it, of course her mom is leading the way. I think Mom would like for Hannah to marry, Norman. Unfortunately while there, Mom finds a dead body, and so the rollercoaster ride begins as the search for the killer is on.

To me, this was a great read. It had all the elements of good murder mystery but was packed with lots of cozy things in between. I think just enough hints were dropped here and there, but no, I didn't solve the mystery and actually I was disappointed to find out who did it. I liked that character, so perhaps I better be careful who I like in the future. All in all this was a perfect read, not too long, not dragged out, but just right. I haven't tried any recipes yet, but plan to give them a try in the near future. Mysterious and fun. Good job!

The Cracked Pot
Melissa Glazer
Wheeler Pub Inc
10576 Broadview Rd.
Broadview Heights, OH, 44147-3227
9780730495889, $9.99,

Carolyn Emerson is the main character of this read. She acts tough, but you can see right through that to a heart of gold. She is married to Bill, and in this read they draw closer as their lives are in danger. Bill is excited about meeting a renowned potter, especially since that is the business Carolyn is in. However, he disappears and his car is in front of Carolyn's house. Why? is the question. When a body is found and Carolyn's assistant and best friends son is suspected, Carolyn and her group pull out all stops to find the true killer. It seems there are some hidden secrets in this town that many do not want exposed and will stop at nothing to keep them a secret, even more murders. Wow! All in all, this was really enjoyable. It was cozy, yet mysterious. The characters were lively and real to life. And to top it off, I learned some things about pottery and it was fun to see or imagine the different pieces Carolyn made. She even has some tips on pottery at the end of the book. Anyway, I didn't figure out who the killer was, but that's normal for me, but I did enjoy trying. Very enjoyable read, relaxing, yet mysterious.

Growing up Italian in the 50's
Thomas Depaoli
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781467992367, $14.95,

I believe most of us love our family and family memories are always something we treasure in our heart. Author, Thomas Depaoli, has gone one step forward and has written a delightful book to share the treasures of his heart. He has included precious pictures of himself and those important to him. These definitely helped to bring the memories alive, and give visual. Thomas grew up in the fifties, a time when America was about families, love, guidance, and doing what was right, just because it was right to do. A good time to live, a good time to grow.

Thomas takes us down Memory Lane as he shares the love and devotion of his parents, and grandparents, the unity of his aunts and uncles, the giggles of youth, and the honor of serving, God, and knowing that indeed it was an honor. Each memory is precious to him, and as you read, they will definitely strike a cord in your own life as you silently remember as well the days of your youth.

Sometimes it is good to stop, reflect on the past, and remember where you came from and perhaps change around just where you are going. This book will serve several things. You will enjoy sharing Mr. Depaoli's memories, but you will also stir up the precious memories of your own. You will think, perhaps laugh, perhaps cry, but your heart will be awakened, if just for a moment, and perhaps you can recapture a memory that will change your tomorrow. Very heart felt and well done.

Shirley Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Taylor's Bookshelf

J.S. Breving
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781462007745, $23.95,

A thousand years apart is not as far as one would think. "Machinations" is an original take on science fiction as J. S. Breving presents a novel over a thousand years between two individuals facing very different lives. A young man named Drew who is trying to find the dark secret behind his town, and a professor a thousand years in the future facing his own secrets. A fascinating style, "Machinations" is reading worth considering, recommended.

Zombie Necropolis
Bryan Cassiday
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781470094980, $22.95,

The zombie apocalypse is one people dread, but looming hordes of the undead won't stop mankind from sabotaging its own success. "Zombie Necropolis" is a novel of a forth coming zombie apocalypse as CIA Black Ops agent Chad Halverson is faced with a world turning undead as he tries to lead survivors to safety while dealing with the corruption of his upper ranks. "Zombie Necropolis" is worth considering for those who enjoy horror and stories of zombie-driven nightmares.

Boys of Africa
Linda Pierce Plues
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781462055968, $25.95,

An upbringing in a country far different from your own is very different, no matter the color of your skin. "Boys of Africa" is a memoir and biography of two young men growing up in Africa, as their mother Linda Pierce Plues writes as their mother and the challenges of raising children as a member of the Peace Corps and how growing up can be different throughout Africa. "Boys of Africa" is a strongly recommended pick for those seeking a memoir of living and growing across the world.

Roosevelt's War
Paul D. Lunde
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781462069767, $33.95,

FDR will remain a controversial figure throughout history. "Roosevelt's War: What Really Happened During World War II" is an interpretation of the presidency of Franklin Delano Roosevelt, who faced an onslaught of major conflicts throughout the 1930s and 1940s and landed a lasting impact on history. Paul D. Lunde draws on history and law to interpret Roosevelt's many acts, and makes "Roosevelt's War" a book well worth considering.

Thoughts from God's Favorite Child
Kristina Smith
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781468541335, $23.95,

Devotion to God's ways and will presents much direction in many lives. "Thoughts from God's Favorite Child" is an inspirational and faith-driven memoir from Kristina Smith as she shares the place of God in her life and how it has helped carry her through many of life's challenges and let her flourish. "Thoughts from God's Favorite Child" is well worth considering for those seeking a highly motivational and devotional memoir, recommended.

John Taylor

Vogel's Bookshelf

The Secrets of Magic and Metaphysics
Lynette Asmar
Balboa Press
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781452503622, $24.99,

To learn the secrets of the universe is alluring, but few know the things they tempt with fate. "The Secrets of Magic and Metaphysics" is a fantasy following Stanley who is in pursuit of the metaphysical and magical world. Facing off an evil sorcerer of the fourth dimension, Stanley will learn the danger that comes with this mysterious power, very much recommended reading. "The Secrets of Magic and Metaphysics" is a strongly recommended addition to fantasy collections.

Original Virtue
Robert Granger
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432790035, $10.95,

We must look deep inside ourselves to find the drive to succeed that lies in all of us. "Original Virtue" is an inspirational and spiritual book from Robert Granger as he presents his own spiritual view of our lives and its place in coping with the world around us and overcoming life's fears with much success. "Original Virtue" is a spiritual and much recommended pick for those looking to drive themselves further through life.

We're Tipping Over!
Andy Feld
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781462058310, $10.95,

The many ideas that piece together our world often keep us thinking and trying to piece it all together. "We're Tipping Over!: The Urgency to Rethink Government, Business, Heart, and Soul" is a discussion of society and its path, as Andy Feld presents his ideas on a world that is unable to sustain itself in the future. With plenty of ideas to find a better future, "We're Tipping Over" is worth considering for social issues and self-improvement collections.

Breaking the Devil's Heart
H. A. Goodman
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432790790, $18.95,

Heaven and Hell aren't as simple as Black and White. "Breaking the Devil's Heart" starts off with the murder of Stewart Willoughby as he faces the afterlife, and finds it more complicated than angels and devils. Stewart finds his new purpose in his afterlife is a complex one to go against the bureaucracy of hell and end evil. A thoughtful spin of faith and the nature of good and evil, "Breaking the Devil's Heart" is a strongly recommended pick for fantasy fiction collections.

Montezuma's Rage
Antonio Grimaldi
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781468549553, $19.95,

A lost empire is something very hard to revive. "Montezuma's Rage" is a historical novel following the last prince of the Mayan Empire Teoxi, as he faces the loss of his kingdom and his journey to restore it against the approach of the Aztecs. Having to find the lost treasures of the empire and recruit those who would support him in his suicidal endeavor, "Teoxi, Mayan Prince" is a fine entry into Antonio Grimaldi's 'Teoxi, Mayan Prince' series.

Plural Wife
Martha Bradley
Utah State University Press
7800 Old Main Hill, Logan, Utah 84322
9780874218749, $34.95,

Polygamy (the practice of having multiple wives) was first established in the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints (commonly referred to as the Mormon church) by its founder, Joseph Smith Jr. When Smith and his brother were murdered by a mob the Mormon church broke into two major factions. One, which was called the Reorganized Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints was lead by Joseph's first wife Emma and their son and repudiated polygamy. The larger faction was led by Brigham Young and continued to practice polygamy when it relocated to the Great Salt Lake Basin in Utah. As a condition of acquiring statehood and to put an end to Federal interference, the successor to Brigham Young as the leader of the Mormon church formally ended the sanctioned practice of polygamy. This in turn created addition factions within the Mormon population that saw polygamy as a divine commandment and a continuing necessity. Mabel Finlayson Allred was a wife of Rulon Allred, leader of the Apostolic United Brethren, one of the major groups of fundamentalist Mormons who, since about the 1930s, have practiced plural marriage as separatists from the mainstream Latter-day Saints Church. "Plural Wife: The Life Story of Mabel Finlayson Allred" her 216-page autobiography that offers a kind of window into an otherwise obscure subculture with respect to the 20th Century practice of polygamy which was outlawed by secular authority and suppressed by the larger religious community from which it had originally sprung. Informed, informative, thoughtful, thought-provoking, "Plural Wife" is highly recommended reading, especially for the non-specialist general reader with an interest in the continuing subculture of polygamy.

Paul T. Vogel

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

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