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MBR Bookwatch

Volume 4, Number 1 January 2005 Home | MBW Index

Table of Contents

Cynthia's Bookshelf Donovan's Bookshelf Harold's Bookshelf
Kaveny's Bookshelf Klausner's Bookshelf Laurel's Bookshelf
Shelley's Bookshelf Shirley's Bookshelf Vicki's Bookshelf

Cynthia's Bookshelf

Cutting Loose
Kristin Hardy
Harlequin Retail Inc
ISBN 0373791607 $4.50 256 pages

Very highly recommended

In the second book of the miniseries Sex & the Supper Club, author Kristin Hardy creates yet another sleekly sensual tale of walking on the wild side. Sedate Trish Dawson explores outrageous possibility when she yields to a friend's makeup brush and transforms herself into a sexual siren for the night. When she enters the costume party dressed as a dominatrix, Trish does not expect to meet a mysterious stranger dressed as the Marquis de Sade who will take her breath away.

Hollywood actor Ty Ramsay savors the opportunity to pursue a woman who is oblivious of his true identity. Rather than a woman intent on further her career or fulfilling her star-struck fantasies, Trish is a real woman sincerely attracted to him. When she finally convinces him to unmask, however, Trish flees the seduction, refusing to become another notch on the notorious actor's bedpost. Terribly intrigued, Ty becomes determined to find his way into Trish's life and heart.

Author Kristin Hardy has long established herself as a talented author of sophisticated tales that include marvelous glitz and glamour. Once again she provides the perfect escapist fiction in CUTTING LOOSE. As she gains confidence and self-knowledge, Trish becomes a remarkably likeable and sympathetic character. Ty's need to overcome his own self created reputation becomes as great a challenge as discovering the way into Trish's heart. Light bondage and domination add a daring edge with its wildly erotic elements. For fans who follow Hardy's miniseries, favorite characters make adept appearances, including Cilla, who stars in December's NOTHING BUT THE BEST. CUTTING LOOSE comes very highly recommended.

Nothing But the Best
Kristin Hardy
Harlequin Retail Inc
ISBN 0373791682 $4.50 256 pages

Very highly recommended

In the third book of the miniseries Sex & the Supper Club, author Kristin Hardy's characteristically sophisticated prose creates a world of glamour in NOTHING BUT THE BEST. Heiress Cilla Danforth struggles to gain recognition for her talent in her family owned company. While her father recognizes her talent as a buyer of couture fashion, he does not see her talent for business until she unexpectedly convinces the board to give her a chance with a flagging Danforth location. Unfortunately, a flat tire led to wild night of a passion with the very man assigned to her project the very next day.

Rand Mitchell knows the necessity of separating work and pleasure. But who would have thought that the sexy, stranded motorist he stops to help is the heiress of the Danforth fortune and his boss's daughter. Now they have a month to transform a failing enterprise into a shining success all the while managing their passion for one another. Further, when Rand finds himself falling for the boss's daughter, he also quickly discovers that this is a woman who does not take her relationships seriously. He will be faced with quite the challenge if he wants Cilla to see herself as part of a couple.

A wildly sensual tale, NOTHING BUT THE BEST is a blazing hot read for a cold winter night. The smoothly sophisticated world of high fashion draws the reader into a tale of glitz and high fashion yet grounds itself well with real people who face real challenges with relationships. As part of the miniseries, NOTHING BUT THE BEST is a heck of a lot of fun, but it works equally as well as a standalone. NOTHING BUT THE BEST comes very highly recommended.

Cynthia Penn
Senior Reviewer

Donovan's Bookshelf

Skin Shows: The Tattoo Bible
Chris Wroblewski
Collins & Brown/Trafalgar Square
North Pomfret, VT 06063
1843401673 $24.95 1-800-423-4525

Got a young person with a penchant for tattoos? You have to consider Skin Shows: The Tattoo Bible as a specialty gift for this audience: other tattoo books come and go but this is the 'tattoo bible', packing in color photos on every page of tattoo art, discussing their artists and techniques, and surveying the cultural history of tattoos around the world. Informed and informative, Skin Shows is a simply outstanding recommendation.

A Monumental Vision
John Hedgecoe
C&B/Trafalgar Square Pubs.
Box 257, Howe ill Rd., N. Pomfret, VT 05053
1843400464 $35.00 1-800-423-4525

Photographer John Hedgecoe maintained a close friendship with sculptor Henry Moore throughout his career, and thus is in the perfect position to provide a warm illustrated feature of all Moore's sculptural forms in A MONUMENTAL VISION. Fans of Moore's works enjoy personal reminiscence, a photographic essay, and a survey of the roots of his genius through a display of Moore's most important works. An outstanding catalog.

Human Body Systems
Greenwood Press
88 Post Road West, Westport, CT 06881
$399.95/Set 1-800-225-5800

Recommended for advanced middle school grade levels all the way through college and into the public library system is the outstanding 'Human Body Systems' reference set, intended as a reference using ten volumes to break down various body parts. Each book includes basic physiological information accompanied by excellent quality black and white and color photos, clear and simple diagrams, and charts. Each holds around 200 pages of basic detail which is not limited to basic physiology: included within each book's discussions are surveys of health challenges, new research, and the history of both diseases and discoveries. These articles make each book stand as well alone as in a set, providing students with authoritative, easily understandable health information suitable for research and reports. Though most valuable when purchased as a complete set, each book individually is valuable: members of this group include NERVOUS SYSTEM AND SENSE ORGANS (0313324565), URINARY SYSTEM (0313324026), REPRODUCTIVE SYSTEM (0313324492), RESPIRATORY SYSTEM (0313324244), SKELETAL SYSTEM (0313325219), MUSCULAR SYSTEM (0313324034), LYMPHATIC SYSTEM (0313324948), ENDOCRINE SYSTEM (0313326991), DIGESTIVE SYSTEM (0313326800), and CIRCULATORY SYSTEM (0313324018). Each book introduces and explains the system and related parts, how it relates to help, common malfunctions and diseases and the tests and treatments which accompany them, new discoveries about the body system, and the key scientists and doctors who have made the discoveries. Add color illustrations throughout and you have a winning set certain to receive wide consultation in a library setting.

Web Copy That Sells
Maria Veloso
1601 Broadway, New York N 10019
0814472494 $21.95 1-800-250-5308

It's quite simple to understand the importance of Maria Veloso's Web Copy That Sells: The Revolutionary Formula for Creating Killer Copy Every Time. Quite simply, it's the only book on the market which defines the differences between mesmerizing web writing and mundane works. Chapters cover what makes web copy irresistible - and what copy is merely dull, providing plenty of copywriting tips to producing compelling descriptions of products or services to be sold on the web. Any involved in Web construction or marketing should consider this a 'must'.

The Genomics Age
Gina Smith
1601 Broadway, New York NY 10019
0814408435 $24.00 1-800-250-5308

How is DNA technology changing how we live and the very roots of what makes is human? Gina Smith is a science and technology journalist known for her reporting for World News Tonight and other popular feature shows: her impressively informed and informative study, The Genomics Age: How DNA Technology Is Transforming the Way We Live and Who We Are, considers new DNA discoveries and their future impact on moral, economic, and social issues. From the new possibilities of conquering cancer within the next twenty years to the stem cell debate, chapters examine applications of DNA science and the new issues it will raise.

Golf And The Game Of Leadership
Donald E. McHugh
1601 Broadway, NY, NY 10019
0814408370 $21.00 1-800-250-5308

If you don't think business involves a certain amount of play, it's time to reassess using Donald E. McHugh's GOLF AND THE GAME OF LEADERSHIP : doctor/golf enthusiast McHugh was also an executive at General Motors and a leadership consultant, and here brings his multi-faceted experiences to the table in drawing important connections between golfing and performance standards. Inspirational stories from golfer greats blend with fundamental principles of living and conducting business to explain the rudiments of developing that competitive edge.

Focus on Freshwater Aquarium Fish
Geoff Rogers & Nick Fletcher
Firefly Books
155 E. 34th St. #5B, NY, NY 10016
1552979369 $29.95

Fishkeepers will find an all-in-one fish guide in Geoff Rogers and nick Fletcher's FOCUS ON FRESHWATER AQUARIUM FISH. Yes, there have been hundreds of aquarium books published: large-size full-page color photos, at-a-glance lists of characteristics and descriptions, and a compelling survey make this a special holiday reference.

Perfect Your Swing
Matthew Rudy
Firefly Books
155 E. 34th St. #5B, NY, NY 10016
1552979865 $19.95

Golfers always want to learn how to improve their game and there's no better way of spending winter than to sit down with Golf Digest's Golf Digest Perfect Your Swing: Learn How To Hit The Ball Like The Game's Greats, packed with step-by-step color photos displaying improvement methods and hitting techniques. Learn secrets from the game's greats and take the basic golf swing one step further with Matthew Rudy's fine guide.

Firefly Books Ltd.
155 East 34th St. #5B, NY NY 10016

Crafters tempted to try their skills at creating lovely mosiacs on mirrors and other mediums will find Sarah Kelly goes beyond the usual stone inlays in presenting projects for her The Complete Mosaic Handbook: Projects, Techniques, Designs (1552977749 $35.00). Her book holds no boundaries or limits, covering complete walls and tiny balls, using both glass and ceramics, and adding seashells, buttons and more for added excitement. A gorgeous gallery of projects. Linda Watson's 20TH CENTURY FASHION (1552979881, $24.95) is published in association with Vogue Magazine and provides a style 'bible' for all interested in the history of 20th century fashion trends. From significant designers to the century's movements, and an A-Z directory of great modern designers, 20th CENTURY FASHION is a title to watch for.

Diane C. Donovan
West Coast Editor

Harold's Bookshelf

101 Things to Do With a Cake Mix
Stephanie Ashcraft
Gibbs Smith, Publisher
PO Box 667, Layton, UT 84041
ISBN: 1586852175 $9.95 128 pp.

Want some ideas on something different to do with a cake mix instead of just following the recipe on the box? You will find lots of ideas in this book. Starting with a cake mix you end up with brownies, cookies, muffins, and other items. Or if you just want to take the basic cake recipe and make it into something unusual how about using fruit fillings in a cake, or applesauce, or Butterfinger candy bars. The author also includes some children's recipes and other unique ideas like a Jack-O-Lantern cake that uses two bundt cakes with the flat side put together.

The book is spiral bound to lay flat and has a protective plastic covering, as should all cookbooks. 101 Things to Do With a Cake Mix is recommended for anyone looking for creative ways to create the extraordinary from an ordinary cake mix.

America Discovered: A Historical Atlas of North American Exploration
Derek Hayes
Douglas & McIntyre Ltd.
2323 Quebec Street, Suite 201, Vancouver, BC, Canada VST 457
ISBN: 1553650492 $40.00 209 pp. plus map catalog and index

The early settlers, investors, missionaries, traders, and other explorers of the North American continent had rough hand-drawn maps or no maps at all to guide them. As a result many of them made their own maps as they traveled. The tremendous variety of these hand-drawn maps makes this collection of maps and historical information fascinating reading.

The book is loosely organized along historical lines although maps with a similar theme are placed together. For example, some of the chapters, and therefore map collections, include "Seeking Furs and Lost Souls, Finding the Mississippi, West from Carolina, Ascending the Missouri, Crossing the Mountains, Russian Alaska, The Emigrant Trails, and The Great Western Surveys.

These are high quality copies of the original maps and a treasure to anyone interested in history. It includes many well-written historical accounts of the explorers and other travelers to augment the maps. While it is an excellent choice for a library addition, America Discovered: A Historical Atlas of North American Exploration is a joy to read and belongs on the shelf of everyone interested in the history of the North America.

A Baker's Field Guide to Christmas Cookies
Dede Wilson
Harvard Common Press
535 Albany St., Boston, MA 02118
ISBN: 1558322639 $16.95 172 pp. plus resources listing and index

What a creative idea for a cookbook! The book literally follows the standard format for a field guide to animals or plants. For each cookie it provides the type, habitat (country the recipe is from), description, field notes (where the recipe came from, origin of name, etc.), and lifespan (how long the cookie will keep). Of course it also has ingredients and directions for making the cookie, and total yield for the recipes.

These are some truly creative recipes that children will love, like the Night Before Christmas Mice, which actually look like mice, and traditional favorites like snickerdoodles or pizzelles. It even has a recipe for salt-dough ornament cookies - totally inedible but can be decorated to make permanent Christmas ornaments. A Baker's Field Guide to Christmas Cookies is fun, creative, and recommended.

Biological Time
Editor: Bernie Taylor
The Ea Press
PO Box 1193, Newberg, OR 97132
ISBN: 0974993204 $29.95 172 pp. plus glossary, endnotes, and index

Biological Time is a book about natural clocks and natural rhythms in the world. Animals have a biological clock that tells them when to mate, when to migrate, when to return, and many other patterns of their life. While we have forced ourselves into the pattern of time regulated by the rotation of the earth and revolutions around the sun, many other animals regulate their patterns by lunar or other patterns. With lots of examples of differing biological time patterns the author leads the reader on a fascinating journey into this field of knowledge. He even gives examples of aboriginal tribes that regulate their concept of time and seasons based on things like when certain species of fish return to the islands or a tribe of Indians who associated the return of salmon to the rivers with the appearance of a particular moth. Fascinating reading and a view into how we are all interconnected as the biorhythms of one species associate it with another. Biological Time is a recommended read for anyone interested in biological rhythms.

Dr. Henry Cloud, Dr. John Townsend
Zondervan Publishing
5300 Patterson SE, Grand Rapids, MI 49530
ISBN: 0310247454 $14.99 296 pp. plus index

This is a book about taking back control of your life by setting boundaries for yourself and others. It focuses on the problem of boundaries for Christians in particular. For example, if Christians are supposed to be loving and helpful to their neighbors then at what point are you supposed to say "No" to something they want or need? Dr. Cloud and Dr. Townsend help lead the reader through the process of setting up appropriate personal boundaries that define who you are and how you will interact with others.

The authors are right on target with their ten laws of boundaries and eight myths about boundaries. If you can follow these laws and dispel these myths you will go a long way toward reclaiming your life and finding happiness. The section on boundaries and your family is also excellent and shows the authors' depth of understanding about family dynamics. Other specific areas discussed include boundaries and your friends, boundaries and your spouse, boundaries and your children, boundaries and your work, boundaries and your self, and even boundaries and God.

This is an excellent book and is highly recommended to help everyone set appropriate boundaries in their life. While it was published in 1992, Boundaries is still often recommended by Christian and Pastoral counselors and timeless in its application to the human condition.

Building the Perfect PC
Robert Bruce Thompson and Barbara Fritchman Thompson
O'Reilly Media, Inc.
1005 Gravenstein Highway North, Sebastopol, CA 95472
ISBN: 0596006632 $29.95 322 pp. plus index

What is a perfect PC? For some it would be a dependable, high-capacity small office server, for others it would be a top of the line video game machine, still others might define it as a dependable LAN workstation machine. The perfect PC depends on your computing needs and the authors take this into consideration as they explain how to custom build any one of five types of PCs. Throughout the book every step includes photograph after photograph detailing the process.

One of the better features of the book is the fact that the authors give name brands and even suggested models for almost all of the hardware. As a result you know you are getting the right quality for your dollar. The authors don't attempt to make you an expert in computer building or hardware design, instead they teach you how to build a specific system for your needs complete with specific hardware recommendations. This is a vast improvement over books that just tell you how to install a piece of hardware but leave you on your own when trying to find the right item.

The only thing I did not like about the book was the fairly regular problems with writing style. While the authors are to be commended for staying away from technical terms or at least explaining them before using them, sometimes they go too far the other way with the use of slang expressions. A couple of illustrations will suffice to illustrate the problems. Page 46 uses the sentence " inexpensive Athlon XP models simply mop the floor with comparably priced Celerons." Or on page 179 a sentence reads, "Fast Pentium 4 processors dissipate significant heat, ". Processors generate heat they don't dissipate it; heat sinks dissipate heat. This is not the level of writing that I expect from O'Reilly. Their books are top-notch professional publications and it is very rare to find one that at points reverts to this level of work. Still none of the writing problems create an error that is likely to lead a reader off into the wrong direction so this should not be considered a major detraction from the book as much as it is a surprising anomaly from the publisher.

Building the Perfect PC is recommended and one of the best choices for the true novice to use to assemble a PC, even given the writing problems listed above.

Building Your Outdoor Home
Christian Paschke
Creative Publishing International, Inc.
5900 Green Oak Drive, Minnetonka, MN 55343
ISBN: 0865737568 $14.95 109 pp.

If you want to make your yard an extension of you home living space you will find 30 easy projects to do just that in this book. From basic landscaping to building benches, decks, sidewalks, steps, sprinklers, fences, and even walls there are several basic projects that will help to make your yard a place to relax and enjoy a quiet evening or a friendly get-together. The instructions are easy to follow and detail every step to make sure your project is a success. No special skills are required except the ability to follow instructions. One thing I always look for in a book of this type is a lot of illustrations or photographs to show exactly how to do each step. This book has plenty of both so you can make it perfect the first time. Building Your Outdoor Home is a recommended purchase for any do-it-yourself types who want to personalize their outdoor living space.

Cakes: 1001 Classic Recipes from Around the World
Reader's Digest Assoc.
Reader's Digest Road, Pleasantville, NY 10570
ISBN: 0762104031 $35.00 353 pp. plus index

This book is typical of the superb quality you expect from Reader's Digest publications. Excellent photography, clear instructions, all the information you want is included at the end of each recipe number of servings, preparation time, cooking time, skill level, and number of days it will keep. All cookbooks should include this information along with the recipes. This is the way a cookbook should be done.

The book includes lots of traditional cake recipes as well as recipes you are not likely to find anywhere else without a great deal of effort. Some of the recipes include Chocolate nut strudel, banana chocolate strudel, chocolate chip-amaretto cake, double chocolate brownies, Pennsylvania Dutch Funnel Cakes, and even Baklava.

Since the entire book is about cakes, it is organized by the type of cake recipe. Those types are butter cakes, pound cakes, chocolate cakes, fresh fruit and nut cakes, dried fruit & nut cakes, sponge cakes, festive cakes, meringue cakes, strudels, charlottes, cheesecakes, no-bake cakes, tarts, small cakes & muffins, yeast cakes, special cakes, fillings & frostings.

Some people will have a problem with the small typeface of the ingredients list. Make sure you can read it before ordering the book. Other than that one small item, this is the epitome of the craft of cookbooks. Cakes: 1001 Classic Recipes from Around the World is highly recommended.

Chasing Lewis & Clark Across America
Ron Lowery, Mary Walker
Windsock Media
6303 Clark Road, Harrison, TN 37341
ISBN: 0974920711 $45.00 167 pp.

This is an absolutely beautiful pictorial trip along the route Lewis and Clark took as they followed the Missouri River west to find an overland route to the Pacific Ocean. But this is a view that Lewis and Clark could not see. Almost all the pictures are from the viewpoint of a small aircraft flying over the landscape. The photographs include everything from modern cities to landscapes that have not changed significantly from the time of their original explorations. The text contains historic information about the trip and the sites photographed as well as details of the plane trip and current information.

The photographs include beautiful patchwork landscapes, meandering rivers, forts Mandan and Union, the rough folds of the hills and canyons of the Missouri Breaks, the Rockies, and the Columbia River. This aerial vantage point gives a different perspective on the difficulties and beauty of the terrain that Lewis and Clark traversed so many years ago. Chasing Lewis & Clark Across America is a highly recommended book for anyone interested in the Lewis and Clark expedition or who just enjoys aerial photography.

The Complete Photo Guide to Home Repair
Creative Publishing International, Inc.
18705 Lake Drive East, Chanhassen, MN 55317
ISBN: 1589231813 $34.95 587 pp. plus glossary and index

A good home repair guide is an absolute requirement for those of us who know very little about home repair but feel the urge on occasion to tackle some of those odd jobs around the house. While there are many guides on the market today the best ones have an abundance of photographs or detailed illustrations to help the reader see what they are supposed to be doing. With over 2,300 photos Black and Decker's The Complete Photo Guide to Home Repair is the epitome of this class of books. Processes and techniques are described step by step in detail with no prior knowledge assumed. Everything is so well done anyone can complete any of the projects if they can read and follow directions. I've had several home repair books, but this one just became my top choice for the one I want to have around as my primary reference. The Complete Photo Guide to Home Repair is a very highly recommended book for every homeowner or handyman.

CSS Cookbook
Christopher Schmitt
O'Reilly Media, Inc.
1005 Gravenstein Highway North, Sebastopol, CA 95472
ISBN: 0596005768 $34.95 238 pp. plus appendix and index

If you do any programming at all you soon learn of the immense value of programming cookbooks. This particular one came at a good time for me as I was trying to figure out how to create a particular effect for a web page and knew that it could be done with a cascading style sheet. A quick turn to the correct page and the code was right there along with an explanation of how it works. Twenty minutes later it was completely coded and working correctly.

The author lists many common problems and for each of them provides a problem definition, a solution, and a discussion. For many of the problems the author also includes a "See Also" section that points you to further reading. With so many problems and solutions it is important to organize them in a way so they can be located quickly. To achieve this goal the book is divided into ten distinct sections. These sections are: Web Typography, Page Elements, Links and Navigation, Lists, Forms, Tables, Page Layouts, Print, Hacks and Workarounds, and Designing with CSS. A top quality cookbook title from O'Reilly Media, CSS Cookbook is a highly recommended read for anyone working with web pages and cascading style sheets.

Eliza and the Dragonfly
Susie Caldwell Rinehart
Dawn Publications
12402 Bitney Springs Road, Nevada City, CA 95959
ISBN: 1584690607 $16.95 32 pp. Ages: 4 - 8

An educational book about dragonflies, Eliza and the Dragonfly is a well-crafted children's book. The story teaches the reader about the life cycle of the dragonfly from nymph to adult. It also introduces them to the occupation of entomologist. At the back of the book is additional information on dragonflies as well as resources to learn more about them. Eliza and the Dragonfly is a recommended and educational read for young children.

Foundations of Python Network Programming
John Goerzen
2560 Ninth Street, Suite 219, Berkeley, CA 94710
ISBN: 1590593715 $44.99 385 pp. plus appendixes and index

As a networking consultant I have a good deal of experience with networking programs and protocols. I have also programmed in Python to meet some basic needs for processing web site input. If you want to move several steps beyond basic Python programming into the realm of network programming you will find this book one of the best resources available today. The coverage of networking with Python is very thorough and includes TCP/IP and UDP protocols, sockets, server connections, DNS queries, broadcast data, Ipv6, web client access, parsing, working with xml, email, MIME, SMTP, SSL, POP, IMAP, FTP, SQL databases, SocketServer, SimpleXMLRPCServer, CGI, mod_python, multitasking, and asynchronous communication. As is typical of Apress books, there is a lot of specific code examples to help the reader see exactly how it should be done.

Foundations of Python Networking Programming is highly recommended if you already have a familiarity with networking concepts and basic Python programming. This is a second level book that should be used to extend your knowledge and programming skills after first learning the basics of Python with something like Diving Into Python.

Our National Parks and Wildlife Refuges
Jim Jamieson
ImageStream Press
8339 Carriage Hill Alcove, Savage, MN 55378
ISBN: 0972912614 $34.95 176 pp.

The bottom line here is absolutely incredible photography. Of course that's the only way to try to present the sheer beauty of the national parks to the reader. Although the name is National Parks and Wildlife Refuges it also includes seven state park areas in Indiana, South Dakota, and Minnesota. With parks as diverse as the Badlands, Great Smoky Mountains, White Sands, and Yellowstone, the color, light, and patterns are diverse and spectacular. There is little information provided about the parks but it does include maps of where the state parks are located and information on each of the photographs. This is a beautiful book just to spend time looking through and a wonderful introduction to the scenic beauty of our national parks. Our National Parks and Wildlife Refuges is a highly recommended book.

Ortho Home Gardener's Problem Solver
Editor: Denny Schrock
Meredith Corporation
Meredith Gardening Books
1716 Locust Street, Des Moines, IA 50309-3023
ISBN: 0897215044 $29.95 560 pp. plus extensive index

For the home gardener nothing really beats the Ortho Home Gardener's Problem Solver for finding the exact nature of plant problems and exactly what to do to resolve it. This massive book details symptoms and solutions for over 1,500 pests and plant problems. The editors organized the book by type of plant (houseplants, lawns, ground covers, annuals, perennials, bulbs, trees, shrubs, vines, vegetables, berries, etc.) and then within that broad classification they placed listings of individual plants along with a picture and description of a problem. After this section the editors placed several picture galleries to help you diagnose problems. These picture galleries include plant diseases, insects, weeds, animal pests, and household pests. Ortho Home Gardener's Problem Solver is one of the most user-friendly books available to the home gardener and is highly recommended.

Skywatch West: The Complete Weather Guide
Richard A. Keen
Fulcrum Publishing
16100 Table Mountain Parkway, Suite 300, Golden, CO 80403
ISBN: 1555912974 $24.95 244 pp. plus multiple appendixes and index

Although it focuses on the western part of the United States, this is one of the best books on weather that I have read and the information is applicable to everywhere in the U.S. The book starts with the causes of weather and covers everything from the effect of an atmosphere and the warming of it by the sun to the effect of the earth's rotation, moisture, land masses, etc. After that base for understanding weather they move into the specifics of weather phenomenon like fronts, jets, cyclones, snow, rain, thunderstorms, hurricanes, whirlwinds, and lights in the sky. They even cover the subject of sprites and jets above the clouds, an area only recently being seriously investigated after years of reports but only recent proof of its existence.

The author explains everything in easy to understand terms while still being through enough to provide a complete education in basic weather. Of particular value are the numerous pictures of actual weather events so you can see what different cloud types look like or the effects of hail, or even see a cold front slipping under a warm layer of air. Skywatch West is a fascinating book for anyone interested in understanding the weather and very highly recommended.

The Illustrated History of Scotland
Chris Tabraham
Oyster Press
1004 Commercial Avenue, PMB 155, Anacortes, WA 98221
ISBN: 1932573011 $35.00 221 pp. plus index

This is history not only of the Scottish people but also of the land itself. It starts with an examination of the natural forces that shaped Scotland into the land it is today. From ice age carved valleys to the incredible natural stone columns at Fingal's Cave it is a land of contrasts. After examining the land the author turns to the most remote ancestral people of Scotland and the curious stone circles and other artifacts they left behind. Moving forward in time they next examine the arrival of various more modern historical groups including the Celts, the Roman invaders, the Gaels, Picts, Britons, Angles, Vikings, and Normans.

The author also examines the various social, cultural, and political changes Scotland went through and how things like the Industrial age, highland clearances, Scotland's role in WWI, the depression, population expansion and North Sea Oil changed the face of Scotland forever. One of the particularly interesting chapters is one on how the Scottish people transitioned from tribal kingdoms to a more cohesive group and then united with the Picts to form a nation state and then united these kingdoms with England.

Key individuals in the book include Saint Columba, MacBeth, William Wallace, Robert Bruce, and Robert Burns. Throughout the book are beautiful pictures of landscapes, castles, abbeys, historical ruins, and modern structures that provide a visual history of Scotland. Combined with the text it is a thorough and wonderfully written tribute and history to those of us with a Scottish ancestry. The Illustrated History of Scotland is a top quality hardback book that should be on the shelf of everyone interested in Scottish history.

The Irritable Male Syndrome
Jed Diamond
Rodale Press
33 East Minor St., Emmaus, PA 18098-0099
ISBN: 1579547982 $22.95 253 pp. plus notes and index

Why do so many husbands, fathers, and sons who are normally very loving and kind suddenly become irritable, angry, and withdrawn? That is the question answered in The Irritable Male Syndrome by best-selling author Jed Diamond. In the book he describes how the syndrome is diagnosed, what to expect, and how to treat it. Current research shows that the four primary factors for Irritable Male Syndrome are changing testosterone levels, chemical imbalances, loss of masculine identity, and stress.

This book exposes the emotions and thoughts in the deepest parts of many men. While some may control those emotions and so not exhibit irritable male syndrome, the book still does an excellent job of describing many of the stresses and emotional traits of men as well as offering explanations and ways to deal with them. This is by far one of the best self-help, psychology based books I have read this year and one of the best I have ever read. The Irritable Male Syndrome is very highly recommended and should be read by all women who want to understand their husband, boyfriend, or significant other as well as those who may be suffering with the syndrome or those who love them.

The New Mayo Clinic Cookbook
Oxmoor House
80 Willow Road, Menlo Park, CA 94025
ISBN: 0848727584 $34.95 291 pp. plus glossary and index

The name Mayo Clinic is synonymous with health and the New Mayo Clinic Cookbook focuses on providing healthy meals you will enjoy eating because they retain the flavors you love. It starts by providing a cooking and healthy weight pyramid you can use to choose good eating habits and an appropriate weight related diet. Each of the recipes also has a diagram indicating how many servings the meal should count for from each of the levels of the pyramid and a nutritional analysis.

One of the really nice features is the inclusion of a section on how to plan a menu using the pyramid system with example menus. With 150 recipes you are sure to find several that satisfy your palate. Some of the ones that I enjoyed were Grilled Portobello Mushrooms with Thyme and Garlic, Roasted Root Vegetables with Cumin and Coriander, Pear and Toasted Pecan Chutney, and Spinach Lasagna with Sun-dried Tomato Sauce. Most of the recipes have photographs of the finished meal so you know what it should look like. The only thing I didn't like about the cookbook is that you can't tell quickly how much time is needed to prepare or cook the meal. That is a very minor item given the ability to prepare delicious meals that contribute to your overall health. The New Mayo Clinic Cookbook is a highly recommended cookbook for anyone wanting to eat well without sacrificing flavor.

What We've Lost
Graydon Carter
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
19 Union Square West, New York, NY 10003
ISBN: 0374288925 $25.00 340 pp.

The subtitle for this text clearly indicates the purpose of the text - How the Bush Administration Has Curtailed Our Freedoms, Mortgaged Our Economy, Ravaged Our Environment, and Damaged Our Standing in the World. The various chapters cover items like the wars, military, secrecy, the economy, the environment, education, health care, the judiciary, state of the Union, and our reputation. Chapter 11 is particularly interesting as it shows the presidency "by the numbers". Basically, it is a collection of statistical information in simple statement form which shows things like the number of treasury agents investigating Osama bin Laden's and Saddam Hussein's money (4), amount offered by a group of veterans to anyone who could confirm Bush's Alabama guard service ($3,500), etc. A total of 404 different statistics are listed. The included information comes from multiple reliable sources and Mr. Carter has done his homework documenting the sources. At times it is obviously slanted, for example, the number of young adults that can't locate the Pacific Ocean on a map (30%) is a problem that we have known about for several years including well before Bush's presidency. Relevant most of the time, a curiosity at other times, interesting all of the time, What We've Lost is a recommended read.

Cookin' Up a Storm, 2nd Edition
Jane Lee Rankin
Grace Publishers
1355 Bardstown Rd. #111, Louisville, KY 40204
ISBN: 0965738728 $19.95 157 pp.

What a wonderful example of a good, old-fashioned southern country cookbook. You won't find recipes here that start with a cake mix or a loaf of frozen bread dough. Everything is made from scratch the old-fashioned way. The book starts with an introduction to the life of Annie Johnson, the southern black woman to whom this book is dedicated. Throughout the book are scattered various comments from her that help the reader to feel they know her as a cook and a person. If you want to know how to cook traditional southern fare from scratch the way grandma used to make, this is the book to have. No fancy recipe names, no quiche or anything like that, just buttermilk biscuits, yellow cornbread, fried apples, grits, navy beans, black-eyed peas, fried green tomatoes, sweet potato casserole, potato salad, barbecue ribs, chicken and dumplin's, fried catfish, stuffed green peppers, gingerbread, banana pudding, apple pie and many other traditional recipes. Cookin' Up a Storm, 2nd Edition is a very highly recommended cookbook.

Trace Your Roots with DNA
Megan Smolenyak Smolenyak, Ann Turner
Rodale Press
33 East Minor St., Emmaus, PA 18098-0099
ISBN: 1594860068 $14.95 235 pp. plus multiple appendixes and index

This is an interesting book that examines the use of DNA to trace your ancestry. With the cost of such testing going down all the time this becomes a reasonable way to determine if you are related to someone or not. The text covers Y chromosome DNA testing to follow the father's side and mtDNA for information on the maternal side. Of course you really need to understand how all of this applies to ancestry and the authors provide an excellent discussion of the various types of DNA tests, what they show, and even places where they can be ordered. This includes a lengthy exposition of ancestry informative markers and their use. Ancestry informative markers allow the tester to determine the percentage of their ancestry that came from a specific area. So, the results of the test might indicate you are 70% Indo-European, 15% Sub-Saharan African, 10% East Asian and 5% Native American. This does not tell you anything about specific ancestors but it does give you an idea of the makeup of your family history. Since you are not going to be able to dig up ancient ancestors and test their DNA to see if you are related, the predominant use of the system at this point seems to be to determine if you are related to someone else who has the same surname (although you may never figure out exactly how) or to determine your ancestry mix with the information markers. This book completely demystifies the use of DNA as a genealogical tool. The appendixes include a glossary, where you can get specific tests performed, places where you can add your results to surname projects, sources for genealogical information, etc. Trace Your Roots with DNA is highly recommended for anyone interested in their ancestry or genealogical research in general.

Lost in the Woods
Carl R. Samms II, Jean Stoick
Carl R. Samms II Photography, Inc.
2675 General Motors Road, Milford, MI 48380
ISBN: 0967174880 $19.95 48 pp. Ages: 4 - 8

Why would a small fawn be alone in the woods? Is he lost? Where is his mother? A short children's story, Lost in the Woods combines nice, detailed photography with a story line that points out one of the reasons why a fawn might be alone in the woods. With a frog, chipmunk, goose, squirrel, meadowlark, and other animals the fawn learns about them while waiting for his mother to return. With a handful of hidden animals to look for in the text it is also a fun challenge to find them all. Lost in the Woods is highly recommended for young children.

The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Scotland
Editor: Iseabail Macleod, MBE
Oyster Press
1004 Commercial Avenue, PMB 155, Anacortes, WA 98221
ISBN: 1932573038 $35.00 400 pp.

Scotland is a country with a lot of history and therefore a lot of stuff to be included in an encyclopedia. This book attempts to include as much information as possible within the confines of a single volume work. On the one hand it is great because you end up with a single volume with entries for just about anything you would want to look up. On the other hand because there are so many entries many of them are not a very thorough treatment of the subject. The book actually ends up with such short entries that it actually seems to fall somewhere between a dictionary and an encyclopedia, more than a dictionary entry, less than an encyclopedic entry. With the occasional longer article that is very well done and more in line with a traditional encyclopedic entry, lots of photos, and listings for just about everything, every place, and everyone with links to Scottish history The Illustrated Encyclopedia of Scotland is still a recommended read for anyone interested in Scotland.

Golden Poppies of California
George D. Lepp
Lepp & Associates
PO Box 6240, Los Osos, CA 93412
ISBN: 0963731327 $TBA 150 pp.

With stunningly beautiful pictures of California poppies from a truly talented photographer, Golden Poppies of California is a visual feast. The state flower of California, it is well represented in this collection of photographs. While it is the primary flower in the book, it also includes other flowers commonly found in the same area as the poppies. While leafing through the book the reader soon comes to realize why this flower would be chosen for the state flower. The author provides the reader with historical and other information on California and the history of the poppy. Golden Poppies of California is recommended for people who enjoy coffee table books, and especially anyone who likes poppies.

Williams-Sonoma Kid's Baking
Editor: Chuck Williams
Oxmoor House
80 Willow Road, Menlo Park, CA 94025
ISBN: 0848727800 $19.95 122 plus glossary and index

Not your average cookbook for children, Williams-Sonoma Kids Baking provides a basic course in baking written just for kids. The instructions are written at a child's reading level and include how to measure ingredients, correctly break eggs, beating ingredients, testing for doneness, etc. Even all the photographs are children doing the tasks.

The recipes were obviously chosen to be ones that children like to eat and include cookies, breads, pretzels, pizza, pies, and cake. Williams-Sonoma Kid's Baking is a great introduction to cooking that children can read their self and is highly recommended.

Harold McFarland
Senior Reviewer

Kaveny's Bookshelf

As I have mentioned earlier my wife and I have a special connection to a group of English Authors often referred to as the Inkling's consisting of Charles Williams (1886-1945) J.R.R. Tolkien (1893-1873) and C.S. Lewis (1898-1963), and a number of others all of whom had a strong connection with Oxford University. Lewis and Tolkien were English professors, and Williams worked at Oxford University Press. Williams also worked directly with Tolkien and Lewis during the Second World War when Oxford University moved its operations from London to avoid the German Blitz

As many of my readers over the years know I have written a lot about Tolkien and almost nothing about William's and Lewis, but this month all of that changes, because our dear friend of a lifetime Jared Lobdell has produced two very interesting new studies one on Charles Williams and one on C.S. Lewis. I read this collection of reviews and Jared's commentary with a great deal of pleasure for a number of reasons in

The Detective Fiction Reviews of Charles Williams, 1930-1935
Jared Lobdell
McFarland & Company Paperback
ISBN: 0786414545 $35.00 221 pages

the first among many being that I have had the pleasure of Dr. Jared Lobdell's friendship for the last thirty eight years, since we were both students at The University of Wisconsin Madison. When I found Jared at one of the State Street watering holes in Madison sitting next to me on a bar stool I was delighted to find that though he was working on a doctorate in economics at the time, he and I shared a profound interest in English literature. I have worked on a number of conferences with Jared over the years, and though his doctorate is in economics, the love of his life is literature. I must add that I find it a bit strange that thirty eight years later I am reviewing his works in a media format (the Internet which was only a science fictional constructs at the time we first met.

Jared Lobdell's The Detective Fiction Reviews of Charles Williams 1930-1935 came up in a discussion I recently in a discussion I had the production director Rob Mathison of CTV (Community Television in Eau Claire Wisconsin, As we were discussing My Television Series, The Foundations of the Fantastic .Rob suggested in an offhand way that creative people also made better critics, because they understood the creative process from the inside out rather than just looking at the surface, and we also talked about the difference between talking about a thing and doing it. That's when Jared and his books came into our conversation, because I feel that if Jared were born in England Fifty Years Before and had occasion to be in Oxford Jared might well have been an Inkling himself, since he has a very large backlog of unpublished fiction which I am sure will find a publisher in the not so distant future since it is of comparable in quality to those of Lewis and Williams.

Jared presents us with the nearly one hundred reviews which Charles Williams produced for The Westminster Gazette in their entirety, some times as many as five or six books in two or three hundred words, and in the process he allows Williams to shine in his own light, as a journalist, critic, and creative writer. As part of this process the reader is chronojected. back 70 years to (The Golden Age) of the mystery novel when even a pot boiler cost 7s 6p which converts to about fifty of today's American dollars at present value. In the process Jared makes an elegantly constructed argument that there was in fact a Golden Age of Detective fiction, and Charles Williams was at the heart of it.

Well, onto to Jared's next book

The Scientifiction Novels of C. S. Lewis: Space and Time in the Ransom Stories
Jared Lobdell
McFarland & Company
ISBN: 0786418249 $32.00 194 pages

Okay, I confess Chronojector is really neat word which means a machine to make time travel possible, but it is not my own. It is a word which C.S. Lewis coined. He coined it his novels featuring Edwin as a main character. The reason I know this is that I actually read then all. C.S. Lewis' adult Science fiction novels. sometimes known as the "space trilogy": Out of the Silent Planet 1938 , Perelandra, 1943 and That Hideous Strength 1946 and the time-fragment entitled The Dark Tower 1977. I read them all in less than a week and came out of them with a heightened respect for Lewis abilities as a writer. What more could you ask of a critical work

Phil Kaveny
Senior Reviewer

Klausner's Bookshelf

Reinventing Mona
Jennifer Coburn
ISBN: 0758206275 $12.95, 320 pp.

In Coronado, California Mona Warren summarizes her life as a big no; having nothing in terms of personal relationships not even in the closet. For most of her life, she did not care, but now her strategic long term goal is to marry Adam Ziegler and have children with this hunk so that she can PTA her way through the next decade or two. However, at thirty in spite of her former boss (she grabbed the downsizing check) thinking she is forty, Mona has not gotten to the batter's box with Adam. Knowing she needs help if she is to hit a home run and not believing her psychiatrist best friend Greta can assist her in swinging the bat, Mona concludes she needs male advice. She turns to Mike "the Dog" Dougherty, author of a guy's monthly advice column that is a chauvinists dream. However, instead of help, she finds herself within two inches of falling in love with Mike; thus Mona is more confused on getting to the plate. REINVENTING MONA is an amusing yet serious character study that digs deep and shallow into relationships due to a fabulous cast ready to advice magnificent Mona, who begins to learn that relationships start solo by being true to yourself. The story line is very entertaining while also leading the audience to think about what is happiness and how is that intricate in a strong relationship. Jennifer Coburn provides a deep humorous tale.

Dead by Dusk
Shannon Drake
ISBN: 0821775456 $6.99, 384 pp.

Chicago Park Street Players comedy club owner Grant Peterson and his manager Stephanie Cahill were having quite an affair until the night he screamed out another woman's name while suffering through a nightmare. She never explained to Grant why she dropped their romance and ultimately quit working for him. Her cousin Reggie brought her to Naples, Italy to run her comedy club there. Grant is an avid amateur archeologist enjoying the Discovery Channel as a passion. He has come to South Italy on a dig unaware that Stephanie is nearby. As a murder occurs and a member of Stephanie's staff vanishes, she and Grant work together to try to uncover what is going on. Soon their proximity rekindles their passion, but neither knows that evil is in the air and coincidence is not what brought this couple back together. DEAD BY DUSK is Shannon Drake at her best as she cleverly blends a fine amateur sleuth with a delightful romance inside a fabulous horror venue. The story line is action packed and filled with twists that take the reader from a broken Midwest love story to a foreign who-done-it to a second chance at love and to a confrontation with a vampire and devil dogs (these are not cake). The lead couple is a delightful pairing and the secondary cast either is old friends bringing alive Italy or malevolence at its evilest. Fans of Ms. Drake will appreciate the cleverly disguising of her subplots so that the audience never knows where she will take them next with this suspense thriller.

Killing Bliss
E.C. Sheedy
ISBN: 0821777513 $5.99

Susan Moore asks her nephew Cade Harding, former head of the Washington State University Criminalist Department and an ex cop, to search for her lost grandson Josh. The widower wants to say no as he still mourns the death of his wife fifteen months ago, but he owes his aunt. Susan explains she cut off her drug using daughter Mariah who died from an overdose, but learned after the death that Mariah had an infant son who was placed in foster care, but vanished when three older foster children killed their host Belle Bliss. Cade learns that Frank Bliss blamed the foster kids (Gus Vanellato, Dianna "Beauty" Lintz, and Addilene "Wart" Wartinski) for killing his mother. The ex-cop meets guilt-laden social worker Wayne Grover who offers little. After talking with Wart's sterile aunt, Cade visits Beauty's dying mom who regrets not marrying her daughter's father, who owns a nearby resort Star Lake. The sleuth travels to the resort where he meets Addy "Wart" Michaels. To their mutual shock Cade and Addy fall in love, but a final confrontation between all the survivors is coming. Readers will commiserate with the intriguing lead heroine and understand Cade's shock to find he is attracted to a woman for the first time since his wife died. Cade's investigation is fabulous to follow as he step by step traces Beauty and Wart. Although the killer comes out of nowhere and Frank is too much an idiot to easily tracks the vanished trio while professional sleuths failed, fans will enjoy this tense romantic suspense. And seek other works by E.C. Sheedy (see PERFECT EVIL and ROOM 33).

Wild for You
Suzanne Gray
ISBN: 0821775715 $5.99

The three high school teachers, Annie Peterson, Jillian Morgan, and Lisa Carlisle agree to find jobs over the Christmas holidays to break the monotony. They also agree that any of the trio who fails to obtain work must treat the other two to an expensive dinner at a fancy French restaurant. Math teacher Annie has had nothing exciting occur in two years since she broke up with Mark. She accepts work as a delivery person of strip-o-grams for the Naughty or Nice Messenger Service. Her first assignment is to provide a message to divorced Dalton Stoner in a snowstorm, but her car gets stuck in an embankment. Dalton invites Annie to stay with him until the roads become passable, but is shocked that his dogs welcome the stranger. Soon they fall in love pushed together by his matchmaking sisters. Though it is difficult to accept a teacher moonlighting as a "stripper" (the three musketeers should take a vacation in a tropical climate) fans will enjoy this amusing tale because Annie and Dalton are likable protagonists caught by fate in a strange situation. The story line starts inane, but turns nicely after the lead couple meets. The support cast enhances understanding of the dynamic duet as contemporary readers will be wild for Suzanne Gray's fine story once they and the plot overcome the opening tease.

A Rogue in a Kilt
Sandy Blair
ISBN: 082177767X $5.99

In 1410 Scotland, Duncan MacDougall bets his best friend Sir Angus MacDougall that the latter cannot find a wife in three months. If Angus succeeds Duncan will give him the keys to Donaliegh; if he fails he owes his pal six months in "knight" pay. To obtain a castle, Angus figures marriage is worth the price though he would prefer not to wed anyone. However, as the clock ticks, Angus soon learns how difficult obtaining a wife truly is as no one seems to want him. As he continues his quest, he tries to protect a young woman from a wolf, but she moves and his knife hits her. He soon learns that he has wounded Birdalani a healer who is friends with the wolf. As she heals she agrees to a handfast to Angus so that he can earn his title. To the shock of Angus and Birdalani both want to make their arrangement permanent as they have fallen in love, but neither will say so out of fear of rejection even as they trek to their new home together. A ROGUE IN KILT is an amusing medieval romance starring two delightful protagonists. The storyline never takes itself seriously as Sandy Blair shows a flair for tongue in cheek. Readers will laugh with Angus' constant rejections even from hard up females until he meets Birdalani. She knows they belong tighter as she is more than just a gifted healer, but does not want to show her skills for fear she will drive him off though the future reads otherwise to her. This is a fun historical romance that those who enjoy a more lighthearted romp will appreciate.

Degrees of Separation
Karen Wiesner and Chris Spindler
Quiet Storm
ISBN: 0974408441 $26.95, 297 pp.

Andre Trelawney opens up Danse de Minuit, a classy French club that the locals call a strip joint, in Falcon's Bend, Wisconsin. He keeps his dancers under tight rein with the performers residing under his roof and not allowed to leave the premises without an escort guard. One of the dancers Teresa is found strangled to death under a bridge in Witmer Park. Police Lieutenant Pete Shasta and his partner Detective Danny Vincent investigate the first murder in town in over a year and that incident was a DUI. They interview Andre who the cops conclude is hiding something although he seems to have an airtight alibi. They talk with the wife of the club owner and follow that up with questioning the surviving dancers (Lacey, Cherry, Deidre, Sugar and Vanessa). The case seems to go nowhere as the detectives dig into the background of the club employees and employer seeking a motive. DEGREES OF SEPARATION is a terrific police procedural with detectives struggling to uncover who and why. Pete is a fabulous focus to the fine plot as he worries that his second wife will dump him like his first spouse did because he works long diligent hours on the case instead of on her. His partner adds depth with his big city cynical outlook though under thirty (five years in the Big Apple will do that). The dancers have unique personalities and Andre is a way out antagonist who has no apparent reason to kill the victim. Though the twist is obvious and overused, sub-genre fans will appreciate this tense one sitting Falcon's Bend offering.

Mirror rorriM
Karen Wiesner
Hard Shell Factory
ISBN: 0759945748 $14.95

Fourteen years ago clairvoyant Gwen Nicholson-Nelson was pregnant when her husband a NASCAR Circuit champion died. Each year since Tommie's death, Milwaukee based small press A Star is Born Biographies asks Gwen for permission to write a biography about her late spouse. Through her gift, Gwen never even opens their letter; her daughter Allison watches her throw it out. Gwen works as a counselor with troubled teenage boys. Her current client, Kyle, is in danger from the clairvoyant Other that has taken control of his mind and influencing his actions. The Other is more powerful than Gwen is with the skill to conceal or reveal to the latter at will. Allison convinces her mother to allow the writing of the biography of her father, but Gwen agrees only if author Dylan Mitchell writes the book. Having never forgotten his one night with Gwen before she married, widower Dylan accepts the assignment hoping for a second chance; he and his teenage daughter Randa move into Gwen's mansion to work on the biography. Soon the Other enters Randa's mind with only Gwen to keep her safe. Mirror rorriM is a terrific one sitting second chance at love psychological thriller that keeps the audience on the edge of their seats anticipating a final confrontation. The key to the romance and to the psychological kinetic suspense is the cast. Readers fully understand what has and does motivate Dylan and Gwen, and to a lesser degree the Other, teens, family members, a friend, and the late Tommie without slowing down the action-packed plot. Karen Wiesner gets inside the minds of her audience with the fabulous book 3 of the Wounded Warrior series (see RELUCTANT HEARTS and WAITING FOR AN ECLIPSE).

The Rottweiler
Ruth Rendell
ISBN: 1400051908 $25.00

In London, the first victim had a bite on her neck so the media dubbed the killer "The Rottweiler", but that is so far from the truth about this murderer for the next two fatalities failed to include the bite. Instead the serial killer uses a garrote on his or her prey and takes an object from the deceased. Somehow these objects end up in Inez Ferry's antique shop. The police investigate everyone associated with Inez especially the boarders who reside in a home owned by Inez. Still the killer is clever making no mistakes as the count rises and the collectables show up in her shop. Inez wonders which one of her boarders, friends, or customers is the Rottweiler as she decides she must uncover this serial killer who has made her life a notorious mess before he or she adds her to the count? The incredible cast including a gloomy London that feels like a Ripper scenario makes this serial killer novel fill the audience with tension that never eases up even when the tale is finished. Several individuals seem sane yet on edge, which obviously can be a result of the murder spree in their neighborhood, but also leads readers and Inez to wonder which one is the killer although the former will not rule out the latter though the culprit appears to be a male. Fans of intense taut thrillers will appreciate Ruth Rendell's atmospheric murder mystery.

The Celebrity
Robert Elmer
ISBN: 1578567416 $12.99, 304 pp.

Internationally renowned singer Jamie D. Lane performs the show of his life live from England, but near the end of the TV broadcast feels a need to see his dying mom. Jamie thinks back to fifteen years ago when his single mom worked as a hotel maid because she believed her beloved son had the "gift" of voice. He heads to Los Angeles to say goodbye though his mom will not know him due to advanced Alzheimer's. Miraculously she asks Jamie to take her home in Riverdale, Washington where her family lived and died. Jamie needs to do this for his mom and for himself so he takes her ashes to be buried in Riverdale, but first cuts his highly recognizable long haired golden mane. In Riverdale, he uses the guise of Bradley. He meets middle school teacher Anne Stewart, who still recovers from a drunken driver smashing into her at 55 MPH. Soon Anne and Jamie fall in love, but he fears what will happen when she learns that he hid his real identity that of a celebrity from her. If you have not read the inspirational tales of Robert Elmer you are missing a rousing treat. His latest tale stars two weary and wary people carry baggage. Their growing relationship makes for a fine DUET as each begins to realize what they lacked, caring for someone else who also nurtures them. Though actions by Jamie's manager seem to add unneeded suspense, Mr. Elmer provides a character driven inspiring tale that glues heart and soul.

Calendar Girl
Naomi Neale
Dorchester Making It
ISBN: 0843954701 $12.95

In New York City, Nan Cloutier believes she is the ideal calendar girl pin-up not because she is Playboy perfect, but because she obtains holiday jobs. Her current temporary work is posing as Cindy-Lou Who at the Merrier-Iverson Department Store Christmas interactive display. When she lies about being proficient in French to avoid window duty, Nan meets store owner Mr. Iverson, but her actions leads to the gentle elderly man breaking his leg. Her former employer offers her a job to baby-sit his grandson Colm. Needing the money with Christmas over, she accepts. When she meets Colm, he is her age and believes she is a hooker. Mr. Iverson explains he was matchmaking because he believes these two delightful youngsters are good for one another. Colm courts Nan, but her personal life is overfilled as she feels she must save her former college boyfriend and fellow member of the Elizabethan Failures Society from an English invader. Still Colm keeps the pressure on and they fall in love even as their respective families try making them over rather than letting them make it. This is an amusing Manhattan chick lit romance starring a delightful lead female protagonist and a fabulous secondary cast. The story line never takes itself seriously as Nan and cohorts struggles with life, but refuse to believe they are failures. Colm provides a wonderful newcomer into her circle though she wonders if he is a deadly virus or her forever soul mate. Chick lit and contemporary romance readers will laugh with Naomi Neale's naughty and nice tale of a Who who finds love.

Guardian of Honor
Robin D Owens
ISBN 0373802153 $13.95, 496 pp.

On the world of Amee in the land of Lladrana, a magical force warded the realm so that monsters would not be able to enter. Now parts of the fence are dying, leaving gaps in the protective shield; monsters are entering and the powerful group of mages, the Marshals, fights them. They don't know how to make the dead fence posts come back to life so they summon an Exotique (a person from Earth) who will have the power to rebuild the fence. Alexa Fitzwater, a woman without friends, steps through the magical arch and into Lladrana where she is immediately tested by the Marshals to see if she has the power they need. She meets their requirements and because she needs to be wanted, allows them to train her in magic so she can battle the monsters and fix the fence. She becomes involved with the Chevalier Bastien who wants her to stay with him. He becomes a Marshal something he swore he would never to so he could become a shield to Alexa's sword. The upcoming battle will decide the future of the realm and where Alexa considers home. Robin D Owens has written a fantastic fantasy that makes the realm of Lladrana come alive in the reader's mind because the author deeply describes the locale so well. Alexa has spent her life in foster homes and her only friend died in a car accident, leaving her yearning to find a place to belong. The people of Lladrana need her and her lover wants to bond with her so she can never leave him. GUARDIAN OF HONOR is a spellbinding romantic fantasy.

Shadows of Myth
Rachel Lee
ISBN: 0373802129 $13.95, 400 pp.

She awakens in a field of corpses with no memory of who she is, where she came from, or how she got there. Archer, a man cursed with immortality, and his friends Giri and Ratha find her and the dead child she is carrying. He takes her to Bandylegs Inn in Whitewater where she recovers her ability to speak and recalls her name is Tess Birdsong. The innkeeper's daughter Sara, Tess, and the three men who found her sense something evil is coming for her. Winter arrives unnaturally early and the townsfolk go hungry. Tess and her new friends along with Sara' wannabe lover Tom travel together in hopes of learning who she is, but are stunned to find a ghost town whose crops and food supply was poisoned. Rumors are heard that a powerful mage gathers those with Ildwin blood to harness their power in a quest to conquer the world. He apparently is calling Tess to come to him, but Sara hears him too. The magnificent six knows they must battle the malevolent mage, but remain clueless that beyond this dimension the Chained One uses the evil sorcerer as a puppet for his mysterious malignant purposes. SHADOW OF MYTH is a fantastic fantasy set in a world where magic exists. The six champions are strong souls; Tom and Sara and Archer and Tess are delightful couples who work well together although Archer remains a bit of an enigma as he hides his true feelings for a woman more powerful than he is. Rachel lee, known for her terrific romantic suspense tales, provides a wonderful good vs., evil fantasy.

Forgotten Justice
Lois Richer
Heart Quest
ISBN: 0842364374 $10.99

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police found John in at a roadside badly beaten up. He has no memory who he is or anything else about himself. Since he is not injured besides some bruises and amnesia, the cops take him to Camp Hope where he can recuperate. At the camp, John Riddle as he is now called displays incredible computer skills. He is also attracted to wheelchair bound Christa Anderson, sister of the owner of the camp. Christa announces to John she will be leaving the camp to end her years of dependency since her teenage accident left her a paraplegic; he is stunned by her determination and courage, but also hurt because she is his hope for the future. Still he encourages her to go. John looks at a hateful Internet site the Society for Order and thinks something bad will happen on October 29 less than two months away. John would rather die than bring anything dangerous from his past on his beloved Christa and her family, but he may be too late. FORGOTTEN JUSTICE is an engaging romantic suspense in which the danger subplot comes in late, but readers will not care as the romance between the two lead protagonists is brilliantly and simmering established so that the audience cares about this likable pair. They and her brother and his wife are a fine group that deserve the best out of life, but will soon find out the menace that a despaired John fears he brought to Camp Hope. Lois Richer provides a delightful contemporary tale starring two intrepid walking wounded refusing to allow anything to interfere with their love for one another.

What Goes Around Comes Around
Cornelius Lehane
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312322984 $23.95, 304 pp.

Brian McNulty is a bartender at Manhattan's Midtown Sheraton when an old friend Big John Wolinsky, a regional Sheraton manager, arrives in town ostensibly to fire his crony. The third member of the "three musketeers" Greg Phillips arrives at the bar. Greg is surprised to learn Brian works there, but says nothing further except he sounds in trouble. Big John says he has no plans to give the pink slip to his buddy, but his friends clearly have designs to use him because they went through a murderous lot together over a dozen years ago in Atlantic City at the Dockside before each one quit. Big John reassigns Brian to serve as the bar manger at the Ocean Club. On his first day at the club, a body in a tux is floating in the East River. Detective Sergeant Sheehan leads the investigation, but immediately assumes that Brian is lying and involved. Brian is involved though he has no idea why as he is threatened and shot at; worse he thinks Big John knows, but is not talking. This satirical New York who-done-it is fun to read due to the amusing asides and soliloquies provided by a somewhat overwhelmed Brian as he learns a life lesson that unless one remains a solitary drinker, WHAT GOES AROUND COMES AROUND. Trying to help his pals especially Big John, Brian becomes the target though he has no idea why, what he is doing, or wants to silent him. Though his involvement with no help from his friends comes across after a while as watered down gin, fans of mirthful Manhattan murder mysteries will appreciate his wisecracking investigative style.

The Myriad
R.M. Meluch
ISBN: 0756402794 $23.95, 320 pp.

The Roman Empire never really died; it just went underground waiting and gathering its forces so that when it emerges it will be a power to be reckoned with. That time came when FTL space flight because a reality and the Roman Empire reemerged on the distant planet of Palatine. Earth and Palatine engaged in an on and off again war for almost two centuries until a common enemy united them in an uneasy truce. The Hive is sweeping across the galaxy, eating everything that crosses its path and actually seeking inhabited planets for its meals. The US. Merrimack is charged with finding the Hive home world and destroying it. While on its mission the crew finds THE MYRIAD, three inhabited worlds in a globular cluster; colony worlds settled by a non-Terran humanoid race. The inhabitants of these worlds travel through space using wormholes where time and space are twisted. After making first contact, the Merrimack leaves and is attacked by a swarm of the hive. After two very intense battles, the Merrimack is called back to the Myriad because their use of the wormholes is causing the cluster to collapse; a planetary leader's plan will mean the destruction of the three inhabited worlds. THE MYRIAD, the first book in the tour of the Merrimack, is terrific military science fiction. The crew of the Merrimack are believable and likable especially Captain Farragut, who care about the men and women under his command. R.M. Meluch provides intense battle scenes and vivid descriptions of their aftermath in such a way that readers feel for the man and women risking their lives against an almost unstoppable enemy while also eagerly awaiting the next book in this series.

Heir of Stone
S.L. Farrell
ISBN 0756402549 $24.95, 468 pp.

Lamh Shabhala is the master cloch (a magical stone) that gives its wearer tremendous power. Jenna MacEgan is the First Holder and the queen of the Irish Thuaildh hated and feared by the royals who resent the power she wields over them even though they possess clochs albeit weaker ones than Jenna. The aristocracy also detests her daughter Meriel the healer because she heals many commoners instead of her own kind. Jenna's brother Doyle believes he should be First Holder and King; he enters into a conspiracy that successfully kills Jenna and Meriel and other family members except Sevei, Kayne and Ennis. Sevei wears Lamh Shabhala while her uncle is crowned king. The commoners revolt because they know he killed their beloved Meriel. While Civil War threatens the kingdom, the Arruk, sentient monsters with powers equal to the cloch wearers are ready to attack the humans. If the humans fail to band together under the command of Kayne who wields the power of a strong Cloch and has fought the Arruk, they will suffer death and an end to their empire. Sevei joins the battle but it is hard for her since Ennis fights on the side of the Arruk. HEIR OF STONE is an action packed swords and sorcery novel and the best of the marvelous cloud mages series. The battles scenes are every bit as exciting and imaginable as those found in THE LORD OF THE RINGS. Kayne is the character that is most dynamic as he changes from a warrior to a great leader of armies. The political intrigues and plots are a different kind of warfare where everyone loses. S.L. Farrell has written a series that rivals the works of Terry Brooks.

Peter Crowther (editor)
ISBN: 0756402344 $6.99, 320 pp.

This fifteen set anthology written by British authors is a solid outer space compilation that has in common one other thread beside the national gene tree; in some manner the short stories relate to the CONSTELLATIONS seen from our planet so that the book contains short stories beyond MOON SHOTS and MARS PROBES. The tales run the gamut from afterlife to AIs to dreams (or nightmares depending on your perspective) that comes true etc. The writers provided a host of different perspectives so that the audience obtains a fun collection with no two stories alike and none weak. All new stories, Peter Crowther has put together a five star anthology that will enhance his reputation for editing fine off planetary collections.

Ordinary Springs
Lenore Hart
ISBN: 0425200051 $14.00, 385 pp.

In Ordinary Springs, Florida, sixteen years old Dory Camber has lived with her father Owen, owner of a hardware store ever since her mother Vera deserted the two of them when she was an infant. Dory ponders that Vera vanished after reading a bedtime story to her. She questions to herself why her dad buried her mother's clothing and what happened between her parents and their neighbors, who are barely civil? Though her father shows no affection, Dory believes that he exclusively loves her since she has noticed how he ignores the overtures of the town female population. However, her belief that she is numero uno dies when the Yankee invaders move in next door. While Frank Fitzgerald is a bedridden veteran, his wife Myra and Owen make love in another room. Frank commits suicide with Dory's unintentional assistance. Not long afterward Owen and Myra agree to marry. Distraught and betrayed, Dory makes love with her childhood pal, steals cash from her dad's store, but, the sheriff arrests her for her assisted suicide role. Reform school is next for the pregnant sixteen years old. Though soap opera in theme ORDINARY SPRINGS is a delightful coming of age 1950s tale that brings across 1950s Florida. The story line stars a teenager whose grip on reality is weak, but further torn asunder when her dad turns to Myra. The support cast to include her first lover, her father, the neighbors, and her missing mother help the audience understand the demons that eat at a beleaguered Dory's soul. Fans of historical family dramas will appreciate this fine novel whose lead protagonist is the heart that makes the plot worth reading.

Ted Dekker
ISBN: 0849917921 $19.99, 352 pp.

The older Thomas Hunter was killed by a terrorist who threatens the world with a virus unless the nations hand him full control of nuclear weapons. Only Thomas can save the earth from this madman, who has unleashed pandemic consequences, but he has been dead for three days; there seems no hope left for mankind. The younger Thomas Hunter lives on a much less technological earth than the one he has just died on. Here he leads counterinsurgency efforts against the Scarabs in an attempt to gain religious freedom for his people. However, war has put this earth on the brink of annihilation with disease spreading pandemic. In spite of terrific savior efforts by Thomas's fellow compatriots Elyon and Justin, this Thomas knows ultimately he must be the one to save his people here and go to sleep and awaken on the other earth to save that sphere. This is a terrific conclusion to the fabulous "The Circle" trilogy as Thomas continues his efforts to save two worlds against overwhelming odds. The action-packed story line is loaded with surprising twists as deadly chaos has become the norm on the two planes that the champion bridges through his dreams. A special love between Elyon and Justin adds a human element to the countdown of the seemingly end of days on the twofold earths. Ted Dekker bows out with a fabulous finale that will have readers of epic fantasy with Christian overtones demanding more such works as this author will be colored as one of the sub-genre's leading lights.

The Way Out: A True Story of Ruin and Survival
Craig Childs
Little, Brown
ISBN: 0316610666 $23.95

Craig Childs and Dirk Vaughn have trekked together the United States for ten years, but as they drive in Utah to their latest starting point feels different. The plan is to hike the canyons of the American Southwest deserts where practically nothing lives for two weeks. Both men understand theoretically the danger of this quest as they carry as much food with them as possible because living off the land is impossible as even vegetation is scarce. This is survivor at its fittest as Craig and Dirk know maps are not very specific, the terrain is unfriendly, and they have no exit strategy. On the wilderness journey, the men think back to what led them to this seemingly insane potentially deadly trip especially when they see early on the bleached bones of someone who failed to make it. Each reflects on their past: fights in bars and insane risk taking culminating with a need to prove themselves. Both the journey and the surprising flashbacks grip the audience who take each dangerous step along aside the two explorers. Displaying candor Craig Childs pulls no punches as he exposes himself and Dirk to the scrutiny of true life tale advocates for he could have hidden the background and told a tale of two intrepid men undertaking the quest in a Sir Edmund Hilary context of it is there. Instead genre readers obtain a powerful biographical adventure tale that will haunt readers when they follow the why of needing the cleansing of the souls.

Do You Come Here Often?
Alexandra Potter
ISBN: 0743470338 $13.00, 384 pp.

In London, her live in fiance divorce attorney Spencer wakes up Grace Silverstein to wish her a happy thirty-first birthday forty-five valuable minutes before she has to get up to go to work. Spencer informs her that he is been busy on a case that goes to court tomorrow so he did not buy her a present; he offers her cash to purchase something from him. Grace wonders if after two years engaged and four years together if Spencer is Mr. Wrong for her. Also thirty-one half Indian half Irish journalist Jimi Malik questions whether he is ready for marriage though he is engaged to Kylie. Jimi and Grace meet; they immediately recognize one another because thirteen years ago they both of them had sex for the first time. As they begin to see each other and fall in love, Grace and Jimi know they must end their respective engagements, but also question whether they should commit to a new one. This engaging contemporary romance is more second chance at love than chick lit, but contains plenty of the amusing asides that are a staple of the latter sub-genre. The story line focuses on the likable Grace who ponders how Mr. Right seems more like Mr. Wrong. Adding to her doubts, besides the good intentioned but clueless Spencer's procrastination in his personal life, is meeting her first lover. The key support cast (Jimi, Spencer, and Kylie) are likable protagonists, but the amazing Grace will bring readers coming often to works by Alexandra Potter (see CALLING ROMEO).

Hit Reply
Rocki St. Claire
ISBN: 0743486242 $13.00, 320 pp.

Twenty-eight years old Bostonian Amber Fleece is doing well at work but her personal life is lower than the Big Dig. Desperate and bored with the Ivy League crowd she has been seeing for eons, Amber decides to go back to her happiest moment with males: her prom night. She registers with seeking Gray McDermott though she learns he is blue collar. Stephanie "Stevie Wonder Woman" Hilliard used to be Amber's boss, but became an Orlando mother of two. She loves her darlings, but is bored especially since her husband Brent is never home always traveling with his young beautiful assistant. When she receives an interesting email from Tony Markoff, a blast from her past, Stevie begins an on-line affair, but wonders if that is cheating and if so is that equal to her husband's seeming fling. Amber's administrative assistant Julie Desmond is recently divorced while also suffering from empty nest syndrome as her son has left for college. She becomes independent as she grows on the job and meets a former boyfriend via the Internet. HIT REPLY is a powerful character study that looks at three women in varying phases in their lives yet with similar problems and the influence of the Internet on their relationships. The audience gets a first hand look at the prime trio through predominately their email exchanges. Fans will enjoy this instant communication winner that provides focus on what the Net is doing to people as well as asking psychological questions as to whether it fosters closeness and communication or isolationism and hiding. Rocki St. Claire has provided a fabulous look at the impact of the communication revolution on her three likable protagonists.

The Long Way Home
Sarah Storme
Five Star
ISBN: 1594143064 $26.95, 251 pp.

Allie Tate is stunned when her spouse Rick turns angry because she wants to work part-time. Rick makes it clear no wife of his will work before he storms off to his office. Feeling bad, Allie goes to visit Rick at Tate's Kids preschool, which he owns, only to see him naked with his secretary. Rick blames her for showing up. Stunned Allie flees ending up with a broken down car and stuck at the prophetic Last Chance Bar with no money or credit in Rocky Butte, Colorado. Veterinarian Sam Calvert takes a drunken Allie to his home. The next day he offers her a job assisting him, which she accepts. As Sam and Allie begin to fall in love, his fifteen year old daughter Tracy arrives from California for her annual summer visit. While Sam has relational troubles with his daughter, Allie knows she must tell her beloved that she is married; she fears his reaction because he strongly believes in honesty and divorced his first wife for cheating on him. THE LONG WAY HOME is an interesting contemporary romance starring two likable protagonists (though Sam may be a bit too perfect). The secondary characters are fabulous. His daughter is a struggling teen pulled in separate directions by her parents while Rick is the ultimate control freak. Finally the animals (especially a pregnant horse who commiserates with Allie) augment a fine tale of a woman finding freedom amidst the "hillbillies".

Pier Pressure
Dorothy Francis
Five Star
ISBN 1594142718 $25.95, 306 pp.

In Key West, Keely Moreno is the only foot reflexologist on the island; she takes patients in her office but for special clients she makes house calls. When Keely arrives at Margaux Ashford's house, she finds her client dead from a bullet, a gun in her hand. The police question Keely extensively but won't say if the rich civic minded woman was murdered or committed suicide. Keely is friendly with the children of Margaux's husband, Jess and Punt; the trio agrees to look for suspects. The matter becomes urgent for the reflexologist because ballistics show Margaux was shot with Keely's gun and the alibi of Margaux's husband fails to check out. Keely believes her abusive ex-husband is the guilty party because she and her grandmother saw him following her despite a restraining order. When a fire burns down the house she is living in Keely thinks her former spouse has something to do with it because she spotted him in the crowd and he left evidence behind. Punt isn't at all certain he's the perpetrator and insists they keep investigating, a move that almost costs Keely her life. PIER PRESSURE is a fantastic amateur sleuth tale with equal attention given to characterizations and the investigation. Keely is a vulnerable yet courageous woman trying to start life over after being beaten continuously by her ex-husband. Although he is stalking her, there is no direct evidence linking him to the murder so readers will wonder who the perpetrator really is and keep reading to find out. Dorothy Francis is a talented writer and this reviewer will be on the lookout for her next mystery.

Death and the Walking Stick
Linda Berry
Five Star
ISBN 1410402096 $25.95, 262 pp.

There isn't much violent crime in the Georgia town Ogeechee (pop 3,000) so when octogenarian Althea Boatright runs over Charles Sykes of Jesup, Georgia the police think it is an accident due to poor eyesight, poor motor coordination and her dog sleeping on the gas pedal. They yank her license but don't put her in jail. A few days later Althea is found dead in her home; chief of police Henry Huckabee concludes she fell and hit her head against the bathtub. One of Althea's friends feels that she was murdered because the walking stick she always used was nowhere near her body and the one in the house was not owned by the deceased. Police officer Trudy Roundtree listens to the women, especially her boss's mother and concludes they might be right. Althea was not on good terms with her son and daughter-in-law who feel they were cheated in his father's will because he left everything to his wife. Further investigation finds that the car accident might have been homicide; to find the killer requires setting a dangerous trap. Linda Berry has written a charming down home cozy that displays life in a small southern town. Trudy is a dedicated police officer who protects and serves the community but listens to the theory put forth by Althea's friends that she was murdered. When she believes they have a point, she convinces her boss to let her investigate and finds evidence to support their claims. DEATH AND THE WALKING STICK showcases the talent of the author whose tale rivals the best of superstars like Leslie Glass and Susan Wittig Albert.

The Debt
Thomas Brennan
Five Star
ISBN: 1594142769 $25.95, 252 pp.

Horror author Carl Shaw joins New York Police Officers Steve Burnett and Sam Hollis on mobile patrol. When the cops stop for a sandwich at Lazzini's Deli, a robber shoots both cops. Carl takes out an illegal hidden gun and kills the criminal. Afterward, Carl tells Detective Mendez that he grabbed the gun from the ground where the shooter dropped it when Steve shot him. Mendez tells Steve that the gun was used in a murder of college student Sarah Westlake last year in Eastham, Vermont, Carl's hometown. Before talking with Mendez, Steve needs to know the truth. On leave, Steve travels to Vermont, but as he investigates the case takes a strange turns. Files are missing at the periodical Eastham Courier; the link between Sarah and Carl surface; finally he accidentally meets Carl's wife in a bar. Though still sore from his injury Steve seeks the truth because if Carl is the killer he must tell Mendez what came down at the deli; if he is not a murderer, silence is golden. More a private investigative tale than a police procedural, THE DEBT is an intriguing personnel drama as Steve believes he owes a great debt to Carl, but if the author is a killer does he turn him in or if he stays quite pay his tab. The action-packed story line moves forward rather quickly whether it takes place on the streets of New York or small town Vermont. The support cast (in both settings) consists of a fine secondary group, but this thriller belongs to the hero facing an increasingly difficult dilemma.

James Patrick Hunt
Five Star
ISBN: 1594142726 $25.95, 244 pp.

Closing in on forty, Evan Maitland is co-owner of Collette's Antiques, a store that specializes in seventeenth and eighteenth century French and Italian furnishings. In spite of this being a younger man's game; Evan also works as a bounty hunter for Chicago bails bondsman Charlie Mead. Charlie asks Evan to bring back lawyer Barry McDermott who skipped the Windy City with a $300, K bond to free him from jail as he is charged with statutory rape having sex with a fifteen years old. Evan tracks Barry to Oklahoma City, but before he can bring the jumper home, the Jamaican Raetown posse of "Jim" Collins arrives to kill Barry and to recover the $800,000 he failed to launder. In a shootout, Barry and a Jamaican Richard Lawes die while Evan is wounded. Back home recuperating, Jim informs his other two posse members they must clean up the Oklahoma City mess by killing the surviving witness. MAITLAND is a terrific urban noir starring a tough in your face hero. He shows his grit and intelligence whenever he is chasing a jumper. The exciting story line is action-packed caused by the star; Evan is at his best bringing in those who have fled their court date rather than the exhilarating High Noon showdown with the posse. Hopefully, Maitland ignores his promise to his antiques partner Bianca to concentrate on their business and continues to chase down skippers. An anthology of his cases would make quite a plum for suspense readers.

With Violets
Elizabeth Robards
Five Star
ISBN: 1410402223 $26.95, 317 pp.

In 1868 in the Louvre, Berthe Morisot practices painting by copying the masters. Usually she is accompanied by her sister and her mother, but today she is alone except for her friend Rosalie Riesener. Another friend, Monsieur Fantin joins the two young women and introduces them to renowned artist Edouard Manet. He flirts with Berthe and even changes her drawing slightly though she lectures him for doing so. Berthe is attracted to Edouard, but is horrified to learn her new admirer is married to pianist Suzanne. The budding female artist also meets Edouard's brother Eugene; soon the siblings compete for the affection of Berthe. Will she choose the single brother, the famous married brother, or neither brother? WITH VIOLETS is an intriguing work of fiction that provides insight into an interesting late nineteenth century artist (Berthe that is) and her relationships with the Manet brothers. Berthe is the focus of the story line as she seems attracted to Edouard but ultimately marry Eugene. Did she love Edouard or was that hero worship? Genre fans will gain a taste for Left Bank Paris during the impressionist period as Elizabeth Robards paints a delightful portrait of an impressionist artist ahead of her times.

Witch Honour
Narelle M. Harris
Five Star
ISBN 1594142831 $25.95, 337 pp.

Although she was trained as a doctor, Magda and a shuttle pilot entered a nexus, emerged into another dimension and landed on a planet where magic works although the people are afraid of anyone who demonstrates they have the ability. Magda sets herself up as the healer in the town of Tunston. When Tephee's mother throws her out for being a witch Magda takes her in and she welcomes Sylvia and Leenan who are also witches. A troupe of players come to town and two of them Kiedrych and Tamalan served King Armand before he was disposed by his cousin Saebert and his paramour, the evil witch Zuleika. When Sylvia magically touches Zuleika, she realizes the witch has to be killed before she conquers more territory. They find Armand and encourage him to battle Saebert's forces while she and her three witch friends take care of Zuleika. There are four protagonists in WITCH HONOUR and all of them are treated equally so that readers know their strengths, weaknesses, and fears. Magda never had magic until she landed in this new land but there is something about it that allows it to flourish. Those who have it don't tread an easy path because of the animosity of people who have no magic. Narelle M. Harris has written some fantastic strategy sessions as the allies plot to dispose the usurper. The battle scenes are great and the secondary characters also play a major role in romance and comic relief scenarios.

Ghosts of Eden
T.M. Gray
Five Star
ISBN 1594143048 $25.95, 266 pp.

After five years in a mental institution, Saxon Faraday returns home to Roquefort Manor in Bar Harbor, Mount Desert Island off the coast of Maine. It is not a happy homecoming for the twenty-three year old woman because her father is dead, killed by Saxon in self defense and her mother is in Florida with no plans of seeing her troubled daughter. That is bad enough but she returns home knowing she must still battle the Serpent, an evil entity, who has made the house a magnet for ghosts and spirits. The Serpent is very much aware that Saxon has come home and is waiting to capture her soul along with the other seven he has in his possession. He is ready to molt and transform himself and he needs Saxon to make his metamorphous complete. Saxon is stubborn and intends to go to war with the Serpent; she has two allies to help her, a mentally challenged sixteen year old and a man nearly a century old. If they lose, Earth as people knows it will never be the same. GHOSTS OF EDEN is a very scary horror novel, one that would easily make a great movie. Readers hearts go out to the heroine who suffered so much yet is still willing to battle an evil older than time. The action starts almost from the very first page and continues at a breathtaking pace until the bittersweet finale. T.M. Gray has talent and will one day be one of the superstars of the genre if this book is any indication.

John F. Merz
Five Star
ISBN: 1594142564 $25.95 300 pp.

Former US Air Force Commando Jake Thunder remains paralyzed during an incident in Somalia, but he believes he will one day walk again though the medical profession tells him otherwise. Using a wheelchair to get around Boston, Jake runs a private investigative firm. Beautiful and wealthy Mrs. Vanessa Patterson wants to hire Jake, but is stunned by his wheelchair and his sarcasm. Still she employs him to find out who killed her sister Melinda who was estranged from the family. The police have not anything done anything involving the case writing it off as not worth the effort. Jake with the help of his friend Homicide Detective Frank McCloskey, makes inquires starting with Melinda's sleazy boyfriend Don Woolery. This engaging private investigative tale stars a terrific unique optimist who refuses to allow his physical impairment from making the rounds and doing his job. The who-done-it is engaging as Jake cajoles his police pal to "help" him with insider information. Jake's wise cracking is amusing although how he keeps a client is questionable because who would want to pay someone tearing off your skin in double entendres. Fans of strong detective tales will enjoy this fine story due to the inspirational protagonist.

Creatures of the Empire
Virginia Dejohn Anderson
ISBN: 0195158601 $37.50, 322 pp.

The underlying premise that Virginia Dejohn Anderson's terrific book makes is that animals have been key driving forces in human history; that argument has been used in other books such as Jeffrey Lockwood's LOCUST: THE DEVASTATING RISE AND MYSTERIOUS DISAPPEARANCE OF THE INSECT THAT SHAPED THE AMERICAN FRONTIER and GRASSHOPPER DREAMING. Ms. Anderson provides an intriguing and entertaining case that farm animals (cattle, pigs, and sheep) are as critical to American History as apple pie, Pilgrims, and Founding Fathers. CREATURES OF THE EMPIRE argues using historical references and interesting anecdotal examples that livestock changed the landscape especially the relationships between people. She concentrates on Colonial America as she makes the point that domestic farm animals in New England and Virginia were key segments of shaping society and led to conflict over land ownership between the settlers and the Indians. Besides making a strong case in support of her theory, Ms. Anderson's book is a well written easy to pick up and put down thought provoking volume that history buffs will appraise and then argue the fascinating premise over the water cooler.

The Motive
John Lescroart
ISBN 0525948449 $25.95, 400 pp.

When the fire is doused in Paul Hanover's Victorian house in San Francisco the charred bodies of two people are found. Dental records show that they are Paul and his live in lover, but both died from a bullet wound. Inspector sergeant Dan Cuneo is assigned to the case and he zeroes in on Catherine Hanover as the suspect, in part because she rejected his sexual advances. Deputy Chief Inspector Abe Glitsky is asked by the mayor to oversee Cuneo's investigation because Paul was a friend and a heavy contributor to her campaign. Cuneo hates Abe and makes a run around him with the district attorney so they take the case to the grand jury where they hand down an indictment. Caroline asks attorney Dismas Hardy to represent her; he agrees to do so because she was his first love and because he believes she is innocent. He has his work cut out for him because the prosecution has an overwhelming amount of circumstantial evidence that shows Caroline had means, opportunity, and motive to kill her father in law and his lover. John Lescroart has written a fabulous thriller that starts with the intense investigation and ends with a shocking climax in a courtroom; thus this exciting drama contains equal parts police procedural and legal thriller. THE MOTIVE is a mesmerizing reading experience that will satisfy fans of both sub-genres. The courtroom scenes are particularly gripping; especially when Dismas cross examines the prosecution witnesses.

Elizabeth Bear
ISBN: 0553587501 $6.99, 324 pp.

In 2062 Hartford, Connecticut, former Canadian soldier Jenny Casey is feeling the impact of several decades of military service as her reconstructed artificial body parts show their age with the technology wearing out. The last of the fully wired warriors still living, Jenny, though only one month shy of turning fifty, feels death stalks her. Physically hurting and mentally weary, Jenny hides on the means streets from her former employers, calling herself the Maker. Razorface, carrying a HAMMERED teen, kicks at Jenny's door at just past three in the morning. Hyperex, a special drug made exclusively for the American and Canadian armies, has made it to the streets. Kids are dying and though Jenny would prefer to remain in hiding, she reluctantly makes inquiries on the mean streets and on the Internet. This brings her to the attention of those who want her dead and others who want to lab rat her. She has no hope of learning the truth, but Jenny has lived for decades without hope. Soon the investigation turns deadlier and seemingly reaches the higher levels of her government. This is a dark urban noir science fiction starring a fabulous anti-heroine who has no hopes, no dreams, and no future. The cast and the future Internet make readers believe that they are in the latter half of the twenty-first century. The exposing of the conspiracy is fun to follow although readers will have difficulty accepting how relatively easy Jenny obtains information since the highest levels of Canadian government is involved (who was on Cheney's energy taskforce?). Still fans of deep character driven dark futuristic investigative tales along the lines of Philip K. Dick will want to be HAMMERED by Elizabeth Bear.

Cally's War
John Ringo, Julie Cochrane
ISBN: 0743488458 $25.00, 326 pp.

Cally O'Neal virtually grew up on the front lines of the galaxy war with weapons being her prime toys. Five billion are now dead and her father was never home leading the fight against the reptilian invaders. Now an adult, Cally has become a master assassin of the Bane Sidhe warriors while the Galactic Empire rebuilds civilization under the Machiavellian control of the elf like Darhel. After four decades of killing human supporters and puppets of the Darhel, Cally is tired of war and death, but has her new assignment to complete. On Titan Base, Cally is to masquerade as the recently assassinated by her teammates Captain Sinda Makepeace. However, this time the impossible occurs; Cally falls in love with the enemy. Though there is plenty of John Ringo's trademark military action, CALLY'S WAR contains a lot more dark romance than typical of the author (the Cochrane effect?). The story line is action-packed with the terrific Cally serving as the core of the tale as this competent assassin, who learned to cache whatever she needed by the time she was eight, struggles between the beliefs she was nurtured on and falling in love. Fans will appreciate this character driven return to the "Legacy of the Aldenata" universe where the war years are over yet trouble remains.

Charlotte Boyett-Compo
Amber Quill
ISBN: 1592799701 $16.50

After torture as a child and not knowing any nurturing outside of cruelty, Prince Conar of Serenia is loved and returns that deepest of feeling to his wife, Princess Anya "Liza" Elizabeth. Before meeting and falling love with Conar, Liza was a member of the Daughters of the Sea. Together they are a formidable team dedicated to the destruction of the Brotherhood of the Domination. Conar's twin brother Galen wants his sibling dead and Liza by his side. The Brotherhood of the Domination evil sorcerer Kaileel Tohre sees Galen as a pawn to use to regain control of Conar, as he once had when he subjected the lad to his abusive hegemony. He plans to lure Conar back to the Domination's Great Abbey where he ruled supreme over Conar the child. Liza will serve as bait for Conar will risk his life and his freedom to keep her safe even if it means completing the Rite of Passage to become "One of the Chosen" with the powers of the White and the Black Paths. The second tale in the "WindLegends" saga is a fantastic fantasy that as with the first tale, WINDKEEPER, the story line is character driven with an intriguing triangle. Liza and Kaileel "compete" for the "affection" of Conar while Galen wants him dead as he covets his sibling's relationships with the two of them. It is the love-hate that Kaileel and the hate that Galen bring to the plot that turns WINDSEEKER into a unique fabulous tale that can stand alone, but it would behoove the audience to start with the excellent WINDKEEPER to understand the fab four even better.

Dangerous Women
Edited by Otto Penzler
ISBN 044669584X $13.95

Only January and this may be the suspense anthology of the year. All seventeen contributions are top rate, but that should be expected by a virtual genre hall of fame. The title is the theme and these women are dangerous in different ways. Most interesting the tales seem to fit what one would expect by that particular contributor. This is a great collection as the all star list contains names that speak of quality much more reliable than a third party review, enough said. Ed McBain, Michael Connelly, Joyce Carol Oates, Walter Mosley, Laura Lippman, Nelson Demille, Thomas H. Cook, Andrew Klavan, John Connolly, Lorenzo Carcateera, J. A. Jance, Ian Rankin, Jay McInerney, S.J. Rozan, Anne Perry, Elmore Leonard, and Jeffrey Deaver.

Trouble in Paradise
Pip Granger
Poisoned Pen Press
ISBN: 1590581318 $24.95, 328 pp.

Most English are euphoric and celebrated the victory ending World War II. However, Zelda feels the war was a time of personal freedom and safety even when the Blitz terrorized much of the country. Her friend Dilly assumes that Zeld seems depressed because she never felt the impact of war since her Paradise Garden was untouched. Zeld knows that the Hitler's throwing in the towel means her violent spouse Charlie is returning to abuse her. The return of the vets impacts the workplace. New bosses place unreasonable demands on the "temporary" female replacement employees and returning soldiers are displacing women on the job. Thugs battle to take control of gangs with bystanders like Zeld's nephew Tony pulled to join or else. Healer Zinnia Makepeace obtaining singing lessons for Tony in Soho enables Zeld to meet Bert and Maggie Featherby. They provide an opportunity to escape her miserable life if she is courageous enough to leave Charlie. This is a terrific prequel to the fabulous NOT ALL TARTS ARE APPLE as Pip Granger paints quite a different panorama than the normal upbeat England of 1946. The story line uses the characters to provide insight as the war years simply are pushed aside by those who believe a return to normalcy ignores that women proved that they were the greatest generation; Like World War I did for third world people under European rule, World War II did for women; the legacy is their daughters and younger sisters becoming Supreme Court Justices and Prime Ministers. TROUBLE IN PARADISE is a pip of a historical character study that will have fans searching for more works by Ms. Granger.

Away with the Fairies
Kerry Greenwood
Poisoned Pen
ISBN 1590580222 $24.95, 250 pp.

When Marcella Lavender dies, a guilty Detective Inspector Jack Robinson asks private detective Phyrne Fisher to determine whether she died of natural causes or was murdered. Marcella came to him a few weeks ago, showing him threatening letters she received and he told her not to worry because poison pen letter writers usually don't do anything violent. Now he is second guessing himself and wants a second opinion and there is no one he respects more for getting to the bottom of things than Phyrne. Miss Lavender was a writer who produced many books about fairies and was the advice columnist at a progressive woman's magazine Women's Choice. She also has an unexplained monthly income from the Marshall & Company. Nosing around Ms. Lavender's work place and apartment complex, Phyrne learns that she was not well liked and when the autopsy reports show she died of cyanide poisoning the sleuth dives into the investigation with enthusiasm in part to get her mind off her lover Lin Chung who is in a dangerous China currently wracked by turmoil. AWAY WITH THE FAIRIES takes place in 1928 Melbourne starring a rich, young independent heroine with an adventurous spirit who doesn't believe that women should be held down because of their gender. She has the respect of the crusty Detective Inspector and mixes with people of all social classes. The brilliant private investigator makes this tale hum as historical who-done-it readers will take delight with her inquiries into an unpopular victim with several individuals having motives and opportunities but without knowing which one would actually kill. Kerry Greenwood makes it impossible for the audience not to like the charming Phyrne or her investigations.

Homeward My Heart
Judith Pella
Bethany House
ISBN: 0764224247 $13.99, 460 pp.

By 1946, the euphoria felt by World War II ending has changed to dread as a Cold War has gripped the globe. Churchill describes it quite well with his Iron Curtain speech splitting Europe between western democracies and communism. People deal with the aftermath of the global conflict and the new confrontation in different ways. American Cameron sits in a restaurant in Nuremberg, Germany while her beloved husband Alex does likewise in Moscow pretending that they are dining together. The US Embassy has served as an intermediary, but soon afterward Alex is imprisoned in a Soviet prison. Her sister Jackie raises her three and a half years old daughter Emi by herself as her Japanese spouse died during the war. Friends and even family have cut off Jackie and Emi because of the Japanese connection that remains raw. The third sibling Blaine cannot cope with a half-Japanese niece as Emi reminds her of being tortured in the Philippines leading to a miscarriage. However, the three sisters band together with the common goal of freeing Alex from his Soviet prison. HOMEWARD MY HEART is an exciting look at the beginning of the Cold War and the aftermath of World War II on an American family. The story line grips the audience once readers understand that Cameron and Alex are dining "together" at a distance that parallels the coast to coast of the United States. The sisters are delightful as they struggle to find a commonality, which turns out to be the rescue of Alex. Though there are some unrealistic twists, everyone will agree with the siblings of his father when he toasts his wonderful daughters and their melting pot spouses.

Forgotten Justice
Lois Richer
Heart Quest
ISBN: 0842364374 $10.99

The Royal Canadian Mounted Police found John in at a roadside badly beaten up. He has no memory who he is or anything else about himself. Since he is not injured besides some bruises and amnesia, the cops take him to Camp Hope where he can recuperate. At the camp, John Riddle as he is now called displays incredible computer skills. He is also attracted to wheelchair bound Christa Anderson, sister of the owner of the camp. Christa announces to John she will be leaving the camp to end her years of dependency since her teenage accident left her a paraplegic; he is stunned by her determination and courage, but also hurt because she is his hope for the future. Still he encourages her to go. John looks at a hateful Internet site the Society for Order and thinks something bad will happen on October 29 less than two months away. John would rather die than bring anything dangerous from his past on his beloved Christa and her family, but he may be too late. FORGOTTEN JUSTICE is an engaging romantic suspense in which the danger subplot comes in late, but readers will not care as the romance between the two lead protagonists is brilliantly and simmering established so that the audience cares about this likable pair. They and her brother and his wife are a fine group that deserve the best out of life, but will soon find out the menace that a despaired John fears he brought to Camp Hope. Lois Richer provides a delightful contemporary tale starring two intrepid walking wounded refusing to allow anything to interfere with their love for one another.

Convenient Disposal
Steven F. Havill
ISBN: 0312324049 $23.95, 260 pp.

In Posadas County, New Mexico following a volleyball game, middle school students Carmen Acosta and Deena Hurtado got into a fight over Paul Otero. Both fourteen year old girls were suspended. A few days later, Undersheriff Estelle Reyes-Guzman lectures honor student Deena, but also confiscates a potential weapon a sharpened six inch hat pin. Estelle reads Deena the riot act; case closed. Not long after that, Carmen is beaten unconscious with a stab wound to the middle ear that came from a honed hat pin. Estelle has doubts that a skinny young teen could have inflicted the brutal beating. While Carmen is in the hospital, her neighbor County manager Kevin Ziegler vanishes. Estelle notices discrepancies between the image Kevin portrayed to his constituency as effective and efficient on the job and health living off the job; yet she finds evidence that he probably smoked cigarettes and drank alcohol or someone with him did. As Estelle continues to search for the missing administrator she wonders if the vicious teen thrashing is linked to Kevin's disappearance, but how seems elusive. In her third appearance as the lead (retired Sheriff Bill Gaston still makes appearances and provides advice), Estelle proves she is a superstar in her own light as she easily carries the tale. Perhaps the New Mexico setting that Steven F. Havill brings so vividly to light made the transition so smooth; but more likely it is simply the author's talent. The story line is actually different than previous tales as the plot goes into hyperspeed and stays there throughout the action-packed thriller. CONVENIENT DISPOSAL is a terrific refreshing entry in one of the best police procedural series around today.

Song of the Earth
John R. Dann
ISBN: 0765311933 $26.95, 384 pp.

Circa 30,000 BC (plus or minus a millennium or two as only word of mouth records handed down by generational storytellers exist) the Young Grae became a great chieftain due to Erida at his side (see SONG OF THE AXE). His father Eagle needed Flower and his grandfather Old Grae had the seven daughters of River Woman to aid him. The seven sisters, sired by different men, were the only friends of the weird looking and constant jabbering Old Grae when he was a child. Having learned to swim when their mom tossed them into the nearby river, the sisters saved Old Grae when a volcano destroyed their Eden and almost led to his drowning. The tribe splinters with Old Grae taking one group with him that includes three of the magnificent seven (Spirit Dancer mother to Eagle, Sun Hair, and Lilith) on an Exodus through the wilderness guided by spirits talking to him. As three consecutive generations wander northward, they battle with tyrannical tribes threatening their existence. Old Grae never sees the promised land, but his ancestry the Tribe of Grae continue the quest seeking a land of milk and honey to call home. This prequel is a terrific look at prehistorical society done with a biblical context. The story line grips the reader who obtains a deep look at the wandering tribe's struggle to survive in a harsh environment. The biblical references add an odd intriguing spin, but also slow down the action when enhanced by insightful anthropological concepts on wandering life in 30,000 BC. Still fans will believe that Old Grae, his peers and his ancestors existed in ironically a well written prehistory tale.

The Covenant Rising
Stan Nicholls
ISBN: 0060738898 $14.95, 416 pp.

Bhealfa is a caste society in which magic defines status. Authorities use spells to keep the masses in line and watch everyone through all-seeing scythe bowls. While the eccentric Prince Melyobar and his retinue sail in his movable dwelling to avoid Death, the Gath Tampoor Empire uses the Bhealfa citizenry as it has for twenty years as sword and sorcery fodder in its war with the Rintarah Empire, the previous conquerors and wasters of Bhealfa populace. Reeth Caldason seeks magical relief from the curse he suffers from that turns him into a blood raging mass killer if not chained, but learns the wizard he seeks is dead. The wizard's apprentice Kutch Pirathon mentions the Covenant, which gives the beleaguered Reeth a sliver of hope. Another visitor Dulian Karr, paying respect to the deceased, wants to liberate Bhealfa from the two empires that rotate subjugation; he suggests that Kutch and Reeth team up as they seek the same requirement, a master mage. The epic adventure for freedom has begun. In many ways THE COVENANT RISING is a typical epic fantasy, but is also much more. The story line contains the usual sword and sorcery elements throughout, but Stan Nicholls blends them into an intriguing societal arrangement sort of like India's caste society within a magically based Orwellian 1984. Reeth and Kutch are terrific protagonists with neither trusting the other though needing one another if they are to gain their wish. The freeing of incarcerated female military captain Serrah Ardacris, whose imprisonment adds to the feel of a real society, increases the unease of the "alliance" between this dynamic dual. Thought provoking, Mr. Nicholls furbishes a terrific opening tale in his Dreamtime trilogy.

The Strong Silent Type
C. Kelly Robinson
ISBN: 0451210379 $13.95, 288 pp.

Not quite thirty, Deacon Davis failed in his attempt to leave behind his glory days as a Pittsburgh Steeler star defensive back to direct the American Dream Party when he stuttered on Fox TV News. His beloved cousin tells him that "George Bush sounds more articulate". Feeling depressed for his recent string of failures including a divorce that culminated with the on air fiasco, Deacon still has one obsession that keeps him fired up. He wants to foster the civil rights legacy of his renowned late father who died in a mysterious DC hotel fire. He knows he must work on his stuttering problem when he has difficulty speaking at a school meeting involving his high school aged son Dejuan who is in trouble for dissing females. Deacon meets speech therapist Maria Oliver at the adult Speech Recovery Clinic. As she helps him with his impediment, an attraction explodes into a one night stand that breaks ethical rules. Yet both want more, but will either risk the chance of rejection. THE STRONG SILENT TYPE is a terrific contemporary tale that grips readers with its deep cast especially the title character who struggles to enhance his father's legacy, but feels somewhat helpless of achieving this objective due to his stuttering. Deacon is a fabulous protagonist whose woes to include falling in love make for a fine novel; Maria is his ideal counterpart with her own baggage especially her need to tell her biological son, raised in love by a married family member and his wife, who she is. The lead couple's relationship is THE PERFECT BLEND for fans who appreciate a poignant insightful modern day character study.

Magic Time: Ghostlands
Marc Scott Zicree and Robert Charles Wilson
ISBN: 0061050709 $25.95

The experiment Source devastated nature by destroying electric energy and changing people by enhancing their key traits into a caricature like magical essence. Many have died including those who have trusted weary former attorney Cal Griffen; he feels he failed them all in the end though none would fault him. Still he has no time to mourn as his evanescent younger sister Christina the ballerina vanished to wherever the storm floated her like a bubble. His quest to find Tina took him from New York to Chicago where Magritte, one of the people Cal feels he failed died. The journey for Cal and his pilgrims continue westward through deadly cities where the Source holds sway with magic that threaten to destroy the earth. Cal's band of brothers, sisters, and other essences enter the dangerous Ghostlands reaching Mount Rushmore, pivotal foci of the Source. The troupe faces their worst magically enhanced customized nightmarish fears in this last stand to save human existence on this plane; to succeed against the overwhelming powers of the enemy, they need Tina on their side and not part of the Source. Fantasy fans will devour the final Magic Time tale that is a terrific confrontation between the remnants of metamorphosis humanity vs. the offspring Source. Interestingly the theme is not a simplistic good vs. evil scenario, but instead is more along the lines of the Frankenstein warning. The story line is action-packed from the first pyre to the final fire, but never neglects the key characters as their characteristics remain critical to the entertaining story line. MAGIC TIME GHOSTLANDS can stand alone, but is further enhanced with reading the previous two novels, MAGIC TIME and MAGIC TIME ANGELFIRE.

I'll Be Watching You
Andrea Kane
ISBN 0060763329 $21.95, 352 pp.

School psychologist and talk show host Taylor Halstead is dismayed to see her roommate and cousin's boyfriend Gordon Mallory in their apartment when she gets home from work. Her shock turns to terror when he attacks her. He stops when her cousin Stephanie buzzes him in the lobby that she is ready to leave. He tells Taylor he'll be back to finish what he started. She reports the attack to the police but before they can investigate, the boat Gordon and Stephanie is on blows up, killing both of them. In the course of settling her cousin's estate, she meets Reed Taylor, a sexy attorney who makes his attraction to her obvious. She also meets Gordon's identical twin Jonathan who makes it very plain that he too is attracted to her. During this same period, Taylor realizes she is being stalked by a very dangerous man whom she believes is Jonathan. Reed becomes her protector, but when Jonathan is arrested for a double homicide Reed agrees to defend him. Taylor doubts whether their relationship could hold up under the strain because the stalker is getting more threatening. Andrea Kane's hardcover debut is a smashing success, establishing her as a powerful thriller author. There's a growing sense of foreboding that readers can actually feel as the strange e-mails, and terrorizing phone calls hint that this stalker will not be stopped until he accomplishes his goal to have Taylor. The romantic sub-plot between Reed and Taylor is beautifully developed and plays out believably. Readers will be watching Andrea Kane after this delightful new year treat.

Singing Bird
Roisin McAuley
ISBN: 0060737883 $24.95, 312 pp.

Twenty-seven years have passed since Lena and Jack Molloy adopted Mary, who has become a famous opera singer. Sister Monica of Saint Joseph's Home calls out of nowhere insisting she is tying up loose ends before retiring and just wanted to check up on her "babies". Lena's stomach pinches as she has not heard from the nun since the adoption, but apparently the call was innocent. With Jack on a business trip and Mary in Dublin for a performance, Lena decides to travel from California to West Ireland where they adopted their child. She always regretted not knowing her own biological parents having been adopted herself and rationalizes the trek by convincing herself she will be doing Mary a favor. With her friend Alma accompanying her, Lena begins making inquiries into who were Mary's parents, but her fist inclination challenges her deep rooted Catholic beliefs while further evidence confronts her moral family values. Sometimes ignorance is bliss. SINGING BIRD is an interesting social drama that leaves the audience pondering difficult ethics questions that run the gamut of some of the deep social issues facing society today. Through her heroine, Roisin McAuley raises questions about the sexual promiscuity of priests and nuns, family values, truth, and adoption. Though solutions seem intended to fit book size so are too straightforward for the complex questions raised, readers will obtain a deep character study that entertains yet challenges the audience.

Valley of Bones
Michael Gruber
ISBN: 0060774533 $24.95, 448 pp.

Miami Police Officer Morales was just leaving the Trianon Hotel after responding to a hoax call of a disturbance when he saw the man fall from the tenth floor balcony. Though he wanted to vomit, he first called in a homicide and held back his physical need so as not to compromise the crime scene. Not long afterward renowned Detective Paz arrives to take charge of the investigation. They head up to room 10D to learn more about the victim Jabir Akran al-Muwalid to decide whether a suicide, an accident or a murder occurred. Inside the room in some form of a trance is Emmylou Dideroff who insists that she was talking with the dead Saint Catherine of Siena before she fainted. She also says that Mr. al-Muwalid is a mass murderer slaughtering thousands from her tribe and others with his death squad in the Sudan; she swears she came to forgive him not kill him though the murder weapon belongs to her. Above are just the first few pages of an excellent crime thriller that plays out on three interconnected fascinating story lines. The obvious is Jimmy Paz's investigation; then there is the extracts from the book Faithful Unto Death: The Story of the Nursing Sisters of the Blood of Christ by St. Benedicta Cooley; finally the handwritten bound notes dubbed The Confessions of Emmylou Dideroff that the wild protagonist furbishes to Paz. Fans of deep police procedurals with two intriguing twists (the other sub-stories) starring a wonderful protagonist and a weird but intriguing suspect will take immense delight with Michael Gruber's return of the Paz (see TROPIC OF NIGHT).

Road to Purgatory
Max Allan Collins
ISBN: 0060540273 $24.95, 288 pp.

A decade may have passed since Capone killed his family, but Michael Satariano nee O'Sullivan never forgot even when he though he was lovingly adopted. Now twenty, Michael is on Bataan where he wipes out a Japanese division, loses an eye, but is a survivor of the death march. Michael receives the Congressional Medal of Honor and an honorable discharge. Back in the States, Michael believes it is time to become the avenging angel of death. Through Papa Satariano, Michael meets Capone's Lieutenant Frank Nitti, who hires him as a welcome addition to the Outfit. Eliot Ness thinks he is exploiting Michael as an insider breaking up Capone's Outfit. As Michael causes destruction, mayhem and death from the inside, back in 1922 in Rhode Island, Michael Sr., the chief enforcer for Irish Godfather John Looney, is about to become a father for the first time, not realizing that the newborn was to become a killing chip off the old block.. This sequel to the ROAD TO PERDITION is an exciting but very bloody suspense crime thriller starring an intriguing protagonist whose soul was sucked out of him a decade earlier. Ironically, Michael's amoral murdering spree as an American soldier and a mob soldier will fascinate readers yet because he is so frozen without even a hint of remorse he is unlikable and the tale fails to show heart. Still this is a solid O'Sullivan next generation entry that contains parallel stories of unaffected 1940s Michael, Jr. vs. the elation of 1920s Michael, Sr. when he becomes a daddy (albeit still a killing machine - must be in the DNA).

Jan Burke
Simon & Schuster
ISBN 074322390X $24.00, 480 pp.

In January 1958 thugs badly beat Jack Corrigan after he sees a farmer bury a car. Meanwhile the bodies of wealthy socialites Mr. and Mrs. Duchane wash up on the beach. Their son Todd, his wife Katy and her dog who were also on the yacht with them remain missing; their baby is kidnapped and the nurse is left for dead. Although Corrigan and his protegee reporter Conn O'Connor work the case, they can't solve the crimes. In 1978, reporter Irene Kelly covers the groundbreaking of a shopping center when a car is uncovered. Inside the trunk are the remains of Katy, Todd and the dog. O'Connor works with Irene to find evidence to bring the criminals to justice. When they get too close Irene and the man thought to be the Duchane heir are kidnapped and left to die. O'Connor saves her and the kidnappers go to jail but again, the mastermind can't be implicated. In the present, Irene and her protegee are again kidnapped by the same thugs who kidnapped her in 1978 because the mastermind is afraid they finally found enough evidence to implicate him. Jan Burke has written her best work to date, bar none. The crime thriller is written for the first part in the third person and the rest of the book is told from Irene's point of view, a technique that works brilliantly for this particular work. Readers are treated to some very special characters who had a formidable impact on Irene's career and the audience will feel their every emotion. In addition to brilliant characterizations, BLOODLINES contains a gripping story line that keeps reader attention from first to last page.

The Glass Virgin
Catherine Cookson
Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 0743261267 $25.00, 356 pp.

Annabella Lagrange has grown up as an overly protected aristocrat. She was never allowed to go outside the gates of her home Redford Hall though once she saw rioting children assault the grounds. She learned when she was younger that her parents were estranged as her father was a womanizer who lived in a different house. Her mother was a pious individual who showered religion on Annabella as if she must save her daughter's soul from the devil or her philandering husband, but never displayed one iota of affection or love towards her child. Now seventeen, Annabella's gilded cage collapses when her father finally bankrupts her mother's Rosina's glass factory. Her personal life implodes too as Annabella finds out that Rosina is not her mother; that her biological mom is a local madam that her father impregnated. Annabella begins her new life far from wealth as a farmhouse maid with only handsome Manuel Mendoza willing to help her adjust. This Edwardian tale is vintage Catherine Cookson at her best as the deceased author places her heroine in an extreme makeover in which the probability is that she will not survive. The bottom seems endless as one nasty revelation after another sends a formerly pampered Annabella into the working world. As she slowly adapts she falls in love, but her social upbringing remains part of her personal frame of reference so can she truly find happiness with a working class stiff? Though some readers will detest the myriad of sidebars that describe social conditions in Edwardian England, Ms. Cookson continues to be the best chef for cross-class historical tales of that era even several years after her death.

At Her Service
Shari Anton
ISBN: 0446614653 $6.50, 368 pp.

In 1350, Widow Lady Joanna worries about how to keep her surviving daughter Ivy safe and alive when terrorist outlaws constantly plunge Lynwood Manor, knowing no lord sits in the manor. The male villagers do their best, but they are not skilled to match the outlaws. Desperate for a swordsman, Joanna tries to hire mercenary Logan Grimm, whose loyalty goes as far as the person who pays his bills. Logan rejects the service until the townsfolk treat him like a pariah due to his profession. As Logan battles with the outlaws, he finds Joanna and Ivy make him dream of settling down in one place. Joanna is stunned by his patience and kindness starting with a tart to Ivy, whose abusive father had no use for a daughter beyond potentially selling her as a spouse to the highest bidder. Soon Joanna falls in love with her hired gun and he reciprocates as her courage reaches deep into his gut. Still both know when the job is completed, he will move on seeking his next sponsor. This exciting medieval romance comes across as a fourteenth century version of the Magnificent Seven although in this case there is only one defender. The story line is action-packed as Logan battles the outlaws, struggles with villager contempt, wants to keep Ivy safe at the cost of his life if necessary, and falls in love with his employer. His transition starting with giving Ivy the last tart makes for a fine historical romance.

Blind Curve
Annie Solomon
ISBN: 0446613584 $6.50 400 pp.

Two days ago Sokanan, New York undercover cop Danny "Turq" Sinofsky banged his head during a crime scene, but thought nothing of it. Now he is working a sting operation to buy illegal weapons from a teenager at the abandoned McClanhan warehouse when shots are fired. The fifteen years old seller is hit and Danny is unable to see. His "ghosts" come to the rescue. The doctors explain that he suffers from cortical blindness caused by a stroke when he hit his head two days ago. He is irate and feeling hopeless, but insists he will see soon. Orientation mobility specialist Martha "Scare" Crowe is assigned to teach Danny how to live in the dark, but he rejects her overtures. She, in turn, hides her identity because back in high school she fell in unrequited love with her patient. As she bullies him, someone fears he will regain his vision and eye witness the criminal so attempts are made on his and Martha's lives. No place, not even a safehouse, can keep the pair out of harm's way; though Martha's wonders if the real danger is to her heart. The key to the terrific BLIND CURVE is the professional relationship between Danny and Martha as she cajoles, nags, and challenges him to adjust while he clings to the hope that he will wake up with his eyesight back. The intrigue is well done enhancing this fine tale as Annie Solomon uses Danny's new blindness as a handicap to their safety and in turn to his mental well being. The story line starts off as a police procedural but switches more into a medical romantic suspense starring a teacher and her angry reluctant pupil.

Dream Guy
Candy Halliday
ISBN: 0446614556 $6.50, 336 pp.

Encouraged by her friends at Paragon Technology to welcome her boyfriend home in seductive style following Dave's one month stay on business in San Francisco, Annie Long spends a fortune on food, drink, and clothing. However, her boss in the Creative Department Matt Abbington informs her she will have to attend the afternoon production meeting because he has a groin pull. Angry because she was to meet Dave, Annie gets Matt to give her permission to pitch a concept though she has none in mind instead of copycatting someone else's flavor of the month creation. Dave sends Annie a video message informing her that their relationship is over. Irate, Annie decides no more men in her life, which leads to her conceptualizing Joe Video, an interactive perfect male. The production meeting attendees love the concept. As Annie hires a hunk to play Joe, Matt realizes how much he dwells on their one hot evening together especially her flirting with the actor although she has written off men. DREAM GUY is a lighthearted contemporary war of the sexes using technology to further the skirmishes. Matt is a solid key support player as he competes with a handsome actor and Joe Video for the affection of the woman he loves. Annie is the center of that triangle and in turn the story line as she covets her boss who she also detests, but finds the remote easier to relate to than with Matt or the hunk. Fans will enjoy this fun tale that is one click away from providing the DREAM GUY.

The Beauty Bride
Claire Delacroix
ISBN: 0446614416 $6.00, 400 pp.

In 1421 Scotland, Laird Alexander Lammergeier was not ready to take over Kinfairlie, but his parents recently died tragically. Adding to his woes is that he feels he must find spouses for his sisters, but has no money to fund them, let alone feed them. The oldest female Madeline refuses to wed anyone since her betrothed died during the assault on Rougement. Heeding the advice of his Aunt Rosamunde to auction the "jewel of Kinfairie". Alexander holds a bidding war amongst acceptable suitors. A stunned Madeline learns she is the jewel and even more shocking regally declared traitor Rhys FitzHenry wins the bidding leaving an angry spoiled Reginald Neville seeking mischief. Meanwhile Madeline's sister Elizabeth insists she sees a fairy on her sibling's shoulder, only Rhys takes her seriously. Unbeknownst to all except perhaps Elizabeth, an angry fairy seeks revenge against Rosamunde and kin for selling off treasures at the auction. As an outraged Madeline thinks of fleeing, Rhys begins to win her over, but soon is stunned when the woman he bought to produce an heir steals his heart. THE BEAUTY BRIDE is an enjoyable fifteenth century Scottish romance with a wee bit of the supernatural. The story line can seem a bit complicated with eight siblings amongst other players to delineate between, but Claire Delacroix does a great job of seven degrees of separation. Though Alexander's actions seem dishonorable, fans will commiserate with his dilemma. Readers will receive immense enchantment from a warm paranormal historical starring two fabulous lead protagonists and a horde of support players, human and fairy.

Night Fall
Nelson Demille
ISBN: 0446576638 $26.95, 483 pp.

The night of July 17, 1996 on Cupsogue Beach, Long Island, Jill Winslow and Bud Mitchell videotape their reciprocated adulterous affair. As they begin to enjoy their illicit lovemaking, Jill looking up from her prone position notices a light rising towards a plane that abruptly explodes. Later they learn of the explosion of TWA Flight 800 over Long Island killing the 230 people on board. Five years later, the Anti-Terrorist Task Force (ATTF) concludes mechanical malfunction though over two hundred credible people claimed they saw a rocket hit the plane. ATTF Agent Kate Mayfield, who made inquiries amongst the eye witnesses immediately after the explosion believes DC is covering up the truth though she has no idea. At a memorial service on July 17, 2001, she asks her spouse former NYPD Detective John Corey to investigate. As John begins questioning observers, he learns of the Winslow-Mitchell videotape that might show the rocket while the ATTF, CIA, FBI, NYPD, and a host of other alphabet types warn the duo to back off or else. NIGHT FALL may prove to be the scariest thriller of the year as Nelson Demille provides a fictionalized account of the using a real tragedy and its subsequent investigation to paint one heck of a shocking tale. . John is at his Die Hard John McClane cynical best (must be something about Johns) as he returns to investigate what his wife believes is a great cover-up. Fans will read in one sitting in spite of the complexity and size of the novel, and the anticipated growing dismay that you know the conclusion about halfway into the novel as the calendar and the movie the Conversation haunt the reader.

London Bridges
James Patterson
Little, Brown
ISBN: 0316710598 $27.95, 391 pp.

In Salvador, Brazil, the Wolf abducts Colonel Geoffrey the "Weasel" Shafer; while hanging upside down, Weasel learns that the Wolf has a job for him. US Army soldiers evacuate the 315 residents of Sunrise Valley, Nevada. As the Wolf watched his plan in Sunrise Valley succeed via remote in Bel Air, a plane drops a daisy cutter bomb on the town leaving parched earth behind. DC based FBI Agent Alex Cross on vacation visits his young son in Seattle before going to San Francisco to see his girlfriend Jamilla Hughes. FBI Agents Jean Matthews and John Thompson interrupt Alex's romantic interlude to inform him that FBI Director Burns needs him to attend to an emergency in Nevada. Weasel's photo near the Nevada destruction and a homicide shocks Alex. He senses THE BIG BAD WOLF is back. Soon threats to do to London, New York and other megalopolises what happened to Sunrise Valley arrive. Alex knows he must cross swords with Weasel and believes ultimately the Wolf. The sequel to the BIG BAD WOLF is a terrific suspense thriller that showcases why James Patterson is one of the best the genre offers. The story line grips the audience from the moment the Wolf captures the amoral Weasel and never lets up until the climatic confrontation between Alex and the Wolf. Though the action is non-stop so that the audience never fully catches our breath, the tale is much stronger than the usual terrorist antiterrorists contest because key players such as Alex (obviously), the two prime villains, and a host of secondary cast members seem so real that the deadly caper feels authentic. James Patterson is on his top game with the tenth Cross thriller.

The Mayday
Bill Eidson
Justin Charles
ISBN 1932112332 $24.95, 336 pp.

After a boating accident at sea, Matt Coulter wakes up from a coma to hear that his family is dead although they didn't recover the bodies of his two children. He doesn't remember much but he believes that the kids were picked up at sea by a yacht with an unusual anchor plate. He goes to boat contractor Sarah Ballard in the hopes that she can help identify the boat which would in turn lead him to the person who took his children. Sarah takes him to her sometimes partner ex DEA agent Jack Merchant who listens to his story and believes that the man might be clinging to false hope. Out of sympathy, he agrees to hire for a few days, never believing he will find that particular boat. Once he does, he realizes that Matt's story is true and the children could still be alive. He and Sarah work together to find the children, not realizing they are up against two dangerous sociopaths who will kill anyone who gets in their way. Bill Eidson has written a crime thriller that is fast paced, action-packed and full of chills and thrills. This second novel in a great new series is even better than the REPO as hard as that is to believe. Jack Merchant is a tough macho man but when it comes to his feelings for Sarah he is gentle and vulnerable. This duo is a terrific crime fighting team and is one of the main reasons that this series should have a long life. Hearts will go out to the victims in this work with hopes that the criminals get their just desserts.

Homeward Bound
Harry Turtledove
Del Rey
ISBN: 034545846X $26.95, 608 pp.

The Race as they call themselves travel the twenty light years distance from their planet to invade earth, preoccupied with World War II. However, the locals proved adaptive and managed to stop the intruders though the Race was never fully driven off planet (see WORLD WAR: IN THE BALANCE). Over two decades later, a shaky truce has held up between the Race and the humans. However, humans refer to the Race in derogatory terms as "Lizards" while the aliens call their "hosts" the "Big Uglies". Tension has recently mounted as the Race realizes that the Big Uglies is technologically advancing at a rate that they will pass them shortly. Proof of that is the stunning launch of the Commodore Perry, an armed human space vessel faster than the speed of light, allegedly on a diplomatic mission heading to the Race's home planet. Though diplomats are on board, Sam Yeager (see WORLDSTAR) is too and he nuclear razed Indianapolis without second thoughts. The earthbound Race ponders whether to annihilate the planet to halt human advances? Though intriguing in terms of first contact impact on life to include the adage "necessity is the mother of invention" and inter and intra relationships, the tale contains a large tedious diplomacy subplot. Much of the novel is set on the Race's home world where the exotic is fun to follow, but though diplomacy is everything in real life is quite boring in a novel (perhaps that is why the media likes war over peace). Still Harry Turtledove furbishes his latest alternate history tale with an off-world plot that his myriad of fans will enjoy and demand more on the Race's Home.

Todd McCaffrey
Del Rey
ISBN: 0345441249 $24.95, 436 pp.

When the colonists landed on Pern, they didn't know that the red star would align with the planet every two hundred and fifty years. When that event happens, spores from the red star fall onto Pern destroying anything organic in its path. To combat this problem, geneticists changed fire lizards into telepathic dragons that bond with a human; together they unite to fight spores or thread as it is now called in 507 years after the initial landing of the spaceship. In AL 507, Lorana sends her fire lizards away when she thinks she is dying, but she is saved and brought to Bendon Weyr where she bonds with a hatchling dragonet Arith. A plague infects the dragons killing many including Arith just when thread is coming. Arith and Lorana's two fire lizards go back to 42 AL where geneticist Wind Blossom concludes that the three visitors come from Bendan Weyr in the future. She devises a plan to help her descendents battle the deadly dragon killer plague if the future people can interpret the clues she left behind to save them. This is the first solo Pern story not written by the immortal Anne McCaffrey, but her son who obviously inherited the writing gene as readers will not be able to tell who wrote the novel without reading the cover. Two women living centuries apart work to find a cure to save the dragons and ultimately their world. There is plenty of action scenes especially when dragons and their human rider battle thread, but it is the strong characterizations especially the grieving Lorana who can communicate with any dragon while reminded of the loss of her Arith to the plague that make this a worthy entry in the long running series.

Joy Fielding
ISBN 0743488008 $24.95, 352 pp.

Amanda Travis has spent the last decade running from her memories including the father who neglected her and the mother who either ignored or verbally abused her. She drowns her emotional pain in mindless sex, leaving two ex-husbands when they threatened to get too close. Now a lawyer in southeast Florida, she has organized her life just the way she wants it, not letting anyone get too close. Her calm is suddenly fractured one night when her ex-husband calls her from Toronto to tell her that her mother in jail on a murder charge. Despite the fact that she tells herself she doesn't care, she flies to Toronto where Ben represents her mother Gwen. Ben tells her that Gwen isn't talking, insisting only that she killed an unknown man in a hotel lobby because she felt like it and she is perfectly sane. Gwen's stonewalling is infuriating Amanda who believes there is a reason for what she did; for once in her life she isn't going to run away from adversity but plunge into it and expose the secret her mother is so desperate to hide. Joy Fielding once again delivers an exciting crime thriller that will keep readers' interest from page one as they wonder why the protagonist's mother committed cold blooded murder. It is a question that will haunt the audience as the protagonist seeks to find out her mom's secrets that were responsible for her traumatized childhood. As Amanda gets close to the truth she finally comes to terms with her own feelings and turns more sympathetic in the minds of the audience. PUPPET is a nail biting suspense thriller taking readers to the ultimate level.

In Search of Pretty Young Black Men
Stanley Bennet Clay
ISBN: 0743497155 $15.95, 450 pp.

Baldwin Hills is the nouveau rich black person's enclave just as Beverly Hills is the white's prestigious addresses in 1989. Maggie Lester Allegro trapped in a bittersweet loveless marriage, drinks and plays cards to ease her emotional pain. Her marriage never had a chance because on her honeymoon, she was pregnant with another man's child. With her husband's assent, she gave the baby up for adoption but the marriage disintegrated anyway. Enter Dorian Moore, a young black stud who she has a one night stand with, a hunk who has women pay him for sex. She never forgets him and when she learns who he really is, she does something drastic. Maggie's husband Lamont is a closet gay and he knew that when he married his wife; he abstained from giving in to his urges, because he didn't want to disobey God's law but when he met Dorian Moore, he fell in love with him and wanted an exclusive relationship with him. Dorian never wanted that. When Dorian was killed Lamont broke down and was institutionalized. When he comes out, he also comes out of the closet and has a second chance at love. Stanley Bennett Clay, author of Diva has written a characters study about blacks who have it all yet feel they have nothing. Lamont has to hide his true self in the1980's or face being ostracized and Maggie gave up the love of her life's child and found him again in very ugly circumstances. THE SECRET OF PRETTY BLACK MEN is a fascinating reading experience due to Dorian an enigmatic man who feels his calling is to satisfy the sexual needs of Baldwin Hills rich blacks.

ISBN 051513970X $7.99, 304 pp.

"The Girl who was Infatuated with Death" by Laurell K. Hamilton. Ms. Rhonda Mackenzie wants vampire executioner Anita Blake to find the vampire that has bitten her daughter two times and kill. If she is bitten three times she will become a vampire which is what she wants because she will lose one leg, perhaps two if she doedn't changes over. Anita asks the master of the city, Jean-Claude if he will help her find the vampire. After not seeing him for a long time because she was learning to control her powers, Anita realizes her feelings for him have not changed. "One Word Answer" by Charlaine Harris. Telepath Sookie Stackhouse of Bon Temps Louisiana is visited by Mr. Cataliades and Waldo the vampire to inform Sookie that her cousin, a vampire who was staked, left her estate to her cousin. Mr. Cataliades informs Sookie that Waldo killed her because she was the favorite of the queen of New Orleans and he wants Sookie to stake the vampire Sookie doesn't want to but Waldo makes sure that he will not be returned to his queen to be tortured. "Biting in Plain Sight" by Mary Janice Davidson: In the town of Embarrass, everyone knows that the vet Dr. Sophie Tourneau is a vampire but they ignore that fact because she takes great care of their animals. Liam is in love with her and when she goes out hunting a serial vampire killer, he insists on accompanying her. He tells her how he feels and she takes him to bed and drinks his blood. She cares about him but she's not sure if she is better off without any emotional ties to a mortal. When they go after the vampire killer, Liam impresses Sophie with his actions and his commitment to her. "Galahad" by Angela Knight. Caroline was turned by a vampire into a witch with magical powers and immortality. She lives in Avalon in the mageverse where vampires and witches form a symbiotic relationship. Witches need their blood drained every few days to lower their blood pressure and vampires have a willing blood source. Caroline has a vision about humans drinking from a cup and turning into vampires who are the antithesis of the undead in the mageverse. Galahad, pure of heart and a vampire is assigned by Morgana Le Fey to work with Caroline to find the threecups and destroy the evil vampires. Along the way fall in love but Galahad fears Caroline won't want him once she learns all the ugly things he had to do to defeat the bad guys. "Blood lust" by Vickie Taylor. Garth funded Daniel Hart's research into making synthetic blood but stole the formula, Daniel's girlfriend and his house before revealing himself as a vampire. Daniel asks vampire Deadre Blue to turn him a vampire so he can kill Garth, his girlfriend who is now a vampire and then himself. Deadre doesn't want to do it but when he is accidentally killed, she feeds him her blood and he turns into a vampire. Deadre has fallen in love with Daniel and goes with him to fight Garth the enforcer to the High Matron. The synthetic blood make Daniel Garth's equal and their upcoming battle will leave one of them dead. All five authors have a different take on the vampire mythos but that doesn't mean one story is better than another. This is one of the best vampire romance anthologies ever produced bringing back cult favorites like Anita Blake and Sookie. The stories by the other authors would make several great series.

Technical Hitch
Jane Sigaloff
Red Dress
ISBN: 0373895089 $12.95, 336 pp.

In London wedding planner Jess James is considered one of the best in pulling off a delightful celebration. However, she has failed at one wedding, her own; Jess jilts her groom Nick leaving him at the altar by himself. Meanwhile, the media goes berserk when womanizing hunk Jack Carlisle falls for plain Jane, Emma Hunter, whom he met on a cafe line. The wedding goes off perfectly as Jess does her magic, but everyone expects the happily ever after will end abruptly and soonest. Jess's sister Sarah eloped with the man she believes is her life mate. However, when she learns they were not legally married, Sarah has doubts about tying the knot for real. Others are also faced with marital decisions. Amy questions the need for the institution except as a means of her pal making money while Nick's sibling Fiona flees from love though she has met the right man. Though an intriguing slant on marriage and happily ever after, the hitch in this tale is that there are too many players having marital doubts to appreciate any individual although Jess is the prime player. The story line reads more like a series of vignettes that constantly shift focus making it difficult to keep score as to what is happening to whom. Still chick lit readers will appreciate Jane Sigaloff's satirical look at to be or not to be married.

Mike, Mike, and Me
Wendy Markham
Red Dress
ISBN: 0373895070 $12.95, 304 pp.

In 1989, high school student Barbra "Beau" is dating Mike when she meets a new Mike. The two Mikes in her life are as different as any pair of people could be, but she likes both of them. After a difficult time making up her mind Beau finally picks one Mike and marries him, leaving the other Mike behind. Fifteen years later, Beau and Mike remain married raising three kids and living in Westchester County, New York. When the rejected Mike contacts Beau, her dissatisfaction with being a suburban mom surfaces. She begins to dream of returning to the big city, doing something besides being a mom and wondering if she married the wrong Mike. This fabulous tale rotates between the present and the past with the lead female protagonist considering which Mike is right for her in each time period. The story line uses 1989 teen cultural icons and other references to anchor that era, but does so within the context of the subplot. Wendy Markham also keeps readers guessing on which Mike became the spouse with that twist turning the story into a one sitting tale that in ways reminds the audience of hypocrisy of The Importance of Being Earnest.

The Last Year of Being Married
Sarah Tucker
Red Dress
ISBN: 0373250789 $12.95, 272 pp.

In London though they had quite a lengthy courtship, their marriage started off badly when a drunken Sarah informs her spouse Paul that she had an affair while they were engaged. Over the next few years, Paul rarely had conjugal visits with his wife though three plus years ago on vacation together they did produce a son Ben. However, Paul decides he has enough of marriage to Sarah and informs her that he wants a divorce. He calmly asks for Sarah to move out and take her son with her. Sarah is stunned by the D revelation having weathered storms for seven married years and five courtship years with Paul. She turns to finance advisor Kim Bradshaw who tells her to stay put and make Paul leave as he is filing and he refuses the kid. As Sarah adjusts to THE LAST YEAR OF BEING MARRIED, her solicitor tries to insure she and Ben come out of this quite nicely. Sarah Tucker provides a deep look at divorce from the perspective mostly of the female protagonists in this sequel to THE LAST YEAR OF BEING SINGLE. However, the story line at times feels repetitive as Sarah tells her friends and solicitor the same anecdotes that she places in her diary. Still this fine chick lit tale offers a solid look at the decline of a relationship that has no happily ever after.

Couch World
Cathy Yardley
Red Dress
ISBN: 0373895097 $12.95, 304 pp.

In San Francisco punter P.J. Sherman enjoys her lifestyle as a fill in when a DJ cannot make a gig. She has no responsibilities not even taking care of an apartment or a home. Instead she is the ultimate couch potato sleeping on different people's couches every night. She is saving every penny she earns so that she can make a special demo of the music; everything is the music. Through the model Samantha, P.J. meets DJ-Dizzy who offers to help her get a demo and show it off to the right people in the industry. However, Samantha becomes upset because she wants DJ-Dizzy as her own and does not want some homeless wanderer to get in her way. P.J. also has a second problem as she crashed on the couch of Leslie, a reporter, who wants to do a story on the "urban Bedouin"; to do so Leslie needs to look into the past of the punter. If certain things surface P.J. knows her musical dreams will crash. This is an interesting look at a subculture that will fascinate readers as the likable P.J. makes the rounds of couches. P.J. is a delightful center to the study as her lifestyle and love of music makes the story line hum. Readers who appreciate a wonderful character study starring and odd but affable lead protagonist will take pleasure in this joy ride around the Bay area club lifestyle.

The Staggerford Murders
Jon Hassler
ISBN: 0452285402 $14.00, 198 pp.

The Staggerford Murders. Almost a decade has passed since someone killed Staggerford, Minnesota Chamber of Commerce employee Neddy Nicholls and his wife Blanche vanished. Neither mystery was resolved. Now their daughter Penny Jean comes from California to uncover what happened to her mother. Her former husband George follows her home. At the Ransford Hotel, several townsfolk discuss her ad in the Staggerford Weekly asking for help into the disappearance of her mom. The upbeat frenetic pace feels like it belongs in A Mad Mad Mad Mad World as not much is taken seriously but at times the tale is difficult to follow. Still, this is a good entry in the Staggerford folklore. Nancy Clancy's Nephew. Septuagenarian W.D. Nestor grew up on a prairie farm raised by an abusive father. As an adult W.D. hid his feelings with the only persons he cared about being his spouse Lucille and his two children. As he talks to a psychiatrist giving him the third degree, he reflects back over his miserable life to the one shining star the night he and Lucille wed during a snowstorm. He actually makes friend with a young boy, but finds no peace until a decade later when he visits his century old Aunt Nancy Clancy. Though well written this is not an upbeat tale as typically provided by Jon Hassler; instead the protagonist is a grim soul with little that is positive in his life. Both tales are well written, but seem totally opposites in outlook. Ironically, the murder-disappearance mystery is cheerful while the biographical fiction piece is depressing. Although fans of Mr. Hassler will enjoy the two novellas, readers will realize neither is quite on a par with THE STAGGERFORD FLOOD.

Window in Copacabana
Luis Alfredo Garcia-Roza
ISBN: 0805074384 $23.00, 256 pp.

The third assassination has shaken up the Rio de Janeiro police force because they are the targets of this brazen serial killer who shoots his victims from close range but so far has selected bottom of the barrel officers as targets. The killer twists his pattern when he next murders the two mistresses of the dead cops; he went for three but tossed the wrong woman out the window leaving one mistress alive who perhaps can identify this culprit that is if she can be found. 12th Precinct Inspector Espinosa heads the investigation that seems to be going nowhere. However, unlike his superiors who insist on he concentrate on the serial killer, Espinosa searches for the vanished mistress Celeste Cardoso not only in the hope she can provide information leading to the capture of the murderer but also to keep her safe. He also finds a witness step forward as the married Serena Rodes insists she saw the killer toss the victim out the window. Though trying to remain faithful to his Irene and stop the low keyed but deadly killing machine, Espinosa is sidetracked on both counts as the two women he vows to protect seem to compete on who can get him in bed first. WINDOW IN COPACABANA is a terrific police procedural serial killer thriller as unique a tale as a reader will find and not just because of the location. The story line is action-packed as Espinosa works on the case in his crusty take no prisoners manner while finding the women quite the distracter (will he or will he not is the question). Luis Alfredo Garcia-Roza paints a fantastic who-done-it in a world filled with dishonesty and avarice.

For Love and Money
Leslie Glass
ISBN: 0345448014 $23.95, 272 pp.

She never wanted to be the sole breadwinner in her family, but she finds herself exactly in that position. Her husband never recovered from the destruction of the World Trade center or the betrayal by a friend who sued him for something he never did. Unable to cope, he quit his job as a stockbroker and became a vegetable couch potato. Annie, a stockbroker at the same firm her spouse left, tries to make her income cover their bills as two salaries used to do while allowing her housekeeper to raise their two children. Her boss is coming on to Annie and she is ready to succumb to his charms. As she ponders an affair, her best friend's father accuses Annie of stealing bearer bonds from him and her housekeeper abruptly quits leaving behind two emotionally wrecked children in her wake. Annie realizes she must straighten out her own life, be strong for her daughters, and uncover what happened to the bonds while knowing she cannot truly aid her children or her husband until she helps herself. Leslie Glass displays her wry wit and cutting edge humor in a poignant family drama with a touch of mystery that hooks readers from beginning to end. The protagonist learns that she is strong because circumstances require her to be so; fortified with moral fiber and courage Annie takes charge of her life before she ends up in the same abyss as her husband. He is an intriguing character, her opposite for when the going got tough, he quit. Readers will appreciate this strong tale with a memorable cast who laugh on the outside, but cry on the inside.

Honeymoon Suite
Lynn Michaels
ISBN: 034547600X $6.99, 416 pp.

In 1988 Kansas City, wealthy Daddy Lambert and his chauffeur Charles McKay catch the former's daughter Jilly with the latter's son Chase. Daddy pays for Chase to attend Cornell as an architect student while mom takes Jilly to Europe with her, punishing her other daughter Dory for spying on her older sister. Several years later, Mom pressures her Daddy into hiring her English nephew James at the Lambert Bank and Trust. Over the next few years, Dory obtains a business degree, Chase becomes a wealthy successful architect and due to his aunt, James becomes the wire room supervisor. In 1994, while Daddy and Mom cruise the Caribbean, James and an accomplice embezzle 34.6 million, but the evidence incriminates Daddy too. Daddy and Mom live in exile to avoid arrest; Dory and her aunt struggle to save the family fortune and make retribution to investors. However, when Chase returns to Kansas City, he and Dory are attracted to one another, but he seems to spend his time with Jilly. Will he select the wrong sister again even as personal problems involving the missing James continue to surface? This is an exciting contemporary romantic suspense though the intrigue plays more of an enabler than that of an action thriller as readers see how various members of the Lambert family cope with adversity. Dory and her aunt adjust nicely while Jilly struggles but tries. On the other Mom is a caricature who is unable to see how her actions led to the downfall although James is the culprit taking advantage of his relative's stupidity. Fans will enjoy this fine family drama.

To Die For
Linda Howard
ISBN: 0345476255 $7.99, 378 pp.

When Blair Mallory refuses to renew Nicole Goodwin's membership in her fitness center Great Bods, the latter throws a temper tantrum. After closing for the evening, Blair heads to her car only to see Nikki there. A shot rings out; Blair believes Nikki is shooting at her. She calls the police who find Nikki dead with a bullet in her. Lieutenant Wyatt Bloodsworth heads the investigation though he dated Blaire a few times before dropping her like a hot potato. During his inquiries he makes it very clear that he wants a serious relationship with Blaire and even gets her to move into his home when someone tries to shoot her. When Nikki's killer is caught, everyone breaths a sigh of relief until someone cuts the brake lines of Blaire's car. Nikki's killer has an airtight alibi while someone else apparently wants the fitness guru dead. After numerous well written romantic suspense thrillers, Linda Howard employs the first person narrative for the first time and makes it work as readers know everything the beleaguered heroine thinks and feels. This means the audience knows that Blair finds her protective champion hot, which makes their time out of bed quite an amusing battle of the sexes. There is no apparent suspect except the jailed killer so Blair and readers ponder who and why. TO DIE FOR is an excellent romantic suspense as expected from Ms. Howard, who always provides a fabulous read.

Carolina Girl
Patricia Rice
ISBN: 0804119848 $6.99

In Springfield, Missouri Mame suffers a heart attack that sends her nephew radio talk show host "Doc" Elliot Roth scrambling form St. Louis to insure she is okay. Mame owner of Mame's School of Alternative Life Lessons worries about Elliot who she feels never fools around. He works out continuously and he only eats healthy foods. Elliot remains traumatized because his father died from a heart attack at thirty-five, the same age Elliot is now. In the hospital Elliot trips over Mame's disciple Alys Seagraves whose husband died last year from cancer and both her parents are dead. Mame fakes out Elliot and steals his car from the hospital lot. He worries about her and visits Alys for information. She also is concerned as she and Mame were going to go together to New Mexico. Elliot decides to follow his Aunt Mame, but Alys forces her way onto the trek. Like two pigeons, Mame has maneuvered her two favorite folks; as if on cue these opposites fall in love, but both fear commitment because people die. This modernization of Auntie Mame is a delightful contemporary romance starring two likable lead protagonists and a brilliant Machiavellian matchmaking technician who could have won the election for Kerry. The story line is fun as Elliot fears myocardial infarction, but Alys makes his heart beat faster and louder. Alys tries to live life to the fullest, but has also learned how death stalks love. Patricia Rice serves up an amusing yet serious tale of survivors struggling with love and death.

Lady Luck's Map of Vegas
Barbara Samuel
ISBN: 0345469127 $23.95, 304 pp.

Forty years old computer designer India misses her single life in Denver having to relocate to Colorado Springs to take care of her mother Eldora whose beloved mate died six months ago. India enjoys her long distance love life when she and her beloved New York based magazine owner Jack Shea get together. Flaky Eldora wants to go on a pilgrimage to Las Vegas where she plans to reveal the truth about herself to her adult children, but first must find her other daughter Gypsy, an artist whose last postcard came from Tucuncari, New Mexico. India does not want to go, but feels obligated having vowed to her late father Don Redding she would take care of mom. Worse India senses her sibling; a schizophrenic is off her medicine and in trouble. Finally, she is pregnant, but has doubts about bringing a child into the world containing her gene pool. This pilgrimage will awaken India to what really matters in life are loving relationships. LADY LUCK'S MAP OF VEGAS is a complex family drama that mostly focuses on India and her relationships with her boyfriend, mother and sister, but to a lesser degree with her dad and between her mom and sib. Readers feel for India who fears commitment to include her concerns about allowing a newborn into this world. Though the reason for Eldora's obsession to venture forth is revealed late, readers who appreciate a strong poignant look at people with baggage in which there is no simplistic cure all elixir. Barbara Samuel provides an affecting tale that shakes the audience to its emotional core.

Hot Target
Suzanne Brockmann
ISBN: 0345467930 $19.95

With his mom recovering from breaking her wrists in a fall, US Navy SEAL Chief Cosmo Richter is on leave in Southern California to help her with her recuperation. He also takes a temporary assignment with Troubleshooters, Inc managed by his former military superior Tom Paoletti. Filmmaker Jane Chadwick has received threats because she is making a movie on the relationship between two gay World War II heroes. Jack Shelton and Hal Lord fought courageously, won honors, met, fell in love, but the latter could not come out into the sunshine ending their relationship. As Cosmos and Jane fall in love, he and his teammates must stop a killer probably protected by a neo-Nazi group demanding the movie not be shot because Hal is a legend. Cosmos knows his beloved must also accept his Hello Dolly mother and the danger of his occupation if they are to become permanent. Though too many key players are in the cast to follow easily, fans will appreciate Suzanne Brockmann's exhilarating "Troubleshooters" novel that focuses on Cosmos and Jane, seemingly opposites fall in love while he tries to keep her safe. The homosexual relationship theme of the "movie" and that of Jules seeking a gay partner to love and be loved for a lifetime in the sun is also well done and a strong step towards the romance genre doing what mystery has already done, allow gay leads; this also explains the myriad of subplots. HOT TARGET is a strong breakthrough tale that trashes activist presidents "protecting marriage as a union of man and woman as husband and wife."

Natural History
Justina Robson
Bantam Spectra
ISBN: 0553587412 $13.00, 325 pp.

Millenniums since the music died of American Pie, humanity has split into two distinct species. The Unevolved retain the same DNA that mankind has had for millenniums while the Forged have been customized by splicing and pasting animal genes with mechanical devices to adapt them to whatever job their creators the Unevolved want them to perform. The Forged thirst for freedom from these "chimp" makers, but their dream seems impossible as the Unevolved feel it is their lot to protect these lesser beings. The symbiotic relationship between maker and offspring changes when Voyager Lonestar Isol seeks a shortcut through debris near Barnard's Star. Instead the microscopic remains of an explosion caused by an alien presence earth time equivalent 246 BC punch holes into her turning her into Swiss cheese. The Forged ponder whether this third sentient species still survive and how could they have thrived without the leadership of the Unevolved. Hope amongst the suppressed Forged rises that they can form their own world without their keepers, but the Unevolved will never allow them to go because they depend on the Forged to survive. NATURAL HISTORY is a fantastic futuristic science fiction that provides an exciting tale yet also furbishes a deep thought provoking look at group interrelationships. The Unevolved seem like a future version of Colonialism with the "White Man's Burden while the Forged come across as victims unable to break the dependency chains though irate towards those who keep them enslaved. The discovery of a third intelligent species shakes the so called natural order, but will the Forged be willing to give up their comfortable yoke to follow this vanished race in a quest for freedom.

Life Expectancy
Dean Koontz
ISBN: 0553804146 $27.00, 401 pp.

In Snow Hospital in Snow County, Colorado, dying Josef Tock makes ten predictions about his unborn grandson who is also in the hospital about to leave the womb. Of the forecasts, the most ominous is that Jimmy will face five terrible days in his future. The sandwich generation Tock is Rudy who paces between the maternity and death wards until Jimmy is born at the same moment his father dies. Rudy soon learns how accurate the predictions are as Josef stated the height and weight of his grandson and that the child will need surgery to correct Syndactyl or call him Flipper. On that same day at the same location, a circus clown goes on a killing rampage. Two decades later, Jimmy is in the library when seemingly the same clown from twenty years ago and two accomplices shoot the librarian and capture Jimmy and Lorrie Lynn Hicks. Explosives are placed in tunnels that link the library underground to the courthouse. Jimmy knows he will survive this ordeal because he believes terrible day two awaits him in the future. However, he ponders what could happen to those he cares about like Lorrie Lynn when a terrible day occurs and what will happen to him when terrible day five happens? LIFE EXPECTANCY is a terrific suspense driven tale when it concentrates on knowing a segment of your future, but unable to do anything to thwart it except perhaps avoiding those you cherish. When the story line switches into grave humor such as the dialogues between Lorrie Lynn and Jimmy, it loses some of the tingling chills. Jimmy is terrific as the first person narrator, but though fans of Dean Koontz will enjoy this tale, the jocularity takes away from a powerful premise.

Portrait of Deception
Janette McCarthy Louard
ISBN: 0758209029 $6.99, 304 pp.

His grandmother Ma Louise is dying, but asks one final request of Sam Trahan to recover the stolen family heirloom, The Black Madonna worth 3 million, its' importance being that it was painted by an ancestor. Milton Alexander working for Trahan's firm stole the painting, but private investigators have failed to come up with his whereabouts. Unhappy with their results, Sam decides to take charge by visiting the thief's former girl friend Zora Redwood in Brooklyn. Sam believes that Zora helped Milton with the theft. Believing she knows where the rogue is hiding he blackmails her into helping him in his quest to get to Milton by threatening to bring her to the police as an accessory as she has proof she had the painting in her apartment. Though she joins him on his quest heading to the Caribbean island of Jamaica, neither trusts the other. However, as they work together to find Milton and the masterpiece, Zora and Sam fall in love, but although danger mounts as their lives are in peril from Milton and his allies, distrust between the duo remains high. PORTRAIT OF DECEPTION is an action-packed thriller. Once the lead couple journeys to Jamaica it never slows down until the final confrontation occurs. The romance between the reluctant partners seems more an afterthought as the fine amateur sleuth chase takes center stage. Zora and Sam are a delightful distrusting lead protagonists whose love revelations seems off kilter while Milton is superbly developed as he proves over the course of the solid tale to be quite a tough villain. More for thriller fans, Janette McCarthy Louard furbishes a fine novel.

If You Walked in My Shoes
Gwynne Forster
ISBN: 0758206526 $14.00, 304 pp.

In Charlotte, North Carolina, Leon Farrell finally persuades seventeen years old classmate Coreen Holmes to allow him to walk her home from school after several weeks of pleading. However, in an isolated locale, Leon rapes Coreen. She gives up the child for adoption. When Frieda Davis turned twelve she had her first period and everything changed in her adoptive home. Instead of tucking her in her bed, papa rapes her. He continues to molest her until at seventeen Frieda ran away from home vowing to one day confront her biological mother. Almost thirteen years later Frieda has made something of herself, but now stalks Coreen from afar learning that her mother led a wonderful life married to Bates Treadwell and having raised two stepsons Glen and Eric with him. As Coreen continues to do good deeds to improve society, Frieda sets in motion a plan to destroy her. This reviewer cannot think of anyone who can write a better contemporary poignant drama than Gwynne Forster consistently does. Her latest tale borrows its title from a famous Native American saying "try walking in my moccasins" as the two lead females will learn what it is like to be the other. The story line is character driven but never dips into soap opera territory as the cast seems genuine and the ending realistic. Ms. Forster once again provides one of the most astute yet entertaining tales of the year, which is why I am a fan.

Naughty or Nice
Melanie George
ISBN: 0743442741 $6.99, 352 pp.

After two governesses quit because his wild ward Lady Francine FitzHugh drove them away, Lucien Kendall decides he will take a firm hand with the pest and marry her off immediately so he can go back convincing the Ton he is a hedonist. Instead, Lucien uses pleasure seeking as a ploy to hide his real self, a tortured soul worried that he is just like his father and knowing what happened to George, his ward's brother. Her grandmother died last year and her brother soon after, but Fancy does everything to save her home. Now her guardian, George's commanding officer, interferes with her plans to save her beloved Moor's End. However, when Lucien arrives to admonish Fancy, the two are stunned as an immediate attraction erupts. Soon love blossoms, but he has dark secrets that once she learns them might turn her love to hate. The second The Pleasure Seekers Club Regency romance is a fine tale because of the interesting Lucien who has guilt feelings involving George and an abusive father to overcome; he is the key to the tale. Like Fancy, readers slowly learn his dark secrets that he hides by pretending to be a card carrying pleasure seeker (kind of like reaction formation). Fancy is an intrepid heroine fighting to save her home and subsequently her beloved. Though the action is limited, this character driven historical will pleasure fans of nineteenth century relationship dramas starring a traumatized protagonist.

The Devil to Pay
Liz Carlyle
ISBN: 0743470044 $6.99, 384 pp.

Sidonie Saint-Godard learned her self-sufficiency in France so to have to buckle up her independence due to London society norms feels like a strait jacket. Still to earn money, she teaches deportment to the inane daughters of the upward thrusting nouveau riche. In the evening she is the avenging Black Angel sworn to strike out on dishonorable men preying on misfortune women. Her current target is the Devil of Duke Street, the Marquess of Devellyn whose mistresses come and leave rather quickly, but always leave in tears. Known for his hedonism, he is stunned when the Black Angel with a tattoo of her nom-de-plume on her breast seduces him into her bed, ties him up and steals his most valuable possession. Frustrated in several ways, he warns her that he is coming for her. Not long afterward Sidonie tries to serendipitously return Devellyn his things, but he catches her. They make love and both feel like a prisoner of their passion. This is an entertaining Victorian romance with two likable but emotionally guarded individuals unable to trust anyone especially the opposite sex. The story line moves rather quickly forward as Devellyn and Sidonie engage in a battle of the sexes starting with when she ties him up and ending in one heated final altercation. Fans will enjoy this absorbing dueling duet as they furbish a fine nineteenth century romance.

Night Visions
Thomas Fahy
ISBN: 0060594624 $13.95, 292 pp.

In San Francisco, the pricey private investigative firm Palici Corporation sends Frank Bennett to try to obtain the help of his former lover lawyer Samantha Ranvali in locating a missing person. Samantha feels she has too much going on in her personal life to accept Frank and his company as a client. She is undergoing experimental medical treatment the "Endymion's Circle" at a sleep disorder clinic to help her with her severe case of insomnia. Still she feels sorry and perhaps a little more for Frank so Samantha reluctantly agrees to help. Samantha and Frank make inquires that lead them to an upside crucified corpse of another patient of the Endymion's Circle. Nearby a recording of Bach's Goldberg Variations is eerily playing. Soon the duo finds more bodies like the first one, which means a serial killer exists. Samantha who has had her first full nights of sleep since an assault years ago starts wondering if she is the center of the ritual murders. NIGHT VISIONS is an intriguing suspense drama that grips the audience as Samantha enjoys her best sleep in years only to wonder if the price she pays for a good night rest is murder. Samantha holds the tale together as she struggles with the investigation that is so close to home and her insomnia. The story line is strong until the end when instead of enabling the audience to go sleep feeling satisfied with a fabulous thriller, the tale sets up the next novel without any closure to this one. Still a strong psychological suspense, NIGHT VISIONS is a gripping novel that has the audience pondering whether Samantha is killing people while she sleeps.

Metro Girl
Janet Evanovich
ISBN: 0060584009 $26.95

In the middle of the night, "Wild" Bill Barnaby calls his older sister Alexandra, better known as Barney, informing her that he has to leave Miami for the time being and to tell mom he is okay. That is what he said; but Barney hears a woman scream and her sibling shout a profanity before the connection ended. Barney spent her salad days bailing Bill, known for seeking a good time, out of trouble when she was not blowing up engines racing stock cars. She realizes nothing has changed though he is in Miami and she still in Baltimore. Barney hits the South Beach bar scene which is next the Keys. Accompanying her is racing car driver Sam Hooker, who tries his NASCAR charm to drive Bill's sister into bed with him. Wild Bill had also told Barney on his last call that Bill could "kiss my exhaust pipe" as he borrowed without permission the NASCAR driver's sailing vessel and seemingly headed to Cuba on some wild butt scheme. Switching heroine leads, Janet Evanovich pulls out quite a plum of a story with METRO GIRL that introduces readers to an amusing tough amateur sleuth in Barney, who can repair an engine and destroy a car. Though she prefers not to be on her back working on a man's undercarriage, Barney is there for Wild Bill when he needs her as usual. Fans of strong female leads with witty asides on life while starring in a wild "South Florida" amateur sleuth thriller will want to race along with Barney as she tries to save the world or at least her brother while struggling to ignore the NASCAR cologne (burnt oil mixed in a carbon monoxide base).

Cat Cross Their Graves
Shirley Rousseau Murphy
ISBN 0060578084 $24.95, 320 pp.

In the town of Molena Point, three sentient intelligent cats live with their human companions who love them dearly but the felines keep a secret even from their closest human friends. The youngest cat Kit hears a shot ring out at the Otter Pine Inn and when she goes to investigate she finds the body of the proprietor, ex-movie star Patty Rose. Kit loved Polly so when she got the scent of the gunman, she followed him to his house where she finds evidence that would convict him in court if she could ever figure out a way out of the cottage. Dulcie, the more mature feline, is worried about a young girl Lori who is hiding out in a secret place in the library. Her father is keeping her a prisoner, locking all the doors and windows so she can't get out. When the man who killed Polly kidnaps Lori, Kit chews on the ropes while the man is sleeping enabling them to escape. Kit calls in a tip to the police but the horror is far from over leaving it to the third cat Joe Grey to try to link the three crimes. There's a special kind of magic in a Joe Grey mystery even when he steps out of the lime light to allow his female felines to shine. The trio are so believably portrayed readers will actually accept these intelligent cats exist somewhere in California. CAT CROSS THEIR GRAVES is a fantastic mystery where humans are only minor feeders, villains, or victims as the police department relies on the anonymous tips of the felines to solve crimes.

Sister of Fortune
Lindsay McKenna
Silhouette Bombshell
ISBN: 0373513356 $5.50

Flying the dangerous mission along the Peruvian-Bolivian border to stop drug traffickers, US Army Chief Warrant Officer Vickey Mabrey is stunned and irate with her new orders. Apparently, she has been singled out because of her nightmares as a key person due to her Native American blood to retrieve the stolen Ark of Crystals that can be used for healing as much as killing. The assignment would be odd but tolerable even in her sleepy deprived state except that Warrant Officer Griff Hutchinson will work for her. Four year ago at Fort Rucker flight school he and his cronies tried to destroy the new female aviators including Vickey. Vickey does not trust Griff who vows to himself that he will prove he his is worthy of her. He has never forgiven himself for going along with what took place at Rucker. No matter how Vickey may feel, she knows that they will need to team up and depend on one another when they take on dangerous Robert "global coyote" Marston. This is an exciting paranormal military tale that has touches of intrigue, Native American mysticism, and romance. The story line is character driven as the sexism that occurred at Rucker still grips victims like Vickey. The action-packed thriller moves forward from Lima through the remote jungle taking the audience on quite a ride, but the novel is owned by the relationship between a betrayed Vickey and a remorseful Griff.

Debra Webb
Silhouette Bombshell
ISBN: 0373513364 $5.50

Though a graduate of the prestigious Athena Academy, Police Lieutenant Kayla Ryan has doubts about sending her daughter to this institution ever since someone hired assassin The Cipher to kill her best friend Rainey Carrington. The Cipher is dead, but few clues have surfaced as to who hired this professional hitman and why and what happened to Rainey's missing child. Detective Peter Harkey informs Kayla that Rainey's spouse archeological professor Marshall is under suspicion because he seems to be involved with smuggling. Kayla has trouble accepting the professor as a smuggler or that his actions led to her best friend's murder. Still she made the "promise" back when she, Rainey, and others were students at the academy. She will continue to dig though she feels someone is watching how close she gets to the truth. New readers would be better suited to read the previous novels in the series first to help understand all that is going on (see PURSUED by Catherine Mann and DOUBLE CROSSED by Meredith Fletcher, etc.) in this exhilarating suspense thriller. Still this is a strong police procedural romance with the emphasis on the suspense. The story line is action-packed with plenty of subplots (that is why the reading the predecessors would help) though Kayla makes a terrific lead with her obsessive tenacity to uncover the truth.

Night Life
Katherine Garbera
Silhouette Bombshell
ISBN: 0373513372 $5.50

Ever since she gave birth to her beloved son Dylan, Sasha "Nightshade:" Malone-Sterling has retired from field operative work. She raises her son in Leeds while estranged from her husband Kane. However, her time out of the cold apparently is over when her father visits her to inform her that her former boss at the American Renegade Company "ANO" needs to see her since her spouse has turned rogue. Apparently Kane has stolen information that if sold to the other side would lead to exposing secret agents around the globe. ANO believes that only Nightshade could bring in their best operative Kane. However, Sasha prefers to live the quiet life of a single mother raising her child, but reluctantly accepts the assignment to bring Kane home whether he is guilty or innocent. Katherine Garbera's espionage romance is a wild in the cold tale that hooks readers due to Sasha's duality that almost seems schizoid as she struggles between her desires to be a single mom vs. her skill as an operative. The story line is difficult to follow at times as the audience is never sure about whether Kane has gone bad or not or gone undercover to ferret out a family enemy; thus suspense rises awaiting the confrontation between the spouses as to whether this will prove to be the War of the Roses or Love is a Many Splendid Thing.

Hot Case
Patricia Rosemoor
Silhouette Bombshell
ISBN: 0373513380 $5.50, 295 pp.

Following a tip Chicago Violent Crimes Unit Detective Shelley Caldwell finds the murdered body of LaTonya Sanford drained of blood. She calls it in, but a fog engulfs the corpse; when it clears there is neither body nor any blood at the scene. Shelley has been transferred to the police academy where she instructs new recruits as no one believed that she saw a body vanish into the air, but is considering quitting the force though that would hurt her mom, a district commander. However, when her twin sister Silke desperately calls Shelley insisting she found a corpse of a friend, she rushes tot he scene. Once again the body vanished. This time she knows she did not see things that were not there. Shelley gores undercover posing as Silke to gain entrance to the exotic e Goth club Heart of Darkness for there she feels is a link to some weird supernatural happening, but sinking her teeth into the case without backup or sanctioning could prove deadly. Readers will enjoy this supernatural police procedural with a shade of romance. The story line grips the reader from the moment that Shelley "loses" her corpse and her informer is also missing. The tale never lets up until the climax as Shelley digs deep into a weird world that she knows should not exist. Besides a fantastic lead protagonist, the key to Patricia Rosemoor's super tale is that the paranormal feels bona fide due to the inquiries of the lead cop on the trail of a HOT CASE.

Which Child Is Mine?
Karen Rose Smith
Silhouette Special Edition
ISBN: 0373246552 $4.99

In the DC area, Fran Remington and Jillian Kendall share room as both give birth moments apart during a storm. The lights go out and not long afterward, Fran dies. Three years later Fran's husband Chase has raised his child Marianne with the help of his mother in Pennsylvania where he manages Willow Creek estates Vineyard. He goes to Florida to inform widow Jillian that in the chaos of the birthing their children were switched. Since Marianne needs surgery to repair heart problems, Chase gave blood only to learn that his daughter's blood type means neither he nor Fran are her biological parents. Jillian has AB while her child Abby has blood types that could have come from the Remingtons. As the two parents and their two children muddle through the mess, the last thing either of the adults expected was to fall in love with 0ne another. Although the theme has been overdone and the convenience of having the spouses deceased (and out of the way), Karen Rose Smith furbishes a powerful tale due to a strong cast that overcomes the shortcomings. The lead couple is a likable pair who misses their beloved spouses, but are model single parents who miraculously begin to find solace and love with each other. The support cast, especially the children and even a toy dog have distinct personalities that add to the tense drama. Contemporary romance readers will value this character driven family drama.

Joel Goldman
ISBN: 0786016086 $6.99, 408 pp.

Death row inmate Ryan Kowalczyk tells Father Steve that he does not believe in God or why would he be here when he is innocent. Ryan's co-defendant Whitney King turned state's evidence insisting that his accomplice killed Graham and Elizabeth Burns fifteen years ago. While Whitney was acquitted of the crime, Ryan was convicted. Witnesses to the execution include attorney Lou Mason, police officer Harry Ryman, Nick the eighteen years old son of the victims and Ryan's mother Mary. Ryan's last word to his mother is "innocent". Afterward Nick shakes Lou as they discuss the mutual deaths of their parents when they were both three with the former insisting adults hide the truth behind the fa‡ade of an alleged accident. Lou wonders if that happened to him. The next day Mary hires Lou because she believes her son is innocent and wants the governor to exonerate Ryan. Nick hires Lou to prove that Whitney was involved. Lou uncovers shocking information that makes him wonder if the state committed a wrongful death (obviously this is not Bush's no mistake Texas). Now someone wants Lou dead to end his investigation. The latest Mason case is a terrific investigative thriller that makes a clear plea on the use of capital punishment; one error is one too many as there is no way of correcting a DEADLOCKED mistake. Lou is at his hardboiled best making inquiries into the Burns murders while also questioning the deaths of his own parents. The story line is action-packed yet challenges the use of one person turning state evidence as enough for a conviction (even the bible says two witnesses). Joel Goldman makes a strong argument for sanity in death row cases before others are DEADLOCKED inside a fantastic mystery.

Beaner O'Brian's Absolutely Ginormous Guidebook to Guys
Naomi Nash
ISBN: 0843954035 $5.99, 208 pp.

Beaner O'Brian has decided that she is no longer a child, but instead she is fifteen year old Harriet who is ready for boys. She toils with a summer school paper on what she anticipates as an easy topic for how hard is it to write a five thousand word essay about the opposite sex. She knows she cannot depend on her stepmother who seems more childish than she nor her older sister Molly who's in a nuptial trance with her wedding date coming soon. Her father is a good example of the older generation salivating over the next era as proven by his marriage to a decade plus younger bimbo. Beaner realizes her understanding of males ranges somewhere in negative numbers. For instance, Eugene tells her she is "harmless", the type of girl to talk to about other girls he desires. Faris, her father's intern at the TV show he produces, shows interest in Harriet, but she remains in denial feeling cursed by her lack of perception. Of course there is Antonio. As Beaner, call me Harriet, begins to date, she wonders if the male of the species is a cosmic joke? With the exception of the stepmother who is supposed to provide comic relief but instead slows down the perceptive tale as if she is from Ork, the cast make for a fine coming of age tale in which Beaner call me Harriet struggles to find the truth about boys. Her observations and woes lead to a sudden popularity yet no insight. Middle school readers will appreciate the amusing observations of Harriet as she struggles with what it is all about guys.

Murder by Magic
Edited by Rosemary Edghill
ISBN: 0446679623 $13.95, 345 pp.

This superb twenty collection anthology runs the mystery gamut but has the common thread as stated by Rosemary Edghill in her introduction that "a crime (preferably by murder), and magic and the supernatural had to be somehow involved". Each tale does that and though the format is short story, readers will believe in the use of magic albeit whether to commit a crime, solve a crime, or both. The contributions run the gamut from historical to modern with varying sub-genres in each. Fans of fantasy who-done-it stories will want to read MURDER BY MAGIC as a virtual who's who of authors have contributed strong works in one of the best consistent compilations of the year.

Charlotte Boyett-Compo
Amber Quill
ISBN: 1592799817 $18.50 407 pp.

Hearing rumors about his fiancee whom he never met, Prince Regent of Serenia Conar McGregor dreads his upcoming marriage to Princess Anya though he knows he must fulfill the obligation his parents made for the good of his country. However, he reconsiders honor and obligation when Liza the keeper saves his life using a dagger more adept than any warrior he knows. At first thinking "he" would make a fine soldier apprentice, Conar realizes that his rescuer is a female as she rides off on her steed Windkeeper with him following her. A storm sends the couple seeking shelter in the keep of Conar's younger twin brother Galen who detests his sibling for being in the way of his inheriting the throne. Galen has allied with the evil sorcerer High Priest of the Brotherhood of Dominion Kaileel Tohre, who "owned" and abused Conar as a child leaving him unable to love anyone. With Liza assisting the Prince against deadly foes, Conar begins to learn that life truly is leaving behind his living dead existence for her love. The opening tale of the Windlegends Saga, WINDKEEPER is a terrific romantic fantasy that stars a powerful cast who make Charlotte Boyett-Compo's sword and sorcery world seem authentic. The story line is action-packed from the moment that Liza rescues Conar from thugs and never slows down until the final altercation, which provides a fine finish to this tale and sets up the next book (see WINDSEEKER). The lead duo is somewhat typical of the sub-genre, but no one will care an iota as they go about their adventures with fans rooting for them to succeed as a couple and against the Brotherhood turning WINDKEEPER into a keeper.

The Snowman
Jorg Fauser
Bitter Lemon Press
37 Arundel Gardens, London W11 2LW, England
ISBN: 1904738052 $13.95, 190 pp.

Malta Police Inspector Cassar takes Mr. Blum in for questioning because the "tourist" has quite a record according to Interpol. Blum hides his tourist vacation of not finding a buyer for his illegally obtained collection of Danish pornography. Though his one month visa expires in three days, Cassar informs Blum to leave before the expiration for one hour past will lead to his becoming a guest of the island's civil prison Kordin. Through an Aussie friend, Blum meets fellow illegal dealer Rossi, who likes his women more girly that adult. Blum offers his classic collection from the late 1960s for sale, but soon after attending a party on Rossi's boat, Blum ends up with a train station luggage ticket that leads him to five pounds of Peruvian cocaine inside the suitcase he picks up. However, instead of easily selling the flakes, Blum's luck remains bad as the German police, drug traffickers, and cocaine users want what he possesses gratis. If killing him is needed so be it. THE SNOWMAN is an excellent wild crime thriller starring an unlikable hardboiled anti-heroic con artist who lands in one increasingly more difficult scenario after another. The police procedural story line is told mostly from the perspective of the pursued making for an intriguing upside down twist to they sub-genre. Fans will appreciate this terrific action-packed look at those beneath the German societal food chain by a talented deceased author who apparently observed much of his cast first hand as THE SNOWMAN feels in some ways autobiographic fiction.

Tequila Blue
Rolo Diez
Bitter Lemon Press
37 Arundel Gardens, London W11 2LW, England
ISBN: 1904738044 $13.95, 186 pages

Mexico City Police Detective Carlos "Carlito" Hernandez needs cash quick to shut up his nagging wife Lourdes who points out that they have not paid the school fees for their children. He has avoided his mistress Gloria for four days because he has no money to help her and her family; besides which she behaves like a Lourdes' clone. Finally at the office, the chief's secretary Maribel demands the office contribution while enjoying asides with Carlito though she detests having the room bill dumped on her. To maintain his two families' lifestyle and continue his law enforcement career, Carlito supplements his income selling Columbian for the Police Chief, laundering money and vending arms. Carlito goes to the Malibu Hotel to investigate the homicide of an American Jones. The hotel clerk says a blond woman went upstairs with Jones, but later a blond man paid the room bill while the victim's Columbian wife acts the soap opera version of the grieving widow. Though pressed to drop the inquiries, Carlito ignores political pressure and danger from gangs to dig deeper into a seedy underbelly that makes his side activities so Disney-like innocent (just ask Snow White). This is a terrific Mexican police procedural starring a wonderful protagonist whose personal lives interfere with his professional life. Rolo Diez (ably translated from the Spanish by Nick Caistor) satirically bushwhacks the value venders through his hero, who works the system with capitalist deals to make ends meet in his varying social spheres. The cleverly designed who-done-it and several sidebars bring a perspective of Mexico that the tourist bureau would want hidden from view as Carlito follows the clues while earning a living anyway he can.

Paper Moon
Linda Windsor
ISBN: 0785260625 $13.99, 224 pp.

In Philadelphia, Caroline Spencer, owner of Little Angels Daycare Center, accompanies her sixteen years old daughter Annie on the Edenton Christian High School trip to Mexico. Also on the journey is workaholic Blaine Madison escorting his angry with him daughter Karen, who believes her widowed father has no time for her. At the Mexico City Banditos Dance Club, college student John Chandler picks up Karen as Blaine angrily watches. John feels guilty because he knows he is using the naive lonely teen as he has done with others to bring stolen items into the states, but knows he cannot change horses as his roommate's Uncle Jorge will kill him and perhaps his cute pigeon too. What he never expected was for Jorge to kidnap the two teenage tourists, leaving an irate Blaine and a frightened but praying to God Caroline to try to rescue their daughters as the police seem indifferent and perhaps even terrified to intercede. Though Caroline is too accident prone in the beginning of the tale (early distracter), fans will appreciate this deep tense romantic suspense starring two opposites when it comes to religious beliefs, relationships, and single parenting. The story line is character driven as the audience gets to know the Spencers and Madisons up front and close although that delays the action until late in the novel. Still this is fine tale in which a believer and a non-believer must find the same path to save their daughters from a vile avarice soulless fiend.

Passion's Mistral
Amber Quill
ISBN: 1592798586 $14.00

Being the only one headed operative in the office (the other three agents are dual headed) private investigator Silkie Trevor has been assigned to find a man with a distinguished birth mark on a certain part of his anatomy not seen in public unless one prefers jail time. She learns that her mark may be found at the exclusive Caribbean nudist colony Mistral Cay, a place for female guests only. So Silkie heads there knowing she will enjoy inspecting male body parts of the staff. At Mistral Bay, Silkie meets Julian St. John, who hides the fact that he owns the resort from her. The two are immediately very attracted to one another and fall into instant lust. Silkie soon discovers that the masked Julian has the mark as she becomes intimate with his private parts. Julian knows that Silkie has brought his past crashing down on him, but though they are in love, he carries childhood scars that have led him to believe that no one including his mother wants anything to do with him. Fans of erotic exotic private investigative romances will appreciate this heated tale that stars two intriguing protagonists in an alluring Caribbean locale. The story line turns up the heat once Julian and Silkie begin to peel away the masks that each wear to hide their scars. Profanity is used from the start, but fits snuggly into the plot as much as Julian does Silkie. Readers will enjoy this fine tale while searching for birthmarks on the private parts of significant others (just hide the magnifying glass to protect their fragile egos).

Dangerous Games
Michael Prescott
ISBN: 0451411692 $6.99, 400 pp.

While most people take shelter from torrential rain, the assailant rejoices when storms hit Los Angeles. This unknown culprit has used the heavy rains as a tool in dangerous ransom plots. He abducts a victim, incarcerates them in the vast sewage system beneath the city, and if not paid leaves them to die. The media dubs this vicious murderer the Rain Man as the city is gripped by the gloomy storm clouds he has caused. As the forecast calls for new storms, the FBI assigns Agent Tess McCallum (see NEXT VICTIM) to stop the killer before he kills again. Madeline Grant reaches Tess by calling the hot line set up to get tips on Rain Man. She insists that he is an obsessed stalker named William Kolb. Madeline sends private investigator Abby Sinclair (see THE SHADOW HUNTER) whose job is to stalk stalkers to meet Tess. Though both are lone rangers, Tess and Abby reluctantly team up as the forecast calls for stormy weather and the Rain Man has his next victim kidnapped. DANGEROUS GAMES is a fabulous psychological suspense thriller that starts at a high frenzy of excitement and action, turns even more tense, and climaxes with a fantastic confrontation. The pairing of two stars from Michael Prescott books is fun to follow as both females have so much alpha testosterone it is amazing that they don't kill each other before they take on the Rain Man, a cunning deadly killer playing cat and mouse with his opponents under city inside his favorite local, the drainage system. Readers will appreciate this powerful tale that will send the audience seeking previous solo appearances from this dynamic distaff duet.

With Red Hands
Stephen Woodworth
ISBN 0553586459 $6.99, 368 pp.

A Violet can store the spirit of a former living being so they are used in the courts when they summon the spirit of the victim and have them tell the jury who killed them. This is scientifically proven by the soul scan man which shows when the spirit enters the human violet. Natalie Lindstrom once worked for the victims under the auspices of the North American Afterlife Communication Corps but after toiling with the dark minds of murderers, she burned out and decided to go freelance. The NAACC wants Natalie back and also want to take her daughter Callie away from her to place the child in a special school so she can grow up to be a functioning Violet. They are waiting for Natalie to make a mistake so they can gain custody of Callie; Natalie tries to get them to lose interest in her family. She becomes interested in a murder trial where she is sure the Violet is lying; something that most people thought was impossible due to the soul scan. The spirit that inhabits the Violet is the same one that caused Natalie's mother to go insane and she is at a loss trying to get the apparition to vacate this plane permanently. The sequel to THROUGH VIOLET EYES proves that the author is no one book wonder. This chilling thriller will keep the audience entertained as they hope that a way can be found to banish the evil spirit. Stephen Woodworth has had one of the most original ideas in decades and incorporated it into this storyline, making with RED HANDS a refreshingly unique yet well written tale that is the ultimate in speculative fiction.

Sherlock Holmes: The Hidden Years
Michael Kurland
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312315139 $24.95

Michael Kurland must be the reincarnation of Dr. John Watson with his powerful exciting Sherlock Holmes chronicles with the Moriarty twist. This time around he edits a terrific anthology from a who's who including many contributors who have written Baker St. stories. This time Mr. Kurland has his thirty-five writers (including himself) concentrate on the lost years, 1891 - 1894 when Holmes was thought dead having fallen over the edge of Reichenbach Falls while fighting with Moriarty. Each tale is terrific so that more than just the Baker Street Irregulars will appreciate this compilation. Surprisingly some of the stories have Holmes in a back seat as others take the lead or explain away what really occurred at the Falls. Mr. Kurland, whose Moriarty tales are some of the best around, insures top quality that will have fans of the great detective taking the plunge.

Unexpected Blessings
Barbara Taylor Bradford
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312307047 $24.95, 496 pp.

Her dying grandmother directed Evan Hughes to go to London to meet department store matriarch Emma Harte, who holds the key to her future. After her beloved grandma dies, Evan follows her advice and leaves America for England only to learn that Emma died three decades ago. Still Evan obtains a fashion assistant position at the Harte store. Soon she learns that her biological grandfather was a son of the legendary Emma. (All of the above occurs in EMMA'S SECRET). Evan ponders whether she should tell her dad the truth about her grandfather who is his real father. While Evan struggles with her difficult moral question, someone abducts the granddaughter of current store matriarch Paula O'Neill. She, her two daughters, and the Connecticut Yankee Evan forge a band of sisters ready to do whatever is necessary to avoid a tragic ending. UNEXPECTED BLESSINGS is a fine contemporary tale that adds to the legend of the Harte matriarchal dynasty. The story line contains the usual strong cast, but to enjoy the tale, readers need to peruse previous novels especially the last one EMMA'S SECRET to fully gain understanding of motives. However, by doing that new readers will also conclude that the series seems to have lost momentum with five books looking into the rich and famous. Still true Harte fans take heart that the latest tale contains the strong "Amazonian" brood ready to battle any challenges, in this case thugs, as much as ethical issues.

A Crazy Kind of Love
Maureen Child
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312997531 $6.99, 352 pp.

For two months the plumber has driven Lucas Gallagher crazy as he has his dream house built in Chandler. Lucas confronts Mike insisting he had the best San Francisco architect draw up the plans that she constantly modifies without his permission. Inside he knows her changes have been for the better, but cannot help but continually challenge her. For her part Michaela "Mike" Marconi cannot comprehend why she" stalks" him, but enjoys baiting her client though she wonders if it has to do more with the property she covets than the hunk she desires. As Mike and Lucas fuss and fight over every turn of the wrench, they fall in love. However, Mike always runs away from potential love since her mother died when she was a child; she also has other secrets that she believes will drive men away even if she stayed. Lucas has never been a lady's man, leaving those pursuits to his twin brother while he relates better with scientific research. Even though they share delightful lovemaking, neither changes their mind that this is a brief affair though neither want to be the one to end it. This fine contemporary romance begins as an amusing battle of the sexes, but with the turn of a wrench becomes a serious family drama. Mike is a fabulous lead protagonist fearing love because of people die while Lucas avoids relationships as he knows first hand how easily they collapse. Fans will appreciate the second Marconi tale (see sister's Sam's story AND THEN CAME YOU for the first novel) and salute Maureen Child for her clever interweaving of the next daughter's tale into this solid story line.

The Depths of Solitude
Jo Bannister
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312337124 $23.95, 279 pp.

Math teacher Daniel Hood and his friend Brodie Farrell, owner of Looking for Something, argued whether the former needed to kill the homicidal Daws children (see REFLECTIONS). Their spat led to the end of their friendship as Daniel, feeling betrayed, cut his ties with Brodie before vanishing. Though her business of finding things, raising a young daughter by herself, and dating Detective Superintendent Jack Deacon keep her busy, Brodie misses her buddy Daniel. Used to locating the impossible, Brodie decides to find her friend and if necessary apologize because he means a lot to her. However, the difficult search turns dangerous as someone begins an assault on Brodie, which becomes increasingly more perilous. She talks with Jack insisting she has no enemies, but he says consider Daniel, who he detests perhaps because deep inside he deems the man a rival. Though with lingering doubt, Brodie rejects Jack's hypothesis while the frustrated cop struggles unsuccessfully to keep her safe. Though the twists and turns never stop coming the stunners in some ways hinder the pace (think of several miles of a serpentine road twisting around a mountain). Still series fans will enjoy the refreshing change of Brodie in the lead instead of Daniel. The story line is action-packed as a series of mishaps assault Brodie with even her wondering if her former best friend from his hiding place could hate her so much. The final spin is clever and will surprised readers who will wonder what if the plot remained linear with a secondary theme involving Daniel as by the climax the brakes are worn down from all the meandering.

Moth and Flame
John Morgan Wilson
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312309848 $23.95, 304 pp.

By the time he was thirty-two, Benjamin Justice won the Pulitzer, but soon saw his stature crumble to the ground when his sources proved fake. He lost his job, credibility and with few exceptions, no one in the newspaper world will have anything to do with him. About a decade has passed since his fall from grace; Benjamin is HIV positive, has lost an eye, his lover died, and remains a journalistic pariah. Needing work, Benjamin agrees to complete a booklet that West Hollywood contracted with freelancer Bruce Bibby who was murdered in a burglary that turned tragic. Benjamin concentrates on the WeHo booklet that cites historical buildings, but stays out of the police investigation as tempting as that is thanks to Prozac. However, he soon is the center of a dispute over dilapidated cottages that preservationists claim are historically valuable while developers want to build condos on the site. Both sides tug at Benjamin because his project includes significant historical locations might influence the final decision. Benjamin ties the booklet back to the murder of his predecessor so begins his own inquiries. MOTH AND FLAME is a teriffic tale as the former superstar continues to seek stability not status. The story line is action-packed, but as with the previous novels belongs to Benjamin. His efforts to stay out of the official inquiries are intriguing for series followers as he desperately wants in, but cannot afford the rush. Events force him into investigating with his life on the line from whichever group feels he will fail them. John Morgan Wilson who was ahead of his time with this fallen hero provides another winner.

Let's Get It On
Rochelle Alers, Donna Hill, Brenda Jackson, Francis Ray
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312325924 $13.95, 373 pp.

Rochelle Alers. DC Carver High School teacher Viola Chapman is responsible for this year's career initiative event so she sent letters to twenty-two businesses soliciting their help. Tyrell Hardcastle, part owner of Leo's Supper Club, agrees to meet with Viola. When they meet they are attracted to one another, but Viola feels she is too old for the younger man. Donna Hill. Noah Hardcastle and Tara Mitchell are engaged, but he refuses to set a date. Jazz pianist Rachel Beaumont returns to town after leaving Noah to further her career five years ago. She plans to retrieve Noah. Brenda Jackson. Roni Hardcastle is away from the supper club to teach music for six weeks at Columbia. He fondly thinks back nine months to when he met Sydney Corbain at her brother's wedding and would not mind seeing her again. His wish comes true as the litigation lawyer is taking a needed rest in town. Francis Ray. Tanner Rafferty visits D.C. to ensure that his new hotel opens on time. He is having lunch at Leo's when he overhears Ayanna Hardcastle tells her friend Sheri she is seeing someone so she does not want a blind date with the latest hunk offering. Tanner sees an opening to meet the beautiful woman so he joins their table saying he is her boyfriend. These four superb contemporary romances each center each on one of the admirable Hardcastle siblings. Each tale is a delightful stand alone yet enhances the other novellas with consistent use of family members and the club they own, making for a delightful anthology.

Thief in Retreat
Aimee & David Thurlo
St Martin's
ISBN 0312290985 $23.95, 288 pp.

Sister Agatha stops a robbery in progress by punching the felon in the nose; then rides back to Our Lady of Hope monastery where she will confess to the mother superior that she committed violence against another human being. Before her confession occurs, the archbishop talks to her. He wants her to go to the retreat; a former monastery where religious folk art belonging to the archdiocese is on display. Someone is stealing some of the artifacts and replacing them with forgeries. The Archbishop wants Sister Agatha to recover the church property and catch the thief. Driving her motorcycle and having her guard dog Pax sitting in the sidecar, she goes to the retreat. Almost immediately she finds the murdered body of the art professor who was testing two objects to determine their authenticity. While Sister Agatha is there, more objects go missing, the handyman vanishes and Sister Agatha sees the 'ghost' that is haunting the halls at the inn. At her wit's end, Sister Agatha baits a trap and hopes that the killer and thief fall for it. Aimee and David Thurlo have written an exciting amateur sleuth novel showcasing a nun who is deeply religious yet is a witty, inquisitive and a brilliant crime solver. A convention of mystery writers is staying at the retreat, giving readers, an insiders' look at the world of writing and getting published. The mystery is well crafted, the characters are brilliantly developed and the storyline is so fascinating it is impossible to put THIEF IN RETREAT down until the audience finds out who killer is.

A Christmas Visitor
Anne Perry
ISBN: 0345476700 $16.95

Ten years had passed since the four Dreghorn brothers had been home together, but they were gathering to spend Christmas reunion in their Lake District family home. However, a tragedy occurred when one of the siblings Judah died when he slipped on wet rocks cracking his head. His distraught wife Antonia, mother of a nine year old, asks her Godfather Henry Rathbone to help her in an upcoming fight in which her late husband's highly regarded moral reputation as an honest Justice of the Peace is at stake. Henry drops everything to assist Antonia. Ashton Gower has recently accused Henry of being corrupt. Over a decade ago Peter Colgrave took Ashton to court insisting that the latter's claim to ownership was based on forged documents. Henry examined the questionable deed and agreed with Peter. Gower went to prison for forgery while Colgrave sold the estate to Judah. Gower asserts he was the victim of a fraud between Ashton and Judah. Henry investigates Gower's allegation, but also looks into Judah's alleged accidental death as being too conveniently timed. A CHRISTMAS VISITOR is a fabulous Victorian cozy that stars a delightful mathematician as a sleuth trying to learn what happened eleven years ago and what occurred a few days ago because he cares for his goddaughter. Rathbone, whose son Oliver is a recurring player in the Monk novels, is terrific as the lead. The support cast adds depth, but ironically mostly in providing insight into Judah, who Rathbone also knew quite well; thereby making the case more difficult because he has a positive frame of reference that is diagonally opposite that of Gower. Ms. Perry provides a wonderful Yuletide historical mystery.

The Hot Flash Club Strikes Again
Nancy Thayer
ISBN: 0345469178 $22.95, 336 pp.

For almost two decades Polly struggled to maintain a positive relationship with her mother-in-law the frozen tundra Claudia. She vowed to warmly welcome into the family the wife of her son David. However, she has deep concerns when David weds a Birkenstock organic farmer Amy; she struggles with her relationship with David. Reticent PhD candidate Beth Grey and athletic carpenter Sonny Young fall in love. However, she feels like an intruder because his outgoing family displays open affection while she grew up in quiet shelter. He thinks she hesitates because he has no college degree. In her late thirties, Carolyn Sperry overworks trying to keep the family business at the forefront of the market. However, she is pregnant and suffers from high blood pressure; her doctor tells her to rest and relax. The problem is neither the business nor her spouse Hank; it is her septuagenarian father who eloped with an average looking shy bank clerk younger than she is. Thirty years old photographer Julia married widower dentist Tim Hathaway. With Tim comes his young daughter Belinda, whose manipulations of the adults would please Machiavelli. Adding to Julia's woes is Tim's -mother-in-law demands that Belinda move in with her and will do anything to make that happen. With four new women struggling with family relationships, each finds solace with friendship, wine, and chocolate for the soul. The tales rotate between the families as fans obtain a deep look at troubles that could destroy relationships if individuals fail to talk. As with the first novel, Nancy Thayer strikes again with a strong look at the complex modern day extended family.

Accidental Happiness
Jean Reynolds Page
ISBN: 0345462173 $22.95, 336 pp.

Three months ago Benjamin Melrose died in a car accident leaving behind a grieving widow Gina whose feelings are compounded by guilt as she insisted he, not AAA, pick her up when her car was out of gas during that fatal drive. Struggling to cope with remorse, Gina moves into her late husband's sailboat River Rose. Late one night Gina sees movement on her sailboat and fires a gun, shooting Angel, the daughter of Ben's first wife Reese. Gina joins Reese at the emergency room where Angel is provided medical care. As Angel recovers, she and her mom move in with Gina, who feels she is doing the right thing by her late husband. Soon Gina begins to heal mostly because of Angel who she wonders if the kid is Benjamin's child, a question Reese refuses to answer. As Angel and Gina become close and in many ways more like a daughter-mother relationship than Reese has, the first wife begins acting bizarre making the second spouse determined to keep the potential offspring safe and nurtured at any cost to herself. ACCIDENTAL HAPPINESS is an intriguing extended family drama in which the five key players (the two spouses, the child, the deceased and Georgie the dog) contain different personalities as each one seems real and their interplay authentic though strange. The characters make the story line with the varying relationships between each of them interesting and supportive of their particular values to include a well designed look at mental illness. Contemporary fans will appreciate this deep look at the extensive modern day family whose foci has recently passed away leaving guilt and remorse behind.

Jonathan Kellerman
ISBN: 0345465253 $26.95, 372 pp.

LA Homicide Detective Petra Connor looks at the corpses of the four dead lying in a dance-club parking following a drive by massacre and wonders what connections beyond the club and death link these victims. A few days later, the girl in pink shoes remains a Jane Doe and the case is going nowhere frustrating Petra. At the same time that Petra struggles with no leads except rumors of a possible witness in hiding, twenty-two years old Ph.D. candidate Isaac Gomez has been analyzing homicide statistical patterns. He believes he has uncovered a trend involving a murderer who murders on June 28th and has for six years in row. No one in LAPD seems interested in the genius' findings writing him off as intellectual civilian and thereby ignoring any connections between these homicides though the MO are the same and none have been resolved. No one that is except Petra who knows that June 28th is coming soon and with the help of this young genius plans to end the serial killing of a twisted genius. Petra is a strong effective cop as she makes her lead debut after being a minor player as an officer in A COLD HEART. However, she seems overshadowed by Isaac a refreshing character who brings trend analysis into the LAPD (and police procedurals) and struggles with what his family wants of him (not police work that for sure). The two prime cases are cleverly designed and Petra does a solid job, but TWISTED really soars when Isaac is front and center as even his personal life especially in the library is invigorating.

The Last Honest Outlaw
Carol Finch
ISBN: 0373293321 $5.50

In 1878 Denver, Daily Chronicle reporter Rozalie Matthews wants to become an investigative journalist, but her father, owner of the newspaper, feels that is too dangerous for a lady. He prefers she covers social events and marry Lieutenant John Harper or return to her aristocratic mother in Pennsylvania. Rozalie prefers none of her dad's options and has gone so far as interview three witnesses to the murder of Albert Thompson; each one claims that Elli McCain killed the man. Eli insists he is innocent and that a look alike must have killed Albert. Instead of heeding her father's admonitions, Rozalie continues to make inquiries that bring her to the attention of the desperate Eli, who decides she is his best chance of proving his innocence; neither he nor his champion expected to fall in love. THE LAST HONEST OUTLAW is an amusing yet action-packedexciting western romance that readers will enjoy because of the desperation of Eli and the feisty independence of Rozalie, a chip off her dad's block to his chagrin. The story line moves at a fast pace, but clearly belongs to the lead couple and a fabulous support cast that enhance the duet. Carol Finch provides sub-genre fans with a fabulous Americana tale that grips the audience from the moment Rozalie defies her dad until the final effort to prove her beloved is not an outlaw.

He Said, She Said
Cheryl Kushner
Harlequin Flipside
ISBN: 037344205X $4.50, 218 pp.

The tale of the tapes is Jack Spencer vs. Megan Sullivan, best friends until they shared sex last New Year's Eve. Jack thought that was the greatest moment of his life; to Megan that was the worst moment in her life. He thought his best pal would become his life mate while she felt he tossed her some pity sex because she was depressed having just been jilted. Instead of a loving relationship, she ended their friendship. Jack, a TV hunk who can have just about any woman, decides he needs opportunity to win her heart so he hires a reluctant Megan to redecorate his Manhattan apartment. With the help of her Machiavelli mother Jack declares the war of the sexes with one goal in mind; Megan will be his forever. As for her part, Megan struggles between her desire for Jack, her memory of what she believes was his feel sorry sex with her and the horde of women chasing after him. Though He Said, She Said has been used a lot in movies and books, Cheryl Kushner refreshes the plot line with the escapades of her lead duo who alternate retelling the same incident from totally different perspective; readers will think of Men from Mars and Women from Venus. Jack is heroic in his efforts to persuade Megan he truly wanted her then and needs her at his side (and in their bed) for ever. Readers will be a bit frustrated with Megan for not seeing the obvious yet will also empathize with her confusion as to why her heart wants Jack as a friend and lover.

Better Off Dead
Meryl Sawyer
ISBN: 0373770243 $6.99

Director of Security at Obelisk Enterprises Brock Hardesty feels he finally found Samantha Robbins; thinking she can run but can't hide he sends a hit squad to kill the woman hidden by the Witness Protection Program. However, somehow she escapes Brock's goons. Defense Advanced Research Agency employee Archer Dawson goes outside DOD to hire Chad Langston to test a new thermo detection device because the Fed knows there is a leak of top secret information within the department. Chad agrees to test the device for the next six months from his home in Hawaii. Chad meets Samantha who obtains a wedding planner job as Devon Summers. He realizes she is hiding something and in constant fear, but cannot ignore how attracted he is to her. Samantha feels the same way, but fears any relationships having just lost one due to her entry in the Witness Protection Program and not trusting anyone except her "handler". Brock is still looking for her and he has access to top secret need to know sensitive information that no one else does or knows even exist. BETTER OFF DEAD is an exhilarating romantic suspense that takes off from the moment that Brock's goons locate Samantha in New Mexico while at the same time Chad works an assignment in the Bahamas; the tale never slows down until the final altercation. The story line is action-packed yet contains realistic characters and provides insight on the impact of joining the Witness Protection Program while the romance between Chad and Samantha is deftly handled inside the thriller plot. Fans will clamor for a sequel starring an intriguing undercover female agent, key to the climax.

Make Me Over
Leslie Kelly
Harlequin Temptation
ISBN: 0373692048 $4.50 216 pp.

George Washington University Professor Drew Bennett agrees to a reality show based on his book, "Beyond Eliza Doolittle: Education vs. Genetics in Today's Society" because the sponsors offer a contribution to his favorite charity, Book and a Dream. Drew will make over five women on national TV with the producers hoping he turns into the final catch of one them. In the library, Drew meets one of the contestants, hillbilly Tori Lyons from Sheets Creek, Tennessee. They are attracted to one another from the start and he also likes her refreshing honesty when she admits she likes his stare as if he wants to devour her. She admits that she joined the show as a deathbed promise to her father, who recovered and now holds her to her vow. As Tori and Drew fall in love, both realizes their backgrounds make anything permanent remote even as the show must go on. This is a fun contemporary romance starring two delightful individuals that reflect the professor's book in terms of genetics vs. education. Readers would never expect to find a common ground between these two yet love serves as that vehicle. A final twist on the contest will leave many fans waiting for Leslie Kelly's next reality book as MAKE ME OVER is an entertaining satirical look at relationships forging in front of millions.

Before I Melt Away
Isabel Sharpe
Harlequin Blaze
ISBN: 0373791666 $4.75, 248 pp.

In Milwaukee workaholic Chef Tonight personal chef and owner Annabel Brightman never has time for fun as she spends seemingly all her time catering dinners for her clients. Annabel's brother John, teaching at Rollins College, Florida, worries about his sibling. He asks his friend Quinn Garrett in town on business to look up his sister. Quinn spent the best year of his life as an exchange student living with the Brightmans sixteen years ago; he had a crush on Annabel, but did nothing about it. Now Quinn has built a computer company in California that makes the highly regarded top selling holoscope. When Quinn sees Annabel for the first in all these years, he knows his crush still exists, but he is no longer the shy foreign high school student. He plans to court Annabel in hopes she will love him as much as he loves her. However, first he has to fit into her schedule. BEFORE I MELT AWAY is a delightful contemporary romance starring two wonderful hard working and hard loving individuals who bring to life Milwaukee. Fans will enjoy the antics of Quinn as he uses his business acumen and his PC skills to enable him to court Annabel, whose schedule will tire the audience as she seems as if she is on call 24/7. Together she and Quinn provide a blazing in a sense second chance at love tale.

Carrie Alexander
Harlequin Blaze
ISBN: 0373791674 $4.75, 251 pp.

Karina Sutter and Debby Caruso own Sutter Chocolat, known for their repeat business as women believe the products contain an aphrodisiac. Karina is attracted to the new hunk across the street, but he seems oblivious to her. She decides to make a play by giving him a welcome package of aphrodisiac truffles. However, Alex Anderson rejects her informing her he is allergic to chocolate. Alex admits to himself he wants Karina, but will do nothing about his feelings as he is on the run. Having been placed in Witness Protection when he did his job as Mark Lexmond, defense attorney for a killer who murdered the son of a crime kingpin, Alex is in hiding from the thugs and the cops as he knows someone inside the WPP gave him away in Florida. Still he finds himself struggling not to make love with the delicious looking chocolate maker; only fears for her life keeps him from tasting the sweetness she offers. This is hot romantic suspense though the intrigue comes late. Much of the story line is the sweet Karina trying to get Alex to devour her senseless; an act he desperately wants to do, but bittersweet tries to avoid. Readers will appreciate this XXX amusing chase in which the heroine dangles her chocolate coated cherry at a hero who salivates for a dip in the honey pot, but tries to avoid his and her desires.

Helen Kirkman
ISBN: 0373770170 $6.50, 384 pp.

In 716, Athelbrand has finally caught up with the woman he once loved, but now detests. He helped Pict's Princess Alina escape from her abusive spouse, but later thought she died in a fire. Now he has found her alive in a Wessex nunnery. Alina realizes that the irate Brand plans to use her as a pawn when his country Northumbria goes to war. He warns her if she pulls any of her tricks he will hand her off to her loathsome brother-in-law Goadel who will marry her off to forge an alliance with her people or her vile half-brother Cunan who will use her as a negotiation chip to gain an advantage. Feeling trapped, Alina concludes her only hope of survival rests in her jailer even as she knows that she still loves the man she betrayed. EMBERS is a fine Dark Ages romance that brings to life England in the eighth century through the double crossing intrigue that readers will say et tu Alina as well? The story line is action packed with the villains chasing the star crossed lovers across the country. Alina's motivation for her vanishing act and how Brand finds the woman he mourned are revealed relatively late in the plot leaving fans to doubt whether to root for this couple, Helen Kirkman provides a stirring post Rome Britannia tale.

The Big Scoop
Sandra Kelly
Harlequin Flipside
ISBN: 0373442041 $4.50, 218 pp.

Peachtown, British Columbia is in financial trouble as a long term drought has kept tourists away. Ice Cream parlor guru Sally Danville thinks by providing the best ice cream in the world she might save her town. However, to do so she needs advertising and she has no money to do so. Vancouver Satellite reporter "Cracker" Jack Gold has recently won the prestigious Gobey Award. However, his ego has gotten so out of control his peers have renamed the award the "Goldey" and his boss editor McNab decides he needs to bring his superstar back to earth. He assigns Jack to cover the best ice cream in the world story in Peachtown. Jack's plan is in and out so fast he will make Cool Papa Bell look slow turning off that light. However, instead Jack soon finds he wants to share sundaes and other days with Sally as he begins to fall in love; Sally feels the same way too. THE BIG SCOOP is an enjoyable contemporary frolic that never takes itself seriously as Jack learns that his beloved's philosophy is that the world can be saved with a scoop of ice cream (perhaps that is what we need to deliver to the Iraqi children?). The story line is lighthearted as Jack's plans to leave go awry, but he is pleased to have it so as to find a personal human interest story. Sally is a likable idealist who makes cynical Jack reassesses his goals and values on what is important in life. Though a cholesterol nightmare, fans will appreciate eating ice cream with Jack and Sally.

The Witness
Linda Style
Harlequin SuperRomance
ISBN: 037371243X $5.50, 296 pp.

Houston police detective Crista Santiago has recently been promoted to the Chicano Squad, which means working cases in her old barrio, something she dreads as her childhood was abusive and her teen marriage no better. Divorced Crista, a cop for six years, plans to reassign at the first opportunity although her five true blue sisterhood friends encourage her to be the best. Her current case involves the drive by shooting of a four year old girl Sam in her home. Crista's superiors, her partner, and Sam's father widower Alex Del Rio think the incident is gang related. Crista thinks otherwise as she feels the shooting was a warning to Alex to back off from his neighborhood activism. As Crista digs deeper looking at the gangs, her brother an ex-con connected to the gangs, and other possibilities, she falls in love with the father-daughter Del Rio team though Alex is an old fashioned Latino while Crista is modern day independent Americano; the Del Rios reciprocate those feelings. This exciting police procedural romance is the latest in the six female-cops "Women in Blue" sisterhood tales. Though Sam and Alex are nice caring people, the story line belongs to Crista being pulled in various directions, but knowing what she wants is to be a cop and to keep her beloved Del Rios safe. Mini-series fans will appreciate this fabulous contemporary that looks deep into the mean streets of Houston from the perspective of compassionate individuals fighting an uphill battle while finding love.

A House of Her Own
Brenda Novak
Harlequin SuperRomance
ISBN: 0373712421 $5.50, 298 pp.

When Lucky Caldwell was ten, her mother Red, a hooker, married wealthy Morris Caldwell though his family went ballistic. Red walked out of his life not long after the "I do" was exchanged. Still Morris liked Lucky and bequeathed to her a fixer upper Victorian house that has left his kin outraged. Like his family, Morris' grandson Mike Hill detests the fact that Lucky owns the house next door to him due to his grandfather's will. He thinks she is just like her mother, an avaricious whore. Now six years after inheriting the house, Lucky has moved in to renovate it and find out who is her biological father, one of three men listed by her late mother in her diary. As Lucky goes about town, Mike finds to his chagrin that he is attracted to her and worse as he gets to know her he likes her. Still there is no hope for anything beyond a short fling as his mother loathes Lucky due to her gene pool. A HOUSE OF HER OWN is a terrific contemporary relationship drama that stars a solid cast of individuals who feel authentic especially when old grudges continue to fester. Lucky is a wonderful protagonist who gains reader empathy as she constantly has to prove that she is not a chip off the old block. Mike is quickly pulled in two directions; wanting to remain loyal to his family especially his mother, but desperately wants to sleep with the enemy who he loves. Lucky's family tree search adds a reason for her to return to town but that still remains a diversion from a fabulous family feuding spectacle.

How to Marry the Boy Next Door
Mollie Molay
Harlequin American
ISBN: 0373750528 $4.99, 248 pp.

In Chicago, Today's World magazine research librarian Rita Rosales is shocked when Texas Ranger Colby Callahan comes to see her. Rita had once dreamed of becoming Mrs. Callahan, but Colby never seemed interested. Colby says her matchmaking mom is back in Sunrise, Texas and persuaded him to look her up while he is town so that he can talk her into going home for the holidays. He admits seeing her picture actually convinced him to look her up. Colby hides his reason for originally coming to town as he has followed clues on an illegal immigration scheme that has taken him to Chicago and fears that if Rita knows anything about his investigation she could be hurt. Colby and Rita do the town together and soon they fall in love, at least he does as she never fell out of love with him. However, he likes small town Texas while she has become big city making geography a seemingly insurmountable problem. This is an enjoyable police procedural romance with the emphasis being on the love story though the investigation may be low keyed but cleverly designed to enhance the prime plot. The lead couple is a delightful pair who fans will like and hope a solution can bring them together. Contemporary fans, who enjoy some suspense in their love story, will appreciate Mollie Molay's tale and seek out her previous "Sullivan's Rules" novel, MARRIAGE IN SIX EASY LESSONS.

The Baby's Bodyguard
Jacqueline Diamond
Harlequin American
ISBN: 0373750501 $4.99, 250 pp.

When his estranged wife Casey calls security expert Jack Arnott about a stalker frightening her and her tenants at the Pine Woods Court cabins in Richfield Crossing, Tennessee, he immediately leaves Los Angeles. When Jack arrives, he surprises Casey that he would drop everything in his crowded business world, but he is more stunned to see she is eight months pregnant. Once he realizes he is the father, he is even more shocked. Jack knows he still loves Casey, but must persuade her that he wants her and their unborn daughter in his life especially since he made it clear he wanted no children. However, she will not listen to him as he pleads his case. Still he refuses to go back to the coast or any of his clients until the woman he loves and the unborn child that he wants to nurture are safe from the stalker who keeps getting bolder as he or she avoids being caught. This is an exciting romantic suspense story starring two likable protagonists, a strong support cast, and a fine who-doing-it subplot. Jack shows his worth by showing up while readers will be a bit irritated with Casey (pregnancy hormones running amuck?) who refuses to listen to Jack's beseeching let alone give her hero any slack. Still this is a fine southern rural contemporary romantic intrigue that readers will be fond of because they know Jack.

True Colors
Diana Palmer
Harlequin HQN
ISBN: 0373770154 $6.99

Six years ago, pregnant teenager Meredith Ashe is run out of Billings, Montana by Myrna, the mother of her lover Cy Harden. Myrna paid Tony Tanksley to rob her family safe and accuse his lover Meredith as his accomplice. Cy believed his mother and Tony over his girlfriend. Meredith refused to take any money from the Hardens and returned Cy's gifts to Myrna. Multi-millionaire businessman Henry Tennison meets a distraught Meredith wandering Chicago and takes her under his wings. The lonely older man eventually marries Meredith and raises her son Blake as his own. He taught her how to wisely invest, but not too long ago Henry died. Needing mineral rights that Cy 's firm owns and to sell her recently deceased aunt's home, Meredith returns to Billings. The attraction between her and Cy remains heated and guilt racked Myrna knows she did wrong. However, Meredith is not a frightened teen, but is a confident woman who informs Myrna her price to leave town is the truth. As she works a hostile takeover, her brother-in-law Don spins a double cross and Cy realizes something is not right between the two women he loves. All comes to a head when Myrna faints upon seeing Blake. Though having a Falcon Crest and Dallas feel to the plot, fans will appreciate this fine boardroom romance as the lead couple remains in love yet neither trust the other because Cy chose his mother's "truth" over his beloved's contention. Though Don seems foolish in his power grab to eliminate his highly regarded by the board sister-in-law that could cost his company millions, fans of second chance at love soap opera romances will enjoy this fine tale of revenge.

A Wedding to Die For
Leann Sweeney
ISBN: 0451210328 $6.50, 272 pp.

Abby Rose is young, rich, and beautiful, but unlike some people in her social class, she works for a living and donates her salary to an orphanage. She learned in a brutal manner that she was adopted so she chose to become a private investigator specializing in adoptions, reuniting offspring with their biological parents. Her clients sense that this work is a cause more than a job so most invariably trust her. When she was a teen, Megan found out she was adopted, but promised her adoptive parents she would not seek out her biological parents. She breaks her pledge by hiring Abby to locate her biological mother so that the woman can attend her wedding. Abby and Megan become friends and the bride invites the sleuth to attend the wedding rehearsal and reception. However tragedy occurs when someone murders Megan's adoptive father at the reception. A distraught Megan hires Abby to find out who killed the beloved man who raised her. The investigation leads Abby to Jamaica where she learns the identity of her client's biological parents and more. Upon her return, Abby faces a second homicide while searching for a killer amidst a dysfunctional family. Leann Sweeny has written a witty down home Texas mystery starring a heroine who feels it is her destiny to help others with similar backgrounds to her own. The friendship between Abby and Megan rings true adding depth to the sleuth's desperate need to identify the killer. A WEDDING TO DIE FOR will appeal to romance readers, as much as private investigative aficionados, because much of the fine tale involves relationships including one between Abby and her cop-lover.

My Sunshine
Catherine Anderson
ISBN: 0451213807 $6.99, 432 pp.

Five years ago, environmental research scientist Laura Townsend nearly lost her life in a swimming accident when she hit her head on a rock. She suffered aphasia, a form of brain damage that affects language. Since then she lives in Crystal Falls, Oregon off her disability check supplemented by odd jobs like walking dogs for people. Veterinarian Isaiah Coulter cannot say no to his mother so when she asks him to hire Laura, he agrees to interview her. He realizes that she is ideal for the job so they agree to a trial period. As he observes her gentle healing touch that his clients seem to respond to, Isaiah falls in love; Laura reciprocates but believes he deserves a complete woman not someone who cannot remember how to say her name. MY SUNSHINE is an enjoyable contemporary romance starring a unique protagonist who has retained her intelligence, but suffered brain damage that has impaired her verbal communication skills. The story line is superb when the plot concentrates on Laura's struggles on the job and in her changing relationship with her boss. However an unnecessary bizarre spin of suspense takes away from the fabulous prime theme of an inspirational person overcoming her impairment through encouragement, caring and love.

Tool & Die
Sarah Graves
ISBN 0553803093 $22.00, 288 pp.

Jacobia "Jake" Tiptree still lives in Eastport on Moore Island seven miles off the coast of Maine where she still is fixing up her 1823 Federal home. In a raffle, she won the housekeeping services of Bella for several weeks, but the woman acts loony driving Jake's household crazy. When Jake confronts her, Bella says she has been receiving death threats letters left in her home; she thinks her ex-husband Jim Diamond, just released from jail for forging checks, is the culprit. Jake and her best friend Ellie visit Jim but when they get to his apartment, he keels over on Jake. Someone caved in his head with something heavy. Jake and Ellie decide to find out who did the deed because the State Police believe Bella is the guilty party as she had motive, means and opportunity. Besides Bella, her daughter, Jake's son ex-girlfriend, and the town banker who was scammed by him, wanted him dead. Their sleuthing comes to the attention of the killer who decides Jake and Ellie will be the next victims. TOOL & DIE is a very exciting amateur sleuth mystery due in part because readers get to see Jake as a wife, mother and daughter as well as a snoop. There are practical easy to follow home repair tips scattered throughout the book which gives another layer of authenticity to the storyline. It is obvious the author knows about home repairs and the instructions she gives will prove useful to homeowners. There are a lot of suspects with motives making it very difficult to decide who the murderer is even with a few good clues sprinkled throughout the entertaining amateur sleuth plot.

The Cat Who Went Bananas
Lilian Jackson Braun
ISBN 0399152245 $23.95, 240 pp.

There is a lot happening in Pickax City, the town that is four hundred miles north of everywhere. Jim Qwilleran, the columnist for the local paper, is covering the opening night production of The Importance of Being Earnest starring newcomer Alden Wade. The lead actor moved from Lockmaster where his wife was murdered by a sniper. Another Lockmaster resident Ronnie Dickson is also in the cast, commuting every day because he loves acting. Jim gives the play a good review. While Qwill plays with his Siamese cats Kate and Yum-Yum, Koko meows, which means someone has died under suspicious circumstances. Ronnie dies in a car accident with pills and alcohol in his system. Rumors circulate that Alden gave the pills to Ronnie saying everyone in the theatre does it. Qwill decide to keep an eye on him since he married wealthy Mrs. Hibbard two decades older than him who dies shortly thereafter. Quill is on a story about the Hibbards and their valuable home; after listening to Alden's step-son's story, he wonders if the man played a hand in the two deaths. The title of THE CAT WHO WENT BANANAS refers to the Siamese cats, who steal banana peels and leave them lying around so Alden can trip on it as neither cat likes Alden, especially Yum-Yum. One has to feel sorry for Quill who is deserted by his lady love Polly who is too busy opening her new bookstore to pay much attention to his needs. Lillian Jackson Braun has written another delightful story starring two adorable felines and a hero who wants to know if the two people who died were murdered.

Enchanted by Magic
Gloria Hatchar
Love Spell
ISBN: 0505526174 $5.99

The land of Jubilant lies in the heavenly clouds over Great Britain. Pixies are the prime residents with many enjoying the pleasures of mischievous involvement with human relationships especially the aristocrats of the Regency who pompously reside in the land beneath their country. However, pixie Allegro Soprano knows she must correct a horrible mistake she made involving mortals that could put her people at risk from dangerous trolls. She is accompanied by her friend Largo in her efforts to rectify her blunder, but upon looking at her human targets fears failures. Still she must try because the path currently walked is a sure disaster for her people. Working with Largo she must make a mid course correction and bring as one Grant and Lauren who are destined to be together. Failure to bring this couple together could doom the land of Jubilant. ENCHANTED BY MAGIC is as wild a romantic fantasy readers will find as chaos reigns within the story line as expected when pixies interfere with people. The lead human couple and the mischievous pixie duet are fabulous protagonists while the support cast enhance the tale especially the trolls as despicable villains ready to eradicate both enemy species. Dialects add realism, but can prove disruptive as it is difficult to read at times. Still fans will enjoy Gloria Hatchar's wild ride.

Soul Magic
Karen Whiddon
Love Spell
ISBN: 0505525941 $6.99

Alanna of Rune is stunned when her son Caradoc is kidnapped from right under her nose in the safety of their home because many believe the lad is the fulfillment of the prophecy. Alanna's advisor Wynne the Oracle warns her that the abduction might destroy Rune as the magic is fading and only fulfilling the prophecy that claim she and a human must mate and begat an offspring will save them. Alanna insists that her son is not the savior as he his a product of an evil night and not from her love of the mortal Darrick Tadhg. Wynne insists that Alanna's only hope lies in Darrick, whom she loved and rejected five years ago without an explanation. To save her son and her people she will face her worst nightmare. Darrick hates Alanna, but has greater concerns as his castle is under siege by his Uncle Morfram. Alanna begs Darrick to help, but though he still wants her he rejects her plea. Finally she explains why she left; Morfram raped her. Darrick agrees to help Alanna rescue her son and his mother held hostage by Morfram, but success even with a prophecy on their side seems remote at best. This is an intriguing medieval fantasy romance that stars two cross starred lovers who have been separated by the malevolent Morfram. The story line acts more like a historical than an otherworldly novel, but elements from the latter are included throughout the plot. The secondary characters furbish a feel either fae or period piece to the tale. Though Morfram has no redeeming quality, fans of romantic fantasy will appreciate SOUL MAGIC.

The Pact
Jennifer Sturman
Red Dress
ISBN: 0373250797 $12.95, 320 pp.

Rachel Benjamin vows with her four college girlfriends to keep each other safe from despicable males. Each member of the quintet agrees to do whatever it takes to insure none of them end up with a loser. A decade later, the fearsome five remain close friends, but Emma is about to marry the centerfold for sleaze Richard to the chagrin of her female pals. At the Adirondacks getaway, the four buddies discuss the PACT and what they can do to save Emma from a fate worst than death, marriage to ratty Richard, but go to bed feeling depressed as they offer no solutions. However, the morning light shines bright when Rachel finds Richard dead in the pool. The local police suspect the victim's family and friends and that of his fiancee. For reasons she cannot explain to herself, Rachel begins sleuthing, but is not just an amateur, she is pathetic while also fumbling with a romance of the best man Peter, who Rachel believes is the prime suspect. THE PACT is an amusing chick lit amateur sleuth tale that cleverly lampoons both themes for their impossible excesses. Rachel is more than the center that holds the story line together; she is the novel. All other characters including the deceased, the bride, the other girlfriends, Peter, and the cops are caricatures of one or both sub-genres. The mystery has several fine twists as Rachel leads readers down one wrong path after another. Fans of a lighthearted breezy who-done-it starring a chick lit centerfold will enjoy Jennifer Sturman's delightfully humorous spoof.

Beth Ciotta
ISBN: 193281504X $6.99

His best friend FBI undercover agent Joe "Bogie" Bogart sends bodyguard Colin Murphy a message that the princess needs protection from abduction in of all places Margate, New Jersey. Not understanding what is going on or why a princess is even in Margate; Colin heeds the request and goes to protect Luciana "Lulu" Ross. Colin sees Lulu dressed in a fairy tale princess costume as she performs at children events during the day; he thinks she is cute. She believes he is the latest broken hearted boyfriend of her sister Sofia crying on her shoulders instead of his pals or her sibling. Colin soon learns that the Princess works at a casino in the evenings, which he concludes is the most likely spot where the Bogie undercover connection and related silence occur. Still Colin struggles to keep Lulu safe from an unknown assailant who even slips ecstasy in her drink while waiting for more information from Bogie. Still she rejects his theory that she is in danger except with her heart as her personal protector and the princess fall in love. This romantic suspense grips the audience from the moment a bewildered Colin arrives in Margate to protect the Princess from what he assumes is the mob based on the vague say so of his "brother". The story line never slows down as Lulu realizes that Colin is there for her and not her sister though she wonders why her. Though the stalker comes out of left field, fans will feel CHARMED by this fine contemporary tale of love between the Princess and her knight as Beth Ciotta avoids the second book jinx.

The Rapids
Carla Neggers
ISBN: 0778321045 $6.99

In The Hague, U.S. Diplomatic Security Agent Maggie Spencer receives an e-mail from an unknown addressee. She opens the attachment which states that FBI and U.S. Marshall Service most wanted Nicholas Janssen can be caught if Maggie hurries. Though doubting the accuracy, Maggie goes to the rendezvous point and captures the tax evading expatriate. The arrest brings a wave of attention on Maggie that she would prefer to avoid, but also enables her to move a bit past the murder of her father as he was at the wrong time in the wrong place during a bank robbery in the city. U.S. Marshal Rob Dunnemore comes to The Hague to learn more about the anonymous tip as Nicholas almost killed him and several other agents in an ambush a few months ago. He believes she knows more than she relates to him, which turns out to be true because she knows the tipster is a schizoid who enjoys masquerades to hide her identify. When a diplomat is murdered, Maggie and Rob join forces not knowing that Janssen has a Russian connection that will eliminate those who could incarcerate him for a long time. Carla Neggers always provides her audience with tense romantic suspense tales; her latest is a rapidly-paced novel that starts rather quickly and never slows down until the final altercation occurs. The investigative crime thriller contains two likable lead protagonists struggling with an attraction while trying to do the difficult job. Though this reviewer cannot understand opening an attached file from an unknown source (federal firewalls that good?), readers will immensely enjoy Ms. Neggers' action-packed tale.

Walking Home
Gloria Goldreich
ISBN: 0778321096 $12.95, 368 pp.

Rochelle Weiss would do anything for her beloved parents, Holocaust survivors, who had her late in life and gave her unconditional love. Her boss Brad fires her from her public relations job at Business Industry Systems and her boyfriend Phil dumps her when she asks for a leave of absence to take care of her dying parents. Stunned, she loses her optimistic outlook fostered by her parents that everything will work out okay. Rochelle earns money walking canines; shockingly she finds the work calming her ravaged soul, and enables her to think about the future and all the good things that have happened to her thanks to the love and nurture of her parents. Though she will mourn her loss, Rochelle knows her life will continue to be great regardless of what she does because of her memories of her parents and some new real friends she has met while WALKING HOME. Gloria Goldreich provides her audience with a deep poignant character study of an individual who seems in some ways as a modern Job as everything goes wrong from the moment her mother calls her with the news. The story line is driven totally by Rochelle as she reflects on her past love and glory, her present woes, and ultimately on a future that she knows will once again be filled with love and glory. Fans will appreciate her roller coaster ride from rosy colored optimist to gloomy pessimist back to pragmatic optimist as she overcomes the failures of her boss and her boyfriend and eventually the deaths of her parents in this powerful look at a terrific person making it in a world turned upside down on her.

The Bride's Necklace
Kat Martin
ISBN: 0778321258 $7.50, 416 pp.

In 1804, Miles Whiting molests his stepdaughter seventeen years old angelic Claire until her older sister Victoria bashes his head knocking the lecher out. The siblings steal a necklace and flee Harwood for London. Not long afterward, the sisters remain in trouble until Lord Cordell Devlin, in need of a housekeeper, hires Victoria to fill the position and provides a maid's job to the sister because he wants Claire in his bed soon. Miles changes his mind over which sister he wants in his bed. He finds Claire almost child-like and instead of desire he finds a need to protect her. He appreciates Victoria's intelligence, competitive nature especially in chess, and her protectiveness of her fey like sibling; he also realizes he wants her. However, her stepfather seeks his two "wards" having accused them of theft and injuring him. With the law on his side, only Cord stands in his way, but though Victoria loves him, she cannot expect a lord to keep safe two thieving servants even if he reciprocates her affection. THE BRIDE'S NECKLACE is entertaining Regency romance because of the prime time lead protagonists whose growing attraction amidst danger on both their parts (his attempts to rescue his cousin from the French and her efforts to elude her stepfather) make for a strong tale. Claire's na‹ve innocence adds a depth to the lead duet. Though Miles is too villainous with nothing redeeming, fans will enjoy Kat Martin's fine tale and hopefully see a sequel starring Victoria's best friend.

The Search
Christiane Heggan
ISBN: 0778321266 $6.99, 400 pp.

Philadelphia Sun investigative reporter Lily Gilmore asks her best friend Assistant District Attorney Sydney Cooper to urgently meet her at The Elwood Diner in South Jersey. Though irritated as she leaves with her aunt on vacation in Cancun tomorrow, Sydney drives the couple of hours to the diner only to be unable to prevent two thugs from snatching Lily in the parking lot. Competent County Police Chief Seth Yates leads the inquiries. In New Orleans FBI Agent Paul Ramirez recruits Jake Sloan, a dishonorably discharged Delta soldier, to catch his former commander, also dishonorably discharged Victor van Heusan, who allegedly sells illegal arms from his Camp Freedom militia base. Jake agrees to relocate to Philadelphia where his estranged father is dying from cancer to get close to van Heusan in Lancaster. Jake and Sydney meet while she investigates Camp Freedom because Lily was looking into van Heusan and his militia. The ADA and the veteran fall in love, but she wonders if her heart is betraying her brain because he seems in bed with van Heusan, whom she thinks snatched Lily. This exciting romantic suspense grips the audience from the moment Sydney is knocked down trying to prevent Lily from being snatched and never slows down until the final altercation. The story line is action-packed, but the triangle lead add intrigue and realism to the plot as Sydney and Victor compete for the attention of Jake though in differing ways as his relationship is more fatherly while hers is more girlfriend. Though the conspiracy seems farfetched (then again planes destroying skyscrapers did on 9/11), fans will enjoy this fine romantic thriller with the dual emphasis on relationships and action.

Jewel of My Heart
Rosemary Rogers
ISBN: 0778321010 $7.50

In 1888, artist Madison Westcott is painting a man in her room when her mother insists she come out to greet her Aunt Kendra visiting from Jamaica for the first time in years. Madison has her model Cundo climb out her window to avoid a scandal, but he is hurt when dogs chase him. Kendra's companion Jefford Harris takes Madison to task for risking Cundo's life and writes her off as spoiled. Not long afterward at a debutant ball, Madison reveals a nude portrait she painted of herself. Her family is appalled and to keep the scandal somewhat under control, Kendra takes her niece back to Jamaica with her. When the island erupts into revolution, Jefford takes his two female companions to safety in India where Jefford and Madison fall in love, but danger from a maniac with a diabolical plan endangers the trio. Around the World riding on the crest of love, JEWEL OF MY HEART is an intriguing Victorian romance with exotic locales to freshen up the exciting story line. Madison seems a bit foolish, pampered and immature, but under Kendra's nurturing, Jefford's love, and the danger they face she turns into a strong caring adult. The villain is a delightful rogue who readers will hiss at, but though incredibly written seems to pale when compared with events in Jamaica and India. Still this strong cast in several locations bring alive the late nineteenth century as Rosemary Rogers writes a rousing read.

Linda Fairstein
ISBN: 0743254880 $26.00

Manhattan District Attorney's Office Sex Crimes Chief Prosecutor Alexandra "Alex" Cooper and NYPD Special Victims Squad police detectives Mercer Wallace and Mike Chapman believe they finally have a break in the Silk Stocking rape murder cases. The apparent latest victim Annika Jelt still lived thanks to a cop providing emergency first aid. The case has gone nowhere for several years, but with a potential eye witness and semen enabling DNA testing, hopes rise until the law enforcement officials conclude that a copycat killer is more likely on the prowl. As Alex, with pressure from her boss works the serial rapist-killer case, NYU begins renovating the area surrounding the school. At an NYU law school gala workers tear down a wall in a townhouse where Edgar Allan Poe once resided and the remains of a woman is uncovered. Forensics concludes that the woman was walled in alive back in the late 1970s. As clues surface that begin to link her cases, Alex turns to the Raven Society for assistance fearing that one of its scholars might prove to be the one behind the nevermore rape homicides. Linda Fairstein's latest sex crimes thriller is an intriguing New York romp as Alex and her cohorts travel the city hitting popular and not so known Poe locations in an effort to uncover the killer(s). The story line is action-packed, as the heroine and her two detectives know that they race against time to prevent another rape-homicide from happening. Alex remains a strong central figure to admire who holds the tale together, but the plot hums because using Poe provides a freshness to this strong combo legal thriller-police procedural urban series (see THE DEAD-HOUSE, FINAL JEOPARDY, and THE KILLS, etc.).

Secondhand Bride
Linda Lael Miller
ISBN: 0743422759 $7.99

In 1885 Indian Rick, Arizona Territory, former Tombstone teacher Chloe Wakefield confronts her husband Jeb McKettrick who deserted her once he saw the daguerreotype of her with her spouse Jack Barrett. Chloe insists she was not married when she wed Jeb, but he refuses to listen to her. However, his family especially his father and new wife and his two sister-in-laws accept Chloe as part of the family especially when they learn she came to town to ask help in finding work from her beloved Uncle John Lewis, who recently died. As Jeb tries to ignore the attraction that got him in trouble in the first place, Chloe fits in well with the chaos that has become the McKettrick brood since the patriarch started the marriage-first born contest. However, he struggles to resist her lure and when her former husband comes to town to cause trouble, Jeb knows he would die to keep Chloe safe. This is a terrific finale to the fabulous "Bride" trilogy (see SECONDHAND BRIDE and SHOTGUN BRIDE) that showcases Linda Lael Miller's writing abilities as the great author balances an extended cast with deep characterizations through the three novels. The story line is action-packed, but like the previous two western romances the characters make for a fun tale. Readers will appreciate this wrap up (if you wondering about the fourth McKettrick read the book) in what has been a highly entertaining miniseries.

The Mesa Conspiracy
David Kent
ISBN: 0743469992 $6.99, 384 pp.

In Oklahoma City, his ex-wife chose her career over him and their deaf son Patrick so Eric Anthony raises the lad by himself. However, he leaves the lad with his former spouse because the dreaded call he expected finally has occurred. Fifty-nine year old Colleen Cunningham, who raised Eric, is dying from cancer. Just a few minutes away, Eric goes to say his goodbyes to his beloved relative. Colleen shocks Eric when she tells him about his biological parents something she never said a word about in the years she raised him. Eric learns that his full name is Eric Anthony Miles, a little about his parents, and finally she leaves him with an envelope that contains directions to a cemetery. After Colleen dies, Eric travels to the cemetery where he finds a marker with his name and that of a twin he never knew was born. Not long after that shocker, Eric finds himself in the crosshairs of domestic terrorists, a shadowy federal agency Department Thirty, and the highest echelons of DC power. Only recent Department Thirty recruit Faith Kelly can save him, but that goes against her assignment. The second Department Thirty book is a terrific action packed conspiracy thriller that never slows down once Eric visits the cemetery. Though many of the villains are stereotypical, readers will root for the bewildered Eric to somehow defeat them. This likable single father, who feels like Alice falling through the hole, gallantly struggles to understand his past that if revealed will probably lead to his extermination. Fans will read THE MESA CONSPIRACY in one delightful suspense sitting.

Katie's Dream
Leisha Kelly
ISBN: 0800759109 $12.99, 331 pp.

In 1932 in Dearing, Illinois Samuel and Julia Wortham raise two children on a farm bequeathed to them by their dear friend Emma Graham. The pious Worthams also try to help their widower neighbor George Hammond with his large brood of children. Following a Fourth of July celebration, Sam's brother Edward awaits them with a little girl inside his car. Edward insists little Katie is Samuel's daughter; Samuel knows that this cannot be true as he insists he has been faithful to his wife. The child looks like him and Edward had been in prison during the conception of the little girl. Katie desperately seeks affiliation with a family having been rejected by her mother. Her prayers lie in finding her real father and have him take her in. Julia has doubts about whether Samuel sired Katie encouraged by Edward the serpent. Will he destroy the love between this couple or will the belief in God shared by Julia and Samuel offer solace as they struggle to make a home for the child while other tests of their faith occur? KATIE'S DREAM is a terrific Christian Depression Era family drama starring a deep cast that brings the disheartened period to life when the government sat idly waiting for the recovery around the corner while a belief in God provided solace for many. The fully developed cast shows the impact of the Great Depression on rural America. Especially intriguing is the difference between Samuel and Edward who share the same dismal childhood with the former turning to God and the latter to crime. Leisha Kelly furbishes a powerful historical that will send readers seeking her previous tales (see JULIA'S HOPE AND EMMA'S GIFT).

Men at Work
Janelle Denison, Nina Bangs and MaryJanice Davidson
ISBN: 0425198952 $13.00, 288 pp.

Denison. Though in love as high school sweethearts, Tess Monroe, encouraged by her grandmother, left Morgan Kane behind in Wynhaven to go off to school and be somebody. Eight years later, she is back to sell her deceased grandmother's house that needs restoring; Morgan's company is doing the work. Both realize the spark remains fiery between them, but Tess plans to leave once her work is finished. Bangs. Cosmic troublemaker extraordinaire Sparkle Stardust mentors klutzy Deimos on how interfering in human relationships is the most fun in the universe. Her targets are former lovers Amanda Harcourt and Conleith Maguire. Interior designer Amanda is back in Galveston restoring the Castle of Dark Dreams having left town and Conleith for New York ten years ago. Conleith's firm has the painting contract on the restoration project. Both realize the spark remains hot between them, but Amanda plans to depart once her work is finished. Davidson. Temporary worker Cathy Wyth buys a late nineteenth century fixer-upper before realizing what a foul mouthed obnoxious neighbor Ken Allen is or that she has a kind hearted resident ghost in Jack. As Cathy and Jack begin to fall in an impossible love, Ken turns even more nasty and boorish if that is possible. The male blue collar restoration themes connect these wonderful contemporary novellas that cross sub-genres from second chance to paranormal with twists. The lead couples are wonderful pairings including the ghostly hunk and the support cast solid as each author provides a superior entertaining contribution.

Derik's Bane
MaryJanice Davidson
ISBN: 0425199975 $6.50, 304 pp.

In Massachusetts, Werewolf Antonia tells pack member Derik Gardner he must save the world from Morgan le Fay of Monterrey, California. Derik arrives at Dr. Sara Gunn's Monterey home, but she is working. Monks attack her, but they fall over each other like a comedy team. Sara returns home where Derik having confirmed with Antonia that Sara is Morgan tries to kill her; instead she knocks him out giving him an aneurism. Being a werewolf, Derik heals fast. He informs her he could not kill her and then asks for food as he is hungry. He insists she is Morgan, but she denies that though she has always been lucky whenever she really needed something she got it. Derik also tells her he is a werewolf. She thinks he is a homicidal lunatic. Derik kisses her, but says they need to stop the bad guys from destroying the world. They visit her boss Dr. Cummings who says she is Morgan and that Derik as a werewolf is a lousy mate. He also says she must defeat Arthur's Chosen in Salem, Massachusetts who want her dead so that Arthur can return. Thus, begins the trek east together to save the world. DERIK'S BANE is a unique well-written romantic fantasy with a Camelot twist. The strong lead characters, whose verbal fighting, including her dog jokes, are amusing while the Arthurian connection and the werewolf aspects cleverly add fun to a delightful tale. Though the heroine seems too accepting of his explanations especially since he tried to kill her, sub-genre fans will appreciate this fabulous cross country trek starring the world's most powerful sorcerer and the werewolf who loves her.

The Widow's Tale
Margaret Frazer
ISBN: 0425200183 $22.95, 272 pp.

Though he spends a lot of time at the royal court, Edward and Cristiana Helyngton have been have been happily married for years raising two preadolescent daughters Jane and Mary. However, in 1449 when Edward returns to Hertfordshire from his latest stint with the royals, he is very ill. His avarice cousin Laurence, coveting Edward's larger estate, demands the ailing man place Jane in a nunnery and marry Mary to his son Clement. Edward says no, but soon afterward, he dies. Cristiana is unable to grieve her loss because Laurence abducts her and places her in St. Frideswide's nunnery. Dame Frevisse sees Cristiana as another dumped obligation, but soon events take deadly twists. Before dying Edward entrusted his beloved spouse with a secret that could destroy the noble inner circle. Cristiana will use that knowledge to risk her life in order to save her children from her vile in-law. The imperturbable Sister Frevisse feels caught in a growing storm in which those who know the truth are subject to murder but she realizes if revealed could lead to civil war. The fourteenth Sister Frevisse medieval mystery is a fantastic refreshing entry as the "unflappable" nun finds even she feels overwhelmed with the momentous events swirling around the widow who will do anything perhaps even murder to protect her children. As usual Margaret Frazier provides an action-packed story line that focuses deeply at mid fifteenth century England starring a terrific protagonist. However, the machinations in a deadly game between nobles, Laurence, and Cristiana make for a fabulous WIDOW'S TALE that shows why Ms. Frazier has received Edgar nominations for this series (could this be her award winner?).

Murder Under a Mystic Moon
Yasmine Galenorn
ISBN 0425200027 $5.99, 271 pp.

Emerald O'Brien didn't know when she moved from Seattle to Chiqetaw that the town rests on a psychic power field and since Emerald has a strong psychic sense she is open to all the paranormal activity that surrounds the town. When her friend Jimbo O'Brien asks Emerald to look for his biker friend Scar who disappeared without a trace, she agrees to help him though there are many stories about the Klakatat monster(similar to Bigfoot) who appears from time to time in the Klickavail woods where he was last seen. Emerald, her best friend the medium Murray and Jimbo enter the woods; the psychic uses her sixth sense to locate Scar who was murdered. The coroner rules he was killed by a cougar but Emerald and Murray sense it was a human who murdered him even though there are many elementals in the area who could have been responsible for the deed. When another biker is killed in the same place, Gordon, another psychic, is arrested but Emerald's worst enemy asks for her help in proving her cousin's innocence. Since Emerald believe George not guilty, she sets out to prove that the police arrested the wrong man and she won' let the Klakatat monster or the elementals stop her. MURDER UNDER a Mystic MOON is a refreshingly innovative paranormal mystery that will appeal to a wide range of mystery aficionados. The heroine is very frightened of what she sees and knows in the etheral world but she still uses her psychic powers to go the extra mile to see that justice prevails even if it means putting her own life in danger. Yasmine Galenorn is an author to keep an eye out as she is heading towards superstardom.

Bead on Trouble
Barbara Burnett Smith
ISBN 0425199991 $5.99, 304 pp.

Kitzi Camden and Beth Fairfield have been best friends ever since they met when they were eight years old at Camp Green Clover in Texas. Now in their fifties, they attend the twice yearly Craft Retreats that the camp holds. The two women and Beth's daughter Shannon arrive at the camp. The teen asks Kitzi to drive her to a hardware store on the first night of camp because Shannon insists she saw her father's car parked there once when he was supposed to be someplace else and he has been going out at night using flimsy excuses. When they arrive at the parking lot they see Shannon's father making out with a camp crafter May Feather. They return to the camp but agree not to say anything to Beth that night; the next morning they learn that May was murdered. Shannon and Mitzi lie to the police about their whereabouts the night before but one of the offices don't believe them. Kitzi decides to do a little sleuthing on her own to see if she can find out who the killer is. This first installment in Barbara Burnett Smith's new amateur sleuth mystery is a cleverly constructed who done it with enough suspects that the reader won't be able to figure out who the killer is until the author chooses to reveal the perpetrator's identity. Even when the murderer is revealed, readers will be shocked because that person is the last one anyone would guess is capable of killing. The heroine proves that being a half century old means one remains energetic and quick willed as those twenty-five years younger. BEAD ON TROUBLE is an entertaining and lively mystery.

Sit, Stay, Slay
Linda O. Johnston
ISBN 0425200000 $5.99, 304 pp.

Kendra Ballantyne was a first rate litigator until she was accused of giving a strategy memo to opposing counsel's client. When the client got the memo, she went berserk and killed the CEO of the corporation she was suing. Although Kendra insisted she never sent that memo, she was forced to resign from the firm, her law license was suspended for three months and she filed for bankruptcy. Darryl Nestler, her friend of Doggy Indulgence Day Resort where Kendra used to bring her Cavalier King Charles Spaniel, convinces her to dog sit for sexy Jeff Hubbard's Akita. She accepts because she is renting out her mansion and doesn't want to see others living there. Gradually, Darryl gives her more assignments taking care of the pets of the rich and famous; she is reasonably content until she walks into a client's home and finds him dead, the murder weapon next to him. The lead detective believes Kendra is a viable suspect and that conviction is strengthened when she walks in on another murdered client. Jeff, a private detective and security expert, wants to help her but she's determined to find out who is out to get her although she may get killed in the process. SIT, STRAY, SLAY is a very funny and exciting mystery. Although Linda O. Johnston has written many novels, this is her best tale worthy of an award nomination because it entertains yet shows the audience what happens when an innocent person's life spins out of control and how that person copes with the changes forced upon her. The romance in this novel adds spice to a very clever crime thriller.

Must Have Been the Moonlight
Melody Thomas
ISBN: 0060564482 $5.99, 384 pp.

In 1870 in the Western Sahara, Major Michael "El Tazor" (barracuda) Fallon rescues Lady Alexandra Donally and Brianna Donally, wife and sister of the Minister of Public Works Sir Christopher from assassins. He escorts the two women to Christopher's camp only to learn the man left in a rage having though his beloved spouse and sibling murdered. Brianna is attracted to her rescuer and tries to seduce him, but though tempted especially after a heated kiss he rejects her temptation as he does not want to get involved with the sister of a superior. Instead he has a trusted Khedive escort the women to Cairo while Michael goes after Christopher. Later Michael offers Brianna a marriage of convenience, which she accepts. He sees this as a way to continue his activities without female interference while she knows a husband provides respectability while she goes about seeking social reform. However, as they head to England, Brianna falls in love with Michael; he refuses to reciprocate her feelings until an abduction opens his mind to his heart. This is an exciting Victorian romance that uses Egypt as an intriguing setting for much of the plot; the locale provides freshness to the tale and enables Brianna's courage and independence to flow freely. The story line is fast-paced as Brianna seems more like Pauline and Michael her rescuer. Fans will appreciate these two protagonists as she softens her hardened champion (no pun intended) through love and want to read the second chance at love tale between Alexandra and Christopher (see IN MY HEART).

Sin and Sensibility
Suzanne Enoch
ISBN: 0060543256 $5.99, 384 pp.

Lady Eleanor Griffin is tired of the patterns that engulf her life. If she has the slightest bit of fun, one, two, and even at times all three of her brothers come down on her. She wants them to back off so she enjoy her youth. She demands her oldest brother the insufferable Sebastian who became the family patriarch at eleven to give her some freedom. He reluctantly agrees out of fear she might do something outrageous, but warns her if she causes a scandal he selects her husband. After that meeting, Sebastian asks his best friend Valentine Corbett to watch over his sister. Valentine agrees though he prefers more experienced women to keep an eye on. As Valentine comes to Eleanor's aid, he finds he cannot resist her lure and wants her in his bed. Soon his deep desire turns to love, but to persuade his beloved that they could have a lifetime escapade together seems impossible. Eleanor reciprocates his feelings but still covets an adventure of a lifetime. SIN AND SENSIBILITY is an entertaining albeit typical Regency romance that fans will enjoy due to the likable fine pairing of the lead couple as he goes from babysitter to wannabe lover once Valentine begins to know Eleanor. She is an enigmatic sort as she loves her rake, but feels strongly that if she fails to go on her adventure she will have lifetime regrets; he must prove to her they can share a grand adventure. Thus this couple's changing relationship spins a delightful story line.

The Color of Family
Patricia Jones
ISBN: 0060509651 $12.95, 374 pp.

African-American Antonia Racine Jackson has kept a secret from her beloved spouse and her cherished two children as well as other family members. Back in the 1950s in New Orleans, her brother Emeril and wealthy white Agnes Marquette had an affair that led to the birthing of a child raised as a white man. Now years later her secret nephew highly regarded concert pianist Clayton Connor is in Baltimore where Antonia and her family reside. Antonia considers it is time to reveal the truth about her blood ties to Clayton. However, with Emeril dead and Agnes in denial, no one believes Antonia though her words creep inside Clayton's mind as he begins to wonder if it is possible that he is of mixed race. Antonia's revelation causes troubles and doubts in her family and that of Clayton's. THE COLOR OF FAMILY is an intriguing look at racial relationships inside a deep bi-family drama. The story line starts in the segregated 1950s south, but is at its best in the present day as secrets kept by the two female antagonists (Antonia and Agnes) are being revealed. Though Antonia comes across as mentally unhinged with a rationalization for her actions that fails to consider consequences on others and thus detracts from a powerful character study of race relationships then and now.

The Protector
Gennita Low
ISBN: 0060591102 $5.99, 384 pp.

In Southeast Asia, Covert Ops SEAL Zola "Jazz" Zeringue intercedes when a pimp and a GI barter over an underage girl by paying cash for her. When the elderly grandmamson tries to stop him from following the child into the back room, he ignores her to make sure the child is safe. Interpol arrests Jazz for having sex with a minor. Grandmamson is actually Vivienne "Vivi" Verreau working undercover g for GEM, but currently serving as the liaison between the United Third World of Women and the UN. Vivi interviews Jazz, who says he just wanted to protect Rose, who affirms his testimony. Vivi frees him. Jazz is attracted to Vivi, but she hates soldiers who kill or rape and plunder. Vivi and GEM lead Jazz and his squad on a mission to stop European weapons dealer Dilaver peddling his toys to the Triad brothers, dealers in drugs and girl prostitution. They are to allow GEM to extract the girls and steal the weapons, but allow Dilaver to escape thinking the Triad attacked him. This is the first step in a widening plot to catch bigger fish. This is a strong suspense thriller that excitingly ties together the fight against international drug, weapons, and underage girl trafficking into a fine tale starring two likable strong lead protagonists. The locale and the secondary cast add authenticity to the fine story line. Readers will shake their heads when the lead couple stops while on the lam to make love. Although the cleverly devised final confrontation is more a set up to Hawk's future tale than a closing climax, romantic suspense readers will gain high levels of pleasure from THE PROTECTOR.

Her Scandalous Affair
Candice Hern
ISBN: 0060565160 $5.99, 384 pp.

In 1814, knowing she is broke and soon will be unable to keep up appearances amidst the Ton; Isabel Weymouth decides she needs to marry a wealthy aristocrat. For good luck as she prowls the Ton for a suitable match and wears her grandmother's lucky brooch. Richard Mallory has just returned home from war to learn his grandfather is dying. His grandmother insists he find the family heirloom the Mallory Heart to give to his grandfather before he dies so he can give it to his spouse and relieve the guilt that he never did so. He has about one month to complete his quest. In London, Isabel and Richard are attracted to one anther from the first moment they meet. She especially likes that he is unable to stop staring at her bosom; however, what has excited Richard is that Isabel wears the Mallory Heart. Over the next few weeks they steal the gem from one another even as they fall in love. This is an amusing Regency romance as the two protagonists take turns as cat burglars stealing the hearts of each other and the Heart. The fast-paced plot never slows down as the competition increases until both succumb to their passion. Fans will take immense delight as the matchmaking Mallory Heart fosters a wonderful romance between a likable pair.

My Own Private Hero
Julianne Maclean
ISBN: 0060597283 $5.99, 384 pp.

In 1884, following the path of her older sisters Clara and Sophia, Adele Wilson crosses the Atlantic to marry an English aristocrat in her case Lord Osulton. Adele feels she and her fiance Harold are well suited as both enjoy quiet rather than adventures and prefer rustication as opposed to the big city. At a short stop on coastal West England, someone abducts Adele from her cabin. The kidnapper demands a ransom and Harold's cousin Damien Renshaw arrives. He rescues Adele, who wonders why Harold sent Damien, but she is wounded in the process. As she heals, Damien and Adele begin to fall in love. However, she thinks she is more suited to wed the quiet Harold than the extroverted hero even as she rationalizes why she covertly covets Damien as gratitude for rescuing her. Still late at night she admits secretly to herself that Damien makes her heart beat faster than Harold though she would prefer not to hurt her kind fiance. The third Wilson sisters' tale is a fine Victorian romance that closes the loop on a charming mini series (see AN AFFAIR MOST WICKED and TO MARRY THE DUKE). The cast, as with the previous two tales, make the story line hum. Adele's brain knows that Harold is more suited to her temperament, but her heart insists Damien is her soulmate. Julian Maclean closes with a high note, but leaves room for perhaps another sequel starring Harold.

A Visit From St. Nicholas
Victoria Alexander
ISBN: 0060517638 $6.99, 384 pp.

In 1843 Lady Elizabeth Effington is confused as much as perhaps Scrooge was when the first two ghosts and Marley visited him. Elizabeth has loved Charles for a long time, but the kisses of Nicholas Collingsworth send her into ecstasy. She tells Nicholas she loves him, but he insists she marry his friend and forget him as he will go to America. Nicholas leaves and Elizabeth marries Charles and has two children with him, but her spouse dies. In 1853 Nick returns to England responsible for Elizabeth's finances as his friend her late husband stipulated he would. To her chagrin Elizabeth still wants Nick, but she refuses to embarrass and humiliate herself again. Nick has always regretted his rejection of his beloved though he did so for noble reasons. Now he wants her in his bed bit not just as a temporary companion, but as his wife. This terrific holiday Victorian Effington romance is a superb tale starring two likable protagonists and the ghost of Charles, beloved by both of them. The outtakes from Dickens' A Christmas Carol add depth by emphasizing the season and in some ways paralleling the main story line. Fans will appreciate this delightful yuletide historical second chance at love tale that emphasizes the belief in late December miracles.

LE. Modesitt, Jr.
ISBN 0765312131 $27.95, 480 pp.

After saving the life and the throne of Lord Ghrant of Austra, former cooper and sailor Kharl is made a Lord and given an estate. He barely settles in when Kharl's friend lord- Chancellor Hagen whisks him to the capital. Lord Ghrant needs his help in quelling rebellious lords, abetted by the Hamorian Empire who wants to make Austra a part of their dominion. After Kharl defeats the mages and the rebellious lords he returns home but once again his rest is short-lived. Hagen tells him that Lord Ghrant wants him to be the envoy to Nordla, Kharl's former homeland, the place he fled because Lord West and his son Egen wanted to kill him. He accepts the job realizing that he has changed so much his enemies will never recognize him. He is to report on the activities of Hamorians reputed to be there in large numbers. In Nordla, Kharl realizes that Egen is allied with the Hamorians who want to overthrow his father and place the son Egan on the throne. Kharl refuses to let this happen because Egan is so evil he will destroy Nordla. In the upcoming battle Kharl must destroy four powerful white wizard masters of chaos magic before they try to kill him. ORDERMASTER, the sequel to WELLSPRING OF CHAOS returns the reader to the further adventures in store for Kharl, a powerful mage, a reluctant Lord and a champion of justice. He is a character so likeable and endearing readers will root for him to prevail in battle and in Nordla win the hand of the woman he loves. There is plenty of action in the book though not at the expense of character development as L.E. Modesitt, Jr. has written another exciting action adventure in his Recluce Universe.

Behemoth: Seppuku
Peter Watts
ISBN 0765311720 $25.95, 384 pp.

Five years ago amphibious cyborg Lenie Clarke unleashed the microbe Behemoth on an unsuspecting world, killing ten million in North America. Lenni and her fellow cyborgs escape the devastation in the ocean depths and are at war with the VIP's who fled to the underwater city of Atlantis. The people of Atlantis and cyborgs make peace when Behemoth finds its way into the underwater city. For the first time in five years Lenie journeys to land accompanied by Ken Lubin to find a way to keep Behemoth out of Atlantis. Although a vaccine for Behemoth exists, it is in scarce supply so more people die from the microbe and the plagues that follow in its wake. Watchers guard against anyone breaking out of quarantine and many countries want to eradicate North America and thus destroy Behemoth. A new deadly microbe Seppuku is launched as a cure for Behemoth but when it kills the microbe it also infects the host. A watcher, Achilles Desjarding know that Seppuku will eventually die out before killing the host but he doesn't tell anyone because he wants to keep all the power he gained. Lenie and Ken can stop him but it might mean their deaths. BEHEMOTH: SEPPUKU is the last of the Lenni Clark books and it is just as action-packed and exciting as STARFISH: MAELSTROM and BEHEMOTH: B-MAX. This is a dark gritty speculative fiction novel with the survivors grimly determined to rebuild civilization if Behemoth is eradicated. Lenie knows she can never find redemption but she does her best to save what is left of the North American population. Desjarding is the archetype villain who everyone will love to hate. Peter Watts is writing excellent cutting edge science fiction.

The Dark Lord
Patricia Simpson
ISBN: 0765348616 $6.99, 372 pp.

In Luxor, Egypt, the Khamsin (windstorm) forces everyone to seek cover; the visiting twenty something sisters Fay Rae (her mom liked King Kong) and Angie Lambers rush to shelter, only to have the former having lived an entire life with bad luck, trips over a small golden box mostly buried by dirt. She opens the box that looks modern, but finds something wrapped inside that has Aramaic writing on it. A shopkeeper translates mentioning THE DARK LORD, but refuses to read any further out of fear. Rae wants to leave the contents behind having dealt with demons as a teen, but Angie pulls out tarot cards and selects Typhon the Devil. Rae returns to work at the University of Berkley but learns that her mentor Dr. Gregory passed away. Not long afterward, she receives a message from Gregory, demanding she watch over a dangerous object he has in his home. Because of the deathbed request, Rae finds two men associated with the deceased, Gregory's son Michael and Gregory's friend Simeon Avare, interested in her. Other happenings frighten her as she wonders if Angie released an ancient evil when she opened the Tarot cards. THE DARK LORD is a pleasant paranormal romance with the emphasis on the otherworldly elements though the love subplot is a key entity. Rae is the star as she battles malevolence, the attention of two males, and overcoming a life of blue notes yet keeps on trying. The two men suddenly in her life add the paranormal and romance elements in an intriguing triangle that displays why Patricia Simpson is one of the sub-genre's best at keeping the suspense on multiple tracks at high levels.

The Shades of Time and Memory
Storm Constantine
ISBN: 0765303477 $27.95

The world of the Wraeththu (the new race of hermaphrodites) is changing even before they can completely settle in the human ruins. Calanthe has somehow vanquished perhaps killing Thiede thus leaving the power structure of the Wraeththu in a free fall vacuum that will shake the species' foundation, but also may destroy everyone. At a time of growing instead of lessoning confusion, Cal's beloved Pellaz the Tigron tries to rule from Immanion while Caeru hosts the heir. However, Pellaz senses that a new threat has arisen has could eradicate the Wraeththu at a critical moment in their efforts to establish a society. An ancient menace has surfaced seeking recruits to overthrow Pellaz while the next generation of the Wraeththu has doubts about the wisdom of their leaders. In the Forest of Gebaddon, Ponclast and his Varrs horde are being converted from weak losers into a threat by a force beyond the understanding of the Wraeththu. For Ponclast plans to challenge Pellaz as leader, but threats come from partisanship within and the unknown ancient as much as it comes from the leader of the Varrs. The middle book of the second Wraeththu trilogy is complex (as one can tell from this reviewers struggle to explain the prime plot above) yet very entertaining as Storm Constantine provides incredible insight into her world. The story line is exciting with several subplots simultaneously moving forward adding to the feel of an upcoming calamity. Nestled in the middle of the events of the first trilogy fans obtain further insight into a political-social system that is maturing while under assault from the second generation, the pumped up Varrs, and an unknown that might prove even more powerful than the Wraeththu.

The Gods and Their Machines
Oisin McGann
ISBN: 0765311593 $19.95, 233 pp.

Altima is the dominant nation in the area with its advanced technology making it so "superior" to its neighbors. Altima depends on its backward neighbors for raw materials including cheap labor that are especially used in its highly sophisticated manufacturing sector. The largest border nation is the fundamentally religious Bartokhrin, an agricultural society that treats females as subservient yet worships the Goddess Shanna. Most Bartokhrins detest their powerful secular neighbor. However a small group also loathes the ungodliness of Altima and has begun a terrorist war to rid Bartokhrin of all ties with Altima. Priests use the mortiphas effect to provide volunteers with negative psychic energies that convert them into living bombs to wreck Altima. As Altima plans to devastate Bartokhrin with a military assault, plots abound to assassinate leaders felt to soft on terrorism. A terrorist attack kills the family of teenager Chamus Aranson, whose obsession to fly has changed to kill all Bartokhrins. While flying, he makes an emergency landing in Bartokhrin where he meets tomboy Riadni Mocranen, who is his only hope to elude captivity, but neither understands the values of the other. THE GODS AND THEIR MACHINES is a terrific allegorical speculative fiction that grips the audience from the moment that readers grasp the radical differences between the two societies and never slows down until the final symbolic twist. The story line is action-packed and contains two delightfully daring diverse heroes. Still the parable makes this a compelling read as Oisin McGann has furbished a deep thought-provoking novel. Fans of several genres will reconsider the post 9/11 testosterone actions and reactions of country and terrorist leaders.

John Barnes
ISBN: 0765303299 $24.95, 320 pp.

Private detective Travis Bismark visits his college friend, science fiction writer Professor John Barnes in Gunnison, Colorado after the writer spent time on the Internet with a cartoon, Gaudeamus. Travis spins some wild tale about "goddies" pills that enhance sex and telepathy and also describes a baffling technology called Gaudeamus that people are killing one another to gain control. Not long afterward, Travis vanishes while a cyber elk attacks John. Travis keeps appearing and disappearing over the next few months, but at each visit he provides a weirder tale starring exploitive alien businessmen and grunge musical clowns traveling in flying saucers that make even Mr. Barnes' novels seem so mundane. Soon John realizes that the clock is ticking and that the earth has less than seven years to learn how to fully use Gaudeamus technology to convert energy from one form to another without space or time restraints. Mindful of a fabulous Eerie, Indiana episode, GAUDEAMUS is a wild tale that breaks the wall between autobiography and science fiction as John Barnes provides insight into himself and his wife in an over the top out of this world (but on this planet) satire. The story line goes from seemingly impossible to sublimely impossible as Mr. Barnes furbishes an insane yet entertaining satire that ironically even takes shots at the author. Though SF fundamentalists will take exception (not portrayed too highly), fans of way out craziness will enjoy the Gaudeamus tale and would want a prescription of goddies (of curse the FDA would declare them as harmful because people might have fun).

The Book of Ballads
Charles Vess
ISBN: 076531214X $24.95, 191 pp.

Fantasy and comic book illustrator Charles Vess (see his work on the early Sandman comic books) provides thirteen illustrative stories written by eleven different highly regarded authors that are based on famous ballads. The tales are cleverly conceived as Mr. Vess and a renowned fantasist take a well known verse and turns it into a delightful illustrated story. The original ballad follows the animated tale for those who seek the complete package. The pictures are in black and white, but that brings a historical feel to the retelling of the ballads; thus this enhances the conversion as color would make it prettier, but subtract from the wonderful total affect. A rather different type of anthology, fans of graphic tales will appreciate this marvelous unique collection that contains wonderful interpretations of famous ballads like the Black Fox and Thomas the Rhymer by a who's who of fantasy.

The Wounded Hawk
Sara Douglass
ISBN 0765303639 $27.95, 496 pp.

Thomas Neville, once a priest in the Dominican order, is married to Margaret; they have a daughter he loves dearly, but he doesn't love his wife because the Angel Michael told him she was demon spawn like all daughters of Eve. Thomas' mission is to find Wynkyn de Worde's casket and use the book inside to send the demons back to hell. He doesn't know who to trust but believes King Richard II is a demon and that Duke Hal Bolingbroke, the next in line for the throne, should rule. Over time his feelings for his wife turn to love, an emotion that Jesus sanctified in a vision to him. The king and his lover Robbie Devere are bankrupting the country, turning the peasants against him. When the king exiles Bolingbroke without charging him with anything the nobles turn against their monarch as well. Just when it looks like Bolingbroke will achieve his dreams, Thomas learns the secret that he and his wife share that if revealed could cost them both Bolingbroke and Margaret their lives. Fans of Judith Tarr's historical fantasies will love THE WOUNDED HAWK, a brilliant epic novel that uses authentic historical facts in a supernatural context. This romantic fantasy answers many of the questions in THE NAMELESS DAY but there are still more yet to be answered in the next book THE CRIPPLED ANGEL. Although not a religious book, the author provides a unique take on angels, demons, Christ and God. The tortured hero is torn between his love for his wife and the veneration of an angel; he knows it is his destiny to choose mankind's path, a decision he fears but will make when the time comes. This superb tale will appeal to speculative fiction readers.

One For Sorrow, Two For Joy
Clive Woodall
ISBN 0441012655 $23.95, 320 pp.

Kirrick the last of the robins saw his whole species, including his mate die at the hands of the magpies. The leader of the magpies, Slyekin, ordered his followers to kill all the small species of birds and he sent his second in command Traska to murder Kirrick. The little robin asks the wise owl Tomar what to do about the genocide being practiced on the small avians; the wise owl has a plan to stop the magpies from killing their little brethren. Kirrick is sent to Darreal, the leader of the Falcons, Storne of the Eagles and Kraken of the Seabirds to gather their brethren to help them fight the magpie. During his journey, Traska, Kirric's second-in-command enlists the aids of the magpies to help him find Kirrick but along the way the robin finds allies who help him out with the evil, sadistic magpie. After the war is over in Birddom, a new one breaks out in Wingland with Traska and his new allies trying to take Slyekin's place as leader of the magpies who must fight his son brought up to hate him. Cross Watership Down with Jonathan Livingston Seagull and readers will have some idea what the allegorical ONE FOR SORROW TWO FOR JOY is like. For such a little bird Kirrick has a big heart because he risks his life several times to find allies for his cause. With just one book, Clive Woodall established himself as a budding superstar telling a symbolic morality tale of courage.

Haydn of Mars
Al Sarrantonio
ISBN: 0441012361 $6.50, 272 pp.

Many thousands of years into the future a terraformed Mars is populated by sentient felines that walk on two legs and contain retractable claws and opposable thumbs amongst other innate skills. Humans are extinct on the planet and thought to be creatures of mythology. Princess Haydn's father dissolved the monarchy and established a republic in its place, but he was assassinated soon afterward. Haydn married someone she did not love in order to unite the clans and keep the F'ror clan in check. The plan failed and Frane of the F'ror declared herself queen. Haydn fled while the F'ror occupied the planet. The princess in exile spends the next year on the run hiding from her enemies while making new allies who hone her into a warrior worthy of the crown. She leads an army against the mighty F'ror knowing many will die, but that in the end it will be her against Frane. The key characters seem humanoid so that for long stretches readers will forget they are intelligent cats. Haydn is a sympathetic figure who Frane hates because the princess married the tomcat she loved. She had him killed because she did not want her rival to have him any longer. Just one more bill for Haydn who pays quite a price to become a worthy monarch. Al Sarrantonio writes an enthralling Martian science fiction tale that leaves fans purring in delight as two more cat tales will follow.

Wartorn Resurrection
Robert Asprin & Eric Del Carlo
ISBN 0441012353 $6.99, 304 pp.

The various city-states in the Isthmus have never known wholesale war but that is about to end. The ruler of Felk, Lord Motokin has planned for years to conquer the city- states and become Emperor of the Isthmus. He amassed a large army and trained in his own college a group of powerful wizards who would give that army instant transportation and communications. He places them under the command of a two hundred and fifty year old general remembered in the history books as Dardas the Butcher. The city states of Windal, Callah and Sook fall immediately and the entire population of U'delph are killed, the city leveled to the ground. Although Dardas knows he needs periodic rejuvenation spells from a wizard under Motokin's command, the general is plotting to turn the magician's loyalty towards him. However, there are plans in the works from an assortment of people to stop this madness. One man is raising up a resistance in Callah while the leader of the powerful city-state Petgrad is trying to unite the city states so there's a chance they can win against the horde that is coming for them. This story is told from the perspective of many individuals including a mercenary, a scholar, a collaborator, a resistance fighter and Dardas. Once the reader adjusts to the changing points of view, the transitions between these various viewpoints are smooth and makes for a fascinating reading experience. With the exception of the collaborator and the general who are deliberately made despicable, the audience will like the other characters and feel close to them. That Robert Asprin and Eric Del Carlo can accomplish such a feat is a testament to their tremendous talent.

Diamond Dogs, Turquoise Days
Alastair Reynolds
ISBN: 0441012388 $22.95, 240 pp.

Diamond Dogs. On the lifeless planet Golgotha lays an artifact the Blood Spire that has left humanity wondering about its secrets. One crew brutally died trying to uncover the mystery of this machine. Others clamor for the opportunity. Doctor Trintignant puts together a strong crew including Richard Swift and Roland Childe. These and other mercenaries on the team plan to enter the tower that waits enigmatically with math riddles that must be solved in a timely response or die. This exhilarating first person account outer space caper feels more like a gothic planetary noir with fabulous amoral mercenary antiheroes trying to solve a "locked door" puzzler. Turquoise Days. Naqi Okpik has spent her life learning about the aquatic Pattern Jugglers of planet Turquoise; currently she heads the largest scientific study of the Jugglers ever attempted. Her obsession has been driven by the Jugglers absorbing the body of her older sister Mina like some form of a sponge. Mina's human memories have become part of the Juggler collective. There are off-world scientists with outrageous personal and study demands that if implemented could destroy the sentient life-forms on the planet. This exciting outer space thriller hooks the audience who obsess as strongly as Naqi has in a need to know the truth about the Jugglers even if it means readers swim into their collective. Though quite different in theme and narration, the prime link between the tales is Alastair Reynolds' Revelation Universe. The well written stories keep the audience locked into one sitting completions as both fabulous novellas contain strong casts to include the tower and the jugglers within a sense of doom story lines.

Robert A. Metzger
ISBN 0441012418 $24.95, 528 pp.

In the year 2031, two events change the earth as we have known it. The sun moves into a different position and two rings made of photonic energy encircle the earth from the north to south poles and around the equator. The geography of the earth changed as land bases are torn apart and sent into a sea that is vastly depleted due to the rings. Billions die. By 2051, with food in short supply, much of the United States population is indentured to the agricultural collectives. Many of the remainder are Tools, people that are part machine. General Sutherland effectively runs the country and is responsible for integrating his daughter to CUSP (Controllable Universal Sentient Plasma) causing her to go post point (the next step in evolution). The general knows that the rings are firing up as is the jet in the sun so that the journey to alpha centaury can be made. The hope of earth surviving what is coming rests on the shoulder of a woman who is no longer human but something much more. Anyone who likes hard science fiction reminiscent of the works of Arthur C. Clark and Mike Resnick will definitely enjoy CUSP. There is a lot of advanced science research used for some of the concepts in the book but readers will understand it because the author smoothly explains them through the voice of his characters. General Sutherland is portrayed as a Machiavellian manipulator but readers don't get turned off by his arrogance because he does what is needed to save earth and its remaining inhabitants. Robert A. Metzger has written a fast-paced action packed work that will keep readers turning the pages to see what happens next.

Sister of the Dead
Barb & J.C. Hendee
ISBN 045146009X $7.50, 400 pp.

Magiere the dhampire wonders why her father a vampire would mate with a mortal and sire an offspring like her who kill his undead species. She travels to the village of her birth to seeking answers. Accompanying her is Leesil the half-elf, Wynn the sage and Chap, a Fay contained in the body of a dog who doesn't want the dhampire to find out about her origins. Following them is the Noble Dead Welstiel, who doesn't want Magiere to learn the truth about her birth either, and Chame, who cares deeply for Wynn. In the village, the dhampire discovers five creatures, a dwarf, a troll, and three other species lost to the mists of time and memory who died so she could be born. They travel to the capital city to find out if there are any records that might explain her origins. Welstiel and Chame are there before her and kill the man who could give her access to her records. Although she learns nothing, a noble dead tells her where to find a vampire who was there for her creation; she doesn't know that when she find him, he will never let Magiere escape him again. SISTER OF THE DEAD is a combination of fantasy, horror and romance that will appeal to readers of all three genres. Magiere finds some of the answers she seeks but knows that someone so powerful that even though he sleeps enacts his will on many of the nobles and he wants her for reasons unknown at this time. Readers will treasure Magiere's tenacity and vulnerability just as they will care for the loyal loving Leesit. Barb & J.C. Hendee have written a spellbinding work that is creative and addicting.

Dreams Made Flesh
Anne Bishop
ISBN 0451460138 $16.00, 448 pp.

"The Prince of Ebon Rih". Since his return from the sadistic court in Terreille, warlord Prince of the Blood Lucivar wants nothing to do with women. His sister Jaenelle prevents the rape of a hearth witch by five aristos; then tells the woman that she will be Lucivar's new housekeeper. When Lucivar realizes he has feelings for Marian, he woos her but his mother wants him to marry an aristo and will do whatever is necessary to end this relationship. This absolutely riveting romantic fantasy will appeal to readers of both genres. "Zuulamam". Saetan's wife is pregnant and asks him to help her family out of their financial difficulties. When he refuses, she goes to Zuulamam where she pretends to be a hostage to get what she wants. She and the Zulamam do something horrific that pushes the Lord of Hell into a killing rage. This short story is a great character study that shows the many different faces of Saetan. "Kaeleer's Heart". To save the realm of Kaeleer against its enemies, the witch Jaenelle with her lover Daemon worked their magic; Jaenette almost died. When she came out of the healing webs, Daemon worried that she no longer loved him just as she feared that she changed too much fro Daemon to love her anymore. A witch of the Blood who covets Daemon tries to break the lovers up. Daemon, more powerful than his father Saetan, unleashes his wrath on the realm seeking the person responsible for the attempts on Jaenette's life. This is a beautiful adult fairy tale. These three novellas and the very short story " Weaver of Dreams" are exciting, entertaining and exotic tales in the "Black Jewels" Universe.

Chill Factor
Rachel Caine
ISBN 0451460103 $6.99, 352 pp.

After turning from a Weather Warden to a Djinn and back to a mortal Warden again, Joanne Baldwin is on her way to Las Vegas. Accompanied by her Djinn lover David, she seeks Kevin to take away the bottle that holds Jonathan, the most powerful Djinn in the world. The wardens want Kevin dead because thanks to him several of the top leadership is dead and he has power enhanced by Jonathan to destroy the world. Joanne and David are locked out of Las Vegas by magical wards so Lewis, once the most powerful warden in the world until Kevin stole his powers, devises a way for Joanne to momentarily die and be revived inside the city. She finds Jonathan and Kevin but it is Jonathan who manipulates the troubled teen to find the Djinn that have gone missing for the last six years. Joanne is kidnapped by the Ma'at, an organization whose members are dedicated to freeing the Djinn from their human masters and destroy the warden organization for endangering the earth. They try to convert Joanne to their cause but she escapes and with the help of some allies fights the real mastermind behind all the troubles. Book three in the Weather Warden Series is an action packed urban fantasy. There are many surprises and unexpected plot developments to keep this series fresh and interesting so that readers will continue to read future books to find out what happens next to the ethical, moral and vulnerable heroine. David helps Joanne in so many ways that readers will be in awe of the Djinn's power to love a mortal. Rachel Caine has written a novel worthy of an award nomination.

The Bitten
L.A. Banks
Griffin (St. Martin's)
ISBN: 0312324081 $14.95

African American rock star Damali Richards was born to fight the evil creatures of the night like the vampires and the weres. Carlos Rivera was a criminal and a drug lord before he was turned into a powerful master vampire with a seat on the vampire council. He was born to be one of Damali's guardians but she couldn't give herself to someone who walked in the dark. Carlos is redeemed by Damali's love and together they put down a vampire resurrection and fought rogue weres in Brazil. Now they face their biggest challenge yet. One of the master vamps has stolen the key that will open the sixth seal and bring about Armageddon. They have to find the key so they journey to a master enclave in Australia, knowing one of them has the key. Damali and Carlos arrange a boat trip for the master vamps and their weres so that the guardians who are watching over Damali give Carlos the time to find the key. His treachery has him brought to the vampire council where a punishment greater than death awaits him. The Bitten excitingly blends a steamy romance, non-stop action, and urban fantasy adventure into a fabulous horror tale. The story line is fast-paced, but the key to the plot remains the fantastic lead protagonists struggling with love and against evil. Fans of vampire romances will appreciate L.A. Banks' fine novel of redemption through love battling seemingly invincible evil.

Harriet Klausner
Senior Reviewer

Laurel's Bookshelf

There's Water in That Coffee
Pocatello Blend - Rare Beans
Stephanie Gill and Valerie Gill
Blue Scarab Press
P.O. Box 4966, Pocatello ID 83205-4966
No ISBN chapbook at $3.00 plus $1.00 shipping

Pocatello Blend is a limited edition chapbook series featuring poets and writers from the southeast Idaho area. Each book features five pages of work by two writers.

Stephanie Gill lives east of Pocatello and draws poetic inspiration from her surroundings. Valerie Gill attends the University of Washington at Seattle. Some of her work is untitled.

Stephanie Gill explains the muse that drives her in these excerpts from "I Am a Poet":

I used to write poems in meter, with rhyme
Iambic pentameter soul secrets told in greeting
card couplets.

Now I write about cats and coffee and
rangeland burning.

Phrases plagiarized from the universe
Inspired by fact, encoded in fiction
And every word the truth.

In "Flood", she draws on the caprice of nature, a force that modern man cannot control:

The rain waited politely till all the fires were out.
Then it came in floods
To a bare and blackened land, parched
But unable to drink.

In an untitled poem I particularly enjoyed, Valerie Gill reflects on snow and perhaps something more, hidden in the past:

It has been a year
Since the snow fell
And masked the mountains
You think I have forgotten
But I remember how cold it is
And the way the snow clumps in aspens
Like apple blossoms

And in another untitled poem, she writes of dreams and life, of a surreal reality:

I die in my dreams
I am told it's rare
Sometimes I am killed
Sometimes I am executed
Usually, I jump

This collaboration between two poets is only one of the inspired pairings to be found in Pocatello Blend. If you prefer to discover emerging writers, give this chapbook series a try. The cost is certainly reasonable and the work is well worth the price.

Espresso Giovane
Pocatello Blend -- Rare Beans
Jessica Ann Jensen and Zachary Vineyard
Blue Scarab Press
P.O. Box 4966, Pocatello ID 83205-4966
No ISBN chapbook at $3 plus $1 shipping

Pocatello Blend is a limited edition chapbook series featuring poets and writers from the southeast Idaho area. Each book features five pages of work by two writers.

Jessica Ann Jensen and Zachary Vineyard are both undergraduates in English at Idaho State University. Both have been published in Black Rock and Sage.

Ms. Jensen writes what she experiences, memories of a life that has been hard and sometimes grueling. "Fighting" represents a harrowing job most of us have never known -- fighting fire in the desert:

Dry on fire, the plane flew overhead
keep us off the mountain, I told myself
as the red rain poured a mile away
I dug my own hole
with boots made for hell
vibram soles,
as I sweat the last drop of self-respect I contained
it sat inside my fireproof shirt,
begging to evaporate.

Part metaphor and part reality, "Butchered Seasons" was powerful, one of my favorites among Ms. Jensen's work:

They rest in their fall,
the intesity of their color
texture, scent
assembled into architecture
under fake florescent lights.

Mr. Vineyard dwells on the pleasures of remembering and the pressures of modern life. He dredges up old memories of his father in "French Press":

I touch the tinted glass,
the warm coffee next to my face,
thinking I might be able to feel
how old the press is by
odor and taste of product.

The daily human migration into cities and the workforce is captured beautifully and succinctly in "Rush":

Let us go without
definite intent
into cast iron cities fallen
out of time -- our time.

For the whole of a present year
should bend and curl, like routes
from downtown to suburbs,
into what we remember.

The beauty of Blue Scarab's chapbook series is the diversity of its writers. Ms. Jensen and Mr. Vineyard represent youth, and the promise of successful writing projects in the future.

Double Espresso
Pocatello Blend -- Rare Beans
Carlen Donovan and Steven Puglisi
Blue Scarab Press
P.O. Box 4966, Pocatello ID 83205-4966
No ISBN chapbook at $3 plus $1 shipping

Pocatello Blend is a limited edition chapbook series featuring poets and writers from the southeast Idaho area. Each book features five pages of work by two writers.

Carlen Donovan has lived and worked in Pocatello for more than three decades. Steven Puglisi has one full length book of poetry published by Blue Scarab. He is a senior lecturer in Idaho State University's Department of Communication and Theater.

Ms. Donovan creates cryptic contemplations out of subjects familiar to her. Every writer and poet will relate to these excerpts from "Form Letter":

Satan's typewriter needs a new ribbon;
He's been writing rejections all night.

The devil never says yes.
The devil doesn't need to;
The devil knows
That to want so desperately
Is to be already
In flames.

And in this excerpt from "Cryogenic", she considers what happens inside a nitrogen chambers during a power outage:

Hope froze and suspended them,
Then hope's grand failure
Ruined their sweet flesh;
Just another fall after the one
That drove them into the barrels.

Puglisi's work is reflective, poetic "deja-vu in a dream-house of mirrors". I particularly enjoyed this excerpt from "Midas":

I wanted it all, everything
anything, something
other than the dull display
of an old man's folly
this metal dream
I've locked myself within.

"One" follows an ekphrastic bent as Chu Shu Chen contemplates the brush strokes of a master:

Down to the water, which sits crystal-blue below
the weathered walls of the shrine, she weaves
along a path of matted pine-needles, chanting
a song learned at the insistence of the wind,
and stops, at a rustling in the grass,
to return a fallen bird to its nest.

As with all the Pocatello Blend chapbooks, Blue Scarab chose this pairing well. Donovan and Puglisi write in contrasting styles and from different realities, yet blend smoothly as a team. Just like a perfectly brewed cup of double espresso.

An Extra What?
Freda Gower Ward
4993 Bacopa Lane South #404, St. Petersburg FL 33715
ISBN 0972364056 $12.95 127 pages

Freda Gower Ward is a humorist and writer who admits to "stretching the truth a little" -- exaggerating to make a point. An Extra What? was inspired by the author's curiosity about olive oil. What transcends plain olive oil into those rarefied categories of virgin and extra virgin? And who or what cold presses the olives?

Thanks to her exhaustive research, you can now learn everything you wanted to know about olive oil and its uses. After reading this book you'll know for certain why it costs more than other oils -- as only Ms. Ward can tell it, with tongue firmly planted in her cheek.

While reading of her entrepreneurial plans for marketing products containing olive oil, I chuckled or outright laughed. Her diet plans for the masses are priceless. Her take on the effect of anti oxidants and free radicals are beyond hilarious. And her contention that fad diets and computers have joined forces to drive humanity insane may be correct. I'm still not sure about that, but it does make perfect sense to me. Chocolate and extra vigin cold pressed olive oil may just be the answer to all humanity's ills.

She also introduces plans to cure societal ills by mandateng marriage for everyone at age thirteen. Don't gasp. Her plan makes sense. After reading this book you will know the secrets of maple syrup, reap the benefit of Ms. Ward's research on cockroaches, and understand the intricacies of politically correct dieting. Who could ask for more?

Reading anything by Freda Gower Ward is a humorous adventure. She packs so much hilarity into each book your head will spin, but you'll be laughing while it does. She is the queen of malapropism. Trust me on this.

It's All To Go
Pocatello Blend - Rare Beans
Susan Swetnam and Ford Swetnam
Blue Scarab Press
P.O. Box 4966, Pocatello ID 83205-4966
No ISBN Chapbook at $3 plus $1 shipping

Pocatello Blend is a limited edition chapbook series featuring poets and writers from the southeast Idaho area. Each book features five pages of work by two writers.

Susan Swetnam is Professor of English at Idaho State University. Her husband, Ford Swetnam, was Professor of English at Idaho State University. He died in 2002. His work in this book represents Ford's last poems.

Susan Swetnam's portion of this chapbook is prose, a touching testament to youth, life, death, and being human. Her thoughts are provocative and well-expressed, Consider this excerpt:

Belonging to oneself is frightening. We're taught that people always come in families, or paired. Eight months ago, a woman walking with me said, "My family is everything to me. I couldn't live without my family." I staggered on that mountain road, stung by her carelessness and cruelty. I staggered, too, in church, the rampart families snug and smug around me, so kind to a pathetic widow, all alone. Humans are herd animals, we are told, and you must find a family soon, or you'll be less than human.

.....We do not forget the world outside, when we are folded in a life we think will last forever. It's safe and warm in families. It's noisy, there, inside, and we forget the silence that surrounds us. And yet the winding road will call again, deny it as we will, and someday we will be alone, to take the passage Ford knows now.

I've reviewed Ford Swetnam's work in a previous book of poetry published by Blue Scarab. Ford's poetry is exceptional, and this time it was difficult, choosing examples of his work. I decided to quote his last poem in its entirety - "To His Friends":

Take half of this and give them to Susan,
To be mingled with hers, in hope
That her expectations of the afterlife
May be met. As for the proportion,
It's a common-property state, Idaho,
And I'm common property enough,
About to be made more common with your help.

You, my friends, will each have a small
Bit of ash. I wish I'd given all of you,
And others too, more while I lived.
Now I'll ask you to do another thing for me,
And to enjoy it as you do it,
Keeping some prank in the reverence
reverence in the prank.

I like to think that Ford and Susan Swetnam were in life the same as their work demonstrates in this chapbook: Amazing in every way, but especially as wordsmiths.

Irish Coffee
Pocatello Blend - Rare Beans
Noel Harwood and Michael Corrigan
Blue Scarab Press
P.O. Box 4966, Pocatello ID 83205-4966
No ISBN chapbook at $3 plus $1 shipping

Pocatello Blend is a limited edition chapbook series featuring poets and writers from the southeast Idaho area. Each book features five pages of work by two writers. The writers of Irish Coffee both live in Pocatello. Noel Harwood studied drama at Idaho State University and worked in theatre for years in New York City before returning to Pocatello. Michael Corrigan teaches English and Speech at Idaho State University and is the author of two published books in addition to this chapbook.

Harwood's poems are often stylized in form, introspective and rich with veiled allusions, as in this excerpt from "Emerald Bay":

Oh, I have seen often enough
that love wears out
like pleas for mercy in a freezing wind
like ammonia sprawled on prayers in toilet stalls

And in "25th Psalm", he contemplates the human masks, faces and forms used to disguise the truth within. I chose one brief excerpt as example:

etched on cast-iron panels
wrapped in years of leather
wombed within the mask

In contrast, Corrigan shares his memories with a different sort of eloquence, in straightforward style and a scholar's eye for detail. For example, consider this excerpt from "In Remembrance of Riding Back From Sun Valley One Summer Telling Stories:"

Where are Rilke's angels,
Eliot's singing Mermaids?
I struggle for a line:
"My love is like
a broom-battered bat banging
against window panes."

This excerpt from "The Lady" is his mother's poetic epitaph, from the poet's viewpoint:

After the face lifts and world travels
after cocktails and empty laughter
a life of few regrets like the song
Mother dies alone

Irish Coffee is a tasty demitasse offered up in style by Noel Harwood and Michael Corrigan. If you are a lover of poetry and short stories, choose any one or all of the Pocatello Blend chapbooks. But remember, this is a limited edition series so don't put off ordering too long.

Threading the Pointy End of the Needle
Freda Gower Ward
Humor Ink
4993 Bacopa Lane South #404, St. Petersburg FL 33715
ISBN 0972364013 $12.95 159 pages

Let's face it. Sometimes we humans are incredibly inept. We stumble and fumble our way through daily life trying to disguise our quirks and frailties. Freda Gower Ward shines a rose tinged light on these imperfections with often hilarious and always delightful results!

Like most writers, she's swum the shark infested waters of literary-related pursuits. She's experienced cruel and unprofessional rejection in spades. Depressing, right? But Ms. Ward chooses to funnel disappointment and rejection into prose instead of wallowing in misery. The results are entertaining and appealingly cheering.

Topics in this book range from the familiar to the sublime. The author thoroughly covers her mainstay, chocolate -- the blessed gift that keeps on giving to our hips and thighs and other obvious points of our anatomy. Important topics, such as the fair and equitable treatment of pigs, the joys of mammograms, and inspired substitutes for cusswords are scrutinized. Chapters on the mysteries of online book rankings, calorie counts and the vicissitudes of air travel capture our daily life with truth and humor.

I loved this book! It made me laugh and smile, gave me a finer appreciation of a life that often ends up skewed and goofy. Ms Ward uses riotous humor like a healing salve. If you're bone weary and exasperated by the daily grind, give this one a try. Your stressed out mind and funny bone will thank you.

Would You Rather Be the Pigeon or the Statue?
Freda Gower Ward
4993 Bacopa Lane South, Unit 404, St. Petersburg FL 33715-2651
ISBN 0972364064 $12.95 160 pages

Humorist Freda Gower Ward hits every nail on the head in this view of life from her admittedly skewed perspective. See, she started out to write her memoir this time. But somewhere along the way the book transformed itself behind her back into a rollicking commentary on life in general.

In Freda's world, sometimes we're the pigeon but more often we become the statue sporting pigeon droppings. Or sometimes we are both at the same time. I laughed myself silly, and should have expected as much from a woman who lived vicariously through Dick, Jane, and Spot in first grade. She's probably been a laugh riot all her life.

In her charming flight of ideas style, Ms. Ward lovingly describes pigeon and statue scenarios she has seen or experienced. One of my favorites was the man who prayed to be ignorant, then proudly announced that his prayers had been answered. And on a personal level, Ms. Ward - the queen of multi tasking - discovers too late that such activities cause brain rot. She also discovered after years of grueling research that applying cream to wrinkles after age 50 is like attempting to moisturize an elephant's hide - useless.

Her books are educational as well as entertaining. Where else would readers learn that worrying about our weight is stressful and turns us into statues? The solution is to set our scales to our ideal weight and leave it there. Problem solved. Stress relieved. Ms. Ward also informs us that seatbelts were invented by the devil and are a device that catapulted her into early menopause, so be warned. Other research reveals what clogs men's ears so they cannot hear their wives. I was happy to learn the answer to that mystery.

As I said earlier in this review, Ms. Ward writes from a skewed and humorous perspective. But somehow it all makes perfect sense. We all need laugh therapy from time to time. Consider exploring Ms. Ward's humor. She makes a fine, if unofficial, humor therapist.

A Cup of Mud, A Shot of Heaven - A Tribute to Mother Earth and Father Sky
Pocatello Blend - Rare Beans
Anne Merkley and Krishna Strong
Blue Scarab Press
P.O. Box 4966, Pocatello ID 83225-4966
No ISBN chapbook at $3 plus $1 shipping

Pocatello Blend is a limited edition chapbook series featuring poets and writers from the southeast Idaho area. Each book features five pages of work by two writers.

Anne Merkley lives in Pocatello. Projects of interest include art, writing, the environment, and southeastern Idaho history. Krishna Strong has a degree in Biology from ISU and has been a zookeeper at the Pocatello Zoo for eight years. Other interests include writing, art, and nature.

"Dark Beauty" is a stunning poem, a celebration of one woman's life and death. I quote here only one small excerpt of this fine poem by Anne Merkley:

There has to be some kind of celebration
at the fractal of separation
the sound of life sucking
back into the universe

And in this excerpt from "Creative Entropy", Ms. Merkley examines life, God, and her place in the Universe:

When I was young
there was no need for God
Rowdy child from the stars
imbued with the great god power of life
I would right all wrongs

It is so long now since I wrote and find
more spools of the icabus on the left
than are left in this zero sum game.

In "Hell's Canyon Autumn 1994 Conversing With the Earth", Krishna Strong expresses her concerns about what man has done to his home planet. Earth's answer in this excerpt is reassuring:

They can cut it all, burn it all, pave it all
Kill everything
But I will still be here
I will always be here
The love you feel is me, the anguish you feel is me
I am indestructible
I am everything
There is no loss, only transformation
And you are not alone as long as you embody me

In this excerpt from"Celestial Moments", Ms. Strong contemplates the ancient
past and nature's unchanging reality:
For the clouds tossed bits of the rainbow at me
And the lightning
Could hit me
And annihalte everything
What a glorious vision
To split my atoms
Break the bonds
And unite me with the sky.

This mother and daughter team share a common bond outside their heredity -- a love of and respect for words and how the human mind can give them shape or meaning. As can be said for all others in the Pocatello Blend chapbook series, Blue Scarab chose this pairing well.

Four Hands Full
Pocatello Blend - Rare Beans
Andra Smith-Hansen and Amil Quayle
Blue Scarab Press
P.O. Box 4966, Pocatello ID 83205-4966
No ISBN chapbook at $3 and $1 shipping

Pocatello Blend is a limited edition chapbook series featuring poets and writers from the southeast Idaho area. Each book features five pages of work by two writers.

Andra Smith-Hansen is a mother, basketball coach, writer, and poet living in Idaho Falls. Amil Quayle is a poet, painter, and river guide living in southeast Idaho.

Ms. Smith-Hansen's work in this chapbook includes both prose and poetry. My indecision at which excerpt to choose was only because all were excellent. I finally decided on this excerpt from the short story, "Pedaling Fast Enough", about the ending of childhood friendship as a young girl reaches adolescence:

I'm not doing this anymore. The declaration was
simple, the way even a hard fact is simple. It was over --
the motorcycle rides and whittling, the b-b guns and
alleys where our friendship thrived like grapes on a
good vine, the kind of vine that climbs the latticework
like it aims to reach the sky -- green leaves thick and
shimmering, heavy clusters dark and full -- fruit the
way good fruit should be. It wasn't easy to say I had to
stop. And maybe a girl doesn't really have to learn to
be a girl, but it felt like it right then, the summer that
had seventh grade looming at the end of it like the hard,
fast water in a rushed dream.

In his poetry, Amil Quayle reflects on nature, life, and those hidden memories that often dominate our thoughts. He uses words like an artist. I particularly appreciated this excerpt from "Stairways":

I always wonder if this will be the time
Is this what old river runners do
after they have long since given up on

Running rapids
Worrying about other people getting hurt
Wondering at the high cost of each epiphany
Sacrificing love for the one sublime minute in

Lava Falls
Betraying family and friends for the passion of
water and rock

Four Hands Full is an appealing representation of gifts, a perfect blending. On the back of each chapbook, Blue Scarab Press expresses pride at harvesting "rare beans" from gifted wordsmiths living in southeastern Idaho. That pride is justified.

Pocatello Blend - Rare Beans
Diane Comer and Jennifer Sinor
Blue Scarab Press
P.O. Box 4966, Pocatello ID 83205-4966
No ISBN chapbook at $3 plus $1 shipping

Pocatello Blend is a limited edition chapbook series featuring poets and writers from the southeast Idaho area. Each book features five pages of work by two writers.

Diane Comer teaches English at Idaho State University. She has received fellowships from the Colorado Council on the Arts and the National Endowment for the Arts. Jennifer Sinor is Assistant Professor of English at Utah State University. She lives in southeastern Idaho.

Every so often a bit of prose stuns me to contemplative silence. The short stories in this book were of that caliber. For Ms. Comer, I chose these excerpts from "The Plain Below", in which she shares the beauty of her wilderness life:

The grey irons out the light, leaving the mountains flat
and shadowless. The last swatch of snow clings to the
eastern face of this easternmost mountain over fourteen
thousand feet. I keep waiting for that final bit of snow to
disappear, to evaporate in the thin air of August........
The rain comes, loosening the grey sky to the north.
Above the tree line the tooth of water works on the last
crystals of winter, untying their knot. After the rain,
the smell of pine comes down clean and sharp from the
foothills. Alpine, alpine it sings in the air. There are
shorter seasons than this life.

Ms. Sinor's one story is "Tractor", in which she peels away details of memory to reveal a harrowing truth about her grandfather's hands:

Each of his sons acquired those hands -- broad and
strong -- just as they acquired a bit of land to farm once
they graduated from high school, a birthright of sorts.
Hands that could build fences, guide horses, spread
chemicals, cause a hammer to come crashing down.
When my uncle died, his body no longer looked like his
own. His face was bloated, his skin much too smooth.
But his hands, his hands were the same strong and firm
hands that had held his children and built innumerable
camp fires. They were like my father's hands and his
father's hands. Hands that you could trust, that would
never let you go.

This chapbook, like the rest in the Pocatello Blend series, is a limited edition featuring fine work and an excellent example of southeastern Idaho talent.

Alan Lindsay
Red Hen Press
P.O. Box 3537, Granada Hills CA 91394
ISBN 1888996595 $15.95 153 pages

Red Hen's stated mission of creating and promoting good writing is certainly proven in A - a novel, by Alan Lindsay. This book of literary fiction speaks to the hypocritical mores of our society by focusing on the life of one young woman. The scarlet A is simple but effective as title for Mr. Lindsay's novel.

Holly Perkins is a 19 year old with one semester of college and a new baby. She's strayed from the acceptable path by getting pregnant out of wedlock. Worse, she's gone against her parents' wishes by keeping the baby. Holly is immature and overwhelmed by this new life. She sees herself as flawed and lacking, awkward and inept, and yet she dreams of being capable and calm like her mother. Holly wants to be the hero of her own life, unrepentant and unbowed like Hester Prynne was in The Scarlet Letter.

Sablefield NH is not a nurturing environment for an unwed nursing mother. Holly is stuck with a menial job and a boss she hates. The world seems infinite and unreal. Her mother, who prays in tongues and prophesies when the Holy Sprit moves, shows little genuine compassion to Holly. Her ex-boyfriend Tony is unreliable and unfocused, despite his superior intellect. And yet he expresses love and a willingness to marry. Holly lives in fear that her mother or Social Services will take her baby away. Her mind is cluttered and jumbled, just like her small apartment. Hopeful plans seem meaningless as Holly struggles with fatigue and worry. Of one thing she is certain: she loves her baby, Abby, and plans to keep her.

Holly Perkins is the memorable linchpin of Mr. Lindsay's well written novel. The other characters circle her perimeter, few offering meaningful support, as Holly works to control her own life. Despite Sablefield's hypocrisy and disapproval, she is determined to succeed.

Alan Lindsay's writing is impeccable. If you prefer literary fiction, I recommend you read A.

Double Shot
Pocatello Blend - Rare Beans
Raimond Obermayr and Gino Sky
Blue Scarab Press
P.O. Box 4966, Pocatello ID 83205-4966
No ISBN chapbook at $3 plus $1 shipping

Pocatello Blend is a limited edition chapbook series featuring poets and writers from the southeast Idaho area. Each book features five pages each of work by two writers.

Raimond Obermayr now lives, looks, listens, paints, and writes in Pocatello. Gino Sky is a novelist and teacher from Pocatello, now living in Salt Lake City.

Life vibrates through Obermayr and is reflected in his work. This excerpt from "Cant" demonstrates his philosophy:

Speak to us in our Mother Tongue
As our Mothers would speak truth
Not to be twisted
Abused into vulgar evasion
To cloak your merciless greed.
Truth told in our Mother Tongue
Will not abide your grotesqueries.

And in "Not Yet", he details the results of aging on his view of the world. And yet, he ends the poem on a hopeful note:

But despite this aging deficit
I promise to give each day
Colors and words of loveliness and depth
Pray hear me, I will not yet be still.

Gino Sky recalls his days with lost friends in a tribute written in memory of departed poets from the Pocatello area. "The New Slingers at the Poetry Proving Grounds" is dedicated to Bruce Embree, Zig Knoll, and Ed Dorn. I quote two excerpts here:

sagebrush glowing with radio-active isotopes
phosphate smelters sucking oxygen into extinction
surface inhabitants controlling the landscape by
worshiping the lethal weapon of incessant breeding

the acid rain streets the gambling side shows of
rez-debt-diabetes-suicide parablastic hollow points
blowing poets into the scenic high-desert where the
drunk is the pickup and the pickup is the god and
the god is the 4x4 transvest-all-terrain holy verb up-
and-out the poetry proving grounds

The Pocatello Blend chapbook series offers distinctive writing in a variety of styles. This chapbook series has something to suit the taste of every reader who appreciates well crafted words in poetry or prose.

Sonnets From the Scandinavian
Carrie Ann Thunell
Mad Maverick Press
3303 Cherry Blossom Dr. NE, Olympia WA 98506
No ISBN chapbook at $7.75 which includes shipping, 48 pp.

Carrie Ann Thunell is Poetry Columnist for Quill Quarterly Poetry Review; Write On; and The Story Teller. She is also Chief Editor and Co-Founder of the Association for the Revival of Formalist Poetry. Her work has been featured in publications too numerous to mention. Accomplishments in poetry and art are an extension of her heart and spirit. This chapbook of Petrarchan and Elizabethan sonnets cherish and immortalize her marriage, nature, and life in all its wonders.

Writing sonnets is not an easy task. For that reason many poets avoid them. Creating sonnets requires an educated grasp of meaning and sound, rhyme and meter. Every word must deliver a distinctive purpose. The poet must command alliteration and assonance as well as idyllic imagery. Ms. Thunell possesses all these capabilities and utilizes them to good effect in this chapbook.

Sonnets in sequence are a challenge, but there are four represented here. Sequential sonnets carry over the last line of one sonnet into the first line of the next. I've chosen two excerpts to demonstrate:

Your soul is furnished with tall spruce and fir,
And moss-draped maples, giant cedar trees.
Your heart is deep blue sea and turquoise sky.

(and then we progress to the next sonnet.)

Your heart is deep blue sea and turquoise sky.
Your spirit lives to climb Earth's mountain peaks.
Your wilderness and restless male-soul seeks
To chart the course of eagles as they fly.

In "I Never Knew that Love Could Hold So Much", Ms. Thunell takes the measure of the man she loves:

And so I set about to get to know
This enigmatic, kind, and gentle soul.
A man of few words, you set out to show
The facets of a man that make the whole.

"The Romance of Love-Wrapped Kisses Expression" provides not only a mood but a strong sense of location:

We set our sails to where the warm wind blows.
Cumulous clouds of cloth billowing loose.
The slanting sun was gold and red, diffuse,
As we pulled into port to dock and doze....

The wonder of experiencing sonnets is in the incidental-seeming tidbits scattered throughout this chapbook. Such as:

You meditate on mountain and in glen,
Until your restless heart finds its amen.


Would that my authenticity bequeath,
A self-same risk on your part to unfold
Your private origami-hidden soul.


You are a sturdy harpsichord, smooth tones.
I am a violin, mercurial.

I love sonnets because it takes more skill than I possess to write them. If you love poetry in any form, or relish sonnets written in formal style, Sonnets from the Scandinavian is work you shouldn't miss.

A Running Head Start
Freda Gower Ward
PO Box 58002, St. Petersburg FL 33715
ISBN 0972364021 $12.95 159 pages

Since discovering Freda Gower Ward and her writing, the descriptive terms "rollicking" and "hilarious" have been burnt into my brain, so forgive me if I overuse those words. A Running Head Start won First Place in the Humor genre at the Florida Writers Convention, and rightfully so.

Hilarity is not the only benefit of reading Ms. Ward's books. Readers will find important facts guaranteed to improve their quality of life. These little known facts have been well researched by Ms. Ward throughout her lifetime. She feels it is only right to share her findings with a public needing such information Among the helpful topics included in this book are the following:

How eating one piece of watermelon can prevent absorption of the calories in a sausage and gravy laden breakfast;

How to make lips look fuller and rosier without expensive injections by exfoliating with a toothbrush or sandpaper;

Significant statements to make if you haven't been paying attention during conversations and obtuse words to use if you want to sound more intelligent than you actually are;

What cloning could actually mean to mankind;

The politically correct way to store eggs;

And my all time favorite, how politicians actually earn their pay. This topic could have been an entire book.

Ms. Ward generously shares her own personal learning experiences to benefit her readers. These are important quality of life issues, such as what to do if your slacks are on backwards at a social event or what to do if you've been eating too much roughage.

I can relate to Freda Gower Ward. She takes life's many twists, turns, and foibles and transforms them through her humorous perspectives. What more could we expect from a woman who admits to having only two good hair hours in her entire life span?

Readers who appreciate hilarious humor, or simply need a rollicking good laugh, should thoroughly investigate any book written by Freda Gower Ward.

It's Ten O'Clock - Do You Know Where Your Keys Are?
Freda Gower Ward
4993 Bacopa Lane South #404, St. Petersburg FL 33715-2651
ISBN 097236403X $12.95 151 pages

In the New Testament Gospel of Matthew, Jesus said to the apostle Peter, "I will give you the keys to the kingdom of Heaven...." The author takes those keys, as described in the Bible, and carries them one step further by correlating them to our everyday lives. These parables according to Freda are sometimes serious, often humorous, and always practical in their application. How this prolific writer covers a wide range of topics in entertaining and enlightening ways never ceases to amaze me.

As humans, we all possess gifts, abilities, opportunities, and joys but we don't always know how to apply them effectively. Those who follow God's teachings have the opportunity to become stronger, more flexible. But sometimes we forget the message, or only remember part of it, or deliberately ignore God's intent. Each small vignette included in this book can reinforce and encourage, if we allow it.

I always enjoy the parables employed by Ms. Ward to make her point. Some of my favorites in this book involve the human foibles with which we are all familiar: whether we rush into things with little or no planning or plan everything to death, nothing works out right unless we are patient and flexible; humans often put a personal spin on God's words, resulting in lives that are stressful and joyless; life is sweeter if we resist labeling ourselves and others.

God provides the keys to better lives but it's up to us to use them. Sometimes those decisions are hard. One thing is certain. Between God and chocolate covered marshmallow cups, Freda Gower Ward has figured out a myriad of ways to use her keys.

Laurel Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Shelley's Bookshelf

The Collage
Rene Natan
3137 Napperton Dr., Strathroy, Ontario, CAN
ISBN: 0968635229 $8.00 (CAN); $5.00 (U.S.)

Rene Natan was a faculty member of the University of Western Ontario in Computer Sciences. Her previous books are entitled: CROSS OF SAPPHIRES and MOUNTAINS OF DAWN, and both stories deal with beautiful and vulnerable women, the world of art, uncommon accidents, and a secretive organization called THE INVICTA.

Allison Summer should have the perfect life, but she married a cruel and demanding man who isn't all he seems. Having moved back home to help her grandfather with his farming corporation, Allison reconnects with her confused and tragic father; discovers the true source of the evil her husband spews; and finds new love with her father's most trusted employee, Marvin Garland. But the murder of her husband and an older murder she believes she somehow committed places Allison and Marvin at the top of the list of suspects, particularly when the police discover a videotape that Ian, Allison's husband, used to extort money and control her life. Ian is dead, and Allison's father, Mike, has disappeared to leave her to fend for herself:

"She'd spontaneously talked about the content of that tape. That was the testimony Charles had collected before the arrival of her attorney. It was probably the most incriminating piece of evidence against her. She's been totally cooperative. Until Keith Sample appeared, she was clearly under the impression that she'd been brought in for the murder of Albert Borodin. After a brief consultation with his client, Keith had asked for a rescheduling of the interrogation."

Natan has carefully woven a tale of intrigue, murder, and deception in this delicious tale. The heroine is rather helpless and clueless, and the many men around her with the exception of her rotten husband and a crafty newspaperman seem determine to rescue her from herself. However, love blossoms, some sacrifices are made, and Allison seems destined to finally find herself after being chained by hardship. The reader wonders how Natan will pull all of the loose ends together, but she manages to do so with a flourish.

THE COLLAGE is a well wrought mystery that leaves room for further adventures with THE INVICTA, an organization formed to help citizens. Allison and Marvin's relationship also cries for additional plot lines, so this reviewer is hoping that Ms. Natan will continue with this series.

Annette Meyers
Five Star
295 Kennedy Memorial Drive, Waterville, Maine 04901
ISBN: 1410401871 $25.95

Annette Meyers has a varied past, having worked sixteen years as an executive search consultant on Wall Street, and then since 1996 as an arbitrator with the National Association of Securities Dealers. She also spent sixteen years as an assistant to Hal Prince on Broadway. Meyers is the author of seven published mysteries and has had her short stories published in various anthologies. She is a former president of Sisters in Crime and is the current president of the International Association of Crime Writers in North America.

The title Repentences is a metaphor for an oil painting that has been painted over another painting. As the paint ages, the old painting may "ghost" through.

It's 1936 in New York, and the Jewish population is feverishly trying to bring loved ones over from Germany. Nathan Evanholz is waiting for his wife and child and has already paid for their passage. But his family is tragically killed, and in his sorrow he commits a murder and a kidnaping of a young girl, believing her to be his daughter. His sister researches the child's origins, and when she sees the terrible privation and abuse agrees to engage in "the lie" to protect the child...Rosie. But Rosie has to eventually discover the truth, and that truth may destroy her as her adopted family frets:

"Anna is afraid. Rosie is her child, not of her loins, but her soul. Loved and protected. But not Nathan nor Anna can protect her from her past now. What they can do is help heal the damage they've done. They must tell her the truth and accept the possibility that she will not forgive them."

Repentences is not a murder mystery, but an historical mystery which portrays a slice of what life in New York was like for the Jewish people in New York, trying to hold on to their identities and some semblance of family life. Desperate circumstances beget creative solutions, and Meyers creates a rich tapestry which whirls around a simple family just trying to hold on to sanity. As the past bleeds through Rosie's subconscious, she must deal with ghosts of the past before she can truly self-actuate. Meyers' characters love fully, and spend a great deal of time trying to work through pain too deep to comprehend. Her tale is mystical and tragic.

Fit for Fate
Eugene Aubrey Stratton
iUniverse c/o Lea Wiley 402-323-7800 ext. 433
ISBN: 0595287549 $17.95 U.S./$24.95 CAN/14.99 UK

Gene Stratton is a former CIA case officer, and lived in Greece for seven years, as well as many other locales. He has had four books published, and PLYMOUTH COLONY has been in print for sixteen years and has gone through six printings.

Police Director Spyro Roussos has the reputation for being non-corruptible, and is Director of the Sensitive Crimes area of the Greek police, answerable to the new Minister of Public Security, who is an odious man with designs for even more power. Spyro finds himself in the middle of several emergencies: his mistress is being stalked by a maniac turned terrorist; the Ambassador's niece, who has come for a month-long visit has been kidnapped; and the new minister is looking for any excuse to fire Roussos and expand his empire. But the most tragic element is Roussos' son, Dimitri, who is involved in national matters that tie in to all of Roussos' headaches. Apparently Petropoulos, the new Minister, is very aware of Dimitri's activities:

"'Oh, Roussos, there is one more matter.' The voice was soft and Roussos had

to strain to hear him. 'I have been looking into the matter of your son.' The words dripped like honey off his lips. 'I know what he's been doing. I am

probably the only man in Greece who can save him. Thing that over before you make a decision from which you cannot return."

FIT FOR FATE is an International police thriller that grabs the reader from the first page and does not let go. Stratton's characters are fascinating and individually well wrought. He weaves the culture of Greece and opera into a tale of political intrigue that entraps characters in shades of deception and honor. He is a romantic who doesn't hesitate to use love in the face of danger to enrapture his audience.

FIT FOR FATE is skillfully written, and is a real pleasure to read. Stratton uses his exceptional experience to pull the reader into the world of opera; spy games; relationships that are doomed or survive; and heart-rending treachery. FATE is a fine read that everyone will surely love. A big thumbs up to Mr. Stratton for sharing his world with the world. FIT FOR FATE is a wonderful read.

Hidden Falls
Carla Danziger
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
ISBN: 0595315968 $18.95

Carla Danziger is a freelance, award-winning writer. She is an American of Scandinavian descent and lives in Northern Virginia. HIDDEN FALLS is her first novel.

Reading the author's notes, the reader quickly comes to the conclusion that Carla Danziger is a very thorough, well-versed writer. She took 17 years to write HIDDEN FALLS, beginning while convalescing from foot surgery. But the process of writing took her through her family genealogy and roots in Norway; through her husband's background as an Israeli Jew, and finally to Bergen and the wondrous sights of Norway itself. She joined the Sons of Norway, got funding from the Norwegian Tourist Board in New York, and made numerous friends along the way. The book is as much a personal journey as it is a murder mystery.

American Kristina Kelly sets off for Norway to visit her revered cousin, Elsa Jenssen, a renowned Norwegian journalist, when her marriage shatters. Kris and Elsa plan to hike Hidden Falls, but Kris oversleeps and Elsa winds up dead at the bottom of the falls. Kris is immediately suspicious, and with the help of her Uncle Andy, a very senior sculptor and Elsa's father, her new friend and soon to be love, Tor Olsen, Kris begins her own investigation. It seems that many of the hotel's guests have something to hide, but what could her cousin have uncovered. As Kris retraces Elsa's steps, she becomes the quarry, and her life hangs by a thread:

"She didn't have the strength to play this guessing game, nor could she keep going or spend the night outside. All she knew was she wanted to live, wanted to see her children again. She would have to use her wits and whatever weapons available to her to fend Hans off if indeed he was in the cabin."

Danziger's HIDDEN FALLS is a carefully written travelogue and history of Norway. It is an exciting cliff-hanger; the scenery is beautifully wrought; and the characters are starkly real. Kris' heartbreak over her first marriage and concern for her just grown-up children renders her almost foolishly impervious to a new love that is ready and waiting. The denouement is delicious; the love story beckons; and there are lots of twists and turns. Excellent!

Shelley Glodowski
Senior Reviewer

Shirley's Bookshelf

Sacred Stone: A Novel of the Oregon Files
Clive Cussler and Craig Dirgo
The Berkley Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street New York, NY 10014
ISBN# 0425198480 $15.00 405 pages

4 Coffee Cups

In the beginning of this work we are taken to the time of Eric the Red and his discovery of a radioactive meteorite. We see how they worship this 'object' from god and the deadly results that it causes. Passing ahead in time we again are taken into the world of this meteorite as a young archeologist re-discovers it . Dreaming of fame and fortune, he has no idea that his life will just be one of many that will be sacrificed to the power of this meteorite that calls upon the greed of mankind. Now the plot thickens as good and bad race to be the ones who will harness this power for evil or good. Plot wise this was outstanding and the characters are bold and numerous, the author includes a legend in the beginning of the book to help the reader keep them straight. For those that love espionage and adventure this will be a real winner as you are carried along the trail that began many years before, showing the ignorance and greed of mankind and the effects that ripple from it. In this read we are reminded that even in the passing of time something's never change. Very good read.

Singlejewishfemale: A Modern Guide To Sex And Dating
Leah Furman
The Berkley Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street New York, NY 10014
ISBN# 0399530193 $13.95 181 pages

I have read and reviewed countless books on sex and dating, but this one was new to me and quite interesting. The author, Leah Furman, approaches this topic for Jewish people. Now that is something fresh and new. She talks to them about their fears of dating outside their faith and what may happen if a relationship becomes serious in that area. She openly discusses religious background and beliefs in connection with the dating game that we all play. She talks about family and their influence and even where you may find a nice Jewish guy. Now there is a plus. In this work, you will find others that share their fears and also tell how they find remedies. I am not Jewish, but reading this book helped me to understand their beliefs more and it would truly be an asset for any single person of that faith to read. Written in a fun but clear manner, the book can be referred to time and time again as the need arises. I believe all single Jewish people would definitely find this book to be a plus in their lives.

Rogue Real Estate Investor Collection 2004 Edition
Bryan Rundell and Michael Williams
Mind Like Water
7419 Metcalf Overland Park KS
ISBN# 0972884890 $27.95 271 pages

I will have to admit Real Estate is total Greek to me, so when I was asked to review this work' I thought, OK, a challenge. I do however have two children who are actively pursuing a real estate career. Nice timing for a review on the subject? I think so. To my surprise I actually learned something. Through reading this I found out that there certainly are a lot of hidden opportunities in real estate, especially in foreclosures. The authors write in a way that even novice like myself are able to understand. They take topics like "10 Steps to Getting in the Game," How to Profit from Foreclosures," and "Why Should You Read This Book?" and pack each one full of useful information. They also explain about taxes and given an entire section to the different states and their laws. As I said, I don't know a lot about getting into the real estate business, but I'll tell you this. If I were to go that way I certainly won't be without this book; it would be like a Bible to me. Interested in real estate? Run out and get this work. I believe it will be worth its weight in gold to you and your future. Recommended!

Hell's Gate-Death in Karachi
Nick Bentley
Publish America
Fredericks, MD
ISBN# 1413740154 $24.95 330 pages

Our story begins by becoming familiar with a Mr. Alex Cord, his wife and two daughters. Mr. Cord is a manager of Govandit operations in Pakistan based in the city of Karachi. The author carefully introduces you to the character of this man and you find yourself respecting him and the way he lives his life and honors others. The author also brings you into the ways of the people there and how his family, servants and body guards interweave with them trying to live as normal a life as possible in a hostile foreign land. But something devastating is about to happen that will change everyone in this region and you, the reader, will become part of that whether you like it or not. A terrible earthquake hits causing devastation beyond belief and toppling down the small protection Alex and his family had from the many enemies that surrounded them daily; those that would be happy to torture and kill all of them without batting an eye. Deadly horrors that were kept at bay were now crashing down upon them and Alex was thrust into decisions that meant life or death for himself and his family. Decisions and actions that would haunt him the rest of his life and change his very destiny. This book is one of those works that actually takes you into the heart of it, as the author pens his words in a way that are so gifted you merge with the complete hopelessness of the situation that surrounds you, desperate to find a way out for yourself and those you love. Just where would you draw the line? Who can answer that question? Knowing this could happen, only heightens the drama you feel as you turn each page. I give this book my highest recommendation. Adventure and drama so intense that you will walk away thinking of it days after the read, praying to God it never becomes a reality.

Soul Beginnings: 8 Strategies for Overcoming Life's Challenges
Shellie Anderson-Tazi
The Berkley Publishing Group
375 Hudson Street New York, NY
ISBN# 0425198227 $13.00 216 pages

In this work the author, Shellie Anderson-Tazi opens her heart and shares with her readers the tragedies that life has dealt to her. Losing her baby, being diagnosed with breast cancer, and her husband walking out on her brought Shellie to a point in her life that she either gave in and accepted death and defeat, or fought back and battled for life. She chose the latter. In this work, the author shares 8 steps she used in turning her situations around. She shares her experiences, her emotions, her victories and her defeats, tucking it all neatly together with a gentle dash of faith. In an honest and clear way, she opens her heart and walks you through putting these steps into practice in your own life. All in all a good self-help read. I think you will like this one.

Naughty or Nice
Eric Jerome Dickey
New American Library / Penguin Books
New York, NY
ISBN# 0525947760 $12.00 275 pages

"Naughty or Nice" is the story of three sister, Frankie, Livvy and Tommie. We are taken into the hearts of these young women as they struggle to make sense of their lives, their shattered loves and the loss of their loved ones. The sisters draw strength from past memories of their beloved mother and father and even though they might not want to admit it, they learn how much they need each other, and how deep the bond of sisterhood goes.

At times this book is quite spicy and intense as we invade the lives of these sisters, and the author shows that in a family each can be different, with different needs and desires, however, the end result for them was a deeper commitment to one another and understanding to what is important. Sex, love, hate, and life all tangled up in this steamy read, unraveled for the reader as they learn the bond of sisterhood.

Where Are My Shoes?
Mary Ann Dudko and Margie Larsen
Illustrated by Larry Daste
Barney Publishing
300 East Bethany Drive Allen,Texas 75002
ISBN# 0782903754 $2.25 11 pages

I loved this book and truly enjoyed reading it to my grandchildren. Baby Bop cannot find her shoes! She goes through the house looking for them and trying on many different pairs, from high heels to cowboy boots. Does she find her shoes? The illustrations are colorful and the pictures large bringing the story truly to life. It is simple reading and also teaches young children about different shoes. A really fun book for young and old to share.

The Cooker Book
Richard Paul Tanos
Tanos Book Publishing
PO Box 111056, Palm Bay, Florida 32911-1056
ISBN# 0974875378 $11.95 200 pages

I am quite impressed by the talent of author Richard Tanos; his range of writing skills never cease to amaze me. I have had the pleasure of reading and reviewing a great deal of his works and found them to be outstanding, in reading this newest one I was not surprised at the excellence of it.

I am not one that enjoys cooking, although I feel I could put out a really great dinner if I had a mind to, but I found this cook book quite enjoyable to read. In-between the pages we find our author sharing basic to more complex recipes with the reader. Some that are quite well known and others that he himself has had the pleasure of eating and has put his own special twist upon, giving it his unique spin.

He takes you from basic to complex and patiently takes you step by step in your preparation of each recipe. Whether it be making a simple ham and cheese sandwich to the all dreaded non-lumpy gravy, and the traditional Thanksgiving dinner, he is there with you, giving you helpful tips along the way. He adds a section of weights and measures which is quite helpful and even puts a "Special Relationship Test," at the end of the work, which I believe will not only bring a chuckle, but is true to its purpose.

This book would be an outstanding gift for so many people; whether they be newly married, moving out on their own, or perhaps seasoned cooks who would like to get some new ideas on some old recipes and learn a few new ones as well. I believe Mr. Tanos has another winner on his hands and I truly feel this book would be in asset in any kitchen. Recommended.

To Each Their Own
C.B. Berry
Winterwolf Publishing
ISBN# 0975271156 $13.95 219 pages

Wow! What a book! Let me say right off that his work was totally different than any I have read in a long time. From the onset you are wondering what is happening as you are taken through the murder of a man and you are left with the question, why?

As the story progresses you are introduced to a woman, what her true name is at this point is anyone's guess. This lovely lady has a secret that could end the ills of all mankind but she knows if she revealed herself it would also mean the end of her life.

Gibbs, another major player in this outstanding read, is a doctor who feels he has never reached his full potential in life. Thrust into the world of our mystery lady the race is on to reveal the most exciting discovery the world has ever known, but first he must find this mystery lady and convince her that is the right thing to do. Not an easy job; in doing so, he would be betting his very life on the outcome.

I won't give away anymore of the storyline of this work, but I will tell you that this read will hold you glued to your seat from beginning to end. Although it is packed full of mystery and well defined characters, it is also a novel that is laced with threads of moral issues and shows the greed and insanity of mankind. You are left wondering just who are the good guys in this world, and just how far will they go for their own gain? Shocking! I highly recommend this work. Definitely not the norm and that is a good thing.

The Road To The Dark Tower
Bev Vincent
New American Library / Penguin Group
New York, NY
ISBN# 0451213041 350 pages $14.95

To my shame I did not know anything about the work, "Dark Tower." Although I have watched and enjoyed many movies based on Stephen King's books; I was not familiar with this one. I found the read to be very interesting as I began to understand this was a milestone for Mr. King and his fans. It tells of his journey to complete this work, compares it to other works by the author, talks about the characters and gives a good overview of each volume. It actually stirred an interest in me concerning the book. I believe all fans of Stephen King would enjoy this book and would treasure it as part of their collection for years to come.

Adventures of Riley: Amazon River Rescue
Amanda Lumry & Laura Hurwitz
Illustrations by Sarah McIntyre
Eaglemont Press
15600 NE 8th St Bellevue, WA 98008
ISBN# 0966225791 $15.95 33 pages

This work certainly may be aimed at children but I was totally absorbed in every page that I read, and excited to see how the story would unfold. Riley is going on a river expedition through the Amazon Rainforest while visiting his Uncle Max, who just happens to be a world-famous conservation biologist. Riley is excited, and with his cousin Alice, he sets out to help discover new plant and animal species. The adventure begins as the children stray too far from camp and use a very interesting tree to be rescued. Quite an amazing tree I might add. Who would have thought a tree could do what this one did?

During their adventure, the authors give insightful facts about the Rainforest. Interweaving them within the storyline, children will learn without even realizing that is what they are doing, about the importance of the Rainforest to the earth and the unbelievable amount of plant and wildlife that live there.

The illustrations are dramatic, colorful and realistic and will totally draw any young person along the story trail,and make them wish they too could be there to discover a new insect, plant or animal that the world has yet to know. This is an outstanding work, a beautiful book and a resource of great educational value. Highest recommendation.

The Secret Lives of Toddlers
Jana Murphy
A Perigee Book
375 Hudson Street New York, NY
ISBN# 0399530231 $14.95 219 pages

Where oh where was this informative, outstanding book when my children were toddlers? Think of something you want to know why your toddler is doing it. Got it? Ok, now go to this book and your answer will be there. With 52 common behavior antics of toddlers listed in this outstanding work you will be delighted to finally understand such mysteries as, why do they love to be naked? Or how about this one, why do toddlers say, no! no! no! The answer may surprise you.

This is an outstanding book to help you better understand the toddler in your life. Not only does the author give you the whys; she also gives you tips on what to do now that you know the whys. This work would be an outstanding reference book for new parents and a great source of enlightment for all who ever wondered why toddlers do the strange little things that we have all seen them do. You'll find out there really was a purpose to their almost driving you mad, and you'll breath a sigh of relief, I promise. Really a great read. Well done, informative and enjoyable.

Rabbits Run Riot
Ana Rosa Marti
Peter Haddock Publishing
Whiskerton Tales
ISBN# 0710506058 $5.99 156 pages

In this colorful children's work we are taken to Whiskerton, a magic village full of delightful animals. We have Mrs. Mouse and Constable Weasel and all their friends. The cutest and the main characters of this work are Brown Ears and Grey Ears, two little rabbits who get into all kinds of trouble as they think up little tricks to do. The illustrations in this work are outstanding, very colorful and really help to bring the stories to life. As I shared this with my granddaughter we chuckled our way through it. I recommend this work, it's fun and entertaining.

CJ Morace
Behler Publications
22365 El Toro Road #135 Lake Forest, CA 92630
ISBN# 0974896233 $13.95 166 pages

I wondered what type of demented killer I would find between the pages of this book Appalachia. Surely in the mysterious mountains many monstrosities must have been done without the world knowing, and my interest was peaked.

As I began the read, I found myself whisked into the lives of two young friends, David and Linn. Raised on these mountains these boys knew the ways of the people, a commitment that outsiders could never understand. One family survived by bootlegging while the other had a father who was only part of the mountain by marriage and never really joined or was accepted by its people. . Halfway through their friendship David and his family left the Appalachia terrain, but as fate would have it he was drawn back to his childhood home due to a government assignment that could destroy them all.

Do not be confused with this work and pick it up thinking you are going to read solely about an insane killer, although that is part of the story, and one that certainly adds spice to the adventure. It's main theme is the lives of these two young men, the part these mountains had in forming their future and an unspoken commitment to each other that few have ever experienced.

The characters are well defined and the scenic description and lifestyle of the area are exceptionally woven within the story adding authenticity. I have thought about this read on and off since completing it. A book that leaves such an impression is surely a winner. Recommended.

Stick a Geranium in Your Hat and Be Happy
Barbara Johnson
Word Publishing Group
New York, NY
ISBN# 0849944791 $12.99 180 pages

In yet another uplifting work by author Barbara Johnson, we are led page by page through so many of lies challenges, and through her words we are taught to look circumstances in the eye and chose to be happy. In this work, Barbara teaches us how to release the joy within us and use God's promises to fill our souls with laughter instead of sorrow and grief. Always an uplifting read can be found in all of Ms. Johnson's works and this book is no exception. Indeed life is tough, but you are tougher, if you only chose to be. Barbara shows you how and encourages you along the way.

The Preacher
Robert James Allison
Wings E-press
ISBN# 1590883349 $12.95 347 pages

In the beginning of this outstanding novel you are taken to a small country church meeting in the town of Johnson City. Here you find people gathered to worship the Lord, but you sense that something terrible is about to happen, and it does. The year, 1962, a time when hatred burns rapid in the hearts of many against the black race and it is about to take on the form of death as a fire is set and all 100 occupants of this building, young and old are burned alive. This book has caught my attention. Taking you to the future in the year 1997, the author then begins to introduce you to the many characters that will become so important to the storyline. The Preacher, a man who lives mainly on the streets proclaiming the Word of God, and whom the entire story revolves around, the lawyer Charlie Chambers, who moves from town to town defending those that the system has over powered. Carol Harman, a famous singer who grabs the heart of Charlie. We also have Shirley, the local cafe owner, whose interest in The Preacher is a mystery. Our two detectives Todd Evans, whose thirst to find out the truth of the church burning so long again cannot be quenched and you have to know why, and his partner Sam Pinechurst, who has a dark secret that will shock you; and we see the corporation TTM which is the main source of jobs for this community and has set itself up as a separate kingdom, and you are introduced to many important characters within this kingdom. I have to be honest, at first I could not make the connection with all of these people, but don't be fooled, this forerunning information will take you to a story that involves murder, mystery, love and hatred, unbelievable hidden secrets buried deep within this community, and intervention of a higher being to bring to light a truth that was buried so long ago. I will have to tell you, the ending totally surprised and shocked me. It was well worth waiting for. I could never tell you the storyline of this work as it is so complex and carefully woven together that I am unable to give you just bits and pieces of it, and do it justice, but I can tell you the author did an excellent job and his writing skills are superior to many that I have reviewed. To me, this was a story that showed no matter how long it takes justice will prevail and the truth will be brought to light. Very highly recommended, a story you will not soon forget.

Deadly Behavior
Dee Sullivan
Turn Key Press
2525 W. Anderson Lane Suite 540 Austin, Texas 78757
ISBN# 0975480324 $12.99 260 pages

John Harrison is the mayor of River City; his life revolves around John Harrison, and John Harrison alone. Driven by money and power, John is involved in government corruption, drug trafficking and an unquenched desire to become Governor, no matter the cost. He is a deadly man, one to be feared, with connections that span across the state, and resources to uncover anyone or anything he is looking for. Marie is an abused wife; beaten physically, emotionally and spiritually, her life also revolves around her husband, John Harrison. Lisa, their only child is now 16, the victim of incest at the hands of her father, she makes the decision to run, a decision that could well cost her her life. No one crosses John Harrison and wins, no one; and so the drama begins.

If I could place neon lights around this book to bring your attention to it, I would. Glued to the pages, I completed the read in one night. Deadly Behavior is a story that surely is played over and over in many towns across our nation. Perhaps not in the power that our main character had, but in the behavior that he portrayed. This work shows how the actions of someone in our past influence our behavior in life. Deep seeded memories of their actions contribute to the moral fiber of our own existence, and in turn touch yet another innocent generation. It shows the dark side of our human nature in our thirst for money, power and control; and it shows goodness in some to risk their lives to help another.

I absolutely loved the way the author brings God and His power of forgiveness into the story. She weaves this so carefully into the storyline that it is almost breathtaking. If you are looking for a story that is packed full of the dark hideous side of man, yet glows with the intervention of a loving Creator, this book is for you. The characters are so well defined that you truly feel you personally know each one, and the ending will jar even the hardest of heart. A book that gives a face to the faceless victims of abuse and a scream that you will hear for a long time after the read. I cannot recommend this book high enough. It is an absolute must read; truly a masterpiece.

Author of Deadly Behavior

I recently read and reviewed Ms. Sullivan's outstanding work, "Deadly Behavior."

The moment I read the first chapter I was hooked and unable to put it down. No, I didn't get much sleep that night, but the read was worth it. (Please see review in this column)

I wanted to know more about the author and her journey to writing such an excellent novel.Let's begin our interview; I believe you will enjoy it.

SPJ: May I ask please, is this your first published work and what made your decide to write this book?

DS: Yes, this is my first published work. I met a young mother when I lived in Minnesota in the early 80's. Her husband was extremely abusive. I frequently journeyed about that relationship during the 2 years I knew her. I took her to the hospital one Sunday morning after he had pummeled her face to burger. My husband and I tried everything to get her to leave him, even if just while pursuing counseling. She refused. This is where the seed for the novel came from. Deadly Behavior is not, however, autobiographical in any way. As I met those who were incest survivors, and as my research into this dark, silent subject continued, Deadly Behavior was modified to fit the profile of an incest survivor and an abused wife. Modification continued until I felt I had each type properly represented.

SPJ: Very tragic, but you have certainly turned an encounter into a help for others. That is wonderful. Please tell us, what, if any reaction did you receive after your decision to write this book?

DS: I shared this decision with no one until it was about « written. I then discussed it's theme with my teenage daughter but she had not read much of the book because I felt the content was not appropriate for her age.

SPJ: How long did it take you to complete your book?

DS: Two years writing nonstop.

SPJ: It certainly was two years well spent. What was the most difficult part in writing your work? And what did you find as the most enjoyable?

DS: The climatic death of the mother was most difficult. I actually set up a room in my home to match the one in the book and walked through it from all perspectives. I knew if it wasn't just right I'd lose every reader then and there. Most enjoyable was the period of time Lisa spent with the farming couple.

SPJ: You did a wonderful job; both parts of the book were outstanding, now I know why. Tell us, did you find it difficult to find a publisher and if so what did you do to remedy that?

DS: Difficult? That's an understatement! None would touch it. I tried in vain to find representation with an agent. This also failed. The weird thing was I wasn't getting standard rejection notices. I often got notices with words of advice like "remove the God stuff and I'd be interested. Just toughen it up," and "if it were more Godly written I might be able to place it with a Christian publisher." I finally went the POD route (print on demand).

SPJ: I am so glad you did not take out the "God stuff," because it is so important to the entire work. You had just the right amount in my opinion. Please tell us, what advice would you give to authors who are looking for a publisher?

DS: Try to find an agent. There are great resources out there for locating agents that are accepting manuscripts from unpublished authors. Don't give up. I do not know of many publishers that will look at an unsolicited manuscript. They rely on agents.

SPJ: If you could speak directly to publishers, what would you tell them?

DS: At this point, I'd smile and offer them a free copy of the book. Although being rejected was trying, you don't go burning your bridges. I'm a firm believer that everything happens for a reason.

SPJ: Indeed you are a woman with wisdom. Do you have a publicist/agent.?

DS: Phenix and Phenix out of Austin, Texas is my publicist. I do not currently have an agent. Anyone going the POD way of print needs to seriously consider hiring a publicist.

SPJ: How much promoting do you do? Any tips for other authors?

DS: I promote nonstop. I carry a half dozen books with me in my car at all times. I carry business cards that have the cover on them and the email address on the back. I give these out to any one and every one like candy at Halloween.

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

DS: Not currently.

SPJ: What has writing this work done for you and what do you hope it will do for your readers? What do you hope they will take away with them after reading your work? Pure reading enjoyment or some thought provoking material?

DS: I gleaned great satisfaction from finishing this project. I want the reader to continue to think about the themes long after the last page is read. I hope to spread awareness regarding incest and possibly help a survivor find hope and healing through forgiveness. It is also so important that the book be a good read. If there's no desire to finish the book, then I've accomplished nothing.

SPJ: - I believe you have accomplished your goal. How supportive was your family in your writing experience and how important do you think this is to a writer?

DS: I wrote my first novel when I was 12 and my parents were very supportive. My mother worried what rejection would do to me, my father urged me on. I finished my second novel at age 19 but lost it in a winter move during a blizzard. My husband looked for it in the Minnesota corn fields with a flashlight at night during horrendous conditions because I was so distraught. Both boxes holding separate copies were lost.It was my husband that bought me my first typewriter. When computers came out, it was my husband that bought me one. He pried that typewriter from my grip, claiming this computer was the wave of the future. (Did I mention that I'm not fond of change?) However, I do believe he saw writing as my release, my hobby, not my career choice.

Support from family is very important. You face enough rejection without loved ones pitted against you.

SPJ: It is said, that writers are always thinking of their next work; mulling over new characters or new experiences to mold into a story. With that said, do you have any other works in progress? If so in what genre and when will they be released?

DS: Yes. The one I'm currently working on is entitle The Target and it is far more suspenseful than Deadly Behavior. It is written from the angle of a five year old girl that witnesses the murder of her mother. I hope to have it ready late 2005. Regarding stories, yes, I'm always thinking of my next novel and have several outlined.

SPJ: The Target sounds great. I do hope I get a chance to review it. Please tell us, how many hours a day do you write?

DS: As a paralegal, I write 8 hours a day. As a writer, I work weekends on my novels. I try to get 4-8 hours a weekend in. I look forward to the day when I am writing fulltime on novels.

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

DS: I need peace and quiet to write. I recently transformed one of the rooms in my home into a library and I love being in there. My third grade teacher is responsible for this passion. She was the first to tell me that if you connect enough sentences into a very good story people would want to read it.

SPJ: Has having a book published changed your life in anyway and if so please share that with us.

DS: Thirty-five years after being bit by the writing bug my goal to be published has happened. There is nothing quite like realizing such an awesome dream. With the published work come butterflies from anticipation as readers connect with me on their likes and dislikes. This is what I want to do for a living and that is nearly totally dependant upon how it is received by the reading world.

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

DS: I write as often as possible because the goal is to be doing this for a living and to be doing it well.

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

DS: I read a wide variety of books. I recently finished one on Jewish Marriage in Antiquity. I am a fan of Sidney Sheldon and Frank Peretti.

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

DS: I am a divorced mother of 3. I love to sew, ride my bike (I toured Scotland and Ireland by bike) and getting dirty in my garden. My children are all attending various colleges and so it's just me and my golden retriever/chow mix dog named Boo.

SPJ: Thank you! Please use this space for anything you would like to share with our readers concerning publishing, writing or your publishing experience in general.

DS: God gifts each one of us with specific gifts. If you believe yours is writing, don't quit. I trust the timing of God. Did you know that David waited some 20 years for the promise to be king to be a reality? This inspired me to persevere. Did you know that a critic is simply a human being getting paid to offer up an opinion? Don't let a negative opinion stop you from continuing. On that note, don't be so hardened to opinions that you blow off sound advice. This is a delicate balance.

SPJ: I certainly agree with you, interesting fact about David and one that brings encouragement. And so true about a critic. I often tell people you can't base your life on one person's opinion, especially not mine, and I don't even get paid for it. *smile*.....Thank you so much Ms. Sullivan for allowing me to interview you. You are an exceptional writer and I believe you have a bright future ahead of you. God bless everything you put your hand to.

Author of Work: To Each Their Own, Winterwolf Publishing

I truly enjoy reading and reviewing this wonderful author's book, "To Each His Own." Written in a unique style that was captivating, this work centers around a subject matter that I had never read before, or even imagined. Refreshing! I knew it would be a delight to get to know C.B. Berry better and I was right. Please, let's begin.

SPJ: May I ask please, is this your first published work? What made your decide to write this book?

CB: Yes, my first little opus! When the idea came to me I sketched out the storyline one lunchtime and became quite excited by the idea of turning it in to a novel. I'd written a lot of academic stuff before but this gave me the opportunity to prove the point that we all 'have at least one novel in us'. It turned out to be a much harder task than I thought.

SPJ: Your subject matter is so different from any that I have read before. How did you come up with it?

CB: I was working in a Biotech research group when we were discussing the possibility of enhancing the body's immune system. The idea occurred then - that was 1992. As noted above, I sketched out a skeleton framework for the story and put the first chapter down in a week. The rest of it took another year!

SPJ: Are the characters fashioned in anyway towards people you know, or have known?

CB: Strangely, not at all other than one of the two featured characters. Seb Gibbs is a bit like me and there are moments in the plot when I did become engrossed with what I assumed would be in character for me (and therefore him).

SPJ: Tell me, to you have your characters become a part of your life? This may seem like a strange question, however other authors have told me during the writing of their work they think of their characters all the time. Was this true in your case?

CB: Only from an empathetic point of view and in terms of my partial affinity with Seb Gibbs. I was focused on making the story plausible and cohesive so the personal character involvement was the less.

SPJ: What, if any reaction did you receive after your decision to write this book?

CB: My friends and colleagues thought I had simply taken up a hobby to while away a few hours in the evening. Likewise my family thought I was doing what I always did - writing, refereeing or editing scientific papers. It was only when I announced that Winterwolf were going to publish TETO that anyone took it seriously.

SPJ: How long did it take you to complete your book?

CB: First draft came out in about twelve months - over the succeeding years I tidied it up what I had written. In total, the current version came out in about fourteen months

SPJ: What was the most difficult part in writing your work? And what did you find as the most enjoyable?

CB: I'm not being facetious when I say it was all very difficult - getting the science and physiology right took time and coming up with a what was the inevitable conclusion was emotionally difficult. For me the most enjoyable part was finishing the last line of the book, knowing that it left me, and the reader, struck by the disturbing series of events that had taken place but with just a smidgen of hope.

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

CB: I spent 10 years trying to get TETO published - as I recall, 93 rejections and a mass of wasted paper and toner cartridges! The difficulty was in getting the big publishers to read it at all, and to get the smaller publishers to take on an unconventional storyline with no real genre as such against some very stiff competition!

SPJ: I certainly thank Kevin Grover from Winterwolf Publishing for taking you on; I believe he has a winner on his hands in your work. What advice would you give to authors who are looking for a publisher?

CB: Be persistent - stay away from the big publishers unless you have credentials (won a literary prize, have published, say, a short story in a magazine - or your mother is well known to the senior editor!). For new authors the best option is a small or new publishing house which is interested in new and innovative fiction and is aware that what the big boys assume (that there are plenty of first class authors available so if they reject one there is always another) serves their own purpose wonderfully. I was very lucky to find Winterwolf Publishing just as Kevin Grover was putting together a stable of writers. Being an established author himself he was never going to waste merit or real potential. Something for which I remain mighty grateful (Thanks Kevin!).

SPJ: If you could speak directly to publishers, what would you tell them?

CB: Stop being cynical about new submissions - there is a wealth of talent out there. You have a duty to make room for more aspiring writers - it stimulates readership and breaths new life into the market. Sooner or later, a blinkered dependence on past titles, famous authors, genre and your insistence on literary snobbery will be the death of you.

SPJ: Publishers - Take Note! Excellent advice. Do you have an agent? A publicist?

CB: No. I found it more difficult to get an agent than a publisher. Most agents are as dismissive of new authors as publishers, and since many publishers refuse to consider a title or an author unless an agent champions or proposes a new title, the agents are in an incestuous relationship with the publishers and are able to pick and chose.

To be honest, the claim that agents and publishers 'know better' is a fallacy. They are no more able to tell what the general readership will like than anyone else - they are prejudiced by their own culture and lack of breadth.

SPJ: I have to agree with you on both counts. How much promoting do you do? Any tips for other authors?

CB: Tell everyone you can - radio, TV stations, local papers, anyone.

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

CB: Yes - have been for a few years but I am a little unconventional for them!

SPJ: What has writing this work done for you and what do you hope it will do for your readers? What do you hope they will take away with them after reading your work? Pure reading enjoyment or some thought provoking material?

CB: I wanted it to be a journey in to a world where there was a very real message about out present day ethics, morality and standards. It isn't a morality tale per se but it has something to say and what it says is important about our present day attitudes. Granted, the whole idea is to entertain the reader, and that is the core of the whole endeavor. Nevertheless, the pleasure of being thrust into a fast- paced chase with no real idea of the outcome is intended to reveal the perverseness of our modern society . As such I came to understand my own misgivings about what we stand for these days and how easily distorted our moral code can become. If this work is seen as thought provoking then I shall be pleased.

SJ: It is said, that writers are always thinking of their next work; mulling over new characters or new experiences to mold into a story. With that said, do you have any other works in progress? If so in what genre and when will they be released?

CB: My next is in press - The Faraday Cipher is a suspense thriller to be published by Winterwolf Publishing early in the new year. If anything, this has more of the mark of a 'can't put down' thriller then TETO. The Faraday Cipher has no undercurrent of moral law nor does it reflect on modern society other than to demonstrate how human determination - to know the unknown - can make for a superb foray into a dangerous and hidden world of 'national interests'. In short, the legacy of a nineteenth century scientist starts off a hunt for something precious - but those central to the hunt become immersed in something far bigger than they could ever have imagined.

SPJ: Wow! I certainly hope I will be asked to review this work, it sounds exciting. Please tell us, how many hours a day do you write?

CB: Depends - four to five if time permits and I am on a roll. Other times family demands might mean nothing for a week.

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

CB: Not really - I write in my study as the mood takes me.

SPJ: Has having a book published changed your life in anyway and if so please share that with us.

CB: Yes, very much so! There is nothing worse than pointless futile endeavor. If you believe you have created something with merit, of value, then that belief needs to be tested and judged to confirm (or not) your expectations. To have TETO given some acknowledgement and recognition has made my writing of it worthwhile. However, more importantly, it has given me the optimism and incentive to continue writing and that's the best part.

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

CB: To remain a recognized author still able to produce good innovative fiction

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

CB: I read anything and everything - histories, SF, science fact and of course lots of fiction.

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

CB: Now 57, I live in Devon, England (for my sins). I'm a scientist by training, I spent many years in research and research management and picked up a some recognition and a reasonable reputation.

SPJ: Please use this space for anything you would like to share with our readers concerning publishing, writing or your publishing experience in general.

CB: They say patience is a virtue. It's true, but so it persistence. Self awareness is even more important! If you are going to write, write with the full breadth of your experience. Try not to write to a formula or genre unless you are confident that your skills are well honed in that particular arena. Once done, be prepared for a long haul in getting a publisher (unless the points I made earlier are relevant). Be strategic, make a good synopsis of your work and prepare a good covering letter. Identify the publishers most likely to be interested in your work and make available the resource (stamps, envelopes, e-mails) ready for sending out the synopsis and letter. More importantly - be prepared for rejections and a sense of futility - but nil desperandum - don't stop! Patience and fortitude will win in the end. Remember that nothing is immutable - the editors, publishers and genres that rejected you last year are likely to change this year. Just because you received a 'no' last year doesn't mean that you can't ask the question again this year. It's likely that the guy that rejected you before is long gone and the publishing policy has changed.

SPJ: Thank you so much for your sound advice and thank you for doing this interview with me. I know you have an exciting road ahead of you and I certainly wish you the best.

Shirley Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Vicki's Bookshelf

Lovingly Alice
Phyllis Reynolds Naylor
Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
ISBN 0689843992 $15.95, 166 pages,

In the last of the prequels to the beloved Alice series for readers 9-12, "Lovingly Alice" lets younger fans get to know the girl everyone wants to be friends with, and proves once again that Phyllis Reynolds Naylor understands all the fun of being a girl. In this series edition, Alice McKinly is finding that fifth grade is full of mysteries. Why has her best friend Sarah 's family disappeared? Why is her father going to a concert with a (gasp) woman? How can Lester go to the prom with a broken leg? And most perplexing: How exactly are babies made?" Alice isn't too sure about any of these things, but on top of doing her homework, trying to keep Lester's girlfriends straight, and setting her dad up with the school nurse, she's determined to get to the bottom of them!

Christopher Mouse: The Tale of A Small Traveler
William Wise
illusrated by Patrick Benson
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
ISBN 1582348782 $15.95, 152 pages,

Though his life begins "in a commonplace way," Christopher Mouse is not the least bit common. From his birth in an ordinary wire cage, to his close encounter with a large cat in the Egyptian room at the Metropolitan Museum of Art, Christopher proves to be an adventurer of the most intrepid sort a budding poet as well. Before they leave the nest, Christopher tells his beloved sister, Anna, "We just need a little luck, and there's no reason why we shouldn't have it." He doesn't know how wrong he is and yet how right. With the delightful feel of a lost classic, this is the story of a rather extraordinary mouse who, through the force of will and good luck, finds his own small place in a very large world. For ages 8 and up.

The Mystery of Eatum Hall
John Kelly and Cathy Tincknell
Candlewick Press
2067 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02140
ISBN 0763625949 $15.99, 32 pages,

When Glenda and Horace Pork-Fowler receive an invitation from Dr. A. Hunter for a weekend of free gourmet food at nearby Eatum Hall, it sounds too good to be true. Eating, after all, is their very favorite pastime. It's a pity they don't pause to consider the offer more carefully before they accept. With a clue to the true motive behind the invitation on every page, children will enjoy pouring over the details in order to guess just what the greedy Glenda and Horace are getting themselves into. A delicious picture book mystery.

The Edge Chronicles: Beyond The Deepwoods (Vol. 1)
Paul Steward & Chris Riddell
David Fickling Books / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
ISBN 0385750684 (Beyond the Deep Woods)
ISBN 0385750706 (Stormchaser) $12.95,

Far, far away, jutting out into the emptiness beyond, lies the Edge. Filled with strange peoples and terrifying creatures, this is a world unlike any other, where action - and danger - await at every turn. Abandoned at birth in the dangerous Deepwoods, young Twig has been brought up by a family of woodtrolls. He has always thought he was one of them, until one cold night, he finds out he's not. Soon he sets off to find out who he really is, and he does the unthinkable: he strays from the path. So begins the heart-stopping adventure that will take Twig through a nightmarish world of goblins and trogs, bloodthirsty beasts and flesh-eating trees. Only two things keep Twig going: the hopes of discovering his true identity and finding his destiny. A richly original fantasy series that has found eager readers in its British birthplace, and will surely appeal to young fans of the "Harry Potter," "The Chronicles" and other gothic-edged fantasies for kids.

Monsoon Summer
Mitali Perkins
Delacorte Press / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
ISBN 038573123X $15.95, 272 pages,

Will a trip to India work its magix on a teenage girl torn between two cultures? Young love and self-discovery blend in the lush Indian rain in Mitali Perkins' "Monsoon Summer", a teen novel about a bi-racial teen who discovers her roots, and herself, during a summer trip to her family's native India. Against her will, California born-and-bred Jasmine "Jazz" Gardner travels to her mother's homeland during the magical monsoon season on a family trip. Mrs. Gardner wants to volunteer at the orphanage that cared for her when she was young, But that's not Jazz's idea of a fun summer vacation. She wants no part of her mother's good-deed and the family pressure haunts her. Besides, she's heartsick over what she's forced to leave behind: her star-up business and her best friend, Steve, with whom she is secretly in love. Will the distance this summer change their relationship forever? Only when Jazz reluctantly befriends Danita, a local cook, does she begin to recognize her own strength, desirability, and generosity. Coming-of-age issues aside, this debut novel is rich with issues of class and discrimination, and the difficulties growing up in the shadow of saintly parents. For ages 12 and up.

P.J. Petersen and Ivy Ruckman
Delacorte Press / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
ISBN 0385731647 $15.95, 224 pages,

Can you fall in love with someone without ever seeing that person? "Rob&" is a touching tale about two sixteen-year-olds falling in love with each other from behind their computer screens. He is in a prep school" for troubled rich teens. She's an army brat whose best friend has cancer. Nor only have they not seen each other, they're hundreds of miles apart, but their love of poetry brings them together through electronic communication. After meeting in a poetry chatroom, they start a yearlong email relationship. Over time, details about their lives pour out, and they become best friends. Not only do they learn about each other, they discover important lessons about themselves. For a year, co-authors P.J. Petersen and Ivy Ruckman took on the personas of their characters and sent emails back and forth signed "Rob" and "Sara." They let the story develop one message at a time, anxiously waiting for the next note much like their characters. That this is their first collaboration shows, and the back-and-forth style gets a bit tedious, but a degree of authenticity and heart manages to shine through.

Lizzie McGuire: My Second Way Cool Boxed Set
Disney Press / Volo
114 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10011-5690
ISBN 078684678X $12.99, four books,

Based on the huge hit Disney Channel TV series for tweens, the "Lizzie McGuire" book series is the most successful since the comparable Olsen Twins fiction series, and "Goosebumps." In this second paperback collection, four series titles are housed in a cardboard slipcase at an attractive budget price. Included are "Picture This" (in which photo day becomes a nightmare when Lizzie is forced to wear a dorky unicorn sweater); "New Kid In School" (featuring Lizzie's toxic little brother, Matt); "Broken Hearts" (in which Lizzie and her best friend Gordo get their first kisses - and not from each other); and "The Orchids and Gumbo Poker Club" (where Lizzie shares her private notes and jokes with her very own copy). Lizzie and Hilary Duff fans who can't get enough of the #1 tween queen will greatly enjoy giving and getting this set.

101 Ways to Bug Your Teacher
Lee Wardlaw
Dial Books for Young Readers
345 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014-3657
ISBN 0803726589 $16.99, 246 pages,

Steve "Sneeze" Wyatt is on a mission. He's got to think of 101 ways to get under his teacher's skin and fast! No on can quite figure out why Sneeze is acting so strangely, but he has some pretty good reasons. He's dealing with a crazy parental scheme guaranteed to take him away from all of his friends forever; a best friend with a serious hiccupping problem that only he can fix; and one intimidating history teacher who's ready to give him a failing grade. And on top of all that, Sneeze is worried about the future of his inventions (like an alarm clock that gently taps you awake) and everyone's counting on him to come up with a half-decent project idea for the upcoming History Faire. What's an inventing genius/average seventh grader to do? A very funny tale for middle grade humor fans.

Susan Jeffers
Dutton Children's Books
345 Hudson St., New York, NY 10014
ISBN 0525473459 $16.99, 32 pages,

The magical transformation of Cinderella from sooty serving girl to bejeweled princess never fails to enchant readers of all ages. Cinderella is someone we can admire for being true to herself, brave, and kind, and this timeless tale shows how we can all become the best person we can be. Susan Jeffers, renowned for her beautiful fairy-tale illustrations, brings the classic story to life in this elegant picture book edition. From the first touch of the fairy godmother's want through the dazzling splendor of Cinderella's arrival at the royal ball, each bewitching moment is captured in richly detailed paintings. A very satisfying rendition suitable for keepsakes and gift giving.

The Race To Save The Lord God Bird
Phillip Hoose
Farrar, Straus and Giroux 19
Union Square West, NY, NY 10003
ISBN 0374361738 $20.00, 196 pages,

For thousands of years, the majestic Ivory-billed Woodpecker reigned over the dark emerald forests that once carpeted the bottomlands of America's broad southern rivers, as well as the red, rugged mountains of eastern Cuba, where it was called Carpintero real. A phantom bird, always more easily heard than seen, it had a giant, ivory-colored bill prized by Indians and whites alike. But even in the early 1800s, when John Audubon captured the Ivory-bill's likeness in his ground-breaking book "The Birds of America," this species was beginning to disappear. A century later, it was presumed extinct. What happened? The Ivory-bill's story sweeps through 100 years of history, introducing artists, specimen collectors, lumber barons, plume hunters, and pioneering biologists who sought to uncover the mystery of birds by studying them in their habitats. With lively prose, illuminating images and meticulous research, author Phillip Hoose explores the tragedy of extinction, probes our evolving attitudes toward understanding species and protecting habitat.

Hank Zipzer: Help! Somebody Get Me Out of Fourth Grade!
Henry Winkler and Lin Oliver
Grosset and Dunlap / Penguin Putnam
345 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
ISBN 0448436132 $12.99, 156 pages

Uh oh. Parent Teacher Conference Day is fast approaching, and Hank Zipzer has reason to panic. After all, he's the world's greatest underachiever, struggling with learning disabilities and a wandering imagination. So what can he do when the class bully tells him not to worry because there's no way on earth he's going to graduate from fourth grade this year. Sure, he got four Ds on his last report card, but somehow Hank is determined to fix that so he's not the only kid in his classs stuck repeating fourth grade. Even worse, that would mean being in the same class as his sister and her geeky boyfriend. Hank Zipzer's latest grade school novel is a hoot, filled with genuine angst that kids can relate to, and fast-moving action that will make them laugh out loud.

Half Magic
Edward Eager
Illustrated by N.M. Bodecker
Harcourt Inc.
525 B Street, San Diego, CA 92101
15 E. 26th St., NY, NY 10010
ISBN 0152053026 $18.95, 218 pages,

Edward Eager's timeless story, "Half Magic," has been working wizardry on young readers for a half century. This handsome fiftieth anniversary hardcover edition revives the original jacket design from 1954 and boasts many extra flourishes, such as a ribbon page marker, two-color printing, and a new introduction by National Book Award finalist Jack Gantos. The charming story -- about a bored girl and a magic coin -- is as hilarious and heartwarming as ever, and deserves recognition with contemporary readers ages eight and up.

The Hundred Dresses
Eleanor Estes
illustrated by Louis Slobodkin
Harcourt Inc.
525 B Street, San Diego, CA 92101
15 E. 26th St., NY, NY 10010
ISBN 0152051708 $16.00, 84 pages,

No children's book has touched me as deeply as this quiet, pitch-perfect narrative offering a timeless message of compassion and understanding. Never out of print since its 1944 publication, Eleanor Este's Newbery Honor Book has lost none of its exquisite power to resonate with contemporary issues of bulling among girls. At the book's heart is Wanda Petronski, an immigrant student in an American school, who is ridiculed for wearing the same faded blue dress every day. When she tells her classmates that she has one hundred dresses at home, she unwittingly triggers a flurry of teasing that eventually ends in an unforgettably poignant lesson for all. In restoring the reproduction quality of Louis Slobodkin's original artwork, this new edition of "The Hundred Dresses" renews the color that had been softened during sixty years of reproductions. A letter to readers from Helena Estes, daughter of the author, details the true story behind this children's masterpiece.

Charlotte's Web/Stuart Little
E.B. White
illustrated by Garth Williams
Harper Collins
1350 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10019-4703
ISBN 0060739401 $49.99

Two of the most perfect children's novels of all time, are now packaged together in this special collector's edition. The E.B. White's timeless classics - the old-fashioned tale of tiny mouse "Stuart Little," and the perfectly perfect Newbery Honor Book "Charlotte's Web" - are here published in hardback editions, and housed in a heavy-cardboard slip-case, with a bonus of two frameable prints. There are many less expensive editions on the market, but this wonderful pairing makes this gift edition the most elegant and desirable of them all.

Gotta Get Some Bish Bash Bosh
M.E. Allen
Harper Collins
1350 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10019-4703
ISBN 0060731982 $15.99, 198 pages,

What would you do if you were dumped because you had no "bish bash bosh" (otherwise known as self confidence and sex appeal)? You'd change your image, of course. You could: opt for a new French coif, even if it is overpriced and the results resemble a coconut. You could quit donuts, cold turkey, and join the rugby team for requisite male bonding. And you could try to obtain the support of your clueless parents suffering from PPFS: Premature Parental Fatigue Syndrome. Then maybe, just maybe, the results could land you a new love interest, a spot on the A-list, and even help you get even with your ex. That's the plan for the new "It Guy" in "Gotta Get Some Bish Bash Bosh, a laugh-out-loud account of one teen's search for popularity. As funny as Louise Rennison's "Angus, Thongs and Full-Frontal Snogging" and nearly as British, this slang-filled boys-eye-view novel gives a rare POV from a teen male's anxiety-torn perspective. A hip romp for ages 11 and up.

Dressup Batty
William Wegman
114 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10011-5690
ISBN 0786818492 $19.99,

Most supermodels are known by only one name: Gisele, Naomi, Cindy, Tyra Batty? William Wegman's diva Weimaraner is all glammed up for this fabulously fashionable novelty book that cordially invites fashionistas of all ages to help Batty get ready for her very busy social schedule. Aiding in the preparations are: over 40 stickers of dresses and accessories; lift-the-flaps; oversize pop-ups; a reflective mirror for four-legged narcissists; scratch 'n' sniff perfumes; removable and sendable postcards; and Batty personalized stationery. Playing dress-up has never been so chic or so doggone funny. For ages 3 to 300.

The Amber Spyglass
Listening Library / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
ISBN 0807262013 $54.00, 12 CDs,

Performed by the author and a full cast, this is no ordinary audio book production. This one is for true literary fans seeking an authentic and unmolested audio presentation of the complete "His Dark Materials" trilogy. Here, book three is carefully produced in 14 hours, 54 minutes, on 12 compact discs, and the story couldn't be more riveting. Lyra and Will, the two ordinary children whose extraordinary adventures began in "The Golden Compass" and "The Subtle Knife," are in unspeakable danger. With help from Iorek Byrnison, the armored bear, and two tiny Gallivespian spies, they must journey to a dank and gray-lit world where no living soul has ever gone. As Dr. Mary Malone builds a magnificent amber spy glass, an assassin hunts her down. Troops of angels, battle strange allies and make a shocking sacrifice as war rages. All depends on the two children and the simple truth of one simple story. An astonishing conclusion to a wonderful fantasy trilogy. A must-have for true fans as the only multi-sensory version until the movie version is completed.

Roald Dahl Gift Set
Roald Dahl
illustrated by Quentin Blake
Puffin Books / Penguin
345 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
ISBN 0142400947 $24.96,

What a wonderful way to welcome new, young readers to the scrumdiddlyumptious world of Roald Dahl. The renowned author wrote delicisously fun and imaginative stories for children. Here four of his most popular novels, "Charlie and the Chocolate Factory," "Charlie and the Great Glass Elevator," "James and the Giant Peach," and "Fantastic Mr. Fox" are gathered in paperback form, and housed in s cardboard slipcase. A charming gift to influence a lifetime of reading pleasure.

You're On Your Way, Teddy Roosevelt
Judith St. George
illustrated by Matt Faulkner
Philomel / Penguin
345 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
ISBN 0399238883 $16.99, 48 pp.

Before Teddy Roosevelt became famous as a statesman, naturalist, colonel in the Spanish-American War, and the 26th president of the United States, he was a young boy called Teedie. Teedie had wonderful adventures with his brother and sister, and even started a natural science museum in his attic. But Teedie also struggled with asthma and other illnesses. Overcoming those illnesses was the major battle of his young life, and his determination to make himself strong and healthy proved to be a turning point for him, setting the course for his amazing accomplishments to come. First in a series of original picture storybooks about "turning ponts" in the young lifes of the presidents, "You're on Your Way, Teddy Roosevelt" is written by Judith St. George, the award-winning author of "So You Want to Be President?"

I Am A Sea Turtle
Darlene R. Stille
illustrated by Todd Ouren
Picture Window Books
5115 Excelsior Blvd. Suite 232, Minneapolis, Minn. 55416
ISBN 1404805974 $22.60 (list); $16.95 (school library), 24 pages

The life of a Green Sea Turtle is told engagingly in first-person for this introductory library title for grades kindergarten through second. "I may be a turtle, but I swim quickly through the sea," it begins. "Come to the beach with me and learn about my life." While the main text gives a personal tour of a day-in-the-life of the aquatic creatures, intriguing sidebar factoids effectively keep the lesson on track. A nice premiere of a new "I Live In The Ocean" series which also includes titles on fish, dolphins, seals, sharks and whales. The reinforced library binding and large, square format makes it suitable for classroom reading and sharing.

Blitz Ultimate Cartooning Kit
Bruce Blitz
Running Press
125 South Twenty-Second St., Philadelphia, PA 19103-4399
ISBN 0762419288 $19.95, 56 pages,

Kids of all ages can unleash their inner artist with the help of Bruce Blitz, host of the four-time Emmy nominated PBS TV series "Cartooning With Blitz." His new "Blitz Ultimate Cartooning Kit" is a fun and easy-to-use kit that provides novice cartoonists with the tools and know-how to create their own original drawings. It contains a 56 page book giving step-by-step instructions; a reusable "Blitz Re-Tooner easel; 50 reusable ReTooner Boards with partial illustrations for learning drawing techniques; a double-sided black dry-erase marker; two wipe-away plastic sheets; and a cleaning cloth. Each page of the book gives a drawing lesson and suggest several Re-Tooner boards to practice with. Practice makes perfect, so the erasable boards are an excellent practice tool. Beginners can start with the "Cartoon Heads" and "Expressions" sections, while more advanced students can progress to more complicated movement in the "Body Language" and "Sports and Action" chapters.

Scooby-Doo Phonics Box Set #1
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
ISBN 0439664780 $12.99,

Scooby-Doo and the gang set off to solve brand-new mysteries and teach reading along the way. Based on recent research on how children develop their reading skills, this box set of 12 books has been designed to introduce a carefully selected progression of letter sounds, staring with the easiest and most common. It blends the familiar and beloved characters Scooby-Doo, Fred, Daphne, Shaggy, and Velma with the task of learning to read. Each book contains the expected techniques: repeated examples of letter sounds, as well as basic sight words to learn and words to sound out. There is a wide-range of well-designed phonic readers already on the market, all designed by reading specialists without the unnecessary distraction of licensed cartoon characters. For that reason, I can only recommended this series for the most reluctant readers who already - sadly -- require sugar-coated lures.

Hidden Roots
Joseph Bruchac
Scholastic Press
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
ISBN 0439353580 $16.95, 136 pages,

In "Hidden Roots," a family is shaken to its core by a secret that will no longer stay buried. As hard as 11-year-old Sonny and his mother try, they can't predict his father's sudden rages, which can turn physical in an instant. Jake's anger only gets worse after long days laboring at the local paper mill, and when Uncle Louis appears. Louis seems to show up when Sonny and his mother need help most, but there is something about him and his quiet, wise ways that only fuels Jake's rage. The love of Sonny's fragile mother, the support and protection of his Uncle Louis, and an unexpected friendship with a librarian help Sonny gain the confidence to stand up to his father. The consequences of his actions, and the source of his father's self-hatred will reverberate through the hearts and minds of readers and challenge them to examine their own feelings about love, acceptance, and self-esteem.

Eloise's What I Absolutely Love Love Love
Kay Thompson
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
ISBN 0689849656 $9.95, 32 pages,

What does Eloise absolutely love, love, love? Well, she just adores lots of things - The Plaza Hotel, Room Service, of course, taking walks with Nanny, and Weenie's whiskers (which are wonderful). But there's one more thing that Eloise is rather fond of, as this posthumous "in the style of" Kay Thompson and illustrator Hilary Knight reveals. As licensed-property homages go, this one's short and sweet, and utterly devoted to the original creators' style, rhythm, and core character.

Wild Moments
Ted Wiliams
Storey Books
210 MASS MoCA Way, North Adams, MA 01247
ISBN 1580175287 $22.95, 192 pages,

If you know how to look closely, signs of life are everywhere, even in a winter landscape: in the wing marks of a raptor in the snow, the foot and belly tracks of frolicking oters, the deer hair on a barbed wire fence, and the activity seen beneath the surface of a frozen lake through a hole in the ice. In "Wild Moments," Ted Williams reveals this hidden winter world, and offers equally fascinating glimpses of spring, summer, and fall. This poetic collection of essays captures four seasons of nature's miraculous moments, as seen in animal and bird activity, plant cycles, birth and death, and environmental signals occurring throughout North America and the world. His ability to capture the magic of these moments has established him as one of the most respected nature writers in the United States for the past 30 years. A lovely book with universal appeal.

Vicki Arkoff
Senior Reviewer

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

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