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MBR Bookwatch

Volume 10, Number 12 December 2011 Home | MBW Index

Table of Contents

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

Cowper's Bookshelf

Squeeze the Most Out of Your Money
Patrica Stallworth
9780978550271, $19.95,

Good money management makes money last. "Squeeze the Most Out of Your Money: A No-Nonsense Money Management System to Maximize Your Dollars and Minimize Your Money Stress" is a guide to financial planning from Patricia Stallworth as she states that money should work for you, understand what your money is doing, avoiding debt, and keeping a wise and thought out plan. Drawing on her own experience as she nears two decades involved in financial planning, "Squeeze the Most Out of Your Money" is a powerful read for any who want to manage their money that much more effectively.

Ordinary People, Extraordinary Planet
Shellie Hipsky
KMR-Media Publications
9780983869900, $18.95,

There are countless people who make all the difference in the world and push it forward. "Ordinary People, Extraordinary Planet" is a compilation of stories on many everyday people all over the world who do their part in making a difference for the world. Taking a stand for what they believe in, these stories of real people prove quite remarkable and makes for a very much recommended read, not to be missed. "Ordinary People, Extraordinary Planet" is an excellent pick and very much recommended reading for community library social issues collections.

I Have Seen Enough
Rod G. Bjordahl
Vantage Press
419 Park Ave. South
New York, NY 10016
9780533163953, $13.95,

There is no more sobering profession than one of a medical doctor. "I Have Seen Enough" is a blend of poetry and fiction of Rod G. Bjordahl as he tells of his past in the medical profession, seeing people at their most vulnerable, the impact on his life, and how it all blends into something that resembles a life. "I Have Seen Enough" is a unique collection, much recommended. "Counting": I do believe/I can/Remember each time/We have made love.//I enjoy retesting/That thought/keeping count with/Pounds of my heart.

The Sixth Sun
Ted Barber
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781456701499, $17.72,

Deep into history, deep into prehistory, the origins of man and its future have always fueled debate. "The Sixth Sun" delves into Ted Barber's tale of mankind and the Osiriat, an ancient alien race who watched mankind survive and hoped to inspire them forward, proposing what he believes is a possible next 4300 years. "The Sixth Sun" is a choice pick for anyone looking for metaphysical fiction, recommended.

Elizabeth Clayton
Trafford Publishing
1663 Liberty Drive
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781426920264, $25.00,

When thought flows, it should flow freely. "Musings: Verses Across the Year" is a collection of free form verse from Elizabeth Clayton, who shares her views and passion of the world in quite the original way. "Musings: Verses Across the Year" is a worthy choice for poetry collections. "A Way": The sun glanced the furniture,/touching, retreating,/and in its silent, lighted movement,/I heard memories that illuminated my being./The memories spoke of life,/of light and shadow,/of the strong and the weak,/of the true good./These visiting,/of silent, speaking lights,/allow to me a way.

Before the Lights Go Out
Quiniece Sheppard
Infinity Publishing
c/o Buy Books On The Web
1094 New Dehaven Street, #100
West Conshohocken, PA 19428-2713
9780741465351, $14.95,

Physical intimacy is more than sex. "Before the Lights Go Out!: 11 Keys to Achieve Real Physical Intimacy" is a guide from Quiniece Sheppard as she delves into what makes intimacy work in a relationship, and states that it takes a lot to delve into the soulfulness of true physical intimacy, from everyday actions to making great sex greater. "Before the Lights Go Out!" is a fine pick for anyone who wants to create a greater bond of life.

No Room for Vengeance
Victoria Ruvolo & Robert Goldman
Privately Published
c/o Strategies (publicity)
PO Box 178122, San Diego, CA 92177
9780983627180, $15.95,

Forgiveness is the ultimate gift, and it is often the hardest to give. "No Room for Vengeance..." delves into the story of Victoria Ruvolo, who struck with a reckless action which almost claimed her life. Instead of actively crusading against the one who wronged her, she offered forgiveness and asked him for the chance to make a difference. A unique story of the power of forgiveness and life, "No Room for Vengeance" is a strong pick for memoir and inspirational collections.

I am Diving
Joseph Valentinetti
JV Radio Pictures
9780983406310, $12.95,

JFK was a victim of circumstance. "I am Diving" is a novel exploring another theory of JFK's assassination, one that places the president as collateral damage, as the assassin was aimed at the lesser known politician with him, Governor John Connally of Texas. Painting a picture of a disgruntled marine who is angered over the sinking of the Submarine Thresher, whose faulty design was approved by then secretary of the Navy Connally. Offering a different perspective that has some fact to the legend, "I am Diving" is a unique take on the JFK assassination.

Mary Cowper

Donovan's Bookshelf

Pabby's Score
James Ross
Nightengale Press
370 S. Lowe Avenue Suite A-122, Cookeville, TN
9781933449982, $19.95,

PABBY'S SCORE is the fifth from the Prairie Winds Golf Course setting. The novel explores the effects of social media systems, legal communities and secret society connections in daily life. While it uses characters and settings from prior novels by James Ross, PABBY'S SCORE needs no familiarity with the other books and stands well on its own.

The plot explores a community of golfing buddies as well as judicial and legal members but focuses on two special needs children from a foster home environment. When legal and ethical insights enter the social mix the reader is exposed to a striking novel that considers the judicial process and its failings using everything from Internet dating to dementia and corruption as its subjects.

PABBY'S SCORE opens at the Prairie Winds Golf Course, where a host of characters meet and interact. All kinds of current issues are discussed within the member circle. However what comes to the forefront is lawyer misconduct, a frayed honor system that inflates legal bills and corruption that reaches to the top rungs of the justice system.

Pabby, a special needs, borderline autistic teenager displays savant-like tendencies and rapidly becomes a clubhouse favorite of the regulars. His lovable manner and unusual skills earn him some degree of attention. But a golf cart accident produces an expensive lawsuit, special interests, a reluctant insurance settlement and a huge price tag that involves the golfing community, lawyers, judges and an out-of-control court system.

Pabby lives in a foster home and is up for adoption - but becomes unwittingly immersed in adult concerns and underlying secrets. His instructor is found beaten and Pabby is missing, but the case of a runaway teen takes an unexpected twist.

On the surface what seems a disparate set of circumstances revolving around different members of different groups turns into a smooth set of interconnected events towards novel's end.

Accidents, investigations, intrigue and cover-ups are only a few of the subplots that join different themes and bring PABBY'S SCORE to an unexpected, satisfying conclusion.

Diane C. Donovan
Senior Reviewer

Dunford's Bookshelf

Neon Panic
Charles Philipp Martin
Vantage Press Inc.
419 Park Avenue South, 18th floor
New York, NY 10016
9781936467136, $14.95,

With street gangs, murder is almost expected, but it's truly shocking when it comes from a truly unlikely source. "Neon Panic" is a suspenseful mystery from Charles Philipp Martin, telling of a young woman who meets her end and the search of Hong Kong Police inspector Herman Lok as she tries to find the truth behind the strange conspiracy behind the death and murder. Delving deep into Hong Kong, "Neon Panic" proves to be a read that will keep readers guessing, very much recommended.

Christians with Pervasive Issues
Annie Brown
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432775766, $13.95,

Even with God by your side, life can feel all too overwhelming. "Christians with Pervasive Issues" is a self-help and inspirational guide from Annie Brown as she advises readers to find their way with their faith and life to deal with the crushing issues that can pressure us to be pushed astray. "Christians with Pervasive Issues" is a fine discussion of Christian life and finding the strength to go on.

Donna Doty
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781456731274, $16.99,

In one body, two souls, dedicated to another. "Marla" is a unique blend of romance and the metaphysical, as author Donna Doty tells of Marleen and Carla, who can shift their minds between their bodies, and find their love both focused on Earl, through marriage and lust. But their unique predicament only grows stranger s they find their bond was not what it once was. "Marla" is an intriguing spin of story, very much recommended reading.

Four Scoops is Over the Top
Alex Carrick
Privately Published
9781463631383, $13.99,

For pet owners, nothing beats a good pet story. "Four Scoops is Over the Top: 36 Entertaining, Original, Short Stories and Poems" is an assortment of pet prose, poetry, and other writings that are certain to delight many readers whose pets bring them a good dose of joy every day. "Four Scoops is Over the Top" is a strong and much recommended pick for any community library collection focusing on pets.

Chisos Mountain Sunset
Jimmy Patterson & Tom S. Morgan
iUniverse, Inc.
c/o AuthorHouse
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300
Bloomington, IN 47403
Smith Publicity (publicity)
1930 E. Marlton Pike, Suite I-46
Cherry Hill, NJ 08003
9781450295895, $16.95,

Some people are beyond redemption, but the law says everyone deserves defense. "Chisos Mountain Sunset" follows Garrison Trask, a devoted anti-death penalty advocate in Texas, who is charged with preventing a remorseless killer from being sent to death. A legal thriller with an original angle and much to speak on, "Chisos Mountain Sunset" is an intriguing piece that will be hard to put down.

Year 50
Geoff Bluske
Privately Published
9781463777173, $11.99,

On the fringe of extinction, it will take bravery to persevere. "Year 50" is a science fiction novel set in a future where humanity is nearly extinct, and the last human colony is struggling to survive against the combined cruelty of nature and an alien species. Calypso has been raised from her young life to fight them, and it's now on her to save her colony by finding the medicine they need. "Year 50" is a riveting novel that should prove hard to put down.

Satellites Out of Orbit
Chris Wind
9781926891163, $14.99

The role of woman has always been in question throughout history. "Satellites Out of Orbit" is a collection of short stories and other mediums of fiction from Chris Wind as he explores feminism in historical contexts through mythology, history, classic literature, and lore, many questions are asked and many answers are presumably found. "Satellites Out of Orbit" is an excellent and much recommended pick for unique fiction collections.

The Moon From Every Window
Rob Griffith
David Robert Books
PO Box 541106, Cincinnati, OH 45254-1106
9781936370474, $18.00,

We face life changing encounters everyday. "The Moon From Every Window" is a study of life through verse from Rob Griffith as he touches on the importance of our daily meetings in life with those we call our love, our family, and our friends. "The Moon From Every Window" is a fine assortment of work, very much recommended. "Patchwork Garden": Shadow sunflutters/Beneath the dark pine, wingbeats/Of sunlight in spring.

Michael Dunford

Greenspan's Bookshelf

The Money Plan
Steven J. Lee
Vantage Press Inc.
419 Park Avenue South, 18th floor
New York, NY 10016
9781936467006, $24.95,

Wealth is sustained and kept well through decades. "The Money Plan: Creating Wealth Independence for a Secure Future" is an advisory for readers to best gain a greater understanding of finances and attaining good and sustainable wealth for years to come. Steven J. Lee, longtime man of business and investment, advises readers on how to invest well and do it in a way that it proves to sustain in a wise way, and work with one's own preferences. "The Money Plan" is a strong pick for anyone looking to break into the investment game and wants to do so responsibly and to keep their future secure.

You Can Shoot 70 at 70
Marica J. Hootman
Privately Published
9781463536152, $14.95,

Golf may not seem like a rough physical endeavor, but age can put a real dent in one's game. "You Can Shoot 70 at 70: Age Defying Breakthroughs for the Senior Golfer" is a guide for seniors who want to stay in the golf game well past retirement age and keep up with the others in the game. From diet to exercise and many other practices to keep up to keep one playing at their peak level, "You Can Shoot 70 at 70" should not be overlooked by anyone who loves golf and doesn't want to give it up just because their age is higher than the aimed par.

James Mansfield
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781463428723, $15.19,

When fantasy consumes reality, what is reality? "Lavender" is a romance surrounding Spencer, who is consumed with his dreams of a girl who is perfect for him. But as reality moves along, his eyes settle on lesbian Stefanie, and their relationship only grows stranger as their dreams soon become united and they try to understand the meaning of love, fantasy, and what it means for their real lives. "Lavender" is a choice read that is very much worth considering, highly recommended.

To the Devil His Due
Arndt Schorr
Privately Published
c/o Smith Publicity
1930 E. Marlton Pike, Suite I-46, Cherry Hill, NJ 08003
9780557708000, $21.88,

The clash between heaven and hell will be fought by many. "To the Devil His Due" is a near future story of Heaven and Hell's final clash, as they move their pawns through a plot in 2025 to destroy America and corrupt it from the inside. With a good dose of humor, romance, and everything else, "To the Devil His Due" is a unique and quite fun read, not to be overlooked.

Cultus Maximus
Stephen T. Savage
iUniverse, Inc.
c/o AuthorHouse
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781462009916, $17.95,

When you dare to go against the status quo, there will be consequences. "Cultus Maximus" is a novel from Stephen T. Savage, telling of a legend of a daring director who attacked America's so called morality, but faced a premature end at the end of the silent film era. In 2010, a cult has risen dedicated to the dead director's work, and their terror baffles America. Paul Essan must work to bridge the gap of the cult to the American government's agency to get down to what's behind a string of violent exhibitions. "Cultus Maximus" is a thoughtful twist of a thriller that keeps readers guessing.

The Spirit of Nora
Lyle Scott Lee
Tate Publishing & Enterprises
127 East Trade Center Terrace
Mustang, OK 73064
97816134658999, $15.99,

Learning the world comes with many hardships. "The Spirit of Nora" delves into the story of Nora, who leaves her small farm in Minnesota for something more by traveling to New York and France to experience much of the world in a new life, gaining a wide array of experiences, and learning much spiritually and insightfully about the world as a whole. "The Spirit of Nora" is a fine read that will keep the pages turning, very much recommended.

The Fetching of Spring
Reg Down
Privately Published
9781466266193, $16.50,

A journey is nothing without misadventure. "The Fetching of Spring" is a humorous spin on fairy tale from Reg Down, following young Tik-Tak as he is sent off to recover the Golden Bird, and ends up seemingly doing everything but. A story of a young one with good intentions perhaps ending up doing more good than he ever thought he could, "The Fetching of Spring" is an excellent pick for anyone looking for a fun take on the fairy tale fantasy.

Logic of Demons
H. A. Goodman
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781452018171, $15.49,

Revenge does things to people. "Logic of Demons" is a story of vengeance, as a spurned lover wants to avenge the love lost. In the quest for that vengeance, one may meet many individuals and find that vengeance may not end in death for the responsible, but for the soul of the seeker as well. Speaking much on faith, the supernatural, and the evils of the world, "Logic of Demons" has plenty to entice readers, very much recommended.

Able Greenspan

Helen's Bookshelf

So You Are A Believer...Who Has Been Through Divorce...
Joseph Pote
Privately Published
9781463767167, $9.95,

When relationships fail, what is the Christian approach to getting back on one's feet? "So You Are A Believer...Who Has Been Through Divorce" is a relationship guide from Joseph Pote as he brings faith to the divorce process, encouraging finding God's wishes even when the world seems pressing down on us all. "So You Are A Believer...Who Has Been Through Divorce" has plenty to ponder and consider, very much recommended for Christians facing an end to their matrimony.

Lucky Bruce
Bruce Jay Friedman
Privately Published
c/o Molly Mikolowski (publicity)
9781926845319 $26.95,

Creative people draw all their oddities from their lives, and Bruce Jay Friedman had plenty of oddities in his life. "Lucky Bruce" is a literary memoir from Friedman, as he recounts his journey through all avenues of Hollywood, working with names ranging from Kurt Vonnegut to Steve Martin and experience all the highs and lows of Hollywood as he tried to perfect his craft. For those who want a better view of the writing side of Hollywood in the twentieth century, "Lucky Bruce" is an insightful and much recommended memoir that shouldn't be overlooked.

Why Liberalism?
Eric Balkan
Privately Published
9780934741101, $6.95,

When Liberal has become a dirty word, defending it has become an important measure. "Why Liberalism?: How Our Sense of Empathy and Fairness Determines Our Political Orientation" is Eric Balkan's argument that one's personal empathy often decides one's own political leanings, altered by self-interest and need for fairness. "Why Liberalism?" is a unique argument and analysis of liberalism, conservatism, and everything else.

The Plea for Righteousness
Marquette and Scott Frazier
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432773199, $30.95,

Through knowledge of scripture, one can find their own righteousness. "The Plea for Righteousness" delves into the scripture as Marquette and Scott Frazier discuss the nature of scripture and the many things that lead us away from it in history. Arguing that the scripture can teach us much about virtue, world history, and more, they encourage biblical study in a more natural form. "The Plea for Righteousness" is a read to consider for those who seek another perspective on the scripture in general with some wise wisdom to avoid the false prophets in general.

Freud's Revenge
PJ Adams
Privately Published
9780615477237, $14.99,

The most frightening monsters are those who don't seem like monsters at all. "Freud's Revenge" is a mystery novel surrounding a murder in Del Mar, California, as detective Nick Caswell and empath Amanda Carlisle are on the trail of a ritualistic murder. Taking cues from the psychology of Freud, "Freud's Revenge" is a riveting thriller with plenty of enticing twists and turns.

The Pony Principles
Keith Elkins
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432775827, $16.95,

Focus is a powerful thing. "The Pony Principles: Lessons in Optimism, Because of Adversity" is an inspirational guide from Keith Elkins as he advises readers to steadfastly focus on their chosen goal in life and make the most of it. Using a pony as an extended metaphor, he advises that realizing one's dreams in the mind is the first step to making them reality. "The Pony Principles" is a choice pick for inspirational collections.

The Traveler's Companion
Christopher John Chater
Privately Published
9781463559397, $12.00,

The very fabric of reality may very well be in danger. "The Traveler's Companion" is a science fiction thriller as scientist and CIA agent Ryan Iverson must use his android with the power of seduction to take down world renown criminal C. C. Go. But Go has a new toy on hand, the Zone, where the mind trumps all in its creation, a technology that threatens the nature of the universe. As reality is bending to Go's will, Iverson doesn't know how he will stand a chance. "The Traveler's Companion" is a riveting psychological thriller, recommended.

Helen Dumont

Klausner's Bookshelf

Things To Do In Denver When You're Un-Dead
Mark Everett Stone
Camel Press
c/o Coffeetown Press
PO Box 70515, Seattle, WA 98127
9781603818599, $15.95,

The World At Large where humans dwell for the most part remains ignorant of the existence of The World Under that consists of vampires, demons, zombies, and other creatures out of legends. Whereas the mortals must have denial as part of their DNA, the Bureau of Supernatural Investigation keeps a vigil on the activity of the World Under especially focused when encroachment occurs.

The top BSI agent for the last decade misanthropic Kal Hakala knows that every case he works could prove his last as evident that none of his rookie peers from ten years ago still live; death is the norm for operatives. However, his edge has been a rage since a monster assaulted him as a child but in the case of the Brownies he feeds them sugar and lets them reside under his desk. His latest assignment has Kal in Denver leading a team of undercover warriors though he prefers going alone. They must deal with zombies walking the Mile High City and worse the vicious Organ Donor serial killer.

The key to this intelligent, wry action-packed urban fantasy is that the Worlds of Stone seem real. Filled with humor while satirizing humanity, Things To Do In Denver When You're Un-Dead is fast-paced from the moment the lone wolf hero and a team arrive in Denver for a High Noon (perhaps midnight is more descriptive) confrontation with zombies and much worse. Fans will enjoy this entertaining supernatural investigative thriller while awaiting the next stop on the Mark Everett Stone Americana tour.

Hell & Gone
Duane Swierczynski
c/o Hachette Publishing Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017-0010
9780316133296, $14.99,

In fifteen minutes former cop Charlie Hardie was drowned, shot in the arm and head and almost shot in the face. Others were also shot. The police handcuff Charlie to Mann the undercover female assassin as if he is a killer before an ambulance takes him away. He is further confused when the driver and the EMT do not sound like medical staff.

Charlie is unaware that there is a media-frenzy over a police manhunt for him as an accused murderer on the lam. Instead he is locked away at a top security prison though he knows why as his memory returns. He discovered an organization that makes the excremental disasters left behind by the ultra rich vanish. Somewhat in denial with what he knows his true, Charlie realizes the Prisonmaster Voice considers guards as the same as inmates. Told he is the warden, he knows he needs outside help to escape, but is unsure whether anyone even his best friend FBI Agent Deke Clark still searches for him as time has no meaning for those in permanent lockup. Deke has issues from those observing his efforts.

The second Hardie thriller (see Fun and Games) is a gripping tale even before the beleaguered hero is put through a wringer as the story of college student Julie Lippman opens the exciting novel. With no stop action and a sort of twisted nod to the 1960s TV show The prisoner, readers will enjoy Hardie's troubles while wondering what is going on and what happens next.

The Journey to New Canaan
Glenda Allen Reid and Luann Allen Payne
CrossBooks Publishing
c/o B&H Publishing Group
127 Ninth Avenue North
Nashville, TN 37234-0143
9781462706525, $19.95,

In the late 1850s, Gabriel Lyon heir to the New Canaan planation in Baton Rouge leaves home to attend Amherst College in Maine. His father is bitterly disappointed in his son, but could not grasp Gabriel's calling and his loathing of slavery since he was five years old. Gabriel considers his family's slave Liza as his mother instead of the woman who birthed him and knows his dad would die of heart failure if he met his son's best friend Charles Wood.

In 1860 nearing graduation and chosen by a small congregation as their preacher, Gabriel asks Professor Hall to bless his marrying the latter's daughter Josephine. However, a letter arrives informing Gabriel his father is dying. He returns home and helps his father save his soul while making a deathbed promise to his dad that he would run New Canaan; his faith in the Lord tells him this is God's mysterious plan for him. As he tries to save the plantation, be a devoted man of God, and a good husband, Gabriel finds the Civil War encroaching on him, his family, his slaves and his neighbors.

This is an insightful look at the south during the Civil War. A man of God, Gabriel is the glue who holds the well written story line together. However, it is the ensemble support cast that brings to life time and place; summed up by Ben who was a slave all his life and abruptly is declared a free man who has no idea how a free man lives. The Allen sisters provide a well written profound regional historical thriller.

The Charlestown Connection
Tom MacDonald
Oceanview Publishing
595 Bay Isles Road, 120-G
Longboat Key, FL 34228
9781608090242, $25.99,

Former Boston College All American football star, recovering alcoholic with a torn knee Dermot Sparhawk runs the Saint Jude Thaddeus parish food pantry in Charlestown when his godfather Jeepster Hennessey falls dead at his feet with a knife protruding from his back. Before dying, Jeepster mumbles a word "Oswego" and hands the stunned Dermot a key.

Still in shock, Dermot is further stupefied when Feds, BPD cops, Boston mobsters and IRA operatives visit him with demands that he knows nothing of. His Uncle Glooscap the Micmac warns him of danger. Thus knowing he needs a good offensive line, Dermot obtains the help of Glooscap's son Harraseeket Kid, his paraplegic tenant and former BC mate Buck Louis, as they investigate what is going on, which leads them to high society art forgeries and heists with enemies on both sides of the law wanting to permanently sack team Sparhawk.

The Charlestown Connection is an exciting action-packed Bostonian thriller that never slows down from the moment Jeepster enters the pantry until the final play is run. The cast is solid especially the quarterback and his teammates as they escort readers on a fascinating tour of Boston rarely seen in novels. Although the motive for mayhem is over the top of the Green Monster, this is a super winning tale.

Fly By Night
Ward Larson
9781608090297, $25.95

The CIA top-secret Blackstar drone vanishes in the Horn of Africa. Agents report that wreckage has been found, delivered and concealed in the FBN (Fly by Night) Aviation hangar at Khartoum's airport. In Fredericksburg, Virginia, the Feds are concerned with what has been recovered and hidden by the notorious FBN.

Using the crash of a DC 3 in the Sudan as a cover, the CIA dispatches National Transportation Safety Board air investigator Jammer Davis to look into the drone. A single dad whose wife recently died, Jammer flies six thousand five hundred miles to Africa while his daughter is safely in Norway with family. He is greeted in Khartoum with an attempt on his life, which sets the stage of his African adventure.

Although over the top of the Great Pyramid, Davis' latest "Fly" investigation (see Fly by Wire) is a fast-paced, action-packed thriller that takes off from the moment the take the hill hero debarks in Africa and never slows down as he searches for the drone to learn its condition and what FBN intends to do with it. Readers will enjoy Davis' taut battles and trysts (with an Italian doctor) as Ward Larson provides a soaring aviation thriller.

The Black Stiletto
Raymond Benson
9781608090204, $25.95

Septuagenarian Judy Talbot resides in the Woodlands Nursing Home in Riverwoods, Illinois. "Uncle" Thomas gives Judy's forty-eight year old divorced son Martin the accountant a journal. Judy gave the dairy to Thomas to give to Martin if the time is right.

Martin is stunned to learn his ailing mom claimed she was the famous pop hero of five decades ago the Black Stiletto vigilante. Judy explains what happened in 1958 when she was twenty years old. Being very tall and athletically gifted with incredible senses she dedicated herself to fighting evil. Disbelieving her account though there is great detail and he knew his mom was a terrific athlete, the skeptical Martin changes his mind when seventy-eight years old Roberto Ranelli, just released from prison after a fifty-two year stay, arrives to threaten Judy, her son and her granddaughter.

This exciting thriller moves back and forth between Martin reading his mom's diary and Judy's description of her exploits; bridging the five decades is Ranelli who has a voice in both decades. The story line is over the top of Wrigley Field, but fun to read especially the fast-paced exploits as accounted by a young female heroine.

Christopher Hertz
9781612181387, $14.95,

In the early 1990s, Sarah Striker is leaving Kansas City, Missouri to attend school in San Francisco. However, before leaving home, over grilled cheese her beloved dad informs her he has cancer, but insists she go. She promises to send home money to help pay for her father's medical treatment.

In San Francisco, Sarah rooms with six people and obtains work at the Horseshoe Cafe. She makes money selling weed to her sibling bosses, which Sarah sends home so her dad can undergo radical medical treatment. Sarah publishes the Luddite issues which leads to a high paying gig for a pharmaceutical firm peddling its attention deficit disorder elixir through a blog. However, as she begins to learn the side effects of the miracle drug, Sarah's ethics and her father's expensive treatment place her in an uncomfortable position even as she alleviates some of her guilt with a zine expose.

Pharmacology is an entertaining character study that captures the essences of the early states of the internet information (and misinformation and disinformation) of the Clinton first term. The support cast in San Francisco and the protagonist's parents enhance a look at the era and at Sarah. However, the heroine makes the tale work as she confronts her conflicting values.

Stephen King
c/o Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl.
New York, NY 10020
9781451627282, $35.00,

In Lisbon Falls, Maine, Al Templeton, owner of Al's Diner, discovers a temporal portal that enables a traveler to go back fifty-three years to September 9, 1958 at 11:58 a.m. Each time a person enters the time hole, they go to that same moment, but no matter how long they remain in the past, they return to the present having lost only two minutes while history is altered.

High school English teacher Jake Epping tests Jake's theory, but when he returns he finds his previously healthy friend dying from lung cancer and admitting he has gone back in time trying to prevent the JFK assassination. With no family to speak of, a lonely Jake agrees to complete Al's mission though he assumes Oswald did not work alone. Jake tests the concept by intervening in the family of a night student of his who faced a tragedy back in 1958. He soon learns history prefers to return to the original reality though he tries to prevent 11/22/63 from happening.

This is an engaging time travel thriller in which Stephen King makes a strong case that Oswald worked alone, a key element in the plot for conspiracy believer Jake to accept. The story line is action-packed with the changes in history such as cigarette smoking attitudes cleverly devised. Part of the fun is debating the possibility of the changes being reasonable as Mr. King provides an entertaining tale.

D.M. Annechino
Thomas & Mercer
c/o Amazon Encore
9781612180717, $14.95,

Two years ago, San Diego homicide detective Sami Rizzo confronted a serial killer who she felt took away her zest for police work (see They Never Die Quietly). After resolving the case but not before the predator tortured her, she resigned. Sami remains conflicted over quitting the department while struggling with her relationships with loved ones.

Sami learns that a corpse has been found in Mission Bay Park with the sternum surgically cut. Other bodies also sliced with physician's precision also surface as if someone was conducting medical experiments. Like SDPD, Sami believes a serial killer is loose and she wants in on the case.

A child abuse victim, heart surgeon Dr. Julian seeks a cure for atrial fibrillation, which killed his mother. However, his grant request is denied, which spins his already psychosis into an obsessive compulsive need.

Sami's super second case is an exhilarating thriller due to the lead antagonists as D.M. Annechino provides an insightful comparative analysis of how two people cope radically different with traumas. Ironically Julian's rationale that the end justifies the means makes him the more fascinating character as his defense rings authentic especially since 9/11. Although there are too many subplots involving family members, fans will appreciate this entertaining thought provoking police procedural.

It's A Waverly Life
Maria Murname
Amazon Encore
9781612181493, $13.95,

In San Francisco, Waverly Bryson has come a long way since her long time fiance Aaron Vaughn dumped her just before their wedding; while at the same time she lost her job as a sports PR specialist (see Perfect on Paper). She created the reasonably successful Honey Notes greeting cards and has a weekly advice column Honey On Your Mind in the San Francisco Sun.

At the wedding of McKenna Taylor Kimball, one of her two BFFs (Andie Barnett being the other), Waverly met NBA physical therapist Jake McIntyre of Atlanta. They hit it off and share a geographically challenged relationship with each visiting the other in their home city and in Argentina where he is on assignment. However, Waverly fears diving too deep into the relationship pool having failed to move on passed the doubts caused by the end of her engagement. Adding to her trauma of being left behind by herself is McKenna is pregnant and heading to the burbs and Andie has met the one. On the other hand her new upstairs neighbor elderly Red Springfield encourages her to swing the bat if she wants a chance to hit a home run.

It's A Waverly Life is a delightful chick lit romance starring a charming cast of friends, but owned by the title character whose doubts keep her from believing in herself. Although Waverly's lack of confidence turns at times irritating, reads will enjoy her seeking her groove with Jake and her two buddies while wondering who Red is and what the strange notes she receives mean.

Marina Melee
Lynne M. Hickey
Casperian Books
PO Box 161026, Sacramento, CA 95816-1026
9781934081327, $15.00,

George Marshall learns the true meaning of three strikes and you're out when his lawyer Uncle Bernie loses his third divorce case. His father, CEO of Marshall Enterprises, is sick of his playboy son so he ends his allowance as the firm's alleged CFO.

Deciding to leave Texas, George sails the Caribbean where he learns that American expatriate Tracker is selling his Sao Jorge marina at a cheap price in order to go home. George buys the marina unaware of its deficiencies. He soon is overwhelmed with code violation fines and local operating fees that leave him teetering near bankruptcy. As he sleeps with the governor's wife, George hires three maybe capable locals while his mom hires a private investigator to check in on what trouble George has fallen into this time.

Filled with mirth, Marina Melee is a wonderful Caribbean adventure starring a silver spoon slacker who matures while stumbling away from home as he did back in Texas. Character driven by a strong cast to include George, his family, the islanders, and his mom's hirelings, fans will appreciate this jocular tale of an "Ugly" American in Sao Jorge.

The Time Traveler's Guide to Medieval England: A Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century
Ian Mortimer
Touchstone Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
9781439112908, $15.00,

Using the refreshing format of a travel guide, medieval historian Dr. Ian Mortimer provides a profound look at living in fourteenth century England. Besides a sense of touring, armchair travelers will learn much about diverse lifestyles beyond the typical warriors, farmers, and religious leaders as society is not just abuser-abused relationships. Part of the fun is how easily Dr. Mortimer explodes contemporary myths about life six centuries ago starting with the belief that squalor was the norm although cottage smog was a norm. With insight into medicine (or lack of) as the plague devastates England and the continent, readers will learn how people worked to put food on the table and the in your face with profanities sermons. With corpses hanging on the edge of town and in water supplies, history fans will appreciate a tour of Medieval England with Dr. Mortimer as a super guide who amongst other tidbits provides "Ten Places to See in London" a city of approximately 40,000 as an example of what to expect in this strong "Handbook for Visitors to the Fourteenth Century."

Hot Water
Erin Brockovich and C.J. Lyons
Vanguard Press
c/o Perseus Books Group
11 Cambridge Center, Cambridge, MA 02142
9781593156848, $25.99,

Following the death of her lover Cole, the father of her nine year old son David who suffers from cerebral palsy, A.J. Palladino returns to her hometown, Scotia, West Virginia. The environmental activist partners with attorney Elizabeth Hardy on environmental investigations. Owen Grandel wants to hire the famous A.J. to persuade protestors that his nuclear power plant is safe. The million dollar fee will help care for her disabled child.

Ignoring her values A.J. accompanies Owen to his plant in South Carolina. Her actions upset David who detests his mom selling out because of his condition. The tweener also overhears his grandfather plotting to gain custody of him. He turns to family friend Sheriff Ty to counter the diabolical lethal scheme of his grandfather. In South Carolina, as a hurricane bears down on the state, a fanatic wants to use the reactor to trigger Armageddon.

With the recent nuclear mess in Japan, Hot Water is a relevant environmental thriller that grips the audience once A.J. and Owen meet. The heroine is caught between her values and her son's economic needs, which add realism to the mix. Although the detracting grandfather plot is over the top of Sassafras Mountain, the clean safe nuclear energy issue makes for a fabulous A.J. environmental thriller (see Rock Bottom).

Gideon's Sword
Douglas Preston & Lincoln Child
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780446564311, $7.99,

On her death bed, the mother of art thief Gideon Crew informs him his late father was framed and murdered by his Army Intel Officer superiors to take the fall for their blunders. She makes him take a death bed pledge to avenge his dad. As he did as a thief, Gideon prepares for his mission and after a few years completes his mother's last plea.

Gideon takes his first vacation since he leaned the truth about his father. While he is fly-fishing, a Department of Homeland Security agent, who observed how meticulous and successful Crew was on his family vendetta, offers him money to obtain the plans of a special weapon of mass destruction being brought from China to New York. Having doubts about the case, the Fed throws in the fact that Crew is dying from an incurable disease. Meanwhile the Chinese hire Nodding Crane to regain their WMD plans.

This is an entertaining over the top of the Empire State Building thriller starring an intriguing hero with a depressing history. The enemy agent is cartoonish as a super killing machine, but he adds fun to the tale that initially will remind readers of the TV show Revenge until DHS recruits Crew. Readers will root for Crew as he battles a powerful adversary for the plans to a WMD.

Kia Dupree
Grand Central
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, New York, NY 10017
9780446547741, $13.99,

In Washington, D.C., thirty years old single mom Nicola "Cola" Hampton has one goal for her three children daughter Teyona (called Tinka) and her two sons (fourteen years old Marquan and twelve years old Taevon). She prays they avoid the mistakes she and their dads made as Tinka's father has vanished; Marquan's sire serves a life sentence; and Taevon's pop is a serial womanizer. When Cola loses her job, she is forced to move with her into the dangerous Sursum Corda projects with her three offspring.

Marquan steals a car and eventually is charged with capital murder and Taevon becomes a drug dealer. Cola's only hope resides with Tinka, but though a good girl, her armed boyfriend Nine robs stores.

This is a powerful family drama as Kia Dupree provides profound insight into the other side of living in DC. The cast is fully developed especially the Hampton brood whose life in the projects comes across as perilous while also emotionally wringing. Rotating perspective between mother and daughter, Silenced is a raw deep look at surviving the mean streets of a Washington in which politicians prefer to pretend it does not exist.

Come A Little Closer
Dorothy Garlock
Grand Central
9780446540155, $16.50

In 1946 Twentyish Christina Tucker accepts a nursing position working for Dr. Samuel Barlow, the sole physician in Longstock, Wisconsin for the last three decades. Her prime patient is Dr. Barlow's nephew battle fatigue veteran Holden Sutter.

Holden's brother Tyler, who served in the Pacific Theater is filled with rage yet also shows his concern for his sibling. Christina cares for both brothers, but it is Tyler who she wants. However, neither she nor Tyler will risk hurting the emotionally scarred Holden. However, as the nurse and the two brothers work out their relationships, resident Morris Doyle blames Barlow for the death of his brother Jimmy and plans to enact vengeance against the loved ones of the revered doctor.

This delightful post WWII thriller stars a strong small town cast struggling to move passed the war. The tenuous relationships between Tyler, Holden and Christina make the tale fun to read while Dorothy Garlock paints a vivid the backdrop of 1946 Wisconsin. Although the Doyle subplot adds suspense, it detracts from the otherwise terrific Tucker tale (see Stay A Little Longer and Keep Little Secret).

Scandalous Desires
Elizabeth Hoyt
Grand Central
9780446558938, $7.99

1738 widow Silence Hollingbrook and her brother manage the Home for Unfortunate Infants and Foundling Children in the St. Giles slims of London. She adores all the children, but especially loves Mary Darling, abandoned as an infant.

River pirate Mickey O'Connor left his newborn daughter with Silence whom he met when they shared the greatest night of his life that ruined hers almost a year ago. He felt his little darling was better off with Silence in order to keep her safe from his ruthless rivals. However, an unknown amoral adversary learns the truth as to who sired little Mary and plan to snatch her as leverage. Instead Mickey kidnaps his daughter forcing Silence to enter the abode of the man she loves.

The third Maiden Lane Georgian romance (see Wicked Intentions and Notorious Pleasures) is one of the year's best historical tales. With a strong deep cast, the fast-paced story line is filled with passion and pathos. The pirate and the do-gooder fall in love, but each recognizing no hope for a future, let alone together; as danger from several sides mount they never lose sight of protecting their little darling.

Oogy: the Dog only a Family Could Love
Larry Levin
Grand Central
9780446546300, $13.99

The Philadelphia police raided a suspected drug dealer's home in Montgomery County. There they found a ripped apart canine barely alive. They took the dog to Ardmore Animal Hospital where the battered animal fought for his life while Saint Diane insists Dr. Bianco save the dog with half of his face missing. Apparently, the "owner" assumed the dog was not a fighter; ergo useless except as training bait for his fight dogs.

Larry Levin and his adopted twin sons (Noah and Don) were taking their elderly ailing cat to the hospital to be put down. They meet Oogy recovering from surgery when he escapes his cell to kiss the boys to the amazement of the veterinary staff as Oogy should have been an angry beast instead of a gentle trusting canine. With Dr. Bianco insisting to a reluctant Jennifer that Oogy is "Mr. Happy Dog", the battered canine joins the Levin family where he bonds with Larry and becomes the protective "third twin" to the boys.

This is an engaging memoir that focuses on a dog that beats the odds to bring joy to a family. Canine lovers will appreciate Oogy's story as the odious abusers could not rip the heart and soul out of this remarkable canine.

Immortal Rider
Larissa Ione
Grand Central
9780446574471, $7.99

As the world turns ugly, The Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse ride once again. One brother Reseph has turned into Pestilence as his agimortus broke his seal, but another Ares was saved by his fiancee Cara Thornhart (see Eternal Rider). A third rider Limos, though she, Ares and Thanatos defeated Reseph-Pestilence for now, fears she will fall to the dark too as Satan demands she become his wife and her seal if broken frees Famine.

U.S. Army R-XR solder Arik Wagner attends the engagement party of Ares and Cara. He walks outside onto a beach to get away from super-powered a-holes, but the object of his penis follows him. Limos challenges him to fight, which leads to a kiss. His final thought was her shouting at him not to say her name. The other two horsemen explain to human Aegis leader Kynan Morgan that an angry jealous Satan has captured Arik for kissing his bride and will torture him in Hell until he says her name, which will make him one of the lost minions. Limos cuts a deal with Pestilence to save the world and Arik though her cost is her soul.

The second Lords of Deliverance romantic urban fantasy is a superb post apocalyptic thriller that grips the reader from the first apparently fatal kiss to the final confrontation. The story line is fast-paced and contains the twist of a Horsewoman as Famine. The cast is fully developed and the twisting story line is loaded with action at time fueled by betrayal. However, it is the dark world of Larissa Ione that readers will want to ride alongside of the Horsemen (and horsewoman) of the Apocalypse.

Deliciously Sinful
Lilli Feisty
Grand Central
9780446571555, $7.99

Phoebe Mayle took over her family owned Green Leaf cafe in Redbolt, California, but her cooking incompetence has her fearing she will put the restaurant out of business soon. She desperately needs a chef so she hires British expatriate Nick Avalon currently of Los Angeles in spite of his unsavory reputation.

Over the next couple of months, the pair argue over the menu as he loves butter and she prefers organic cuisines that the cafe is known for. Nick muses how much he feels like he belongs in the small town, but also fears his attraction to his employer; as relationships end. Phoebe also struggles with her needing her chef, but expects him to ride his hummer into the sunset sooner than later while also trying to be there for her grieving brother whose wife recently died.

With a nod to the movie No Reservations, Deliciously Sinful is an entertaining culinary romance starring two seemingly opposites falling in love in the middle of nowhere. The amusing lighthearted is fun to read as love appears to not be enough to keep the big city Brit and the small town Californian together.

A Pinch of Love
Alicia Bessette
c/o Penguin - Putnam
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780452297111, $15.00,

In Wippamunk, Rose Ellen Roy, known better as Zell, remains grieving for her deceased husband Nick, who died one year ago while on a volunteer mission of relief in New Orleans following Katrina. With her dog Ahab at her side, she wears his camouflage apron as a means of remaining connected to Nick though she does not cook, but cannot enter the attic filled with their memories.
A fire caused by Zell's first use of the stove since Nick's death brings Garrett Knox, his replacement at the Wippamunker to her place. She informs the Chief that the cooking fire was caused by the postman bringing her Meals in a Cinch with Polly Pinch. Zell says she was baking cookies for her new neighbor, Garrett's motherless nine year old daughter Ingrid. The two females soon plan to enter the uplifting cooking contest that the Polly Cinch flyer proclaimed.

This is an interesting character study of a woman who is beginning to move through the phases of grief due to her new neighbors especially the somewhat too precocious Ingrid encouraging her to bake meals and treats. The cast is fully developed including the late Nick and even Ahab has a personality as readers will enjoy Zell baking a new recipe for life though she still feels survivor guilt.

The Puppy That Came for Christmas: How a Dog Brought One Family the Gift of Joy
Megan Rix
9780452297487, $14.00

In her early forties, Megan and Ian Rix wanted a baby, but even fertility treatments seemed to fail. Rather than mope, they train golden retriever pups as Helper Dogs for people with disabilities. However, six months as "foster" parents to Emma, followed by Freddy broke their hearts when the canines moved into their permanent homes. Ready to quit as trainers, Traffy The Puppy That Came for Christmas, joins the household. However Traffy remained a permanent member of the Rix household.

With an obvious nod to John Grogan's Marley and Me, Traffy is indeed the dog who brought joy to the Rix family. Well written, canine lovers will appreciate Megan Rix's account of how much happiness a dog that is part of a loving family brings to the bonded household.

Supernatural: Bobby Singer's Guide to Hunting
David Reed
It Books
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, NY, NY 10022-5299
9780062103376, $14.99,

Bobby Singer cannot believe what is happening to him as he suffers from rapid accelerating memory loss. Three days ago he was in Ashland, Wisconsin on a hunting assignment before driving to Sioux Falls. Somehow he awakes in his home confused with how he got there and struggles with things like opening his tumbler. Fearing he will lose what is left of his memory, Bobby writes down a guide to hunting so that the dwindling others like Sam and Dean will have something to help them when they are hunting. This is his legacy if he can remember to write it.

He considers calling Rufus, but he is gone. Bobby thinks back to Ashland where he recalls Sam and Dean were also hunting the Banshee that was terrorizing the Northern Wisconsin town. They don't answer their zillion cellphones. Still Bobby remembers the banshee had with it a liquid woman who wanted his head on a platter. As they took care of the banshee using an iPhone, Bobby next found himself on his couch wondering how he got there and what happened to his memory. His Chevelle is entangled with another car and on its windshield is written Karen, the wife he loved and lost.

This is an entertaining supernatural thriller that uses an intriguing technique to tell the story line and provide insight into the realm. The key cast mirrors the personalities on a TV show though there is somewhat less camaraderie between the brothers than for instance in John Pasarella's entry Night Terror. Still fans of the show will appreciate David Reed's unique entry as Bobby tries to learn what happened to him while at the same losing his memories as to whom he is.

The Hollows Insider
Kim Harrison
Harper Voyager
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, NY, NY 10022-5299
9780061974335, $25.99,

Obviously this fabulous compilation, "The Hollows Insider: New Fiction, Facts, Maps, Murders, and More in the World of Rachel Morgan", targets fans of Kim Harrison's Hollows realm going beyond the filter of the bounty hunter Rachel Morgan. The Hollows are ruled by the Interland supernatural species while the humans struggle to survive in a realm in which we are at the bottom of the food chain. This tome provides the rules, insight into spells, descriptions of the various species and a lot more including a murder mystery. Profiles of Banshee, demon, elf, fairy, gargoyle, ghoul, leprechaun, pixy, troll living and undead vampires, were, witch and warlock sum up the Interlanders. Additionally there is insight and biographical information about Rachel and other recurring characters like Ivy. Throw in maps, charms, memos, journal articles and much more as Kim Harrison gives a marvelously monster tour of everything Hollow in this super guidebook.

In The Bleak Midwinter
M.R. Sellars
E.M.A. Mysteries
c/o Oak Tree Press
140 E. Palmer Street, Taylorville, IL 62568
9780979453380, $16.95,

On December 22, 1975, Santa sexually assaulted her at school. He threatened to kill her parents if she told them what he did. That night while her mom purchased groceries, her little sister wanted to visit Santa. Merrie Callahan never wanted see Santa ever again, but was forced to escort Elizabeth to visit him. He turned out to be her predator and Merrie vanished for thee days.

Decades later, the residents of Hulis, Missouri are living out a nightmare just as they did when Merrie was abducted. FBI Special Agent Constance Mandalay investigates. She learns that though thirty-five years passed since the rapes, Merrie believes it is December, 22, 1975 before Santa brutalized her. Sheriff Skip Carmichael explains to the Fed that every anniversary of Merrie's trauma leads to her falling into a catatonic state for three days. On Christmas Day in the shack where Merrie was sodomized, someone chops up a man using an axe exactly like Merrie did and the body parts are in the same place when she counterattacked her abductor years ago. Constance senses the townsfolk conceals something critical from her; when the FBI Agent learns what it is, her belief system is shaken to the core in spite of her case work with Wiccan practitioner Rowan Gant.

M.R. Sellars has written an exhilarating supernatural mystery that will have readers wondering what is going on in Hulis, and when we figure that out, the author twists the entertaining police procedural into a new direction. Constance has been a recurring support character in the RGI whodunits (see Blood Moon), but proves she can run the show as a pragmatic independent investigator who prefers denial of the supernatural though the supporting evidence in this case and her work with Gant forces her to accept an inconvenient truth.

Fifth Gospel
William Roskey
c/o Author House
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781462028573, $26.95,

In 1958 United States Secret Service Special Agent Clarence David Jones flies 2000 miles to Nellis AFB, Nevada to meet with Captain Al "Lightfoot" O'Brien on a top secret project. Jones picked O'Brien after incredibly researching the aviator to become a passenger of the most serendipitously guarded mission since perhaps the Manhattan project. The man who reports only to President Ike explains why O'Brien is perfect even as he knows more about his chosen one than Lightfoot knows about himself.

Jones and Ike brief O'Brian on the latest in physics in which speeds faster than light enables someone to go back in time. From Oak Ridge next year, O'Brien is to go back to first century Palestine seeking the Holy Grail and making contact with Jesus of Nazareth.

Besides a strong cast and deep historical anchors in the late 1950s and in ancient Palestine, the key to this super thriller, "Fifth Gospel: The Odyssey of a Time Traveler in First Century Palestine", is William Roskey supports his exciting premise of Einstein meets Wells with physics formulas. Fast-paced from the moment Jones sells O'Brien on the mission, readers will want to soar back in time to first century Palestine.

The Talk Show Murders
Al Roker and Dick Lochte
Delacorte Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780385343701, $26.00,

Wake Up, America! Morning show is on location in Chicago. Retired CPD cop Edward "Pat" Patton, the extreme right wing true crime blogger, guests appears on the show. He accosts the co-host Billy Blessing; whom he knew when the renowned chef was a two bit con artist Billy Blanchard who was sent to prison for fraud and implies he also knows what happened to Billy's partner in that failed Detroit sting from twenty-five years ago.

After prison, Blessing did a complete makeover but concealed his sordid past. Patton threatens to out him on his blog unless Blanchard pays for silence. However, someone murders Patton and soon other homicides associated with the show occur. Still fearing exposure, Blessing investigates hoping to expose the killer.

The latest Blessing amateur sleuth (see The Morning Show Murders and The Midnight Show Murders) is an entertaining mystery in which the protagonist's dark past deftly comingles with his lighthearted asides. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Patton and Blessing have that first heated discussion and never slows down until the final spin. Ironically, though in danger of becoming the tabloid's latest celeb scandal and being assaulted, kidnapped, and shot at, Blessing knows his biggest tsuris is his attraction to the French actress in town filming.

Tamora Pierce
Random House
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, NY, NY 10019
9780375814709, $18.99,

Holburn the Dog was killed when he foolishly attacked a nest of slave guards. His mother blames his death on her son's betrothal to a fellow Dog Beka Cooper; while her peers, her partner, her superior and the rest of his family knows Holburn acted in a suicidal way with his assault. Instead of mourning her loss, Beka feels free and guilty for feeling free.

King Roger the "randy one" and his second wife Queen Jessamine need a special top Secret Hunt with a team having the best scent hound. Thus Beka and her partner Matt Tunstall accompanied by her animal friends (Pounce the supernatural cat and Achoo the scent hound), his lover Sabine the lady knight and Farmer Cape the Kennel mage begin a search and rescue Hunt for the kidnapped heir to the throne of Tortall

The third Beka Cooper young adult fantasy police procedural (see Bloodhound and Terrier) is a terrific thriller due to the lead protagonist. Her peers recognize her strengths as she believes in doing what is right though that is often difficult to gauge. The story line opens with the stunning realistic funeral of her fiance and never slows down as the heroine and her retinue Hunt clues for the abducted heir in what is a superb kidnapping investigative tale.

Triple Shot
Sandro Balzo
Severn House
110 East 59th Street, 22th Fl.
New York, NY 10022
9780727880796, $27.99,

At the Brookhills Junction Depot in Wisconsin, the owners of Uncommon Grounds Maggy Thorsen and Sarah Kingston are ecstatic as their gourmet coffeehouse appears on the brink of success especially their popular autumn espresso while a chill is in the air.

At the same Sarah the Kingston Realtor is being investigated for a complaint filed by her apprentice Brigid Ferndale. Not long afterward, the smell of a rotting corpse overwhelms the usual pleasant odor of A Cup of Jo. They follow the nasty scent into a room neither knew existed. Inside a closet is the dead body of Brigid. Brookhills County Sheriff Jake Pavlilk investigates the homicide while thinking he is Lassie to Sarah's Timmy as he likes her but she seems to become brewed in too many homicides. As he works the case in which Sarah is the obvious prime suspect, Maggy also investigates From the Grounds Up.

The latest Thorsen caffeine crime cozy affirms that this series remains one of the best gourmet amateur sleuths on the market. The whodunit is cleverly constructed as sassy Sarah seems to be the solo suspect. Courageous Maggy knows her partner is a hemorrhoid bringer, but would never murder anyone so she sets out to find the real killer. Although their location seems to be a "morgue", armchair readers will enjoy sipping coffee as Maggy does the leg work.

The Cats in the Doll Shop
Yona Zeldis McDonough, author
Heather Maione, illustrator
Viking Books
c/o Penguin Putnam Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780670012794, $14.99,

In New York City, the letter arrives from Russia written in Hebrew informing Mama and Papa that their eleven year old niece Tania is coming to live with them as her Mama obtained a position as a maid but with no children allowed. Whereas eleven years old Anna is exhilarated with a cousin her age for at least a year until her aunt can come too; her nine years old sister Trudy and her smarty pants teenage sibling Sophie are not quite as exuberant with the prospect.

As they anxiously wait to show their cousin their parents' store Breittlemann's Doll Shop, the three sisters tend to an injured kitten they name Plucky; Papa remains adamant no felines in his house as cats are outdoors in the old country. Tania arrives sad and lonely. Anna soon realizes her belligerent cousin is like Plucky unable to communicate and feeling lost without her Mama.

The continuation of the early twentieth century New York Lower East Side tenant family drama (see The Doll Shop Downstairs) is a great middle school historical. The timely engaging story line is character driven by the four young girls and the intrepid cat as readers will enjoy a slice of life while learning how much immigrants have brought to this great nation.

The Secret in Their Eyes
Eduardo Sacheri
Other Press
2 Park Avenue, 24th Floor
New York, NY 10016
9781590514504, $15.95,

In Argentina, sixty year old Benjamin Chaparro has retired after three plus decades investigating crime. He knows he is an ancient dinosaur who has seen so much change in his country from the nasty Dirty War period to the cleansing afterward. However, one case remains imprinted in his gut; the one he begins to write a book about.

When Benjamin was in his late twenties back in 1968 as a Palace of Justice deputy clerk, he investigated the brutal rape and murder of teacher Liliana Colotto. His inquiry had three results. First he identifies the killer Gomez through revealing photos; he kept the case from going cold until four years later he caught the culprit, but corruption superseded justice. Second that fed the raging frenzy of the victim's husband Morales who lived with one value: avenging his late wife. Finally, though he did everything right except for falling in love with intern Irene Hornos who did not reciprocate his feelings, Benjamin had to flee Buenos Aires for over a decade as connections and corruption made him a target of the execution goons deploying the Dirty war.

This is a translation of a terrific historical Argentinian police procedural that will grip readers with the outcome on the three men linked forever with the death of the young woman. The story line is fast-paced whether the setting is the sexagenarian pondering about his book or the investigation the years in self exile. With a deep dark look at The War Years, readers will understand why the movie version of the novel won Best Foreign Film Oscar.

Me, You
Erri DeLuca and Beth Archer Brombert (Translator)
Other Press
9781590514795, $12.95,

In the 1950s the teen spends the summer with his uncle and Nicola on a Neapolitan barrier island. The lad stays mostly with Nicola who uses the uncle's boat to fish and taught the sixteen year old how to fish.

He meets Caia, a Yugoslavian war orphan who was rescued from Nazi atrocities that left her family dead by Italian soldiers. She is spending the summer on the island with a friend. Nicola warns him to be careful with his affections. Still he falls in love with Caia who is Jewish and begins to explore Italy's role in World War II in which his father was a soldier. The Slav and the Italian teen forge a tender relationship as she allows him to use the Yiddish pronunciation of her name "Chaiele" and dubs him her Tateh as he feels a need to protect the vulnerable orphan. When he gets into a fight with German tourists singing the SS anthem he takes it as an affront to his girlfriend but his cousin Daniele intercedes. Meanwhile he increasingly gets more and more frustrated as his demands about the war remain unanswered except by the stoic fisherman.

This is a powerful look at the psychic aftermath of the Nazi reign of terror on Europe. The Italians feel ashamed for what happened but would prefer Caia as a surviving reminder of Never Forget atrocities to leave, and the family of the protagonist who narrates the drama prefers he stop asking questions on events they want buried and forgotten. While the Americans debate the merits of the three New York centerfielders, Europe struggles to deal with turning blind during the war and wanting to remain myopic afterward re the Holocaust.

The Day Before Happiness
Erri DeLuca and Michael Moore (Translator)
Other Press
9781590514818, $16.95,

During the war, Naples building super Don Gaetano befriends a boy. When the lad errantly kicks his soccer ball, he climbs a drainpipe to retrieve it. There he sees Anna a Jewish girl inside a room hidden from view except his lofty position.

Residents of Naples want to move on now that WWII is over although signs of the combat and atrocities are everywhere. The orphaned youngster realizes his mentor Don, who was in danger of Fascist execution during the war, hid a Jewish child there. He hopes his Anna will return soon. When she does, he knows she is his love, but though they share a heavenly tryst, she has a gangster boyfriend and lost her mind as her madness comes from her years of concealment.

The Day Before Happiness is not an easy read though it is a well written late 1940s historical thriller. The story line is character driven by four people and with a nod to The Diary of Anne Frank, Erri DeLuca captures the battered soul of a people, a country and a continent struggling to deal with turning blind during the Holocaust.

Silent Kills
C.E. Lawrence
Pinnacle Books
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
119 West 40th Street, Floor 21
New York, NY 10018-2522
9780786025626, $7.99,

NYPD criminal profiler Lee Campbell has returned to work after a leave of absence, but the depression caused by his sister's disappearance led to a nervous breakdown that crippled and hospitalized him The depression remains strong just at a lesser degree of intensity. His current case is profiling the killer of Candy Nugent who was seen at a steampunk club before dying from exsanguination. While Bronx Major Crimes Unit Chief Morton comments about The Bride of Dracula, Lee fears this draining of the blood indicates that the cops are dealing with a tyro serial killer just starting a reign of terror.

Lee's prediction proves true when three more victims are found from a predator who injects his victims with a sedative to make it easier for him to remove his target from a club crowd before draining the blood. What the police do not know is that this psychopath drinks the blood. The young dead females remind Lee of his sibling, which increases the level of his depression.

Although insane serial killers running rampart (see Silent Victims and Silent Screams) are as frequent as mindless zombies and angst vampires, C.E. Lawrence refreshes the theme with a mentally wounded protagonist struggling with a nasty case that reminds him of the cause of his depression. The story line occurs when 9/11 remains fresh in the minds of New Yorkers, which adds tension to the tale. Rotating point of view enables the audience to understand the beast's motivation while the protagonist displays his raw sensitivities on his sleeve. Scream III is a terrific police procedural.

Beauty and the Werewolf
Mercedes Lackey
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road
Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373803286, $24.95,

Isabella Beauchamps tries to get along with her stepmother (Genevieve) and two stepsisters (Amber and Pearl). However, she is unhappy as she feels like the outsider with her dad Henri the merchant paying attention to his second wife and her two daughters. One day wearing a cloak of red Bella journeys through the forbidden forest where she meets Eric the woodsman as she brings goodies to Granny the wisewoman and heeds her advice.

On the way home, a werewolf attacks and bites her. The king sends Bella to stay with reclusive sorcerer Duke Sebastian to determine whether she is a full moon shifter. Her reluctant host is also a werewolf trying to find a spell to remove the shifter curse. At the same time she assists the duke with his experiments and also struggles to identify his servants, Bella, using a mirror, consults with her Fairy Godmother who explains none can buck the universal Tradition force that insures everyone fits inside a fairy tale.

The latest fabulous Five Hundred Kingdoms fantasy (see The Sleeping Beauty and The Fairy Godmother) is a terrific entry as Mercedes Lackey once again satirizes the Tradition roles of society in which those stepping outside the box are condemned as heretics rather than pioneers. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action while there is plenty of humor as Bella attempts to break out of the Tradition expected of the oldest daughter.

Along A Wooded Path
Tricia Goyer
B&H Books
c/o B&H Publishing Group
127 Ninth Avenue North
Nashville, TN 37234-0143
9781433668692, $14.99,

After her older brother chose the Englisher world over his Amish roots, eighteen years old Marianna Sommer's father decides to move the rest of the family from Indiana to Montana. Marianna had a choice, but with her mom pregnant, she left behind her beau Aaron Zook to travel with her family to Big Sky country (see Beside Still Waters).

While Aaron writes letters to her he never sends he tries courting Naomi. Marianna and her family find the mountainous environs forces them to be more involved with their Englisch neighbors than they did back in Indiana. She even works with Annie an Englischer friend at the store where both groups intermingle. She also has begun to fall in love with Ben the Englischer who is more attuned to God than her Amish family, but unacceptable by her father who has lost one offspring to the outside world.

The second Big Sky Amish tale is a fascinating novel that asks philosophical religious questions as to whether the Lord delineates in lifestyles between groups who adhere with their hearts and souls in God's words. The support cast is solid but this is Marianna's tale as she is caught between the Amish desires of her parents who prefer Aaron or any Amish for their daughter and her feelings for an Englisher that clearly has God first in his heart and soul. Although Ben's feelings for God complicate the difficulty of Marianna's family rejecting him, it also simplifies her potential for accepting him. Regardless readers will enjoy Tricia Goyer's thought provoking tale of whether walking with God is enough to cross man-made cultural biases.

Getting Lucky
DC Brod
Tyrus Books
9781440531989, $24.95,

Freelance writer Robyn Guthrie enjoys her assignments for the Weekly News and Record. However, she is heartbroken when staff reporter Clair dies in a hit and run accident in a side of the road that makes no sense for her to be walking there. Clair's editor hires Robyn to finish the late reporter's piece on the Cedar Ridge subdivision; she accepts the assignment with the caveat she will investigate her peer's death also.

Robyn diligently works both stories while dealing with personal traumas. Her senile mom is losing her memory and driving her crazy while residing in an assisted living facility; and the reporter is not seeing her long boyfriend Mick over the issue of children. Her two stories converge when she follows Clair's notes and photos as something is insidiously wrong at Cedar Grove. This evil kills parents and children. Robyn develops a plan, but to succeed she needs cooperation from a lot of people wary to get involved.

Dealing with people who break the law on land deals is hard enough, but when these same felons place children in danger to make more money is evil. Robyn's high school adversary is involved though initially ignorant and tries to make things as right as can be though the horse has left the barn. The storyline focuses on the key characters including a "blackmailing" rogue former EPA field agent and what motivates each to act and react in the way they do.

El Gavilan
Craig McDonald
9781440531941, $24.95

Tell Lyons left the Border Patrol following the deaths of his wife and child in a firebombing incident. He accepts a position as Chief of Police of New Austin, Ohio. Although he is no where near the border, the town and Horton County have illegal immigration issues.

However, as Horton County Sheriff Able Hawk enforces the federal immigration law, someone rapes and murders single mom Thalia Ruiz, a legal Mexican-American. Tell investigates with pressure to not dig too deep. His only ally is Able who believes in enforcing the law regardless of what race broke it. As other deadly assaults on legal or not Latina occurs, Tell begins to come back to life when he meets and is attracted to natural citizen Patricia Maldonado, whose parents are documented; not that it matters to some.

This is an exciting pull no punches look at the full immigration issue. The story line is action-packed as the two law enforcement officials investigate the horrific felon in which they believe blood is red while other "profilers" believe their opponents need to bleed. Gruesome, Craig McDonald extrapolates the immigration issue insanity into a powerful condemnation of all sides.

Hurt Machine
Reed Farrel Coleman
9781440531996, $15.95

Brooklyn private investigator Moe Prager learns he has a golf ball tumor in his stomach that reminds him of his discussions with his late friend Auschwitz survivor Izzy Roth about God being the ultimate tough love advocate. His stomach cancer will wait until after his daughter Sarah marries Vermont State Prosecutor Paul, the biological son of Rico, his police buddy back in the Coney Island days.

At a pre-wedding party, his former wife Carmella Melendez pleads with Moe to investigate the stabbing death of her estranged sister, Alta Conseco; the cops show no interest as the bitch got what she deserved. His former sister-in-law was a FDNY EMT who became the focus of international scorn a few months ago when she and her peer Maya Watson refused to treat cook Robert Tillman as he was dying at an upscale restaurant from a stroke. Mo never could say no to Carmella even though she ripped out his heart when she left him for Toronto. Watson in hiding offers little useful information to Moe as she prefers to remain concealed. He makes little progress, but refuses to quit as he slowly, with the help of a former cop buddy, uncovers a department filled with de facto harassment and extortion.

Moe's cynical bone weary Brooklyn shtick makes for a strong private investigative thriller loaded with plausible twists and a terrific resolution. The story line is an action-paced trek on the mean streets of New York as Prager is at his best, which says a lot (see Empty Ever After and Innocent Monster), working his element of looking into sleaze.

The Prince of Ravenscar
Catherine Coulter
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780399158070, $19.95,

In 1831 Lord Julian Monroe returns to Ravenscar, England after three years away. He left the country after he found his wife Lily dead from a bullet wound. His former brother-in-law Richard Langworth holds him culpable for his sister's death and plans to enact revenge on Julian.

His mother Lady Corrine, ecstatic that her son has finally come home, wants her son to remarry, but he has no interest in a second wife. Her choice is Miss Sophie Wilkie, niece of her friend Miss Roxanne Radcliffe. Reluctantly he agrees to escort Miss Sophie while his nephew Lord Devlin the self-anointed vampire finds himself attracted to Miss Roxanne. As the pair of couples falls in love on the road from London to Ravenscar; Richard dangerously raises the past leading to Julian learning why he is called the Prince of Ravenscar.

This is an amusing historical romantic suspense starring four strong independent characters. The course to true love is straighter than the Bonneville Salt Flats as there are no twists of consequence, yet the protagonists and the antagonist make for a fun journey. Filled with tension and jocularity especially the witty exchanges between the aunt and the nephew, readers will enjoy the couples on the road and at Ravenscar in Catherine Coulter's family affair.

What Happens After Dark
Jasmine Haynes
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780425244128, $15.00,

Six months ago Luke Raven rescued Bree Mason from a bruising boyfriend Derek at a club. They became an entry with him the Master to her sub. However, Luke wants more than just BDSM satisfaction though his needs and her desires to be chained and pained blend nicely for both of them.

However, Luke wants more from Bree than just handcuffing and cursing her. He wants a fuller relationship and not just in the bedroom. When he asks her to go out on a date, Bree suffers an anxiety attack, but she agrees. His agenda is to help her move passed her fears so they can become even greater together. He is unaware of the dark secret that controls her soul while also dealing with dad's dying from cancer and her mom acting helpless.

The latest DeKnight BDSM tale is an engaging psychological romance starring a strong Silicon Valley CEO and an emotionally crippled beloved accountant who works for Erin DeKnight (co-star of Past Midnight). The story line is filled with pathos and passion as love may not be enough for this couple engaged in a limited to sexual bonding relationship. Although the ending seems doubtful even with a caveat, the fully developed lead couple makes for a complex romance; as What Happens After Dark is not enough for the hero who wants his wounded beloved to encourage blood flow to both of his heads, not just the lower one.

Temptation at Twilight
Jo Carlisle
9780451234827, $14.00

In New Orleans, the three Fontaine vampire siblings (Aldric, Soren, and Luc) own La Petite Mort, an adult resort that caters to the fantasy desires of a variety, not all human, customers. Over a century ago a demonic vampire killed Soren's wife Helena. He has not moved on as she was his soulmate.

Desperate he offers part of his soul to Voodoo Priestess Leila Doucet to bring back his beloved. Leila agrees but Soren must sleep with her for the next century or more and help her meet the right people in high society. The couple visits Lush where he sees Harley Vaughn, captured by two demons, being auctioned to the highest bidder. He believes she is his Helena and buys her, which annoys Leila. When the pair begins to fall in love, a raging Leila plans to destroy the Fontaine brothers and Harley.

The Lords of Pleasure urban fantasy is an entertaining heated triangular romance starring the good (Harley), the bad (Soren) and the ugly (Leila). The story line is filled with sex, sex and more sex in the city. However, the supernatural elements never come across as genuine except in the bedroom. Still readers will enjoy the second chance at love romance between the vamp, his soul mate and the vile witch.

Tempt Me
R.G. Alexander
9780425243336, $14.00

His pain in the butt conscience Emmanuel that his brain conjured up has sent Gabriel Toussaint Giodarno, a businessman known as The Dark Messenger, home to New Orleans to reconcile with his mom and his twin sister Michelle. He wishes his torturous companion would leave, but even alcohol in shadowy dives cannot rid him of his plight.

Gabriel is stunned by his attraction to his sibling's best friend Angelique Rousseau; she reciprocates his desire. However, he fears that if Emmanuel does not exist than he is insane and if he does he has no idea what the spirit wants from him. He only knows he cannot allow Angelique to be harmed from his imagination or from the voodoo that seems to engulf them.

The sibling sequel to Possess Me is a delightful heated romantic urban fantasy. The story line starts slow introducing the key players and their respective plights, but once the intros are done, the plot accelerates into a fast-paced thriller. Readers will enjoy the romance between the grumpy twin and the BFF as he learns "Heaven must be missin' an angel" (Tavares) because she is here with him.

Fate's Edge
Ilona Andrews
Ace Books
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor, New York, NY 10014
9780441020867, $7.99,

In the Cascades, Audrey Callahan quit being a con artist thief always On The Edge while working in the mundane Broken and magical Weird planes. However, her retirement is delayed with one last job as her dad pleads with her to help her brother Alex the addict with the theft of a valuable magical artifact. She initially refused until her father used the mom card and vows this would be the last time. She tells him this is her last job as he once again picked her sibling over her; she further explains she no longer has parents as he expects her to steal from the Pyramid of Ptah in West Egypt on the Weird side, a death assignment.

She succeeds, but the robbery has major secondary effects as several countries on the Weird plane are preparing for war. Adrianglia's Mirror group Renaissance Man (who has feet on both sides of the law) Kaldar Mar amongst others with diverse goals search for the siblings and the relic. He is shocked that the cat burglar and her muscle took under twenty minutes to steal the treasure inside of a locked pyramid. Kaldar finds Audrey, who agrees to help him retrieve what she purloined for her sibling. At the same time Adrianglia's archenemy the Hand society seeks the same artifact, which means find the Callahan siblings in order to extract information using coercive interrogation techniques.

The third Edge urban fantasy (see On the Edge and Bayou Moon) is an action-packed zany thriller starring two distrusting individuals who fight, fuss and fall in love while working the retrieval. Fast-paced with strong spins, readers from the Broken plane will enjoy the awesome adventures of Kaldar and Audrey in the Weird.

A Perilous Conception
Larry Karp
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. First Ave., #103, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
9781590589731, $24.95,

In 1977 in Emerald, Washington, obstetrician Colin Sanford believes his name and face will be recognized by peers and even the public. Assisted by embryologist Giselle Hearn, he has completed the first in vitro fertilization of an infertile patient, Joyce Kennett.

Colin prepares to host a news conference where he will announce to the world the birth of Joyce's son. However, Joyce's husband, James commits murder/suicide when he shoots Hearn before killing himself. Changing his plans, Colin cancels the news conference and hides an incriminating log book. Meanwhile Emerald Police Detective Bernie Baumgartner leads the investigation into what seems a closed case. However, he finds an anomaly when Hearn's chair at the University OBGYN department Dr. L. Gerald Camnitz, who opposed the technique under moral and legal grounds, vanished. Sanford proves uncooperative as he fears the scandal will cost him his place in history; the University also stonewalls the inquiry as they fear the loss of federal funding. Still Baumgartner keeps digging as something seems off kilter besides a missing chair.

This is a super twisting medical murder and historical thriller that brings to life the competion to be first to successfully use in vitro fertilization. Fast-paced with a cat and mouse chess game between two intelligent stubborn men, fans will appreciate Larry Karp's interesting suspense.

Danger In The Wind
Jane Finnis
Poisoned Pen
9781590588901, $24.95

In 100 AD Britannia, Roman expatriate twins Lucius and Aurelia Marcella are contented with their lives even with residing in a frontier province. Lucius owns The Oak Tree Mansio on the road to what will be York in the future while Aurelia runs the establishment. Their mansio combines an inn with a stable and a bar.

On this busy summer day, Aurelia's idyllic world shatters. First at her Mansio someone murders a soldier possessing a letter claiming danger at Fort Isurium is forthcoming. Second Lucius shows up with his betrothed Vitellia the spoiled "kitten". Third her cousin Jovina invites them to attend her birthday party in Fort Isurium but implies a need for help from danger. Lucius refuses to allow his sibling to go into a perilous situation. He heard rumors of war and wants his family safe. However, Aurelia disobeys his order and goes to the northern fort. There she rejoices in seeing her lover Quintus the spy who is following up on information of trouble at Isurium. The rebels abduct Vitellia, Jovina's daughter Chloe, her lover Gambol, Lucius and Quintus. Aurelia works to free them before war erupts and they are killed by the hostage takers.

The fourth Aurelia Marcella ancient historical mystery (see Buried too Deep circa 98 AD, Bitter Chill circa 95 AD and Get Out Or Die circa 91 AD) contains a strong whodunit inside a rich period piece. The heroine is a courageous independent person whose obstinacy and bravery drives her brother crazy with worry. The amateur sleuth mystery is entertaining while the audience also vividly sees life in a divided Roman frontier province as the second century begins. Jane Finnis provides her fans with a deep look at Britannia circa 100 AD and they will enjoy reading every page of it.

Talking to the Dead
George Noory and Rosemary Ellen Guiley
c/o Tor Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765325389, $24.99,

Throughout recorded history, people have tried to communicate with the deceased. Up into the Industrial Revolution of the nineteenth century, most contact attempts were through a medium. Machines like the telephone and the telegraph began to change that need of a medium. Edison stated he was a believer in the ability to talk to the dead and implied he was working on a telephone like device. Newer technologies like computers have increased the belief of many that one day two way communication will occur.

Radio host George Noory and paranormal expert Rosemary Ellen Guiley provide a fascinating look at the ancient and recent past, the present, and the possible future for the living and the dead talking to one another. Although the two authors affirm there is no scientific validated reliable proof of such contact, they provide interesting anecdotal entries as Mr. Noory has done on his radio show. Although a four page appendix explaining how to experiment on your own seems more an inane afterthought, Talking to the Dead is an enjoyable look at the history of possibly the final communication frontier.

Cold Glory
B. Kent Anderson
9780765328618, $24.99

During a ground breaking ceremony for a museum at the Fort Washita Historical Site in Oklahoma, a load of Civil War era weapons, a metal box containing documents and much more is uncovered. The Heritage News Channel reports that the Oklahoma Historical Society assigns South Central College of Oklahoma historian Dr. Nick Journey to oversee the evaluation and cataloguing of the find. However, one viewer the Judge in West Virginia becomes particularly concerned with a gold pin with the initials G.W. on it and the documents.

Nick reads one document many times as he is chilled with what he peruses. When he and Assistant Professor Sandra Kelly go to lunch someone searches his office. Their mission is to do whatever it takes to retrieve the Glory Warriors' original lost charter from the professor. Later that evening professional operatives attack him; he escapes but not before he runs one assailant wearing a G. W. pin down. In DC, researcher Meg Tolman joins Nick at a time when the Glory Warriors believes they must implement the instructions of their founding generals to take over the failed federal government.

This is a superb conspiracy thriller that uses the premise of what happened at Appomattox Court House when Grant and Lee were alone for a few minutes to build a shadow force waiting just in case martial law is needed when the war is over. Although over the top of Black Mesa and the Washington Monument with Nick's escapes from an unknown highly trained special unit, readers will relish the fast-paced story line that never slows down yet also constructs a fascinating historical conspiratorial premise.

Mecha Corps
Brett Patton
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780451464316, $7.99,

The Union and The Corsair Confederacy are on the brink of war, which makes decaying earth the perfect training ground for the biomechanical-riding mecha training ground. The trainees prepare to fight against their enemy: The Corsair Confederacy Matt Lowell has lived on colony ships all his life so he welcomes the respite of training on this hellhole planet. He conceals his secret agenda for why he joined the Mecha corps as he plans to use the neural link inserted in his body which connects him to the Mecha vehicle to find and kill the Corsair Pirate who murdered his father.

Training is abruptly ended when the Corsairs attack a Union planet killing millions of civilians. Matt and his training comrades in arms are deployed to the hidden Mecha world to train on the Demons, the latest generation of Mecha. Matt recognizes the orb where the leader of the pirates is, but when they arrive with the coordinates, the unit finds the planet under Corsairs assault. Desperate, Matt devises a counter-attack that either will destroy the Union or neutralize the vicious adversary. They also decide to go after the Corsair leader in a do or die mission.

Brett Patton has written a thrill a minute military science fiction starring a fascinating hero who learns in training to be part of a cohesive unit which requires him to give up for now his personal goal. Readers also observe the politicians who use and sacrifice Black Ops agents to further their ambitions. Filled with twists and secrets that are not all revealed in this action-packed story line, fans will enjoy sparing into combat with the Mecha Corps.

Supervolcano: Eruption
Harry Turtledove
978045146420, $25.95

In the Los Angeles suburb San Atanasio, livid police lieutenant Colin Ferguson needs to get over the fact that his wife divorced him for a younger man. Bitter and ready to erupt in a meltdown, Colin decides to take a trip to Yellowstone Park. There he meets geologist Kelly Birnbaum who is studying unusual seismic activity when an earthquake hits. She tells him the possibility of a Supervolcano: Eruption is high.

They exchange phone numbers and email addresses; as Colin intends to call her as he wants to date her. Her predictions prove correct when she is flying away from the area: the sky is dark and particles mess up the engines and everything on the ground. All the nearby states are devastated with Wyoming obliterated and the rest of the lower 48 impacted. As the skies remain perpetually dark, while the romance between Colin and Kelly heats up, he keeps track of his three adult children spread across the country. Rob and his band members Squirt Frog and the Evolving Tadpoles are stranded in Northern Maine where gas is unavailable. Vanessa got out of Nevada only to stop at a Kansas FEMA relief camp which she calls is another world for hell. Perpetual student Marshall, on the verge of a degree after a couple of almost a decade at school, is trapped at home in Southern California.

Although life dramatically changes due to the impact of a Supervolcano: Eruption, this engaging tale is not a post apocalyptic thriller at least in the grand scale. Instead the entertaining story line focuses on a family before and after the blast so that the reader feels they have been in several states across the nation. With a nod to Krakatoa but on a continental scale rather than an island, known for his alternate history sagas, Harry Turtledove writes a fabulous near future survival tale (of the Ferguson family).

Courting Darkness
Yasmine Galenorn
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor
New York, NY 10014
9780515150070, $7.99,

Camille the witch has just returned home bone weary from frozen escapades in the Northlands when her half-sister Menolly (see Blood Wyne for her last lead) accosts her to tell her a demon is in a stand off with werebadger bartender Derrick at the Wayfarer Bar and Grill demanding to speak with her only. The demon is actually a daemon with a message from Trytian the daemon Camille does not trust. His message is a white dragon is in the Demon Underground is seeking Camille. She shows the note to one of her husbands Smoky the white-silver mixed dragon. They both know that his father Hyto hunts them with the intent to kill his son who has shamed him with this abomination marriage and slay his daughter-in-law who led his offspring astray.

A new crisis arises when something at Tangleroot Park sucks friend Chase Johnson through an otherworld energy portal. Camille and her half sister Delilah the werecat/werepanther (see Harvest Hunting for her last lead) attempt to rescue Chase. However, Hyto captures Camille. He plans to break her soul before ripping apart her body.

The tenth D'Artigo Sisters Otherworld urban fantasy is a terrific entry as this time Camille (see Bone Magic for her last lead) is the one going through emotional and physical challenges as the lead role returns to her. The tense story line grips the reader from the moment the two half sisters mount the recue and only intensifies when the father-in-law from hell caches up with Camille. Although the overarching war against the Shadow Wing does not move forward much, the dysfunctional family dragon subplot does so readers need to set aside time with another great Yasmine Galenorn thriller.

Physical Education
Maggie Barbieri
Minotaur Books
c/o St. Martin's Publishing Group
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312593292, $24.99,

At the northern most tip of New York City is St. Thomas Catholic College. When the girl's basketball coach dies, English Lit professor Alison Bergeron is drafted to take over at a time when the daughter of her husband Homicide Detective Bobby Crawford is a star player. She is leaving for the day when security guard John Dugan notices her trunk is not locked, which surprises the instructor. When they cannot shut it, they open it to find the bloody corpse of the new mail room employee Paul, who just delivered a package to Alison. Two colleagues of Crawford, Montoya and Moran lead the inquiry.

Crawford goes undercover, which bothers his wife who still has scars from her first cheating husband. He informs her that Paul was Vito Passella, a foot soldier in the Lucarelli mob. Alison begins a bit of uncovers sleuthing finding evidence which point to the former late coach of the Blue Jays being murdered instead of dying from a heart attack. Soon afterward an accusation of sexual misconduct shakes the school. Unable to remain on the bench, Alison's moral code has her making inquires into what is going on at St. Thomas.

Physical Education, the latest Murder 101 amateur sleuth (see Third Degree, Final Exam and Quick Study), is an entertaining academic cozy. Crawford sums up the tale and series as he believes his wife has good instincts in terms of solving homicides, but poor instincts in terms of not being the next victim. With amusing asides from the protagonist, fans will enjoy stopping at St. Thomas Catholic College for its breathtaking view of the Hudson and academic homicides.

Chelsea Mansions
Barry Maitland
9780312600662, $25.99

In London, septuagenarian Bostonian tourists, Widow Nancy Haynes and Widower Emerson Merkle attend the annual Chelsea Flower Show. However, their enjoyment ends when an apparently insane man hammers Emerson knocking him to the ground and then this crazy person throws Nancy in front of a bus. Scotland Yard's Serious Crime Division investigates what is assumed to be a homicide committed by a lunatic.

Detective Chief Inspector David Brock and Detective Inspector Kathy Kolla are horrified by the violent act. Closed circuit cameras in the area fail to show the killer, which the cops assume means this was not a random murder but a planned assault needing help. The police round up the killer's support team like Danny Yilnaz who drove the culprit from the homicide scene on his bike. None of them can describe their "client" and are shocked he committed a homicide; all of them are afraid they will be next. Near the Chelsea Mansions Hotel where the two Americans were staying, someone stabs to death wealthy Russian Mikhail Moszynski. Brock and Kolla assume the two murders are linked, but cannot find that connection.

The latest Brock and Kolla British police procedural (see Spider Trap and The Dark Mirror) is an engaging whodunit in which the cops struggle with the motives behind the murders. The story line is fast-paced but has too much on the peripheral going on from the Cold War hauntings to illegal financial and political dealings, etc. Still series fans will enjoy this entertaining case especially when the official inquiry is front and center.

A Killer's Christmas in Wales
Elizabeth J. Duncan
9780312622831, $24.99

As Christmas nears, the worst snow in a quarter of a century compounded by ice makes life difficult in Llanelen, Wales. Although there have been delays and not just because of the weather, business partners Penny Brannigan and Victoria Hopkirk continue with preparations for the grand opening of their new upscale spa overlooking the River Conwy.

American dance instructor Harry Saunders arrives in Llanelen and charms Widow Evelyn Lloyd while teaching ballroom dancing at the community center. However, though he appears to be a nice fellow, many residents suspect the outsider is taking Evelyn to the cleaners. They prove right when he persuades her to give him money in a sure shot investment. As soon as she gives him the loot, he vanishes. However, Saunders fails to get very far as his murdered corpse is found near Conwy Castle with a horde of people of interest since the Stretch and Sketch Club and other locals had the opportunity, but the weapon belongs to the fleeced widow. Knowing she is the prime suspect as she had the motive, the opportunity and the means, Evelyn pleads with Penny, who has solved murders before (see The Cold Light of Mourning and A Brush with Death), to prove her innocence.

The third Welsh Brannigan cozy is a delightful whodunit as it takes a village to convolute a murder investigation. The Canadian expatriate protagonist makes the story line entertaining as she remains a somewhat accepted outsider busy with the spa opening, but works an amateur sleuth investigation as well.

The Chalice of Blood
Peter Tremayne
9780312551216, $25.95

Already a dalaigh advocate of the law, Sister Fidelma of Cashel asks her brother King Colgu of Mumen to appoint her as the Chief Brehon magistrate. He conditionally agrees, but insists she first look into the suspicious death of scholar Brother Donnchad.

Abbott Iarnla asked the king to investigate the death of the Brother who recently feared for his life. He was found dead in his locked cell with stab wounds on his body yet his corpse seemed restful rather than frantic. Additionally manuscripts he was working on appear missing. Accompanying Sister Fidelma to the island where the Abbey of Lios Mor is located is her Brother Eadulf, Even before reaching the abbey, someone tries to assassinate the two investigators. At Lios Mor, cooperation is not forthcoming from most of the residents.

This is a great seventh century locked room Mystery of Ancient Ireland. As always the setting comes to life in this strong historical series (see The Dove of Death). While the lead couple struggles with divisive personal issues that enhance the plot as both lose some focus on the mission, it is the brilliant locked cell inquiry that makes Peter Tremayne's The Chalice of Blood an excellent thriller.

A Crimson Warning
Tasha Alexander
9780312661755, $25.95

In 1893 London at Lady Londonderry's ball, British intelligence agent Colin Hargreaves waltzes with his beloved wife Emily when he is forced to intercede between two men about to go to blows. Before he can finish what he started, the butler gives him a note. He informs Emily he must leave to look into a fire in Southwark. That night he comes home very late and tells his beloved spouse that exporter Michael Dillman died in the warehouse inferno.

Michael's grieving fiancee Cordelia tells Colin that an unknown vandal threw red paint on his door. The family of Polly Sanders, the latest scandalous lineage rumor of the Ton, also is a victim of the red paint scoundrel. Other aristocratic families face the same paint assault followed by a shocking disclosure. That humiliates the victims. Emily wants to help her husband with the cases, but fears the sadistic culprit will paint her with a scarlet letter.

The sixth Lady Emily late Victorian mystery (see Dangerous to Know) is a wonderful period piece as the Ton suddenly live in fear of an unknown predator who gleefully exposes skeletal secrets. The story line is fast-paced from the moment that Colin leaves the ball in Mayfair and never slows down as Tasha Alexander provides a profound exhilarating historical with contemporary implications in which the ends justify the means.

Avenger's Angel
Heather Killough-Walden
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014-3658
9780451235220, $7.99,

Four loyal archangels (Uriel, Michael, Gabriel and Azrael) were rewarded for their faithfulness with a female angel soulmate. To insure no jealousy occurs amongst the remaining archangels, the quartet is sent to earth to find their soulmate. Their brother, angry Samael leads a revolt against the "old man", but is exiled as The Fallen One in defeat.

For too many countless millennia they sought their mate, but now each believes it was a cruel cosmic joke. That is until Uriel, currently movie star Christopher Daniels, meets Eleanore Granger in a bookstore. She is on the run from militia who want to use her paranormal skills so has no time for a Hollywood star. Meanwhile media mogul Samuel Lambert offers her a deal she cannot refuse.

The first Lost Angels romantic urban fantasy is an exciting thriller starring a fascinating cast. The protagonists are an engaging duet as the heroine rejects she is his destiny. The villain is intriguing as he comes across more as Mr. Lonely than the evil Fallen One. Although the romance depends on fate's mates too much with limited development between the pair, readers will enjoy the Avenger's Angel.

Baby It's Cold Outside
Addison Fox
9780451235213, $7.99

On another boring Scarsdale date arranged by her mom, Sloan McKinley receives a text message from her best friend Grier Thompson pleading with her to leave Manhattan for Indo, Alaska. Her BFF inherited property from her late dad Jonas Winston, but the townsfolk blame Grier for the estrangement. Grier believes Sloan would make her acceptable and help with the legal entanglement of her having a half-sister Kate Winston that until she went north to Alaska was unaware of her existence

Sloan arrives as quickly as possible to be with Grier at a time when the town's grandmas host the annual bachelorette competition in order to see the marriages of their commitment phobic grandsons. Her friend is treated like a pariah while one of the matriarchs Mayor Sophie Montgomery thinks the New York shtick Sloan is the perfect mate for her grandson Walker the lawyer who is working the Winston estate.

This is a fun Alaskan Nights contemporary romance starring am urbane affluent New Yorker and a Last Frontier remote small town lawyer. The quirky townsfolk enhance the plot though at times the support cast overwhelms the story line with sheer numbers. Still fans will enjoy the amusing Baby's It's Cold Outside, but warm inside the hearts of everyone (except mean-spirited Kate).

Halo: Glasslands
Karen Traviss
c/o Tor/Forge Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765330406, $15.99,

By 2553, the war between the Sangheili Covenant and the Unified Earth left billions dead and planets destroyed, but the worst of the combat seems over. The Covenant stands on the brink of civil war between the purist rebels of the Servants of Abiding Truth fundamentalists and the leaders who led the race the Covenant to collapse. Unified Earth President Dr. Ruth Charet sends Office of Naval Intelligence Serin Osman accompanied by linguisitic Professor Evan Phillips to foster the internal hostilities of the enemy by dealing with the Sangheili insurrection leader the Arbiter Avu Med 'Telcann.

OSI Admiral Parangocky dispatches a Kilo Five unit to Onyx, a planet destroyed during the hostilities. The military want to capture scientist Dr. Catherine Halsey who broke the law when she created the Spartans. She, Chief Mendez, Spartans and Spartans III survive in a Forerunner slipspace. Meanwhile the threat to humanity comes from within the Unified Earth confederacy.

This is an exciting post Halo 3 science fiction thriller that grips fans of the game saga from start to finish. Although there are too many major subplots going on as Karen Traviss sets in motion the opening act of a trilogy, readers will enjoy seeing another aspect of the Spartans who were created for war, but must either die or adapt to potentially peace.

Count to a Trillion
John C. Wright
9780765329271, $25.99

In AD 2221 in independent Texas, eleven year old Menelaus Illation Montrose listens to the elders discuss the old future that never happened. He wishes he could confront the perpetrator who caused destruction of what the old future should have been. From reading and listening, Menelaus knows The War of Religion and the War of Economics devastated the planet that now is equivalent to that of the late nineteenth century as the oil is gone and the electric grids no longer work while the Infertility Plague went pandemic. Menelaus especially distrusts political and religious leaders who make holy claims while each day his world deteriorates.

In AD 2235, Menelaus the duelist for hire has a chance to escape Texas a place he loathes. He joins a space expedition traveling to a nearby system in order to obtain antimatter from an alien relic. To increase his intelligence, Montrose undergoes an experiment, but it leaves him in a coma for years. When Montrose finally awakens he is a super genius and learns his former space mates used the antimatter to conquer Earth. As he translates the alien language on the relic, he learns of the planetary debt his comrades remitted to the aliens and fears what will happen when they collect their IOU.

Extrapolating contemporary trends, John C. Wright writes an action-packed futuristic science fiction. The story line starts slow as Mr. Wright provides the backdrop of life in the twenty-third century; however once the angry Menelaus joins the space mission, the story line soars into a fast-paced thriller. Menelaus is an interesting protagonist who goes from an acrimonious gun for hire into a save the world hero on an earth that is not looking for a hero.

The Dark at the End
F. Paul Wilson
9780765322838, $25.99

In Long Island Otherness avatar Rasalom has set in motion a diabolical scheme to force the Change. The avatar knows that if the planet's Lady dies one more time, she cannot return as she has twice before, which will enable the Otherness to invade an unprotected earth. He also prepares the second coming of Dawn Pickering's dead baby to mentor as the face of the Change.

Jack wants to destroy his enemy, but is bound by the vow he made to his teacher Glaeken. However, his mentor is dying and Jack will not only replace him, but will go after his evil enemy. Former Rasalom lieutenant Ernst Drexler allies with his long term nemesis Jack as he knows what the Change will mean to his well being. Meanwhile as the time nears, Jack knows he must kill Rasalom and save the Dawn baby or die trying.

The final Repairman Jack urban fantasy is a great ending to a powerful long running series. The story line brings closure to all the major threads in a dynamic finish. With the cosmic apocalyptic war between the Ally and the Otherness on battlefield earth, ironically and brilliantly, the climax is human.

Eyes to See
Joseph Nassise
9780765327185, $22.95

Harvard classics Professor Dr. Jeremiah Hunt knows his idyllic life ended the day his beloved daughter Elizabeth playing in her room in their Boston home was abducted. Jeremiah remains obsessed with finding her while the cops led by diligent homicide detective Miles Stanton declare the case cold; he watches his marriage and job implode. Desperate, he tries an arcane ritual that leaves him blind but enables him to see inside the realm of absolute darkness where ghosts and other evil supernatural entities thrive. Additionally Jeremiah delineates the genuine gifted from the con artists.

Stanton believes the Elizabeth kidnapping and the ritual have made Hunt a psychic. He employs the professor on strange cases. His current murder inquiry involves a person left dead in a ritual pose, but no cause of death surfaces; the walls of the murder scene contain words and symbols from arcane languages. When a second similar murder occurs, Hunt sees a pattern, but knows he needs help. The professor asks pub owner Dmitri Alexandrov and the witch Denise Clearwater to assist him. The trio identifies serial killing going back many years as something malevolent that has a master plan involving Hunt.

Eyes to See is an intriguing fascinating investigative urban fantasy starring an interesting protagonist who cannot see what others see but sees what they cannot. Filled with increasingly tense horror, the hero stays anchored by his determination to find Elizabeth. Although there is too much external description of what Hunt's eyes fail to see that never quire seems to fit inside the prime story line of what he acts on what he does see, fans will appreciate this strong paranormal thriller.

The Alloy of Life
Brandon Sanderson
9780765330420, $24.99

In the last few decades a steel based technology boom has come to Scadrial. The new Steel Age has led to railroads traversing the surface, electric lights on streets and skyscrapers. At the same time, the ancient magical system of Allomancy, Feruchemy, and Hemalurgy remains potent though more so in the perilous Roughs than in the urban centers.

For twenty years Waxillium Ladrian has enforced the law in the Rough using his Twinborn skill of deploying Allomancy to Pull metal and employing Feruchemy to change his weight. However, his time in the Rough is over as he must return home to the modern city of Elendel to replace his recently deceased uncle as Lord Ladrian. However, he learns upon coming home that a ruthless gang of thieves the Vanishers are abducting women and stealing cargo from the railcars. His sense of justice and honor has Wax, along with his friend depraved Wayne and genius Marasi, on a mission to rescue the kidnapped and to end the Vanishers reign of robberies.

The Alloy of Law is a stand alone urban fantasy that occurs in the lands of the Mistborn Trilogy, but in the future three centuries after the heroes of the previous tales are alive only as legends. The brilliant story line can be read without the perusing the trilogy though those who do so will miss out on a fabulous magical fantasy series. The key to this strong action adventure is the emerging competition between magic and technology except when a rare practitioner combines them. Wax and his two compatriots add amusing banter to a brisk High Noon in Mistborn guns and sorcery thriller.

Antiquitas Lost: The Last of the Shamalans
Robert Louis Smith, author
Geof Isherwood, illustrator
Medlock Publishing
9780615460475, $19.00,

Fifteen year old Elliott worries about his mom Mary who he believes his dying. They moved to New Orleans to live with her elderly father in his home built in 1796. The kind old man tells him about the house's history and sadly informs his grandson that his mother has breast cancer.

Hi grandfather sounds as crazy as his dad claimed him to be with talk of the cause of the cancer and artifacts in the basement. Elliot explores the basement where he finds strange paintings and hears whispers. He soon finds himself in the Forest of Ondor in war wracked Pangrelor where two tiny gimlets (Marvus and Jingo) believe he is a Shamalan. They explain his species once ruled the realm, but due to ethnic cleansing are down to Princess Sarintha, prisoner of the Serpans at war with the Shamalans, Gimlets and the Grayfarers. They take him to the ruling council who plan to execute Elliot and Hooks the Susquatanian, but Jingo and Marvus rescue both. The quartet tries to prevent a Serpan attack, rescue the princess and elude the Council; while the hero needs to be with his mom.

This is an entertaining quest fantasy with unique species that bring a brisk freshness to the tale. The story line is fast-paced with vivid illustrations enhancing the good vs. bad guys plot. The Serpans who seem to be winning the war come across as incompetent in battle scenes (even their pictures make them look like losers). Mindful of the NeverEnding Story, young adult readers will appreciate this engaging thriller starring heroes with histories and allies with nebulous motives not as lucid as they first appear.

A Deadly Penance
Maureen Ash
Berkley Books
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, 4th floor, New York, NY 10014
9780425243367, $14.00,

In a freezing February in 1203, Serjeant of the Castle Garrison Ernulf walks the ramparts when he discovers the corpse of visitor Aubrey Tercel, part of the retinue of Peternille de la Haye, sister of the hereditary castellan Nicolaa de la Haye. The victim was obviously shot by a specially made longbow that Nicolaa's late father gave her. Since the sheriff Gerald Camville is away, Ernulf informs Richard Camville, the son of Gerald and Ernulf. Richard and Ernulf conduct a preliminary investigation before telling Richard's mom, aunt and cousin Alinor de Humez. They send for the coroner Pinchbeck who arrives to collect a fee for the death, but also claims that he is busy so Richard should investigate.

Nicolaa asks the Templar Preceptor d'Arderon if Knight Bascot de Marins can help with a homicide inquiry as he has solved murder mysteries before (see Shroud of Dishonor and Murder for Christ's Mass) Thus he comes to Lincoln Castle to team up with Richard and Alinor, and assisted by Gianni who he brought with him from the Italian streets. The obvious culprit is Simon Adgate the furrier who's much younger wife Clarice acts like her lover died. However, the case proves much more complicated with the roots born in 1177.

For the first quarter of the latest Templar Knight mystery, Bascot does not appear as Richard and Ernulf start the investigation. The four detectives make a wonderful team as their discussions are intelligent and relevant. Fans of medieval cozies, set in a vividly described background in which readers will feel the cold, will enjoy A Deadly Penance.

Behind the Seams
Betty Hechman
9780425241424, $24.95

The Tarzana Hookers crochet group is excited as one of their members, actress CeeCee Collins has made a comeback with insiders talking Oscar. CeeCee is excited with appearing on the popular Barbara Olive Overton Show where her niece Nell works as a production assistant. Although the movie star is wary that she has to cook a dish, Molly Pink and other Hookers mentor CeeCee.

While the Tarzana Hookers sit in the audience, Barbara interviews CeeCee until Adele starts shouting that crocheters deserve equal time with knitters. Adele and Molly, who tried to get the outspoken Hooker to sit, are removed from the auditorium by segment producer Robyn Freed. Nell brings a latte to Robyn who lectures her for not bringing her sweetener. Nell gets it and Robyn sips her cold coffee only to fall down dead. Detective Heather leads the homicide investigation in which the only suspect is Nell. As Nell is placed on leave, CeeCee asks Molly, who has solved mysteries (see You Better Knot Die) to investigate. Molly begins her inquiry fascinated by a photo on the victim's desk in which a person has been cut out.

The latest Tarzana Hookers amateur sleuth is an entertaining tale although the whodunit for much of the story line plays second fiddle to the Behind the Seams look at the group. Nell is a delightful protagonist who is in denial as to how much trouble she is in. Cozy fans will enjoy this lighthearted whodunit as CeeCee trusts Molly to extract Nell from going to prison while Adele keeps screaming for Crocheters to unite.

Acquainted With The Night
Piper Maitland
9780425243633, $9.99

After the fire made her a young orphan, Caroline Clifford grew up with her Uncle Nigel, a noted archeologist who took her on digs where she learned to curse in seven languages. She became a Ph.D. candidate in medieval history but dropped out to take a position as a London tour guide.

Caroline receives a call from British Embassy representative Sir Geoffrey McKitterick informing her that someone murdered Nigel at the Perperikon dig site in Bulgaria. Geoffrey made arrangements for Caroline to fly to Sofa and then train to Kardzhali near the murder scene. At Heathrow she meets biochemist Dr. Jude Barrett who also is flying to Bulgaria and shows her letters proving he corresponded with Nigel. In Kardzhali, he explains his mission is to rid the world of vampires, which she scoffs as insane. When she looks at Nigel's possessions, she notices enigmatic anagrams on her uncle's passport. While Wilkerson Pharmaceutical hunts Caroline, she interprets Nigel's cryptic clues and with Jude travels to Meteora, Greece. There she begins to learn the truth about an artifact she owns, an ancient arcane text and a prophecy of a war between the dark and the light with her as the catalyst.

This is an exciting action-packed Brownian fantasy with several twists that keep the reader obsessed with a need to know what next. Caroline is a courageous beleaguered individual who has several rivals converge on her; as each knows her value while the audience (and the heroine) slowly learns why they want her. Fast-paced, Acquainted With The Night is a super action-packed tale as Caroline finds out the world as she has known it is an illusion but that facade is on the verge of cataclysmic crumbling.

Dangerous Alterations
Elizabeth Lynn Casey
9780425244616, $7.99

At the local clinic, town librarian Tori Sinclair and the members of the Sweet Briar Ladies Society provide support to the knitting circle's matriarch Rose Winter as she receives treatment for rheumatoid arthritis. Tori is taken aback by another patient at the clinic. Two years ago in Chicago, she was engaged to Jeff Calder but caught him with a friend. She broke it off and took the library position in Sweet Briar, South Caroline. Now Jeff's Great-Aunt Vera is at the clinic, but soon dies from heart failure.

Lynn, the wife of Vera's stepson Garrett, is at the clinic; she suffers from breast cancer. She asks Tori to call Jeff as she knows Garrett will not since he hates his relative. Tori does the right thing and even picks up the womanizing personal trainer Jeff at the airport. When Jeff asks for a second chance, Tori rejects him as she has a caring beau schoolteacher Milo and the friendship of the sewing circle life rafts. Though in great shape, Jeff dies of a heart attack while jogging, which is not a shocker since it runs in his family. However, because of a recent physical, the police treat Jeff's death as a murder with family members and Tori as suspects. The sewing circle sisters investigate the death.

The latest Southern Sewing Circle amateur sleuth (see deadly Notions) is an entertaining whodunit with the investigative subplot coming late. Instead much of the story line focuses on the Sweet Briar Ladies Society members especially Tori with Jeff in town and Milo away at a convention. With a deft look at health care insurance, fans will enjoy this fun regional cozy which includes how to knit a comfort pillow.

Hickory Smoked Homicide
Riley Adams
9780425244609, $7.99

In Memphis, Widow Lulu Taylor owns popular Aunt Pat's BBQ. Lulu hires teenager Steffi Pembroke as a waitress and gives her a room to stay in after her mother the odious pageant coach Tristan tossed her out of their home. Not long after that Lulu, her friend saucy Cherry Hayes, her daughter-in-law Sara and Steffi attend an auction at Tristan's home. Sara and Tristan get into a heated argument over a portrait the former painted of the latter. Soon after the argument Lulu searches for Sara, but cannot find her; instead she finds the murdered body of Tristan; something the MPD notes is a regular part of her lifestyle (see Finger Lickin' Dead and Delicious and Suspicious).

The prime suspect is Sara due to the public conflict and a series of bad luck at the wrong time. Sara's husband Ben worries about his wife even as he arranges a blind date for his mom with popular food blogger Gordon. Lulu refuses to allow the mother of her grandchild to go to jail so with Cherry they begin to investigate who committed Hickory Smoked Homicide.

The third Memphis BBQ Mystery is an entertaining regional amateur sleuth starring a quirky neighborhood cast. Although the mischance that has Sara in peril is way too much of a coincidence, so much so fans will change Murphy's Law to Sara's Syndrome, fans will enjoy this fine cozy as Lulu and Cherry find more suspects than ingredients in Brunswick Stew but a final terrific twist adds just the right amount of source to Riley Adams' fun whodunit.

Seductive as Flame
Susan Johnson
9780425244906, $7.99

In 1894 independent Griselda "Zelda" MacKenzie returns home from Brazil after a successful orchid hunting trip. At the Duke and Duchess of Groveland's gala, Zelda in a strange outfit with odd jewels meets womanizing earl, Alec Munro. Though married to the bitchy Violetta, he makes it clear that he wants the exotic Scottish beauty in his bed. Although bed hopping has become an acceptable activity amongst the Ton unless you are caught, she is attracted to him but has doubts due to his marital status.

However, her desire supersedes her caution. Zelda and Alec make love numerous times as neither can have enough sex with the other. He promises his beloved he will divorce his wife so they can marry. However, both are concerned over the well being of his six year old son Chris, who he loves though he is the offspring of his wife's first husband.

Although the story line is extremely thin except in the boudoir, fans of Susan Johnson will enjoy her latest erotic late Victorian romance (see Gorgeous as Sin, Sexy as Hell and Sweet as the Devil). The boudoir scenes are scintillating, slow and steamy; while the relatively ethical lead couple is a nice pairing of a feisty female with a philandering married male.

Herald of Death
Kate Kingsbury
9780425243350, $15.00

As snow is on the ground in Badger's End, someone kills delivery boy Jimmy Taylor and shoemaker Thomas Willow. In each case, the culprit cut off a lock of hair and left behind a gold angel on their forehead. Constable Sam Northcutt surprises Cecily Sinclair Baxter of the Pennyfoot Hotel, when he asks for her help as normally he is annoyed with her sleuthing though he admits she has a successful solve rate (see Mistletoe And Mayhem). Her husband Baxter reminds Cecily of her promise to do no detecting this year.

She tries to nudge her spouse to free her from her promise, as the first telegram arrives, canceling reservations at the Pennyfoot. He reluctantly agrees to let her sleuth while lecturing stable hand Samuel to stay at her side at all times. As Cecily seeks links between the victims, more murders with gold angels as a signature and cancelations make this the deadly season of the Herald of Death.

The latest early twentieth century Special Pennyfoot Hotel Mystery (see Decked With Folly) is another superb homicidal historical holiday cozy. The "Upstairs, Downstairs" class difference just before WWI comes alive, as it always does in the Pennyfoot saga, in this exciting amateur sleuth. Although the story line starts a bit slower than normal as the feisty heroine must extract her self from her promise to her spouse, series fans will enjoy realizing she has come a long way with the inept Northcutt and her concerned spouse recognizing her sleuthing skills.

Katie's Way
Marta Perry
9780425243220, $14.00

In Pleasant Valley, Pennsylvania, furniture craftsman Caleb Brand is unhappy that Bishop Mose rented the store next door to the daadi of Katie Miller. To get away from a failed romance when her Eli married Jessica, Katie relocated to open up a quilt shop. Caleb's concern turns to dismay as the shop next door becomes an in place for gossipy Amish and Englisch. Worse in his mind is his attraction to the kind quilter

Strike three occurs when Katie's parents leave her troubled teenage sister Rhoda, whose rumored rumspringa activity is scandalous, with her. However, she begins to win over Caleb as a friend and perhaps more especially when he protects her from vandals who she assumes rejects her efforts to bring more business to Main Street.

The fifth Pleasant Valley inspirational Amish romance (see Sarah's Gift and Anna's Return) is a superb contemporary that focuses on starting over for the protagonists, her sister and the storekeepers on Main St. Katie holds the charming storyline together; as she diligently tries to make her store a success while other storekeepers resent her; falls in love with Caleb who believes his ability to love ended with Mattie, and cares for her sister whose rep back home has been shredded. Magnificent Marta Perry provides another engaging Pleasant Valley tale.

Death Magic
Eileen Wilks
9780425245125, $7.99

Separate assassination attempts on FBI Agent Lily Yu and her Magical Crimes Division chief Ruben Brooks (see Blood Challenge) have both believing a traitor onside the agency wants them dead. Ruben decides the brutal combat between the Old Ones with no regard to collateral damage to human and supernatural beings needs a special solution. He establishes a top secret shadow force of various trusted individuals from different species. Whereas Lily declines a position in this unit because of her values that insist the government needs to adhere to the law regardless of circumstance, her Lupe fiance Rule Turner accepts as his people are in mortal combat with an ancient adversary.

Someone using Death Magic assassinates US Senator Bixton who was a supporter of the volatile Humans First movement. The prime suspect in the high visible murder is Ruben. Lily investigates while wondering if her boss stepped outside the law to eliminate a senatorial threat. That doubt changes when the killer assaults Lily, which makes her realize the new cell is the only hope to prevent something big and ugly from happening.

The latest Lupi FBI urban fantasy is an entertaining entry in which the heroine's internal ethical battle brings a strong morality element involving human (and paranormal) rights at a time in which torture and assassination are acceptable practices. The story line is fast-paced as Lily begins to understand why Rule did not blink when offered the opportunity to join a cell working above the law. With plenty of action and a deep look at morality, readers will appreciate visiting Wilks' wonderful world.

Tied with a Bow
Kimberly Frost, Eileen Wilks, Virginia Kantra, Lora Leigh
9780425243299, $15.00

"Upon A Midnight Clear" by Virginia Kantra. In 1792 Paris at the Conciergeri Prison, the angel comes in answer to Solange's dying prayer. He promises to take her thirteen year old daughter Aimee to family in England though the teen is unaware he visits her mother. He keeps an eye on her over the next few years and though an angel knows he would risk heaven to keep her safe.

"First Light" by Kimberly Frost. Since she found a ring years ago that vanished a few days later, Kate Devane has suffered from violent nightmares in which two beings battle one another and she is often injured. However, one of the stars of her nocturnal nightmares Nathaniel arrives in the real world suffering from amnesia and she believes his lethal odious adversary will follow.

"Human Error" by Eileen Wilks. Benedict the Lupi reluctantly accompanies his beloved Chosen Arjene to spend time with her Delacroix family over the Yule holidays. However, upon arrival starting with his being forced into an unwanted Change, the soulmates realize something evil is coming.

"An Inconvenient Mate" by Lora Leigh. Coyote Breed Malachi attends the Navaho Nation Council where he meets his mate Isobel, but the Council has plans for her.

These are four entertaining romantic fantasies filled with strong lead characters in suspenseful scenarios as each contributor brings their own worldly uniqueness to the mix. Fans of Ms. Leigh's Breed Mates and Ms. Wilks' Lupi tales will especially want to read their latest series entries.

At the End of the Road
Grant Jerkins
9780425243343, $15.00

During the sweltering summer of 1976 on a infrequently traveled back dirt road in rural Georgia, Melodie Godwin driving her car swerves to avoid hitting ten year old Kyle Edwards riding his bike. Her quick action leaves the tweener unhurt, but the car overturned severely injuring Melodie. Kyle sees her blood everywhere and takes off in a panic. He tells no one.

The next day the lad returns to scene of the accident with trepidation, but there is no major indication an incident occurred just yesterday. Not long afterward, Sheriff's Deputy Officer Dana Turpin searches for the missing woman while Kyle's neighbor viciously clever stroke victim Kenny "the Paralyzed Man" Ahearn observes the youngster with a malicious intent.

This is an exciting historical suspense thriller starring a frightened child, a nasty villain, a dedicated law enforcement official, and the missing victim. The tense story line is fast-paced from the moment of the near collision and never slows down until the final confrontation. Although over the top of Stone Mountain, readers will enjoy what goes down At the End of the Road.

The Black Hawk
Joanna Bourne
9780425244531, $7.99

By 1818, the war between France and England has been over for several years. However, long time English spy Adrian Hawker and as long French espionage agent Justine DeCabrillac have been in love for much of the time since they first met in Paris in 1794 as preteen spies during the Terror, but over two decades later they still distrust one another. Over the years as alliances changed, they went from opposite sides to the same side to opposite sides, etc. Through all this time, they love one another but each knows their country is first in their heart.

Now in 1818, Hawker leads the British Intelligence Service while someone tries to kill DeCabrillac of the Police Secrete on the streets of London; framing her beloved Englishman as her assassin. She goes to his house bleeding from a stab wound though she has doubts if he was the assassin. Will they team up in love to uncover a mutual enemy, of which both have many; or will they go after one another? If he has a say they will become permanent rather than intermittent.

The fourth Spymaster Regency romantic suspense thriller (see The Spymaster's Lady, My Lord and Spymaster) is a great entry that will be considered one of the best historical thrillers of the year. The story line is tense on two fronts: the romance and the mystery of the assassin while the lead couple is a wonderful pairing of star-crossed patriots. Introduced in The Forbidden Rose by talented Joanna Bourne, The Black Hawk is a fabulous thriller.

Lost Melody
Lori Copeland and Virginia Smith
Zondervan Publishing House
5300 Patterson Avenue, S.E.
Grand Rapids, MI 49530
9780310289869, $12.99,

In Manhattan, Jill King rides the train to Carnegie Hall's Weill Music Institute to attend a workshop culminating with her playing in the great hall. Jill and friendly Robert chat and as they shake hands, the train crashes. She is pinned down by something but by her side also trapped is Robert.

One year later, Jill suffers from headaches and is haunted by her piano sitting unused in her apartment as the horrific train accident ended her dream of becoming a concert pianist; the scar on her left hand is proof that she will never play like she once did. She also wonders about Robert who vanished once help arrived. She hides in Seaside Cove, Nova Scotia while her nana and her boyfriend Greg Bradford worry about her and her mom struggles with recovering from a stroke. However, Jill suffers from a nightmare that has her panicking over an inferno destroying her town. She sounds the alarm at a cost to Greg's political ambitions and their relationship while the townsfolk assume she lost more than her musical ability.

Lost Melody is a strong character driven whimsical inspirational tale starring a flawed individual who suffers from PTSD. Jill is terrific as she holds the story line together while receiving the pity stares of the neighbors she wants to save from the disaster she dreams is coming. Using the disaster of the Mont-Blanc in Halifax Harbor in 1917 as a base, Lori Copeland and Virginia Smith provide a heavenly tale of a woman who learns about pride being a deadly sin as there are plenty of stanzas to play perhaps not in Carnegie hall, but in Seaside Cove if one chooses life.

The Furnace
Timothy S. Johnston
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781466276659, $14.99,

In 2401 AD, Confederate Combined Forces Security Division, Homicide Section Lieutenant Kyle Tanner investigates crimes at the most isolated locales in the solar system. His success rate is much greater than his colleagues because he cares about the family members of the butchered victims. Thus he obstinately stalks deadly predators with a determination fueled by his need to tell the loved ones he executed the monster. Other investigators do not give a damn about the victim or those grieving the loss.

In a dive on Mercury, Tanner captures Quint Sirius who killed his only friend. After he breaks his prisoner's kneecap, he takes him to CCF Headquarters. CCF Lieutenant Commander Bryce Manning informs Tanner that earth wants him to go to SOLEX One, an energy gathering station closer to the sun than Mercury. SOLEX One Command Group Chief Jace Lassiter explains there are six officers, four scientists and five crewmen until someone murdered and mutilated crewman James Chin. His assignment is to find the killer. The station Captain Fredericks greets him with disdain while the Systems Officer Shaheen Ramachandra welcomes him. However, Tanner finds no motives for the death, mutilation or the related fire as the cause is much more insidious to both ends of the pipe line.

This is a great science fiction locked station mystery as Tanner is only the second visitor to SOLEX One. The key to the exciting thriller is the futuristic world of Timothy S. Johnston feels real whether it is the tunnels of Mercury or an isolated energy gathering station. Tanner is terrific as a caring yet kick butt protagonist. With a delightful late twist, readers will appreciate this early twenty-fifth century whodunit and why.

Moonsinger's Quest
Andre Norton
Baen Books
PO Box 1188, Wake Forest NC 27588
9781451637564, $12.00,

"Flight to Yiktor." In the lawless slums of the Limits, Farree the hunchback alien has no friends except for Togger the war-beast he telepathically communicates with. Lady Maelen the psychic Moonsinger asks his name and he replies Dung. She insists he is Farree who has no idea how he ended up on this lethal planet. Maelen and Free Trader Krip Vorland take Farree and Togger with them as they journey to her planet Yiktor while enemies pursue them.

"Dare to Go a-Hunting." Farree has come a long way since Lady Maelen rescued him as his wings came out of his misshapen body. Krip has found wings like Farree's in a marketplace. With his friends, Farree begins his journey to find any of his species.

This is a reprint of the exciting books three and four in the super Moonsinger saga which focuses more on Farree than on the stars of the first two tales (see Moon of Three Rings and Exiles of the Stars) although they play key roles. The fast-paced Flight in Yiktor feels like a transition tale that is enhanced by having the fascinating conclusion Dare to Go a-Hunting (with ties to some other Andre Norton outer space thrillers) in the same omnibus collection although that also shows a rather radical change in the hero's personality. Still these terrific two tales are entertaining thrillers.

Catharine Asaro
9781451637489, $25.00

Eubian Concord Emperor Jaibriol III and his heir chief advisor Corbal discuss implementation of the peace treaty ending hostilities with the Skolian Imperialate. The emperor knows the Aristo oppose the treaty and he expects assassination attempts on his life and those in his inner circle like his consort Tarquine Iquar the Finance Minister.

Skoalian Imperialate Imperator Kelricson Garlin Valdoria kya Skolia approves the treaty also. He like his cousin Jaibriol supports implementation though he knows assassins from his side will try to kill him.

Tarquine's ambitious nephew Eubian General Barthol Iquar learns of the song "Carnelians Finale" that rips his side for torture by earth bound musician Del-Kurj Arden Valdoria kya Skolia. The general sees the lyrics contain a perfect propaganda tool to heat the rage of Aristos opposed to the pact with their enemy. He sets in motion a scheme to eliminate the emperor, his aunt and the heir leaving him ruling the empire and ready to stealthy reignite the war.

Fans of the Saga of the Skolian Empire (see Diamond Star) will appreciate the latest science fiction thriller as peace proves fragile with insidious individuals using a diabolical misinformation campaign for personal goals. The cast is fully developed as the leaders of the enemy nations know the treaty could lead to their assassinations (think of Sadat after the Camp David Accords). Although newcomers will be lost in space, Catherine Asaro provides a complex thriller in which a song enflames the hot heads of three civilizations.

A Beautiful Friendship
David Weber
9781451637472, $18.99

Xeno-veterinarian Richard Harrington, his botanist wife Marjorie and their twelve years old daughter Stephanie move from planet Meyerdahl to Sphinx. The adults are ecstatic with relocating but their tweener offspring is upset having to leave behind friends and the big city of Hollister to reside in boring rustic Two Forks where harsh winters never end. Stephanie finds herself as an outsider with kids her age as her interests in xeno forests is shared by none of them

Native to Sphinx are the sentient treecats. They are cautious about revealing themselves to the two-legged outsiders. Thus Climbs Quickly is tasked with observing those residing on the Harrington farm.

Stephanie is fascinated with someone stealing celery from her mom's greenhouse and those of others. The locals set traps, but she sees how inane their attempts are. Instead she sets her own gizmo to try to capture the thief. She sees a six-legged treecat climbing out a window and takes a picture. Using a glider, she searches and meets Climbs Quickly as a storm threatens both of them followed by a stalking beast.

This fascinating look at ancestors of Honor Harrington is an enjoyable young adult science fiction thriller that focuses on the first bonding between a treecat and a human. The story line is character driven by the humans and the treecats as two cultures collide not always smoothly. Although background between how well the two species, especially their respective families, cope with the unique bonding is ignored for action, readers will appreciate A Star Kingdom's tale of the beginning of A Beautiful Friendship.

Hearts of Smoke and Steam
Andrew P. Mayer
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228-2197
9781616145330, $16.00,

In New York, the murder by the Automation of Sir Dennis Darby has devastated the Paragons as he was their social compass (see The Falling Machine). Without the moral guidance of Sir Dennis, the group falls apart as each of their superegos supersedes their superhero team.

Sarah "the Adventuress" Stanton possesses the clockwork heart of the late killing Automaton who was her friend. She hopes to rebuild him while supervillain Lord Eschaton has other plans for the Paragons and society as a whole, but needs the clockwork heart to rebuild the Automaton. When The Children of Eschaton assault Sarah, Italian immigrant Emelio Armando rescues her. The genius inventor planned to live an invisible life with his sister in New York to avoid his troubles in the Old Country, but has fallen in love with Sarah, whose adversaries target him and his sibling to get at her.

The second The Society of Steam Steampunk Victorian fantasy is an exciting fresh tale starring a beleaguered heroine who gave up affluence in high society to join the poor Paragons of Sir Dennis. The Fortified Steam concept serves as the base for this alternative nineteenth century New York. However, Emelio's choppy dialect may seem genuine but slows down the pace of an overall faster than the speed of steam pulp escapism thriller.

Mirror Maze
Michaele Jordan
9781616145293, $16.00

In 1882 London Jacob Aldridge grieves the death of his beloved fiancee Rhoda Carothers. Everything he does requires him to push himself as he just wants to lie down and die. His kind landlady Mrs. Florence tries to help him with his depression, but neither her or his twin sister Cecily can do much for him.

After being soaked by a carriage, Jacob comes home to find a woman sitting in his least favorite chair in his flat. She looks exactly like his beloved Rhoda; he becomes euphoric when she explains she came to haunt him. Concerned Mrs. Florence sends for Cecily because her renter was rude, filthy and profane. Cecily makes her sibling wash up and take a walk with her. They meet Livia Aram, who looks like the late Rhoda's identical twin. He obsesses over her, which frightens her. However, they learn the truth about their late respective fathers who were wizards who dabbled in the paranormal leading to a curse upon their families. Now the twins, Livia and her guardian Dr. Chang confront a demon who thrives on human suffering with Jacob his current sustenance.

This is a superb Victorian fantasy in which no one is quite like they seem except in the dangerous Mirror Maze that connects the realms. The lead quartet are solid players who must face truths that are impossible for their rationale minds to grasp (except for Dr. Chang); while each step brings them closer to an all or nothing soul-saving vs. dying confrontation against a demon abetted by the horrific curse. Although the audience can become lost in the convoluted Mirror Maze, fans will still relish joining the fearsome foursome as they traverse a London filled magical horror.

M.D. Lachlan
9781616145279, $16.00

The Vikings lay siege to Paris with a threat to burn down the city if their demand is not met. The berserkers have already begun setting fires to homes along the seine. The Norse invaders demand the city elders give to them Lady Aelis, sister to the ambitious Count who wants to be the Emperor. Whereas the Count is caught between sacrificing a sibling he holds dearly and the occupants of Paris with his objective to become the Franks' emperor almost dead, the Vikings believe she is destined to determine whether King Sigfrid is the latest incarnation of Odin.

The Count and the church turn to the blind crippled Saint Jehan of St. Germain to ask God to intervene on their behalf. However, Lady Aelis is not sticking around to become a sacrificial lamb. Instead she flees with Saint Jehan and a mad werewolf who believes he is the incantation of Odin's most dangerous adversary the Fenris Wolf. At the same time sibling priests of Odin have set in motion a lunatic war of the Gods plan.

The sequel to Wolfsangel is a great Dark Ages fantasy that builds the Lachlan mythos from a Nordic mythological base. The cast is solid especially the beleaguered heroine, her two polar opposites protectors and the Odin priests who converge in a powerful twisting story line.

K.D. McEntire
9781616145392, $16.95

When adults die, they almost always enter the Light. However some children alone for the first time are afraid to step into the Light. Instead they go to Never, a place similar to the cities and towns they resided in when alive but the skies are perpetually dark and the Lost ghosts roam eternally with abilities that work in both dimensions. The Lost are linked to a Rider who protects them from the evil Walkers, the dead who reject and curse the light.

Lately more Walkers are capturing the Lost, whose youthful innocence they feed on. The first Rider Piotr lost one of his children so he and other Riders who also have some wards meet to safely discuss what to do. Wendy is a Lightbringer who sends the spirits she sees into the Light. She and Piotr meet, and to their amazement they can touch and feel each other. Malevolence in the form of the White Lady enters Never with the ability to enhance the power of the Walkers who owe her absolute loyalty or else. Her target is Wendy who she threatens top destroy by manipulating Piotr; Wendy loves him, but knows she belongs in the Light bur she come up with a plan to save him before the Dark takes him.

The Lightbringer is a superb unforgettable young adult romantic urban fantasy filled with a strong venue that will have readers believing in the McEntire mythos. The relationship between the star-crossed protagonists adds angst and ardency to plenty of action. With nods to the Ghost Whisperer, readers will appreciate the war over the souls of Piotr the Lost First Rider and Wendy.

The Third Section
Jasper Kent
9781616145316, $16.00

Decades of relative peace across Europe ends in 1855 as the Crimean War has ignited. In Moscow, Tamara Valentinovna Komarova is stunned by a particularly vicious homicide at a time when combat has made death the norm. The brutal murder is the first of its kind since the Napoleonic Wars.

In Sevastopol, like his father did years ago (see Twelve), Dmitry Alekseevich Danilov leads a Russian army against the French, but unlike his dad he also faces their allies the British. However, he soon realizes another foe who was his dad's worst nightmare and thought dead three decades ago (see Thirteen Years Later) still live to terrorize people. Vasiliy Innokyentievich Yudin and other Oprichniki use the hazy chaos of war to bare their monstrous fangs.

The third Russian nineteenth century fantasy is an interesting entry anchored in time and place by the Crimean War. The story line lacks the freshness of its predecessors mostly because so much was revealed in Thirteen Years Later turns this thriller into a middle book. Still the tale engages the audience who want to follow how Jasper Kent ties The Third Section mythos to real history.

Roam: A Novel With Music
Alan Lazar
Atria Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
9781451632903, $22.00,

Nelson the half beagle, half poodle lives with Katey and Don. The canine especially loves his Katey though he fears the marriage between her and Don is falling apart. When Don accidentally leaves a gate open, Nelson follows his nose and wanders outside the perimeter. However, he soon becomes lost and his frantic efforts to sniff his way back to his "Great Love" fail, but he never quits trying to find his Katey. Over the next few years, Nelson trucks with Thatcher and joins a wild wolf pack. As Nelson survives still seeking his beloved Katey, he loses a leg before a widower's young son saves him from state execution leaving his dream alive.

Roam is an engaging whimsical tale of lost love told mostly from the ultra loyal childlike canine perspective of charming Nelson. The hero is placed in several perilous situations, but his obsessive quest keeps him going. With seven songs (on the internet) enhancing Nelson's search, readers will never listen to Here Comes the Sun the same way again as we root for the determined dog to reunite with his lost Great Love.

The Goat Woman of Largo Bay
Gillian Royes
9781451627411, $15.00

Former convict Shadrack "Shad" Myers is a bartender at the Largo Bay Restaurant and Bar in Jamaica. He and his employer American businessman Eric Keller notice an odd sight on a tiny island that the Yank owns across the bay. They head over for a closer look at what appears from a distance to be a goat. Instead, they meet fortyish pretty Simone Hall who explains she wants to be left alone as a hermit while coping with a tragedy.

Simone offers Eric rent to remain alone on his island. She keeps a dairy of sorts and begins to welcome Eric's visits. However, others spot her and soon Largo bay is abuzz about the female hermit. Her concerned brother Cameron Carter arrives from the States hoping to take Simone home with him. At the same time, thugs Tiger and Sharpie, who work muscle for factory owner Milton Manheim, decide to visit the Goat Woman of Largo Bay.

The cast including Jamaica make for an engaging character study of a emotionally scarred woman struggling simply to breathe as she has taken a timeout from life. Readers will root for Simone to reclaim her moxie while Shad, Eric and others encourage her to return to the living. Though there is some limited suspense that adds little to the story line, the Goat Woman of Largo Bay is an enjoyable look at caring people helping to heal a hurting individual.

The Infernals
John Connolly
9781451643084, $22.00

In Biddlecombe, England a few years ago, tweener Samuel Johnson and Boswell the dachshund prevented the demon Mrs. Abernathy AKA Ba'al from opening The Gates of Hell. She craves revenge for her humiliating defeat at the hand of the mortal child and his mortal dog and her demotion by the Great Malevolence who rules Old Nick's Place.

Nearly blind Samuel asks Lucy Highmore for a date before his friend Thomas Hobbes tells him he asked the letter box out. The opportunity has finally arrived after a few years of impatience for Mrs. Abernathy to claw the punk who thwarted the invasion. The Large Hadron Collider has been reactivated allowing Mrs. Abernathy the energy to pull Samuel and Boswell, Police Constable Peel and Sergeant Rowan, Mr. Happy Whip the ice-cream man, and the performing troupe of Mr. Merryweather's Dwarves into Hell where she has him on her home turf where her allies the Infernos wait no longer. Once again, Mrs. Abernathy underestimates her young opponent who has a contingent of supporters brought from earth accidently by the demon and one friend Nurd the hapless demon on his side.

This is a whimsical young adult lighthearted fantasy filled with satirical and slapstick humor competing for top billing against the encroaching evil darkness. Fast-paced and loaded with jocularity as puns are everywhere, readers will enjoy the rematch between the powerful demon and her Infernals vs. Samuel and his retinue because at stake is two realms.

Virtual Virgin
Carole Nelson Douglas
Pocket Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 13th fl.
New York, NY 10020
9781439167793, $7.99,

Paranormal investigator Delilah Street saved the life of her lover Ric Montoya, but apparently he obtained some of her silver skills in the process. The former Fed Ric brought to life Maria, the silver robot from the classic sci fi movie Metropolis (see Silver Zombie). Lilah feels for her rival for Ric's affection as Maria the CinSim robot is a virgin and will remain a virgin forever. Maria is the property of the owner of Metropolis, mysterious albino rock star Snow.

Ric and his former FBI partner Leonard Tallgrass battle the Immortality Mob, who run a zombie commodity exchange. At the same the powerful demonic drug lords see an opportunity to change Las Vegas into their image with Maria as the engine. While dodging paranormal psychopaths, Lilah and Ric must prevent the demonic take over of Sin City.

The latest Delilah Street Paranormal Investigator is an exhilarating thriller as the heroine, her lover and his partner battle the wicked in Post-Millennium Revelation Las Vegas. Although it behooves fans to read at least Silver Zombie, Virtual Virgin is a strong action-packed entry yet Carole Nelson Douglas also raises question of ethics and values.

Hunter of Shadows
Nancy Gideon
9781439199503, $7.99

New Orleans Police Detective Silas MacCreedy wants his shapeshifter clan to regain the preeminence his family once had. He investigates the recent rash of Shaper females vanishing without a trace. When he sees a woman under assault in an alley, he races to her rescue. Only shapeshfting Monica Fraser proves capable of taking care of herself.

Nica is an assassin in town on a mission. He has no time for a cop, but is attracted to Silas. He wants her as much as she does him. As they team up to look into what is happening to shapeshfting women, Charlotte Caissie and Max Savoie assist them. With their lives in peril, the pairs of couples face their biggest danger: love.

This is a great romantic urban fantasy with links to Nancy Gideon's Moonlight saga (see Masked by Moonlight and Bound by Moonlight). The story line is loaded with twists as the "Good Samaritan" cop seems to always be near the trained professional killer. Star-crossed as a rival tribe hired her, fans will enjoy the first Shadows of New Orleans due to the kick butt heroine who easily takes the life out of men.

Silver Sparks
Starr Ambrose
9781451623635, $7.99

Residents of Barringer's Pass, Colorado know the Larkin family as eccentric screwballs. The first generation is a hippie couple; while their offspring earned the reputation as wild sisters. Now Maggie, Sophie and Zoe, the wild sisters, seek respectability though each knows that will be like climbing the Rockies.

At Alpine Sky Resort in the Posh Aerie nightclub, reality TV star of Trust Fund Brats Rafe DeLuca demands Maggie put out since he bought her drinks. She grinds her heel into his foot, but he keeps hitting on her as he knows the reputation of a Larkin. Oklahoma State cop Cal Drummond, who is on a leave of absence from Oklahoma City, watches Red as he calls Maggie punch Rafe in the nose. Rafe's bodyguard draws a gun out as Maggie yells at him. Cal rescues her but the whole incident is captured on video.

Cal believes Rafe is a serial killer who murdered and tortured his half-sister Julie. He further explains Maggie is in the tabloid crosshairs as well as the affluent De Luca family. He insists Rafe will come for her as no one embarrasses this psychopath. Finally Cal insists he will be at her side to keep her safe.

This is a delightful and exciting romantic suspense starring a by the book cop and a reckless dive head first woman. The story line is fast-paced with an eye-opening look at spin-masters playing the media like virtuosos. Readers will appreciate Silver Sparks between seemingly polar opposites as Starr Ambrose provides an entertaining Larkin first act.

To Wed a Wild Lord
Sabrina Jeffries
9781451642407, $7.99

In 1806, his Gran tells seven years old Lord Gabriel Sharpe and his siblings that their parents died when their mom killed their dad. In 1825, Virginia Waverly blames Lord Gabriel Sharpe for the death of her brother Roger in a horrific carriage- accident seven years ago while racing; he agrees with her assessment of his culpability in the death of his best friend. Gabe will accept any racing wager as he wants to die, but believes he cannot as he is the Angel of Death.

Virginia challenges Gabe to a race on the same "needle's thread" course Turnham Green where her sibling died. With a reputation to accept any racing challenge, Gabe shocks her with his refusal. Instead he decides to marry her so he can get his Gran off his back and help her and her family with their failing stud farm. She informs his she prefers leeches to her brother's killer. Meanwhile he realizes he loves his Virginia, but he has no idea How To Woo a Reluctant Lady who hates him; or does she.

The fourth Hellions of Halstead Hall Regency romance (see The Truth About Lord Stoneville and A Hellion In Her Bed) is a great tale of redemption. The story line combines a strong mystery with a passionate yet amusing romance. The lead couple is a great pairing whose relationship is marred by the ghost of her late sibling; ironically Roger would relish his sister and his BFF marrying. Sub-genre fans will appreciate this delightful historical.

Borderlands: The Fallen
John Shirley
c/o Pocket Books
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 13th fl.
New York, NY 10020
9781439198476, $16.00,

Engineer Zac Finn takes shortcuts on his projects so he can move onto the next one. He, his wife Marla and their son Cal are on board the Homeworld Bound docked at the Study Station. While his family waits on the ship for him, Zac uses DropCraft to head to an ET crash site in the Borderlands to loot alien artifacts. However, his vessel fails and he crash lands on hostile Pandora while thinking his mission was sabotaged as he transmits back to his astonished family his coordinates so they can mount a rescue. Only the pair is forced to abandon ship in one person lifeboats as the security drones have gone rogue.

Zac fears for his family are superseded when skags come for him. He is rescued by people who want to roast him on an open fire. Berl and Bizzy rescue him from being dinner. At the same time slavers seem to have captured Marla and Cal tricks skags and spiderants to fight one another. The Finn family gets their second critical break when Cal runs into Roland the mercenary.

This superb science fiction tale is one of the best tie-ins to a videogame as John Shirley captures the essence of the Borderlands through the fresh futile survival efforts of the separated Finn trio. Rapid rotating between the three action-packed subplots, the solid cast makes for a dark thriller as Roland and his two compatriots try to form a Finn family reunion.

Day by Day Armageddon: Origin to Exile
J.L. Bourne
9781451633030, $18.00

"Day by Day Armageddon." He is stationed in San Antonio. As he starts a diary, he is unprepared for the Dead attacking cities around the world. The soldier must decide on survival of the deadest with his friend John as his only trusted ally.

"Day by Day Armageddon: Beyond Exile." He continues keeping his log having survived three months. With other humans he stays at the Hotel 23 where he fought against fellow breathers but suffers from PTSD. However, he must leave the relatively safety of Hotel 23 on a mission that will take months in which he doubts he will return as the zombie infestation has crippled the world.

"If You Can Read This..." Texas like the rest of the country is gone. Twins Brook and Eugene struggle with the deaths of their parents and younger brother, but take hope in a radio transmission they receive at the local fire station of a person claiming to be at Matagorda Island.

This is an omnibus reprinting of the first two Armageddon journals and a very short story. The novels employ a refreshing technique of a survivor in a post-apocalyptic America overrun by zombies. This diary technique is two edged as the audience sees what the hero encounters and knows his demons, but also the first person account is a filter for what others believe and somewhat passive especially when the protagonist muses. Still these are enjoyable horror tales that is summed up by Eugene in seven words when he says "If You Can Read This..."

The Guardian
Sherrilyn Kenyon
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312550059, $7.99,

With some Egyptian God in his blood, Seth the Guardian has never lived the life of a deity as he has spent millennia being betrayed as an exile. Over the past several thousand years he has been a tortured slave to the god Noir who assigns him to use any means necessary to obtain from the incarcerated Dream Hunter Solin where the key to Mt Olympus is hidden. To ensure a successful expedited mission is accomplished, Noir the impatient god threatens Seth and others.

Hybrid Dream-Hunter Kattagarian Lydia enters the Nether Realm to rescue her father Solin. Instead the Nether Realm's most terrifying Guardian Seth captures her. Expecting nightmarish torture from this vicious miscreant, she is stunned to find instead a tortured soul who has never been loved and expects Lydia to betray him if he displays his attraction to her.

The Guardian is a strong Dream-Hunter romantic fantasy that has ties to the rest of the vast Kenyon mythos. Filled with action and pathos, readers will root for Lydia as she falls in love with her worst nightmare (Stockholm syndrome comes to mind), but wonders how to teach a person to accept love when they never received anything positives from relationships. Although the confrontational climax feels abrupt, fans of the saga will relish the love story between a Guardian allegedly with no heart and a Hunter giving him her heart.

Christmas Note
Donna VanLiere
St. Martin's
9780312658960, $14.99

Accompanied by her two small children (Emma and Ethan) while her husband is overseas with the military, Gretchen Daniels moves into an apartment building to be closer to her divorced mom Miriam and to her job as a hygienist. On their first day in their new place, they meet their neighbor reticent Melissa McCreary, who barely acknowledges the Daniels family. Melissa is an urban hermit who owns almost nothing and relates with no one.

The landlord seeks Melissa who is not home. He asks Gretchen to inform Melissa that her mother Ramona died and she needs to clear out the apartment. Gretchen offers to help Melissa with the difficult task. The apartment is a disaster of junk with no items of value except personal stuff. However, a note reveals to a stunned Melissa that she has two siblings. Gretchen and Melissa begin a search.

The latest Donna VanLiere Christmas inspirational (see The Christmas Shoes, The Christmas Blessing and The Christmas Hope) is a terrific tale of two females bonding as friends. Each gains much from their friendship. With a great late twist, fans will enjoy this entertaining holiday tale by one of the best authors at providing good will to all.

The Spirit of Christmas
Cecil Murphey and Marley Gibson
St. Martin's
9780312645014, $14.99

This warm tender Christmas anthology contains forty-two- true short stories by contributors who mostly are not writers. The length of each entry is perfect with five pages being the average and none over ten. The editors open with their favorite Yuletide moments; as Cecil Murphey and his pregnant wife are alone at college until a professor invites them to dine and Marley Gibson describes her family love (and kitty humor) when her grieving mom cancels the holidays. After the editors set the mood, Dan Piper leaves readers teary-eyed and never looking at a can of tuna in the same way. Whether the writer takes you to a crowded post office (by Wayne Scheer), in Cocoa Beach (with Jean Matthew Hall) or an Irish pub in South Korea (Pamela Jo Floria), this is an inspiring collection filled with loving caring people who give time and more like the doll Joanne Y Gyrate's dad gave her. Readers will enjoy this wonderful compilation that captures the Spirit of Christmas but is much more as the anthology is for all seasons since the authors capture the spirit of what makes us human.

Claimed by Pleasure
Jaymie Holland
St. Martin's Griffin
9780312386672, $14.99

In Tarok, King of Spades Darronn still fears for his subjects though twin hopes recently appeared. The mate of High King Jarron, Queen Alice of Hearts became pregnant and gave birth to werecubs. However, the hope that the end of Mikaela of Malachad's reign of sorcery terror is over has been muted by no other birthing in the four kingdoms.

Meanwhile In San Francisco Alice's twin sister attorney Alexi O'Brien has given up her life of one night stands in a futile search to find her missing sister who vanished a year ago. Believing she is his mate, Darronn abducts Alexi taking her to Tarok; where he as a Dom orders her to be his Sub just like her sibling. When she scorns his advances, he assumes she needs time to adjust to his dominance over her and fails to take her to see her sister. Although she enjoys his sexual control, independent and feisty Alexi suspects her so called mate hides something from her, which she deduces involves Alice.

This is a wonderful reprint of the second erotic Wonderland E-book (by Cheyenne McCray). Once again the story line is character driven by the heroine who enjoys her BDSM escapades with Daronn, but remains dedicated to her cause and when she learns the truth she will be pissed off enough that her beloved better keep his penis inside of armor. Readers will appreciate this enticing erotic fairy tale of S&M sex under the city.

Better Off Undead
D.D. Barant
St. Martin's
9780312545055, $7.99

The world of Thropirelem consists of 99+% paranormal (vampires, werewolves and gloms) and the rest mostly humans. FBI profiler Jace Valcek was dragged from our earth to capture the head of the Free Human Resistance Aristotle Stoker; her NSA handler Cassius the vampire swears she can go back to her Seattle once the mission is done.

Twice werewolf Dr. Pete saved Jace's life but died in a third attempt. He is back as criminal Tair, which has Jace trapped in the claws of a werewolf mob war. However, in her efforts to keep the war cold, Jace is bitten and becomes infected with the thrope virus. Cassius explains the best way to prevent the Lycan change is conversion to vampire.

The latest Bloodhound Files (see Dying Bites, Death Blows and Killing Rocks) is an exhilarating fantasy with a great spin. The heroine has choices to make; none that she desires. However, though this is an excellent entry, it is the thought provoking overarching premises of de jure and de facto racism that Jace and other humans face every day and race wars between species seeking ethnic cleansing that makes this saga of an alternate Seattle (and elsewhere) consistently one of the best.

Stay Hungry
Lorie O'Clare
St. Martin's
9780312372187, $7.99

King Fugitive Apprehension is a family affair. The father Greg (see Play Dirty) opened KFA just after retiring from LAPD; his two sons Jake and Marc (see Get Lucky) as well as other relatives quickly signed on too.

Chicago based private investigator James Huxtable comes to Los Angeles to hire KFA to protect his undercover partner, his daughter Angela from the game player nasty Mario Mandela and the slave juice drug. Jake met Angela in Mexico so though he prefers being the bounty hunter, he agrees to protect Huxtable's daughter. Posing as Angela Torres, she walks a thin wire between bringing down Mandela and becoming his slave.

The third Bounty Hunter tale (see Get Lucky and Play Dirty) is an entertaining thriller that continues the overarching theme involved in the game and slave juice, but also contains an enjoyable albeit over the top of the Willis Tower romantic suspense story line. Loaded with action while starring a likeable lead pair supported by their respective families, fans will appreciate this tense novel while staying hungry for more KFA thrillers.

Seduced by a Highlander
Julianne MacLean
St. Martin's
9780312365332, $7.99

In 1718 in the Scottish Highlands, Kinloch Castle's Laird of War Lachlan MacDonald awakens to find himself chained inside a burial cist. He persuaded his cousin Kinloch Castle Laird Angus to exile the volatile dangerous Raonaid the Hebrides Oracle from Kinloch one month ago. Both despise each other while she rages at him for taking away her beloved Angus. Angry she throws the bones of his past lovers on him as she curses him with the knowledge that any woman who he impregnates will die in childbirth. Once freed, he vowed to force her to lift the curse; if she refuses he may use the curse to kill Raonaid.

Three futile years later without a woman Lachlan catches up with Raonaid, but she insists she is the Drumloch heiress Lady Catherine Montgomery who suffers from amnesia and the dowager countess came for her in Italy claiming she is her grandmother. Skeptical, he assaults and threatens her but her cousin John Drumloch the earl rescues her. However, Catherine wonders whether this berserker Highlander might the one to help her regain what she most wants in life: her memories.

This twisting super Scottish paranormal romance is a great finish to Julianne MacLean's Highlander historical saga (see Captured by the Highlander and Claimed by the Highlander). The story line grips readers from the onset with a neat curse and the lead male's premise on how to avenge what the witch did to him. With a strong cast especially the lead pairing and a fabulous spin, sub-genre fans will appreciate the curse.

Iris Johansen
St. Martin's
9780312651220, $27.99

Forensic sculptor Eve Duncan was a kid having a kid when she gave birth at sixteen years old to Bonnie. Eve thought Bonnie's father John Gallo died on a military mission, but she and her long time significant other police detective Joe Quinn learned John lived incarcerated by the North Koreans until he escaped. Meanwhile when Bonnie was seven, she was abducted in Atlanta. Owing Eve for saving her son, FBI Agent Catherine Ling targeted John who suffers mental illness from his ordeal as the killer of Bonnie, but he proved to be innocent.

Clues lead the quartet to the Louisiana bayous and from there to Georgia as Bonnie's spirit guides her mom. They track a new suspect with powerful ties enabling a government cover-up of unsanctioned mind experiments. As they get nearer to the truth, the new target prepares to kill if they get too close.

The final of the Bonnie trilogy (see Eve and Joe) is an exciting twisting thriller as the truth can set you free to a degree. Although the serpentine sensational story line contains too many spins that slows down the pace, fans of the Eve Duncan saga will relish learning what happened to Bonnie.

Night After Night
Janelle Denison
St. Martin's
9780312372286, $7.99

Former con artist Sean O'Brien belongs to the Reliance Group while tending bar in a Vegas casino. Because of his background and his father's connection to the target, the Group founder Caleb Roux selects Sean to investigate Grant Russo who allegedly scammed investors of millions in a real estate sting.

Sean figures the easiest path to Grant, who set up his dad Casey to take the solo fall and still serving twelve years in a Ponzi scheme, is to seduce information from his daughter Zoe. However, the offspring of two con artists meet and attraction explodes. When Zoe learns the truth behind Sean's seduction, she agrees to work with the Reliance group to prove her dad is innocent but nothing more with Sean. As someone stalks her, and they seek her missing father and the money, they fall in love but Sean knows trust lost is impossible to regain.

The second Reliance Group romantic suspense (see Into the Night) is an engaging thriller as Sean obsesses over penitence for what he did before he found morality while Zoe believes in her father. Love may not be enough as the pair has a divisive pre-history and a current trust problem to overcome. Fans will relish this entertaining tale that contains a deft late twist and a secondary romance.

A Beginner's Guide to Rakes
Suzanne Enoch
St. Martin's
9780312534516, $7.99

Lord Frederick Benchley gambled away a fortune. His creditors forced him and his Diane to flee London. After rustication for a few years, Frederick dies. Obsessed with never being impoverished again, the widow returns to London seeking the assistance of a former lover Oliver Warren the Marquis. Her plan is to convert her mansion into an exclusive gentleman's gaming club.

After announcing her plan to a stunned aristocracy, Lady Diane blackmails the reluctant marquis into cooperating with her venture. He, on the other hand, believes he owes her for what he did to her. However, although she uses a secret to compel him to helping her, Oliver has a secret agenda to prove his love of his cherished bodacious partner.

A Beginner's Guide to Rakes is a delightful jocular second chance at love Regency romance starring two likable protagonists. Readers will admire the courageous heroine as she boldly goes where no Lady has gone before her and adore the lead male who matches her every step of the way. As the pair fuss and fight, they affirm what each knew deep in their heart that they loved one another. Suzanne Enoch provides a charming historical.

Not Your Ordinary Faerie Tale
Christine Warren
St. Martin's
9780312357221, $7.99

Following the interspecies marriages of her BFFs, New York reporter Corinne D'Allesandro vows not her. However, her editor assigns her on a paranormal investigative tale. Her jaunt around Manhattan leads her to Queen Mab's chief of the guards Luc Macinaw. He searches for the missing royal nephew who is causing havoc that could endanger the Faerie realm.

Luc is stunned that his destined heart mate is human. Corinne disregards her pledge to never date an Other, while her buddies tease her for joining their ranks after she proclaimed never her. They team up on his quest and in the boudoir, but love may not be enough to counter the threat to both their lives.

This engaging Other urban fantasy is a fun investigative tale though the paranormal elements seem somewhat diminished in comparison to the previous entries (see The Big Bad Wolf and Black Magic Woman). Corrine is a terrific heroine while Luc is her perfect mate even if she has to renege on her vow. Fans of the saga will relish Corinne falling in love as she was adamant that never her.

Death, Taxes and a French Manicure
Diane Kelly
St. Martin's
9780312551261, $7.99

IRS Agent Tara Holloway works white collar tax frauds. Her small town kick butt Texas attitude works great when dealing with violent Dallas offenders. Working a case with agent Eddie Bardin, she is forced to fire her gun at menacing felon Battaglia, shooting a box cutter knife from his hand. Thus in spite of her cut arm, she earns the rep of Annie Oakley.

Tara's boss Lu "Lobo" Lobozinksi assigns her first solo task to investigate a granny complaint that ice-cream truck salesman Joseph "Joe Cool" Cullen failed to report his profits from selling illegal drugs to teenagers. Her other major inquiry is much more complex than a drug dealer. She scrutinizes the dealings of financier Michael Gryder and banker Stan Shelton, who appear to be running a Ponzi scheme. The problem is her best friend Brett Ellington is Shelton's landscaper.

The first exciting Tara Holloway IRS investigative tale is an entertaining story that stars a tomboyish mascara wearing noir heroine who appreciates a French manicure. The story line is lighthearted fun as Tara works the Dallas beat along with other agents. Although some readers may dislike the wisecracking asides especially when facing danger; the story line is filled with humor and satire as the IRS does not care whether the gains are legal only that Sam collects its share.

If You Give a Girl a Viscount
Kieran Kramer
St. Martin's
9780312374044, $7.99

In crumbling Castle Vandemere in Scotland Daisy Montgomery lives a horrific life due to her cruel Cheapside London stepmother Mona and malevolent stepsisters (Perdita and Cassandra). She dreams of a Prince Charming coming to her rescue, but knows that inanity only occurs in fairy tales not for someone like her. When she finds a note that says she has a Godmother Lady Pinckney, she writes in hope of a rescue. Instead of her Godmother responding, the grandson Viscount Charles Thorpe does.

Cut off from his family funds and after a bet with his now married Impossible Bachelors pals (see Cloudy with a Chance of Marriage) Charles travels to the Highlands hoping for an adventure of a lifetime. She wants to save her home but he lacks the funds to do so. As they fall in love, the pair persuades a neighbor to use his estate to host a gala for outsiders to experience the Highlands.

The latest Impossible Bachelor historical romance stars a Cinderella heroine and a not so charming Prince Charming. Filled with jocularity yet containing a deep poignancy as the lead couple finds they are more than just a victim and a wastrel, fans will appreciate the tale of a Godmother giving her goddaughter a viscount to love and be loved in return.

P.C. Cast and Kristin Cast
St. Martin's Griffin
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312650254, $18.99,

Seventeen years old Zoey Redbird feels safe now that she is back in the Tulsa House of Night and being with her Guardian Warrior Stark. She still reels from the Vampyre High Council condoning Neferet's evil actions and allowing the malevolent one to return as the High Priestess at Tulsa's House of Night. Zoey and Neferet know it is not over between them.

Meanwhile after fallen guardian Kalona freed him, Nyx the Goddess has not just forgiven Rephaim the Raven-Mocker; she turned him into a human so he can be with the love of his life Stevie Rae at Tulsa's House of Night. As Neferet sets in motion a chaotic revenge plan against Redbird and the teen's friends, she also has a new vendetta with her former ally Kalona.

This is a powerful entry as young adult fans better understand what motivates the good, the bad and the ugly. Action-packed yet character driven (by much of the key cast) Zoey quickly realizes her hope for sanctuary in order to heal especially emotionally proves false as she is quickly caught in another Neferet monstrous scheme.

The Three Gifts: A Story About Three Angels and the Baby Jesus
Kathie Lee Gifford and Michael Storrings (Illustrator)
St. Martin's
9781250000941, $16.00

God summoned three angels to go sing a song rejoicing the birth of his son. The Lord also directs his angels to deliver a trumpet, a star and a special surprise. The heavenly messengers find the newborn Son with his mom in a manger in Bethlehem where shepherds already gathered to worship the child.

Enhanced by charming illustrations that pay homage to the collaborators' beautiful Angel Block ornaments, this delightful preschool Christian poem is a wonderful look at the birth of the Baby Jesus. Readers of all ages will be aglow with the heavenly message while wondering what the third gift is. Kathie Lee Gifford also shines not just for an appreciative tale, but for her inspiring deed to donate "her proceeds to Childhelp non-profit organization dedicated to helping victims of child abuse and neglect."

The Space Merchants
Frederik Pohl and C.M. Kornbluth
St. Martin's Griffin
9781250000156, $14.99

International corporations run the world as they own the governments. CEOs rule society with their advertising gurus the keys by not just twisting the truth but selling lies persuading the downtrodden that "God has created the world and that, therefore, the world must be perfect" (Voltaire). These experts live lifestyles of wasteful abundance while the commoners lack fuel, water and food; and share one room dumps.

Fowler Shocken Associates executive Mitchell Courtenay is assigned spinning Venus the planet from hell as an idyll place to live. Though he knows this will anger his beloved ethical Kathy, he looks forward to the folk tale he will sell. However, someone steals Mitchell's social security identifier by tattooing additional numbers onto his arm that makes him a laborer with a large debt. He knows he has no hope of returning to his affluence lifestyle as the government bureaucracy demands bribes and a corporate buddy sold his downward spiraling spin. His only chance for salvation resides with those ridiculed by the brainwashed commoners, the Consie opposition.

Frederik Pohl states in the Preface to this powerful timely satire that he revised aspects of the plot to eliminate "minor scientific or logical errors". Although mostly undetectable except for names, some of the changes lead to disconnect with predominate acceptable social mores of the early 1950s. Still this remains a classic dystopian thriller that condemns a world driven by corporate spin masters as the authors mock Madison Ave. for the corporate takeover of government. The Space Merchants revision retains its keen lampooning of a world falling in disarray while people on need are sold on "What A Wonderful World" (by George David Weiss and George Douglas).

The Spy Who Left Me
Gina Robinson
St. Martin's
9780312542399, $7.99

One week before her marriage Carrie ended her engagement. To celebrate her coming to her senses, Carrie takes her bridesmaids, including her separated cousin Treflee Miller, to Maui. However, Treflee, who has nor seen her husband Ty in months, is taken aback with her attraction to their tour guide, her missing spouse.

Ty is a great espionage agent but knows that means he is terrible husband as he constantly abandons the woman he loves for the mission. Even the divorce papers have yellowed waiting for him to come home to sign them. As he struggles with complex tasks that includes keeping the bridal party away from him except for his wife, who he plans to win back once he finishes this caper.

The third Agent Ex I spy romance (see Spy Games) is an amusing yet exhilarating thriller as Ty has to complete the mission, keep the woman he cherishes and her playmates safe, and persuade her for a second chance at love relationship. Readers will appreciate The Spy Who Left Me as Gina Robinson provides a wonderfully entertaining Mr. and Ms. Bond jocular contemporary.

The Spirit of Christmas
Cecil Murphey and Marley Gibson
St. Martin's
9780312645014, $14.99

This warm tender Christmas anthology contains forty-two- true short stories by contributors who mostly are not writers. The length of each entry is perfect with five pages being the average and none over ten. The editors open with their favorite Yuletide moments; as Cecil Murphey and his pregnant wife are alone at college until a professor invites them to dine and Marley Gibson describes her family love (and kitty humor) when her grieving mom cancels the holidays. After the editors set the mood, Dan Piper leaves readers teary-eyed and never looking at a can of tuna in the same way. Whether the writer takes you to a crowded post office (by Wayne Scheer), in Cocoa Beach (with Jean Matthew Hall) or an Irish pub in South Korea (Pamela Jo Floria), this is an inspiring collection filled with loving caring people who give time and more like the doll Joanne Y Gyrate's dad gave her. Readers will enjoy this wonderful compilation that captures the Spirit of Christmas but is much more as the anthology is for all seasons since the authors capture the spirit of what makes us human.

The Alpine Winter
Mary Daheim
Ballantine Books
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780345502599, $25.00,

During the holiday season of 2004 in Alpine, Washington Emma Lord, editor and publisher of the Alpine Advocate, misses her lover sheriff Milo Dodge who is in the Seattle area dealing with his ex wife and their daughter. Emma has her own family to contend with over the Christmas season as her son Father Adam and her brother Father Ben are coming to see her.

Meanwhile human bones are found on the Skykomish River while some kids exploring a cave find human male remains. The townsfolk especially Roy Everson wonder whether the grisly river find is his mother Myrtle, who vanished sixteen years ago while berry picking and if the cave discovery is linked. At the same time Troy Laskey escapes from jail. His parents moved to Alpine to be near him, as he serves time for drug trafficking; his father is a reporter at the Advocate. Emma's best friend House & Home editor Vida Runkel has problems with her spoiled grandson. When Milo returns to town, they have to figure out who killed the person that the bones belonged to while dealing with Ben who disapproves of her relationship with Milo.

The latest Emma Lord Cascades cozy (see The Alpine Vengeance) is an extended family affair highlighted with the knowledge that Milo will always be there for the love of his life. There is plenty happening to the townsfolk as this is a Christmas filled with death and attempted murder. Although newcomers will find it difficult to engage with the long running cast, everyone will relish the exciting Alpine Winter mystery.

A Plain & Fancy Christmas
Cynthia Keller
9780345528759, $16.00

Gil and pregnant Nina Lawrence were traveling through Lancaster County, Pennsylvania when she went into labor. She was rushed to Lancaster's Griffin Hospital where she gave birth to her daughter Ellie before the trio continued on to New York. Also in the hospital giving birth is Amish Leah King who with her husband Isaac names their child Rachel too.

However, Nurse Violet Thompson realized that her husband the physician to both families mixed up the babies. To save his career and his life she persuades Paul to do nothing. Now over three decades later, he is dead and she is dying with a need to cleanse her conscience. She dispatches the same letter and proof to the two adult switched at birth babies.

Both are hesitant about meeting their biological parents, but Ellie makes the plunge first. The Amish welcome her especially her birth mother which makes the widowed single mom Rachel jealous as she never pleased her critical mother. Accompanied by her daughter Katie, she heads to Manhattan to meet her affluent biological parents, who welcome her warmly, but Rachel feels like a fish on dry land.

Although switched at birth is not a new premise (see The Wrong Child by Patricia Kay), Cynthia Keller provides an interesting spin to the nurturing vs. naturing debate with the cultural differences between the two families. Aptly titled, the cast is strong as the parents and other members of the families and friends are kind, welcoming and caring while the switched offspring adapt differently to meeting their biological families and the culture they should have been part of.

If I Should Die
Allison Brennan
9780345520418, $7.99

FBI agent Lucy Kincaid and her boyfriend private investigator Seth Rogan go on a romantic Adirondacks vacation. They enjoy wake up sex when they smell smoke. The nearby Spruce Lake Inn is on fire with an apparent arsonist fleeing the scene. Sean borrows an ATV from the resort owner and pursues the firebug. He falls inside an abandoned mine shaft.

Kincaid extracts Rogan from the mine, but she also finds the corpse of a young woman inside the shaft. Sheriff's deputy Weddle ridicules Kincaid as the body vanished. As Rogan heals from his dislocated shoulder and minor scrapes and bruises, he and Kincaid investigate a murder that the townsfolk ignore. Someone tries to kill the intruders while FBI agent Noah Armstrong arrives to assist his friends.

The third Lucy Kincaid FBI suspense (see Love Me To Death and Kiss Me, Kill Me) is an exhilarating tale from the moment the idyllic week ends with the arson. The story line is fast-paced throughout as reader will enjoy this taut tale while also wondering whether Kincaid can tell Rogan she loves him.

Bonus novella: Love Is Murder. Lucy Kincaid visits her brother Patrick, a former cop, in the Sierra Nevada's. Also at the Delarosa Mountain Retreat are three newlywed couples. A snowstorm isolates the lodge from the outside as one of the brides Vanessa took too many pills and is found dead. Patrick suspects murder, but he becomes ill, so Lucy investigates the homicide. This is an entertaining locked lodge mystery occurring before the heroine became a Fed but Kincaid professionally works the case like a seasoned veteran.

A Plain & Fancy Christmas
Cynthia Keller
9780345528759, $16.00

Gil and pregnant Nina Lawrence were traveling through Lancaster County, Pennsylvania when she went into labor. She was rushed to Lancaster's Griffin Hospital where she gave birth to her daughter Ellie before the trio continued on to New York. Also in the hospital giving birth is Amish Leah King who with her husband Isaac names their child Rachel too.

However, Nurse Violet Thompson realized that her husband the physician to both families mixed up the babies. To save his career and his life she persuades Paul to do nothing. Now over three decades later, he is dead and she is dying with a need to cleanse her conscience. She dispatches the same letter and proof to the two adult switched at birth babies.

Both are hesitant about meeting their biological parents, but Ellie makes the plunge first. The Amish welcome her especially her birth mother which makes the widowed single mom Rachel jealous as she never pleased her critical mother. Accompanied by her daughter Katie, she heads to Manhattan to meet her affluent biological parents, who welcome her warmly, but Rachel feels like a fish on dry land.

Although switched at birth is not a new premise (see The Wrong Child by Patricia Kay), Cynthia Keller provides an interesting spin to the nurturing vs. naturing debate with the cultural differences between the two families. Aptly titled, the cast is strong as the parents and other members of the families and friends are kind, welcoming and caring while the switched offspring adapt differently to meeting their biological families and the culture they should have been part of.

A Christmas Homecoming
Anne Perry
9780345524638, $18.00

Scotland Yard Inspector Thomas Pitt's mother-in-law Caroline Fielding and her husband Joshua the actor travel to Whitby, York for a performance of Bram Stoker's recently published novel Dracula. Alice Netheridge has adopted the horror thriller to be performed on the stage at the town where the Count first disembarked on English soil. Joshua will direct the play with hopes of obtaining major funding from Alice's wealthy father Charles for next spring's theatre productions. Charles hosts the Fielding couple and actors from Joshua's troupe.

A heavy snowstorm isolates everyone at the mansion on the hill. While the weather outside is frightful, a straggler Anton Ballin arrives asking for sanctuary from the storm. He uncannily resembles Dracula and makes recommendations to improve the production that sound like someone who is a vampire insider. Soon after his arrival, murder follows. With everyone locked inside the mansion believing Ballin is the cold blooded killer, Caroline investigates.

The latest Anne Perry Victorian Christmas mystery (see Silent Night and A Christmas Odyssey) is a superb locked mansion whodunit as Caroline proves to be a capable detective and a wonderful protagonist who holds the entertaining tale together. The cast is solid while Carline's detecting is clever fun. Fans will enjoy Pitt's in-law as an amateur sleuth investigating a homicide.

A Simple Winter
Rosalind Lauer
9780345526717, $15.00

Wannabe journalist Remy McCallister and Adam King meet on a train heading to Philly as both head home. She goes from New York to Philadelphia where her widower father Herb the control freak will manage her life 24/7 and him from Providence to his family in Lancaster County where his parents died leaving him in charge of his horde of younger siblings. The Amish Adam and the Englischer Remy are attracted to one another, but he vowed never again and she has seizure issues that drove her to a job on her dad's paper The Post. They remain friends though they go their separate ways.

One year later, Remy visits Adam, but conceals her agenda from him. She has come to Lancaster County to write an article on the cold case double homicide of his parents. He and his family welcome her into the fold as part of a loving family; feelings that have been dormant in Remy since her mom died when she was a girl. As Remy and Adam fall in love, her undercover manipulation will end her relationship with him and his family once she admits to him the truth.

This is a warm leisurely paced romantic cozy starring a likable lead couple and key family members in support of the entertaining story line. Remy and Adam have inner issues that threaten their already tenuous relationship, but snowbound by A Simple Winter in Pennsylvania gives the pair time to work through their problems except for her motive in coming to see him as a deal-breaker. Readers will enjoy this gentle Plain people contemporary.

Alien Proliferation
Gini Koch
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780756406974, $7.99,

Earthling Katherine "Kitty" Kat-Martini is carrying the child of her husband Alpha Centaurion Commander Jeff Martini. Other females are also carrying the hybrid fetuses. No one truly knows what the babies will be like.

However, once baby Jamie is born, Kitty's insides recover, but she and her spouse find their newborn is a prodigal infant with unheard of skills that has him and his peers targeted for abduction by those who want to exploit them. At the same time someone tries to assassinate the CIA Extra-Terrestrial Division Chief Reynolds and Kitty's mom Presidential Terrorism Control Unit Angela at a time when Alpha and Airborne members vanish. Meanwhile Kitty has begun to display superpowers, which she will need once she understands what the Martini family and others face.

The fourth Kitty Katt science fiction (see Touched by an Alien, Alien Tango and Alien in the Family) is a fast-paced action-packed thriller. The cast is solid as readers will believe the two species live and mate; while the Jamie effect provides fascinating spins. Though still satirically jocular, there is a serious unexpected twist that makes Alien Proliferation a strong entry.

Fire Works in the Hamptons
Celia Jerome
9780756406882, $7.99

Willow Tate has the unique ability as a Visualizer to draw essences from the Faerie realm into out world. However the graphic novelist has a tendency to get so involved in herself and her work, Willow forgets the byproduct consequences of what she can do (see Trolls in the Hamptons and Night Mares in the Hamptons).

Her current novel stars a fire wizard, which means the residents of Paumanok Harbor must contend with serial arson caused by lightning bugs from beyond. Willow's neighbors want to burn her at the stake for what she has caused and its consequence of potentially revealing the town make up not found in any census. She also deals with a fire baby dumped on her and a psychic firefighter who wants to heat her body with his; as she muses just another few days on the Hamptons.

Although the heroine is too mellow with all the Fire Works in the Hamptons that threaten the South Fork, readers will enjoy the third island fantasy of the Visualizer whose drawings cause havoc. The story line is fast-paced and filled with twists as the locals deal with Willow's latest mass destruction "creation".

Traci L. Slatton
Telemachus Press
5380 Gulf of Mexico Drive, Suite 105
Longboat Key, FL, 34228
9781935670896, $14.99,

Ten months ago the white miasma Mists began to ooze from the caves. Everything burned except chlorophyll. Billions died as the Mists sucked out metals from humans and other beings on the planet during the Day five months ago when people cried in anguish. Scientist could not explain or stop it. The religious crazies insist God is punishing the global Sodom and Gomorrah, but offer no redemption except death.

So far Emma has survived along with her five years old daughter Mandy though they have come close to being history. The single mom, who carries a gun to kill her child if infected, travels with her offspring and seven lost little orphans. When the Mist has Mandy in sight, a man on a horse arrives in time as the Mist leaves. Arthur takes the nine to a camp where the mists cannot attack. Emma realizes Arthur can disperse the Mists. To keep her eight youngsters safe, she agrees to obey his command. She knows some of her charges have psychic skills and she soon meets others who do to. However, Arthur's former colleague and now bitter adversary Alexei believes his enemy's friend is his enemy and plans to use the kids to take down his adversary and the earth mother allied with him.

Fallen is an exhilarating post apocalyptic thriller that contains superb twists and spins, which keep the audience wondering what next. The fast-paced story line grips the reader early on with the vivid description of a world gone mad and never slows down as Emma has a bullet with Mandy's name on it just in case. Traci L. Slatton provides an exciting end of the world thriller.

The Botticelli Affair
Traci L. Slatton
Telemachus Press
9781935670872, $14.99

In 1483 John Bolingbroke became a vampire. On Christmas Day 1652, John changed when he followed a prostitute into a church leading to his valuing humans. Five decades ago, a capricious God thought it would be humorous to play with John by giving him a half soul so he can feel desire, regret and remorse like a human does.

In the basement of MOMA, John hides while listening to a powerful vampire coven needs Robert Cambridge to give them a lost Botticelli. To force his cooperation, they plan to kidnap his daughter former art forger Laila. Just before Robert vanished, John promised him he would protect the red haired amazon Laila whose paint strokes remind him of an old friend from centuries ago Buonnaroti. He meets her at MOMA when she conducts a tour he joins. He claims to be a collector who saw her dad. While vampires chase John and Laila in Europe, they search for Robert whose life is in danger and so is the missing Botticelli.

The Botticelli Affair is a superb romantic urban fantasy thriller that vividly takes readers on a tour of the Metropolitan, and museums and galleries in Europe. The protagonists are a fabulous pairing as he is attracted to her like no one in over five centuries and she is a kick butt Valkyrie on a mission to save her father, the painting, her beloved hybrid and her soul. Like Traci L. Slatton did with the entertaining complex Immortal, she paints a cerebral action-packed vampire tale of danger in the international world of art.

Michael Baron
The Story Plant
9781611880212, $15.95,

In DC, lawyers Ken and Melissa are in love and marrying in under two weeks in spite of being on opposite teams in the heated Alaskan oil drilling debate. Ken vows he would do anything for his beloved and soon he will be tested on his pledge.

While visiting her parents, Ken concludes someone in Melissa's teen years still leaves her filled with sadness; he believes that trauma is in the photos she avoids looking at as if they are haunted, but though he wishes he could help her, Ken knows he can only be there for his cherished Melissa.

At a strange shop run by owner Stephon grants Ken an extraordinary wish with a warning. Ken will be able to look at Melissa's past especially the big hurt, but what he sees may not be what he desires. He takes the ride and loves what he witnesses of Melissa's wonderful childhood until he learns the secret that still devastates Melissa and now him. She is despondent with her fiance's new found knowledge. Knowing he must do something, he thinks of his vow and considers whether to ask Stephon for another trip back in time, but not as an observer.

This is a terrific whimsical romance as caring Ken learns sometimes even a knight in shining armor regretfully gets what he wished for. Character driven, readers will appreciate Ken's heartfelt efforts to remove the big hurt from Melissa as Michael Baron provides a charming tale in which true love may not be enough to stand the test of time.

Devilishly Hot
Kathy Love
Kensington Brava
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
119 West 40th Street, Floor 21
New York, NY 10018-2522
9780758265876, $9.95,

Annie Lou Riddle left the dirt of the rural south for a chance to make in the fashion industry in the dirty streets of Manhattan. However, to break into the highly competitive field, Annie sells her soul to the devil. She obtains a job as an assistant to the head of Hot! Magazine Finola White, the deviously damning diva. Annie Lou wants out, but to demon kind a contract is a contract.

Detective Nick Rossi investigates the magazine, a hot bed of missing employees; twenty-one have vanished with most being Annie Lou's predecessors as a magazine assistant position proves hazardous to one's health. Finola is attracted to Nick so she orders Annie Lou to help her. Nick is attracted to Annie Lou but makes no headway with her as she keeps passing him on to her boss. Annie Lou wants Nick, but wants her soul more than him.

Although the story line is thin, the second Hot! Magazine romantic urban fantasy (see Hot! in So I Married a Demon Slayer anthology) is an amusing triangular from hell frolic. Filled with humor, readers will enjoy this entertaining tale as hearts and souls are on the line in the world of high fashion.

Rebecca Zanetti
Kensington Brava
9780758259257, $14.00

Geneticist Emma Paulsen has always protected her empath sister plant physiologist Dr. Cara Paulsen and her four years old niece child Janie. However, Emma lost that role to vampire warrior Talen Kayrs (see Fated) though she still seeks a cure to save her infected sibling and unborn nephew.

Talen's brother Dage, King of the Realm, wants Emma as his mate. He has waited centuries for her and has no patience when she rejects his mark. To her chagrin, Emma is attracted to the ultimate chauvinist, but rejects his bossy attitude. Meanwhile the enemies of the vampires, the Kurjans, wants her research and are willing to kill the innocent to obtain it.

Although Dage's bullying abuse adds realism as he is not a sensual vampire but instead someone used to getting his way, readers will dislike him. Still the story line is action-packed and the sex scenes heated as Dage's only success with Emma resides in the bedroom. Readers will enjoy the romantic urban fantasy but outside of the mark subplot, no major threads are climaxed.

Pleasure Bound
Anne Rainey
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758269027, $14.00

Deanna Harrison and Jonas Phoenix are attracted to each other, but he has kept his distance for years as she is his best friend's sister. They finally succumb to their years of desire and have the most incredible weekend of sex in their lives in his Miami beach house.

Both want more in their budding relationship, but each is hesitant how far to tread. However she becomes upset with him when Jonas the private investigator warns her to back away from her current interior designer client as he is dangerous while she resents his intrusion until he is proven right, maybe dead right.

This is a heated erotic romance with the lead couple making up for lost time. Inside the boudoir the story line is torrid as the protagonists come to life in all sorts of positions. Outside the bedroom, they seem somewhat flaccid even when danger turns their relationship into a perilous triangle. Still sub-genre fans will enjoy Anne Rainey's contemporary as the heat is on.

Under Attack
Hannah Jane
9780758258939, $7.99

Her new boss at the Underworld Detection Agency in San Francisco wants supes only so one Executive Assistant Sophie Lawson, the human immune to the paranormal, expects to receive the pink slip shortly although she wonders if EEOC will protect her rights against firing due to ethnic origin. The thought of unemployment disturbs Sophie as she loves what she does.

Her sometimes boyfriend Alex Grace the fallen angels asks Sophie to help him obtain the Vessel of Souls before someone else obtains the relic that he believes will restore him his wings. Ophelia the fallen angel also wants the artifact. She believes the best way to win the prize is to cause issues for Sophie. As the paranormal are murdered related to the search, Sophie distrusts the fallen angel or any other supe possessing the Vessel of Souls. To her shock, Sophie finds the clues take her to her family's history.

The second UDA urban fantasy (see Under Wraps) is a delightful amusing yet taut thriller. The heroine struggles with the fear of losing her job while on the dangerous hunt for a relic in which she does not quite understand its significance but knows that fallen angels want it so she comprehends the implication. The investigation is terrific across the streets of San Francisco while balanced by the satirical jocularity of life as a supe different from the Hollywood portrayal and no reader will look at a bathroom the same way.

Sunrise on Cedar Key
Terri DuLong
9780758268655, $15.00

A decade ago Grace Stone and Beau Hamilton broke up. She moved to Cedar Key, Florida where she opened up "Coffee, Tea and Thee". Recently she convinced her beloved Aunt Maude to move from Brunswick to Cedar Key. However, while helping her relative, Grace learns her coffee shop and her apartment were destroyed in a fire.

Maude invites Grace to live with her in the historic "Coachman House" and partner with her in turning the large home into "The Blue Moon Knitting Retreat". Grace and Lucas Trudeau, the newcomer who owns the Book Shop, meet and are attracted to one another. Meanwhile her estranged sister Chloe arrives, which in Grace's mind means trouble and nastiness as she and her sibling have never gotten along.

This is a warm tender contemporary tale starring a strong cast who bond one stitch at a time. The amazing Grace is the glue that holds the plot together as she reinvents herself for the second time. The secondary characters enhance the engaging novel as knitting brings together a caring sisterhood. Terri DuLong provides a charming Cedar key sunrise.

Dangerous Master
Tawny Taylor
Kensington Aphrodisiac
9780758265654, $14.00

Camera in hand, private investigator Amanda "Mandy" Thompson follows a cheating husband to a BDSM dungeon to capture pictures of the philanderer. There she meets dom Master Zane. She has never felt the slightest S&M itch but finds Zane somehow controls her libido. Used to other spilling their guts, a surprised Mandy reveals her most innermost sensual desires to her hypnotizing Master.

Zane compels Mandy into a menage a trois with him, her target and her, but Zane shocks himself when he realizes he wants no one else touching his Mandy as even his male lover and feeder pales. However, as she surrenders to her need for her Master at the cost of her client's assignment, he knows he must admit to his beloved sub just what he is.

This is a great BDSM romance starring an intriguing dom and a fascinating sub. The heated story line is fast-paced as readers wonder whether this new relationship, strange to both protagonists, will hold up outside of the dungeon. Although late suspense leads to an implausible climax, readers will enjoy the heated erotic romance between Mandy and Zane.

One Foot in the Gravy
Delia Rosen
9780758241719, $7.99

Following her nasty divorce, Gwen Silver inherits her late Uncle Murray's Jewish deli, the Pastrami Swami in Nashville, Tennessee. She packed her bags, reverted back to her maiden name and quickly became dubbed the Nashville Katz as she takes over the deli although she was unprepared for a side order of murder (see A Brisket, A Casket). The native New Yorker miraculously adjusts to living in the "Music City" and feels welcomed by her employees except for the Pastrami Swami boss of bosses Thomasina Jackson.

Wealthy socialite Lolo Baker hires the deli to cater a murder mystery-themed dinner. Lolo rings the crystal bell to start The Cozy Foxes' gala, but horrible noises from the room above frighten the deli employees and the attendees. The racket upstairs is quickly accompanied by a crash through the ceiling; Chocolatier Hoppy Hopewell has fallen dead with One Foot in the Gravy. NPD Detective Grant Daniels leads the homicide investigation that turns stranger when Lolo's housekeeper Lizzie Renoir is murdered. Unable to mind her deli, the former Manhattan forensic accountant, as well as the Cozy Foxes, tries to find the ties between the two victims; with only Lolo connecting them.

The second lighthearted Nashville Katz amateur sleuth is a fun cozy as the heroine using her New York shtick investigates the homicides knowing Grant will be unhappy with her placing herself in a pickle as someone who kills twice will have no remorse adding a body to the gravy. The support cast is a horde of quirky individuals who enhance the tale with a touch of mustard. Readers will enjoy a Reuben with a knish as Delia Rosen provides an entertaining deli whodunit.

The Real Werewives of Vampire County
Alexandra Ivy, Angie Fox, Jess Haines and Tami Dane
9780758261588, $15.00

"Where Darkness Lives" by Alexandra Ivy. Sophia the werewolf is highly regarded by her species as a rare female who has given birth not just once, but incredibly to four purebreds. However, someone has a different opinion and wants her dead. Alpha bodyguard Luc is hired to keep Sophia safe even as their passion ignites.

"Murder On Mysteria Lane" by Angie Fox. Like many mortals, the supernatural in-crowd wants to live in Malibu especially in Eternal Life Estates where the hottest fad is for a vampire to marry a were. When someone murders a werewife, the Vampire Counsel tries to prevent a species war. They assign vampire detective Lucian Mead with help from werewolf Heather McPhee, their best detective, to investigate.

"Werewolves In Chic Clothing" by Tami Dane. Christine Price and Jonathan Stewart meet on line and fall in love. She moves to Maryland to be with her beloved. However, she finds her new home strange and she becomes concerned over that Jonathan's late first wife; ruled a suicide but seems more like a homicide.

"What's Yours Is Mine" by Jess Haines. In Still Waters, New Jersey, women of the affluent community welcome Tiffany Winters to join their most exclusive membership, the Diamondfangs pack. However, they may be rushing to judgment as none question that Tiffany fits too perfectly with them.

These are four well written entertaining romantic suspense urban fantasies with different somewhat keeping the plots fresh. Additionally Alexandra Ivy's entry is part of her Guardians of Eternity series.

Fallen Angel
Logan Belle
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758261618, $14.00

In Manhattan Mallory Dale works as a paralegal for Park Avenue's divorce lawyer Gavin Stone. However that is her day job to pay bills; her real vocation is what she does at night at the Blue Angel. She owes her rising burlesque career as Moxie to her boyfriend Alec Martin. Last year he was doing a story on the upscale exotic dance scene when he took Mallory to Blue Angel for her birthday where she ended up on stage stripping.

At work, Gavin outrageously flirts with Mallory; making it clear he wants a tryst. Anti vanilla cream, Alec wants to turn their lovemaking into a menage a trois with his choice being Violet "no mercy" Offender.

The return to the angelic world of burlesque is a fun tale when the plot focuses on the lead couple. The story line loses some of the bump and grind when the tsuris of the support cast strips on center stage. Still fans who enjoy a diverse range of heated sexual deviant behavior will relish the sexcapades of Mallory and Alec (and others).

His Steadfast Love
Golden Keyes Parson
Thomas Nelson Publishers
PO Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214
9781595546296, $15.99,

In 1860 Texas, Amanda Belle expects to never marry as she already has a family to raise. She promised her dying mother she would help her father the preacher care for her brother Daniel and younger sisters (Emmaline, Mary and Catherine). However, when Army Captain Kent Littlefield begins attending her dad's church, Amanda knows she is attracted to him.

In 1861, Texas secedes from the Union. Daniel joins the Confederacy while Kent remains with the Union. Amanda worries about the safety of the two men she loves. She turns to God for guidance especially on slavery, but the Lord is mute. When her father, dies, Amanda knows her three siblings come before her aching heart and soul as she remains steadfast to God to help her and others through the horror of war.

Aptly titled His Steadfast Love is a character driven inspirational Civil War tale that makes a strong case that armed conflict is rarely if ever the answer to disputes. Although the story line starts slowly, once the war ignites, the novel accelerates with vivid descriptions of the experiences of the lead trio and others. Readers will appreciate this exciting Americana tale as Amanda wonders why God is silent allowing man to cause so much pain to fellow man.

Sunrise on the Battery
Beth Webb Hart
Thomas Nelson
9781595542007, $15.99

Jackson and Mary Lynn Scoville have come a long way from their rustic roots in Round O, South Carolina. They made a fortune selling coastal real estate inherited from his family and were able to relocate to Charleston where they want a better cultivated life for their daughters (Catherine, Lilla and Casey) than they had growing up.

However, materialism has proven a false idol to Mary Lynn who feels out of her element in the high society of the city. Instead she returns to God who she has forgotten like an amnesiac, but He has now gotten her attention. She wants Jackson to join her but he wrote off God years ago as a bad bet. A strange incident brings Jackson back into the fold, but like he does with everything he goes zealously all out; leaving his wife to wonder if she erred when she prayed for his deliverance.

This an entertaining second chance with the Lord tale starring a family who must decide what matters in life. Each member of the Scoville quintet is fully developed with differing personalities and motivations, but especially the parents and Catherine. Although the story line starts slow as the cast, location and premise are set, readers will relish this engaging character driven tale that asks the audience whether we run with or from God.

The Night Eternal
Guillermo Del Toro and Chuck Hogan
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780061558269, $26.99,

Two years ago the pandemic vampiric virus was deployed on an unsuspecting New York City (see The Strain). The toll turned devastatingly global as humanity fell from the top of the food chain with the vampires hunting mortals. Releasing a nuclear winter that turned the earth into almost total Night Eternal, the Master ancient vampire has his followers establish death camp ranches where his followers can breed humans in order to snack on the mortals.

There are few free humans who remain outside the cattle captivity; most of those hide in remote holes. A small defiant cell continues to rebel against the Master and his bloody horde. Doctors Eph Goodweather and Nora Martinez, Vasiliy Fet, and the Master's hybrid offspring Mr. Quinlan have different motivations accentuated by the death of their spiritual leader Abraham Setrakian (see The Fall) in spite of the same goal to rid the planet of the bloodsuckers. One of the rebels has the answer to end the genocide killing of the Master and his species in what would be a suicide mission, but whose side is this individual on as the ancient vampire masterly manipulates his enemies into betraying their kind.

The final Strain post-apocalyptic urban fantasy is an exciting ending to an entertaining fresh modern spin to the mythos. Action-packed throughout the trilogy, readers will enjoy what looks like the final extermination of humanity except for those in the camps. Although the climax will not shock the audience and too much personal demons defang the human resistance (and slows the plot), fans will appreciate getting there; as before they become bloodless fodder Nora and others must discover man's most beloved weapon against an amoral more powerful predator.

Dead Bolt
Juliet Blackwell
c/o Penguin Group (USA)
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780451235305, $7.99,

There are few females in Melanie Turner's occupation, but the general contractor relishes taking over Turner Construction from her retired dad. Currently she leads the restoration of the Cheshire House a historic Queen Anne Victorian house in San Francisco. Every house has problems in the renovation, but this one includes Jim and Katenka Daley who insist on residing in the basement apartment while the renovations occur.

Mel also has the ability to see and hear ghosts. She believes there are many spirits roaming Cheshire House. Initially the ghostly occupants play harmless pranks like handprints on a very high ceiling and footprints in which only Mel the medium can see them. However, not all the spirits resting in Cheshire Inn are benign; one who is malevolent has the skill to make people do what it wants them to do. When cantankerous neighbor (and former resident) Emile Blunt is found dead, a former resident of Cheshire House when it was a boarding house, Mele believes there is a link between the murder and the spirits. Although she understands the lethal risk that no other living person on the project does, Mel must find a way to coax the ghosts to move on and out of Cheshire House while finding out who killed Emile.

The second Haunted House Renovation Mystery (see If Walls Could Talk) is a chilling paranormal locked inn whodunit that will frighten even the Ghostbusters let alone readers. Mel is a courageous strong person who though scared feels she must complete the project which includes ridding the house of its otherworldly occupants. Dead Bolt is a terrific paranormal amateur sleuth.

Murder, She Wrote: The Fine Art of Murder
Jessica Fletcher & Donald Bain
9780451234735, $23.95

Mystery writer Jessica Fletcher is vacationing in Italy where she has joined the Great Art, Humble Places tour. She and the group are inside the Church of San Bernardino of Siena in the town of L'Aquila when two friars enter. They steal a Bellini, but when a visitor former Italian cop Fandello pulls a gun out, one of the thieves kills him and aims at Jessica before fleeing. She saw his face vividly and reported so to the police investigating the homicide art theft.

Back home in Cabot Cove, Maine Jessica learns that Jonathan Simsbury, husband of her best friend Marlise from her New York days was murdered in their home in Chicago. Not long after that Jonathan's adult son from his first wife Wayne arrives. He asks Jessica for help because his stepmom always said she was levelheaded. Jessica agrees to accompany a troubled Wayne back home where Marlise is the prime suspect in her spouse's homicide. At the office of Marlise's attorney Mr. Corman, Wayne says his stepmom murdered his father. Stunned by the revelation, Jessica investigates the murder while the Italian police want her to return there to testify in the art theft homicide in the Abruzzi region.

The latest Murder She Wrote is an exciting twisted thriller that has Jessica for the most part still on tour (see The Queen's Jewels). The Chicago caper takes several unexpected spins while stealing of art is the third most profitable felony. Readers will appreciate the latest Fletcher amateur sleuth as the heroine learns it is hard to be in two places an ocean apart at the same time.

The Hunters
Theresa Meyers
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
119 West 40th Street, Floor 21
New York, NY 10018-2522
9781420121247, $6.99,

The Jackson Brothers (Winchester, Remington, and Colt) are chips off the old block as they like other family members hunt down vampires and demons. They rely on the steam gizmos created by brilliant inventor Marley Turlock.

The sulfuric smell means to Colt riding his clockwork horse, the supernatural is crossing in much greater numbers than before; which also implies a hole in the barrier between the realms. Colt knows he will have to face Lucifer's older brother the vampiric demon lord Rathe the fallen archangel. Desperate he summons a demon to help him close the schism. Lily the succubus who wants to become human again arrives. Filled with desire and struggling to focus on the mission rather than just her body, Colt knows his soul is already lost to Lily; he is unaware her heart belongs to him.

This steampunk western romance is a fast-paced exhilarating fantasy starring two delightful star-crossed lead protagonists. Much of the fun is with Turlock's gadgets like the freeze machine. With a wonderful climatic confrontation, readers will relish this exciting thriller while looking forward to more Jackson brothers' tales along with further inventions by Turlock.

Making Spirits Bright
Fern Michaels, Elizabeth Bass, Rosalind Noonan and Nan Rossiter
9781420108361, $7.99

"Making Spirits Bright" by Fern Michaels. Melanie wants to adopt the twins made orphans by a car crash. To do so by Christmas, she would need a husband so her plan includes a marriage for the holidays to Bryce. His New Year's resolution is to remain with his new family.

"Runaway Christmas" by Elizabeth Bass. Heidi the Brooklyn diner owner has had a rough holiday season. However, the biggest surprise is when her grieving for her late mom teenage niece runs from Texas to be with her New York aunt for Christmas. A runaway, a blizzard and a cop turn Heidi's holiday into one to remember.

"Home For Christmas" by Rosalind Noonan. Single mom Jo needs Santa for her gift shop's Christmas Eve party. She pleads with wounded warrior Sam, a veteran of the Afghan war, to take the role.

"Christmas On Cape Cod" by Nan Rossiter. Maddie agrees to help Asa puppy-sit during Christmas Eve as she has a secret Santa wish involving the troubled teacher.

These are four lighthearted sweet holiday tales that readers will enjoy though none of the lead protagonists are fully developed.

The Pleasure of Bedding a Baroness
Tamara Lejuene
9781420108743, $7.99

Twenty year old American twins Patience and Prudence Waverly inherit titles and estates in England. They leave Philadelphia for London to see what they own. Although Patience has become Lady Waverly, she has no patience for the aloof inanity of the Ton. Her title-less sister Prudence has even less prudence willing to battle the entrenched aristocracy who seek scandals of others to titter over.

Intoxicated Lord Max Purefoy assaults Patience the baroness, but ignores her when he is sober though he likes her bodacious outspoken manner. Meanwhile Prudence on the other hand wants a title like her sister has. She decides she will marry debauched Max although Patience to her chagrin is attracted to the rogue. However, Prudence's marriage trap sends Max to her sister demanding she marry him.

This screwball Regency romance is a jocular comedy of errors as the twins manage to land in one mess after another. Purposely using character-traits hyperbole, the tale lampoons the rigid public ethical code and its amoral private code of the Ton, but the satire loses some of its sting because the humor never fully takes enough serious relief moments. Still fans who enjoy a zany over the top tale of siblings, suitors, switches, and suspense will want to read Tamara Lejuene's comedy of romantic errors.

Jacquelyn Frank
9781420109863, $7.99

Four centuries ago, Adam the water demon and Jasmine the vampire met in an explosive encounter that was different than anything either species had witnessed. Instead of open hostile combat, they were in love. However, his niece Leah child of Time fearing for the lives of her parents Jacob the enforcer and Isabella the Druid snatched him from his idyllic era top bring him forward four hundreds to keep his younger brother and sister-in-law safe. Jasmine has her heart broken as if her essence has been drained from her.

In the midst of a losing battle against Ruth the necromancer and her consort Nicodemus, Adam abruptly appears. Totally confused with the changes he failed to be part of including enemy bedfellows as cross species is acceptable unlike when he met Jasmine, Adam struggles to adapt. His side is still losing until he and Jasmine reconnect in love and hope.

The latest Nightwalkers romantic fantasy (see Damien and Noah) is a great refreshing entry due to the powerful cast on both sides of the front lines. Adam especially makes the thriller work as his bewilderment with changes add a sense of realism while his heart and soul still yearns for Jasmine. In some ways she is the more fascinating of the time-crossed lovers as she is sort of bipolar with her mood swing from euphoric mania to depressive to euphoric feeder. Jacquelyn Frank is at her best with Adam's saga.

Margo Maguire
Avon Books
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
9780062018410, $7.99,

In 1816 widow Lady Christiana Warnick's parents and brothers are in Italy mourning the death of their brother Lang Jameson in a ship explosion. Christina has received her second blackmail note having paid the first from someone who insists Lang lives. She is practicing target shooting when Gavin Briggs arrives seeking the estranged granddaughters, Christina and Lily Hayes, of elderly ailing Lord Sunderland. Christina accidently shoots him. Gavin ignores the wound and explains her relationship to Sunderland. She asks if he can locate anyone which he says yes. She asks him to come to London to help her find Lang. After London, Christina agrees to go to Windermere to meet the grandfather she never met as he kicked her pregnant mom out of his house. He mentions the heir Lord Chetwood is nasty having already tried to kill Lily.

Gavin needs the reward money to buy a place for his sister and baby niece to live since their father tossed them out for her getting pregnant out of wedlock. He also remains hurt that his fiancee Lady Amelia married someone else while he served in the military. While Christina and Gavin head to London, he knows he wants her but accepts he cannot have her as the granddaughter of a duke is way above his station. Still they make love though both agree this is a bad idea.

The lead couple is a strong pairing of star-crossed lovers while the Regency woman in peril story line is entertaining and the Lang mystery cleared up with a nice spin. Although a coincidence involving the magistrate helps the lead couple and Gavin ignores his bullet wound, readers will enjoy this entertaining historical romance.

Holly Lane
Toni Blake
9780062024602, $7.99

Following her husband dumping her for someone else, Sue Ann Simpkins decides to take a break from the custody issue involving their child Sophie and her lack of money. She leaves Destiny, Ohio for a getaway weekend.

Adam Becker feels lonely with his two sons spending the holidays with their mother. He heads to a cabin to wallow in drink by himself.

At the cabin, Adam and Sue Ann meet in surprise. They know each other as he is the godfather of her daughter and the best friend to her ex. A snow storm strands the pair who with the help of alcohol acts on their long time attraction. However, though they each realize they love one another, she distrusts males with her heart; even one kind to her Sophie.

The fourth Destiny contemporary romance (see One Reckless Summer, Sugar Creek and Whisper Falls) is a sweet second chance romance starring two divorce war wounded warriors falling in love. The lead couple is an intriguing pairing while the townsfolk provide a sense of coming home to readers. Filled with angst and inanity, fans will enjoy visiting Destiny as we will never think of reindeers in the same way.

Night Hawk
Beverly Jenkins
9780062032645, $7.99

In 1889, former bounty hunter U.S. deputy marshal Ian "Preacher" Vance believes his soul died when his wife was murdered. A hybrid Scot and Black, Ian reassesses his self assumed death of feeling when he sees lovely Maggie Freeman standing in cuffs on a Kansas station waiting for the train bound to Kansas City. His job is to escort the proud defiant Maggie, a hybrid like him with her mixed black and Indian blood, to a circuit judge to stand trial for the murder of a white man.

She insists he was only defending herself from a sexual assault. However, though he believes her declaration, he knows a non-white female will hang regardless of her self defense claim that rings true. As they fall in love, Ian plans to keep his woman safe on his Wyoming ranch; but he thought her past not his will catch up to them.

The latest Beverly Jenkins Black Americana historical romance (see Captured) is a fabulous late nineteenth century thriller as the reader learns justice is myopic when it comes to an accused person of color especially if the so called victim is white. The protagonists are a delightful pairing of two strong proud people with her adding a sense of humor while the support cast enhances the look at race relations on the Great Plains in 1889. This is another puissant entry by the Queen of African American historical romances.

To Pleasure a Duke
Sara Bennett
9780061339189, $7.99

In 1837, Eugenie Belmont yearns to escape the scams of her family led by her father the baronet who taught his offspring to con the unsuspecting. She wants respectability and believes Sinclair St. John; a Duke from the prim and proper Somerton family is perfect for her.

Sinclair, a secret wannabe artist, meets her family when he returns their wastrel goat to them. As she makes it clear she wants him, Sinclair must deal with ducal family affairs as his mother the dowager orders him to force his sister to marry her mom's chosen one. Before he knows what happened, Sinclair is falling in love with Eugenie in Scotland where their siblings are causing havoc. He wants her to be his mistress, but she wants him to be her spouse.

This entertaining early Victorian romance contains two interesting lead protagonists whose debates are preciously clumsy yet deeply honest. They turn the historical into a fun read in spite of their respective families coming out of sub-genre central tasking. Readers will enjoy this warm battle of wits as love and DNA battle for supremacy.

All About Seduction
Katy Madison
9780062017352, $7.99

Caroline Broadhurst has been married for fifteen years to an abusive mill owner who paid her family for her. Now with no heir and learning he is sterile, Broadhurst orders his wife to bed an aristocratic friend of her brother. She is appalled as her husband parades the who's who of decadence passed her. However, Carline is an obedient wife so will do what is demanded of her even if she loathes sleeping with any of these rakes or for that matter her odious mate.

Caroline is attracted to mill engineer Jack Applegate who has loved her from afar since he first saw his employer's wife. When Jack is injured at the mill, Caroline takes him to her manor house to heal. He learns of Broadhurst's insidious scheme and volunteers to be the sire of her offspring. However, her husband learns of her duplicity with an unacceptable middle class worker so plots revenge as the cuckold spouse.

With a nod to Chaucer's Canterbury Tales, readers will enjoy this entertaining Regency romance. The exciting story line is character driven mostly by Caroline who is refreshing with her pathetic inability to break out of what society and her family expects of a woman. Although over the top of the Tower especially once Jack is injured, fans will enjoy this engaging nineteenth century version of the Miller's Tale.

The Wedding Quilt
Jennifer Chiaverini
c/o Penguin Putnam
375 Hudson Street, 3rd floor
New York, NY 10014-3657
9780525952428, $24.95,

In 2028 Sarah McClure owns Elm Creek Manor where her daughter Caroline is getting married. Attending the wedding on the bride's side besides her friends and family is the Elm Creek Quilters.

Sarah looks back to when Caroline and her twin James were born to her and Matt. Inheriting the manor, Sarah saved the Elm Creek Quilt Camp from insolvency. She recalls the Quilters being there for her during her pregnancy but Matt was away much of the time helping his father with his business. Musing about some of her cherished Quilters and their quilts, Sarah is caught by surprise when her bookworm daughter decides to create a special wedding quilt since Caroline never was passionate about quilting like her mom is. Sarah wants to help her daughter's dream come true as she never made a wedding quilt, but is unaware that her historian loving son is secretly seeing Gina.

The latest Elm Creek Quilts drama is for die hard fans only as the story line consists of a series of flashback vignettes from previous novels. The cast is as always is solid and references to the "Founding Mother" Sylvia add to the tale. However, there is little conflict amongst the party; as The Wedding Quilt mostly summarizes much of the major episodic events from previous novels.

Death and Oil
Brad Matsen
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780307378811, $25.95,

On July 6, 1988, explosions devastated the Piper Alpha offshore oil rig in the North Sea off Scotland with the blaze burning for weeks afterward. One hundred and sixty two workers and two first responders died in the tragedy.

Starting on the twentieth anniversary and two years before the Deepwater Horizon calamity, Brad Matsen interviewed a wide range of people impacted by the North Sea disaster. The research into the rig's history and that of other rig incidents will stun readers. However it is the first hand accounts by the survivors and others that bring to life Mr. Matsen's well written often angry look at the impact of mechanical failure, human error, government lack of oversight due to highest level decisions to choose drill baby over safety, and a lack of corporate responsibility and accountability that also chose drill over safety.

While I wonder what the results of a survey would produce done in the Gulf region as to how many people were aware of Piper Alpha as this seems so eerily familiar to what happened at Deepwater Horizon. Death and Oil: A True Story of the Piper Alpha Disaster on the North Sea is informative and highly recommended reading.

Nanjing Requiem
Ha Jin
9780307379764, $26.95

In 1937, the Japanese occupation force takes control of Nanjing with a brutal violence to ensure the suppressed population could not rebel. American missionary dean of Jinling Women's College Minnie Vautrin is horrified with what she witnesses and what she hears as the Japanese army terrorizes civilians with mass slaughter and rape. She and her assistant Anling Gao open the college as a shelter to the homeless. While the Japanese threaten to destroy her school and her, Minnie continues to act as the "Goddess of Mercy" to over ten thousand battle fatigued women and children.

Anling bears her own demon in secret. Her daughter in law is Japanese so though she desperately wants to welcome her son's wife and her grandchild as her kin, she cannot acknowledge them if she does not want to become a pariah in her community and ineffective in assisting Minnie. She takes solace with her work helping the Goddess of Mercy perform miracles by risking their lives. Still both women feel tormented by those they could not save from the horrific murdering and raping of Nanking.

With a nod to Iris Chang's The Rape of Nanjing, Ha Jin provides a powerful cautionary historical thriller with a focus on the real life missionary who the author makes a strong case deserves international legendary status for what she did at a sacrifice to herself. Reading somewhat like a biographical fiction, Anling tells the tale of her boss' efforts and sacrifice to rescue the beleaguered unprotected civilians from a reign of terror.

The English Patient
Michael Ondaatje
Everyman's Library
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780307700872, $24.99,

Hana the Canadian nurse has cared for the English Patient for four months. She knows his body as well as a lover would, but knows very little about who he really is. The Bedouin found him in the Sahara when he ejected from his crashing blazing airplane. They put out the fire engulfing his body, wrapped him carefully and brought him to the Italian villa where the allies set up a hospital amidst undetonated Nazi bombs. Now the others have left except for the maniacal nurse and her English Patient.

Hana is not concerned with who her English Patient is and what he might have done or even if he is married; as he has given her a reason to live. Still grieving the death of her father, Hana feels that the unknown burn victim is her family. However, her idyllic parasite is invaded by thieving spy Caravaggio who was tortured and maimed by the enemy, and Kip the Sikh from India working as a sapper mine detonation expert for the British army in North Africa. The newcomers feel as displaced by the war as do the Canadian and her patient.

This is reprint of one of the most haunting classic war stories ever written. The story line focuses on displacement of four people who had diverse roles in WWII. Each character is fully developed coming from different cultures though all are part of the sun setting on the British Empire as the war closes. All's quiet on the African front, but the aftermath of war remains as volatile as the unexploded ordinance; symbolized by these protagonists who come together over the mystery of whom is the English Patient.

Haruki Murakami, author
Jay Rubin and Philip Gabriel, translators
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780307593313, $30.50,

Thirty year old Aomame caught the cab in Kuta heading inbound towards Tokyo. However, an accident shuts down the expressway. The cabby suggests Aomame whose name means green peas to try something different. Bored the passenger agrees; she leaves the taxi stuck on the elevated highway traffic jam to walk down stairs into a rabbit hole.

Thirty tears old Tengo the bored math teacher is the ghostwriter for teenage girl Fuka-Eri's bestseller Air Chrysalis. He too disappears.

Aomame realizes she is not in her Tokyo as the cops are uniformed and supplied with different guns; she calls her new land 1Q84. Though she wonders how to go home, an animated Aomame becomes involved in criminal activity. Meanwhile Tengo obsesses on a quest to find his childhood friend Aomame before the rules that she apparently is shattering in this Tokyo turns into pandemic chaos while the Sakigake cult hunt for this infamous female.

This is an omnibus translation of a powerful epic trilogy as Haruki Murakami explores the degrees of connection and separation between people within an Alice-Orwellian Tokyo. The story line is fascinating as the plot purposely meanders as it mirrors relationships. Still readers will enjoy Tengo's quest to save Aomame from her becoming the trend setter on her 1Q84 world.

Ed King
David Guterson
9780307271068, $26.95

In 1962 Seattle, thirtyish actuary Walter Cousins' wife Lydia suffers a nervous breakdown. He hires teenage English exchange student Diane Burroughs as an au pair to take care of his two kids, four years old Barry and three years old Tina. A week into her employment, he is sleeping with her. Diane becomes pregnant but vanishes with her newborn.

For years afterward, Walter sends child support payments to Diane for a child he has not seen. He remains ignorant to the fact that Diane abandoned her infant. Alice and Dan King adopt Ed; he is raised in a nurturing reformed Jewish family. As a teen Ed gets into a fatal highway incident, but walks away shaken only and has an affair with a high school teacher. He becomes a brilliant mathematician working on the field of search. Diane and Ed meet at the same exhibit she attended years earlier with Walter and his kids. They are attracted to one another even as his firm Pythia becomes mega. However, his genome mapping leads him to much of the truth about who he is not.

This is a brilliant satirical modernization of Sophocles' Oedipus Rex in which the Gods are computers and fate is avarice fueled by happenchance that brings womanizing Walter, Diane the con artist, and Ed the older woman lover with a Freudian Oedipus Complex together. The three protagonists are not likable individuals yet their human foibles make for a fascinating, often amusing lampooning of contemporary relationships.

The Cat's Table
Michael Ondaatje
9780307700117, $26.00

Eleven year old Michael is leaving his home in Ceylon for the first time to join his divorced mother living in England. Michael is traveling alone though a first class passenger promised his uncles and aunts to keep an eye on him. The lad is taken aback when he sees the multistoried castle he will sail on lying majestically large in Colombo Harbor. His bunk on the Oronsay is under the waves so he has no porthole.

He is assigned Table 76 for his meals. There are nine people at 76 including two boys (extroverted Cassius who he knows from school and pensive Ramadhin) his age. Another table 76 occupant Miss Laqueri explains they eat at the Cat's Table, which is to keep the dregs the furthest from the exclusive Captain's Table. The lads run amuck getting into one stormy escapade after another while traveling the Indian Ocean and the Mediterranean Sea while being fascinated by the mystery of the chained prisoner. Meanwhile Michael is attracted to his older vivacious cousin Emily as she is kind to him, places deaf Asuntha under her protective wing and gallivants with a performer.

Award winning author Michael Ondaatje provides a strong coming of age thriller that contains a metaphysical undercurrent for those who know the background of the writer. Michael's journey is filled with youthful adventures but also metaphorically symbolizes the journey of life as the adult is the child without the innocence. The Cat's Table is an excellent character driven drama, which, unlike Paradise Lost can become Paradise Regained, though innocence lost is gone forever.

Reality Jane
Shannon Nering
Bancroft Press
Box 65360. Baltimore, MD 21209-9945
9781610880282, $15.95,

The self help reality guru of media Ricky Dean hires Canadian journalist Jane Kaufman as a television producer. She travels to Hollywood where she is almost famous while on call 24/7. She became a caffeine addict with her daily coffee seemingly matching her age of twenty-eight; and learning the ropes of reality TV means throwing the innocent lambs like the obese seven child to the wolves dressed as fans.

After growing up in a loyal caring Canadian prairie family, Jane struggles with backstabbers and dealing with maniacal guests and their rapacious retinue. Her fill in when she can have a personal life limited to no sleep has faithful Grant as her boyfriend, but sexy Alex owns her fantasy libido. However, it is that seven year old fat girl whose hysteria is a wake up call to Reality Jane as she ponders how future generations looking back at her accomplishments would react.

Reality Jane is an entertaining satire on the survival of the nastiest in Hollywood's reality shows written by an insider. Jane is terrific as she realizes who has her back and who is stabbing her back. With an is that all there is theme, Shannon Nering provides an intriguing portrait of a woman who enjoys the reality media concept, but loathes the belief that the attendees want blood from the participants; who are unwitting volunteer Christians facing lions inside the Roman Coliseum.

A Study in Sherlock
Laurie R. King (Editor) and Leslie S. Klinger (Editor)
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, 17th floor, New York, NY 10019
9780812982466, $15.00,

The sixteen contributions are over all quite good with no clinkers though few are outstanding enough to stand out in the vast Sherlock universe. Alan Bradley opens the overall engaging homage to the great detective of 221B Baker Street with a throwback tale that comes across as if Mr. Doyle wrote You'd Better Go in Disguise" if you want to catch a killer in a park. Tony Broadbent as a modern day taxi driver give a fare "As to an "Exact Knowledge of London" tour in a strange but enticing entry. In 1901 President McKinley meets with Holmes in Buffalo with a strange request (see "Starling Events in the Electrified City" by Thomas Perry). An Anglophile FBI agent investigate the murder of an American in London, only to learn the path from Baker Street to Leavenworth is through Pennsylvania in "The Bone Headed league" by Lee Child. The Margolin brothers have Baker Street trivia guru New Yorker Ronald Adair on the moors solving "The Adventure of the Purloined Paget." Colin Cotterill provides a refreshing amusing take with his animated "The Mysterious Case of the Unwritten Short Story." Finally Jacqueline Winspear ends the collection with an ailing lad inspired after reading Holmes to solve the case with "A Spit of Detection."

Under the Skin
Vicki Lane
9780345533654, $15.00

In the Great Smoky Mountains, Elizabeth and Phillip are planning their marriage. However, her high maintenance sister Gloria calls from Florida informing Elizabeth she is coming to rusticate and hide on her sibling's Full Circle Farm. An exacerbated Elizabeth believes Glory is delusional; nothing new in her mind, when she claims her third spouse Jerry is trying to kill her.

Her sister's arrival has Elizabeth unhappy as she wants to plan her upcoming wedding to Phillip instead of serving her affluent sibling. However, a side effect of the arrival of "Princess" Glory is Elizabeth begins to question what she knows about her fiance. As the two siblings turn to one another for the first time in years, each wonders who the man is tentatively in their respective lives.

Although the climax seems off kilter, Under the Skin is a fascinating tale of two sisters, opposites in every way, finally bonding after all these years. Character driven, including by the rural Appalachia setting, readers will enjoy Vicki Lane's entertaining thriller as the Goodweather siblings need to find one another to survive an ordeal that tests their sisterhood.

Jane Fonda: The Private Life of a Public Woman
Patricia Bosworth
Houghton, Mifflin and Harcourt
9780547152578, $30.00

This is a deep biography that uses all types of reference material including Jane Fonda's FBI file, her suicide mother's psychiatric records, her relationship with her demanding dad the icon actor Henry and interviews to get inside the changing public images to the soul of Ms. Fonda. The book is divided into a prologue, five distinct eras, and an epilogue. Ms. Bosworth openly admits she and her subject have been friends since they met as students at New York Actors Studio in the early 1960s, but this does not prevent the biographer from writing about the good, the bad and the ugly. Perhaps the most fascinating theme is a need to find a father figure who cared about her. Ms. Fonda's transition as reflected in the five periods of her life starts with being Henry's "Daughter" (Tall Story) seeking his approval. In her early twenties having given up on achieving her dad's okay, Ms. Fonda turns to becoming the consummate "Actress" (Cat Ballou). In the 1960s, Ms. Fonda is recognized as a "Movie Star/Sex Symbol" married to director Roger Vadim (Barbarella). Over the next two decades she becomes a "Political Activist" (Coming Home) speaking out against the Viet Nam War and ridiculed as Hanoi Jane. while married to Tom Hayden. Finally in the 1990s she becomes the "Workout Guru/Tycoon Wife" married to Ted Turner and running a multimillion dollar workout video company. Ms. Bosworth enables readers to get inside "The Private Life of a Public Woman" in a wonderful biography.

The Cliff Road Chronicles: Tales of the Brotherhood of Darkness
Anne Fraser, Inanna Arthen (editor)
By Light Unseen Media
PO Box 1233, Pepperell, MA 01463-3233
9781935303275, $15.00,

The Cliff Road Chronicles is a fitting tribute to the late Anne Fraser whose take on the 1990s urban fantasy is extremely refreshing and showcases how ahead of the sub-genre she was (and still is). Filled with amusing puns, these contributions provide intriguing relationships and personal tsuris that vamps, mages, druids, werewolves, fairies and humans confront.

"Gideon and Joshua: A Love Story" consists of eleven shorts that start in the mid 1990s to 2006 mostly in Maine in the chronological order they occur; while simultaneously matching when they were released. They are a direct follow-up to the superb vampire novel Gideon Redoak. The key to these entries is that the pair has relationship issues as mortal couples have, but also has additional issues. With Gideon the baron so tense over several crises, his human lover Joshua books them for a few days at Club Undead in the Caribbean. Over their time together, the lovers admit their love for one another, become engaged and marry, but face problems like any couple compounded by the Pope's condemning gay couples "To Burn In Hell". The tales end with the stunning twist of "The Lost Boy."

"The Adventures of the Brotherhood of Darkness" focuses on other members of the "Cliff Road Crowd" with the same concepts in time (from 1998 to 2007) as the Gideon-Joshua tales. In "Daven's Stream", Ray Griffin the mage is asked to sit for a spell. While driving Vampire widow Alex Goldanias almost suffers a cardiac even without a heartbeat when his "Fairy Godmother" appears out of nowhere to lecture him. The other four tales range from jocular inanity to taut suspense.

All Places That Are Not Heaven: Tales of Adrian Talbot and Genevieve de Monet
Anne Fraser; Inanna Arthen (editor)
By Light Unseen Media
9781935303312, $13.99

"Tales of Adrian Talbot." The collection contains five fascinating tales starring the amoral "Brat Prince of Toronto" Shakespearean actor Talbot. Four of the entries from the mid 1990s involve Jake Fowler, who vampiric folklore Professor Talbot meets at a lecture he gives in which the only other attendees are four associates of the speaker ("Rosedale Vampires"). In the "Vampire Blues", Jake feels Talbot stalks him, his roommate Max Scheer and his girlfriend Grace Webb; that is until he meets Melantha the singer. The other two ("Vampire Conventions" and Acting's In the Blood") continue to focus on the relationship between the self proclaimed master vamp of Toronto and the grad student. The final Talbot entry written in 2000 ("Speak Easy") has Adrian falling in love in 1928 New York with monster Darby Sullivan.

"Tales of Genevieve de Monet." The collection contains two fascinating tales (written in 1997 and 2006) starring the savior of Gideon Redoak. Almost five centuries as a vampire, Genevieve has a major unidentified threat that has killed her offspring. Her ghoulish cousins and her vampiric children cannot tell her what is coming for her in "Watch and Ward." French dragoon Jean de la Mare and Genevieve de Monet meet on a battlefield in Germany where he is dying. She offers him a cleaner death, but he chooses to be her Undead Guardian in "A Babe in Arms."

Although the two stars possess different ethics, the seven tales are entertaining dark urban fantasies.

Poison, Your Grace
Peg Herring
Five Star Books
295 Kennedy Memorial Drive
Waterville, ME 04901
9781432825362, $25.95,

In 1552, King Edward VI sends a messenger to escort Thomas Carthburt Master Apothecary to Whitehall. His apprentice Simon Maldon accompanies Master Carthburt. Thomas explains to his apprentice the king wants to know what killed Lord Amberson who was healthy while dining with the monarch when suddenly he was in horrific agony. Carthburt believes arsenic poisoning is the cause. Lord Protector Dudley assigns the apothecary to provide whatever the king requires to keep him safe, but warns them to be silent and not to investigate.

A second death occurs when Marie apparently trips and breaks her neck. While everyone assumes a sad accident happened, Simon wonders otherwise with two deaths on the same day being quite a coincidence. Most at Whitehall look at ambitious Princess Elizabeth, second in line to the throne, as trying to poison her ailing brother. Elizabeth fears the real culprit is framing her and will try again so she contacts Simon to assist her like he did six years ago (see Her Highness' First Murder). Simon's fiancee Hannah, transfers from Hampstead Castle to go undercover at Whitehall. Additional poisonings and other accidents all point at Elizabeth. With Simon and Hannah, Elizabeth investigates the closed castle conspiracy.

The key to the Simon & Elizabeth (& Hannah) Mystery is that the princess comes across plausible as an amateur sleuth. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the messenger escorts to the apothecary and his apprentice to the palace and never slows down until the final denouement. Fans of Karen Harper's Elizabeth I Mystery and Fiona Buckley's Ursula Blanchard Mystery will want to read this strong entry that occurs several years before the princess becomes the queen.

Promise Me Forever
Diane Amos
Five Star
9781432825430, $25.95

In 1898, Benjamin Ricker worries he will soon lose his ranch though he worked twelve hours a day herding cattle and half a night at the Gold Nugget Mine. He stops at the Golden Harp Saloon where he sees a nun. Sister Elizabeth came to Welcome, Montana based on a satirical article written by Ben.

Elizabeth is upset as she thought this would be her escape from her abusive stepfather Robert T. Hines. Contrite Ben hires her as a cook after he agrees she can keep everything in the wagon in her room. This includes to Ben's chagrin nine year old Cecilia and six year old Joshua, as well as Bernie the eighty pound basset hound that he is unaware he now resides in his home.

His Granny Ricker wants the easterner to go home. While Elizabeth proves incompetent as a cook, someone tears down his fences and spooks his longhorns, which forces him to take out an exorbitant loan from his nemesis banker Ward Metcalf. As Ben and Elizabeth fall in love; he adores her siblings and even the canine while she cherishes Granny and his special needs ward Clyde. However, she remains in her Sister identity to keep her younger siblings safe. When he fails to pay back the bank, Ben sees a wanted poster for Elizabeth O'Hara who kidnapped two children. He must decide between keeping the ranch or having Elizabeth.

This is an engaging Western romance starring a fully developed cast who bring to life Big Sky country at the end of the nineteenth century. Fast-paced with key suspense enhancing the prime romantic plot, readers will enjoy Diane Amos's entertaining tale even if the course of true love follows the anticipated straight path.

Throwaway Girl
David Heinzmann
Five Star
9781432825508, $25.95

Chicago heiress Alice Jane Ash works as a project coordinator helping the homeless. However, when she drowns, the CPD quickly decide the death of AJ was accidental.

Her mom Jane Ash rejects the official police position as she thinks her caring daughter was murdered. She hires alcoholic private investigator Augustine Flood to investigate what really happened to her daughter. Flood quickly leans the deceased focused almost entirely on rescuing child prostitutes. He further finds out AJ recently took one of the underage hookers Britney with no known surname into her apartment. AJ follows Britney's nebulous trail of prostitution, pimps and Johns to Las Vegas, Los Angeles and finally ending in Clarksdale, Mississippi as he probes what happened to the late heiress back in Chicago.

The second Augustine Flood private investigator tale (see A Word to the Wise) is a fast-paced, action-packed thriller in which the lead's path forms a triangle with no twists or spins. The mystery is clever, but it is the protagonist's dark tour of the morbid underbelly of American society that is a disheartening condemnation that gut punches the reader with somber realism.

The Visionary
Pamela S. Thibodeaux
Five Star
9781432825492, $25.95

Fraternal twins Taylor and Trevor Forrestier establish T & T Enterprises in Lake Charles, Louisiana. Their firm focuses on architectural and interior design. However, each remains haunted by a horrific abusive childhood that they fled from when they came to Louisiana.

Alex Broussard hires T&T to renovate an old stately home. Taylor uses her uncanny skill to "see" what the interior once looked like in its heyday and sketches it as she would prefer to return the house to its glory past. As Taylor and Alex fall in love, she struggles with caring for someone besides Trevor, who is very protective of her. He worries about her though she insists she has found God. When Trevor is hurt he looks inside himself and how he feels about office worker Pam and God. Still in spite of each twin finding love, neither can let go of their emotionally crippling childhood even as a hurricane threatens the area.

This is an engaging inspirational family drama with two romantic subplots. The story line is character driven by the twins who never moved passed their abusive childhoods until forced to confront feelings for God and people besides each other. Readers will appreciate this fascinating tale as the child is the adult; summed up by Trevor who always had love with his sister, but now finds love with Pam and the Lord but fears taking chances on the latter two as he will always suffer from nightmares.

The Ronnie Gene
Jon Mills
Five Star
9781432825164, $25.95

The Jamos marketing firm went bankrupt leaving late fifties and suffering from preexisting health conditions Stanley Jamos and Dave Mosit without jobs or health insurance. Stanley finds a health insurance company that will cover small firms. Thus he and Dave open up Jamos & Mosit, Inc. Private Investigators who do not work cases, but the former has coverage for his Parkinson condition and the later for his Alzheimer's.

Someone kills Pete Tilden, their third partner from the marketing firm. Chicago PD Detectives Birkoltz and Hustad interview Jamos who offers nothing enlightening; they do not try to chat with Mosit. Soon afterward, Ronnie Dumat, Jamos' college lover who broke his heart almost four decades ago, calls him insisting she needs to see him. She wants him to find the business plan Pete wrote just before he was killed. However, the simple first case inquiry proves convoluted and dangerous as the sexagenarian unhealthy sleuths begin to uncover betrayals by their friends stretching back forty years.

The Ronnie Gene is a timely private investigative satire that will remind readers of the recent debates in which the audience said let them die. The story line is character driven by the lead "amateur" sleuths who are written off by everyone as too old, too ill and too senile, but tenacity and intelligence keep them digging through the miasma backstabbing of their fellow Wisconsin grads. Although somewhat over the top of the Willis Tower, fans will enjoy Jamos & Mosit, Private Investigators, on their first case, a personal one.

Bones Under the Beach Hut
Simon Brett
Five Star
9781432825683, $25.95

Fethering reticent resident Carole Seddon leases the Quiet Harbour beach hut on Smalting Beach from London expatriate Philly Rose who came here six months ago with her older boyfriend Mark Dennis. Carole rented this for her granddaughter Lily to enjoy her seaside vacation with her. However, she is taken aback when she notices someone lit a fire beneath the hut. Soon afterwards skeletal remains of a human is found interred underneath the same hut. The police believe the bones belong to recently departed Mark and suspect Philly murdered him, in spite of her bad back requiring therapy from Carole's best friend Jude.

The case takes a stunning spin, which leads to Carole and Jude investigating trying to resolve the homicide before Lily arrives so they can take occupancy. They find plenty of respected suspects possessing a horde of skeletons they conceal behind their snobbish upper crust demeanor, but no motive. Still as time is running out the extreme extrovert and the introvert BFF keep digging.

The latest Fethering amateur sleuth (see The Shooting in the Shop) is a charming cozy filled with humor that satirizes the English elitists. As always the dynamic duet makes for a fun tale; as this amusing refreshing story line has the low rent Fethering pair's inquiry mocking the high society of affluent Smalting. Readers will enjoy this jocular investigation into who left the Bones Under the Beach Hut.

Death's Long Shadow
Kinley Roby
Five Star
9781432825355, $25.95

In Avola, Florida, someone who knew affluent Brandon Pike's riding habits on his Oaks estate tied a garrote across the Ride bridle path, decapitating the horseman. Local law enforcement suspects Brandon's younger widow Holly and the stable manager Tyce Yellen for killing the victim as the assumption is they are lovers which both deny.

Holly hires private detective Harry Brock to protect her interests though he is unsure what his client wants of him. He learns about Brandon's relationship with his half-sister Clarissa Cruz, who holds a lease that is running out on the adjoining Oleander Farm owned by Pike. She has two adult brothers with one of them Miguel working the farm. As Harry works his inquiry, his ailing ex wife Katherine arrives at an inopportune moment though he invited her. They make love, but he knows his actions betray his girlfriend Sonadora Asturias, who is considering returning home to Guatemala to help her people. His elderly neighbor on Bartram's Hammock takes a fall further distancing him from his case until someone sets up Brandon's macho stallion to kill Tyce and sets a barn on fire.

The super latest Harry Brock mystery (see Death in a Hammock) is a terrific tale as Harry's personal life overwhelms him while a killer using creative weapons involving horses stalks the Sunshine State. The story line is loaded with action at the Oaks and on Bartram's Hammock while Oh, Brother, Sanchez and Jane Bunting add comic relief to an engaging whodunit.

Promise Keeper
Mary Fremont Schoenecker
Five Star
9781432825379, $25.95

Suzanne Petrone left the Monet masterpiece Les Bateaux rouges, Argenteuil at her boyfriend Paul Fontaine's New York Cornerstone Gallery. She left for Sarasota, Florida, but two days later thugs broke into the gallery injuring Paul and stealing the painting. While Paul recovers from his severe leg injury at his ailing father Jacques' place in Maine, Suzanne has vanished but a reputable Sarasota, Florida art dealer reports someone tried to sell him the stolen painting.

Paul travels to Florida to assist the FBI on the theft. He meets and confronts Suzanne who explains her paternal link to the painting, but he rightfully distrusts her. Paul also stays in touch with his Tante Margaret who is caring for his dad while Jacques' young second wife is vising a sick relative.

The story line starts slow as readers meet the extended Fontaine family in the latest Maine Shore Chronicles (see Moonglade and Finding Fiona), but accelerates somewhat once Paul travels to Florida. Paul holds the story line focused as he searches for the truth about the woman he loves and worries about the health of his beloved dad; although the latter detracts form the suspense. More a character study than a suspense thriller, readers will enjoy Paul's Floridian adventure.

Dark Sins and Desert Sands
Stephanie Draven
Harlequin Nocturne
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road
Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373618712, $5.50,

American military Specialist Rayhan Stavrakis spent two years in a prison in Aleppo, Syria before escaping. He captures one of his guards and reads the man's mind to learn who in the States set him up for torture in this hellhole, what happened to his family and the name of the American shrink who worked with his hosts. He learns his family is safely home and the psychologist who coolly abetted his torturers is Dr. Layla Bahset.

Ray slips back into to United States seeking Barhset so he can read her mind and learn who ordered his rendition and why. When he finds her in Las Vegas, he is shocked on two accounts. First he desires his enemy and second she insists she has no memory of him, Syria and her past. He realizes she is telling the truth about suffering from amnesia while she wonders if he is the one she feels has been stalking her. Ray knows they have a mutual enemy who wants both dead, but he vows to use his other paranormal power to keep the woman he loves safe.

Dark Sins and Desert Sands is a wonderful desert romantic fantasy that brings Minoan mythology into the modern world. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Ray begins his quest and never slows down as the hero struggles with a new set of issues once he catches up with Doc; his thirst to get even with her kept him alive and somewhat mentally stable during the ordeal, but has to change to a new paradigm. Readers will appreciate Stephanie Draven's marvelous Mythica thriller.

Lord of the Wolfyn
Jessica Andersen
Harlequin Nocturne
9780373618705, $5.50

Two decades ago in Elden, the Blood Sorcerer conducted a bloody coup killing the rulers. He made two critical mistakes when he failed to prevent the dying king from sending to his offspring an obsessed need to avenge their deaths; and the queen using her last breath of power sends their four children into hiding so they could buy time to complete her husband's vendetta. Thus the Blood Sorcerer failed to kill the Crown prince Nicolai (see Lord of the Vampires by Gena Showalter) and his three siblings; Breena (see Lord of Rage by Jill Monroe), Dayn and Micah.

His parents sent Prince Dayn to the land of the Wolfyn, but he kept his memory when he telepathically spoke with his dying dad during his father's last breaths and understands his obsession with returning home to lead the revolt against the Blood Sorcerer. He is unsure who will guide him back to Elden but knows he will recognize the chosen one. When he meets former cop Reda Weston of Salem, Massachusetts he is sure she is the one, but she seems confused with what is going on.

The third Royal House of Shadows romantic fantasy is a fun loose take on Little Red Riding Hood as the Lord of the Wolfyn must choose between his quest to become the big bad wolf to free his kingdom or become the handsome prince to save his cherished little Red. Although the story line slows down at times, series fans will enjoy the third thrilling entry and look forward to the clean-up hitter Nalini Singh to bring it all to conclusion hopefully with a walk off grand slam.

A Vampire for Christmas
Laurie London, Caridad Pineiro, Michele Hauf and Alexis Morgan
9780373776443, $7.99

Enchanted by Blood by Laurie London. One year ago, Trace the vampire guardian and Charlotte the human fell in love. He left her erasing her memory of vampires. When his father a council member died Trace expected to inherit his seat but the others on the board stall his appointment. Trace rescues Charlotte from an assault and hires her to decorate his mansion, which feels like deja vu to her. Trace must decide between his soulmate and the board.

Monsters Don't Do Christmas by Michele Hauf. Olivia intercedes during a brawl between Daniel the vampire and werewolves. The human kisses him and promises another tomorrow night. He learns she is a star singer and she learns he is helping a mother of two stop turning into a vampire.

When Herald Angels Sing by Caridad Pineiro. The devil demands Captain Pedro bring him the soul of Damien the vampire who has never killed anyone. However, Damien's beloved Angelina the angel sent to save him has died twice because of him. Pedro plans to use Angelina to force Damien to lose his soul by killing him.

All I Want for Christmas by Alexis Morgan. Undercover cop Eagan the vampire searches for a serial killer drinking the blood of human male teens. He stops at Della's diner for a coffee. She believes he is homeless so she offers him meals in exchange for odd jobs. Eagan notices her but also realizes this is a perfect cover to end the killing frenzy of a young vampire out of control.

These are four fun entertaining paranormal holiday romances starring engaging protagonists.

The Son He Never Knew
Kristi Gold
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373717446, $5.50

Ten years ago in Placid, Mississippi Chase Reed and Jess Keller shared a one night stand just before he shipped out to Afghanistan. As he deployed, she and her high school sweetheart Dalton Wainwright marry.

A decade later, Chase is out of the military and working as the local sheriff. Jess divorced Dalton and raises their son Danny by herself. Though home for several months, his first encounter in person with Jess is breaking up a domestic dispute. However, he finds Danny lying unconscious with a fractured skull. He warns Jess that she will have trouble with her ex-father-in-law and if she says anything to Chase, he must testify as to what she said. Still he has a gut need to help her though he believes she conceals something significant from him.

Even with readers knowing what happened, this is a pure Gold police procedural romance starring two fascinating protagonists, a hurting tweener, and a nasty spoiled ex. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Chase and Jess meet for the first in ten years while Danny lies comatose nearby and never slows down. Readers will appreciate this exciting Delta Secrets (see The One She Left Behind).

Christmas in Montana
Kay Stockham
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373717408, $5.50

In North Star, Montana, unemployed single mother Jenna Darlington waits for a refund she desperately needs at the McKenna Feed Store though she needs to pick up her two children (Victoria and Mark Jeffrey) from school. She lost her job by doing a kindness that has led to rumors of her shagging the janitor. Chase McKenna who knew her late husband Jeff from mountain climbing is dressed as Santa when she learns her holiday layaway cannot be entirely refunded. He offers her a job at the store and a discount; she accepts though she has childcare issues once school ends.

Chance and Jenna are attracted to each other. He makes it clear he wants her and likes her kids. However, she cannot risk the jump because he is a mountain climber like Jeff was. However, she also has issues with her in-laws and her BFF Rachel's mother is showing signs of Alzheimer's.

This is an insightful family drama that showcases the difficulty of a single parent raising young children as little things like childcare need community involvement. The cast is strong as Jenna and her kids have concerns that if they allow Chance into their lives they will receive the hospital call one day. He has demons too that has kept his female relationships somewhat stark. It will take a Christmas miracle beyond just love to convert this foursome into a family.

Temporary Rancher
Ann Evans
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373717415, $5.50

In Texas following her divorce from cheating Brad, Riley Palmer and her four years old twin daughters (Wendy and Roxanna) move in with her sister Jillian. For almost a year, she has slept on the couch and her kids in the second bedroom. Her sibling, who has been with her and her nieces since the ordeal began, encourages her to apply for a manager position at the Echo Springs Ranch working for Widower Quintin Avenaco. On her email she fails to mention she is a mother of two and her experience is with the spread she ran while Brad ran after his boss' daughter.

Quintin hires her via email because she mentions a mutual friend he respects. However, he has doubts when he learns she is mother of two as he does not want kids around after the tragedy of what happened to his wife and son a decade ago. Desperate Riley persuades Quintin to give her a one month trial. However as the time flies by and she proves competent, Quintin wants the mother and her kids to stay with him at the ranch as a family not an employer-employee.

This is an entertaining second chance at love romance starring two reluctant protagonists with relationship issues and a strong support cast especially their respective families (his from the grave). Readers will enjoy this warn contemporary as love has obstacles to overcome if this foursome is to be a family.

Real Men Will
Victoria Dahl
9780373776092, $7.99

In Boulder, Beth Cantrell manages The White Orchid erotic boutique. Six months ago at a business convention, she met and had the sexual highlight of her life, a one night stand with Jamie Donovan of the Donovan brothers Brewery. Her current date Robert Mapplethorpe escorts her to a party at the brewery owned by her fantasy lover of the past half a year.

Beth learns her Jamie (see Bad Boys Do) is actually the oldest Donovan sibling, uber responsible Eric, who raised his younger brother and sister Tessa (see Good Girls Don't) when their parents died. Though Eric has never forgotten the greatest night of his life, he faces an empty nest crisis while Beth struggles with fatherly approval issues in spite of her job. As they share an incredible tryst, Eric and Beth fall in love, but neither is ready to commit their soul like they already have their body.

The final Donovan sibling tale stars two interesting flawed individuals who find the road to love is exclusively through sex. Thus Real Men (and women) will enjoy the boudoir romance, but the lead couple's relationship lacks any other depth.

Model Marine
Candace Havens
Harlequin Blaze
9780373796502, $5.25

In under an hour Hannah Harrington Designs fashion show is to begin at the annual Fashion Week gala. However, Hannah's assistant director Anne Marie informs her that the male models are all in jail. The problem is the show fails without them as the only males nearby are much shorter than the towering six foot plus female models. Hannah goes on the streets of Manhattan seeking two hunks. She recruits two marines, Captain Will Hughes and Lieutenant Rafael. They save the Lincoln Center design show.

While Rafe leaves with one of the models; Will escorts Hannah. They begin a two week tryst with the stipulation of no strings or regrets. As he gets in trouble with the brass especially a certain upset general, they fall in love. However, both realize their worlds do not overlap in the slightest; so neither wants to risk their heart by asking the other to break the no permanent clause.

This is a fun lighthearted military out of "Uniformly Hot" entertaining romance. The lead couple is a delightful charming pairing of total opposites. There is some suspense that adds tension to the plot. Fans will appreciate the Marine Model and the designer finding love in Manhattan.

Roped In
Crystal Greene
Harlequin Blaze
9780373796533, $5.25

Square W+W rancher Nicki Wade has a makeover that turns her from a tomboy into a sexy saloon girl. She and her cousin Candace are at the Pine Junction Grand Hotel Halloween party.

The male she has loved unrequitedly for years, neighboring rancher Shane Carter has come home to his family's
Slanted C Ranch. Like Nicki, he hopes to save the spread that is in financial trouble.

Candace sees the pair eyeing one another at the gala. She urges Nicki, who she knows has wanted Shane since they were little girls, and Shane to have fun together. They begin a sexy role-playing fantasy that generates enough heat to keep both their ranches warm in winter. As they fall in love, each wonders whether the other would like to erase temporary from their relationship

Roped In is a fun Wrong Bed ranch romance. The fantasies create a heated relationship between the lead couple, but both fear reality. Cousin Candice adds depth to a strong contemporary as the audience wonders whether the fences will come down under a Wade-Carter collaboration as lust and love may not be enough to save the spreads.

Royally Claimed
Marie Donovan
Harlequin Blaze
978037379654, $5.25

In Boston, Aunt Elva and Uncle Paul are injured from a car accident. Nurse Julia Cooper's parents are flying from Sao Miguel Island in the Azores to Boston to help their relatives. Bostonian native Julia will remain in the Azores.

Portuguese Duke Francisco "Frank" Duarte das Santas Aguas returns to Sao Miguel where he owns a villa. When he and Julia were teens, they fell in love, but each went their separate ways. Now over a decade later, they meet on Sao Miguel with an attraction that is hotter than a Portugal summer. They agree to a dirty dog tryst with an understanding that this relationship is short term. However, as they share food, sex and much more; neither wants this time together to end.

The final Royally Prince romance (see Royally Romanced and Royally Seduced) is a charming contemporary set in an interesting North Atlantic locale as the Azores archipelago somewhat steals the show from the Duke and the Yank. With a late nod to the wedding movie The Best Man, readers will enjoy Royally Claimed.

A Texas Ranger's Christmas
Rebecca Winters
Harlequin American Romance
9780373753819, $5.25

Divorced Texas Ranger Captain Caige Dawson considers leaving the force in order to spend more time with his special needs eight year old son Josh. Three years ago the accident changed the family dynamics leading to Liz leaving him to raise their son by himself; though thanks to angles like teacher Mrs. Wright and caregiver Elly, he knows his child is bring taken care of with love when he is away.

His supervisor Mac Leeson assigns Caige to work on a FBI five years old cold case. Agent Robbins explains that banker Nathan Farley left a branch of the Yellow Rose Bank only to vanish. His wife Blaire was a UT at Austin undergraduate when her husband disappeared. Blaire's parents called asking for Robbins to bring closure to them and their daughter. Caige goes undercover at the Texas Forest Service where Blaire Kosolov works. He and his son are instantly attracted to the kind Blaire, but he fears she has killed her spouse as two more murders seem to converge on her.

This is a powerful family drama starring three likable individuals, but Josh steals the show from the adults. The mystery of the vanished spouse is deftly handled to blend in with the romance and the nurturing of Josh, who needs special attention. Readers will appreciate Rebecca Winters' superb holiday thriller.

My Christmas Cowboy
Shelley Galloway
Harlequin American Romance
9780373753833, $5.25

His body battered from a bull, rodeo performer Trent Riddell comes home to heal from busted ribs, arm and other injuries that put his career in jeopardy. Childhood friend Jolene Arnold calls Trent who assumes she wants to start a tryst with him. He prefers not to follow up on their one night stand when he was last laid up. Instead she arrives with her three month old baby Amanda Rose who she says is his.

While Trent is in denial and demanding paternity tests, his dad arrives and accepts Amanda Rose as his granddaughter while telling Jo she will not be alone anymore. She explains she called him numerous times to tell him, but he refused to return her calls. Trent insults her offering her money and saying she slept around. Jo leaves. However, his dad warns him to make it right.

The latest Riddell cowboy contemporary is an engaging family drama though as Trent explains there is no engagement so the romance is muted to first comes, the carriage than comes the marriage and finally comes love. The Riddell patriarch is a superb role model as he welcomes Jo and Amanda as a daughter and granddaughter. Trent and his brothers are not quite as welcoming. The mystery involving missing farm equipment detracts from the prime story line of whether Trent mans up to make the two females in his life part of his family.

Harriet Klausner
Senior Reviewer

Lorraine's Bookshelf

The True Meaning of Christmas
Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, author
Fritz Kredel, illustrations
Roman Catholic Books
P.O. Box 2286, Fort Collins, CO 80522
9781934888087, $19.95,

"The True Meaning of Christmas" has an inspirational message that appears to be text taken from a sermon or sermons of the famous Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen. Though directed to Roman Catholics, the message is relevant to all Christians and indeed all people of all faiths. Two quotations seem especially arresting: "Christmas is not something that happened such as the Battle of Waterloo, it is something that is happening. What happened to the human nature which Christ took from Mary by her consent, can happen, in a lesser manner, to our human nature, by our free consent (pp.25-26)." This follows an earlier quotation about the conception of Jesus: "The human nature which god assumed, was taken out of the world of freedom by a free ct on the part of Mary His Mother. God's way with man is not dictatorship but cooperation. He would redeem humanity with human consent, and not against it (p.23)" Thereafter the reader/listener is led to some more striking conclusions about the significance of the birth of Christ, and the choices it implies for all humans: "On our part, there must be the free response of man to the Divine initiative, but this implies dying to the lower existence of sin and selfishness, pride and lust. To become a Christian does not mean reading religious books, or singing hymns or being kind to neighbors; it means sharing the Divinity that first came to us at Bethlehem. We can conceive of our manhood being taken up into God, since God has humbled Himself to take our nature. When this Christ-life gets inside of us, it affects our intellect by giving us a truth which reason itself cannot know; it affects our will, by giving us an impetus and an energy for good which is, in the truest sense of the term, a rebirth, except this time we are born not of the flesh, but of the Spirit....The descent of God to man, and eternity into time, makes a tremendous difference to all people whether they ever heard of Him or not, or whether they respect Him or not. From that point on, it is possible for man to divinize himself, not by his own efforts, but by response to Divine Life....there is a radiation through history of this Divine Life, but only those who freely appropriate it ever enjoy its peace and blessing. Once, however, we assent to the crucifixion of that which is low and base in us, His life can make the feeblest, filthiest of us blaze with a dazzling, radiant light so that we become as stainless mirrors that reflect the life of God. The process is not easy because the purpose of God's coming to man was not to make us nice people, but to make us new creatures...(pp.27-28)." Clearly here is much food for spiritual contemplation and growth, appropriate to the season of Advent. The text is adorned by simple black and white drawings with single color tones of blue and tan. "The True Meaning of Christmas" is a lovely seasonal gift, in harmony with the best gifts of the season, the love and life of Christ and eternal life.

Schubert's Great C Major: Biography of a Symphony
Monographs in Musicology No. 15
Mark DeVoto, author
Pendragon Press
PO Box 190, Hillsdale, NY 12529
9781576472019, $42.00,

Attractively presented with a painting of Bad Gastein (by an unknown artist), the original location where the Great C Major Symphony was written by Franz Schubert, "Schubert's Great C Major: Biography of a Symphony" presents both history and complexities of the background of the mysterious title work and vigorous, inspired analysis of the exciting harmonics and theme presentation and development of the Great Symphony. In chapters arranged primarily by the four movements - Andante, Allegro con moto, Scherzo, Allegro, and Allegro Vivace, the orchestrated development of imaginative tonalities and themes are relentlessly explored and analyzed, often even reconsidered in light of later influences and composers. Other chapters deal with the amazingly complicated background of the Symphony, Schubert and the Orchestra (there is controversy about Schubert's mastery of instrumental music), the Harmony of Mixed Modes, a fascinating exploration of Schubert's pioneering use of modal interchange, and finally the last chapter, Envoi - Ein Reicher Besitz, a reference to the gravestone caption for Schubert written by Franz Grillparzer, "The art of music has entombed here a rich possession, but yet more beautiful hopes." In addition to the material presented in these eight chapters, there are five added appendices containing the material on the autograph (referring to the autograph full score of the Great C Major Symphony, in possession of the Archiv der Gesellschaft der Musickfreunde), Schumann's Neue Zeitschrift fur Musick of March, 1840, the first definitive review of the Great Symphony in both German and English, Bibliography, Discography, and scores of the Great C major Symphony. The offering of "Schubert's Great C Major" is indeed a biography of a symphony, one of the greatest musical compositions ever written or performed.

Remarkable Yukon Women
Claire Festel, author
Valerie Hodgson, artist
Lost Moose
c/o Harbour Publishing
P.O. Box 219, Madeira Park, BC V0N 2HO Canada
9781550175233, $29.95,

The collaborative work of author Claire Festel and artist Valerie Hodgson, "Remarkable Yukon Women" is an amazing collection of fifty portraits and profiles of women of the North. All the beautiful portraits in "Remarkable Yukon Women" are part an art exhibit titled Yukon Women, 50 Over 50. It was shown at the Yukon Arts Centre Public Art Gallery June 2-August 27, 2011. Created from an initial concept of an exhibit honoring Yukon women over 50 who had endured the rugged isolation and other conditions to choose a Northern lifestyle, "Remarkable Yukon Women" honors immigrants and natives, teachers and students, hotel operators, waitresses, mothers and travel agents, nurses and artists, and many more talented, unusual women who chose to live in the area of Canada known as the Yukon. The amazing portraits speak volumes of the lives of these women. The one page profiles condense life histories into brief, packed paragraphs, with a significant highlighted saying by or about the person on each page. Being a woman in the Yukon has never been easy, and support from other women in the area has always been a special part of Northern life. Enjoy this beautiful book with its collection of memorable moments and peeps into the daring souls of exemplary women who chose the Yukon life for its beauty, majesty, freedom, and promise.

Singer and Actor
Alan E. Hicks
Amadeus Press
c/o Hal Leonard
7777 West Bluemound Road, Milwaukee, WI 53213
9781574672015, $19.99,

"Singer and Actor: Acting Techniques and the Operatic Performer" is a practical compendium on acting written specifically for opera singers, a category of performer just returning to increased performance expectations of dramatic depth, in addition to the highly challenging vocal skills required for opera performance singing. Because the acting skills components for opera performers has been understressed for many years, young opera singers are likely to have inadequate training in acting techniques to compete and attract desirable roles in opera performance. The author is proficient as both an opera singer and a teacher. Thanks to the input of one of his own teachers, his writing is always fueled by two basic questions: "So what, and who cares?" For the audience intended (emerging opera performers), "Singer and Actor" presents practical, plausible, professional answers to these and many more pertinent questions. An example of the author's motivational thought process comes in the Preface: "'Acting is Reacting,' I remember being told once. As a young singer I thought, 'How can I react to what I don't understand? They are speaking a foreign language! Of course, therein lies the answer, and it wasn't until I became a director that it became clear how important it was for singers to listen, understand, and react honestly with each other (p. xi)." Thus we have a foundation for the purpose of chapter 12, Libretto Analysis, with Uta Hagen's Nine Questions and Six Steps, a pithy instrument set designed to bring the performer to grips with his character's identity, background, basic conflicts, relationship profiles, and motivation (pp. 96-97). This chapter alone makes "Singer and Actor" worthwhile and valuable to the serious opera performer. In addition there is a chapter on preparing auditions and performances (13), a very helpful chapter titled The Process and Recitative, and finally the unforgettable "Being" the Third Girl from the Left, Acting for Choristers (Chapter 15, pp. 173-5). There is much more of value and interest to the performer in "Singer and Actor," including a brief history of acting across disciplines, and also an acting primer, in Part Two. In all, "Singer and Actor" presents a useful, aesthetic condensation of wisdom for vocalists who need to refine or develop their acting skills. In addition, "Singer and Actor" can be read with great enjoyment by the opera lover.

Easy Does It, Winners & Favorites
Patty Roper
Quail Ridge Press
P.O. Box 123, Brandon, MS 39043
9781934193693, $24.95,

Beautifully presented with a padded color cover and numerous stunning photo displays of recipes artfully displayed on vintage Southern china, glassware, and silver, "Easy Does It" is a delectable sampler of mouth watering, easy -to- make Mississippi recipes for the lover of Southern comfort food and hospitality. Recipes for appetizers, beverages, soups, salads, sandwiches, breakfast and brunch, meats, poultry, seafood, vegetables and sides, breads and muffins, cakes, pies creamy desserts, and bars, cookies, and candies are all included. The author is also the editorial director of "Mississippi Magazine," creating a volume of special helps in the "Easy Does It" feature on decorating and entertaining. The recipes presented are frequently contest winners, and the food photographs are beautifully styled and presented. Perhaps Patty Roper has been favorably compared to other famous home specialists before, such as the "Martha Stewart of Mississippi." In any event, she presents delicious sounding recipes in flawlessly beautiful display, with easy tips and tricks to encourage even a faltering hostess or host to tackle the timeless challenge of artful hospitality. This reader was astounded at the dazzling assortment of dessert recipes, cakes in particular, but the one next to be tried in this reviewer's kitchen is the clearly tried and true recipe for Crockpot Roast, destined to be the next Sunday dinner at our house. "Easy Does It" is an attractive cookbook and recipe collection that gives the reader a real feeling for some of the recipes exuding traditional Southern appeal.

The Chopin Preludes for the Intermediate Pianist, Book and CD
Arranged by Jonathon Robbins
Santorella Publications, LTD.
P.O. Box 60, Danvers, MA 01923
TS095, $14.95,

Containing twelve carefully chosen Preludes by Frederic Chopin arranged in order of difficulty for the intermediate pianist, the Distinctive Masterworks series for the intermediate pianist presents "The Chopin Preludes for the Intermediate Pianist." This series presents classical literature of substance that is yet accessible to the intermediate pianist, "acting as a bridge between the elementary level and the concert level for the young pianist (Foreword)." Each separate prelude is clearly printed and widely spaced, with clarifying details judiciously added. An accompanying CD performed by Jonathon Robbins adds to listening pleasure and learning capacity. An informative biographical sketch of the composer introduces the collection, and the cover is adorned by a beautiful color photograph of Valldemosa, a Carthusian monastery where Chopin stayed in 1838. Preludes included are Opus 28, no. 2, no. 4, no. 7, no.11, no. 1, no. 6, no. 13, no. 15 ("Raindrop"), no. 3, no. 8, no. 12, and no.17 This is an excellent collection for intermediate pianists and their teachers.

Additional music educational titles by the same publisher that are highly recommended, varied and useful include the following: "Latin Favorites" performed by Henry Doktorski, accordion edition book and CD (TS167, $16.95), "How To Play Diatonic Button-Accordion Volume 3" by Henry Doktorski, book and CD (TS108, $14.95), and "Easy Wedding Favorites for Classical Guitar" arranged by Robert T. Tarchara, book only from Minstrel Press, (GP2012, $10.95).

Radiant Light: Introits for Advent & Christmas
Ken Macek and Paul A. Tate
GIA Publications
7404 S. Mason Ave., Chicago, IL 60638
G-7994, $5.50,

"Radiant Light" is a collection of thirteen contemporary musical piano/vocal settings for Advent Introits based on proper introits from scripture and Psalms in the Roman Missal for the Sundays of Advent and the Christmas season. Suggestions for performance and incorporation of the Introits into the liturgy are provided along with reproducible boxed melody lines of the introits, with the specific caveat as follows: "Provided that sufficient performance copies have been purchased, the contents of the box may be reproduced for assembly use without permission from the publisher. For all other uses, go to (p. 55)" Vocal/piano arrangements are original, fresh, singable, and easily learned by the congregation. "Radiant Light" is an excellent contemporary Christian resource for Advent Introits in Roman Catholic or other church services.

ilimpa'chi'/ We're Gonna Eat!: A Chickasaw Cookbook
Vicki Penner & JoAnn Ellis'
Chickasaw Press
c/o University of Oklahoma Press
2800 Venture Drive, Norman, Oklahoma 73069
9781935684039, $25.00,

"Ilimpa'chi' (We're Gonna Eat!: A Chickasaw Cookbook" is a beautiful collection of over forty traditional Chickasaw recipes, accompanied by both vintage historical and modern color photographs of foods and preparation, memories, family photos, Chickasaw language lessons, and cultural richness of an intensely personal form and flavor. Traditional recipes such as Paska or biscuits are presented in both English and Chickasaw, alongside mouthwatering color photos of the finished product. It is impossible to read "Ilimpa'chi'" without being immersed in traditions and the sometimes painful history of the Chickasaw. It is also impossible to page through this amazing collection without being seriously tempted and simultaneously amazed at the strong, nurturing women who created these pages and these recipes. So have a seat at the table, share a prayer of gratitude, and prepare to explore some fine natural cuisine. Recipes are divided into categories of wild vegetables and fruits, garden, wild game, meat and fish, bread, and sweets. There are added chapters on"Sweet Early Days," a poem by Rebecca Hatcher Travis, and A Note on Chickasaw Language, plus a glossary and recipe index. Many wild foods are featured because the Chickasaw had to forage to feed themselves during the Removal. Such a beautiful cultural cookbook deserves a place on many American and other shelves both for its visual history and appeal and its excellent cuisine, testament to the strong spirit of survivors who continue to nurture an amazing sense of gratitude and hospitality.

A Farm Country Picnic
Gordon W. Fredrickson, author
Michaelin Otis, illustrator
Beaver's Pond Press
7104 Ohms Lane, Suite 101, Edina, MN 55439
9781592984121, $17.95,

"A Farm Country Picnic" is another memorabilia book by Gordon Fredrickson describing remembrances of family farm work in late summer, when harvesting a second crop of hay consumes every sunny day and the children helping are particularly wishing for a nice break, with a picnic, fishing, or swimming at Web Lake! Written in narrative verse and illustrated with realistic overall-clad figures working the machines in the outdoors farm environment, "A Farm Country Picnic" transcends nostalgia and children's literature and provides an authentic taste of experienced farm life (in Minnesota) in the early 1950's, when the whole family worked hard together every sunny day of the summer, and only occasionally got a break when the weather turned rainy. This series relates closely to my own upbringing and background, since I grew up on a small family farm in Central Minnesota in the 50's and 60's. The way the whole family works together when unexpected problems occur (like the cows getting out, having to herd them back and then mending the fence), allowing treasured recreational plans to be changed by the needs of the farm, the use of every single member of the family for tasks or assistance that they can provide, all this brings back many memories, some fond, some a bit fearful, and some exhausting! It was a whole lot of work for everyone on a farm in that era, when so much needed to be done laboriously by hand or with simple machinery assistance. But it was also a whole lot of fun, especially if you enjoy the feeling of taking on and meeting a challenge together. I also remembered the part about women on a farm often working right along side the men, and continuing to fulfill traditional female roles such as providing a picnic feast for the family on their recreational outing. Part of me went to a place where the memories of washing all the overalls in the washing machine, wringing them out, and hanging them out to dry, etc. etc. occupied the better part of one day a week on our farm, and it needed to be a sunny day to dry! I really enjoyed "A Farm Country Picnic" and believe its value goes beyond the pleasure of reliving memories of a past way of life working together on a farm. There is something quite precious about transmitting the values implied in the way this family works and plays together, for present and future generations. I look forward to enjoying all the Farm Country Series and would recommend sharing copies with children and adults interested in maintaining awareness of our rural heritage.

The Doll Maker's Gift
Sashi Fridman, author
Jessica Schiffman, illustrator
Merkos L'Inyonei Chinuch
Kehot Publication Society
291 Kingston Avenue, Brooklyn, NY 11213
9780826600400, $14.95,

"The Doll Maker's Gift" is an amazing true story based on the experiences of a turn-of-the-century Jewish family seeking to escape persecution, poverty and pogroms in eastern Europe by taking ship passage to America. Ship tickets turn out to be more expensive than they had planned for, and the family's two daughters, Nora and Rosa are not able to afford enough tickets to sail to America, even though the threat of death in the pogroms is growing. first their Papa saved enough money to buy one ticket so he went ahead to America, to earn money to send back for his wife and two daughters to follow him. Finally two years later, he sends a package to the family of money to buy more tickets to emigrate to America. But unfortunately, there is only enough money for two tickets, not three for Mama, Rosa, and Nora. Deeply saddened, Mama tells the story to the kindly doll-maker, Zalushka, who tries to think of a way to help, even though he does not have the money. At first Zalushka offers to keep Nora while Rosa and Mama travel ahead on the ship. Zalushka decides to help by making a very special large, wooden doll for Nora. Carefully, he shows her what the doll is designed to do, which is to hide her inside so he can smuggle her on board the ship before it leaves, so she can be with her mother and sister! The doll is a very special gift for Rosa. Zalushka also write a letter instructing Mama how to open a special clasp that will allow Nora to come out of the doll once the ship is safely out at sea.. papa eventually is able to pay back the shipping company the cost of Nora's ticket, and the whole family is reunited in America later. Zalushka celebrates being able to save a life, for only four months after the boat departs with Nora and Rosa and Mama, a terrible pogrom destroys the lives of many of the Jewish people in Nora's village in East Russia. The family and Zalushka thank God for the wonderful gift of life, and this book, "The Doll Maker's Gift" remains to attest to the amazing story of one child's unique journey to a new life in a new world. Delicate tinted paintings enhance the heartrending tale of "The Doll Maker's Gift," a story for children ages 8 and older.

The I Love Trader Joe's Around the World Cookbook
Cherie Mercer Twohy
Ulysses Press
P.O. Box 3340, Berkeley, CA 94703
9781569759882, $17.95,

Described of offering "More Than 140 International Recipes Using Foods from the World's Greatest Grocery Store," "The I Love Trader Joe's Around the World Cookbook" is a treasure trove of easy recipes using fantastic exotic foods from the eclectic, international, "green" grocery store for the savvy (and thrifty) home cook. Chapters are organized by area of origin, such as French, Italian, Greek, Eastern European, African, Middle Eastern, India, Asian Influence, Island Flavors, Latin Sabor, and All American. Color photos of foods, recipes and ingredients are enticing and appealing, and recipes are clearly presented with highlighted ingredients listed on the left and instructions plus serving amounts, prep time, and cooking time on the right. Appropriate recipes are specified as vegetarian, gluten-free, vegan, etc. Some examples of inviting recipes include Black Bean Salad (from Island Flavors), Carne Asada Salad (using Trader Joe's Carne Asada Autentica), Moroccan Sweet Potato and Squash Stew (in African Adventure), and Mamaliga (Romanian Polenta with Feta) from Eastern European recipes. All recipes are tailored to use the best of Trader Joe's exotic cuisine offerings, and are simplified for timesaving and on the go meals and noshes. A handy Appendix lists selected techniques and also lists "Hoardables and Pantry Staples" from Trader Joe's extensive food palate. Metric conversions are also provided for international versatility. "The I Love Trader Joe's Around the World Cookbook" is a great way to introduce friends to the wide world of international gourmet food sources and possible easy adaptations of international cuisine. Guaranteed to have the reader's mouth watering by page two!

2012 Daily Planner
Sue Hooley, designer
Vision Publishers
P.O. Box 190, Harrisburg, VA 22803
9781932676198, $13.99,

The "2012 Daily Planner" (...she looketh well to the ways of her household.." Proverbs 31:27) is a practical, spiral- bound appointment and planning calendar that offers tabbed divisions with headings including Yearly Calendar, Monthly Calendar, Weekly Planning, Tasks List, Projects and Events, Information, and Shopping Lists. Handy suggestions for how to use the "2012 Daily Planner" are grouped by these tabbed planner headings in the introduction titled Using the Daily Planner." this will be a real asset to all busy people. I like the last entry, titled My Planner My Friend: "Consult your planner often...the more it is used the more you will like it...It will be a friend that helps you remember and you will be rewarded with a feeling of satisfaction when even the simplest of jobs have been completed." Soothing sepia- toned background illustrations of daisies and straw, buckets and butterflies help complete the comforting qualities of the "2012 Daily Planner," a tasteful gift for that special aunt, mother, wife, or other treasured friend or relative on your holiday or seasonal gift list.

Nancy Lorraine
Senior Reviewer

Micah's Bookshelf

The Sea Wall
Leslie Ann Keatley
Privately Published
9780615511467, $11.99,

Vengeance isn't the cure to all woes. "The Sea Wall" follows young Audrey Kelly as she copes with bullying, the impact of her payback, and the backlash from it. As she tries to piece together her life, a massive hurricane comes and threatens to tear her life apart once more. A story of a young girl maturing into a woman with an iron will, "The Sea Wall" is a devoted and much recommended pick, not to be overlooked.

Napkin Poetry
Jennifer-Crystal Johnson
Privately Published
9780982858707, $11.99,

With satisfaction in life comes looking back at how you got there. "Napkin Poetry" is a collection of poetry from Jennifer-Crystal Johnson as she reflects on the happiness she has found and what she has, and the world it means to her. Dedicated and devotional, "Napkin Poetry" is a worthy collection for the words of a mother, wife, and woman of the world. "Yin & Yang": We are a myriad of thoughts/In a kaleidoscope of dreams/And everything seems real/But nothing's what it seems//The evil that we do/Is for the good of all we know/And when there's no evil left/Then there's nowhere left to go.

Sleepless Nights
Norwood Holland
Windmill Books
9780983165606, $24.95,

Justice never goes unpunished. "Sleepless Nights" is a legal thriller following trial attorney Drew Smith as he faces midlife crisis, and deals with the combined problems of finding love and working on a trial which may put him on the bad side of those with hostile intent. Using the resources in front of him, Drew must find the truth and find justice when there doesn't seem to be any. "Sleepless Nights" is a fine pick, a good addition to any mystery collection.

Carl Brookins
Echelon Press
9781590806685, $13.99,

Small towns have a certain charm, until you learn the truth. "Reunion" is a murder mystery following Jack Marston as he accompanies girlfriend Lori Jacobs to her High School reunion. Meant to be a trip down memory lane, terror strikes before nostalgia as one of Lori's old classmates turns up dead and more may follow. Jack finds it may be up to him to find truth and stop the loss of life. "Reunion" is a fun read for mystery fans, highly recommended.

Dangerous Children
Mark Morrow
Tate Publishing & Enterprises
127 East Trade Center Terrace
Mustang, OK 73064
9781617774645, $26.99,

The ramblings of a thirteen year old girl can often be difficult to swallow. "Dangerous Children" is a juvenile mystery surrounding young Abby as she tries to explain what happened to two Scotland Yard detectives. The Detectives find the girl's story, which includes robots, cyborgs, and more hard to believe, but there's just enough reality to leave them questioning it. "Dangerous Children" is a riveting read with plenty of twists, much recommended.

Francesca Fondse
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781456782931, $46.69,

Through our spirits, we gain a greater connection to our world. "Angels: The Gift of Love" delves into a discussion of chakra, soul, life, and the harmonics of the human soul. A book packed cover with discussion of the physics of self-actualization, auras, and how to understand them and use them to assert greater control over one's being and life. Francesca Fondse presents her study and the foundation of the Lugar De Angelus wellness retreats. "Angelus" may be worth considering for subscribers of new age philosophy.

Storms of Life
Frank L. Dickerson
Xlibris Corporation
1663 South Liberty Drive
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781436384957, $19.99,

Life is never calm, and one needs something to keep them from being flipped over in the rocky waves of everyday life. "Storms of Life: My Story and Yours" is a faith-driven memoir from Frank L. Dickerson, who speaks on the challenges of faith and the facts of keeping the faith in everyday life to face it all. "Storms of Life" is filled with much to consider, very much recommended.

Micah Andrew

Shelley's Bookshelf

Timestep to Murder
Norma Lehr
Camel Press
c/o Coffeetown Press
PO Box 70515, Seattle, WA 98127
9781603818636, $16.95,

Norma Lehr is a former nurse and health food store owner. She lived for years in the San Francisco area, and now resides in the Sierra foothills. She has found a couple of new career paths with writing short stories, ghost stories, supernatural suspense novels, mysteries, and the world of dance.

Abby Rollins is a former Toppette, a New York dance group that was a splash in the 1980's. The group has been hired to perform a two-night reunion at Tahoe's Cal Neva. Almost from the start, things just don't feel right. But it gets downright bizarre when Abby's dance mates start turning up dead. The first death is a gal who constantly self promoted and hurt people. But who would want to attack older dancers who have just reunited for some good times? Abby has a potential new love interest who has told her he is an ex-cop. But is he really? Abby can't stand still as her old friends are systematically murdered. But will her turn come before she can solve the riddle? Especially when the emcee turns out to be an old acquaintance of the Toppettes:

"The man, sporting a deep tan that even the swirling lights couldn't hide, zeroed in on Renee. His gold silk shirt - open at the neck to reveal three gold chains - showed through his pricey black leather jacket. 'Oh babe,' he flashed her a toothy smile. 'You're the one I've been searching for.'"

Norma Lehr has a great sense of timing, and her plot moves along nicely. She sets her mystery in an historic old resort that used to be owned by ol' blue eyes himself, Frank Sinatra. Legend has it that the "Rat Pack," plus luminaries such as Marilyn Monroe, used to wander the grounds. With that magnificent backdrop and a dance troupe that has more secrets from each other than the ocean has oysters...Abby Rollins...newly minted amateur sleuth...charms and completely baffles the reader.

Shelley Glodowski
Senior Reviewer

Shirley's Bookshelf

Energetic Boundaries
Cyndi Dale
Sounds True, Inc.
413 South Arthur Avenue
Louisville, CO 80027
9781604075618, $17.95,

I wasn't exactly sure what this book had to offer, but I certainly learned some interesting things from it. I firmly believe that we have energy fields around us, that we emit smells and colors into the atmosphere, even though we are not aware of it. I think there is much more to our world and the universe than we can even imagine.

This book opens the door to boundaries that we cannot see, but if aware of them, and if we can stabilize ours we will live a better life. Author,Cyndi Dale, does a very good job at explaining our boundaries and how we can fortify them. She speaks of how these boundaries help us to stay protected, she gives many examples of this. She also helps you to determine where you may have weakness in your boundaries and what to do to strengthen them. She speaks of our world and explains how the physical and quantum interact and the problems or as I would say blessings that could come from this. Now, I am a strong Christian so I read every book on this subject with that as my guide. Our author does believe in a higher power, but I believe intertwines other beliefs in her book that I was not comfortable with. However, I did walk away with knowledge from this book and what I did not believe in I merely put on a shelf.

Energetic Boundaries is a very good book with a lot of knowledge in many areas. It is written in a way that it is very understandable and you should be able to apply her suggestions to your life without too much trouble. She definitely has taken the time to write with the reader and their understanding in mind.

Waking Hours
Lis Wiehl With Pete Nelson
Thomas Nelson Publishing
Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214
9781595549402, $19.95,

Westchester County, New York is a wealthy community, guarded and often envied by others. No one would have expected that a murder would be committed of a young high-school girl. It wasn't just a normal murder, if there is such a thing. No, this one had all the ear-marks of something sinister, evil and dark. When forensic psychiatrist Dani Harris teams up with NFL linebacker, Tommy Gunderson to solve this crime they were plunged into a supernatural nightmare, one that has only begun, just when they thought it had ended.

I have read countless books and enjoyed many, but this one packed such a punch in so many areas that it was a thrill to read. Our author, Lis Wiehl brought you into every aspect of the investigation. She took you deep into the lives of all the characters that played major roles. Her locals were expertly described to the point that you could feel the darkness of the night, the comfort of a home and the intense drama of an interrogation room. In other words, you were there each step of the way. I loved how she brought Dani and Tommy into the mystery by giving them dreams that were somehow related to what was happening and also to each other. The fact that Ms. Wieh added a touch of romance between Dani and Tommy just increased the pleasure of the read. She didn't take this too far, at least not yet, but she laid the foundation for the future. I know what I'm hoping for.

This mystery just keep growing, when one question was answered another appeared. It seemed as if the closing of one door opened two more and led you down corridors that were seldom traveled, at least not for a very long time. The mystery expands as hints of 'The End Times' is craftily exposed. Was this a foreshadow of the future? How does this figure in with the murder of a young girl and all the other weird happenings in this town? Wow! What a ride! I absolutely loved this book and could not put it down, but spent every free moment I had reading it. I can't wait for the next one and truly feel this is the best book I have read so far this year. Bravo!

Triple Shot
Sandra Balzo
Severn House
110 East 59th Street, 22th Fl.
New York, NY 10022
9780727880796, $14.95,

Maggy Thorsen is just trying to get ahead and have a life. She co-owns the Brookhills coffe house in Wisconsin with her friend, Sarah Kingston. As the story begins the ladies seem to be doing pretty good, after all everyone loves their autumn drink, a "Triple Shot, Fully-leaded Espresso." But things were about to heat up as Ward Chitown, a television personality whose name is quickly being forgotten, comes to town stirring up the town's dark past. After all, who wants to be known as the town where the Mafia thrived, where murders were committed, and money stashed and never found.

If that wasn't enough real estate agents begin to be murdered, and since Sarah owns her own real estate establishment that was not good. Blackness settles as Sarah's worker is killed, her body discovered in a room no one knew existed, and Sarah may well be one on the list of 'interesting people' in the case. Maggy, who seems to always be where dead bodies are, is thrown into the middle. Her boyfriend is none other than the Sheriff and now her partner and friend is a possible suspect in the murders. What a tangled weave is webbed!

I enjoyed this book. I liked the characters and felt the author did an excellent job at giving you enough insight on each to bring them to life. The local was very well described. I could see the town, the buildings, the coffee house clearly in my minds eye, making the story more real. Of course I especially liked Maggy, she was definitely a frisky woman, one who had overcome battles in her life yet charged forward. The mystery was well laid out, giving you hints along the way, but I have to tell you I really was not sure who done it! The ending had a few twists that surprised me. All in all it was a really good read and I'm pleased to recommend it.

The Amazing Adventures of Thomas and Erin with Granddad Monet's Garden
John Vasey
Create Space
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781466336209 $14.95

This newest adventure with Grandpa takes the children to the town of Giverny to see the famous garden of Claude Monet. They see beautiful flowers, such as sunflowers, they walk past a lily pond and they look at the water lilies. They see a mom with her baby sitting among the beautiful flowers and they enjoy lunch together before they finished their tour and take their trip back home on the train.

Again, as with all Mr. Vasey's books, this is a simple, tender story of a grandpa sharing a day with his grandchildren. The pictures definitely bring forth the story and I like how the author gives the children the opportunity to draw a picture at the end of his books. Simple, tender, splashed with love. Enjoy.

The Cries of Vampira
Sean H. Robertson
313 Wood LLC
9166 Harrison St Livonia, MI 48150
9781453808412, $14.95,

At first I did not think I would enjoy this read. I'm not a big one on reading about Vampires and Wolves, but I was surprised. The main characters are the Vampirians and the Grey Wolves. The one group loves everyone and tries to bring peace, the other only wants to destroy, kill, harm. The author definitely shows the two sides in this story. At times it is graphic, bloody, harsh, but yet somehow it is brought all together to show the reader the bottom line. Our author says he has written this book to inspire the young and old that love conquers all division, all colors, all creeds, religions and all hate. I believe he truly showed both sides of the coin in this read and can only hope and pray it will make a difference in lives as they read it.
Well done and certainly written with hope for a better tomorrow.

Shirley Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Taylor's Bookshelf

Dont Mean Nothin
John Mort
Privately Published
9780615459912, $11.95,

War brought out the best of people just as it brought out the worst. "Dont Mean Nothin" is a collection of short stories set in the controversial Vietnam conflict, telling stories of men under fire, men in doubt of their purpose, even women who are unsure of what they have gotten themselves into through it all. "Dont Mean Nothin" is a read with a strong message of the nature of the Vietnam War and how it changed peoples lives.

Dormant Enhancement
Jack Richards
iUniverse, Inc.
c/o AuthorHouse
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781450246958, $12.95,

With every convenience, something is lost. "Dormant Enhancement" is a near future science fiction novel exploring a program that programs education into teens to avoid the negative impact of high school. But as international lines are crossed, one Australian mother faces losing her child to the United States' programs. "Dormant Enhancement" discusses politics and ethics of a scientifically driven world, much recommended.

Death on a High Floor
Charles Rosenberg
Privately Published
c/o The Barrett Company (publicity)
9780615492391, $16.99,

When someone deserves the crime, it makes it all the more difficult to find the truth. "Death on a High Floor" is a murder mystery as recently departed Simon Rafer is dead, and everyone has pretty good reason to want him as such. Detective Spritz must now dig through the suspects, although his eyes fixate on Rafer's main partner, who has plenty of connections to shady business. A mystery with plenty of twists and turns, "Death on a High Floor" is an excellent read that shouldn't be overlooked.

American Obsession
Seth A. Forman
Privately Published
9781614342632, $17.95,

With the election of the first president of color, race issues within America may have worsened. "American Obsession: Race and Conflict in the Age of Obama" discusses race in America since Obama was inaugurated in 2009, and Seth Forman argues that race issues have been more exposed than ever, and argues that racial resentment may be forming. "American Obsession" offers original ideas about race in America, and may be well worth considering.

The Castle We Called Home
Simone Brennenman
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
9781452098579, $16.99,

Understanding the autistic is often understanding a mind that seems impossible to crack. "The Castle We Called Home" is a memoir of autism from Simone Brenneman as she reflects on her journey through the struggles of her autistic son, Hayden. Trying to get him the best education and opportunities she could, she found herself struggling to understand it better. "The Castle We Called Home" is a poignant tale of the struggles parents face, with some advice and wisdom blended in, making for a much recommended read.

Big Daddy's Tale
F. Lewis Stark
Privately Published
c/o Sunstark Media Group (publicity)
5645 Coral Ridge Drive
#299 Coral Springs, FL 33076
9781456565824, $14.99,

When your child has autism, your world and your priorities change. "Big Daddy's Tales: From the Lighter Side of Raising a Kid with Autism" is an uplifting story of a parent's walk from that dreaded autism diagnosis, as he shares story that autistic children can bring just as much joy as any other child in our world. An upbeat pick for those trying to find optimism in a stressful time, "Big Daddy's Tales" is a fine choice and much recommended read for community library autism collections.

Funding Evil
Rachel Ehrenfeld
Multi Educator
9781885881168, $17.99,

Terror needs money, and terror gets money. The question is... how? "Funding Evil: How Terrorism is Financed - And How to Stop It" discusses the lines of funding to al-Qaeda and how it holds strong connections to Saudi Arabia and even the United States Government, stating that these transgressions are overlooked for the pursuit of other issues. "Funding Evil" is an updated edition of the previous volumes from Rachel Ehrenfeld, director of the American Center for Democracy and its Economic Warfare Institute, presenting credentials to consider in trying to best understand the money flow that may end in the deaths of innocents.

Education: Malpractice
Nelson Reidar
1663 Liberty Drive
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781463436070, $16.99,

What causes a high school to fail? "Education: Malpractice" discusses a high school with a 30% graduation rate, as the author served as an instructional coach a this school, who observed problems at all levels of the school's faculty, and urges America as a whole to improve its education systems or their perhaps will be no one able to tomorrow. "Education: Malpractice" is a tragic story of the failure of many schools across the country.

John Taylor

Vogel's Bookshelf

Animal Grief
David Alderton
Hubble & Hattie
9781845842888, $19.95,

Sadness is not exclusive to humanity. "Animal Grief: How Animals Mourn" discusses the emotions of the animal kingdom, and how they struggle and cope with loss much like humanity, if in their own ways. Animals can form social bonds that last decades, be fiercely protective of their youth, and David Alderton presents evidence that these bonds may extend to grief over death, for members of their pack and even across species. "Animal Grief" is a fascinating read packed color to color with full color photographs, a solid addition to any wildlife studies collection.

The Goombah and the Hippie Chick
Neil C. Campbell
Virtualbookworm Publishing
PO Box 9949
College Station, TX 77842
9781602647930, $12.95,

Romance often comes with no shortage of snags in our journey to get it. "The Goombah and the Hippie Chick" follows Joe Hollowell who is struggling to overcome the friend zone with his crush in Julia Stevens. As romance goes on around him, Neil Campbell creates a humorous yet realistic read surrounding the Poconos, making "The Goombah and the Hippie Chick" a fun and much recommended read.

The Land Near Oz
Aaron Allbright
Privately Published
9780982856505, $15.00,

Paradise is what many seek, but few ever find. "The Land Near Oz: Two Gay Yankees Move to New Zealand" is an uplifting story of two men who find their love, and search for paradise, finding it in New Zealand. Sharing their embracement of this new land, Aaron Allbright discusses the beauty of the natural land to the rumors of cannibalism. "The Land Near Oz" is a poignant pick for those looking for positive and gay memoirs, highly recommended.

Paris Metro
Carl D. Malmgren
Omega Publications
9780984591350, $9.99,

The roaring twenties brought a unique environment all over the world. "Paris Metro" is a novel set in the expatriate scene in Paris in the 1920s. The end of World War I left Paris with a certain bit of prosperity, but underneath the shiny side, there was much that was anything but. With plenty of twists and turns with a riveting setting, "Paris Metro" is a read that is very much worth considering for community library fiction collections.

Prophetic Destiny Defined
Yolanda L. Q. Payne
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781432779856, $11.95,

Finding one's place in life is a truly wonderful thing. "Prophetic Destiny Defined: A Peculiar Blessing!" is a Christian spirituality guide from Yolanda L.Q. Payne as she advises readers to find their charm and inspiration in their lives for the better. "Prophetic Destiny Defined" is a choice pick for those who believe in destiny ordained by God and seek advice in finding his will.

The Rightful Heirs
Tom Schuyler
3L Publishing
9780615382845, $14.95,

Millions lost their lives, but did their fortunes go with them? "The Rightful Heirs" delves into the fortunes thought lost of Holocaust Victims stashed in Swiss Bank accounts. Decades later, many come forth claiming to be the rightful heirs to the fortunes, and author Tom Schulyer crafts a story of greed, lust, and a repeat of the cruelty as many compete to claim the cursed money. "The Rightful Heirs" is an excellent pick of intrigue, very much recommended.

The Old Rectory
Julia Ibbotson
iUniverse, Inc.
c/o AuthorHouse
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781462044689, $13.95,

Small town charm is hard to abandon. "The Old Rectory" is a memoir from Julia Ibbotson that discusses her and her father's adoption of an old Victorian rectory, which they rose to the challenge of innovating and embracing the old English village charm that many people in the cities have long forgotten. "The Old Rectory" is an excellent pick for anyone who wants to read a tale of small town life and the personal touch that comes with it.

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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