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MBR Bookwatch

Volume 5, Number 1 January 2006 Home | MBW Index

Table of Contents

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

Donovan's Bookshelf

Eva: Eloge de ma Fille
Irina Ionesco
Alice Press
097270731X, $85.00

In 1935 Irina Inoesco was born to Romanian parents: separated from them at the age of four, she wound up in Paris as a dancer and painter before she became a photographer of the strange, beautiful and erotic. Thirty years later, in Paris, she began photographing her young daughter Eva, documenting her maturity through the years in both clothed and nude portraits which weave sensuality, innocence, and art. EVA is the result of these years of documentation, culling over a hundred of what may be thousands of images of Eva produced since the 1970s for a catalog like no other. EVA has been condemned and even banned for its sometimes blatantly erotic portraits of a child - but eventually has been accepted in art circles as a stunning collection of unique black and white shots. They may shock and amaze, but rarely will they bring casual acceptance - they are unique images and any college-level art library should be proud - and daring enough - to include EVA in its exhibition of outstanding photographic compilations: it's that rare and good.

Dreams of the Solo Trapeze
Mark Schreiber
Canal House
0975466402, $19.95

Author Mark Schreiber first met Olga Sidorova in 2002: she had run away from Siberia as a teen to follow her dream to fly - and entered the world of the trapeze with the performers Cirque du Soleil. DREAMS OF THE SOLO TRAPEZE: OFFSTAGE WITH THE CIRQUE DU SOLEIL describes her journey - and the group's evolution - from one who traveled with them and become an 'insider' rather than a reporter. It's at once a biography, group history, travel narrative and love story like no other, and any with an interest in performances or circus acts will find the journey compelling.

Your Brick Oven Building It & Baking in It
Russell Jeavons
Grub Street
4 Rainham Close, London SW11 6SS, UK
190494325X L10.99

If you want to build your own brick oven for baking, you can't go wrong with (and simply must own) YOUR BRICK OVEN: BUILDING IT & BAKING IN IT: it's a bible of facts about the step of building such an oven, from suitable sites to using it in baking. Base, domes and construction are all covered, along with first firing and cooking tips. While it's more a construction guide than a cooking guide, YOUR BRICK OVEN serves both audiences well - and as there are relatively few other books on the market on the topic, it earns a place as a unique recommendation for any homeowner adding such an oven to a house project.

Build Your Own Standards Compliant Website Using Dreamweaver 8
Rachel Andrew
Sitepoint Pty Ltd.
424 Smith St. Collingwood, VIC Australia 3066
0975240234, $39.95

You don't have to be a professional programmer to produce an accessible, acceptable web site using Dreamweaver 8: all that's required is a working knowledge of the program and Rachel Andrew's BUILD YOUR OWN STANDARDS COMPLIANT WEBSITE USING DREAMWEAVER 8. It's a step- by-step guide which begins with setting preferences and proceeds through the basics of accessibility, navigation links and styling, working with Dreamweaver's CSS panel, and more. One might anticipate a complex guide - but BUILD YOUR OWN STANDARDS COMPLIANT WEBSITE is easy to use, whether you're reading cover-to-cover or hopping about for a quick fix to a problem.

Music of the Sea
David Proctor
Edited by Richard Bake, OBE, RD
National Maritime Museum
Greenwich, London ,SE10 9NF, UK
0948065613, $26.95

For centuries music has provided sailors and passengers alike with inspiration and consolation for sea trials: the shanty lightened repetitive tasks, composers extolled the virtues of the ocean, and passengers reflected on their journey. It's fitting that MUSIC OF THE SEA should finally pay tribute to these ocean-inspired songs, providing a history of the range of mariner music from the time early man first took to the sea to modern times. Major maritime museums in Europe and America contributed to this historical survey which reflects on instruments, music, makers, and sea-faring experience alike.

New Directions in Jewellery
Jivan Astflack, Caroline Broadhead & Paul Derrez
Black Dog Publishing
Unit 4.04 Tea Building, 56 Shoreditch High St., London E1 6JJ UK
1904772196, $39.95

Over 80 jewelry makers who are creating radical new designs, blending textiles with sculpture, are changing the way jewelry is made and presented, and NEW DIRECTIONS IN JEWELLERY discusses these changes in essays which profile artists and their approaches. Distinguishing design paths, examples of various designs which defy the usual geometric and material choices, and commentary on artist and fashion statements make NEW DIRECTIONS an excellent survey of the latest trends in style and jewelry creation. A 'must' for any college-level collection strong in modern art and jewelry.

ADV Films
$29.98 each

ADV Films' manga and Japanese series productions are powerful recommendations, offering complete episodes and dramatic, action-packed fantasies on DVD. In 1998 the TV series Shadow Skill was released in Japan to much acclaim, presenting some 26 episodes. SHADOW SKILL: FIGHT FOR THE ONES YOU LOVE (141392141) provides four complete episodes from this series, introducing a fast- paced action set involving fast warriors and fantasy evil enemies. MABURAHO: SURPRISES AND SUSPICIONS (141391179X) tells of a high schooler with a special challenge: facing life as a ghost. Romance and ghostly encounters permeate a fun Japanese account of high school trauma. ELFEN LIED - VECTOR FOUR (1413911579) is the last volume of the ELFEN LIED series: familiarity with the others will lend a more immediate appreciation for this concluding story of a mysterious organization protecting humanity from the Diclonius mutant. Fast-paced action makes this Japanese animated presentation a real winner. AREA 88: TIGHTROPE AT THE SPEED OF LIGHT (1413911102) is a tense animated thriller revolving around supply transports cut off by enemy action and a sniper who holds the base hostage. Lots of jets and fighting action here, which is also enhanced by character bios, interviews, and much more. The complete collection PEACEMAKER (1413912796, $67.48) comes in a fine slipcased set of five DVD packages; each holding five episodes of the Japanese PEACEMAKER cartoon series. A teen's thirst for revenge after the vicious slaying of his parents leads him to seek out a group of swordsmen sworn to protect the capital against rebels - the same rebels who murdered Tetsu's parents. But he learns the swordsmen are themselves capable of the same vengeful violence: should he become a demon and join them, or become a Peacemaker like his father? Expect blood, gore, and plenty of fighting in 24 episodes of dramatic, changing action.

Audio Editions
Auburn, CA 95604

These leisure readers are fine picks for listeners who enjoy classics and mysteries. E.M. Forster's A PASSAGE TO INDIA (1572704861, $37.95) is a social and political novel of British colonialism in India. An expedition to the Marabar caves ends in a break which precedes the end of the British rule in India. Narrator Sam Dastor brings the story to life in a vivid classic tale. Agatha Christie's THE MAN IN THE BROWN SUIT (1572704829, $31.95) receives Emilia Fox's winning British voice and acting background as it tells of one Anne, who has seen little adventure in her life until she sees a man die in the tub station when he falls onto the tracks. A doctor at the scene pronounces him dead and flees, leaving a small clue behind which Anne takes to investigate on her own. A gripping saga of a woman whose life is changed by a stranger's death. P.G. Wodehouse's STIFF UPPER LIP, JEEVES (1572704845, $27.95) receives actor Jonathan Cecil's decades of stage and screen acting experience, which comes through perfectly for the dry yet comic character of butler Jeeves. Here Bertie faces an obstacle to his marriage with Madeline when his friends find themselves at odds with her. Gentle rivalry and problems abound. Fredd Wayne performs THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF BENJAMIN FRANKLIN (1572704950, $27.95), an unabridged dramatic account spiced with reader Wayne's background in stage and film productions. The story of Franklin's early years comes to life in audio as it could not in print, and is based on memoirs he wrote sporadically over a period of 18 years. Shakespeare comes alive in audio with two excellent new Arkangel productions: ANTHONY AND CLEOPATRA (193221903X, $24.95) and THE COMEDY OF ERRORS (1932219056, $19.95). The liner notes on these productions are exceptional, providing not just a complete cast list and plot synopsis but a guide to cd track marks which makes these easy to start and stop. The full-cast dramatizations are outstanding, wonderful listens which even reluctant Shakespeare students will find lively and accessible.

O'Reilly Publishers
1005 Gravenstein Highway North, Sebastopol, CA 95472

Reilly produces an amazing array of computer titles each month - and equally amazing is their ability to provide topics and approaches which reach wide audiences and promise lasting reference in the rapidly changing world of computers. Nancy Connner's EBAY: THE MISSING MANUAL (0596006446, $24.95) joins others in O'Reilly's 'missing manual' series to cover topics which should really come in the standard computer owner's manual. Almost any home user dabbles in Ebay sales at some point or another, or buys on the site: EBAY: THE MISSING MANUAL covers both buying and selling on eBay; from doing so for fun to making a profit or even a living. Avoid common pitfalls, learn what it takes to become a 'power seller', and learn about ebay patterns and how to develop a competitive strategy appropriate to eBay alone. Robbie Allen and Preston Gralla's WINDOWS XP COOKBOOK (0596007256, $44.95) is a winner which packs in over three hundred 'recipes' and solutions geared to administrators of the XP system. From interfacing customization tools and making Windows XP look better to managing quota, disc space, and backup, WINDOWS XP COOKBOOK is packed with solutions, outlining common user problems and even including scripts where necessary to fix 'em. James Boney's CISCO IOS IN A NUTSHELL: A DESKTOP QUICK REFERENCE FOR IOS ON IP NETWORKS (0596008694, $39.95) also is geared to network administrators - specially, those who work with Cisco routers - and provides an overview of the IOS system with all its complexity. CISCO IOS IN A NUTSHELL appears in its updated second edition covering the basic commands, QOS, switches, virtual LANS - everything the network administrator faces in configuring and tweaking a Cisco IOS system, from user interfaces to a quick command reference.

Brilliance Corporation
Box 887, Grand Haven, MI 49417

Each month Brilliance publishers a wealth of exceptional audio cds for leisure listening audience, and these new arrivals represent some top picks. David Morrell's CREEPERS (1423306104, $24.95) receives veteran Patrick Lawlor's firm and gripping narrative style as it tells of five people who plan to break into a hotel: urban archaeologists with a passion for abandoned buildings and investigation. Ted Bell's ASSASIN (1597373656, $26.95) and PIRATE (1597373753, $26.95) both come to life under the moving and dramatic reading style of John Shea. ASSASSIN tells of a deadly killer terrorist who assassinates American diplomats and their families; PIRATE tells of a captive American spy who possesses important intelligence. Both are gripping thrillers, especially in audio. Sandra Brown's PRIME TIME (1593559828, $26.95) receives veteran Joyce Bean's ability to bring romance to life as it tells of a cable TV reporter's qwest for a top-level job and investigation into a secret - and romance. Romance is also a strong ingredient in Julier Garwood's SLOW BURN (1596008334, $26.95), narrated by Laural Merlington who, as many times in the past, is able to bring the underlying emotion of the drama to life. Kate is nearly killed by an explosion, and finds a series of disasters both business and personal make her vulnerable to love. Catherine Coulter's POINT BLANK (1596008547, $26.95) receives veteran Dick Hill's passionate and smooth reading as it tells of revenge and murder in the FBI itself. Dramatic actions, rescues, and an insane villain make for swift, gripping audio listening. John Saul's PERFECT NIGHTMARE (159737699X, $26.95) enjoys a dual narration by Dick Hill and Susie Breck, which helps add drama and excitement to the dark story of a vanished daughter and a grief which joins two strangers in a desperate search. Jack Higgins' WITHOUT MERCY (1423306201, $29.95) receives Michael Page's ability to lend quiet drama and tension to the story of a detective who is recuperating in a hospital when murdered. All who loved her vow touncover the killer in a dangerous search and journey for truth. Ridley Pearson's THE KINGDOM KEEPERS (1423306899, $29.95) receives a passionate reading from Gary Littman, who brings to life the story of five young teens who find themselves involed in the latest DHI technology from Disney, which has unexpected and dangerous effects. What is reality and what is fantasy? Soon even the teens find themselves trapped in a program too real to ignore - and too dangerous. Patrick Carman's LAND OF ELYON BOOK 2: BEYOND THE VALLEY OF THORNS (1597374016, $26.95) will also appeal to teens as well as adults, with its second story in the series telling of a girl who faces a new battle from outside her town. In order to fight the new evil invasion, Alexa and her friends have to confront outside forces and dangers. Karen Kingsbury and Gary smalley's REMEMBER (1593558880, $21.95) receives Sandra Burr's smooth, experienced voice as it tells of one Ashley Baxter, who scorns love until four Alzheimer's patients force her to remember has past - just as September 11th changes her family forever. Anne Perry's ANGELS IN THE GLOOM (1596008644, $26.95) receives Michael Page's warm voice and ability to bring both love and hate to life as it is set during World War I and tells of an English family fighting not only war, but rumors of spies and dangers at home. Fern Michaels' WEEKEND WARRIORS (1597375322, $26.95) receives veteran Laural Merlington's smooth and quiet, warm voice as it tells the story of female friends who share frustrations with men and systems, and who are drawn together by common tragedy. Can their bond result in justice for all of them? All are wonderful leisure choices.

Cooking Free
Carol Fenster, Ph.D.
375 Hudson, New York NY 10014
1583332154, $18.95

Cooking for those with multiple food sensitivities is difficult, especially since food sensitivity tends to run in families. Over 11 million Americans have sensitivities to more than one food, so Carol Fenster, founder of savory Palate, a resource for those with food allergies and special food needs, has developed dishes which omit four of the most common allergens. There's no dairy, eggs, gluten or sugar in these dishes, yet breakfast cereal, homemade pizza, and granola bars are among the many dishes which can be produced without them. No color photos, but the easy recipes don't need them.

The Complete Idiot's Guide To Music Theory, 2nd Edition
Michael Miller
375 Hudson, New York NY 10014
1592574378, $19.95

If chords and scales are getting in the way of making music because they are a mystery, it's time to consult COMPLETE IDIOT'S GUIDE TO MUSIC THEORY, 2ND EDITION: it offers a quick course on all the basics of reading and writing music, from chords and notes to scales and audio exercises to develop the ear. A chatty tone makes it easy to absorb all the technical insights of chord extensions, progressions, transposing to other keys, and arrangements, while an accompanying audio cd for ear training rounds out the primer. By assuming no prior music training and a basic interest, Michael Miller has provided beginners with an accessible, involving primer. Highly recommended.

Pocket Idiot's Guide To Reverse Mortgages
Jennifer A. Pokorny
375 Hudson, New York NY 10014
1592573770, $9.95

If you want to supplement retirement income a reverse mortgage seems a good option, many say: but how exactly is the right one obtained? Learn how reverse mortgages work with POCKET IDIOT'S GUIDE TO REVERSE MORTGAGES, which explains all the basics using simple language and an easy at-a-glance pocket format. From different kinds of mortgages such as conversion mortgages to understanding property appraisals, if you want an easy explanation of all the options, this one's for you.

John DeGraff, David Wann & Thomas Naylor
235 Montgomery St. #650, San Francisco, CA 94104-2916
1576753573, $17.95

The second edition of AFFLUENZA: THE ALL-CONSUMING EPIDEMIC will reach new audiences who might have missed one of the best nonfiction title nominees of 2001, providing updated details and healthy alternatives to the consumer oriented 'epidemic' of modern times. From shopaholics and bankruptcies to those seeking meaning in material goods, AFFLUENZA details the process of recovery from physical and cultural clutter, and offers both personal and political remedies for the problem. History, facts and insights are pointed and revealing messages addressing the modern condition.

The North of Unknown
Randall Silvis
The Lyons Press
PO Box 480, Guilford, CT 06437
1592287557, $22.95

Any who enjoy history blended with adventure will relish the turn-of-the-century adventurer Mina Hubbard, who journeyed into the Labrador wilderness and changed from a rural nurse into a celebrated female explorer. Mina's husband died of starvation while trying to map Labrador's interior in 1903: wife Mina was devastated not only by his death, but by his partner's accusation that the expedition failed due to her husband's incompetence. Mina launched her own expedition simultaneous to partner Dillon Wallace's second attempt: she followed her late husband's original route and with a native crew won the race to chart Labrador - and became the first white women to contact the elusive Naskapis Indians. Original source material and memoirs blend with Randall Silvis' masterful history in NORTH OF UNKNOWN: MINA HUBBARD'S EXTRAORDINARY EXPEDITION INTO THE LABRADOR WILDERNESS.

Bill Osgerby
The Lyons Press
PO Box 480, Guilford, CT 06437
1592288413, $29.95

Think 'biker' and you think of a tough outlaw - but cultural historian Bill Osgerby thinks otherwise, and dispels the common stereotype in his BIKER: TRUTH AND MYTH, a survey of how the original biker became the bad boy of the movies. Biker groups aren't limited to gangs: they can consist of seniors and other groups, especially today. While rebels do exist, BIKER covers both types of groups, packs in plenty of photos, and covers all kinds of details of motorcycle culture, from movies and magazines to stunt riders and beatniks.

The Big Book Of Boy Stuff
Bart King
Gibbs Smith
PO Box 667, Layton, UT 84041
1586853333, $19.95

While THE BIG BOOK OF BOY STUFF is intended for ages 8-14, in actuality it will appeal to many an adult and is featured here for its survival recommendations for harried parents. Here are over 1,000 ways to entertain a boy, from jokes and fireworks to armpit bagpipes, experiments, and juggling practice. These are perfect games and exercises for any family - and any parent seeking to distract or entertain a boy.

New Harbinger
5674 Shattuck Avenue, Oakland, CA 94609

Acceptance and commitment therapy - ACT - is a new, scientific-based psychotherapy which examines why we suffer and what constitutes mental health and happiness. Its object is to examine the foundations of pain and solving long-term problems which can erode happiness, and Steven C. Hayes, Ph.D. With Spencer Smith's GET OUT OF YOUR MIND & INTO YOUR LIFE: THE NEW ACCEPTANCE & COMMITMENT THERAPY (1572244259, $19.95) is designed to help readers overcome depression and negative thought patterns and hone in on values, commitment and caring. Chapters use workbook question and answers and instructions to cement reader insights. Jefferson A. Singer, Ph.D.'s MEMORIES THAT MATTER: HOW TO USE SELF-DEFINING MEMORIES TO UNDERSTAND & CHANGE YOUR LIFE (1572244070, $15.95) comes from a psychology professor who also has a private practice, and provides a set of tools for understanding 'self-defining memories' which offer insights into the 'real you'. All you need is a journal and a pen to create and capture strong memories which draw important connections between moods, psyche, and personality. Case histories show how this approach can help.

Overcoming Obsessive Thoughts
Christine Purson, Ph.D., C.Psych & David A. Clark, Ph.D., L.Psych.
New Harbinger
5674 Shattuck Avenue, Oakland, CA 94609
1572243813, $14.95

If you struggle with violent or unpleasant thoughts which just keep coming back, you may have obsessive-compulsive disorder - and if so, OVERCOMING OBSESSIVE THOUGHTS can help get a handle on the problem. Learn to identify ritualistic and intrusive thought patterns, and learn how to deflect them and turn them away with an excellent self-help guide to why obsessive thoughts persist and how psychologists treat the disorder.

The Education of A Graphic Designer, 2nd Edition
Steven Heller
Allworth Press
10 E. 23rd Street, New York NY 10010
1581154313, $24.95

Why purchase a second edition of THE EDUCATION OF A GRAPHIC DESIGNER when you own the first? Because it's more than an update: forty new essays discussing a range of the latest graphic design topics, from web construction and digital media, have been added to this second edition, where top designers and educators speak of both theory and applications. College-level undergrad and grad students will find EDUCATION OF A GRAPHIC DESIGNER an essential survey of major practices and ideas within the graphic design industry: a survey not to be missed.

Death and How to Survive It
Kate Boydell
Vermillion/Trafalgar Square
PO Box 257, N. Pomfret, VT 05053
0091902576, $18.00 1-800-423-4525

Many books describe death and its aftermath - but few can help you prepare for the loss of a partner. Author Kate Boydell was widowed at the age of 33 and thought her purpose in life was gone. Her experiences in coping with shock, handling kids, organizing the funeral, and the months and years after make for a warm and insightful guide which touches on the low points and how to cope.

Lost Worlds
Michael Bywater
Granta/Trafalgar Square
PO Box 257, N. Pomfret, VT 05053
1862077983, $25.00 1-800-423-4525

People, civilizations, and even works of art and cities vanish, leaving human culture to be defined as much by their absence as their presence. LOST WORLDS: WHAT HAVE WE LOST, AND WHERE DID IT GO charts these missing curiosities of the past, using extensive quotes from source materials in its catalog of loss. From lost ideas and languages to icons of civilization, LOST WORLDS takes a journey through history to examine the impact of the past.

The Complete Prostate Book
J. Stephen Jones, MD
Prometheus Books
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228-2197
1591023041, $19.00 1-800-421-0351

Leading urologist Dr. J. Stephen Jones has been nationally recognized as an authority on prostate problems and their treatment, and here writes the perfect consumer guide on how to understand conditions, therapies, and alternatives. The latest developments on detection and screening of conditions is included in a guide which is much more accessible than competitors. THE COMPLETE PROSTATE BOOK: WHAT EVERY MAN NEEDS TO KNOW is a recommended pick, especially for general lending collections specializing in consumer health.

The Da Vinci Fraud
Robert M. Price
Prometheus Books
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228-2197
1591023483, $18.00 1-800-421-0351

The best-seller novel THE DA VINCI CODE by Dan Brown sold millions and stirred imagination and debate, weaving theories about Christian origins with a fictional murder mystery. New Testament scholar Robert Price, member of the Jesus Seminar, here examines the fallacies of Christian history and usage in THE DA VINCI CODE, drawing important connections between fantasy and real history and adding religious insights based on known facts about Jesus and his life, the Gospels, and historical figures. Readers who have followed THE DA VINCI CODE will find THE DA VINCI FRAUD: WHY THE TRUTH IS STRANGER THAN FICTION equally engrossing.

Aileen Keating
Prometheus Books
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228-2197
1591023467, $28.00 1-800-421-0351

Any studying Middle East history or culture, particularly those at the college level, will find the weighty 560-page MIRAGE: POWER, POLITICS, AND THE HIDDEN HISTORY OF ARABIAN OIL to be a methodical and important survey of the discovery, development and use of Middle Eastern oil. From the history of discoveries and the reasons reserves in some countries went untapped for decades to the role of one New Zealander Frank Holmes in discovering and revealing these new sources, MIRAGE delves into the background and uses the author's original research from archives around the world in its in- depth revelation - which even includes maps, photos, and a 'who's who' of key people. An in-depth, essential pick for any collection solid in Middle Eastern studies and issues.

Prometheus Books
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228-2197

Any who would understand Islam's history and culture must have a copy of Andrew G. Bostom, MD, Editor 's THE LEGACY OF JIHAD: ISLAMIC HOLY WAR AND THE FATE OF NON-MUSLIMS (1591023076, $28.00): it provides a weighty, comprehensive coverage of Muslim theological and juridicial texts, eyewitness historical accounts by both Muslims and non-Muslims, and essays by scholars analyzing militaristic jihad imposed on non-Muslims. History, cultural and religious insights blend in a scholarly, college-level survey of jihad's origins, enactment, and purposes. Very highly recommended: a cut above any competing title in depth and coverage. Top journalists speak out about changing civil liberties and media reporting in Kristian Borjesson's collection FEET TO THE FIRE: THE MEDIA AFTER 9/11 (15910243432, $25.00). Bjoresson's expose INTO THE BUZZSAW revealed efforts to quash the public's right to know the truth; her FEET TO THE FIRE here provides conversations with top journalists and news executives about the media companies, the Bush administration, war coverage and more. Each interviews presents details from national security and intelligence reporters, world news journalists, and others who provide different views of how truths are hidden since 9/11.

Anne Fadiman, Editor
Farrar Straus Giroux
19 Union Square West, NY, NY 10003
0374249423, $22.00

Is the same book viewed the same way on a second reading? Seventeen authors provide a collection of essays to demonstrate re-readings are never the same as the first reading. Authors range from Patricia Hampl to Luc Sante, and their subjects from PRIDE AND PREJUDICE to a science field guide; so the diversity of genre is especially vivid and useful in demonstrating the power and insight of the re-reading. The first-person insights show how rereadings contribute to new perceptions and provide added enjoyment and even new details. A tribute to any book lover who has read a favorite a second or third time and discovered new meaning between the same pages.

Return to Wild America
Scott Weidensaul
Farrar, Straus, Giroux
19 Union Square West, NY, NY 10003
0865476888, $26.00

In 1953 birder Roger Tory Peterson and British naturalist James Fisher journeyed for a hundred days covering some thirty thousand miles around North America, noting their discoveries in WILD AMERICA: here on the 50th anniversary of their trip naturalist Scott Weidensaul retraces their steps and tells of his findings in RETURN TO WILD AMERICA: A YEARLONG SEARCH FOR THE CONTINENT'S NATURAL SOUL. Many changes have taken place in the areas covered in WILD AMERICA: this documents both sad changes and hopeful changes from Newfoundland through the Northeast, where wildlife is returning to urban environments; from Florida where the Everglades continues to erode to Mexico, where rich ecosystems are being saved. It's refreshing to read about successes as well as struggles - and RETURN TO WILD AMERICA, for maximum impact, should be followed or preceded by a re-reading of WILD AMERICA for maximum effect.

The Devil's Horn
Michael Segell
Farrar Straus Giroux
19 Union Square West, NY, NY 10003
0374159386, $25.00

Fans of the saxophone must have Michael Segell's THE DEVIL'S HORN: THE STORY OF THE SAXOPHONE, FROM NOISY NOVELTY TO KING OF COOL: it tells how just ten years after Sax completed his first prototype in 1843 the horn had traveled across the country and throughout Europe to change the musical world. The sax was banned by Nazis and Communists, and religious leaders alike which deemed the instrument 'profane'. Its volatile history receives a charged, lively survey by Michael Segell, NY Daily News editor who is himself an amateur saxophone player.

No Applause-Just Throw Money
Trav S.D.
Faber & Faber/Farrar, Straus, Giroux
19 Union Square West, NY NY 10003
0571211925, $25.00

From 1881 to 1932 vaudeville was the center of American show business, and modern-day vaudevillian Trav S.D. details its history and impact from early to modern times in a survey which traces the big names of vaudeville and the attraction and representation of its shows. Vaudeville was the first major American equal opportunity employer, and it allowed even immigrants easy access to American culture: chapters trace major players, acts, and influences.

Dressing Renaissance Florence
Carole Collier Frick
Johns Hopkins University Press
2715 North Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21218-4319
0801882648, $25.00

It's surprising to note that professor Carole Collier Frick's DRESSING RENAISSANCE FLORENCE: FAMILIES, FORTUNES AND FINE CLOTHING is the first in-depth study of the Renaissance fashion industry. Here are insights into the social and political meaning of clothing in Florence, with black and white photos throughout displaying changing styles and fashion innovations, visual impressions and how family fortunes were invested in wardrobes. A fascinating college-level study, recommended for any collection strong in fashion or Renaissance history.

The Comic Worlds of Peter Arno, William Steig, Charles Addams and Saul Steinberg
Iain Topliss
Johns Hopkins University Press
2715 North Charles Street, Baltimore, MD 21218
0801880440, $45.00

Fans of the New Yorker will readily recognize the names of illustrators Addams, Steinberg and Topliss; but outside of the magazine it's rare to have a study of all three under one cover. THE COMIC WORLDS is the first scholarly study of the topic to analyze the works of each, trace their influences and impact, and detail the social and cultural origins of the humor and cartoon's evolution. Over fifty drawings from the artists which appeared in New Yorker between 1925 and 1975 make for a fine analysis of style and technique.

The Garden-Fresh Vegetable Cookbook
Andrea Chesman
Storey Publishing
210 Mass MoCa Way, North Adams, MA 01247
1580175341, $24.95

Any who have a summer garden know the routine: it's feast and then sudden famine when everything ripens at once, and too often vegetable cookbooks hold the same types of dishes. If you have garden bounty and are seeking something fresh and new - something which embraces ethnic flavors and different seasoning combinations - then THE GARDEN-FRESH VEGETABLE COOKBOOK is for you. No, it doesn't hold the spicy color photos of less comprehensive guides: it focuses on the recipes which are easy enough not to need color embellishment. Try Chicken and Broccoli in Mornay Sauce, 'Zapple Pie' made with summer squash, or Eggplant Pizza. Dishes are accompanied by sidebars of information and gardening tips, from discussions different cultivars and historical insights to the evolution of plant names. A seasonal arrangement assures an easy, solid reference.

At Knit's End
Stephanie Pearl-McPhee
Storey Publishing
210 Mass MoCa Way, North Adams, MA 01247
1580175899, $9.95

If you are an avid knitter or, even more importantly, knows someone who can't live without knitting needle in hand, you must have AT KNIT'S END: MEDITATIONS FOR WOMEN WHO KNIT TOO MUCH. Author Stephanie Pearl-McPhee is a 'Yarn Harlot' who herself is a devoted knitter: AT KNIT'S END uses opening meditations to lead into solid knitting advice ranging from tools and tricks to handling common challenges, culminating in a line or two of sage advice. A handy, excellent guide which lends to browsing.

Dorm Room Feng Shui
Katherine Olaksen & Elizabeth MacCresllish, Margaret Donahue
210 Mass MoCa Way, North Adams, MA 01247
1580175929, $10.95

College life is filled with challenges, from handling a sloppy or partying roommate to being broke; so how can the simple art of re-arranging one's dorm room evoke positive spiritual forces? DORM ROOM FENG SHUI tells students how to maximize good energy through proper placement, taking control of clutter and using feng shui principles to improve 'dorm chi'. Appealing cartoon-like visuals and color pages keep DORM ROOM FENG SHUI bright and entertaining as well as informative.

The Complete Houseplant Survival Guide
Barbara Pleasant
210 Mass MoCa Way, North Adams, MA 01247
1580175694, $24.95

So many houseplant guides glut the market that it may initially seem difficult to see the need for yet another - but here's something different, offering color photos, a plant ID guide to help those who receive 'mystery houseplants' as gifts, details on low-maintenance plants, and an A-Z of care basics for quick and easy access. Brighter and more detailed than most, THE COMPLETE HOUSEPLANT SURVIVAL GUIDE helps buyers choose the plant which is perfect for environment and care demands.

Youth, Education, and Sexualities
James T. Sears, Editor
Greenwood Press
88 Post Road West, Westport, CT 06881
0313327548, $175.00 2 Vols,

The fine 2-volume set YOUTH, EDUCTION AND SEXUALITIES: AN INTERNATIONAL ENCYCLOPEDIA is an excellent college-level recommendation: it features over 200 entries written by an international roster of experts ranging from educators to researchers, and it examines the policy and research surrounding youth who are members of the gay or transgender community. Yes, it's very specific - but there's a wealth of detail from legal and social issues to health issues and more surrounding LGBT youth, and hundreds of gay-straight alliances in high schools and colleges, and all are given important details where which would be missing in less detailed coverages. An excellent specialty collection recommendation.

Architecture of Spain
Alejandro Lapunzina
Greenwood Press
88 Post Road West, Westport, CT 06881
0313319634, $75.00

Joining others in the 'Reference Guides to National Architecture' series is an important survey of Spanish architectural heritage, ARCHITECTURE OF SPAIN. It covers all regions of Spain, examines almost seventy of the country's key landmarks, and includes history as well as appraisal of style, architectures, renovation efforts, and cultural insights. Recommended for either students of art, Spanish history, or would-be travelers to Spain holding a special interest in architectural heritage.

The History of Venezuela
H. Michael Tarver & Julia C. Frederick
Greenwood Press
88 Post Road West, Westport, CT 06881
0313335257, $45.00

Adding to Greenwood's 'Histories of the Modern Nations' series is the important HISTORY OF VENEZUELA, a survey of the nation from its foundations as a Spanish colony for 300 years to its succession of military dictatorships to modern times. Students at the high school and college levels as well will find HISTORY OF VENEZUELA an excellent overview that considers the entirety of the nation's history, economy, and political influences. Perfect as an introduction to the nation, and packed with facts useful for reports.

Willie Mays
Mary Kay Linge
Greenwood Press
88 Post Road West, Westport, CT 06881
0313334013, $29.95

For a solid biography of baseball's great, look no further than Mary Kay Linge's WILLIE MAYS: A BIOGRAPHY: it covers everything from his segregated childhood in Birmingham Alabama to how he became the first black team captain in baseball, then moved up to become a world-famous player. From his army stint to his championship season, WILLIE MAYS captures all the highlights of his career and life.

Campus Legends
Elizabeth Tucker
Greenwood Press
88 Post Road West, Westport, CT 06881
0313332851, $55.00

Students have told stories about their daily university lives and often created legends surrounding campus experiences: unique and intriguing is CAMPUS LEGENDS: A HANDBOOK, which surveys legends ranging from pure fantasy to theories of professor relationships, pranks, rituals and other folklore. While it may prove an unusual handbook for the general collection, any college-level collection strong in folktales will find it refreshingly different and worthy of acquisition.

Greenwood Press
88 Post Road West, Westport, CT 06881

Alice Walker came from a sharecropper background, is blind in one eye, and grew up during the Civil Rights Movement: her biography and literary works are revealed in Gerri Bates' Alice Walker: A Critical Companion (0313320241, $39.95), a volume invaluable to understanding her early influences and creations. From her top Color Purple to Meridian and six other works, analysis of her literature, politics, activism and more surveys her feminist theories, practices and impact. Recommended for any college where Alice Walker's works are taught. Helaine L. Smith's MASTERPIECES OF CLASSIC GREEK DRAMA (0313332681, $49.95) joins others in Greenwood's 'Literary Masterpieces' series to provide college-level students with an analysis of ancient Greek drama. From an introductory overview of the nature and terms of Greek drama to an analysis and sampling of ten widely studied plays, from Agamemnon to Oedipus and Lysistrata, MASTERPIECES analyzes both author influences, history, and the plot and intention of each play. The outstanding college-level set edited by Emmanuel S. Nelson GREENWOOD ENCYCLOPEDIA OF MULTIETHNIC AMERICAN LITERATURE (0313330603, $474.95) is a very highly recommended staple for any college-level collection strong in literature. It's the first to provide a broad introduction to all ethnic American writers, providing over a thousand entries on both individual writers and literary genres as a whole. Over 300 specialists contribute to a reference which includes writers with both international reputations and local fame. Topic as well as author entries make it easy to cross-reference information for associative study, while listings blend biography and review of major works with critical analysis.

William Bryant Logan
W.W. Norton
500 - 5th Avenue, New York NY 10110
0393047733, $24.95 1-800-233-4830

Oak trees have long roots in human history, and OAK: THE FRAME OF CIVILIZATION is the perfect title for any who think they know their trees well. Professional arborist and nature writer OAK relates the history of the oak in human lives, from early civilizations to modern time. Chapters trace its presence through history, its use in both artistic and construction pursuits, and its ability to influence human lives. A lively, involving history of the oak makes easy and enlightening leisure reading.

Mary Roach
W. W. Norton
500 - 5th Avenue, New York NY 10110-0017
0393059626, $24.95 1-800-233-4830

There's something different apparent in SPOOK: SCIENCE TACKLES THE AFTERLIFE: it smacks of solid investigative research rather than sensationalism, and traces the author's journey to understand what happens upon death. Will personality remain? Is there another world beyond ours? Author Roach searched out scientists, engineers and mediums alike who are all trying to prove or disprove that life goes on after death. She journeyed from rural India to the US, enrolled in an English medium school, and interviewed university professors conducting research. SPOOK follows her journey, which includes a healthy dose of history into the scientific investigation of an afterlife.

Coincidences, Chaos And All That Math Jazz
Edward Burger & Michael Starbird
W. W. Norton
500 - 5th Avenue, New York NY 10110
0393059456, $24.95 1-800-233-4830

Math professor Edward Burger and teaching professor Michael Starbird blend forces in a guide lay readers will find readily accessible, COINCIDENCES, CHAOS, AND ALL THAT MATH JAZZ: MAKING LIGHT OF WEIGHTY IDEAS. Nearly two hundred illustrations and diagrams supplement scientific 'trivia' questions about everything from an infinite motel's occupants to a sexy rectangle's origins. Yes, there's math here - but also hard science and an imaginative lively dialogue which draws even reluctant math readers to learn. Add a healthy dose of humor and you have a very accessible inquiry.

Confessions of a French Baker
Peter Mayle & Gerard Auzet
Alfred Knopf
1745 Broadway, New York NY 10019
140004474X, $16.95

Author Peter Mayle shared news of a beloved local Provence French bakery, Chez Auzet, in a prior coverage: here several hundred visits later he and baker Gerard Auzet collaborate in a celebration of baking, blending recipes for sixteen kinds of bread - all packed with professional insider's baking tips for success - with a history and survey of Azuet bakers and achievements. CONFESSIONS OF A FRENCH BAKER: BREADMAKING SECRETS, TIPS, AND RECIPES may look small and unassuming beside weighty and larger-sized bread cookbooks, but don't let its size fool you: packed within its pages are decades of baking wisdom competitors can't match for tone, content and insights.

New Art City
Jed Perl
Alfred Knopf
1745 Broadway, New York NY 10019
1400041317, $35.00

Plenty of art books have been written about New York; but NEW ART CITY: MANHATTAN AT MID- CENTURY is a cut above them all, offering a fine panoramic view of 20th century New York art and culture by an influential art critic of our times. From the artist's studio to coffeehouses, bohemian neighborhoods around the city, and changing attitudes on traditional versus modern art, the pulse and soul of the Manhattan art community is captured in an exciting expose of the undercurrents of its influences.

Alfred Knopf
1745 Broadway, New York NY 10019

Two excellent, very different titles are highly recommended picks for both college-level and general public library holdings. Andrew Delbanco's MELVILLE: HIS WORLD AND WORK (0375403140, $30.00) provides a biography of the creator of Moby-Dick and other classics, from his growth as a bawdy storyteller to his later, more mature narratives. Details of his personal life from his family losses and strife to his friendships with Hawthorne and other literary contemporaries do more than just review his influences: they draw important connections between his experience and his literary devices, and will enhance any reader's understanding of Melville's works as well as his personality and times. A recommended pick; particularly for college-level students of Melville seeking added depth. Leslie Savan's SLAM DUNKS AND NO-BRAINERS (0375402470, $23.95) discusses language as it relates to media, business and modern culture, offering chapters which focus on American language patterns. Leslie Savan has been a Pulitzer Prize finalist three times, and lends authority and insights into the means by which words and expressions become popular or fade. From sitcom writers' influence on the development of pop language alternatives to understanding how language and reality interrelate, SLAM DUNKS AND NO BRAINERS: LANGUAGE IN YOUR LIFE, THE MEDIA, BUSINESS, POLITICS, AND, LIKE, WHATEVER offers some very important insights.

Random House/Delacorte/Knopf
1745 Broadway, New York NY 10019

Graham Salisbury's EYES OF THE EMPEROR (0385729715, $15.95) tells of a boy who lies about his age and joins the Army in Honolulu in 1941. When the Japanese bomb Pearl Harbor, Eddy Okubo finds he's viewed as the enemy by even the army. He and other Japanese American soldiers are given a terrifying job on a remote island where the meaning of courage and duty are sorely tested in this fast-paced story. Libba Bray's REBEL ANGELS (0385730292, $16.95) continues the story begun in A GREAT AND TERRIBLE BEAUTY and is recommended for advanced young adult fans of the prior story. Set in Victorian times at a boarding school, it tells of Gemma's visions around Christmas time which predict danger in both enchanted realms and real world. Can she prevent disaster? High drama and complex fantasy create an involving continuation for older readers. Shelley Pearsall's CROOKED RIVER (0375823891, $15.95) is set in 182 when a white trapper is murdered and a young Indian is accused. Indian John awaits trial while teen Rebecca sleeps in the same house, afraid of the captive Indian in her own home: a fear which changes as she grows to understand the community's wrath and possible injustice. Laura Peyton Roberts' THE QUEEN OF SECOND PLACE (0385731620, $15.95) introduces Cassie, a sophomore who is tired of feeling second to every girl in school. Her determination to win newcomer Kevin will place her above many others - if she can compete with Sterling, who is used to getting her way. Alan Armstrong's WHITTINGTON (0375828648, $14.95) tells of a duck who runs a barn full of useless animals, a cat, Whittington, who seeks to join the crowd, and two orpaned grandkids who begun a daily reading tutorial led by cat Whittington, who provides installments of a legend begun in the times of the Black Death. A fun story evolves.

The Happy Camper
Kevin Callan
Firefly Books Ltd.
155 East 34th Street, #5B, NY, NY 10016
1550464507, $19.95

Kevin Callan is one of America's top canoeing experts and spends much of his time outdoors: his basic wilderness survival guide comes spiced with details on how to get the most from a camping experience, from where to pitch a tent to how to select a campsite, handle bugs and animals, build a fire, and more basics. Color photos and explicit pointers on all aspects of the outdoors make for a very practical planner.

Great Observatories of the World
Firefly Books
155 E. 34th Street, #5B, New York NY 10016
1554070554, $59.95

It's been nearly 400 years since Galileo used a telescope to change the nature of astronomy, and in that period of time the telescope has been totally transformed. If it's an in-depth history of telescopes and observatories which is needed to fill a college-level or even a public library holding, it should be the weighty and visually stunning GREAT OBSERVATORIES OF THE WORLD, which tells the history and development of nearly 40 of the world's preeminent observatories, 10 space-based observatories, and 11 notable telescopes and arrays. From technological advancements in lens development to new astronomy and physics theories which contributed to building different kinds of telescopes, GREAT OBSERVATORIES OF THE WORLD is a outstanding survey of both current and future observatories and their many influences. Very highly recommended: a unique, top pick in the area of astronomy and scientific observation.

Sarah Beaman
Firefly Books
155 East 34th Street, #5B, New York NY 10016
1552979598, $19.95

SCRAPBOOKING: 100 TECHNIQUES WITH 25 PROJECTS PLUS A SWIPEFILE OF MOTIFS AND MOTTOES is a project-based instructional guide which is perfect for any who would put together a scrapbook from scratch. From creating text and using fabric, accents, photos and backgrounds to handling loose memorabilia and depicting themes such as travel, friendship and more, this is an excellent gathering of instructions and bright photos to help any beginner put together a professional- looking album.

Wings of Change
Ron Dick and Dan Patterson
Boston Mills Press/Firefly Books
155 E. 34th Street, #5B, New York NY 10016
1550464280, $39.95

Ron Dick and Dan Patterson's AVIATION CENTURY WINGS OF CHANGE joins others in the Aviation Century series to provide the story of commercial aviation through the end of the 20th century. WINGS OF CHANGE is more than just a focus on jumbo jets, however: it follows aviation developments through the end of the 20th century, from jets to private aircraft, lighter-than-air flight, and more. Plenty of black and white and color photos liberally stud pages packed with detail and information, surveying key aviation companies and developers, contributors to technological advancements, pilots, and more. Memorabilia, building advancements, and innovations for the future aren't neglected, either. Any who seek a comprehensive review of this century's achievements in aviation must have WINGS OF CHANGE in their collection.

Gone Tomorrow
Heather Rogers
The New Press
38 Greene Street, New York NY 10013
1565848799, $23.95

The U.S. is the top producer of garbage on the planet, generating 30% of the world's trash and throwing out 1600 pounds per American per year - but what happens to garbage after it's in the trash? GONE TOMORROW: THE HIDDEN LIFE OF GARBAGE focuses on the answers to this question, providing journalist Heather Rogers' history of rubbish handling from the 1800s to modern times and reviewing the politics and social issues revolving around trash management policies. Technological transformations affected the nature and quantity of household garbage, postwar innovations handled more volume, and industry changes changed the nature and motivation of cartels handling garbage: GONE TOMORROW explores all these facets and more.

Drunk the Night Before
Marty Roth
University of Minnesota Press
111 Third Avenue South, #290, Minneapolis, MN 55401-2520
0816643970, $29.95

College-level students of social and health issues will find DRUNK THE NIGHT BEFORE: AN ANATOMY OF INTOXICATION provides a strong cultural history of convivial drinking before the idea of drink as an addiction overcame alcohol's reputation as a creative and even a spiritual force. DRUNK THE NIGHT BEFORE focuses on the overall human history of drink from ancient times to the 20th century, following its treatment in the arts, religion, and through society. Alcohol holds a mixed history, being viewed as both miracle potion and as a poison: DRUNK THE NIGHT BEFORE reveals both aspects of alcohol's history.

Spoken Here
Mark Abley
Houghton Mifflin
222 Berkeley Street, Boston, MA 02116
0618565833, $14.00

It's difficult to know where best to review SPOKEN HERE: TRAVELS AMONG THREATENED LANGUAGES: as a travelogue it holds much to attract leisure armchair traveler audiences; as a linguistics coverage it invites the attention of college-level English majors. Both audiences will find Mark Abely's survey of the world's endangered tongues to be revealing, with chapters moving from the Arctic Circle through North America to Australia as Abley visits the exotic locales which harbor fading languages and reveals the lives of their last speakers. An intriguing survey.

American Heritage Abbreviations Dictionary
American Heritage
Houghton Mifflin
222 Berkeley Street, Boston, MA 02116
0618621237, $6.95

Truly pocket-sized but in sturdy hardcover lending to take-along tote and shelf life is the updated third edition of the AMERICAN HERITAGE ABBREVIATIONS DICTIONARY, packing in acronyms, abbreviations, and even new 'cyberspeak' terms from the computer world. Here are 20,000 terms relating to everything from business to daily life or email text messaging, making for a fine quick reference in an affordable, sturdy little pocket package.

Pocket Books
1230 Avenue of Americas, New York NY 10020

In 1992 twenty-eight-year-old Peter was wakened by two females kneeling on this bed…not ordinary women, but aliens. He was to become one of a group of alien 'abductees' with strange experiences, with a difference: he had two strands of hair from one of the females. It was these hairs which would result in the first forensic DNA analysis of 'alien' evidence, revealed in Bill Chalker's HAIR OF THE ALIEN: DNA AND OTHER FORENSIC EVIDENCE OF ALIEN ABDUCTION. HAIR OF THE ALIEN (0743492862, $14.00) stands apart and alone as a more serious account than most, blending scientific investigation with abductee experience. Lexa Rosean's ENCYCLOPEDIA OF MAGICKAL INGREDIENTS (1416501584, $14.00) is an in-depth coverage to ingredients used in spells, survey herbs, spices, flowers, metals and more in an A-Z compendium. Each listing includes ruler, type, magickal form, and a paragraph describing purpose and symbolic representations. Use this to personalize your spells and create custom mixes: there are over 500 entries.

How to Be Pope
Piers Marchant
Chronicle Books
85 2nd Street, San Francisco CA 94105
0811852210, $10.95

You've been elected Pope. How to you choose a papal name, who does your laundry, can you keep a pet? Tongue-and-cheek humor blends well with actual facts in HOW TO BE POPE: WHAT TO DO AND WHERE TO GO ONCE YOU'RE IN THE VATICAN. From simple explanations of mass and papal duties to papal schedules and a short Latin primer, HOW TO BE POPE is both fun and enlightening.

Complicity: How the North Promoted, Prolonged, and Profited From Slavery
Anne Farrow, Joel Lang & Jenifer Frank
Ballantine Books
1745 Broadway, New York NY 10019
0345467825, $25.95

If you think you know American history and the history of slavery quite well, think again: COMPLICITY: HOW THE NORTH PROMOTED, PROLONGED, AND PROFITED FROM SLAVERY will challenge almost every belief you've held and introduce many starting new thoughts. The truth is, the history of slavery has been rewritten since the Civil War: whitewashed and glossed over. The North's shameful secrets come fully to light in COMPLICITY, which proves the North's own economic structure was as dependent on slavery profits as the South. This startling expose is a 'must' for any definitive American history collection, whether it be for a high school or college library or for a public library collection.

Bat Boy Lives!
David Perel & Eds of Weekly World News
Sterling Publishing
387 Park Avenue South, New York NY 10016-8810
1402728239, $12.95

It's hard to easily categorize BAT BOY LIVES!: it's a humor title which also is based on the Weekly World News gossip publication's impossible, sensationalist headlines - and it provides tongue-in-cheek commentary on celebrities, culture, politics, alien abductions and more within its pages of 'impossible events'. Black and white photos blend with 'truths' to make for a zany presentation indeed.

I Hid It Under the Sheets
Gerald Eskenazi
University of Missouri Press
2910 LeMone Boulevard, Columbia, MO 65201
082621630X, $29.95 1-800-828-1894

For author Gerald Eskenazi and his peers, the radio days of the 1930s through the early 1950s in America had solid impact on his generation and was a major force shaping American minds. I HID IT UNDER THE SHEETS: GROWING UP WITH RADIO captures the culture and memories of these radio programs, providing Eskenazi's personal anecdotes about the radio shows which so moved him and combining these with interviews of radio personalities of the times. What evolves is not just autobiography but a personal history of radio's approaches and impact on a generation of listeners.

Sell More Through Effective Technical Presentations
Paul Gruhn, PE, CESE
PO Box 12277, Research Triangle Park, NC 27709
1556178395, $25.00

The smallest of pockets or purses will readily accommodate this slim 2/5 x 5/5 title which will prove engineers, technical salespeople and marketers alike with instant support for a project or proposal. Tips and examples from the business world outline the basics of how to give an effective technical presentation and how to present it well, covering both pitfalls and successes.

Behind Closed Doors
Johanna Rothman & Esther Derby
Pragmatic Bookshelf
PO Box 293325, Lewisville, TX 75029-3325
0976694026, $24.95

The results of great management or poor management are all too evident - but usually the 'why' and 'how' of what makes a good or poor manager or system are more elusive. Hat's why BEHIND CLOSED DOORS: SECRETS OF GREAT MANAGEMENT is key to understanding: it uses the case history of one Sam, a manager brought on board in a company, as he learns to work with a new team and manage resources, using Sam's experience to illustrate important points of change and delegation. From creating individual goals to motivate team members to knowing how to hone opportunities to improve capacities, BEHIND CLOSED DOORS is a 'must' for any seeking to become a more effective manager.

How to Open a Financially Successful Bakery
Sharon L. Fullen & Douglas Brown
Atlantic Publishing Group
1210 SW 23rd Place, Ocala, FL 34474
0910627339, $39.95

Small bakeries can be started with a relatively low investment and can return big profits - and HOW TO OPEN A FINANCIALLY SUCCESSFUL BAKERY, with its companion CD-ROM of an editable business plan and financial statements in MS-Word format, is the way to make it happen. A blend of basic small business savvy and details particular to the bakery industry keeps this a narrowed, specific reference which stands out among the wealth of more general 'how to open a restaurant' guides, touching upon the specific needs and differences of the bakery industry. From pricing formulas and budgeting to menu plans and marketing tips, HOW TO OPEN A FINANCIALLY SUCCESSFUL BAKERY is a real winner.

Rich Dad's Before You Quit Your Job
Robert T. Kiyosaki & Sharon L. Lechter, CPA
Warner Business Books
1271 Avenue of Americas, New York NY 10020
0446696374, $16.95

Any seeking financial independence - particularly a young person relatively new to the world of independence - will find the 'Rich Dad' series in general to be very candid and useful, and BEFORE YOU QUIT YOUR JOB: 10 REAL-LIFE LESSONS EVERY ENTREPRENEUR SHOULD KNOW ABOUT BUILDING A MULTIMILLION-DOLLAR BUSINESS in particular to be an important key to avoiding common pitfalls. From the origins of a potentially money-making idea to understanding the lesson of a 'ten year cycle' and the difference between street smarts versus school smarts, BEFORE YOU QUIT YOUR JOB tells how to become independent - the smart way.

Bag the Elephant
Steve Kaplan
Bard Press
5275 McCormick Mountain Drive, Austin, TX 78734
1885167628, $19.95

If you want to land a big account with an impressive sales and marketing strategy which gets that one big customer which can increase profits dramatically, the tips in BAG THE ELEPHANT: HOW TO WIN & KEEP BIG CUSTOMERS is for you. Steve Kaplan is founder of The Different Maker, which provides business tools to help companies small to large. From charging fees and assessing service offerings and competition to profiling sales personnel and approaching a customer relationship like a partnership to ensure big benefits to both sides, BAG THE ELEPHANT is packed with tips and motivational advice.

Married to the Brand
William J. McEwen
Gallup Press
1251 Avenue of Americas, 23rd Floor, New York NY 10020
1595620052, $24.95

Why do some consumers bond to brand names for life? Sixty years of Gallup research into consumer habits and their psychology lend to MARRIED TO THE BRAND: WHY CONSUMERS BOND WITH SOME BRANDS FOR LIFE. Many marketers work on first impressions without considering the reasons why consumers will stick with a brand. MARRIED TO THE BRAND tells how the most successful marketer not only creates the bond, but strengthens it over the years so that consumers come to equate the brand with quality and value. Chapters survey pride levels, common brand dilemmas, and more.

Work Less, Live More
Bob Clyatt
Nolo Press
950 Parker Street, Berkeley, CA 94710
1413302009, $17.99

For many on the fast track, retirement is too far away: the solution presented here is WORK LESS, LIVE MORE: THE NEW WAY TO RETIRE EARLY - though savvy 'semi-retirement'. With a little advance planning you can 'retire' before the norm of 65 years: author Bob Clyatt should know; he entered early semi-retirement at 42 and never regretted it. Chapters tell how to achieve this state; from living below your means and putting investments into autopilot to creating a spending plan and handling taxes.

The Ex-Offender's Quick Job Hunting Guide
Ron & Caryl Krannich, Ph.Ds.
Impact Publishing
9104 Manassas Drive, Suite N, Manassas Park, VA 20111-5211
1570232504, $9.95

Ex-offenders face special challenges in getting their first job: should they tell the truth about their history? How do they meet the needs of food, transport, and new financial obligations while job-seeking? There are nearly 700,000 ex-offenders who leave state and federal prisons to try the job market, and THE EX- OFFENDER'S QUICK JOB HUNTING GUIDE: PUTTING THE 10 STEPS INTO ACTION maintains these folks are employable - if they conduct the right research, become proactive, write effective resumes, and hone winning interview and negotiation skills. An essential guide, packed with tips specific to ex- offender concerns.

Immune System Disorders Sourcebook
Joyce Brennfleck Shannon
615 Griswold St., Detroit, MI 48226
0780807480, $78.00

The updated second edition of IMMUNE SYSTEM DISORDERS SOURCEBOOK is a 'must' for any consumer health library seeking a solid resource covering the treatments, symptoms, and options for immune disorder sufferers. From clinical presentation and diagnosis to concerns of heredity, treatment, and monitoring, both traditional and alternative therapies are reviewed along with all the options - even including research still in progress. An excellent guide.

The Lois Wilson Story
William G. Borchert
Hazelden Foundation
PO Box 11, Center City, MN 55012-0011
1592853285, $24.95 1-800-328-9000

Lois Wilson was co-founder of AL-Non and wife of its anonymous founder Bill W., yet until THE LOIS WILSON STORY: WHEN LOVE IS NOT ENOUGH, little has been written about her life and influence on the recovery movement. Screenwriter William Borchert's biography reveals a determined woman who played a pivotal part in the formation of AA and its sister organization Al-Anon. From her life as a Wall Street wife in the Roaring 20s to her husband's 17-year descent into alcoholism, a vivid portrait of an adventurous and courageous life - and ideal - comes to life here.

Germ Freak's Guide to Outwitting Colds and Flu
Allison Janse & Charles Gerba, Ph.D.
Health Communications
3201 SW 15th Street, Deerfield Beach, FL 33442-8190
0757303277, $11.95

If you hate public restrooms, touching elevator buttons or doorknobs, and go through Purell like a house afire, then GERM FREAK'S GUIDE TO OUTWITTING COLDS AND FLU: GUERILLA TACTICS TO KEEP YOURSELF HEALTHY AT HOME, AT WORK AND IN THE WORLD defines you. Humor and practical health-maintaining habits blend in a guide which identifies just where the germs hang out, how they're passed, and how to avoid them.

Windstrom Creative
7419 Ebbert Drive SE, Port Orchard, WA 98367
$12.99 each

Two fine caregiving guides are recommended picks. R. Anders Porter's COPING WITH A LOVED ONE'S DISEASE (1590920449) comes from experience: the author's fiancee was diagnosed with Lupus and they faced a struggle to keep their lives and relationship from falling apart. Lessons they learned from the experience identify sources of strain, the importance of humor, and how the author coped. Chanda Bloodgood's BECOMING A NANNY: WORKING AS A LIVE-IN CHILDCARE PROVIDER (1590921763) tells how to work as a live-in nanny, assessing the pros and cons of the job and offering a blend of business worksheets and insights. Add extensive website resources and tips on educational activities for children and you have a practical guide at hand for the venture.

The NIA Guide for Black Women: Choosing Health & Wellness
Sheryl Huggins & Cheryl Mayberry McKissack
1501 Madison Street, Evanston, IL 60202
1932841067, $12.95

CHOOSING HEALTH & WELLNESS is third in a series from the creators of, a forum for black women, and is a highly recommended pick for any black woman seeking health. Why do black women need a race-specific health guide? Because many conditions are common to black women and a risk for the group as a whole - and most can be solved by preventative or self-help techniques as simple as walking daily. From common skin conditions to handling new challenges at every age, CHOOSING HEALTH AND WELLNESS is an outstanding health guide every black woman should have at hand.

The Atkins Diet & Philosophy
Lisa Heldke,, editors
Open Court Publishing
140 S. Dearborn Avenue, #1450, Chicago, IL 60603
0812695844, $17.95

Sixteen essays by contributors who add a dose of philosophical reflection into the Atkins diet controversy will appeal to both pro and con diet readers. They come from practitioners of the diet, those not on it, and those who want little to do with it. It's more philosophical observation than diet plan - but any interested in Atkins and philosophy alike will find here an intriguing ability to link philosophical thinking to modern culture.

As Much Time As It Takes
Martin J. Keogh
Hampton Roads Publishing
1125 Stoney Ridge Road, Charlottesville, VA 22902
1571744541, $9.95

How can you support those who have lost a loved one - or how can you yourself survive such a loss? Other books on bereavement focus on either one or the other question or consider specific types of loss - most commonly, that of a partner. AS MUCH TIME AS IT TAKES: A GUIDE FOR THE BEREAVED, THEIR FAMILY AND FRIENDS offers a wider-ranging approach than competitors, and provides advice in short sentences with large print, making them easy for grieving eyes to see.

A Guide to the Fountain of Youth
Dr. Leo Marcus
RoseDog Books
701 Smithfield Street, 3rd floor, Pittsburgh, PA 15222-3906
0805996044, $14.00

Longevity research usually is buried deep in scientific journals inaccessible to lay readers, but in A GUIDE TO THE FOUNTAIN OF YOUTH, Dr. Leo Marcus presents a slim but important synthesis of longevity research selected from the published findings of noted scientists whose work was funded by organizations and individuals seeking longevity. These are books used by physicians, so authority lends to listings on major causes of ill health and decreased life span, from arthritis to common diseases.

Sexual Intelligence
Kim Cattrall
Bulfinch Press
c/o Little, Brown & Company
1271 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
0821261754, $29.95 1-800-759-0190

Plenty of books have been written exploring sexual behavior and health, but SEXUAL INTELLIGENCE is something different: it does into the HBO special of the same name and it explores the origins of sexual desire, delving into both history and health to consider sexual behavior patterns from eye contact to kissing and beyond. From behaviors of particular sexual orientations to human body reactions, SEXUAL INTELLIGENCE pairs color photos throughout with excellent, artistic insights.

Making Peace with Autism
Susasn Senator
Trumpeter Books/Shambhala
Horticultural Hall, 300 Massachusetts Avenue, Boston MA 02115
1590302443, $22.95

Parents of autistic kids and any who work with autism need MAKING PEACE WITH AUTISM: ONE FAMILY'S STORY OF STRUGGLE, DISCOVERY, AND UNEXPECTED GIFTS: it provides important keys to coping and discusses the challenges of raising an autistic child. Susan Senator raised a child with a severe autism spectrum disorder along with two other normally-developing boys: her strategies offer invaluable coping insights and shows how the entire family changed and adjusted.

Voyageur Press
Galtier Plaza, #200, 380 Jackson Street, #200, St. Paul, MN 55101-3885

Two excellent celebrations are fine picks for any who would relish East Coast scenery and wildlife. Charles Brumley's WILD NEW WORK: A CELEBRATION OF OUR STATE'S NATURAL BEAUTY (0896586634, $29.95) features gorgeous scenic photos by Carl E. Heilman III to capture New York state's many wild wonders, while text provides accompanying background information. The author and photographer traveled thousands of miles to provide such a portrait: WILD NEW YORK covers the state's many different wild areas and provides both a visual and a verbal 'you are there' feel. Susan Cole Kelly's OUR MASSACHUSETTS (0896586839, $19.95) pairs history with natural wonders as it surveys the state's significant sites, from mountains to bio-reserves and scenes of history. While OUR MASSACHUSETTS is primarily a coffee table display, it includes plenty of detail which lends to destination-oriented visitor plans; especially those in the initial planning stages who just wish to get a feel for the state's options.

Boardwalk Memories
Emil R. Salvini
Globe Pequot Press
PO Box 480, Guilford, CT 06437
0762736747, $24.95

Enthusiasts of New Jersey's famous Jersey Shore will find a welcome focus on the boardwalks past and present in BOARDWALK MEMORIES: TALES OF THE JERSEY SHORE. For millions of tourists the boardwalk lies at the center of a Jersey vacation memory, so historian Emil Salvini's survey of the history of the boardwalks should hold special appeal to any who have visited the area and retain a fond affection for the area. Chapters detail different boardwalks and are packed with vintage black and white photos from yesteryear. Highly recommended: a lovely reconstruction of Jersey Shore history and culture.

Hatteras Blues
Tom Carlson
University of North Carolina Press
PO Box 2288, Chapel Hill, NC 27515
0807829757, $27.50

HATTERAS BLUES: A STORY FROM THE EDGE OF AMERICA is part biography and part regional history: it uses the experiences of one long-time fisherman on North Carolina's outer banks to reveal the issues of a fading industry and the development of Hatteras Village in the heart of Hurricane Alley. Tom Carlson's involvement with his subject leads him to the heart of a family and a town's struggles and faith in a warm first-person survey which at times reads with the quiet drama of fiction.

The Complete Annotated Grateful Dead Lyrics
David Dodd
The Free Press
1230 Avenue of Americas, New York NY 10020
0743277473, $35.00

A 'must' for Grateful Dead fans is the new COMPLETE ANNOTATED GRATEFUL DEAD LYRICS, providing standard versions of all the original songs. Robert Hunter himself has provided a foreword to a book which offers songs even avid fans have probably never heard or heard right. And this offers more than just lyric recaps: slang is explained, annotations on sources provide insights into the lyrics and their many cultural roots, and comparisons to quotes and literature make for a detailed, in-depth survey unparalleled in its scope.

Arthur Kempton
University of Michigan Press
839 Greene Street, Ann Arbor, MI 48104-3209
0472030876, $19.95

Any who would understand the foundations and early influences of American popular music can't miss BOOGALOO: THE QUINTESSENCE OF AMERICAN POPULAR MUSIC: its focus is on the art and commerce of Black American popular music and its coverage is extensive, blending discussions of such major figures as Sam Cooke, James Brown and others with surveys of the major music label Motown, black radio station influences across the country, and individuals who fostered the rise of popularity of black popular music. A 'must' for any comprehensive music collection.

The Way of Taiko
Heidi Varian
Stone Bridge Press
PO Box 8208, Berkeley, CA 94707
188065699X, $18.95

If world drumming is of interest then Japanese taiko drums must be on the list of things to learn about; and there's no better place to learn than through the pages of THE WAY OF TAIKO, covering the rich history and playing of Japanese taiko drums. Bright color photos throughout accompany an introduction to taiko instruments and movement, a review of training and drumming, and details on connected spirituality. A gorgeous presentation discusses taiko past, present and future.

Eliot Wilder
15 East 26th Street, New York NY 10010
0826416829, $9.95

D.J. Shadow's 1996 album Endtroducing created a new sound sonic pop music was to follow for years, influencing electronica and reaching out to other forms. Music critic Eliot Wilder follows this change in ENDTRODUCING, which is basically one long interview with DJ Shadow via telephone during 2004. From DJ's passion for music to his involvement in mixing and interactions with some of the key electronica wizards of modern times, any who would understand the man or his music needs ENDTRODUCING in their collection.

Music Sales Corp
PO Box 572, Chester, NY 10918

Musicians and aspiring musicians will relish some fine new guides on the market. Paul Zollo's CONVERSATIONS WITH TOM PETTY (1844498158, $24.95) isn't a light interview: it's a series of in- depth interviews with Tom about his career and music, and provides excellent background history and insights into Petty's achievements, associations with fellow musicians, and most especially, his songwriting. Zollo's guided interviews allow for powerful focus, not light conversation, making CONVERSATIONS WITH TOM PETTY much more revealing than anticipated. Joel McIver's EXTREME METAL first appeared in 2000 and was the first of its kind, choosing some two hundred of the biggest bands of 'extreme metal' and introducing the scene. In 2005 EXTREME METAL II (1844490971, $19.95) appears to provide the latest update, covering death metal bands, metal-influenced new groups, and charting the latest trends of a now-established genre. EXTREME METAL II provides an A-Z survey and history of major acts, packs in photos throughout, and is a 'must' reference for any fan. If you're already a musician seeking to break into the recording business, start with J.S. Rudsenske's MUSIC BUSINESS MADE SIMPLE: A GUIDE TO BECOMING A RECORDING ARTIST (0825672953, $14.95), a step-by-step simple guide for musicians who want to become recording artists. From developing songs and gigging to recording a demo, handling producers and booking agents, and getting a record deal, MUSIC BUSINESS MADE SIMPLE provides everything needed to understand the business end of the music industry. Perhaps you're finding it hard to break in but have plenty of ideas for recordings: Rudsenske's START AN INDEPENDENT RECORD LABEL (0825673100, $16.95) charts a different strategy and tells how artists can begin their own labels to take control over music and money. From understanding the legal contract and foundations of what constitutes a record deal to understanding distribution channels and payment rates, START AN INDEPENDENT RECORD LABEL tells it all.

Coming Home to Myself
Wynonna Judd with Patsi Bale Cox
New American Library
375 Hudson Street, New York NY 10014
0451216512, $25.95

Any fan of country music is already familiar with the name of star Wynonna Judd, so her memoir of professional and private life holds a ready-made audience from the start. Such an audience will find COMING HOME TO MYSELF: A MEMOIR holds plenty of personal reflection as well as autobiographical history: Judd is committed to tracing the emotional journey which accompanied her rise to stardom, and here follows a stormy relationship with her performer mother, her decade of being a superstar, and her mother's dangerous illness. A gripping saga any Judd fan must have.

End of the Beginning
Harry Turtledove
375 Hudson, New York NY 10014
0451216687, $25.95

Turtledove specializes in alternative history scenarios and END OF THE BEGINNING is one of his best: it's set during WWII, with the Japanese following up on a successful occupation of Hawaii. A puppet king sits on the throne and American POWs are enslaved - but on the mainland the U.S. military is working to drive back the enemy. A realistic story of a very different WWII atmosphere evolves.

Zappa: A Biography
Barry Miles
Grove Press
841 Broadway, New York NY 10003
080214215X, $14.00

It may surprise many who know of Zappa only as a rock icon to discovery here, in ZAPPA: A BIOGRAPHY, that he was a classically-trained guitar virtuoso. Zappa holds many facets beneath the fame of his music, and for a complete overview of these worlds, ZAPPA: A BIOGRAPHY brings them all together in an in-depth, detailed survey. Barry Miles knew Zappa personally and was present during the recording of many of his most important albums, so he's much more than an outside biographer and can provide the depth and insights lacking in other books on Zappa. A 'must' for any who would understand Zappa's influences, life, and power.

Neil Young Nation
Kevin Chong
Greystone Books
c/o Publishers Group West
1700 Fourth Street, Berkeley, CA 94710
1553651162, $16.95 1-800-788-3123

Neil Young is one of the most popular musicians of modern times and has enjoyed decades of fame in the rock world, producing consistently outstanding lyrics and sounds. NEIL YOUNG NATION is more than just a review of his life, however: author Kevin Chong set off on a road trip to research his subject, following the places which influenced Young's music: NEIL YOUNG NATION is at once an account of Chong's personal journey as well as a survey of his findings about Neil Young, rock music, and encounters Neil had with fans and fellow musicians along the way.

Jook Right On
Barry Lee Pearson
University of Tennessee Press
293 Communications Building, Knoxville, TN 37996-0325
1572334312, $45.00 1-800-621-2736

Blues music fans who enjoy solid writing and insights will relish JOOK RIGHT ON: BLUES STORIES AND BLUES STORYTELLERS, a survey of blues life from oral stories collected by person for thirty years, told in blues musicians' own words. Pearson interviewed over a hundred such musicians, and JOOK RIGHT ON introduces their experiences in sections that cover learning blues music and styles, working in the blues world, and living the blues. The first-person narrations provide an intimacy third-person reporting could never equal and make JOOK RIGHT ON an important addition to the vast realm of blues literature.

Keep the Peace!
Mark Huntley Parsons
Modern Drummer Publications
12 Old Bridge Road, Cedar Grove, NJ 07009
0634089048, $12.95

KEEP THE PEACE! THE MUSICIAN'S GUIDE TO SOUNDPROOFING evolved from a series of articles author Mark Parsons originally wrote for Modern Drummer, and stems from a long-time interest in building rooms for the rehearsal and recording of music. Musicians will find delightful the survey of retrofitting walls and spaces to soundproof and lend to recording and practice acoustics, which comes packed with black and white photos and diagrams throughout. A 'must' for any musician who would keep neighbors happy and create a viable practice space.

The Whole Foods Allergy Cookbook
Cybele Pascal
Vital Health Publishing
PO Box 152, Ridgefield CT 06877
1890612456, $18.95

There are plenty of 'allergy cookbooks' on the market which address cooking for those with food allergies: so what makes THE WHOLE FOODS ALLERGY COOKBOOK: 200 GOURMET & HOMESTYLE RECIPES FOR THE FOOD ALLERGIC FAMILY different? It's the first to eliminate ALL eight allergens which are responsible for 90% of food allergies. These are: dairy, eggs, wheat, soy, peanuts, tree nuts, fish or shellfish and refined sugar. Therefore, baked goods here are all vegan, there is a shopper's guide for hard-to-locate items, and a wonderful array of appealing dishes from Curried Pumpkin Soup and Chicken Breast with Mango Salsa to Curried Lamb with Apricots over Brown Rice and Spaghetti with Turkey Meatballs. Dishes the whole family can enjoy, no matter what the allergy distribution, are important; particularly since food allergies often run in families but differ between members. WHOLE FOODS ALLERGY COOKBOOK is a 'must' for any family struggling with allergens.

Alessandra Redies
250 Wireless Road, Hauppage, NY 11788
08764158694, $12.99

Over a hundred color photos accompany an exceptionally clear collection of cocktail recipes for any who enjoy dinner drinks, whether they be apéritifs, coladas, or cocktail creations. Each cocktail is categorized - fruity drink, after-dinner drink, tall drink, strong drink - and provides 3-step recipes and a minimal amount of ingredients. From bartender's classics to low-alcohol drinks, COCKTAILS is easy to use, attractive and lovely.

1001 Natural Wonders You Must See Before You Die
Michael Bright
250 Wireless Road, Hauppage, NY 11788
0764158171, $35.00

Some of the world's leading explorers lend their contributions and advice to the extensive travel reference 1001 NATURAL WONDERS YOU MUST SEE BEFORE YOU DIE, which holds very nearly 1,000 pages packed with photos and descriptions of such wonders. From Loch Ness in Scotland to Lake Natron in Tanzania or Daisetsu in Japan, the world's wilderness places are all under one cover, with extensive descriptions charting why they stand out. While some of these places pepper other books, no other coverage is so extensive - or so well laid out, blending modern color photos with cultural and natural insights. Very highly recommended indeed; way above any other 'natural wonders' guides, and perfect for both armchair travelers and travel planners alike.

Grammar in Plain English
Harriet Diamond, MA & Phyllis Dutwin, MA
250 Wireless Road, Hauppage, NY 11788
0764128876, $14.99

Any planning on taking the GED, or adults wishing to brush up on their English skills, will find the fourth edition of GRAMMAR IN PLAIN ENGLISH provides over twenty important lessons to reinforce grammar. Practice exercises with answer keys use some of the latest GED writing skills test formats and provide plenty of examples, practice questions, and explanations for review. A recommended pick; not just for students, but for any wishing a refresher course in an easy workbook.

America's Great Delis
Sheryll Bellman
Collector Press
PO Box 230986, Portland, OR 97281
1933112077, $35.00 1-800-423-1848

Deli food is simple food from Eastern Europe; much of it developed out of need as Jews migrated around the world. The origins of deli standards, from rye bread and chopped liver, and the establishments which fostered them in America are revealed in a colorful blend of history and recipes. Historic and notable delis are profiled, there are neighborhood maps and vintage black and white photos, and plenty of color throughout, making this a notable gift choice as well as a library recommendation.

Mangoes & Curry Leaves
Jeffrey Alford & Naomi Duguid
708 Broadway, New York NY 10003
1579652522, $45.00

If Asian cooking is a passion and even if your collection is already packed with regional titles, make MANGOES & CURRY LEAVES: CULINARY TRAVELS THROUGH THE GREAT SUBCONTINENT a mainstay: it's as much a travelogue and cultural exploration as a cookbook and pairs recipes with the author's first-person experiences of the smells, tastes, and atmosphere of Bangladesh, India, Nepal, Pakistan, and Sri Lanka. More than any other Asian general cookbook, it invites the reader to sample through the authors' eyes and tastes and creates a sensational, savory set of culinary reflections and insights. Very highly recommended; a 'must' for any serious cook's collection.

Nitty Gritty Cookbooks
Bristol Publishing
2714 McCone Avenue, Hayward, CA 94545

Three little cookbooks are fine, recommended picks: they may lack glitzy color photos and heft, but they provide easy recipes which don't need color embellishment to succeed. THE BEST 50 PUDDINGS, SOUFFLES AND KUGELS (1558673032, $5.95) offers a wealth of both sweet and savory 'failsafe' puddings and kugels, joining others in the '50 Best' series but also standing well alone. From a New Orleans Danish pastry bread pudding to a Matzoh Souffle and a Blueberry Bread Pudding, these offer ease and appeal alike. The revised edition of Dona Z. Meilach's WRAPS AND ROLL-UPS (1558673075, $8.95) tells how to use vegetables and grains wrapped in gourmet tortillas for quick meals. From Pineapple Salsa and other sauces to jazz up the meats and vegetables to international influences and wraps for celebrations, this offers a range of fresh, new ideas. Jacqueline Williams and Goldie Silverman's NO SALT, NO SUGAR, NO FAT (1558673067, $8.95) shows how food can be tasty without added sugar, salt or fat. From beef stews and layered cheese torta to easy desserts which leave out a lot of the guilt, the spices and fruits make up all the flavor.

Best Food Writing 2005
Holly Hughes, Ed.
Marlowe & Company
245 West 17th Street, 11th Floor, New York NY 10011
156924345X, $15.95

Established food writers as well as newcomers who are passionate about foods grace the pages of a powerful collection which skims the cream from the food writing crop of the past year's books, magazines, newspapers and web sites. This is what makes BEST FOOD WRITING 2005 so wonderful: expect - and receive - only the best in articles which range from reflections on aforementioned cream and its history and qualities to baker Yockelson's reflections on the 'real cake' and its attributes and family bonds involved in a local bread baker's rise to fame. Sumptuous, sensual descriptions of food celebrate dishes and history alike.

Egyptian Cooking and Other Middle Eastern Recipes
Samia Abdennour
American University in Cairo Press
c/o International Publishers
420 - 5th Avenue, New York NY 10018
9774249267, $19.95

There are plenty of Middle Eastern general cookbooks on the market even those who have larger titles in their collection should consider EGYPTIAN COOKING AND OTHER MIDDLE EASTERN RECIPES an important, basic addition. From Stewed Chicken With Green Olives to Creamy Eggplant and Mutton and Rice, standard Middle Eastern dishes come alive with bright photos, intriguing flavor blends, and appeal. Wire binding with no spine lettering makes this a recommended home library addition.

Brew Like a Monk
Stan Hieronymus
Brewers Publications
PO Box 1679, Boulder, CO 80306-1679
093738187X, $17.95

Any interested in beer brewing probably has had a hand in home brew and familiarity with some favorite styles such as pilsner or stouts, but BREW LIKE A MONK: TRAPPIST, ABBEY AND STRONG BELGIAN ALES AND HOW TO BREW THEM offers something different, exploring the unique flavors and brews of monastic brewing through visits to modern producers in both America and Belgium. BREW LIKE A MONK isn't just a recipe collection, though of course some brew recipes are included: it's a survey of the history, traditions and flavors of Trappist monk brewing in the Belgian tradition and contrasts the products of independent breweries with American and European brewing traditions.

Small Bites
Jennifer Joyce
375 Hudson, New York NY 10014
0756613477, $20.00

If you're entertaining, finger foods or appetizers are surely a part of the occasion, and many cookbooks are dedicated to their production - but SMALL BITES: tapas, sushi, mezze, antipasti and other finger foods takes a more international approach than most, incorporating the finger foods of other countries to provide a pleasing alternative to ordinary dishes. Try skewered meats and vegetables, a flashy Crab and Gruyere Nachos with Charred Tomato Salsa, a refreshing Mango Crush to go with spicy foods, and more. Bright color photos of finished finger foods accent the production and add appeal - and cooks will find the dishes easy to produce despite their flashy titles.

Clyde Edgerton
Algonquin Books
127 Kingston Drive, #105, Chapel Hill, NC 27514
156512426X, $23.95

You may recognize Clyde Edgerton's name: he's written eight previous novels but here provides a compelling saga in SOLO: MY ADVENTURES IN THE AIR, a biographical memoir which provides the true account of his flying experience, from Air Force training and combat missions in Vietnam to his own personal plane. The joy Edgerton holds for planes and flying shines from every chapter: any with an affection for planes will love this celebration of flight, which holds a healthy dose of military aviation insights.

Girls' Night In
Jennifer Worick
Laurel Glen
5880 Oberlin Drive, San Diego, CA 92121-4794
1592232760, $9.95

Think of pampering and spas and usually one thinks of paying big bucks to leave home and obtain professional treatment: but as GIRLS' NIGHT IN: SPA TREATMENTS AT HOME shows, many of the same results can be achieved right at home on a budget. Use GIRLS' NIGHT IN to host a spa party: seasonal themes, recipes for home products and healthy foods and drinks, and even cocktail recipes make GIRLS' NIGHT IN an appealing alternative.

The Pocket Survival Guide
J. Wayne Fears
Stoeger Publishing
17603 Indian Head Highway, #200, Accokeek MD 20607
0883173050, $12.95

If it's basic survival techniques you need to survive a short-term crisis, read this book - then keep it close at hand. J. Wayne Fears is a search and rescue official trained in survival skills in the military, so his tips are backed by Army training. From preparing for local weather and emergency signaling to avoiding hypothermia and dressing for the unexpected, any planning a camping trip or outdoors venture must have THE POCKET SURVIVAL GUIDE: THE ULTIMATE GUIDE FOR SHORT-TERM SURVIVAL in the backpack.

Land Navigation Handbook
W.S. Kals
Sierra Club Books
85 - 2nd Street, San Francisco CA 94105
1578051223, $16.95

This updated second edition of LAND NAVIGATION HANDBOOK: THE SIERRA CLUB GUIDE TO MAP, COMPASS & GPS could also have appeared in either our Sports or Military columns, but deserves mention here to be sure the widest possible audience receives notice of the completely updated edition including new text by Clyde Soles. Here is a pocket-sized 'bible' of outdoors survival, providing basic keys on everything from using maps and compass to using an altimeter, navigating by kayak on lakes, understanding GPS navigation and how to choose and use a GPS unit, and even how to navigate by moon and sun alone. Photos, drawings, and a fold-out topographic map provide plenty of visual illustration and examples of the details and make for an invaluable instructional reference both in the field and for at-home study.

The Imagery of Chess Revisited
Larry List, Editor
George Braziller
171 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016
0807615552, $49.95

At once an art history title and a special source of interest to chess players, THE IMAGERY OF CHESS REVISITED is an outstanding survey of the 1944-45 exhibition of the same name held in New York City, which hosted participants from famous European expatriates and American modernists alike. All contributed chess sets for the project and exhibition, and many produced other chess-related art, from paintings to photos. The IMAGERY OF CHESS REVISITED project grew out of a project to create an exact replica of Isamu Noguchi's 'lost' red and green plastic chess set designed for the original exhibition, and holds numerous previously unpublished works and images which will prove of special interest to collectors, artists and gamers alike.

Virtuosos of Juggling
Karl-Heinz Ziethen & Alessandro Serena
Renegade Juggling
PO Box 406, Santa Cruz, CA 95061
0974184802, $26.95

There are plenty of 'how to' books on the market on juggling and at casual glance one might be prepared to assume VIRTUOSOS OF JUGGLING will be yet another: but look again, it's a rare history of performance jugglers surveying a vast 4,000 years of juggling as game and art form. The history is well detailed, covering both teachers and schools and venues ranging from circus to stage. Considerations of both artistry and audience demands compliment biographical sketches of key jugglers and the companies which fostered their talents, while black and white photos throughout capture the action. There are many juggling manuals on the market, but if you wish a history of jugglers and their influences and techniques, VIRTUOSOS OF JUGGLING shouldn't be missed.

Master Point Press
331 Douglas Avenue, Toronto, Ontario M5M 1H2, Canada

The second edition of Julian Pottage's CLUES FROM THE BIDDING AT BRIDGE (1894154967, $16.95) is out, and it's a fine detailed account of tipoffs of winning plays in bidding. Defenders who base their strategy on the declarer's bid often find their move flawed: CLUES FROM THE BIDDING AT BRIDGE tells how to hone other clue detection skills, from making recoveries and understanding detection errors to boldly bidding and shock recovery. Pair this with Terence Reese & Julian Pottage's THE EXTRA EDGE IN PLAY AT BRIDGE (1894154975, $16.95), also in its revised second edition to cover a range of techniques, from making the most of a single suit to understanding timing and deceiving opponents about what's being held. Examples of 1NT opening strategies and analysis of pros and cons provide an excellent set of lessons. Danny Kleinman's 365 WINNING BRIDGE TIPS (1897106041, $21.95) gathers a range of questions about bridge for both beginners and intermediate players, addressing the basic same issues which tend to come up each time a bridge game is entered. Examples of matchpoints, lead strategies, risk options, and more receive clear examples and discussion. Ned Downey and Ellen Pomer's STANDARD BIDDING WITH SAYC (1897106033, $17.95) narrows the discussion to the popular online playing system 'Standard American Yellow Card' or SAYC. Beginners and those with some playing background will find this the first explanation to go into depth and detail about how SAYC works, explaining the different auctions, responders, and methods unique to SAYC.

American Christmases
Joanne Martell
John F. Blair
1406 Plaza Drive, Winston-Salem, NC 27103
0895873192, $24.95

Changing festivals and traditions of Christmas are celebrated in a warm survey of Christmas customs in AMERICAN CHRISTMASES: FIRSTHAND ACCOUNTS OF HOLIDAY HAPPENINGS FROM EARLY DAYS TO MODERN TIMES. Here are letters, memoirs, notes and reflections on the season, with a range of contributions moving from immigrant memories and experiences to passages from famous Americans from Daniel Boone who describes his Christmas spent as an Indian captive to a woman's Christmas with the Confederate Army during the Civil War. A lovely, diverse collection.

A Baker's Field Guide to Holiday Candy & Confections
Dede Wilson
Harvard Common Press
535 Albany St., Boston, MA 02118
1558323090, $16.95

From marshmallow peeps for Easter to Christmas Ribbon Candy and hand-formed Chocolate Leaves for Thanksgiving, HOLIDAY CANDY & CONFECTIONS: SWEET TREATS ALL YEAR LONG is a guide which may have missed our December issue, but which holds importance and value far beyond a single season. Each recipe offers a full-page facing page photo of the completed item, and each recipe teaches basic tricks of the candy-making trade, from tempering and using dry ice on molds to choosing a special type of chocolate to produce a polished finish, or using a leaf-shaped cookie cutter on jelly to make leaves. If you've made candy before you're used to one-dimension cookbooks which either offer recipes alone or go into great detail on advanced techniques: this one offers a bit of both and is far above most in ease of use and polished results.

Ten Hours Until Dawn
Michael J. Tougias
St. Martin's Press
175 - 5th Avenue, New York NY 10010
0312334354, $24.95

Deserving of ongoing recommendation as a fantastic true life adventure involving a crew in trouble at sea and those who risked their lives to save them is TEN HOURS UNTIL DAWN: THE TRUE STORY OF HEROISM AND TRAGEDY ABOARD THE CAN DO. A Coast Guard boat which responds to a wrecked tanker's Mayday calls during a blizzard in 1978 finds itself in trouble, and only a pilot boat in the area, the Can Do, can help in the midst of one of the worst storms of the decade. Dozens of interviews and audio tapes recorded during the crisis lend to this dramatic true-life story of a rescue at sea against all odds.

Off the Map
Fergus Fleming
Atlantic Monthly Press
841 Broadway, New York NY 10003
0871138999, $24.95

For a blend of history and true-life stories of survival and adventure, try the classics told in OFF THE MAP: TALES OF ENDURANCE AND EXPLORATION. Fergus Fleming is a narrative historian with many books to his name: OFF THE MAP uses high drama, a touch of humor, and lively themes to bring to life the journeys and sometimes the harrowing experiences of explorers from early to modern times. Perfect for the history buff who enjoys the action and high drama of true-life drama paired with the insights of historical fact and biography.

Guided by Voices: A Brief History
James Greer
Black Cat
c/o Grove/Atlantic Monthly Press
841 Broadway, New York NY 10003
0802170137, $16.00

Guided By Voices' Robert Pollard has been involved in the rock scene for over twenty years, has been compared to Paul McCartney to Rossini, and has staged live rock performances which stand out from the crowd. Written with exclusive cooperation from Pollard, GUIDED BY VOICES: A BRIEF HISTORY delves into his music and the vast circle of rock musicians which have contributed to his development. From the band's many incarnations to Pollard's constantly changing sound, no better coverage is available.

The Golden Retriever Puppy Handbook
R. Ann Johnson
Darwin Press
PO Box 2202, Princeton, NJ 08543
0878501630, $27.50

Golden retriever puppies are special: any seeking to understand and raise a superior breed dog will appreciate THE GOLDEN RETRIEVER PUPPY HANDBOOK: THE CARE AND TRAINING OF A GOLDEN RETRIEVER PUPPY FROM SEVEN WEEKS THROUGH TWELVE MONTHS. From acquisition to the puppy's first vet visit and the basics of feeding, the handbook packs in everything needed to handle the special requirements of the breed. An in-depth, highly recommended pick.

All About Aussies
Jeanne Joy Hartnagle-Taylor
Alpine Publications
PO Box 7027, Loveland, CO 80537
157779074X, $49.95

This is no light coverage from an outsider, but an in-depth survey of the Australian Shepard breed by a third generation breeder who has been involved in their training and upkeep since childhood. And if ALL ABOUT AUSSIES: THE AUSTRALIAN SHEPHERD A TO Z sounds familiar, that's because it appears here in a brand new 3rd updated edition which offers not just new photos, but a new chapter devoted to Miniature Aussies. All the basics of the breed, and the show business for Aussies, are thoroughly explained in this 'bible' of detail, highly recommended.

Poisoned Pen Press
6962 East First Avenue, #103, Scottsdale, AZ 85251

Three excellent mysteries are gripping adventures, hard to put down. Jane Finnis' A BITTER CHILL (1590581938, $24.95) is a powerful debut mystery set in A.D. 95, when Roman settles prepare to celebrate Saturnalia. A female innkeeper looks forward to a peaceful holiday when her brother interjects with a dangerous message: the enemy in Rome is trying to destroy the family by spreading rumors they're plotting against Caesar. Add a protection racket and quarrels and you have a fast-paced, multi- faceted mystery packed with conspiracies and adventure. Don Proter's DEADLY DETAIL (1590581911, $24.95) presents the retired pilot's story of a friend's violent death and his investigation into possible assassination which may threaten his friend's wife, next. The two find themselves on the run, struggling with grief and determined murderers. Kate Charles' EVIL INTENT (1590582004, $24.95) tells of a woman recovering from the end of an engagement. When male colleagues in the clergy become hostile, one Father Adimola is the worst: when he's found murdered, her friend becomes a suspect and Callie must harness all her skills and faith to prove her friend innocent. All are gripping, diverse plots far from the norm and packed with unexpected twists and turns.

The Loch
Steve Alten
Tsunami/Greenleaf Book Group
4425 Mapoc South, #600, Austin, TX 78735
0976165902, $27.95

Ongoing, gripping action marks a drama involving an ancient legend, legend and a marine biologist who enters a possible murder case where a lake monster - and Zach's father - is the suspect. In order to prove his father innocent Zach must uncover the truth behind the Loch monster, fighting rival scientists and true believers to uncover the reality. A gripping blend of murder mystery and adventure evolves.

Bewitched, Bothered and Bewildered
Maggie Shayne
Berkeley Sensation
375 Hudson Street, New York NY 10014
0425205762, $13.00

For the first time under one convenient cover come three of bestseller Maggie Shayne's supernatural romances to please leisure readers who look a good blend of paranormal and love. EVERYTHING SHE DOES IS MAGICK tells of matchmaking witches who choose Nathan as the perfect mate for their baby niece; MUSKETEER BY MOONLIGHT tells of a lady PI whose spell of protection conjures up an unwelcome musketeer's attentions, and CON AND THE CRUSADER tells of a man's unwitting journey into the past where he's mistaken for a criminal - and only love can set him free. An exotic, fun blend of romance and intrigue with more than a strong dose of the paranormal makes all these short stories winner.

Million Dollar Networking
Andrea R. Nierenberg
Capital Books
22841 Quicksilver Drive, Sterling, VA 20166
1933102055, $19.95

Author Andrea Nierenberg is president of Nierenberg Group Inc. which trains in customer service, sales, and networking: as such she's been heralded as a whiz at setting up businesses using networking strategies, and now you don't have to visit her to benefit: MILLION DOLLAR NETWORKING does it for you, providing her first book packed with networking tips and insider savvy. A set of rules common to any type of business on how to develop effective networking strategies accompanies chapters of steps for establishing these connections. From the etiquette of giving and taking information to creating strategic business alliances, MILLION DOLLAR NETWORKING: THE SURE WAY TO FIND, GROW AND KEEP YOUR BUSINESS is essential for any who would profit.

Ghost of a Chance
Susan Hepburn
Allison & Busby
c/o International Publishers Marketing
22841 Quicksilver Drive, Dulles, VA 20166
0749083832, $25.95

Mike Brodie is a professional musician and voice-over specialist who spends her time rushing between jobs; so when she decides it's time for a vacation she heads for a stately country home maintained by a friend anticipating relaxation - until she's attacked by a group of men. Her idyllic hide-away is about to turn dangerous as she realizes the local small village is under attack - and when she becomes personally involved in discovering a body.

Woken Furies
Richard K. Morgan
DelRey Books
1745 Broadway, New York NY 10019
0345479718, $24.95

Richard Morgan's prior 'Takeshi Kovacs' 25th century adventures have gained him an audience of fans, so his latest WOKEN FURIES is sure to see both old fans and new readers. Death is meaningless in Morgan's world, but mystery, revenge and love are still forces to keep even a detective on his toes. Add a strange holy man and a world which blends virtual worlds with reality and you have a fast-paced story with many unexpected twists and turns: a satisfying read, indeed.

Spectrum 12
Cathy Fenner & Arnie Fenner, Eds.
Underwood Books
PO Box 1919, Nevada City, CA 95959
1887424946, $29.95

Any interested in science fiction and fantasy art will find all the masters represented in Spectrum 12: The Best in Contemporary Fantastic Art, and ranging from Michael Whelan and Brad Holland, to Linda Bergkvist and Daren Bader. Each artist's works are rendered in full color and includes contact information plus notes on clients, medium, and picture size. A jury selected the 2005 Spectrum winners, surveying over 4,000 works both individually and in light of overall fantasy artist accomplishment to cull the best: the result is a winning pick of top winners any involved in fantasy art will find compelling and superior.

Baen Books
PO Box 1403, Riverdale, NY 10471

John Ringo and Michael Z. Williamson's THE HERO (1416509143, $7.99) tells of a warrior species conditioned to be incapable of killing, which manipulates humans until humans fight back. Now the Darhel and humans find themselves on a race to prevent an alien artifact from falling to the wrong hands, with a deadly sniper with killing abilities facing a team unable to kill. Jack L. Chalker's TWILIGHT AT THE WELL OF SOULS (141650916X, $7.99) tells of a rift in space which is fast approaching the Well World: and if Well World is destroyed, the universe would vanish too. Despite the threat concerns about war on the planet still dominate, and it's up to two souls to save the universe, if the natives don't kill them first. James H. Schmidtz's THE WITCHES OF KARRES (14165091151, $7.99) tells of a captain unlikely in love and business who hopes for salvation from a battered starship's entrepreneurial finds. When Captain Pausert frees three slave children from their masters, he finds himself in trouble with his fiancé, his world, and on the wrong side of many - all because of three innocent-looking little girls who are in fact witches. Swift action and drama evolves. Chris Dolley's RESONANCE (1416598127, $24.00) takes an old saying against stepping on cracks and adds new meaning when cracks in paving stones set the resonance that keeps everything harmonious - and stepping on them sets the universe out of sync. Graham Smith finds the world changed overnight when a resonance project changes the nature of reality and virtual reality in the gripping RESONANCE. William Mark Simmons' HABEAS CORPSES (1416509135, $22.00) continues the story of one Christopher, who becomes infected with one of two viruses that change the living into the undead. Hunted for his mutated blood by both humans and vampires, he faces assassins, a sexy vampire bodyguard, a werewolf lover's problems, and more in a fast-paced story of genetic manipulation and evil. David Weber's AT ALL COSTS (1416509119, $26.00) tells of a disastrous war with the Republic o Haven - disastrous for the Star Kingdom of Manticore, where an admiral lady and duchess is outnumbered by a new fleet. Politics and interstellar war come to life in a politically charged account of royalty and danger.

The Missing Corpse
Wayne Fanebust
99 Post Road West, Westport, CT 06881
0275987620, $44.95kl

Alexander Stewart was 'The Merchant Prince of Manhattan' in early New York whose name was famous for another reason after his death: the robbing of his grave set off one of the biggest investigations in the city's history and was recounted by Mark Twain and others. THE MISSING CORPSE: GRAVE ROBBING A GUILDED AGE TYCOON details the circumstances of the grave robbing, the many theories which abounded at the time, likely events, and its social impact. An excellent blend of true crime, early New York history and culture, and science makes THE MISSING CORPSE a detailed, involving study.

Aztecs & Conquistadores
John Pohl & Charles M. Robinson III
Osprey Publishing
2427 Bond Street, University Park, IL 60466
1841769347, $24.95

Any student of early Spanish history or Aztec history must take a look at AZTECS & CONQUISTADORES: THE SPANISH INVASION & THE COLLAPSE OF THE AZTEC EMPIRE, which surveys the impact the Spanish conquests had on world history. The focus here is upon the military might of Cortes, the training and experience of men on both sides of the conflict, and the major battles that subdued the Aztecs. Color maps, illustrations and charts throughout enhance the survey and provide exact explanations and insights suitable for both high school and college level history students.

Pictorial Victorians
Julia Thomas
Ohio University Press
Scott Quadrangle, Athens, OH 45701
0821415913, $44.95 1-800-621-2736

It's difficult to easily categorize PICTORIAL VICTORIANS: THE INSCRIPTION OF VALUES IN WORD AND IMAGE. Its focus on illustration and narrative painting, two of the most popular Victorian- era genres, would seem to place PICTORIAL VICTORIANS in our art section but we're reviewing it here for its important historical and cultural insights. Julia Thomas is a lecturer at the Centre for Critical and Cultural Theory in Wales: her survey of the interplay between word and image and how it relates to Victorian ideals and ideas of self make for an important, college-level study which will hold broad appeal for both art libraries and any history collection strong on Victorian history.

Destination Bride
Lisa Light
North Light Books/F&W, dist.
4700 E. Galbraith Road, Cincinnati, OH 45236
1558707034, $24.99

A 'destination wedding' is something special: an opportunity for both bride and groom to travel to another locale to wed - anywhere in the world. Use DESTINATION BRIDE: A COMPLETE GUIDE TO PLANNING YOUR WEDDING ANYWHERE IN THE WORLD as the stepping stone to achieving a smooth non-local wedding. Chapters touch upon all the basics; from communicating with guests and organizing the ceremony to choosing the right location, researching its resources, and making travel arrangements for guests and family. But there's more than generalities about weddings on the go: final sections cover the specifics of countries around the world from Africa and Asia to Europe, and include specific recommendations for places which lend to weddings and establishments which cater to them. Very highly recommended.

Fantastic Realms
V. Shane
Impact/F&W, dist.
4700 E. Galbraith Road, Cincinnati, OH 452326
1581806825, $19.99

If you like to draw and enjoy fantasy, then V. Shane's FANTASTIC REALMS: DRAW FANTASY CHARACTERS, CREATURES AND SETTINGS is for you. Packed with both step-by-step inlay illustrations of close-ups for drawing hands, inking approaches, and capturing action and color drawings of full finished products, FANTASTIC REALMS offers everything from coloring keys and notes on texturing and shading to using variety and bar sweeps to give an atmosphere to movement.

Writer's Digest Books/F&W, dist.
4700 E Galbraith Road, Cincinnati, OH 45236

Adding to the indispensable references Writer's Market and Poet's Market are more specific guides for selling items: each completely revised and updated to make for invaluable references The 2006 ARTIST'S & GRAPHIC DESIGNER'S MARKET (1582973962, $24.99) is an art reference every artist needs to have: it holds articles, interviews and packs in over 1,900 listings of paying sources which buy art. The contact information has all been updated, and markets are extensive, ranging from publications and card publishers to galleries and ad agencies. Newcomers will appreciate the in-depth industry articles which offer plenty of marketing ideas and insights. The 2006 PHOTOGRAPHER'S MARKET (1582973954, $24.99) is for any aspiring photographer who wants to build a career and locate new markets. Interviews with working photographers and articles on the business of photography accompany listings which even have tips from photo buyers, name contacts and emails, and submission guidelines. If your art or photography is more than just a hobby, you simply can't be without these two references: no reference shelf is complete without them - and no marketing effort complete without their advice. The Memory Makers ULTIMATE GUIDE TO SCRAPBOOKING (1892127652, $24.99) is recommended above most competitors: arranged in easy lay- flat hardcover binding, it includes an overview of basic tools, photography tips, journaling ideas, computer scrapbooking coverage, and tips on everything from cropping to arrangements. Color-coded pages create easy references and a quick-look-up format.

Mark Francis& Hal Foster
Phaidon Press
180 Varick Street, 14th Floor, New York NY 10014
0714843636, $75.00

Mark Francis is a London curator and writer, Hal Foster a Townsend Martin Professor of Art and Archaeology at Princeton: the two combine forces in POP. Pop described art, film, photography and architectural design from the 1950s through the 50s, which used mass media and mass production as inspiration. Other histories have presented Pop art as an isolated form: POP surveys all its various forms around the world, providing a rich key to the art and influences of artists from Warhol to Sigmar Polke. Full-page black and white and color examples appear throughout, but it's the rich, in-depth art and cultural survey which sets POP aside from any other.

Fantagraphic Books
7563 Lake City Way NE, Seattle, WA 98115

Two excellent graphic accounts are top picks and recommended for any library collection strong in graphic novels or graphic illustration. Barry Windsor-Smith's THE FREEBOOTERS (1560976624, $29.95) details - in full color throughout - the exploits of one Axus the Great, a hero past his prime who can't just enjoy a lazy retirement, but must fight to save a city and possibly the world from a monster. 'The Freebooters' was one of three comics series which appeared in author Windsor-Smith's own 1990s magazine STORYTELLER; its resurrection here adds over 80 new pages of story and art and makes it a powerful companion to his YOUNG GODS & FRIENDS, as well as a strong stand-alone story. Fans of Dennis the Menace, a strip still running in many syndicated papers, will appreciate the autobiography of Hank Ketcham in THE MERCHANT OF DENNIS (1560976802, $24.95), a black and white cartoon-filled account of Ketcham's journey from a college dropout Depression child to a famous illustrator whose dream of drawing for Walt Disney led him to his own career as a successful cartoonist. THE MERCHANT OF DENNIS traces Ketcham's life and also offers plenty of insights into the evolution of Dennis the Menace, making this a keeper for any Dennis fan.

Snow Painting
Rosemary Reed
Publishers Design Group
PO Box 37, Roseville, CA 95678
1929170157, $32.95

SNOW PAINTING: CHINESE BRUSH PAINTING is a gorgeous presentation providing artists with all the fundamentals needed to produce Chinese-style brush paintings. From a survey of inks, stones, and brushes to a treatise on basic color, paper, observing and understanding how snow is depicted in art, and a step-by-step approach to subject definition, materials, and effects, SNOW PAINTING is packed with detail ranging from bird observation to stylistic guidelines. Simply lovely and well detailed.

Periplus Editions/Tuttle
364 Innovation Drive, N. Clarendon, VT 05759-9436

Wongvipa Devahastin na Ayudhya and Sakul Intakul's MODERN ASIAN LIVING (0794602916, $45.00) is a top pick for any involved in architectural design, whether it be interior or exterior - and especially for regional or ethnic design. It outlines classic sleek, modern structures with Asian influences which represent the latest wave of Asian architectural talent, and it provides color photos on every page - many full-page displays - to capture the Asian architectural styles indoors and out. Introductions to each set of photos (photos by Masano Kawana) provide an overview of modern homes and how they were changed or built to incorporate the Asian design models. Richard W. Lewis' ABSOLUT SEQUEL: THE ABSOLUT ADVERTISING STORY CONTINUES (0794603319, $30.00) comes with a CD-ROM of images as it gathers the best of the last ten years of Absolut advertising. Any involved in the ad world will readily acknowledge Absolut's ads offer consistently productive results, with eye-capturing images: the formula is simple - two simple words, the first always the same, and a single stunning image: it's the follow-through which is the clincher, and which creates such compelling copy from so many enthusiastic artists. ABSOLUT SEQUEL is more than a collection of images: chapters survey the artists, the themes, and the ad campaign itself with an eye to revealing the formula behind Absolut's ad magic.

Picture Taker
Ken Elkins
University of Alabama Press
PO Box 870380, Tuscaloosa, AL 35487
0817314784, $35.00

Photojournalists abound, but Ken Elkins stands out from the crowd: he retired in 2000 and is still taking pictures, as chief photographer for the Anniston Star. PICTURE TAKER gathers photos celebrating his 42- year career, presenting a hundred black and white photos from his many images. Many of the rural scenes he's captured are gone, so PICTURE TAKER celebrates more than Elkins: it captures a bygone world and provides many portraits of rural folk and regions which have changed. Elkins focused on his native Alabama, capturing mostly the poor: PICTURE TAKER: PHOTOGRAPHS BY KEN ELKINS pays tribute to these people as much as to Elkins' talents.

Dream Homes
Andreas von Einsiedel & Johanna Thornycroft
49 West 24th Street, 8th Floor, NY, NY 10010
1858942977, $39.95

For an outstanding sourcebook of interiors which stand out from the many, DREAM HOMES: 100 INSPIRATIONAL INTERIORS is an exceptional purchase recommended for any discriminating art library strong in interior design titles. No single style represents a 'dream home': it can be Mediterranean, Californian, Asian or a blend. A hundred examples of perfection in all areas are culled from homes of all styles from around the world, presenting the work of the planet's most talented interior designers. There are over 800 lovely color photos of these spaces, plus in-depth explanations by design expert Johanna Thornycroft, which explains how each home was created or transformed. A rich, gorgeous presentation of many examples.

Contemporary Clay
Joe Earle
MFA Publications
465 Huntington Avenue, Boston, MA 02115-5597
0878466967, $24.95

Over fifty works by modern clay artists are profiled in CONTEMPORARY CLAY: JAPANESE CERAMICS FOR THE NEW CENTURY, a catalog which follows the most innovative of Japanese ceramists. Puts range from porcelains with Chinese inspirations from the past to contemporary modern designs and provide a survey of different uses of modern forms, along with artist reactions to the new clay works. Each artist receives a full page photo and a facing page describing training and the evolution of repertoire and direction, making CONTEMPORARY CLAY an outstanding presentation recommended for art library collections.

The World on Sunday
Nicholson Baker & Margaret Brentano
1271 Avenue of Americas, New York, NY 10020
0821261932, $50.00

Joseph Pulitzer's New York WORLD flourished at the turn of the 20th century and grew from a modern daily paper to a sensationalist publication packed with striking colorful art, from photos to cartoons and drawings. THE WORLD ON SUNDAY gathers over a hundred of the best from WORLD and places them in an oversized presentation to display their color on single and double-page spreads. A chronological arrangement lends to a fine sequence of reproductions tracing editorial and news highlights of the times, while colorful commentary accompanies the pieces and provides the necessary background for appreciation by all audiences. THE WORLD ON SUNDAY: GRAPHIC ART IN JOSEPH PULITZER'S NEWSPAPER (1898-1911) is a top pick not just for art or newspaper library holdings, but for general-interest collections as well: it captures the art, craft and style of a bygone era and is a lush example of newspaper history at its finest.

50 Great Adventures
Jonathan Lee
900 Broadway, #603, NY, NY 10003
3791334344, $29.95

Fifty buildings from around the world are explored through their creators, offering a blend of buildings and biographical sketches which lend to an appreciation of why architecture is created. 50 GREAT ADVENTURES: EXTRAORDINARY PLACES AND THE PEOPLE WHO BUILT THEM packs in over two hundred color illustrations and provides both a history of the creation's place in architecture and a survey of how it has affected its community. Use this as an architectural guide, a travel guide, or a survey of architectural inspirations: it fits all categories.

King Kong
Ray Morton
Applause Books
19 West 21st Street, New York NY 10010
1557836698, $19.95

Fans of the legendary 1933 monster will relish the first book to detail the making of all seven feature films about Kong in KING KONG; THE HISTORY OF A MOVIE ICON. From how the character was first created and developed to the sequence of films which starred Kong and produced a host of variants and spoofs, including reviews of the Kongs that never made it to screen, KING KONG packs in vintage duotone and color photos from movies, ads and scene shots to accompany a survey of everything from the masks and making of the films to their marketing.

Wood, Wind and Water
Anne T. Converse & Carolyn M. Ford
Anne Converse Photography
PO Box 209, Marion, MA 02738
0971403007, $55.00

One of the most beautiful photography books covering sailing and boating remains a unique classic deserving of ongoing mention and recommendation even several years after its publication. The Opera House Cup Race is one of the best classic yacht regattas, and Anne T. Converse's lovely photos capture the highlights in WOOD, WIND AND WATER: A STORY OF THE OPERA HOUSE CUP RACE OF NANTUCKET. Full-page color photos in an oversized presentation provide the dramatic action of the race in full swing, while Carolyn M. Ford synthesizes the peak moments of several years into a single tribute. An outstanding presentation deserves ongoing recommendation for both art and nautical collections.

Amphoto/Watson Guptill
770 Broadway, New York NY 10003

Two lovely photographic collections are recommended picks for any collection gathering photos of nudes. Pascal Baetens' HEAVENLY BEAUTIES (0917439838, $40.00) presents the Belgian photographer's nudes: though Baeten also produces in portrait and fashion photography, the narrowed focus on his black and white nudes provides a focus on techniques and subtleties of both indoor and outdoor nude portraits. Petter Hegre's 100 NAKED GIRLS (0817452974, $40.00) provides his sixth book of photos and continues to develop the photographer's 'new nudes' style: real people captured in color in authentic situations. In avoiding the usual Hollywood image in favor of authenticity, these nudes stand out for strikingly different approaches and poses. Very highly recommended: an exceptional production and a 'must' for any serious college-level photography or art school collection.

Sybex, an imprint of Wiley
989 Market St., San Francisco, CA 94103

Two excellent Photoshop guides are reviewed here rather than in our 'Computer' section for their exceptionally strong links between photography and computer manipulation. Start with Ellen Anon and Tim Grey's PHOTOSHOP FOR NATURE PHOTOGRAPHERS (0782144276, $49.99): it provides a workbook approach for photographers which tell how to optimize an image in camera, then how to use Photoshop to tweak and refine that image. The narrowed emphasis on nature photographer allows for customization of light, patterns, special effects and explores which are usual nature photo challenges. Tim Grey's PHOTOSHOP CS2 WORKFLOW: THE DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHER'S GUIDE (0782143962, $39.99) helps photographers establish a workflow complimentary to using Photoshop in efforts. For many the process of image manipulation on the computer overshadows the actual photographic capture itself: PHOTOSHOP CS2 WORKFLOW tells how to prioritize image optimization processes, how to organize and sort digital images, and how to use Photoshop's advanced features quickly and efficiently. Both are highly recommended photography tools any Photoshop owner should have at hand.

Amherst Media
PO Box 586, Buffalo, NY 14226

Professionals needing tips to enhance photographic efforts as well as those entering the world of professional production will find these excellent new Amherst Media titles provide important tips from real- life situations. Kevin Kubota's DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY BOOT CAMP: A STEP-BY-STEP GUIDE FOR PROFESSIONALS (1584281693, $34.95) comes packed with instructions on everything from working with digital images and maximizing camera settings based on a camera's unique attributes to retouching, image enhancements, and presenting images to maximum professional advantage for sales. Packed with not only color photo examples but color screen shots, DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY BOOT CAMP covers all the basics - and streamlines them. Bill Hurter's BEST OF PHOTOGRAPHIC LIGHTING (1584281685, $34.95) covers all the basics of light and how it affects photography. From selecting artificial lights and modifers to working with natural light and window light, both indoor and outdoor lights and setups for adding color and dimension are covered, with examples in full color from a wide range of photographers. Diagrams of light projection blend with color image examples - some full- page - and many specific tips. Supplement this with Bill Hurter's GROUP PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHY HANDBOOK (1584281596, $34.95), which narrows the focus to the special demands a group portrait requires. Images from over forty top portrait photographers also enhance this presentation of techniques digital and film photographers alike can use. From using levels to pose large groups to coordinating apparel and posing special groups, there are plenty of insights. Speaking of posing, two guides cover this topic exclusively. Norman Phillips' PROFESSIONAL POSING TECHNIQUES FOR WEDDING AND PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHERS (1584281707, $34.95) shows how to pose men, women and children alike, focusing on the shared goals of a good pose and discussing what sets a good pose apart from a bad one. From standing, seated and floor poses to resolving common posing problems, it's packed with plenty ofcolor photo examples. Bill Hurter's PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHER'S GUIDE TO POSING (158428126X, $29.95) talks about 'cutting edge' posing, reviewing the basics and then going on to tell how to choose a pose which will best flatter the client. Well over a hundred color images demonstrate these 'beyond the ordinary' pose choices in action, featuring techniques for all types of portraiture and including details n corrective posing. All are very basic references any professional photographer or aspiring pro needs to have. Pose them then sell 'em with the aid of Jeff and Kathleen Hawkins' PROFESSIONAL MARKETING & SELLING TECHNIQUES FOR DIGITAL WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHERS (1584281804, $34.95), which appears in its second updated edition to cover all the basics of selling wedding photos, from identifying a target market and a specific demographic within that market to using bridal shows, networking, and internet marketing techniques to best advantage. Wedding photographers can not only gain but can increase sales and even pros will find many income-producing tips here. Photoshop owners will find very useful Maurice Hamilton's BLACK AND WHITE PHOTOGRAPHY TECHNIQUES WITH ADOBE PHOTOSHOP (1584281731, $34.95), a fine guide to producing black and white photos through digital manipulation. From taking black and white shots and editing them for professional results to optimizing the conversion to black and white and using Photoshop's special features to aid in the finishing process, black and white photographers now have a guide to how those polished results are produced. Bill Hurter's THE BEST OF FAMILY PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHY: PROFESSIONAL TECHNIQUES AND IMAGES (1584281685, $34.95) shows how to pose and shoot to produce a to-notch family portrait, whether using indoor or outdoor settings. From understanding the basics of equipment selection to posing techniques so everyone looks good, group arrangements for appealing compositions, and working with children, chapters cover everything from subject dress and things to avoid to the importance o the 'rule of third' in image composition. If you're regularly shooting at night or under low-light conditions you must have Peter Cope's NIGHT AND LOW-LIGHT TECHNIQUES FOR DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY (158428174X, $34.95) close at hand: it discusses how color is changed by low light, how sunsets and sunrises photography differently, and how to capture lightning, moons, cityscapes, fireworks and more. Both camera and software techniques are covered in an excellent primer with plenty of color photo examples. Lou Jacobs Jr.'s HOW TO START AND OPERATE A DIGITAL PORTRAIT PHOTOGRAPHY STUDIO (1584281715, $39.95) covers everything the photographer needs to put together a profitable studio, from purchasing studio equipment and determining the best strategy for proofing and presenting images to establishing food marketing plans. With fundamentals of business savvy blending into the specifics of operating a photography studio, complete with color photos and notes on successful images, this is a real winner. Jeff Smith's CORRECTIVE LIGHTING, POSING & RETOUCHING FOR DIGITAL PORTRAIT PHOTOGAPHERS, 2ND EDN (158428157X, $34.95) provides photographers with a step-by-step guide for adjusting photos, from posing in studio or on location to conducting digital repairs. Common problems include weight, glasses glare, large noses and thinning hair: there can also be blemishes, stray hairs and even braces - all of which can be remedied both in studio and using digital adjustments. Jack and Sue Drafahl's MASTER GUIDE FOR UNDERWATER DIGITAL PHOTOGRAPHY (1584281669, $34.95) provides all the basics to master underwater photography; from buying an underwater digital camera and preparing for the first dive to handling common image problems in underwater shots. Color examples throughout discuss settings, options, and alternatives and teach all the basics of underwater photography. Bill Hurter's BEST OF WEDDING PHOTOGRAPHY: TECHNIQUES AND IMAGES FROM THE PROS, 2ND EDN (1584281545, $34.95) provides a wealth of techniques and images culled from over thirt professional photographers and pairs these images with very specific tips for both digital and film photographers. Some of the best images on the market receive in-depth analysis and technical coverage on what elements make them great.

Neil Gaiman & Dave McKean
1340 Avenue of Americas, New York NY 10019-4703
0060821094, $16.99

Helena has been raised in a family of circus performers and dreams of a normal life - until haunting music leads her far from home to a magical world where her real life is stolen. Her only hope is to rescue her new home from a threat - if she can. MirrorMask is a film: Gaiman's story here pairs with artist/director Dave McKean to provide a blend of novella and art, supplemented by images from the film. An appealing, visually vivid format is presented.

The Autism Sourcebook
Karen Siff Exhorn
Regan Books/HarperCollins
10 E. 53rd Street, New York NY 10022-5299
0060799889, $27.95

Karen Siff Exhorn is in the perfect position to write this book: she is the mother of a child who recovered from autism, and covers all the basics with an insider's experience in THE AUTISM SOURCEBOOK: EVERYTHING YOU NEED TO KNOW ABOUT DIAGNOSIS, TREATMENT, COPING, AND HEALING. Exhorn quickly found a lack of comprehensive information for the lay reader: she struggled to gather this information and her extensive at-home treatment of her son lead to his fully recovery. Here is the wisdom Exhorn gained - and wished she'd had available at the outset - for any who work with or have an autistic child, based on the latest research and studies. Very highly recommended.

Walking the Bible
Bruce Feiler
William Morrow/HarperCollins
10 East 53rd Street, New York NY 10022
0060799048, $32.50

WALKING THE BIBLE: A PHOTOGRAPHIC JOURNEY could also have been featured in our Spirituality section: it's reviewed here for its striking photo impact so that artists don't miss the value of its presentation. It's a companion volume to the new PBS series on its way: in 2004 Feiler reprised the 10,000 mile walk through the Middle East deserts which led to his WALKING THE BIBLE. This photographic odyssey blends stunning photos - many taken by Feiler - with a survey of Biblical places and landscapes. A striking visual panorama, not to be missed.

Andrew Smith
Fourth Estate/HarperCollikns
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
0007155417, $24.95

Twelve astronauts participated in the Apollo Moon landings: today nine are still living, and are revealed here in MOONDUST, a probe of NASA dreams, achievements, and expectations. The examinations of the astronauts and their world considers how the Apollo program's demise reflected an end to the optimistic atmosphere of the space program in general, and its effect on the original Moonwalkers. An engrossing blend of biography, history and science reflects the achievements of a program and its effects on those who made it their lives when the world moved on.

Theory & Practice Of Goldsmithing
Prof. Dr. Erhard Brepohl; Tim McCreight, Editor
Brynmorgan Press
34 Danforth Street, Portland, ME 04101
0961598492, $70.00

THEORY AND PRACTICE OF GOLDSMITHING first saw print in East Germany in 1961, becoming a major resource of jewelers, sculptors and others working in metals: this is the first English language edition, and any metalworker will quickly find it indispensable. From silversmithing to chainmaking and setting stones, techniques, melt diagrams, specifications, and heated metal effects are surveyed in very technical chapters appropriate for practicing goldsmiths and advanced students. You won't find these advanced discussions easily elsewhere, so any college-level library or studio reference collection needs to add THEORY AND PRACTICE OF GOLDSMITHING to their list of foundation references.

Mechatronics for the Evil Genius
Newton C. Braga
2 Penn Plaza, New York NY 10121-2298
0071457593, $24.95

If it's electronics and mechanics which intrigue you, combined with a bit of robotics and do-it-yourself projects, MECHATRONICS FOR THE EVIL GENIUS: 25 BUILD-IT-YOURSELF PROJECTS is for you. Here are step-by-step instructions, schematics, materials and parts lists, and clear diagramed outlines of how to build, mechanical parts, testing, and exploring project potentials. From generators and cannons to coin tossers, mechanics will be delighted with the intriguing array of mechanical and electronic devices - and with clear explanations of the science behind them.

God Created the Integers
Stephen Hawking, Editor
Running Press
125 South 22nd Street, Philadelphia, PA 19103
0762419229, $29.95

Math enables human society to function - but that areas of math make modern wonders possible, and what problem made each theory's first inventor become involved in a puzzle? While GOD CREATED THE INTEGERS: THE MATHEMATICAL BREAKTHROUGHS THAT CHANGED HISTORY is a follow-up to ON THE SHOULDERS OF GIANTS, it stands well alone as a history of thirty-one landmark cases of mathematical problem-solving, from geometry to calculus. Also included are biographies of each mathematician, the full proof of work reproduced from the original publication, and newly translated results; three of which appear in English for the first time. Recommended as a pick for college-level collections strong in mathematics.

Hydrogen: Hot Stuff Cool Science
Rex A. Ewing
PixyJack Press
PO Box 149, Masonville, CO 80541
0965809862, $24.95

Review basic chemical principles involved in how fuel transforms into energy, explore hydrogen sources and potentials, and learn about possible future applications in a blend of science and technological insight, HYDROGEN: HOT STUFF COOL SCIENCE. Other books focus on either science alone or principles of alternative energy: few draw the two together so neatly or easily, allowing the subject to be explored by both students and lay readers. Chapters utilize a lively first-person dialogue approach to make learning easy, using examples and characters to keep the science and applications simple to understand despite the complexity of the topic. An excellent guide for any who would understand the science behind hydrogen.

Arthur Spiderwick's Field Guide To the Fantastical World Around You
Tony DiTerlizzi & Holly Black
Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of Americas, NY NY 10020
0689859414, $24.95

The Spiderwick story began with the odd correspondence left for authors DiTerlizzi and Black at a small New England bookstore telling of a great-great uncle Arthur Spiderwick's eyewitness observations of legendary creatures. The Spiderwick Chronicles recounted the siblings' discoveries and fantasy adventures, and prior fans of these stories will relish ARTHUR SPIDERWICK'S FIELD GUIDE TO THE FANTASTICAL WORLD AROUND YOU. Packed with illustrations and a diary-like format with much cartooning and drawing, kids will find these definitions of monsters absorbing and fun.

The Root of Wild Madder
Brian Murphy
Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of Americas, New York NY 10020
0743264193, $25.00

Devotees of the Persian carpet have had numerous carpet buyer's guides and histories in the past, but ROOT OF WILD MADDER; CHASING THE HISTORY, MYSTERY, AND MORE OF THE PERSIAN CARPET is something different: a journey which follows the Persian carpet from remote Afghanistan and Iranian villages where they're often woven by young girls to bazaars which trade them, artists which revere them, and US carpet showrooms which display them for sale. Carpets are dyed often by the madder plant which lends them brilliant reds - but the color and dyers' traditions threaten to die back, and reporter Brian Murphy is just as determined to capture the magic, methods and allure of these carpets in his survey of the Persian carpet. The blend of travelogue journey and carpet facts works exceptionally well in THE ROOT OF WILD MADDER, lending it accessibility even to those without a consuming passion for Persian rugs.

The Equation That Couldn't Be Solved
Mario Livio
Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of Americas, New York NY 10020
0743258207, $26.95

Symmetry is the topic of Mario Livio's THE EQUATION THAT COULDN'T BE SOLVED: HOW MATHEMATICAL GENIUS DISCOVERED THE LANGUAGE OF SYMMETRY, and will make an involving read for those involved in either science or art. Mathematicians solved algebraic equations until they came to a stop with the quintic equation, which resisted solution until two mathematical geniuses independently discovered it couldn't be solved using the usual methods. This account of 'group theory' explains both the concept of symmetry and the evolution of its foundations, and makes for a lively read for a wide audience from physicists and science majors to students involved in the arts.

What Scientists Think
Jeremy Stangroom, Ed.
270 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016
0415334276, $17.95

Many books contain insights by scientists - but few offer the focus of WHAT SCIENTISTS THINK, which is to interview scientists about their thoughts. Personal conversations with twelve of the biggest names in international science today tells what they're working on, what worries and angers them, and the social and religious implications of their studies. From the impact of a cure for cancer to the threat from bioterrorism, WHAT SCIENTISTS THINK provides much food for thought.

270 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10016

Paul Oliver's BROADCASTING THE BLUES: BLACK BLUES IN THE SEGREGATION ERA (0415971772, $19.95) is based on the author's own radio broadcasts from the BBC, created over several decades to provide a running history of the blues in America from its birth through its evolution. All the foundation are touched upon; from the African origins of blues and how it came to America through slaves to its coded meanings, commentary on events, and even a history of blues documentation itself, shaped by social perception. With its unusual insights into the world of blues broadcasting and history alike, Oliver's perspective provides a unique survey indeed. David A. Jasen and Gene Jones' SPREADIN' RHYTHM AROUND: BLACK POPULAR SONGWRITERS, 1880-1930 (0415977045, $24.95) provides the definitive study on the contribution of African-American songwriters to popular song, covering the careers of songwriters with an eye to revealing how some of the best songs of the era were written by Afro- American authors. Chapters provide plenty of insights on these little-recognized musical writers and utilize new research and original interviews to trace their lasting achievements. A lively work of scholarship, SPREADIN RHYTHM AROUND will reach both college-level students of American music history and general-interest readers.

Voyages to Windward
Elsie Hulsizer
Harbour Publishing
PO Box 219, Madeira Park, BC V0N 2HO, Canada
1550173669, $36.95

As a child author Elsie Hulsizer spent her summers sailing in a small sailboat with hr parents, and as an adult she and her husband spent their sumemrs sailing out of Puget Sound and up the straight of Juan de Fuca - also to windward, where they explored the west coast of Vancouver Island over a twenty-year period. VOYAGES TO WINDWARD: SAILING ADVENTURES ON VANCOUVER ISLAND'S WEST COAST charts these journeys and discoveries, using the author's photos to present their journeys in a set of vivid adventures which will appeal to both armchair readers and would-be Vancouver Island sailors. A gorgeous display of color photos throughout makes VOYAGES TO WINDWARD an exciting visual display, spiced with high adventure and not a few practical tips.

Giant Trees of Western America and the World
Al Carder
Harbour Publishing
PO Box 219, Madeira Park, BC V0N 2HO, Canada
1550173634, $26.95

Al Carder spent sixty years as a plant biologist but never forgot the ancient Douglas fir forests which enthralled him as a child: when he retired he set out to find the trees, only to discover many had been felled by loggers or storms. GIANT TREES OF WESTERN AMERICA AND THE WORLD is his attempt to document those which remain and provides a catalog of the West's big trees of all species, from BC's 400- plus foot Lynn Valley fir to the massive redwoods of California. Some are thousands of years old and over 300 feet high: the author's scale drawings accompany discussions of observation history and plant biology. A 'must' for any who would discover the history and nature of the West's last stands of big trees.

The Wine Club
Maureen Christian Petrosky
Meredith Books
1716 Locust Street, Des Moines, IA 50336-0001
0696225433, $17.95

Start your own wine club for and with your friends and learn about wine with the help of THE WINE CLUB: A MONTH-BY-MONTH GUIDE TO LEARNING ABOUT WINE WITH FRIENDS. A seasonal arrangement offers monthly varietal focus in a title which includes recipes for complimentary dishes, tips on how to taste and learn, overviews of wines and glass styles, and much more.

Scholastic Inc.
557 Broadway, New York NY 10012

Ann M. Martin's A DOG'S LIFE: THE AUTOBIOGRAPHY OF A STRAY (0439715598, $16.99) is told from a dog's point of view as it tells of Squirrel, a dog born a stray who faces busy highways and all kinds of people in her travels. Any reader in grades 5-7 who loves dog stories will find A DOG'S LIFE poignant and appealing. Anna Kirwan's PORTRAITS OF FLOWERS AND SHADOWS (0439710133, $9.99) is set in 1879 and tells of headstrong orphan Areila, who runs away from her evil guardian and finds a friend in moody artist Winslow Homer, who asks to paint her picture. Their friendship holds the power to change both their lives in this winning story for grades 4-6. Fiona Dunabr's THE TRUTH COOKIE (0439740223, $15.99) tells of a father who is about to marry the mother of a mean girl. Lulu knows her new stepmother also is evil - but she can't make her father realize the truth. When she comes upon a magical recipe book, Lulu decides to take matters into her own hands to outwit her wicked stepmother-to-be with special truth- telling cookies - if she can find the special ingredients, that is! Tony Abbott's KRINGLE (0439749425, $14.99) arrived too late for more timely holiday mention, but any young adult holding strong in teen reads will find it a fine story next Christmas, too. A boy named Kringle lives an isolated existence at a time when elves and goblins still roam the world. When goblins attack his home and cast him into the wilderness, he begins to realize their evil intentions to take over the world - and his own destiny in battling the doom which faces it. A moving story of salvation at the beginning of time marks a fast-paced fantasy. Zoran Drvenkar's TELL ME WHAT YOU SEE (043972452X, $16.99) tells of sixteen-year-old Alissa and her best friend who set off to the grave of Alissa's father as they've done yearly since he died. This year Alissa stumbles into a subterranean crypt and is compelled to open a child's coffin there, only to find the hypnotic plant which enshrouds it takes ahold of her. Mature teens will find the dark twsts and turns compelling and unusual: impossible to predict. Cornelia Funke's INKSPELL (0439554004, $19.99) continues the saga begun in her popular INKHEART, which told of a book's characters which sprang to life and changed one Meggie's world forever. In INKSPELL the saga continues with Dustfinger, the fire-eater brought into being from words, ready to return to the printed page. His young apprentice Farid engages Meggie's help to rescue him and before long all are caught inside the book, where its author lives within his own story. While familiarity with INKHEART is recommended, it's not necessary to appreciate its sequel INKSPELL which is spellbinding on its own.

27500 Drake Road, Farmington Hills, MI 48331-3535

Kids at the advanced elementary through middle school grade levels - even up to high school - will find these contemporary guides perfect for reports. Leanne K. Currie-McGhee's TATTOOS AND BODY PIERCING (1590187490, $28.70) joins others in Lucent's 'Overview Series' to examine social and health issues. A striking color photo of a tattooed, pierced face leads to surveys of the health and legal issues surrounding body art, its placement and its removal. A little over a hundred pages with black and white photos peppered throughout addresses pros and cons. New to the 'History of Drugs' series is Katherine Swarts' CLUB DRUGS (0737719532, $34.95), a consideration of MDMA, LSD, Ecstasy and other drugs promoted in social settings. A little over 200 pages of detail provides history mixed with plenty of health and social insights. Janice M. Yuwiler's INSULIN (1560069309, $28.70) joins others in the 'Great Medical Discoveries' series and will appeal into advanced elementary grades, holding a little over a hundred pages of detail on the history of insulin's development as a treatment option for diabetes. Louise I. Gerdes edits the Opposing Viewpoints debate-oriented CLONING (0737732202, $32.45), providing 140 pages of detail on cloning issues and essays which include active reading questions requiring students to think about the dilemma. From possible exaggerated benefits to the realities involved, CLONING is especially important considering the constant controversies which swirl around the issue. Robert Winters' FREEDOM FROM UNFAIR SEARCHES AND SEIZURES (0737719273, $32.45) joins others in the 'Bill of Rights' series to provide 144 pages of detail on the history and intention of the law. The introduction provides context, bibliographical references throughout invite more research, and court cases and issues are surveyed. Jacquelyn Landis' THE CUBANS (0737727632, $34.95) joins others in the 'Coming to America' series about immigrant experiences, providing a little over two hundred pages of facts. The focus of the series on ingle immigrant group experiences allows readers to understand particular issues singular to the group, while each collection adds biographies, bibliographies for further research, and a chronological alongside discussions of social issues. Adriane Ruggiero's CONFUCIANISM (0737725672, $34.95) adds to the 'Religions and Religious Movements' series in exploring the foundations and special challenges of Confucianism past and present. A little over 200 pages explore the religion's history, premises and challenges. Adding to the 'Turning Points in World History' series is THE RISE OF ISLAMIC FUNDAMENTALISM edited by Philip Margulies (0737729856, $34.95), which provides over 200 pages documenting the roots, nature and rise of Islamic fundamentalist thought in the world. From the organizations involved in its promotion to the rise of Islamic fundamentalist thought around the world and surveys of individual countries which became Islamic, this provides an excellent overview.

Marshall Cavendish
99 White Plains Road, Tarrytown, NY 10591

Marshall Cavendish's sets are wonderful reference additions: they promise to reach a wide audience from advanced elementary into middle school grade levels, they are geared to curriculum needs, and they are packed with a good blend of colorful illustration and facts to appeal to both leisure browsers and young report writers. The EXPLORING THE MIDDLE AGES set (076147613X, $329.95) offers 10 volumes of reference detail in an A-Z presentation of listings of everything from poetry and popes to individual countries across Europe and Asia, notable individuals of the times, different branches of learning, and more. An invaluable reference for this age group comes packed with facts and easy listings for quick reference. High school age levels and up will relish the POPULAR CONTEMPORARY WRITERS encyclopedia (0761486016, $459.95): its A-Z listings include biographies of selected contemporary writers from childhood to adulthood including highlights of events, reviews of notable works, insights into inspirations, and more. Color-coded pages and sidebars of information pair with bright contemporary photos throughout to make for an appealing, information-packed set. The 'Countries of the World' series ($25.95 each) appear in their 2nd updated editions to each offer 144 pages packed with fine basic geography information paired with unusually appealing color photos from cover to finish. DOMINICAN REPUBLIC (0761419667), CUBA (0761419659), PUERTO RICO (0761419705), NICARAGUA (0761419691), EL SALVADOR (0761419675), HAITI (0761419683), ROMANIA (0871418482), POLAND (0761418474), RUSSIA (0761418490), GREAT BRITAIN (0761418458), HUNGARY (0761418466), BOSNIA AND HERZEGOVINA (0761418539), SLOVAKIA (0761418563), ALBANIA (0871418420), SLOVENIA (0761418571), SERBIA AND MONTENEGRO (0761418555), MACEDONIA (9761418547) and SWITZERLAND (0761418504) are simply outstanding references for any collection where world cultures are regularly assigned for reports. If it's the USA which is of interest, Cavendish has a set for this purpose too, in the xpanding 'Celebrate the States' series. ILLINOIS (0761417354), VIRGINIA (0761417346), TEXAS (0761417362), CALIFORNIA (0761417370) and NEW YORK (0761417389). Excellent 'foundation' references certain to receive repeat lending - as will be the second updated edition of the multi-volume set ENCYCLOPEDIA OF EARTH AND PHYSICAL SCIENCES (0761475834, $657.07). Gorgeous contemporary color photos, plenty of science facts, biographies of researchers, and lots of detail make for a wide-ranging gathering of geology and physical science facts surveying research results right up to the latest findings. Such volumes often become outdated quickly; but this set includes so much history and background information and color that it guarantees long-lasting lending value to any collection from advanced elementary levels through even high school grades.

Michael W. Skrepnik
Enslow Publishers
PO Box 398, Berkeley Heights, NJ 07922
0766026221, $21.26

Kids in grades 1-3 will find DIPLODOCUS: GIGANTIC LONG-NECKED DINOSAUR a most welcome read: it uses large print and colorful realistic drawings to consider what the dinosaur looked like and its natural history, and it provides vivid color drawings of the animal in natural-looking surroundings. All the facts are presented in a lively manner, with the bright color inviting kids to learn more: a very satisfying addition to the wealth of dinosaur titles on the market for kids.

Henry Holt
175 - 5th Avenue, New York NY 10010

On Earth humans don't believe in giants - but in the giant world 'iggly plops' aren't considered real, either: so what happens when the two worlds come together? A real giant is on her way down the beanstalk and the Jonses find themselves in trouble with language and other issues in the whimsical tale by Julia Donaldson THE GIANTS AND THE JONESES (0805078053, $14.95), with black and white drawings by Greg Swearingen peppered throughout. Sis Dean's RAINY (0805078312, $16.95) presents a girl learning to live with the bouncing energy and distractions of ADHD. Rainy is going to camp for the whole summer, away from her supportive family: how will she stay focused without them to keep her stable? A realistic accounting of ADHD traits and struggles brings RAINY to life. Jill Wolfson's WHAT I CALL LIFE (0805076697, $16.95) presents Cal, whose mother is dependent upon her for many things. When the authorities find out about her mother's problems, Cal is placed in a group home and seeks a way out from a place she doesn't belong - or does she? A fine story of belonging and responsibility evolves from a cast of unlikely group home residents.

Gareth Stevens
330 W. Olive St. #100, Milwaukee, WI 53212

Gareth Steven's 'Portraits of the States' series ($23.33 each) will reach a younger grade level than most similar geography titles, with each holding 32 pages of detail for grades 2-4 and including basic history, a time line of events, and survey of the residents, economy, government and attractions of the state. The latter invites kids to travel or survey attractions unique to that state, and everything is rounded out by bright, contemporary photos, a glossary and bibliography, and an index. Expanding the state portraits are Lantier's WISCONSIN (0836846389) and TENNESSEE (0836846346), Boekhoff and Brown's WASHINGTON (0836846370), Dubois' VIRGINIA (0836846362), Boekhoff's ILLINOIS (0826846249) and Boekhoff's MISSOURI (0836846281), Rau and Brown's PENNSYLVANIA (0836846338), Brown's FLORIDA (0836846222), Murphy's Georgia (0836846230), Fairley and Brown's MASSACHUSETTS (0836846265), Mapaspina's NEW JERSEY (083684629X), Dubois and Brown's MICHIGAN (0836846273), Deady's OHIO (083684632X), Mayr's NORTH CAROLINA (0836846311), and Mezzanotte's NEW YORK (0826846303). The 'What Makes a Masterpiece?' series by Brigitte Baumbusch provides 'In Art' titles ($22.00 Each) to grades 2-4, using large print, bright art illustrations and easy concepts to reinforce introductions to different features of masterpieces. CLOTHING IN ART (0836847806) covers artistic embellishments which contribute to clothing art; OCEANS IN ART (0836847822) considers how oceans are depicted in art, as forces of nature and adjuncts to travel; THE SKY IN ART (0836847830) shows how artists over the centuries have depicted the sky, and FESTIVALS IN ART (0836847814) surveys what makes a festival and how it is rendered in art works. All are excellent introductions pairing plenty of visual examples with simple text. The 'Discovery Channel School Science series ($23.93 each) deserves ongoing mention: each book is packed with 32 pages of science facts students can use for reports, and each page comes packed with sidebars of eye-catching facts, bright color illustrtions, charts, and activities. VOLCANOES (0836833856), WEATHER AND CLIMATE (0836833864), OCEANS (083683383X), EARTH'S HISTORY (0836833791), MAPPING EARTH (0836833821), EARTHQUAKES (0836833783), LAND AND WATER (0836833813), CONSERVATION AND NATURAL RESOURCES (0836833775), ECOLOGY (0836833805), and ROCKS AND MINERALS (0836833848) are all top picks for elementary-level libraries seeking lasting, bright new references.

Diane C. Donovan
West Coast Editor

Harold's Bookshelf

Pro OpenSSH
Michael Stahnke
2560 Ninth Street, Suite 219 Berkeley, CA 94710
ISBN: 1590594762, $39.99, 240 pp.

Many legacy protocols and applications such as FTP, Telnet, rlogin, rsh, and rcp are inherently insecure because they send usernames and passwords in plain text or other insecure procedures. Secure Shell (SSH) was developed to resolve this problem. All the information you need in order to implement SSH is available on the Internet but is hard to filter through to find current and complete information. This is one of the problems this book addresses and is a good reason to purchase the book.

The author have organized the book well and move the reader from the basics of what SSH can do for you, installing, and configuring SSH through best practices for securing your SSH server, tunneling protocols, and administering your OpenSSH server. The author does an excellent job of explaining each step simply, concisely, and clearly without being too simplistic while still providing all the technical information you need to set it all up and get it running correctly. The book does not go into theoretical detail to any significant extent and so is not appropriate for someone wanting to learn theoretical implementation and programming OpenSSH. On the other hand, if all you want is to understand what it is, how to set it up and get it running correctly, and how to administer it once it is up then this is easily one of the best books on the subject. Pro OpenSSH is highly recommended.

Pro PHP Security
Chris Snyder, Michael Southwell
2560 Ninth Street, Suite 219 Berkeley, CA 94710
ISBN: 1590595084, $44.99, 477 pp.

PHP applications written without a concern for security risk cross-site scripting, SQL injection, session hijacking, and a multitude of other potential problems. This book examines how to setup a secure environment including encryption, hashing, SSL and using PHP to connect to SSL servers. The authors also examine how to install and configure OpenSSH and using it with PHP applications. Of course they also deal with the usual concerns of user authentication, permissions, restrictions, validating input, preventing SQL injection, preventing cross-site scripting, preventing remote execution (including PHP code injection and embedding), security for temporary files, and preventing session hijacking. The Pro PHP Security is written specifically for PHP programmers working in the Apache, MySQL, and PHP 5 environment and is highly recommended.

Pro DNS and BIND
Ron Aitchison
2560 Ninth Street, Suite 219 Berkeley, CA 94710
ISBN: 1590594940, $44.99, 530 pp.

The Domain Name System is a critical component of any large network or any computer connected to the Internet. While a home user would not need to setup a DNS server, business networks of any significant size would benefit from an internal server, DNS caching router or other components. This book takes the reader through a very good explanation of DNS and BIND, how it works, how to set it up, how to test it, and how to troubleshoot it. There are many books on DNS and BIND but most either assume a certain level of prior knowledge, provide theory without implementation information, or provide implementation information without any theory so you have no idea how to troubleshoot a problematic implementation. Author Ron Aitchison does an excellent job of discussing both theory and implementation in this book so you end up with a thorough education. He even covers the implementation of a secure DNS server. This book actually takes the reader from a level of complete novice through advanced DNS administrator and does an excellent job of it. Pro DNS and BIND is highly recommended and one of the better books on the subject available.

The Good, the Bad and the Very Slimy
R. L. Stine
Parachute Publishing, LLC
1350 Avenue of the Americas New York, NY 10019
ISBN: 0060785926, $6.99, 111 pp.

Book three of the Rotten School series this one has Bernie Bridges trying his best to get a date with April-May June. But April-May is not interested in a boy who can't seem to keep out of trouble. So, Bernie tries his best to be a good student. That means he can't be involved in the slug race... or can he? Another story with better than average appeal to the pre-teen reader, The Good, the Bad and the Very Slimy is recommended.

Managing Customers as Investments
Sunil Gupta, Donald R. Lehmann
Wharton School Publishing
Pearson Education, Inc.
One Lake Street Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
ISBN: 0131428950, $29.95, 165 pp.

Are you spending more on your customers than they are worth? That is the question these authors attempt to answer in this book. Whether it is acquisition cost or retention cost many businesses may be spending too much on their customers. As with all investments there is a time to increase investment, a time to hold them, and a time to let them go. This is a detailed analysis of how to develop metrics for your company that help determine customer value. With increasing customers there are increasing costs. Once you have developed your metrics they show how to use that information to determine things like customer lifetime value. Once you know their lifetime value you can make effective marketing and management decisions related to your customers. You have to manage your customers in order to manage your business. Now you can determine how to best manage your customers. A practical approach to managing customers that is both effective and easy to apply while providing real results. Managing Customers as Investments is a recommended read for all marketing and customer-centric managers as well as all corporate executives.

The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid
C. K. Prahalad
Wharton School Publishing
Pearson Education, Inc.
One Lake Street Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
ISBN: 0131467506, $29.99, 379 pp.

With so many businesses focusing on the middle to upper income markets under the belief that they are the ones with the disposable income to purchase their products, C. K. Prahalad argues that there is tremendous profit potential at the bottom of the pyramid among the poor nations. In a compelling argument he presents his position with clarity, convincing narrative, and multiple examples. But this is not just about corporate profits from the poorest nations but also about how it can be used to significantly reduce or eradicate poverty. While as an individual those at the bottom of the pyramid don't have a lot of purchasing power, as a group they are the largest group in the world. More than that they often have a entrepreneurial spirit that can be tapped to further corporate profits while raising them out of poverty.

The author divides the book into three parts. The first part examines how the private sector can engage in win-win arrangements with the poor (or under-served customers). Part two looks at twelve case studies and what made them work. And the third part is a collection of video stories on CD. These are the collected works of several MBA research teams who actually interviewed those at the bottom of the pyramid to see their perspective and viewpoints. Enlightening and very interesting, this section points out that these are real people with real needs and dreams. The Fortune at the Bottom of the Pyramid is recommended reading for anyone looking to penetrate this market, concerned about the social plight of the poor, or generally interested in effective measures of reducing poverty.

The Secrets of Economic Indicators
Bernard Baumohl
Wharton School Publishing
Pearson Education, Inc.
One Lake Street Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
ISBN: 013145501X, $27.95, 353 pp.

Everyone seems to know the importance of economic indicators and that when each one is released it may affect interest rates, inflation, stock prices, home prices, or a myriad of other items that directly affect our national and personal economy. In this book the author provides an excellent education on the various indicators including how they are determined, what they mean, why they have the effect they do when issued, and how to interpret them. I really enjoyed that the author makes this somewhat complex subject approachable to the average person. Mr. Baumohl actually makes economics interesting and easy to understand. Businessmen, investors, and anyone else who needs to understand economic indicators and what they mean would be well served by picking up a copy of The Secrets of Economic Indicators.

Yahoo! Hacks
Paul Bausch
O'Reilly Media, Inc.
1005 Gravenstein Highway North Sebastapol, CA 95472
ISBN: 0596009453, $24.95, 439 pp.

This book contains a hundred hacks to get Yahoo to work the way you want it to work. These hacks include tips for getting the results you want from a Yahoo search, dealing with advertiser cookies, tracking your stocks, getting news feeds and news crawlers, using Yahoo groups, programming Yahoo using various languages including Perl, Java, PHP, and VBScript and even how to plot multiple points on map at the same time. Of course the biggest question for many people is how to get your site listed at Yahoo and there is even a tip for that. Yahoo! Hacks is a highly recommended book to anyone who uses Yahoo or wants to know how to really master it.

Home Hacking Projects for Geeks
Tony Northrup, Eric Faulkner
O'Reilly Media, Inc.
1005 Gravenstein Highway North Sebastapol, CA 95472
ISBN: 0596004052, $29.95, 311 pp.

A great deal of the projects in this book are basically various forms of X10 module automation. The projects include how to automate a light with motion sensing, how to remotely monitor your pet, creating a whole house audio or time shifted audio, a keyless entry system, and intrusion detection and deterrence. For each project the items are detailed, the software described in detail, information is included on where to locate them, assembly instructions, scripts, and everything else you need to complete it. Only basic skills are needed for each project. Each project includes information on estimated cost, time and difficulty ratings so you can easily decide which ones you will tackle and which ones you may not want to. Home Hacking Projects for Geeks is recommended to anyone wanting to have a little fun with home electronics.

Internet Forensics
Robert Jones
O'Reilly Media, Inc.
1005 Gravenstein Highway North Sebastapol, CA 95472
ISBN: 059610006X, $39.95, 216 pp.

Although there are much larger books on the market that profess to teach the reader about how the Internet works and how spammers, virus creators, and other denizens of the Internet ply their trade and what you can do about it, none do as thorough a job as this one. The author covers problems with email, obfuscation of a URL, viewing web site code, downloading complete web sites, cookies, redirection, web browsers and what they tell the sites about you, document forgery, and patterns of activity. Concisely written, with the author getting straight to the point without the fluff of many other books, this is easily one of the best books on Internet Forensics available today. The author writes well and has a real knack for explaining things in a way everyone can understand. As a result it is easy to follow his thinking and logic at all times. Internet Forensics is highly recommended to anyone interested in this subject.

Knoppix Hacks
Kyle Rankin
O'Reilly Media, Inc.
1005 Gravenstein Highway North Sebastapol, CA 95472
ISBN: 0596007876, $29.95, 303 pp.

When it comes to Live CDs Knoppix is by far one of the most popular. So much so that many of the other Live CDs are remasters of the basic Knoppix system. This book contains a lot of hacks that can better be described as how to do all the things you were wonder if Knoppix could do. This includes booting Knoppix with cheat codes, working with the Knoppix desktop, installing Knoppix onto your desktop computer, repairing a Linux installation, repairing a Windows installation, creating your own remastered Live CD, copying the system to RAM so the CD player becomes available, using it as an emergency router, file server, or web server, using it for forensics, and scanning a Windows file system for viruses. An excellent resource and useful guide for the person who wants to go beyond the basics, Knoppix Hacks is highly recommended.

Knoppix Pocket Reference
Kyle Rankin
O'Reilly Media, Inc.
1005 Gravenstein Highway North Sebastapol, CA 95472
ISBN: 0596100752, $9.95, 75 pp.

A short reference that does away with all the hand-holding detail the Knoppix Pocket Reference is a great guide to how to do almost everything you want to do with Knoppix as well as resolve minor trouble issues. The items covered in this reference include the various startup codes that can be used when booting Knoppix, how to boot the different kernels, booting into different graphic modes, booting without hardware detection, disabling power management, disabling various hardware subsystems, implementing various kernel options, using options to make it run from memory or the hard drive instead of the CD, configuring persistent configuration information between sessions, imaging the hard drive, repairing the filesystem, repairing Windows systems, virus scanning and repair, and remastering Knoppix. When you just need to know how to do something and don't want to drag out the six hundred page book to try to find it you will find the Knoppix Pocket Reference a great investment.

Mandrakelinux Discovery 10.1
Editors: Mandrakesoft
O'Reilly Media, Inc.
1005 Gravenstein Highway North Sebastapol, CA 95472
ISBN: 2847980857, $43.95, 262 pp.

With an included CD of the Mandrakelinux operating system and several applications this is an excellent way to learn about Linux and start using it right away. The book has a short section on installation but the software tends to install without any problems. After installing the system onto your hard drive the book walks the reader through the basics of the KDE desktop environment, Mozilla for Internet browser and mail, the OpenOffice suite of office productivity programs, the audio applications, and the graphics applications.

After going through the applications the book turns to configuring and troubleshooting your machine. This is a nice section that is not very technical but still gives you everything you need to resolve most problems. But if you want a more detailed understanding of Linux the next section provides a deeper view. Mandrakelinux is suitable as both a desktop and network client and is one of the more popular desktop versions. One problem with the book is that the special web page listed at the back of the book for downloading the next version of Mandrakelinux does not work. Because Mandrake combined with Connectiva linux it is now called Mandriva and the web page should now be although downloading CDs of ISO images takes a long time without a high speed connection. Mandrakelinux Discovery 10.1 is highly recommended as a user friendly desktop system or network client.

Mandrakelinux PowerPack 10.1
Editors: Mandrakesoft
O'Reilly Media, Inc.
1005 Gravenstein Highway North Sebastapol, CA 95472
ISBN: 2847980865, $59.95, 500 pp.

With an included DVD of the Mandrakelinux operating system and lots of applications this is really a great deal. The book spends a good deal of time at the beginning going over installation although it generally does pretty much everything itself. The book goes through both the Gnome and KDE desktop environments, the Mozilla Internet browser, mail, instant messaging, the OpenOffice suite of office productivity programs, audio applications, and graphics applications, As a DVD it includes a tremendous amount of software and installs some of the most popular Linux programs.

There is a nice long section on configuring and troubleshooting your machine that is not very technical but still gives you everything you need to resolve most problems. With that as your base you are then treated to a much deeper treatment of Linux for the true power user who wants to really understand what is going on and tweak the system. This section includes information on disks, partitions, command-line utilities, controlling processes, the file system, and building new kernels. The average user will learn everything they need to know by the end of chapter four. Real geeks will want to continue through chapter eight. This is a strong introduction to Linux that gets you up and running with all the applications (including games) you are likely to want all installed through the bootable DVD. I should note that you have the ability to download the next version of Mandrakelinux from a special web page listed at the back of the book. Because Mandrake combined with Connectiva linux it is now Mandriva so the web page does not work. It should now be although downloading three CDs of ISO images or a DVD image can still take a long time. Mandrakelinux PowerPack 10.1 is very highly recommended as a great way to get started in Linux with a complete version and user friendly documentation.

Jim Van Meggelen, Jared Smith, Leif Madsen
O'Reilly Media, Inc.
1005 Gravenstein Highway North Sebastapol, CA 95472
ISBN: 0596009623, $39.95, 208 pp.

The first thing of note with this book is that the appendixes are almost as long as the book itself. In this case it is a good thing. The appendixes contain all the detail reference you need to make Asterisk really work right. Asterisk is an open-source private PBX/VOIP software product. With the software and the addition of a couple of PBX cards to your computer you can setup your own telephony system. Asterisk supports voicemail, multiple lines, call-forwarding and everything else you think of when you think about a telephony system. The primary problem with Asterisk has been the difficulty of getting good documentation. This book resolves that problem as the authors walk the reader through everything everything they need to know to set up an Asterisk server. The book does not provide information on the many types of telephone hardware and how to setup a multi-line phone or similar equipment nor is that the intent of the authors. This is a book on the Asterisk software system only and it does an excellent job of explaining the details of the software. With very little documentation available on Asterisk this is a very welcome manual and a recommended read for anyone interested in using Asterisk to set up their own telephone solution.

The Average American
Kevin O'Keefe
Public Affairs
250 West 57th Street, Suite 1321 New York, NY 10107
ISBN: 158648270X, $25.00, 227 pp.

Is it possible to find someone who ranks as the most average person in America? That is the task of the author as he takes the reader across the United States in search of this most average of all people. First he starts at the Census Bureau to discover what qualifies as average. From there the actual search begins. Throughout the book the author narrows his search by expanding his criteria as tries to find this person by finding an average town, a commonly named street, an average religious belief, average marital relationship, etc. He even finds several very interesting relationships such as the average person lives within two miles of a park, three miles of a McDonalds and twenty minutes of a Wal-Mart. This is actually an interesting view into America and the American people and mindset. The Average American makes interesting reading and is a recommended read.

The Linux Kernel Primer
Claudia Salzberg Rodriguez, Gordon Fischer, Steven Smolski
Prentice Hall/PTR
One Lake Street Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
ISBN: 0131181637, $49.99, 593 pp.

This is an excellent primer on the intricacies of the Linux kernel. It includes programming information for assembly and C, some very useful kernel exploration tools, information on memory management, filesystem details, IO operations, boot loaders, memory initialization, building the kernel, and adding your code to the kernel. The section on processes includes creating, lifespan, termination, schedulers and wait queues and is particularly good. Throughout the book you will find lots of examples and illustrations to clearly illustrate the concepts discussed. With the source code available online it is easy for the experienced programmer to follow through and understand the various functions used by the kernel. Although not advanced book on the subject, nor does it claim to be, The Linux Kernel Primer is highly recommended for anyone interested in programming the kernel or understanding how it functions.

Self-Service Linux
Mark Wilding, Dan Behman
Prentice Hall/PTR
One Lake Street Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
ISBN: 013147751X, $39.99, 392 pp.

Whether you are a power user or a Linux system administrator if you like to work through and resolve problems yourself then you will want a copy of this book. The purpose of the book is to provide the reader with a best practices manual and guideline for how to approach and resolve problems in Linux. The first chapter is an introduction that includes the four phases of investigation and determining the difference between a symptom and a cause. From there the author leads the reader through how to use various tools to locate exactly what is happening. The rest of the book examines the details of the Linux system and includes items like using strace to trace system calls, using the information in the /proc filesystem to troubleshoot a problem, compiling the Linux kernel and how to deal with various compilation problems, the GNU debugger (a particularly good chapter), dealing with Linux crashes and hangs, using KDB to debug kernel problems, and the executable and linking format. Appendix A is a listing of common utilities for resolving problems, when to use them, and where to find them. This is a very good resource to keep handy when you are looking for the right tool but really don't know what it is. Self-Service Linux is highly recommended for all Linux power-users and administrators.

Core Web Application Development with PHP and MySQL
Marc Wandschneider
Prentice Hall/PTR
One Lake Street Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
ISBN: 0131867164, $49.99, 787 pp.

Divided into five sections this book attempts to cover pretty much everything you need to know to develop web based applications with PHP and MySQL. Part one goes over the basics of PHP including data types, variables, functions, object-oriented programming, arrays, and forms. The second part the looks at databases including designing, creating, and using a database. It includes a very good section on the basics of database design. This part ends with a chapter that brings these first two sections together by examining how to use PHP to access your database. Now that you understand how PHP and MySQL are going to work together the author turns to how to design web applications including the user interface and user management. Of course he also looks at code security and other security issues for web applications. This is the part of planning that should occur before any code is written. It helps tremendously if you know what you are trying to achieve before writing code and this part of the book covers how to do that very well. The fourth part examines how to implement your web application and covers error handling, cookies, authentication, buffering, validation, regular expressions, XML, XHTML, working with files and directories, and deploying the application. Finally the last part is filled with sample projects including an appointment manager, blogging engine, and an eCommerce application. All the source code from the book is included on a CD-ROM so you can cut and paste and adapt to your needs. An excellent guide for programmers working with PHP and MySQL enabled web sites, Core Web Application Development with PHP and MySQL is highly recommended.

Fundamentals of Signals & Systems
Benoit Boulet
Da Vinci Engineering Press
10 Downer Avenue Hingham MA 02043
ISBN: 1584503815, $59.95, 644 pp.

Signals and systems is one of the core subjects of almost all engineering schools whether the concentration is in electrical engineering, computer engineering, communications, circuit design, or signal processing. In this college level book the author covers all the classical mathematical concepts, how they work, and how to use them to get the results you want or understand the results you get. It is well organized and if followed through from beginning to end each section builds on the previous knowledge and can be grasped easily. Students who use this book should have had a course in calculus and trigonometry as a prerequisite.

The book jumps right into the subject by starting with elementary continuous-time and discrete-time signals and systems. From there it moves through linear time-invariant systems, differential and difference LTI systems, Fourier series representations and transformations, Laplace transformations, time and frequency analysis, applications to electric circuit analysis, state models, feedback control systems, the z-Transform, sampling systems, communications systems, and system discretization. In addition to the normal chapter layout the book is organized into 70 discrete lectures. Designed as an undergraduate academic text for engineering majors it includes exercises at the end of each chapter and a CD with answers to the questions. As a college textbook or an excellent additional text for engineering students Fundamentals of Signals & Systems is highly recommended.

The HCSB Light Speed Bible
Editor: William Proctor
Holman Bible Publishers
127 Ninth Avenue North Nashville, TN 37234
ISBN: 1586400665, $19.97, 1588 pp.

This Bible has several features to help the reader quickly understand the purpose and direction of a book or chapter and then examine the passages in detail. The name Light Speed Bible is because of this format and the Light Speed Reading course. At the beginning of the Bible the introductory matter details this reading technique that with practice will allow the reader to read through the entire Bible in just a few days. The Light Speed reading technique involves reading through a large section of the Bible three times at different speeds. The first is very fast to get a feel for the structure and basic direction of the book. The second pass is to get all the headings and subheadings so you know some of the details of the section including important concepts and points. To facilitate this the Light Speed Bible has numerous single sentence summaries, bold printing, and underlined items. These are done specifically to facilitate this process and part of the way in which this Bible is designed for high speed reading. The third pass is to get the details of passage and it is here that you read each word. Once you learn the technique it takes about 16 hours total to read the entire Bible. If you can dedicate an hour each evening you can read the entire Bible in just over two weeks. This Bible uses the Holman Christian Standard Bible translation, a common modern language translation. The HCSB Light Speed Bible is an excellent Bible that is designed from the ground up to encourage reading through the entire Bible and is highly recommended for anyone seeking to achieve this goal.

Unix/Linux Survival Guide
Erik M. Keller
Charles River Media
10 Downer Avenue Hingham, MA 02043
ISBN: 1584504331, $39.95, 254 pp.

Solaris, Unix, Aix, Linux, and other variations of *NIX systems have more in common than they do differences when it comes to system administration. The primary goal of this book is to provide a administrative resource that is as useful to the AIX administrator as it is to the Linux administrator. The book starts with a chapter on what you should do if you end up working on a *NIX system that you did not install. It provides both information and specific items to check in order to document and understand exactly how it is set up. From there the book moves to basic scripts that can be used to automate administration. The rest of the book covers such items as baselining, maintenance, backup, new system setup, test system creation, and secure systems. Chapter 5 is particularly useful as the author discusses the boot process and init states of the various flavors of *NIX. If you are used to one particular *NIX system and end up administering another one you will want this book at hand just because it spells out some of the differences as well as the similarities and this could prevent a major mistake (such as switching to init 5 on a Solaris system which shuts it down when you are trying to initiate a graphical interface which is what it would do on a Linux system). The Unix/Linux Survival Guide is highly recommended to anyone who has to work on multiple versions of *NIX or is used to one version and needs to understand how to administer another one.

Learning Java Through Applications
Duane J. Jarc
Charles River Media, Inc.
10 Downer Avenue Hingham, MA 02043
ISBN: 1584503769, $59.95, 643 pp.

I have always been a fan of learning a programming language by constructing program applications. If done well so that each step is fully explained then it can be a very effective method. Even if the program is simple the fact that you can write it and get immediate results encourages you and helps you understand how it all works together. This book takes that approach and teaches Java through the writing of various small applications. The author includes a CD-Rom with all the code from the book so you don't have to type it in line by line to start using it. The book does a good job of starting from the beginning and assuming no prior knowledge of programming or Java. Although it is a fairly thorough introduction to Java it takes a gradual approach with the reader learning a piece, seeing what it does, and then moving on to the next piece. Learning Java Through Applications is highly recommended as an excellent choice for the person completely new to Java.

The Tailor's Gift
David M. Stern
Doc's Productions, Inc.
8235 Santa Monica Blvd., Suite 306 Los Angeles, CA 90046
ISBN: 0974160709, $17.95, 48 pp.

A classic story of sharing in a time of disaster, The Tailor's Gift teaches children the importance of helping others. A cold winter wind causes the townspeople to build a huge fire to keep warm but no sooner are they feeling safe and warm than the wind sends the fire embers into the air and burns their village. The tailor and his sheep come to the rescue in this heart-warming story of generosity in difficult times. The Tailor's Gift is highly recommended.

Making a Good Brain Great
Daniel G. Amen, M.D.
Harmony Books Imprint
Random House, Inc.
1745 Broadway New York, NY 10019
ISBN: 1400082080, $24.00, 247 pp.

This book is not at all what I had expected from the title but is a fascinating book with some of the most up-to-date research on how to take care of your brain. We tend to equate the brain mainly with memory and so it is a natural assumption that this book is about memory. Quite the opposite it is truly a book on making the brain run at its best and healthiest. The book is divided into two parts with the first one dedicated to changing the way you look at your brain and what can harm, or help it and why you should care. The information includes healing your brain system and new knowledge from the field of imaging including fascinating explanations and photos of SPECT imaging. The author includes explanations of the SPECT images and how they reveal many different problems. This section is about changing your brain and changing your life as a result. The second part of the book digs into how you can help get your brain in top running order and keep it there. It includes things like foods that contribute to brain health, mental exercises, perception, using music to stimulate the brain, stress reduction techniques, brain aging and using supplements. Daniel G. Amen, M.D. Is a highly respected expert in the field and provides a very interesting tour or the brain's normal as well as abnormal functioning. This is one of the best books available today on brain health and how any individual can take charge of the health of their own brain. Making a Good Brain Great is highly recommended.

Unraveling AIDS
Mae-Wan Ho, Ph.D., Sam Burcher, Rhea Gala, Veljko Beljkovic, Ph.D.
Vital Health Publishing
PO Box 152 Ridgefield, CT 06877
ISBN: 1890612472, $16.95, 193 pp.

Is it possible that the link between HIV and AIDS is not there or is tenuous at best? It seems that not all scientists agree about the link. Indeed, many believe there is no causal relationship but that AIDS is really a group of symptoms that can be associated with different causes. The authors examine this evidence as well as the AIDS epidemic in various countries and how they are related to various other factors. After this analysis the authors include information about the potential of between various alternative therapies for AIDS. While I can't comment on the accuracy or analysis of the information presented, the authors do provide sufficient evidence and extensive references to bring current HIV/AIDS theory and treatment into question. Unraveling AIDS is recommended to anyone interested in this subject for whatever reason who also wants to hear the viewpoints of those who are not in agreement with the most common viewpoint in America.

Harold McFarland
Senior Reviewer

Klausner's Bookshelf

Startling Joy
James Calvin Schaap
ISBN: 0800718771, $14.99

"Mystery". The professor is an academia sophisticate while the bus driver is obese working crass. He is polite, but scornful as she relates her tale of marriage means abuse until he realizes in her clumsy way she has told him the STARTLING JOY of Christmas. "The Baby". Eighth grader Gina plays Mary at the school show, but director Nelvie forgot to bring the "baby Jesus"; Gina finds the right "old doll". ""The Party". Verona's son sired a child with Kelly, but refused to marry her. Kelly married someone else who adopted Mandy as his. However, Verona wants to be part of Mandy's life, but cannot until Kelly's mom gives the sad secret grandma a special Yuletide present. "The Gifts". Julia is downhearted that her fifteen-year-old daughter is pregnant and wants to raise the child while she prefers the baby be given up for adoption. While waiting for her daughter at the airport, Julia sees God's miracles. "The Church". Mom wants her daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren to attend church, but they insist they have not found any. She comes from Iowa to Seattle to help them understand there is more to life than work. "The Pageant". Kathy insists that too much sentimentality spoils the true meaning of Christmas so there are no kids acting as singing animals in the manger. Thirteen years old Angela challenges the adult insisting that is part of celebrating. "The Afterglow". The day after Christmas humanity returns to normal ignoring places like the Bethany House orphanage. Aunt Mary is dispirited when little Laney says her father is near, but will never visit the orphanage. She must find her post Christmas spirit to insure Laney and the others can rejoice in love not rejection. "The Snowfall". The theater professor is upset that the girls disrupted the performance, but afterward a retired missionary thanks him for a refreshing show that leads him to an epiphany about Luke. These are flawed selfish people who in small ways learn the true meaning of Christmas without any divine miracle; James Calvin Schaap encourages his audience to find their own little miracle in everyday life.

On The Run
Lorena McCourtney
ISBN: 0800759567, $12.99, 320 pp.

LOL (Little old Ladies) like Ivy Malone should not be on the run in her RV going from town to town to escape people who are trying to kill her. Ever since she was one of the people who helped convict one of the Braxton brothers for murder the clan has been after her. They almost succeeded in burning her Missouri home down (with her inside) and they put dynamite in her car. After escaping from them once more, she picks up a hitchhiker, Abilene, in Oklahoma and the pair applies for a job at Jack and Jessie's compound. They find the couple dead, apparently the result of a murder suicide pact. There was a note in their handwriting and there was gun residue on Jack's hand. From the very beginning Ivy and Abilene are sure that both people were the victims of a homicide by a person unknown. Little things like a gold Kruggerand mysteriously appearing in a spot it wasn't in before and a bullet hidden in the wall makes them think the case is not open and shut. Ivy proves to be too smart for her own good and as a result she puts her life in danger. Getting a job as the caretakers to watch over the compound is supposed to gives both women who are on the run (Abilene' husband, a spouse abuser is looking for her) a chance to rest. Instead they find themselves in the middle of two deaths where the surface picture doesn't take into account certain anomalies. Ivy and Abilene make a perfect sleuthing pair and the friendship that springs up between the older woman and the younger is emotionally heartwarming and adds depth to a fascinations and exciting storyline. Lorena McCourtney writes an action packed character driven amateur sleuth mystery that readers will enjoy immensely.

Return to Alastair
L.A. Kelly
ISBN: 0800731166, $12.99, 368 pp.

In the town of Alastair, Tiarra Loble has been brought up on stories about her father and brother, Tahn Dorn, who helped his father kill their mother before the father was killed and her son scarred by burning hot water tossed on him by villagers before he escaped with his uncle. The truth is he was taken when he was four years old and his mentor was an evil sadistic monster who beat him and brought young orphans into his criminal organization. After saving Lord Trilet's family from a nobleman's envy, Tahn broke free of his master and took the children to the estate of the nobleman he saved and where he became the chief guardsmen. Although he is treated as a son by Lord Trilet and everyone expects him to marry Netta the daughter of the house, Tahn needs to go back to Alastair to see if he can find out the truth about his past. The townsfolk revile him, especially his sister, calling him a killer as he goes about asking questions. The bandit leader he once knew wants him dead as Tahn embarrassed him and Lord Trent wants him and his sister dead because they have a very real claim to his title, wealth and estates. Tahn is content to leave his fate in God's hand. RETURN TO ALASTAIR is an exciting romantic fantasy with a protagonist that is easy to love as he proves that evil has no power over goodness once one chooses to accept salvation. As he suffered untold cruelties as a child, a teen and an adult Tahn has the faith that leads him to leave the dark path to that of purity and decency. There is so much action and fantastic character development that readers will hope for a future RETURN TO ALASTAIR.

Sex, Lies, and Online Dating
Rachel Gibson
ISBN: 0060772913, $6.99, 384 pp.

In Boise, mystery writer Lucy Rothchild is writing a novel about a serial killing female who murders her victims whom she meets online using erotic asphyxiation. To further her research, Lucy arranges coffee "dates" from inline chats; her resume says nurse. Her current encounter is with hardluvman who tells her that his beloved Millie died six months ago, but it is time for him to move on. He says he is a plumber, but in reality he is Quinn McIntyre, undercover cop trying to stop the female serial killer that has three men dead from erotic asphyxiation. When a previous coffee date klondikemike begins choking, Lucy does nothing but panic; Quinn saves his life, but knows his date is no nurse. Though attracted to her, he wonders if she could be the killer while she ponders how to arrange a second meeting with this attractive hunk, of course she rationalizes that as research. This is an amusing serial killer romance starring two individuals hiding their occupations from one another but unable to conceal how their hearts feel. The story line centers on Quinn's confusion as to how can he fall in love with the prime internet murder suspect while Lucy is stunned that one of the losers she has met for coffee is a winning keeper. Fans will enjoy the twist of how the author's mysteries become the source of a female sexual predator, as like Quinn the audience will believe Lucy is practicing on real men. Rachel Gibson provides an amusing online romantic suspense with the emphasis on the relationship between the lead pair.

The Lone Star Lonely Hearts Club
Susan McBride
ISBN: 0060564083, $6.99, 352 pp.

Only for her mother will debutante dropout turned web designer Andy Kendricks attend the funeral of Cissy Kendrick's close friend Bebe Kent. After the funeral, they go to the memorial service held at the dead woman's residence in the exclusive assisted care facility Belle Mede. When Cissy learns that Bebe died in her pajamas she thinks that death listed as natural causes was really a homicide because the victim always slept in the nude. The facility is run by Annabelle who knew Andy when they went to an upscale camp for blue blooded rich kids. Annabelle and Cissy's daughter were close friends, two misfits who clung together for security. Cissy maneuvers Annabelle into letting her and Andy investigate Bebe's's death by posing as the new resident and her niece but on their first day in Bebe's home, another woman close to Cissy is found dead. Cissy believes that Sarah Lee Seville was also a homicide victim because her make up was smudged, something that she would fix immediately in case someone saw her. At first thinking her mother's grief is making her crazy, Andy finally comes around to her view point because there are too many links between the two dead women. Nobody, least of all Andy, thought that Cissy would be in danger from the killer. Susan McBride infuses her exciting amateur sleuth mystery with a gallows's humor that is both appropriate and funny in a macabre sort of way. Although Andy thinks her mother is wrong in her description that murder took the lives of her two friends, the love she feels for Cissy compels her to find out if there is any evidence to support her theory . This down home Texas mystery is enjoyable, entertaining and riddled with red herrings and unexpected plot twists.

Diamonds Take Forever
Jessica Jifi
ISBN: 0060754745, $12.95

Moroccan-American Michelle Benamou thought her life in New York was pretty good until her boyfriend dumps her and kicks her out of his apartment. She must move back home where she fears that her matchmaking mother will interfere with Michelle's lifestyle. Her friends sympathize knowing how un-cool their parents are; for instance Michelle's father owns a grocery shop. However, her friend Benny informs her that he is undergoing an ugly divorce. She feels for him and they begin a long distance relationship as he lives in Los Angeles while she is in Nee York where she feels the city has the only opportunity for her to becoming a TV reporter. As the bi-coastal romance stays somewhat tepid, Michelle begins to reassess her life and how much her parents have done for her, but she still wants the diamonds that are forever around her finger. The deep look at family relationships between immigrant parents and an Americanized daughter will grip the audience as assimilation begins to form a rift even when each member loves one another and is considerate and respectful of each other. Michelle's efforts to break into media news are also deftly handled. However, the center of the tale is Michelle's quest to find love, which seems somewhat pale compared with the profundity of the other prime elements. Still overall this is a perceptive well written character study.

Red Hot Murder
Joanne Pence
ISBN: 0060758058, $6.99, 368 pp.

After Paavo Smith's dad died and his mother abandoned him, Aulis Kokkonen raised the preadolescent child and took him on three memorable occasions to visit Dr. Loomis Griggs at his Jackpot, Arizona ranch. Recently Loomis told Aulis about the suspicious death of a septuagenarian. In turn Aulis mentioned it to Paavo, now a San Francisco Homicide Detective. Paavo decides to investigate because he knows the doctor is not one to imagine things. The cop asks his fiancee chef Angie Amalfie if she wants to accompany him to Jackpot. Knowing very little about the childhood of her taciturn fiance, Angie leaps at the chance to spend time in a place he still treasures. Angie realizes right away several things about Jackpot, population 912. First she does not quite fit in; second Dr, Griggs is like a terrific grandfather truly welcoming her and Paavo with love; and finally she wants to hold her wedding here though she knows her upper crust mom will have cardiac arrest several times a day when she comes for the nuptials. That aside, Paavo believes the death of Hal Edwards is suspicious enough for him to make inquiries. However, he has more to be concerned with than a homicide as he thinks someone wants Doc dead and as always Angie joins the murderous mix that could prove COOKING MOST DEADLY as she tries to the CATCH A COOK. The thirteenth cooking with murder is a fine investigative tale that will elate long term fans more than newcomers due to welcome insights into the "private" childhood of reticent Paavo. The audience will enjoy the "vacation" to the isolated Arizona ranch more for the time with Doc then trying to solve the well written murder mystery. Angie (and us) learns more about Paavo's past inside a fine investigation.

Hung Out to Die
Sharon Short
ISBN: 0060793244, $6.99, 272 pp.

In Paradise, Ohio Josie Toadfern was two when her daddy abandoned her; not long afterward her mother dumped her in an orphanage. Whereas her paternal side led by her grandma said she was dead, her maternal Uncle Horace and Aunt Clara raised her as if she was their offspring. Twenty-two years later, her father's mother septuagenarian Mamaw Toadfern wants to allegedly see her after all this time when she only lived on the other side of the river from where Josie grew up and now runs Toadfern's Laundromat while claiming to be the national expert on stain removal. Thus that is why she is having Thanksgiving with the Toadfern brood when her parents arrive. They want to forget the past offering a deal involving a flea market. However, unforgiving Uncle Fenwick Toadfern rejects the peace offering with the two men threatening to kill one another. Not long afterward someone kills Fenwick trying to make it seem like a suicide, but local officials think hid death is a homicide and hone in on Josie's daddy as the prime suspect. Josie believes someone else killed her uncle after removing a stain from his favorite shirt. The first half of the tale is a soap opera family drama that introduces the audience to a horde of Toads and a heroine struggling with a sudden rash of relatives who never recognized her as alive until now including her biological parents. The interrelation dynamics are interesting to follow as the audience gain insight mostly from the baffled heroine who understands stain removal a lot better than blood relatives. The suspense comes in the latter half as fans along with Josie will learn that family is inside the heart, not the blood.

The Bride Hunt
Margo Maguire
ISBN: 0060837144, $5.99, 384 pp.

In 1072 Northumberland, Sir Anvrai d'Arques worries that Castle Kettwyck is not completed and the knights seem out of shape for fighting. Still the gala goes on as everyone celebrates the return of the sisters Lady Isabel and Kathryn. Isabel will choose one of her suitors as her spouse. His fears prove correct when barbaric Scotsmen invade the keep and escape with Isabel as their ransom hostage. Anvrai pursues them until he catches up and frees Isabel. As they race back to Castle Kettwyck, the Scots trail them with plans to kill her champion before he can inform his liege that an invasion seems imminent. On their perilous journey home, she falls in love with him, but he insists she could never cherish a warrior like him; at all she feels is gratitude. Isabel knows this is for real and plans to persuade her reluctant hero. THE BRIDE HUNT is an action-packed Conqueror era historical romance that starts at a blistering pace and never slows down as the lead couple lands in one adventure after another trying to stay alive. The story line is filled with escapes and capers as the Scots never give up nor does Anvrai or especially Isabel (on two fronts). Margo Maguire writes an exhilarating medieval romance that stars two likable heroes in trouble from start to finish.

Sleeping with the Agent
Gennita Low
ISBN: 0060591242, $5.99, 384 pp.

After going deep undercover pretending to be a traitor to stop the evil Dilaver, Navy SEAL commander Hawk McMillan only accomplished one of his two assignments (see THE HUNTER). He stopped the villain, but he failed to capture a deadly weapon as he chose to save the life of the woman he loves, CIA operative Amber Hutchins. The only lead is CIA former sleeper agent Lily Noretski who everyone seeks because she has the weapon. Lily betrayed Amber and apparently has no control over her actions as she has been brainwashed and more by the agency. Hawk's Navy SEAL subordinate Reed Vincenzio is chosen to make contact, get the weapon, and kill Lily, if necessary. From the first moment they "meet" they share an uncanny sense of knowing when the other is near. While Lily tries to sneak girls used as sex pawns by Dilaver out of Kosovo, Reed begins the tango with her. As they fall in love, she fears her handler activating her as a killing machine which would place Reed in peril while he worries that if he fails to kill her he jeopardizes the mission if her handler turns her rogue. The final of the action-packed SEALS trilogy (see THE PROTECTOR) is a fabulous climax that stars two protagonists who are in love, but distrust one another; she because she has been betrayed with lies and false memories by those she trusted and he because he knows who she is. No wonder Cheney and the CIA want to kill the McCain bill as some of the dark procedures rationalized as combating the terrorists sacrifice people as expendable. The lead couple SEALS to a T this Gem of a romantic thriller.

An Unlikely Governess
Karen Ranney
ISBN: 0060757434, $5.99, 384 pp.

A year ago, her parents died from the cholera epidemic leaving Beatrice Sinclair impoverished, but in the last three months she finds herself in dire straits. Desperate to eat, she seeks work as a tavern wench in Kilbridden Village, Scotland, but the owners reject her as not being right for their customers due to her "airs". They tell her to go to nearby Castle Crannoch where her kind will find work. Though she knows of the rumors that no moral woman would accept a job at the castle, Beatrice concludes that is her last hope. Near the castle in the rain she meets Devlen Gordon, who takes her to see the nine year old Duke Robert, as she requested. The Duke insults her so she begins to leave, but faints from a lack of eating. After she is fed, Beatrice is hired as governess to teach the rude Robert manners. Beatrice soon finds herself drawn to her host though she considers him a devil, but also feels sympathy towards her lonely employer. Someone wants Robert dead; Beatrice vows to risk her life to keep him safe though she wonders who will keep her heart safe from the sharpest cut of all, Devlen. This interesting 1830s gothic romantic suspense is filled with surprisingly delightful twists centered on Beatrice's efforts to uncover who in the dark castle is determined to see Robert dead. The suspects surround Beatrice with each having greed as an obvious motive; her biggest fear is that the brooding Devlen is behind the assaults. Fans of early nineteenth century romances will want to read Karen Ranney's fine historical thriller.

Don't Look Down
Suzanne Enoch
ISBN: 0060593644, $6.99, 384 pp.

Twenty-four years old former cat burglar Samantha Jellicoe decides to go legit by setting up a security firm. Meanwhile her lover thirty-tree years old Richard Addison tries to persuade his beloved that they belong together permanently, but she has doubts that she would lose her identity and become one of Rick's chicks at best or worst Mrs. British Billionaire though he tells her that her penchant for breaking into his homes keep that from becoming a reality. In Palm Beach wealthy Charles Kuntz hires Sam to protect him. However, before she can begin the job, someone kills her "mark" and jewels are missing. The cops target Sam as the prime suspect, but her troubles are not just with the law. Rick's ex Patricia arrives to inform him that she is divorcing her latest spouse and is available to renew what they once had. The sequel to the delightful romantic suspense thriller FLIRTING WITH DANGER is am amusing tale that returns the two protagonists for another enjoyable gender war. Rick is terrific and Sam's former felonious partner Stony is as incorrigible as ever, but once again the tale belongs to the heroine who fears she has become the star of Die Hard instead of To Catch a Thief. Though the fun story line is overfilled with the rich and amoral, readers will look up for more amusing contemporary suspense from Suzanne Enoch.

Size 12 Is Not Fat
Meg Cabot
ISBN: 0060525118, $12.95

When she gains weight becoming a size 12 and nears thirty, her boyfriend Jordan Cartwright switches to a size 2; her recording studio Cartwright Records (owned by Jordan's dad) assumes her fans at the mall will desert her because she became too "normally" fat dump her. However, the biggest hurt is that her mother and her manager embezzled all the money she earned as a singer to live the good life in Argentina while Heather Wells needs to find work to survive. Heather obtains a job as an assistant dorm director at Greenwich Village's New York College. The work is relatively easy mostly keeping raging hormones out of the dorm though her coeds are smart, sneaky and sly when it comes to gender warfare. However, everything changes when the corpse of a female student is found at the bottom of the elevator shaft in the residence hall Heather oversees. The NYPD detectives quickly assume it is an accident due to surfing the elevator; Heather's boss Rachel gleefully accepts their ruling. Heather thinks murder occurred. When no one listens to her including the centerfold private investigator Jordan's brother, Carter, she begins to investigate on her own as another student dies leaping across elevators. Meg Cabot's satirical look at what a person does when their fifteen minutes of fame ends is a humorous satirical amateur sleuth tale that young adults and older readers will appreciate. Obviously Heather is the focus of the amusing story line as she tries to solve what she assumes is homicide and everyone else concludes is a youthful accidental foolish tragedy. Size 12 is the right size for a fine Manhattan murder mystery.

A Forbidden Love
Alexandra Benedict
ISBN: 006084793X, $5.99, 384 pp.

In 1817 Viscount Anthony Kennington is the centerfold of Hedonistic pursuits. He lives for the day though he knows that one day soon he will need a legitimate heir. When he observes a luscious gypsy chased by outlaws, Anthony intercedes. However though he rescues the injured beauty, he is no knight in shining armor as in the back of his head he looks forward to her recovery so he can share his bed with her. When Sabrina Kallos regains consciousness she is stunned to find she is not held captive by criminals, but instead lies in a lavish bedroom being tenderly nursed by a handsome aristocrat. To leave his haven means risking her life as someone is after her; to stay means jeopardizing her heart and soul. For this noble, who apparently lusts for her, is her eternal mate as she has read it in his palm; alas he is unable to see that love awaits them since he remains blind to higher feelings. Still honor s much as desire keeps them together as Anthony vows to keep Sabrina safe. A FORBIDDEN LOVE is an exhilarating regency romantic suspense that though it follows somewhat the sub-genre rules, contains freshness because of the attitudes of the lead couple. Anthony is the typical rake bowed over by love that he assumes is lust. Sabrina is a unique protagonist who is so antitypical of the lead females starting with her palm reading skills. Readers will welcome a new author into the fold who if this novel is any indication will entertain the troops for years to come.

Edge of Evil
J.A. Jance
ISBN: 0060828412, $7.99, 400 pp.

Alison Reynolds is having one of the worst weeks after life. After giving the eleven o'clock broadcast, the anchorwoman is ambushed by the news director fires her because they are bringing in a younger anchor person. Her husband, a network executive, knew about the firing but didn't tell her. Her parents call to tell Alison that her best friend Reenie is missing and later call again to inform her that Reenie's body has been found along with her destroyed car. The police believe she drove it off a dangerously winding and wet road after she was diagnosed with ALS. Alison's son Chris sets her up with a blog and she writes what is going on in her life to an ever growing audience. She drives up to Sedona where Reenie and Alison's family like to give her support Reenie's loved ones but the reporter has questions that cast doubt on her death being a suicide. The suicide note was written on a computer and wasn't signed. Alison doesn't think that she would have written a note like that since she sent cards for every occasion. In fact, Rennie sent Alison a card on the day she died that didn't sound like she was depressed and going to kill herself. Alison uses her investigative skills to trace Rennie's last hours hoping to find out who (as she believes) murdered her best friend. J.A. Jance is one of the best mystery writers publishing today. The key to her success is her protagonists like J.B. Beaumont and Joanna Brady, both of whom have their own series because readers care about them and want to read about what is about what is going on in their lives. Ms. Jance has written about another delightful heroine who also deserves her own series. The mystery itself is well thought out with the unusual amount of red herrings and unexpected twists to keep the reader off guard. Misdirection is used to keep readers off balance and wondering if Reenie did or didn't commit suicide. Readers will love this exciting thriller so much they will finish it in one sitting.

Guys & Dogs
Elaine Fox
ISBN: 0060740604, $5.99, 384 pp.

The Golden retriever wakes up Fredericksburg, Virginia veterinarian Dr. Megan Ross. She manages to gain some control of the frisky dog and reads the tag on the collar. The canine's name is Baywatch and she lives at 17 Washington Avenue; her dad says that is the home of Sutter Foley, owner of Software Solutions, second perhaps to Microsoft on usage and profit. Megan takes Baywatch to Sutter, but he denies having a dog though he recognizes that the mutt belonged to his former employee who he fired for selling things about him to the tabloids. Sutter wants Megan to leave with Baywatch, but instead she believes he needs a dog to warm up his sterile lifestyle; she leaves Baywatch behind. As they see one another due to the matchmaking Golden Retriever they fall in love. However, he has lived as a hermit in spite of the media attention. Can he adapt to having a woman in his life permanently, which also means her father too. On the other Megan has to adjust to suddenly becoming news worthy. GUYS & DOGS is a fun contemporary romance starring two likable protagonists and a matchmaking canine. The support cast including her dog and "his" new pet add humor. An instance is her dad's observation about his modern day hometown in which SF characters have replaced Revolutionary War heroes like GW as the town hero seems upside down. Though the brilliant Sutter can be a bit thick when it comes to the heart, fans will be pleased with this fine romance between the vet and the internet.

Pride and Petticoats
Shana Galen
ISBN: 0060773162, $5.99, 384 pp.

In 1813, American Charlotte Burton arrives in London to see hometown friend Cade Pettigru and to save her family firm Burton Shipping which is in near ruin due to her father's gambling and womanizing and now the death of her sire and her brother caught smuggling. Several men burst into Cade's room; he kills one before fleeing. Cousins Sir Sebastian Middleton and Lord Alfred "Freddie" Dewhurst take Charlotte prisoner until they can figure out where she fits in this espionage case. Freddie, who is immediately attracted to the Yank, insists that Cade stole coded messages that he plans to sell to the French if he obtains the code definitions. His Foreign Office boss Lord Edwards directs Freddie to pretend he married the colonist so they can use her as bait to catch Cade. Freddie says no one would believe a dandy like him would marry an uncouth Yank, but agrees to try it. Charlotte agrees when he offers her money and the chance to prove Cade is innocent. They make the perfect couple. She scorns his heritage and he knocks American freedom limited to white males. At breakfast Freddie tells Charlotte he is her master so she dumps coffee on his lap. As his mom screams annulment, the combatants fall in love, but Cade remains a thorny issue between them. The sequel to when DASHING MET DANGER is a superb Regency romance due to the strong lead couple and interesting multifaceted perspectives on the War of 1812. The story line is at its best whenever the prime duo tears down the other's most sacred institutions with simple logic. Though the anticipated confrontation with Cade is anti-climatic, fans will enjoy the boudoir War of 1812.

Murder across the Map
Edited by Cindy Daniel
Top Publications
ISBN: 1929976348, $14.00

This anthology "calmly" focuses on murder as if it was tea time at different locales with nine spread across the United States and one each in Mexico, Babylon, and Germany. Each tale is fun to follow as the reader joins the culprit, victim, and others on "normal" family outings whether it is out of bounds golf in San Diego, playing Scribble in the Adirondacks, or riding a Burro in Mexico. Fans of the previous Sisters in Crime short story collections (see MURDER ON SUNSET BOULEVARD) will appreciate the well written tales whether it is sharing beer in Texas, deadly lingerie in Germany or tracing history with Darius in the ancient ruins of Persia or the Duke and Cab in Club Alabam in L.A. Though most of the contributors will be relatively new to readers, each input entertains the armchair mystery traveler while, though some are upbeat and others are sober, remain in "SINC" with the overall theme of MURDER ACROSS THE MAP.

Death of a Dreamer
M.C. Beaton
ISBN: 0892967897, $23.95

Residents of Sutherland County in the extreme northern Scotland are used to harsh winters, but this year's series of blizzards was the most savage in memory. Lochdubh constable Hamish Macbeth knows the horrendous weather kept crime down as few from the south ventured this far, but he also feels guilty for not calling on new neighbor Effie Garrard during the adverse season. Hamish goes to visit Effie expecting her home shuttered tight and she in the warmer south, but instead he sees she weathered the winter reasonably well. Effie insists that visiting landscape painter Jock Fleming loves her while the artist says that is not so as he treasures all the beautiful women. When Jock dines with summer-bird Priscilla Halburton-Smyth dreamer Effie argues with him that he belongs to her while he insists no way. Not long afterward, Effie is found dead, a victim of hemlock poisoning. Though some say suicide as the fantasist could not cope with the end of her relationship with Jock and others assume the artist killed her, Hamish thinks the case is much more complex. He looks into who turned the dreamer's world into a nightmarish death even as a second victim dies. The first half of this fine locality piece is more a character study as the villagers begin to come out of the wintry cocoon and introduce readers to the key players besides Hamish. About a little more than a third of the way into the fine story line the death of the fantasist occurs; at that point Hamish goes into constable mold and the tale twists into a fine Scottish police procedural with the villagers offering their opinions until the second death occurs. M.C. Beaton provides another strong Macbeth who-done-it.

Obsessing Orlando
Kassy Taylor
ISBN: 0843956038, $5.99

Jenna Wheeler loves Orlando Bloom and dreams of one day marrying the actor. Her bedroom is dedicated to the star with posters everywhere and even her pillowcase contains a picture of his bod. That is until her mom decides to redo her room in "Pepto Bismal" pink while Jenna is away. Her beloved "Bloom wallpaper" resides in her closet as her mother explains that as a fourteen year old entering high school she needs to behave accordingly. Knowing she lost the battle, Jenna thanks her mom for doing such a nice job with her room while her older brother teases her about the demise of Jenna's love life. At high school, Jenna meets cute boys that she likes. However, there is one particular teen Will Addison that makes Jenna wants to forget her Bloom. She agonizes over begin unfaithful to her crush yet the temptation is clearly there. Should she choose the handsome student who seems to like her as much as she does him or wait and hope that one day her unrequited Hollywood Prince Charming will sweep her off her feet? OBSESSING ORLANDO is a fabulous teenage character study that follows the frustrations of a girl whose crush is way beyond her reach, but can dream that one day her prince will come for her. Young adult readers will feel for Jenna as she wonders if she should drop her vow and switch her allegiance to cute Will. Kassy Taylor provides a strong look at young teenage love starring a high school freshman who seems like the real deal as she struggles with radical stressful changes in her life like entering high school and liking the local boys especially the newcomer.

Circus of the Darned
Katie Maxwell
ISBN: 0843954000, $5.99

Teenage psychic Francesca Ghetti has plenty of angst and just being six feet should be enough, but in her case even adults agree it is genuinely earned though she has somewhat adapted to her abilities and abnormal lifestyle. How many students can summon the dead or travel around Europe as a member of Gothefaire. Of course few can claim a witch for a mother who actually has conjuring skills. Even for Francesca used to the absurd being the norm, things are much more out of control than usual. One can start with the twelve dead Vikings she brought back to life. Or perhaps her stolen horse. However, mom chooses her unacceptable boyfriend. No one in their right mind would date a motorcycle riding vampire who is almost three centuries her senior. While mom objects that he is too old for her and has a bad overbite that she fears he will use on her daughter (dental costs are high); Benedikt Czerny insists she is his life mate, which means he needs to insure that his beloved GOT FANGS too. However the biggest problem in Francesca's mind is he is a night person and she has a curfew. This is a terrific sequel that readers will appreciate as Katie Maxwell's Oregonian teenage amazon has plenty of woes, but her biggest issue is quality time with her boyfriend. The story line is filled with humor and the paranormal that in both cases enhances a deep look at teenagers believing they are ready to fly from the nest though parents are hesitant to send them forth. Young adults and us long-toothed readers will appreciate the stand alone CIRCUS OF THE DARNED, but also get GOT FANGS, as that is a delight too.

Even Now
Karen Kingsbury
ISBN: 0310247535, $14.99

Raised by her loving grandparents, college freshman Emily Anderson always wanted to meet her parents, but no clues existed to find them. That is until now when her beloved Papa cleaning out the garage finds a stashed away old box containing items that belonged to her mother. She hopes they include clues to finding her parents so she can ask them why they abandoned her. Inside she finds a journal of "Lauren loves Shane", dated 1988. Shane Galanter is engaged to marry, but he has doubts as he never got over his teenage love for his neighbor Lauren, whom he impregnated; he considers whether he can settle and how fair that is to his fiancee. Though she never once called home, journalist Lauren Gibbs never forgot the infant she left behind nor the boy she loved; she assumes that is why she goes out of her way for the Iraqi children impacted by the horror of war and will always remain single. Their determined offspring has a clue to her mother's whereabouts and plans to find her to ask why. As always Karen Kingsbury provides her audience with a deep character study that focuses on mostly Emily's parents, but to a degree on her and her two sets of grandparents as she learns why her paternal side and her biological mother dropped her as if she never existed; only her maternal grandparents nurtured her with love. Thus Emily though a secondary player is the catalyst that brings everything together and the glue that keeps the plot focused. Fans will enjoy this deep emotional family drama in which you can go home, but do not wait too long because what really counts may no longer be there.

Black Ice
Hans Werner Kettenbach
Bitter Lemon
ISBN: 1904738087, $13.95

Everyone is shocked to learn that the highly regarded heiress Erika Wallmann fell down the steps in her lakeside home and died. The police, knowing how popular Erika has been due to her good deeds, investigate carefully. Some hints at suicide surface, but that and foul play are not proven; instead the cause of death is a tragic accident. Fifty-eight years old Jupp Scholten worked for Erika's father for years at Kottgen Civil Engineering Contractors, but recently her husband Kurt took over running the firm. Jupp dislikes his pompous new boss who he believes is nothing like his previous employer. Soon after the funeral, Jupp hears disturbing rumors that Kurt is sleeping with his secretary leaving the clerk to wonder how this sleaze can hop into another woman's bed while mourning his loss. He postulates how Kurt could have killed Erika leaving no clues that homicide occurred. As he develops his homicide theory, instead of immediately explaining to the cops what he affirms happened, Jupp wonders if he could duplicate the murder with his nagging wife Hilde as the victim. BLACK ICE is a terrific translation of a fabulous German thriller that grips the audience with an apparent hero starring as a stumbling amateur sleuth, but soon takes a dark psychological spin that leaves the audience to ponder whether Scholten will rid himself of his wife in a copy cat murder. Readers realize immediately that Jupp is unhappy with his bitter lemon personal life that is cleverly interwoven with his inquiries and conceptual contemplations; for instance using hookers for sexual release. Fans in one sitting will want to know whether his hatred for Hilde proves enough for him to kill her, expose Kurt, or something else.

Don Fenn
ISBN: 0975592262, $22.95

Following a break-through with a patient sixty-two years old psychotherapist Peter Icarus barely can move to urinate. Worn out by self deprecation reflections on his personal failures, he sits on the throne to pee and ponder like Rodin's Thinker how with three ex-wives, two adult children, and three grandchildren he feels lonely. When he receives an email he assumes it is a hoax, but still wonders what does he have to lose if he accepts the odd invitation; so he agrees to journey to a planet Troubadour in which humanity is two centuries ahead of what is current San Francisco. On Troubadour, he remains isolated except for two constant visitors. The wise male Rain is his host whose wisdom enables Peter to look deep inside on why he fails at relationships. The woman Wind offers him more of an emotional attachment that provides Peter with an anchor as he peels away his protection to understand his fears that have crippled him. However, he also wants physical comfort from Rain as he needs her, but she has her own quest to learn why she has failed at life. Troubadour is a fascinating Utopia that looks at the role of society quite differently than the mindset of modern western governments as the individual's mental health is fostered to achieve a higher level of harmony with oneself and in relation with others; like an Eastern libertarian philosophy. The story line focuses mostly on melancholy Peter who finds a new look on life while perplexed about Troubadour. A deep science fiction character study, readers will place themselves in the shoes of Peter contemplating how to improve relationships with loved ones while also reconsidering the role of government in one's life.

Sorceress of Faith
Robin D. Owens
ISBN: 0373802218, $13.95, 400 pp.

Monsters from the Dark were getting through holes created when segments of the magic fenceposts died; the people of Lladrana did not know how to repair the damage or recharge the magic until the Exotique Alexa from Earth figured it out and destroyed the monsters in the latest battle. Unfortunately one of the monsters, a sangvile, escaped and killed the parents of the sorcerer circlet Jaquar. The Sorcerers summon a new Exotique and Jaquar plans to use her to travel the planes and kill the malevolent maw spawning new monsters. Marian is conducting a Wiccan ritual when she is thrust threw the dimensional portal and ends up in Lladrana where she is first trained by the master sorcerer circlet and later by Jaquar himself. As he gets to know Marian, he abandons his plans because he does not went to send the woman he loves into danger that probably means her death. Although Marian wants to stay in Lladrana she has a brother that she loves very much on Earth that she can't abandon and a betrayal by people she has come to trust makes her doubt her feelings about those she came to save. One of the great things about Robin D. Owens' ongoing Luna series is that each book can stand alone yet there remains continuity through the return of heroes and champions from the previous tale. This sword and sorcery fantasy, complete with Pegasus and a sentient hamster, and an enigmatic fairy is so fascinating that readers find themselves caught up in in the magic of reading. SORCERESS OF FAITH is romantic fantasy at its very best.

Shadows of Prophecy
Rachel Lee
ISBN: 0373802196, $13.95, 496 pp.

Giri and Ratha are Anari, a long lived race that the Ilduin and the First Born immortal Archer created so that the earth would have one race that turns their backs on war and seeks peace. Sara and Tess are Ilduin women of formidable power much of which they are not aware of. Tom is a seer. These six people journey to the Anari city of Anahar so that Sara and Tess can visit the temple to learn about their power and heritage. The rest of the Anari train for war against the Bozandari who conquered and enslaved them now for three generations. The peace loving Anari know they need to fight if they want to preserve their heritage. However, even if the Anari can win against a well trained fighting force, they must contend with the Evil One, who has a very special relationship with Archer. They must defeat this malevolent being because he is gaining more powers through his minion that will eventually enable him break out of his caged exile to reenter the world he was banished from. There are six protagonists in this romantic fantasy and the author easily switches view points so readers know what they are thinking and feeling at all times. Sara and Tom are a couple, Archer who feels guilt for what he sets in motion refuses to allow his feelings for Tess to surface and is not at all sure she wants to love an immortal who caused the upcoming catastrophe. Through Tess' eyes readers see the horrors of war. Rachel Lee has written a work that has romance, intrigue, graphic battle scenes and awe inspiring acts of bravery.

Hammer of the Earth
Susan Krinard
ISBN: 0373802242, $12.95, 400 pp.

Rhenna the amazon warrior with powers of air, Cian the Aliuri shapeshifter, Tehva the seer, and Nyx a woman with secrets to keep all escape from the capital city of Karchedon in the evil Arrihidaean Empire. Only Quintos stays behind because the Tiberian rebel learns that he really is the baseborn half-brother of the Emperor Nikodemos. The Emperor Nikodemos wants Quintos to prove his loyalty. However, Quintos plans to work within the Empire to break the power of the Stone and the clergy who worship it especially, the chief priest Baalshillek, who wants to control the entity in the stone and rule the world after the Emperor has conquered it. Rhenna, Cian, and Tehva overcome many obstacles to recover the Hammer that was meant for the Godborn Cian, a Bearer who in the near future will use the weapon in the war against the Exalted, those gods who wanted more power than their peers and were encased in the stone when they lost the battle. Rhenna and Tehva with Nyx's help once again journey to the secret city of New Meroe where the prophecies are written down about the upcoming war. They also hope to find where their hidden weapons are located because they need them to defeat those who kill In the name of the Stone, their high priest and the emperor. Susan Krinard has written another fantastic quest filled fantasy where it is hard to tell friend from foe and the protagonists are at the mercy of the various gods they come in contact with. There is plenty of action and a touch of romance in HAMMER OF THE EARTH but the heart of this novel lies with the characters who though they live in a fantasy world have the same qualities as readers. It will be hard to wait for the next installment in this stunning series.

It's Like That
Cheryl Robinson
ISBN: 0451217462, $13.95, 368 pp.

In the Detroit area, Porter Washington falls in love with successful car designer Winona Fairchild, a single mother of two, teenage Carlton and preadolescent Portia. He wants to marry Winona who admits she loves him too, but she rejects his proposal. He reason is simple he deserves better than to spend his life with someone suffering from HIV, something she has informed him of, but hides from her children. Meanwhile her ex husband encourages Carlton to join the professional golf tour once he graduates from high school; this goes against Winona's wishes as she wants her son to go to college. However, she knows she must come to grips with telling her children about her past, especially about her sister, and do something with the persistent man she loves. Not able to do it alone, she turns to a self-help book with a journal Rick Warren's The Purpose Driven Life; 40 Days to Change Your Life, but cannot get Porter the least bit interested in it as he has some issues too. The sequel to IF IT AIN'T ONE THING is a deep character study that focuses on two people in love, but with a myriad of baggage that makes commitment seem impossible. Winona is a fabulous protagonist who refuses to allow HIV to stop her, but also has plenty of other demons to contend with from her past. Though his issues are less stated, Porter is estranged from his parents refusing to speak to them as well having to decide on a musical opportunity in California which means no more Winona. Though overwhelming with so many personal problems, Cheryl Robinson provides a beacon of hope that loving relationships are key to many of life's hand grenades.

The Dawn Stag
Jules Watson
ISBN: 1585676217, $24.95, 552 pp.

In AD 81 Roman Governor of Britain Agricola has one place left to complete the empire's conquering, to the north, Alba. He anticipates an easy triumph against the uncivilized tribes who have battled one another forever so their disunity should prove fortunate for the undefeated Roman legion. However, out of seemingly nowhere a dynamic Celtic leader Eremon, exiled son of the Irish king and husband to local warrior Princess Rhiann, has begun to bring the factions together against the common enemy Rome. Still others besides Agricola have reasons to see the newlyweds fail. Some want to be the chosen ruler so they refuse to give up any of their power whether they are a local monarch or a druid priestess while others have more personal gripes against either or both champions. Without a united front, Rome will conquer the last holdout, but Eremon still believes in the cause though he knows many will die. THE DAWN STAG, the second Dalriada trilogy tale (see THE WHITE MARE), is a superb ancient Britannia historical thriller that contains some captivating fantasy elements mostly performed by the ambitious traitorous druid priestess and Rhiann who seeks assistance in the spiritual realm. Still the strength of this terrific story line lies in the interwoven details of life in the late first century that is so vivid and picturesque; the audience will vanish inside the reading experience. With a strong fully developed cast, Jules Watson provides a powerful epic saga that fans will euphorically treasure while looking forward to the conclusion.

Into the Blue
Robert Goddard
ISBN: 0385339194, $12.00

Fifty-three years old Harry Barnett accompanies his much younger and obviously healthier guest visiting English schoolteacher Heather Mallender on a tour of the Greek Isle Rhodes where he has lived for about nine years as a housesitter. He stopped for a smoke and a second wind while she went on, but after waiting for a while for Heather to return, Harry anxiously sets off to find her. Instead he sees four stripes of "cerise and silver" from Heather's scarf caught on a low hanging tree branch. He reports her missing to the authorities who suspect he killed her. Harry quickly realizes that the cops assume he harmed Heather. Deciding he needs to prove otherwise and finding nothing useful on Rhodes, Harry traces Heather back to England He learns Heather was visiting a psychiatrist, helping her not very successfully cope with the loss of her sister to an IRA bomb. However, Harry soon finds his own past not that of Heather's is where the answer lies, but obtaining the proof could prove deadly from people he trusts. On the surface the story line is a simplistic amateur sleuth investigation starring a dissolute loser hiding from his roots. However, that would oversimplify a complex somewhat convoluted thriller filed with twists and plenty of irony as the reluctant warrior returns to the place of his greatest failure amidst other fiascos. The story line grips the reader from the moment Harry panics when he realizes that somehow Heather is missing and continues to hold reader attention as the "hero's" stomach churns when he concludes he is the only suspect and never let's go until Harry's final sardonic confrontation with a foe PAINTING THE DARKNESS with deception and blackmail.

Borrowed Time
Robert Goddard
ISBN: 0385339224, $12.00

In the summer of 1990, five weeks after his oldest sibling Hugh died of a heart attack at forty-nine years old, thirty-seven years old Robin Timariot needs time to decide his future so he plans to hike for six days along the Offa's Dyke ridge in the Welsh Borders. Though he enjoyed his work with the European Commission in Brussels, since Hugh died he finds it oppressive and ponders if he should come home to join the family business since his uncle, mom and the other relatives insist they need him. On the ridge at a heavenly view, he meets a lovely middle-aged woman whose nearby parked Mercedes seems to put her in the wrong place. They amiably chat about truly changing things before they part. A week later, Robin reads in the Daily Telegraph the shocking article of artist Oscar Bantock raping and murdering Louise Paxton, the woman who impressed him for that short interlude chat on the trail. He tells the truth about their encounter, but finds the reactions of Louise's loved ones odd. Counseling himself to mind his business, Robin still makes some simple inquiries that turn out to be extremely complex and dangerous to anyone who learns the truth. This is a terrific amateur sleuth tale that overcomes the inherent credibility flaw that hurts much of the sub-genre as the audience readily can see Robin (or themselves) making simple testimony, condolences and curious minor inquiries that twist and turn into something beyond the protagonist's control. It is the plausibility that this could happen to anyone that makes BORROWED TIME a fabulous thriller that fans will devour in one sitting and seek other works by Robert Goddard (see INTO THE BLUE).

The Doctor's Wife
Elizabeth Brundage
ISBN: 0452286913, $14.00, 352 pp.

In the Albany, New York area, anyone who knows the Knowles believe this family is living the American dream. Michael is a highly regarded OB-GYN practicing at St. Vincent's Hospital; his wife, Annie is a popular professor who teaches creative writing at St. Catherine's College. They have two precocious children who seem happy and adjusted. Their idyllic life changes when Michael joins a clinic that provides abortions. His already filled to the overflow calendar is booked even more leaving Annie abandoned and lonely. She turns to painter Simon Haas for solace and more. He welcomes her as his spouse Lydia hides in bed for days when she is not worshipping Reverend Tim. At about the same time pro-lifers begin a nasty campaign to drive Michael out of the clinic threatening to kill his family. Reverend Tim leads protests against the clinic, teaches Lydia how to use a gun, and has her enroll in Annie's class. The tale grips the audience as the two sides of the abortion debate stay on the fringe focusing on the radical sides of the issue. The misnamed pro-lifers are willing to kill practitioners and their families under the religious zealousness of the Ten Commandments but blithely ignore the plight of the young once born; the pro-abortion side ignores educating the young on other options and the post trauma under a so-called scientific first amendment right. Thus, the cast are overly stereotyped to enhance the extreme and cause confrontation but weaken the possible nuances of what could have been a cutting edge moral thriller such as the economics in an outlawed abortion society (the wealthy to Europe; the middle class to Canada or the Caribbean; the lower class to butchers).

What Fire Cannot Burn
John Ridley
ISBN: 0446612030, $6.99, 432 pp.

During the Age of Heroes, mankind was willing to let the metanormals be the policeman for mankind but when two of them fought and destroyed half of San Francisco and killed six hundred thousand people, humanity turned on them with a vengeance. Overnight, they were declared non-human, their rights stripped away and those that turned themselves in were sent to a special facility or transported out of the country. Soledad O'Roark of the Pacific MTac, a division of the LAPD, is dedicated to fighting and killing mutants, but is injured during a nasty battle. While she recovers, she is transferred to the DIA, the unit that gathers Intel on mutants and hands it over to MTac for them to catch or kill. A man from I. A. approaches Soledad asking that she infiltrate a rogue cell within DIA that is killing mutants illegally. She infiltrates the group because she believes she can gather real Intel; the mission goes south so Soledad's comrade in MTac, Eddi Aoki, takes her place and finds she is dealing with a serial killer and an illegal cabal with a vision much different than the powers that be. John Ridley is an expert when it comes to writing excellent, exciting, and entertaining urban fantasy. Humanity is already questioning the laws that says metanormals are not human (just like today many are questioning the Patriot Act) believing it is biased and overkill since there are many good metanormals who want to live ordinary lives and help humanity just like there are bad mutants who use their powers for their own gain. This is an action created work but the characters are fully developed so that the audience feels as if we are part of a very special reading experience.

Calamity Jayne
Kathleen Bacus
Love Spell
ISBN: 0505526654, $5.99, 352 pp.

Anyone who lives in or near Granville, Iowa knows that the centerfold for Murphy's Law is Tressa "Calamity" Jayne Turner, who seems to land in the fire time after time. However, this time Calamity Jayne manages to make even Murphy look like an optimist with her latest bonehead blunder. Tired after working the late shift at Bargain City, Tressa takes a car that looks like hers, but is not hers. On the drive home on a remote road she has a flat. She opens the trunk to pull out the spare only to find the corpse of the town's drug-smuggling attorney and an envelope containing plenty of cash. Stunned Jane runs off to find Ranger Rick, but by the time they return to where she left the vehicle, the car with of course its body and loot is gone. Neither Rick nor anyone else believes Jane's story; that is no one except the killer who believes she concocted a story to abscond with the money and whoever has the cash. The murderer wants his loot returned immediately to him or there will be one less dumb blond living in Iowa. CALAMITY JANE is an amusing chick lit investigative tale with the emphasis on the heroine as the poster-child for dumb blond jokes. The dialogue between Rick and Jane is often amusing especially when she tries to persuade him that she is telling him the truth while he figures she is just doing one more stupid thing. Kathleen Bacus provides a lighthearted romp that stars simply a likable bud dumb blond.

Hope's Captive
Kate Lyon
ISBN: 0843956267, $5.99

In 1878 the disease ridden Oklahoma Reservation was no place to live so Chief Little Wolf moves the entire Northern Cheyenne tribe back to their original home in the Montana Territory in spite of the hardship that the trek will cause. As the Indians journey northward, dodging soldiers and mourning those who fail to make it, military officer Zach McCallister believes the Cheyenne have captured his son Luke. He plans to desert if necessary and follow the tribe on his own to somehow liberate his offspring or die in the attempt. In Dodge City, Kansas to increase his chance of success Zach offers to "guide" Caroline Whitely, allegedly Lone Wolf's wife, when she tries to deliver needed medicine to the beleaguered tribe. They view the Cheyenne differently. She sees noble people, especially Little Wolf who rescued her from the Kiowa, struggling to survive under suppression; he believes these are savages who wantonly massacre innocent people and kidnap children and young women. As the days pass, Zach falls in love with Caroline, but she does not trust him; he knows she has good cause because he will betray her to free Luke. HOPE'S CAPTIVE, the sequel to the wonderful TIME'S CAPTIVE, is a fabulous historical romance that focuses on the plight of the Cheyenne in the late nineteenth century. Few writers show the skills of Kate Lyon as she provides a powerful story line that enables the audience to feel they are on two trails: with the tribe (the description gets into your gut) and with the lead couple. Fans of American romance will want to read the "Captive" series as Ms. Lyon freshens up what in lesser hands is an overused device.

Tim Lebbon
ISBN: 0843954302, $6.99, 384 pp.

Almost ten years have past since their son Steven died, but neither his father Tom or his mother Jo have been able to come to grips with the death of their beloved son though they somewhat have each other. In a bar to drown his sorrows he overhears two men discuss monsters on Salisbury Plain where his Parachute Regiment child died in what the Army claimed was a tragic training accident. His coffin was sealed when it arrived. Upset and thinking about his deceased father who mumbled cover-up during Steven's funeral, Tom opens up his son's buried casket to find it empty. He quietly travels to Salisbury Field where he sneaks into a forbidden zone to excavate the mass grave site that he finds amidst the secret contained area. Shoveling away the dirt, Tom uncovers rotting corpses that are somehow alive, but chained somehow talking with him especially the little girl. Thinking he lost his mind anyway he agrees to liberate the child from her chained internment in exchange for her helping him with his quest to learn what truly happened to Steven, but also ponders if he has made a Faustian pact. This action-packed horror thriller is not for everyone as the tale does turn graphically grisly once Tom decides to heed his late Alzheimer's suffering father's advice to uncover the cover-up. The gruesome, ghastly story line focus on the results of an experiment gone horribly bad rather than the human testing or the cover-up. Still readers who like in your face horror will enjoy BERSERK, just do not eat prior to, during, or just after reading.

White Vengeance
Susan Edwards
ISBN: 0843953349, $6.99

In the 1860s Dakota Territory, Renait O'Brien struggles to keep her family together. However, when one of her siblings envisions their brother lying in a pool of blood, Renait knows she must find him to keep him safe. However, to succeed she must embrace her Sioux heritage that she has ignored in recent years. Sheriff Tyler is attracted to Renny who rejects his offers to help her with her family. He accepts her refusals until he learns she is going on a quest into the Badlands alone. He insists on coming with her as he will never allow the woman he loves to travel alone into potential danger. He blithely ignores her rejection of his protection. On the trail, Renny struggles with her growing awareness of the half of her culture that she chose to ignore and with trepidation that her brother is going to die. Tyler keeps her focused except when he steals kisses that make her forget everything but him. However, he is a man of honor and knows the quest must come before his desire. As always in a Susan Edwards' "White" tale, the reader receives a colorful vivid description of life, this time in the Civil War era Dakotas. Fans will also appreciate the fine starring couple as Renny is an intrepid individual struggling to do the right thing for her family, which in her mind meant ignoring her Indian bloodlines, and the man who would willingly die for her. Though the multitude of story lines including some that just disappear makes it difficult to track the escapades of the lead couple, the author's myriad of fans will enjoy her latest nineteenth century historical.

A Private Hotel for Gentle Ladies
Ellen Cooney
ISBN: 0375423400, $23.95

She thought she was Cinderella when she married the son of a wealthy family. However, Charlotte hates where she lives, her husband's family mansion where his relatives are everywhere criticizing everything she does. Already in disfavor with her in-laws for not producing the next generation, Charlotte becomes so ill she is unable to leave her room for almost a year. When she finally leaves, she finds her husband enjoying the pleasures of a woman. Unhappy and disappointed in his betrayal, Charlotte has no place to go in puritanical 1900 Massachusetts except to see former family cook Mrs. Petty, who now works in Boston's Beechmont, A PRIVATE HOTEL FOR GENTLE LADIES. With no options, Charlotte stays there. Eventually she realizes that this is no hotel or shelter for single women, but a place where males of all ages and shapes visit the female guests to pleasure them. However she wonders if she can be one of them as she reflects on her childhood and with her husband and his family. Ellen Cooney paints an astute historical character study driven by Charlotte who breaks out of her web as she becomes aware that her past, her in-laws, a betrayal, and her illness (polio) does not prevent her from becoming a desirable woman. The story line looks deep into the present and past of Charlotte, enabling the audience to understand how the child makes the adult especially her inhibitions and doubts; however these passages also abruptly occur disjointing the otherwise keen story line somewhat. Still readers will find A PRIVATE HOTEL FOR GENTLE WOMEN an appealing discerning period piece.

The Genesis Protocol
Dayton Ward
ISBN: 0977070808, $14.99, 354 pp.

It was a scientific project that began with the best of intentions and in the four decades of its operation much good has come out of it. Deep in the Utah desert an isolated project known as the Genesis Protocol is going strong protected from intruders by the military. Scientists have created new life forms both plant and animal, mostly toxic as a way of cleaning up the environment. For example, a genetically modified fish who can survive in toxic areas can eat up oil spills. One day while checking on a malfunctioning piece of equipment in a toxic zone, two scientists are killed by creatures that are not supposed to exist. Dr. Elizabeth Christopher and her group in ObStat 4 are attacked by the same creatures and call for help at the main compound. Security can't destroy the cross-species genetically created lizards known as harbingers that walk on two feet and have opposable thumbs. A marine force reconnaissance mission is called in to extract the survivors, but the leader of the Genesis Project Dr. Geoffrey Bates is not telling everything he knows; that could result in more deaths from creatures that seem to apply human logic to problem solving. THE GENESIS PROTOCOL is better than Jurassic Park because the disaster is caused by scientific application to clean up hazardous wastes and spills that in real life are already beyond the basic theory phase of development. The problems start when politicians interfere with scientific research by engineering the creation of harbingers, intelligent creatures controlled by humans who can search and destroy, clean up toxins and other dangerous tasks. Dayton Ward provides a strong cautionary tale as to how far science should go and if any should restraints be placed on research.

Dead Man on the Moon
Stephen Harper
ISBN: 0977070824, $14.95, 284 pp.

It started off as a moonbase but now Luna City is an independent nation trying to pay off the debt to the nations who built it. One way the city makes money is by charging steep fees to students who want to attend the prestigious Luna University. Noah Skyler won a scholarship and a small stipend to the university but he has to hold down two jobs if he wants to eat because foosd, like everything else on the moon, is very expensive. On his first day on the moon, he is dragged into a murder case where the victim was shoved out an airlock without a suit. Everyone on Luna has their DNA in the database but there is nothing there to identify the murder victim. While he is working on that case, he also looks into a second death that might be murder. It is his job to learn the truth in between giving a vaudeville show, dealing with the roommate from hell, finding out why one of his co-workers want to get him kicked off the case and spending time with a beautiful girl whose wealthy family knows how to get special perks that makes life on the moon more tolerable. This science fiction mystery is the thinking person's who-done-it because readers try to use the clues to solve the cases before the protagonist does. The characters are very interesting and realistic so it feels like the audience actually knows someone like them. Noah is a charmer who is trying to find his way in an alien environment something every person reading this book can relate to at some time. Let's hope there are more tales starring this refreshingly original character and his adventures on the moon.

Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza
ISBN: 0805074392, $23.00

Copacabana, Brazil Chief Inspector Espinosa is on vacation when psychiatrist Dr. Arthur Nesse called pleading with him to help because he believes his seventeen years old daughter Leticia was kidnapped by a patient, Isadoro "call me Jonas" Cruz who previously had been stalking him. Though he knows he should send the good doctor to the police station, Espinosa agrees to do a little investigating as he is bored since his graphic designer wife Irene received the sudden invitation to attend a two-week seminar at New York's MOMA. However, the prime suspect in at least the psychiatrist's mind turns up murdered. Other homicides follow all linked back to Dr. Nesse and Jonas. As Espinosa digs deeper into the backgrounds of Nesse and Jonas, he finds strange information that makes him wonder just who is the paranoid one, the doctor or the patient. The more the Brazilian cop learns, the more he thinks that Nesse stalked Jonas and perhaps killed him and the others. However, proving such a way out theory seems impossible and besides he still must rescue a missing teenager as well as stop the serial killer. PURSUIT is a fantastic entry in an excellent police procedural series, one of the best on the market today as the Brazilian flavoring augments a delightful investigation. Espinosa is at his best in this case uncovering clues that make no sense as he, like readers, has stereotyped the psychiatrist and the patients. If he fails to make paradigm switches, he will fail. Fans who have not read the four previous translations of Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza (see THE SILENCE OF THE RAIN) are missing out on the works of a great novelist.

The Games
Patricia McLinn
ISBN: 0976518511, $15.00

The Olympics! Sixteen days to become a household name. Others will go home without a medal, but forever remember participating. However, some leave with bitter memories. Former figure skating great Tess Rutledge returns as coach of the surprising Amy Yost; Tess bitterly reflects back at her greatest triumph and worst heartbreak when she met Russian skater Andrei Chersakov eighteen years ago. She plans to insure her young protege is not hurt like she was. Andrei, a coach also here, plans to win the only gold that matters, Tess' heart. Biathlon competitor Rikki Lodge and ice hockey player Lanny Kaminski notice each other during the opening ceremonies when both check in their euphoria as the oldest members of their respective teams. When they meet they cannot resist the desire that erupts, but will passion survive the games? Fifteen months ago, skier Kyle Armstrong and her coach Rob Zemlak shared the greatest night in their lives. However, he regrets breaking the coaching rule with one of his athletes though he still wants her. They both hide their feelings behind a wall of anger that threatens her performance. Another skier rooming with Kyle, Nan Monahan recognizes the maelstrom between the coach and her peer. Making things more difficult for Rob is he should make a team decision at the cost of his beloved Kyle. THE GAMES is faster than downhill skiing yet character driven as the audience gets to know the ensemble cast up close and in person. The story line focuses on the potential agony of defeat in the personal lives as much as the victories and losses at the Games. Readers will enjoy this strong gold medal winning performance.

Death Dance
Linda Fairstein
ISBN: 0743254899, $26.00, 416 pp.

As the assistant district attorney in charge of the Sex Crimes Prosecution Unit, Alex seeks to convict Dr. Selim Sengor for the drug facilitated rape of two Canadian women. Alex wants him denied bail since he could leave the country and return to Turkey but a judge who doesn't fully understand what rape is, lets him out on his own recognizance. While Alex works that case, she also investigates who murdered dancer Natalya Galinova with her detective friends Mike Chapman and Mercer Wallace. At first they thought she walked out of the Metropolitan Opera House after having an argument with Broadway businessman, Joe Berk over a juicy role in one of the plays produced in his theatres since she is getting too old to play the younger parts. That hope is dashed when her body is found broken in a ventilation shaft, the victim of a homicide. A couple of days later Joe is almost electrocuted but the authorities determine it was an accident. Illegally gotten DNA points to Berk as a suspect but Alex has no probable cause to request it through channels. The closer Alex gets to closing out both investigations, the more she puts her life in danger. One of the very best qualities of Linda Fairstein crime thrillers is that it accurately reflects real life. Not every case comes to a satisfactory conclusion as suspects disappear before they can be convicted and judges don't always hand down a ruling that makes a prosecutor happy. Readers get a behind the scenes of dance in New York with all the petty jalousies and jockeying for position just as they learn that date rape drugs do not lessen the realities of the crime. Ms. Fairstein is a great storyteller who uses real life experiences to create a storyline that is realistic and which stars likable heroes battling criminals and at times the system.

Turning Angel
Greg Iles
ISBN: 0743234715, $25.95, 512 pp.

Former Houston prosecutor Penn Cage returns home to Natchez, Mississippi to become a writer. He loves his hometown and thinks it is a place to get away from the crime and corruption of big city life. He begins to get an inking that his town is a microcosm of big city life when he and his friend Drew Elliot learn that the golden girl of the St. Stephen's Preparatory School, the class valedictorian, Kate Townsend, was found murdered with her body partially naked. Drew hires Penn but also confesses that he and Kate were in love and he was going to leave his wife for her. Evidence shows that Kate was raped and other circumstantial evidence paints Drew as the killer. Penn investigates Kate and is shocked to learn that she had a connection to the town's drug supplier. Penn who didn't even realize yet there was a drug problem in the area comes under fire from the drug selling crowd. Penn wants to clear his friend and clean up Natchez by running for mayor if he doesn't get killed first. Greg Iles has written a crime thriller that is full of non-stop action and characters that represent a cross section of America. The protagonist goes to extreme measures to help a friend and almost dies in the process of seeking the truth. Readers feel sorry for Penn who is disillusioned by people he thought he knew yet he has a core of inner strength that allows him to overcome every obstacle the criminals, the corrupt D.A. and police throw at him. TURNING ANGEL is a compelling reading experience.

Prayers for the Assassin
Robert Ferrigno
ISBN: 0743272897, $24.95, 416 pp.

In 2015 suitcases containing nuclear bombs destroy New York City, Washington, D.C., and Mecca. The assumption because of the inclusion of Mecca is that Israelis with Christian help committed the atrocities. The United States split apart following the terrorist atrocities with some states converting to Islam forming the Islamic Republic while others created a Christian republic. Twenty-five years later, a power struggle exists in the Islamic Republic. Redbeard leads the moderate State Security forces; the fundamentalists forge the Black Robes police force; and finally the Old One heads the top-secret Assassins. Redbeard's niece, historian Sarah Dougan investigates the infamous attack of 2015 for her planned new book, The Zionist Betrayal. The Old One, knowing the truth must never be revealed, sends his deadliest assassin to kill her. Fleeing from the Pacific northwest towards Vegas, Sarah's only hope to survive long enough to tell the truth is her lover, former Fedayeen soldier Rakkim Epps; he expect to die for her. The tale is very exciting building from a theory that Zionists caused the 9/11 debacle. However, readers will have to first overcome the concept that much of America adopted Islam as the official state religion. Still PRAYERS FOR ASSASSIN is fun, fast-paced in a cat and mouse way and grips readers who wonder whether Sarah will survive long enough the reveal what she knows about high school undergraduates in 2015 and the Old One.

The Makeup Girl
Andrea Semple
ISBN: 075820969X, $12.95

Not wanting to tell her beloved mom the truth that she is a complete loser, Faith Wishart makes up a false life in which she is the idea creator at a Leeds public relations firm and has a wealthy handsome boyfriend, attorney Adam. Instead she is just THE MAKEUP GIRL working part-time at the cosmetic counter of Blake's Department Store and has no luck with men. Her sister Hope returns from Australia after an international success at Yoga videos to marry a rich hunk; Faith panics because she must bring Adam to the wedding. She lies on her resume trying to get a job at the biggest PR firm outside of London though one of her bosses died before she worked for him. Still the clock is ticking and though distraught, Faith still treats all her customers with respect even taking the time to listen to geriatric Josie tell her family stories. Her luck seems a bit better when she meets Frank, who she likes, but he is no lawyer. Faith makes this chick lit tale hum as readers will empathize with the web of lies that she is entangled with all because she wanted her mother to be proud of her. Her desperate escapades fail as the clock winds down, but with all her woes and with the probability of being humiliated when her life is exposed as a sham seeming inevitable, Faith still gives her work at the cosmetic counter everything she can; she cares about her customers especially the repeaters. Frank is a nice person who has a million secrets of his own. Andrea Semple provides a wonderful English romantic romp that sub-genre fans will treasure.

Tales from the Crib
Jennifer Coburn
ISBN: 0758209827, $12.95

Jack and Lucy tried every form of counseling, therapy, and New Age wizardry to save their marriage; but Dr. Lee fired them, the guru told them to seek a different mountain where laughter is king and queen, and the lemon snake oil irritated their skin. Finally, Jack tells Lucy that it is time for the American solution to solving their marital troubles: divorce. As always with this couple timing is everything because Jack's pronouncement precedes Lucy's laments that she is pregnant by a few minutes. Jack still believes they need to split their tango, but also wants to raise the baby with Lucy. He suggests they live together still married to provide a two parent home to their child, but date others. Whether it is her free flowing hormones or the lesser of two evils (moving back to live with her mom in Jersey), Lucy accepts the co-parenting concept. When Adam is born, Lucy sees first hand the problem with a dysfunctional marriage as you know Jack has a girlfriend who he is too busy with to share parenting time with his child. Still Lucy vows to become supermom while wiping butts and dodging a radar enhanced pee-shooter. TALES FROM THE CRIB is a wonderful chick lit tale that provides a strong look at motherhood from the perspective of a woman whose spousal relationship is somewhere amidst the overflowing toilet just below the non-flushable baby wipes and related excrement. Lucy provides the audience with perfect timing as she struggles with Jack figuratively moving on while she is moving forward a carriage. Jennifer Coburn provides a strong look at motherhood and apple pie, chick lit style.

Would I Lie to You
Sheila Norton
ISBN: 0758209509, $12.95

Wannabe writer single mom Beth Marsten raises her four years old daughter Ellie while making Weetabix or Shreddies food money by cleaning houses. Currently she thinks her life is in the toilets that she scrubs as her boyfriend Daniel, her and her job literally stinks especially since there is no hazardous duty pay. Making the already acrimonious Beth even more cantankerous is her parents who blithely, out of good intentions, tell her to obtain a better job; like anyone volunteers to clean latrines. Beth's favorite client is Alex Chapman, whose mother pays her to clean the single young executive's apartment though there is nothing to do as it is pristine. At his place with little cleaning to do, Beth uses his computer to write a television script, but saves her work to a disk rather than the hard drive. When she meets Alex, she confesses what she does in his apartment. He admits the place is not lived in; he uses it as a sham to keep his mom off his back. He also shows her script to his estranged wife Sarah, a literary agent, who likes what she reads and offers to represent Beth. As Beth and Alex fall in love, she has difficult choices to make. Sheila Norton's well written character driven chick lit tale will please fans because of Beth, a fine protagonist whose choices are not simple with potential falls on whatever she does. She matures during the fine written story line as she understands what a web we weave when we spin even a tiny white lie to deceive. Though the "epilogue" contains a sudden out of nowhere after a six month gap climax, readers will take great pleasure in this wonderful tale; now WOULD I LIE TO YOU otherwise?

Kylie Adams
ISBN: 0758210736, $6.99

No one who knows America's number one bachelor believes that Dean Paul Lockhart is getting married even if his woman is a former Real World participant. The paparazzi look forward to crashing the gala, but so does some of the Lockhart women if he fails to invite his gal pals. Party planner Lara Ward sees an opportunity if she can persuade Dean Paul to allow her to host the ceremony. She also needs a man at her side so she chooses hunky polo player Joaquin Cruz, but he wants more than just being girl candy. Another former Lockhart female, photographer Babe Mancini sees an opportunity too, but hers is more destructive. She detests Dean Paul and wonders if she should provide some personal photos she has of the hunk to her new boyfriend, cable news Jake James just in time for I do. Gabrielle Foster worries that her secret will be revealed as the tabloids dig five degrees of Dean Paul. She has hidden her affluent background in order that she can star as the rap queen Brown Sugar even concealing it from her boyfriend Bomb Threat. EX-GIRLFRIENDS is a fun chick lit tale that is kind of odd because the only fully developed character is Dean Paul, mostly from the differing viewpoints of the women who have known him. Though somewhat stereotyped, the trio of female former friends come across different as they converge on the nuptials not knowing what to expect or who to trust even the men on their arms. Readers will want to attend the wedding of the century (Luke and Laura were in the previous century).

The Secret Life of Mrs. Claus
Carly Alexander
ISBN: 0758209258, $12.95

"Prologue". Sales at Rossman's Department Stores are down. At the flagship store in Chicago, family members debate how to improve sales for the key holiday season. Over the objection of Daniel, the Rossman brood pushed by Meredith decide to reuse Mrs. Claus as part of their Christmas display for the rug rats. "A Little White Trim". In Baltimore, Olivia feels depressed as her broken ankle devastated her dream of becoming a dancer and her boyfriend Bobby ended their six-year relationship once he made it as a California producer of a TV show starring an evil Olivia. She accepts the gig as Mrs. Claus at Rossman's; soon she is offered a New York opportunity and Bobby wants her back while her pal, architect Woody seems so handsome. "A Tight Leather Belt". The Mrs. Claus suit has moved on to the San Francisco store where the frazzled single mom of Tyler, Cassie accepts the position to insure she does not lose her job at Rossman's. She is attracted to Buchman, but fears this will harm her five year old son. She learns the meaning of the holiday when Tyler vanishes and Buchman with Mistletoe the mouse comes to the rescue. "This Christmas, You Are What You Wear. The suit moves on to Chicago where family member Meredith darns the costume. The only jingle she cares about is the noise from credit and debit cards, checks, and paper money. She needs to increase sales by fifty percent or Daniel becomes the CEO instead of her. She relearns the magic of Christmas from Nick, the store's Santa. These three lighthearted holiday romantic romps are fun tales starring likable protagonists who seem so right together especially under the mistletoe.

Peter and Paul Lalonde
Thomas Nelson
ISBN: 0785267298, $10.99

His older sister Eileen was the believer when they were growing up and tried to get her siblings Tom and Calving to accept the word of Christ. As an adult she renewed her belief while her husband Jason turns to a series of other spiritual teachings. That is until Jason shouts at Eileen that she is a "Hater" and tries to kill her. Stunned Eileen tells Tom, who drives over to protect his sister. However, Tom is in a car accident leaving him comatose. When Tom awakens from his coma with his wife Suzie at his side, he finds the world has dramatically changed. Eileen and millions of other people vanished in what his sibling would have called the Rapture but those Left Behind do not share his memory of the "Haters" who disappeared; they simply did not exist. Meanwhile former global peacemaker Franco Macalousso enforces the use of virtual reality, in which he provides each earthling an option of swearing eternal allegiance to him as the Antichrist or suffers agony unimaginable until subsequent death will be welcomed. In spite of Eileen's teachings when Tom was a preadolescent he remains unsure of Christ, but rejects Macalousso though a third path is impossible. This novelization of one of the Left Behind movies, which is based on the original LaHaye and Jenkins series, is as is the original a simplistic Good vs. Evil portrayal, but remains an exciting character driven tale providing deep insight into the Christian End of Days concept. The story line grips the reader from the moment that Tom realizes the world has dramatically changed while he was sleeping. As Tom learns you are either part of the solution or the problem, fans of the LaHaye and Jenkins tales will not want to be Left Behind with the Lalonde version.

Tim Downs
ISBN: 1595540229, $19.99, 368 pp.

In an apartment in the TriBeCa section of New York City, a man is found shot to death. FBI agent Nathan Baldwin, who works in the counterterrorism unit, is at the scene. There is a host of dead fleas in the apartment; fleas that are not the ordinary cat fleas but those that caused the bubonic plague during the Middle Ages. Someone killed the fleas after the man was murdered and a funeral urn that was in the apartment vanished. Mr. Li calls Donovan about the fleas insisting he knows the man who owned them had someone put them in the apartment. He is Japanese scientist Soto Matushita who worked in a top secret site in Manchuria to develop a way of using the plague as a weapon of mass destruction. Soto hates the United States because his beloved sister died in the bombing of Hiroshima. He wants to kill as many Americans as possible and knows he can do it because he has been working on plague research since he left Japan for Russia and then for Syria where he is funded by Muslim extremists. Donovan leads the search for Soto but needs Li to identify him; Li has plans for the man who caused his great heartbreak. Considering the headlines dealing with Avian Flu, the events in PLAGUEMAKER seem all too plausible. Although one danger comes from nature and one comes from a science laboratory, both diseases have the potential to cause millions of deaths. Donovan is an angst ridden protagonist who believes Li's story and ends up with a quest he must succeed in or else plague will sweep over the city. Tim Downs has written an entertaining thriller that features two heroes that are generations apart yet share similar ideals. Fans of Jack Higgins and Tom Clancy will want to read this enthralling thriller.

Frank Peretti
ISBN: 084991180X, $24.99

Sheriff's Deputy Reed Shelton persuades his physically in shape wife (from jogging) Rebecca to go hiking and camping with him. Reluctant Beck agrees because she loves her spouse. However, when they reach the isolated cabin, someone has previously broken into it. Suddenly at night they are in trouble from an unknown assailant; while fleeing she falls and they end up separated in spite of his efforts to find her. Beck, who is not a survivalist like her husband, becomes lost in the wilderness, dangerous for her as a greenhorn. A frantic Reed and others search for Beck, who meets many odd beings on her quest to find her way back to her spouse. However, Reed and company meet with no success, but find instead something that one of them, a crime scene investigator, insists could not be human, killing anything in its path. The fear is that the creature is coming for Beck if it has not already succeeded. When the tale focuses on a strong search and rescue mission, the story line is a top rate thriller though the multitude of support characters can prove difficult to keep up with; but worth it as amazingly Frank Peretti gives the keys ones differing personalities. On the other hand when the center of the plot goes into an anti evolution tirade even with a potential Bigfoot explanation, the pace slows down accordingly as the novel turns lecturer rather than action-oriented. However, once past that diatribe, the book goes full speed with everyone wondering who will find Beck first even as she befriends some interesting creatures on her mystical trek through the wilds.

Kathryn Mackel
ISBN: 1595540393, $13.99

Due to the Endless Wars the darkest of dark ages has descended on the planet; truth, knowledge, and God's Word have become victims of the atrocities. Baron Alrod rules the Traxx with a malevolence that has not walked the earth in centuries; his objective is to destroy all who feebly oppose him. The only viable opposition with hope comes from beneath the ice where the Ark, founded when an angel gave Josiah the lost ancient words of God, resides. Now the next generation of late teens to early twenties from within the Ark of true believers has begun training. These Birthrighters plan to regain the Promised Land, segments of the surface. Founded by Brady they begin the battle against evil. Niki works with whales to deliver the rooks to their camp while her cohorts led by Brady skirmish with Alrod's gargants, his latest use of the old technology by his "sorcerers" who modified common folk into these monstrous atrocities to spread his domination. This is a great young adult post apocalypse thriller that grips readers once the audience (including ancient boomers) comprehends the vernacular; thus the plot starts slow, but the adjustment is relatively quick and worth learning the meanings as this enables the pandemic destruction with its two prime groups of survivors to seem genuine. The exciting escapades contain competitors from both camps who seem fully developed. For instance Niki struggles with hiding her feelings of what she assumes is her unrequited love for Brady. Faith in the ancient texts of God tests their mettle as much as the Alrod's minions. This is a great genesis tale that will remind fans of the 1980s TV show The Ark, but with an underlying religious message deftly handled as part of the story line.

Comes a Horseman
Robert Liparulo
ISBN: 0785261761, $21.99

Luco Scaramuzzi plans to be recognized as the Antichrist as he assumes he will become the wealthiest person on the planet. To achieve his goal, he starts with a bizarre assassination. Others homicides follow. FBI Agents Brady Moore and Alicia Wagner investigate the weird serial killings. Brady struggles with the accidental death of his wife forcing him to raise a son by himself; Alicia has her own cross to bear as she wants her partner, but being the stronger of the partners hides her deepest regard accepting unrequited love means do nothing to cost her his friendship. An affluent sect The Watchers and a lone card Pip Farago know that Luca is not the Antichrist as both wait the fulfilling of a millennium old prophesy. While Pip worries about the emergence of the most dangerous person on earth, the group looks forward to support him. Luco works to meet the test that would prove his claim; Pip has proof otherwise, but he wonders if he should share it with the Watchers, which by doing so would brings attention to him from that dangerous group. Meanwhile as part of his campaign, Luco targets the two Feds, who have found an apparent weird religious link. COMES A HORSEMAN uses the premise that for every light there is a dark counterpoint so that readers observe influential groups working for the success of a demonic age on earth. The story line is bloody frightening (literally and figuratively) as Robert Liparulo pushes his premise that hell's minions are nearby trying to conquer humanity and good deeds and faith may not be enough. Fans will appreciate this gritty apocalypse thriller that takes no prisoners, but should have a warning label to keep your most powerful religious symbol in your hands at all time; you will need it as they are coming.

Strange Bedfellows
Paula L. Woods
One World
ISBN: 0345457021, $23.95, 272 pp.

In 1993 Los Angeles Police Department Detective Charlotte Justice investigates a drive by shooting of elderly toy company CEO Chuck Zuccari, who has connections to the highest Republican power bases, his six-month pregnant wife Alma, a business associate African-American Muslims Malik Shareef and his spouse. The case has plenty of side intrusions complicating matters including the governor as Zuccari is politically connected and the FBI is looking into the activities of Malik and his brother and Habiba. She find these outside forces prove difficult to contend with, but complicating matters further is Zuccari's family who refuses to cooperate as they share plenty of anger that he married someone old enough to be his granddaughter and then impregnated her; making for two more heirs with better connections. Finally she has own problems as the case reminds her of her late husband and child gunned down thirteen years ago and her significant other and her family worry for her mental well being from job related stress and her internal organs from a diet of scotch and antacid tablets. The fourth Justice police procedural is a fabulous tale with a strong investigation complicated by sidebar intrusions and a lack of cooperation. Charlotte is at her best struggling professionally in a male world, coping with the demons that still gnaw at her, and finally roadblocks from her superiors, stonewalling from those involved in the case, sympathetic pleadings from her family and lover, and the warnings from the feds. Still this brave female, scotch in hand, seeks to live up to her surname.

The Thin Place
Kathryn Davis
Little, Brown
ISBN: 0316735043, $23.95, 288 pp.

In Varennes, the three schoolgirls see their neighbor, Mr. Banner lying perfectly still on the beach, even in their youthfulness they can see he is obviously dead. However, instead of getting help, one of children Mees Kipp brings him back to life, a power she has used since she was three and mentored since by Jesus. Her two pals Lorna and Sunny are a bit awed by the revival of Banner from the dead, but do not fully grasp the miracle. Meanwhile bookbinder Andrea Murdock has done research into the 1870 disaster that still haunts Varennes like it occurred yesterday. Apparently a schoolmarm and several students died in what is now commonly known as the Sunday School Outing Disaster. At the same time nonagenarian Helen Zeebrugge wonders when her sexagenarian son Piet will grow up as he always seems to think with the wrong head. Now newcomer Billie Carpenter targets him, but first must he must deal with an evil related to that 1870 disaster that threatens the existence of the townsfolk today with a repeat of the previous calamity. Not knowing whether to trust Mees, who just might be mentored by the malevolence, Billie's only weapon in her repertoire is love though she has never been the recipient of such. THE THIN PLACE is a weird but exhilarating King meets Kafka like thriller that haunts readers even after the novel is finished. The story line is character driven, but the changing atmosphere of the town is what the audience senses although they are not fully sure what is coming down. If you have not tried Kathryn Davis you are missing one of the best author's at keeping readers' attention from start to finish as no one knows where the author will escort you to, only that it will be strange, scary, and suspenseful.

The Gift
Pete Hamill
Little, Brown
ISBN: 0316011894, $16.95, 153 pp.

In 1952 seventeen and a half years old Pete is going home to spend Christmas with his parents, in realty mom as dad is never there for him, until he ships out to Korea as a sailor. Before leaving for the small war, Pete wishes he could help his beloved mom with money that she does not have, but still uses to decorate the Brooklyn apartment just for him. He also wants to come to grips with his two failed relationships before shipping to the war zone. Recently his girlfriend Kathleen sent him a Dear John letter while he was at boot camp and he never has had anything to do with his brusque father Billy. Pete quickly realizes that Kathleen has met someone else so he knows that relationship is over. Billy continues to act like his son is an inconvenient stranger until Pete decides to go into the lion's lair. On Christmas Eve, he shocks himself as much as his dad when he visits his father's only hangout, the neighborhood bar Rattigan's, for the first time. There he begins to see a different side to the always tired and snippy factory worker who sired him as they drink the night away together. This reprint of a 1970s warm Yuletide family drama remains current perhaps because our leaders still send our working class (and disadvantaged) youths to war. Though at times a bit schmaltzy the story line provides a powerful look at Brooklyn during the early 1950s, but does so through the interrelationships or lack of between Pete and his parents. Fans will hope that Pete gets THE GIFT he so much desires in life that his father calls him "son".

Celestine Hitiura Vaite
Back Bay (Little, Brown)
ISBN: 0316114669, $12.95

On Tahiti, after a spat with her spouse Pito, cleaning woman Materena Mahi finds she is pregnant while her husband has run away. She debates what to do in the interim while she waits for Pito to come home which she assumes he inevitably will. Meanwhile she gives birth to the precious Leilani; over the next few years she trains her daughter on how to be a Tahitian, but is unable to provide her beloved child with answers to her western style questions. Though she detests sending her daughter to the Catholic school as she sees her daughter as a blessing, Materena does because they can respond to Leilani's curiosity much better than she can. Her only stipulation to her cherished offspring is to insure that she does not make her into a grandmother before her fortieth birthday. However the spirited and intelligent Leilani falls in love anyway. This is a fascinating family drama that provides a strong look at the culture of native Tahitians as much as the universality of love between a mother and a daughter. The story line focuses initially on Materena, but quickly switches to her relationship with her beloved Leilani. Fans of character studies (predominately two women) from a rarely seen locale will appreciate how the mom ignoring the local truism that daughters are curses raises a chip off the old block, a strong caring young woman.

Flashman on the March
George MacDonald Fraser
ISBN: 1400044758, $24.00

In 1867 on the voyage from Mexico bearing the body of Emperor Max, Sir Harry "Flashy" Flashman seduces the royal niece of an Austrian Admiral. In Trieste, his hosts become upset with his dalliance, but the resourceful cad escapes prosecution or execution when he fortunately for him meets a friend from the British Foreign Office, who explains that a rescue mission needs a diplomat. Flashman volunteers as the British envoy on a dangerous mission led by General Robert Napier to exchange silver for the freedom of several hundred European hostages held by Abyssinian King Theodore. However, as always is the case when Flashman becomes involved in an escapade, nothing goes right. Making matters more complex is Theodore is crazy taking immense pleasure at providing minor stings that annoy Queen Victoria and her retinue. Still Britannia Rules the globe with the sun never sets and all that bloody rot motivating the rescuers that is except Flashman, who is more interested in the charms of the female natives than saving imperialists. The historical aspects feel genuine perhaps because the racial superior attitude of the British comes across so loud and in one's face. The mission and rescue efforts of Napier come from the history books, but are presented as fascinating tidbits. However, as usual Flashman is politically incorrect even in a ninetieth imperialist century context as he, as an aging Lothario, chases women around the globe. His misadventures enhanced by a realistic glimpse at the Whiteman's Burden theology provide a powerful delightful entry in one of better historical series on the market today.

In Lucia's Eye
Arthur Japin
ISBN: 1400044642, $24.00

In Pasiano, Italy fourteen years old virginal servant Lucia works in a noble house. There she meets seventeen years old just as virginal seminarian student Giacomo Casanova. The youngsters fall in love until she Lucia catches smallpox that scars her face terribly. Unable to face her lover, she runs off Giacomo before fleeing across Europe. She earns her way doing various jobs especially as a prostitute to those every other fallen woman rejected. Eventually she becomes Madam Galathee de Pompignac running a popular brothel in Amsterdam and using a sexy veil to hide her visage while also making her mysterious to her clients. Casanova, renowned as the seducer le Chevalier de Seingalt, meets his first love and they wager a war of words, wit, and a challenge to determine whose gender is the stronger. This fascinating historical tale provides a different look at Casanova through the eyes of his first love. Her trials and tribulations turn her into a strong intelligent woman during an era when females were not expected to show any wit. The period is vividly described, though at times the window into the mid eighteenth century overwhelms the battle of the sexes. Still Arthur Japin provides a solid gender war that humanizes the legendary lover as he competes in a fierce skirmish of the mind and the body against his greatest opponent, his first love.

The Sea
John Banville
ISBN: 0307263118, $23.00

Middle aged Irishman Max Morden mourns deeply the loss of his wife Anna. Needing to escape the overwhelming memories and though fifty years have passed since he has been there, Max retreats to the Cedars, a house that was the summer home of the Graces, who strongly influenced him when he was a child. He takes a room there hiding from his normal now dispirited life. Max thinks back to that summer when the affluent Graces vacationed at the Cedars. They "adopted" him as their personal waif for those glorious months. Though the parents, the authoritative father and the real family ruler the mother treated him nicely, the twin daughters Chloe and Myles were his connection. He compares that time with the lingering illness until death do us part of his spouse and his daughter Claire. Worried about her dad, Claire tries to help Max overcome his depression; but he wants to sink deeper into the past when death was something adults dealt with and youngsters like him blithely played all day without a care in the world. THE SEA runs fathoms deep as the audience obtains a remarkable character study that focuses on an individual who in spite of expecting the Grim Reaper to call cannot cope when the visit occurs. Max is morbid and melancholy as he mourns his loss and cannot cope with it; while his daughter can readily see his angst but has no concept on how to return her dad to the living. Readers will sympathize with Max, but wonder whether the past will engulf his present and future or will he realize those idyllic days had woes too that his memories chose to discriminately ignore.

The Amalgamation Polka
Stephen Wright
ISBN: 067945117X, $24.95, 304 pp.

To their chagrin, Carolina slaveholders Asa and Ida Maury cannot understand how their daughter Roxana rejects the institution that puts food on her plate. In fact Roxana finds treating people as slaves an abomination while growing up at Redemption Hall. Upsetting her parents even more so, Roxana marries Thatcher Fish of a prominent upstate New York family, who are abolitionist activists. In 1844, Roxana gives birth to a son, named Liberty for obvious reasons. He grows up in a household that strongly believes in freedom for everyone regardless of race, religion, national origin or gender. " are con artists. When the Civil War begins, Liberty enlists dreaming of freeing the abused slaves. However, he finds war horrific not glorious, but soon ends up visiting his matriarchal home where he meets his ailing grandma and a deranged Asa, who performs appalling experimentation that lead to death on his slaves. As the Northern army closes in on the Redemption Hall area, Asa, leaving behind Ida, flees taking Liberty with him on a vessel running the blockade for Nassau. The Roxana and Liberty subplots aided by another involving Uncle Potter in Kansas, tie together to forge a satirical look at the grotesqueness of the human condition. The story line is filed with action, but is more a purposely exaggerated period piece that inanely accentuates the worse. Readers who appreciate tons of irony will enjoy this solid sordid hyperbole that applies inductive reasoning to make a timely case of freedom for all when the Patriot Act and zealous fundamentalists want to homogenize the First Amendment.

The Lighthouse
P.D. James
ISBN: 030726291X, $25.95

The other affluent residents on Combe Island off the Cornish coast are outraged by the behavior and disregard of their feelings and property by renowned novelist Nathan Oliver. The staff detests him even more. Most just want him to leave, but someone does not wait as Oliver is murdered and hung off the famous lighthouse. Scotland Yard assigns Metropolitan Murder Squad Commander Adam Dalgliesh to lead the homicide investigation that requires extraordinary prudence as the stressed out elite who reside there will not tolerate even a gentle police interrogation nor does the owning family want a media frenzy. Assisting him are DI Kate Miskin and Sergeant Francis Benton-Smith. The three cops quickly learn that no one, not even the victim's daughter Miranda or his editor Dennis Tremlett grieve their loss. Some prefer to believe he hated himself as much as other loathed him so they insist he committed suicide. An accident is possible, but looks doubtful to the investigators as they lean towards murder. THE LIGHTHOUSE is an entertaining Dalgliesh police procedural that hooks the audience from the moment the super Commander and his crack team reach Combe Island. They are received by locals that do not wish to cooperate because all agree whether it was murder, suicide, or an accident, the outcome was correct. The romance plays a supporting role to the investigation that showcases the great P.D. James at her best.

You May Now Kill the Bride
Deborah Donnelly
ISBN: 0440242843, $5.99, 304 pp.

In Seattle someone knifes wealthy Owen Winter shocking visiting wedding planner Carnegie Kincaid, who was soon to be his daughter-in-law when he married her mom. The San Juan Island, Washington cops assume the killer is a family member, business associate or friend with a grudge. Carnegie agrees with their assessment, but still ponders who the killer is even as she really knows no one except her best friend whose wedding she was working on and her mom. She rules both of them out as she could never love a killer. However, she considers Owen's obnoxious daughters or his former lover in between consoling her mom, working with a horde of unknown support players needed for a successful wedding, and pondering her future with boyfriend Aaron Gold (see DEATH TAKES A HONEYMOON). As usual the mystery tales a back seat to the zany cast especially the heroine whose diatribes are worth the price of admission even without some of the usual suspects performing in the fun story line. Carnegie competes with the police investigating the who-done-it with her as a stumbling bumpkin vs. their professionalism. That and her asides make for a terrific Puget Sound cozy.

Manor of Death
Leslie Caine
ISBN: 0440241774, $6.99, 372 pp.

In Crestview, Colorado homeowners are getting their houses in shape in preparation for the upcoming Historic Home Tour. Interior Designer Erin Gilbert is contracted to renovate Francine Findley's Victorian mansion even though she won't let Erin take down the wall that sealed off the only staircase to the roof. It was closed off decades ago after a teenager jumped from that same roof. Erin doesn't give credence to the rumors that the mansion is haunted but when she sees a young woman on Francine's roof, she believe the person is the very much alive Willow McAndrews, who lives on the other side of Francine's abode with Diana Durst. When Willow falls off the same roof as the dead Abby did over four decades ago Erin is a witness and sees Lisa, Francine's daughter on the roof. Lisa declares she got there after Willow fell but Erin believes Lisa isn't telling everything she knows. Helped by her business rival Steve Sullivan, they search for clues that will lead to Willow's killer. When a second person dies, one who is linked to Willow, both Erin and Steve think the murders are somehow linked to Abby's death. Now all they have to do is find the evidence to prove it without getting killed. Leslie Caine has written a charming amateur sleuth tale that is filled with humor, intrigue, and a complicated who done it. This murder is up close and personal for Erin because the evidence points to several different neighbors as possible suspects and she suspects that when the killer is found she is going to be upset because it will be someone she trusted implicitly. Erin feels for Steve a more powerful emotion than annoyance, one that could change her life it she has the courage to look into her heart. Perhaps she will in future books.

Rain Dogs
Sean Doolittle
ISBN: 0440242819, $6.99

His daughter would have turned five yesterday if she had not died. Former Chicago reporter Tom Coleman celebrated the day by getting drunk in a cheap motel room. His marriage ended with their child's death so no one will care except perhaps the lawyers at Tyler & Tyler in the "Heart City" Valentine, Nebraska. They expected him three days ago to discuss the will of his late grandfather Parker, who he had only seen a few times as the man had turned into a cantankerous hermit since his wife died. Tom mulls over what to do with the canoe business on the Niobrara River his grandfather left him. He figures he has nothing else so why not make a go at it though he is not so certain about the pot using employee Duane Foster he also inherited. Tom also hopes to hook up with his college girlfriend widow Abby though he is not as certain about her unruly teenage stepson Scott. The DEA scrutinize Tom when a methyl-amphetamine lab blows up near his property. Unable to stop his journalist genes, Tom, over the warning from the local and federal law enforcement, investigates drug trafficking in the heartland. The key to this powerful crime thriller is Tom who holds the exciting story line together with his shaky relationships with his family, his ex, and his new acquaintances. In many ways his only friend is the bottle though he tries to score with Abby even as he cannot stand the moody Scott. The drug investigation is cleverly devised so that the reader obtains a strong mystery, but the RAIN DOGS belong to Tom terrific, who drinks to hide his loneliness and fear that he is just like his grouchy grandfather.

The Delilah Complex
M.J. Rose
ISBN: 0778322157, $6.99

Sex therapist Morgan Snow wants to move past the notoriety gained when she stopped a serial killer (see THE HALO EFFECT). However, her reputation has reached the powerful members of the Scarlet Society, a group of wealthy females who like being dominant in sexual encounters with willing males. The group is in panic mode because someone sent pictures to the New York Times reporter Betsy Young of a brutalized corpse of submissive Philip Maur, Chief Operating Officer of Wall St. firm Grimley & Maur. They ask Morgan to investigate the Maur murder. NYPD Detective Noah Jordain leads the official investigation, by has a hunch that the reporter is not fully cooperating with him. He wonders if Young prefers the headlines rather than stopping the killer, who he believes will murder again because of the 1 painted on the victim's chest. He is proven correct when pictures of 2 and 3 are sent to Young. Meanwhile the Scarlet Society members are concerned with being discovered, but Morgan thinks that is inevitable because she concludes that one of these women has taken to snuffing out the male submissives perhaps for the ultimate dominant sexual pleasure. THE DELILAH COMPLEX is an exciting who-done-it that grips the audience from the opening scene when the normally never scared Maur is frightened to death and never slows down until the Tylenol epilogue between mother and teen daughter. The story line is action-packed, but the cast makes the thriller work. Besides obviously Noah and Morgan who investigate the homicides, the dominant females and their submissive males provide an intriguing gender bending BDSM scene that is implied rather then explicit. M.J. Rose's Snow-Butterfield Institute tales are some of the more exciting series on the market today.

Gwen Hunter
ISBN: 0778322211, $6.99, 384 pp.

Tyler St. Clair of Bloodstone Jewelry attends a gem and rock trade show in Asheville when someone assaults her. Later she returns to her hotel room only to find it trashed; nothing is missing. Later her second sight tells her that someone abducted her brother David and not long afterward she receives her first warning that she better give back what he took or else; she has no idea what the caller alludes to her possessing. The police caught David's kidnapping on tape, but Tyler's immediate concern is for her niece Jane. Finally Aunt Matilda calls to tell her to let the cop in as he wants to help her just as Agent Evan Bartlock arrives. Using her "Gift", Tyler assisted by Evan search for the missing David. However, her unknown opponent seems to anticipate their moves as if he or she also has second sight. She turns to friends and colleagues to also help her especially with the shook up Jane, but whom do you trust with a loved one as each step she and Evan takes leads deeper into a dark deadly diverse conspiracy where the evil medium is money. BLOODSTONE is an action-packed romantic paranormal thriller starring two wonderful characters; while Tyler learns to stop hating and love her Gift, her champion Evan is with her every perilous step in her frantic rescue effort. The villain in some ways is more her equal than Evan, but he makes up the difference and more with his willingness to risk his life for her. Fans of fast-paced adventure tales with a touch of the extrasensory and a lot of romance will need to hunt no further than this super suspense filled novel.

Mr. Murder
Laura Van Wormer
ISBN: 0778321770, $24.95, 352 pp.

Sally Harrington starts her new job as the host of "DBS News America This Morning" at the same time her hometown paper Castleford, Connecticut's Daily Herald rips her up apparently because the editor is angry with her mother. However that is nothing compared to finding the corpse of Wilson Delafield, torched to death in his garden shed probably because the ace reporter exposed him as an animal arsonist. That follows up with the author of the nasty editorial beaten to death and left on the doorstep of Sally's Connecticut house. The police know Sally is the link between the two homicides, but how is impossible to fathom. Meanwhile Sally struggles in her personal life too. She enjoys her quality time with the much younger former California cop Paul Fitzwilliam. However at an affiliate convention, her other lover attorney David Waring arrives along with someone who plans to kill Sally. The key that keeps the Harrington tales fresh is the support cast; whether they are recurring or new, each is unique and brings fascinating perspectives to the story line. The villain is a mean individual seeking vengeance while Sally's lovers are as competitive towards her as ever. However Sally remains the center as her career continues to take off with a lot of homicides in her wake. Fans of the series will enjoy Laura Van Wormer's latest thriller.

Heathen Girls
Luanne Jones
ISBN: 0778322823, $12.95, 336 pp.

Growing up in Orla, Arkansas, their grandmother dubbed the three cousins the "heathen girls" for their wild antics. Several years later, the oldest Bess steals Charma's fiance Guy causing a deep rift in the family. Now three decades later, Aunt Fawnie calls Charma pleading with her to come home because Bess owns the "Aunt Farm" and plans to evict the family from the homestead. Reluctantly Charma, accompanied by her friend Sterling, comes home to pick up the urn containing her mother's ashes and to confront Bess with what she is doing to their aunts. Instead Bess challenges her to take charge of her life and that of her family as she is dying from cancer and someone must care for the relatives with Charma the only one capable of doing so. Bess also says her only regret is stealing Guy but definitely not her expose book on "Home among the Heathens". She even sets the example to live to the fullest when she falls in love with Sterling, who reciprocates as he is awed by her gust for life though she knows her days are limited. Charma begins to understand and believe again, but wonders if it is too late for her and Guy. HEATHEN GIRLS is an intriguing family drama in which secrets and hurtful actions have divided loved ones. The broken relationship between Charma and Bess drives the plot with the latter trying to patch things up before she dies while the former struggles between reconciliation and eternal resentment. Fans of character driven tales with little action, but a deep cast with personal conflict and grudges will enjoy Luanne Jones's fine second chance tale.

Dinner with Anna Karenina
Gloria Goldreich
ISBN: 0778322270, $21.95, 368 pp.

The six women who make up the book club meet monthly to discuss a chosen tale. Trish is married to Jason; Donna has two men in her life; Rina is a single mom; Jen is married to Ian, Elizabeth has Bert. However, all envy the sixth member Cynthia. She has a great job as marketing director of Nightingale's Boutique department Store; her sensitive husband Eric is a renowned documentary filmmaker; and they have two perfect twin children. Thus the other five are stunned when Cynthia informs them that she is divorcing Eric, but she refuses to provide reasons beyond that she cannot forgive him. The other five speculate on what he did, but Cynthia remains stubborn refusing to divulge her secret. After a time of failed sleuthing, each of the other five begins to look inward at their own flawed relationships wondering what they can do to strengthen them. No one knows why the perfect marriage dissolved during their DINNER WITH ANNA KARENINA, but no one wants to follow suit. Once again the great Gloria Goldreich provides a powerful relationship drama starring a wounded woman who feels so betrayed that she no longer trusts the man she loves. Readers will join the quintet trying to learn what he did and how can he atone for his transgression that destroyed their marriage. However, the key to this deep tale is the ensemble cast that comes across as differing individuals with varying needs, worrying about their own relationships with loved ones. Fans of powerful character studies will want to read this strong look at trust lost.

The Handmaiden's Necklace
Kat Martin
ISBN: 0778322076, $7.99, 416 pp.

Rafael Saunders finds a note written by his fiancee Danielle Duval asking his friend Oliver Randall to come to her room tonight. Stunned Rafael arrives at Danielle's room to find a naked Oliver in bed with her. He like everyone else blames Danielle for the scandal though she swears she is innocent. She remained in hiding for five years, but two weeks before going to America to marry her new fiance businessman, Richard Clemens in Philadelphia, her beloved Aunt Flora coaxes Danielle to make an appearance amidst the ton. Rafael attends the same bash. He angrily asks why the betrayal, but she still insists she is innocent and that he betrayed her. Stunned Rafael hires Bow St. runner Joseph McPhee to learn the truth; two weeks later, Joseph reports that Oliver hates Rafael, duped him, and that Danielle told the truth. He wounds Oliver in a duel, but Danielle has left for America. Rafael pursues the one woman whom he loves not knowing whether he can overcome the mistakes he perpetrated on his beloved. The circumstantial evidence that condemned his beloved five years ago haunts Rafael, as he realizes how much he allowed Oliver to dupe him, which in turn makes him a less than sympathetic protagonist, but perfect for this deep Regency romance. Thus the audience empathizes with the unfairly scarlet lettered female who hopefully will find happiness in America. Oliver's plan seems weak as he destroys two lives without a blink, but also assumes somehow he will win Danielle's hand. Still historical romance fans will appreciate this fine tale starring a mortified lead male trying to overcome all the mistakes he caused when he failed to follow up on his beloved's crying pain of innocence.

Dawn Encounter
Jennifer Blake
ISBN: 0778322130, $5.99, 416 pp.

In 1840 New Orleans, maitre d'Armes Caid O'Neill enjoyed killing odious Eugene Moisant in a duel though it has cost him some business at his fencing school. On his way home he finds unconscious Moisant's widow Lisette lying on her late husband's grave, an apparent suicide attempt. He takes her to a friend's home where Lisette insists her father-in-law Henri is trying to poison her to gain control of her fortune. She tries to hire Caid to protect her, but he initially refuses until Henri arrives to softly demand she comes home. She refuses; Caid recognizing evil agrees to protect her. Irate, Henri vows to kill Caid and rape and kill Lisette. Caid tries to remain proper though he finds he desires the widow. She also frustrates him as she refuses to become a bird in a gilded cage, which exposes her to danger. Caid decides to find her the right husband, but he falls in love with his ward; she reciprocates as she realizes he is not a killer, but instead a sensitive person who detests using violence though he is not afraid to do so. Henri sets in motion his plan of vengeance and wealth gathering that starts and ends with two homicides. The latest Maitre D'Armes Tale (see CHALLENGE TO HONOR) is an exciting historical romantic suspense thriller that stars two courageous individuals struggling against a powerful enemy whose hatred seems insurmountable. Though Henri is a villainous caricature, the action-packed story line vividly brings pre Civil War New Orleans to life even while the triangle of love and death between Henri, Caid and Lisette is the focus of the plot. Fans will appreciate this sword and romance thriller.

Night Laws
Jim Michael Hansen
Dark Sky Publishing, Inc.
218 S. McIntyre Way, Golden, CO 80401
ISBN: 0976924307, $13.95

Denver Homicide Detective Bryson Coventry visits attorney Kelly Parks of Holland, Roberts and Northway LLC to question her as a killer used his latest victim's cell phone to call her at her private office line, but being a Sunday she was not in and he left no message. Bryson shows her the pictures of young teacher D'endra Vaughn taken at the crime scene to shake her up before interrogating Kelly. He believes she is more than just a link, but the next victim. Kelly tells him she does not know the deceased, but begins to connect the dots from his inquiry. Kelly concludes that the homicide is related to the quasi at best legal situation she and other members of the firm performed that probably led to a murder herself. Either way she needs to know thee truth and stop an avenging angel before he kills her. Kelly investigates the one dark mark on her career at the same time that Bryson digs deeper and deeper while the killer waits for the moment to change her listing to dead. NIGHT LAWS is a terrific investigative tale that moves forward one step and subsequently takes two steps backwards or sideways as the cop and the lawyer separately realize that their inquiries prove complicated, complex and convoluted. The case is conducted along two serpentine paths that of a police procedural and an amateur sleuth. However, the reason the story line is so good and worth reading is the prime cast members especially the two sleuths seem very real; she filled with regret and remorse and he with stopping the killer. Jim Michael Hanson provides a strong thriller that leads the audience into tracking the culprit alongside of the two courageous investigators.

Silver Dreams
Sondra Rice Newman
Robert Reed Publishers
P.O. Box 1992, Bandon, Oregon, 97411
ISBN: 1931741565, $24.95

Thirtyish Wildman & Wildman group Vice President Leigh Meredith feels good about her life. She likes her six figure paying job especially its side benefits like eating at the best dining spots and limo service, has a great Manhattan apartment and a wonderful boyfriend tax attorney Sven Anderson. She leaves the office to celebrate Christmas with Sven, who is coming direct to her from the airport after taking care of an elderly aunt in Green Bay. Instead of Yuletide joy, however Sven informs her that he loves his former girlfriend Deidre Nelson whom he ran into in Wisconsin. Distraught, Leigh reassesses her world and finds it deficient leaving her to wonder if she lacks the capacity to be loved. She decides the time is now to start over before her thirty-fourth birthday. She obtains work at the Fox Creek Gazette in Virginia and makes friends with one-eyed thoroughbred Silver Dreams, who she wonders if he could successfully race. She asks retired acrimonious trainer Whit Riley for help with her dreams of the Breeders Cup. Her enthusiasm reaches inside the brooding Whit and they fall in love but an antagonist has plans to steal Leigh's horse and man. SILVER DREAMS is an excellent contemporary tale that focuses on two people and a horse seeking second chances at life. The romance cleverly enhances the efforts of the trio to make it into the winner's circle, but not just that of racing. Though the rival's avaricious grab seems unnecessary added suspense to an awesome relationship drama, readers will take heart from this strong inspirational winner that showcases that there's a place for everyone if they take a chance, even on a longshot.

Bad Advice
Martha Vialli with Karen Krizanovich
Chamberlain Bros (Penguin)
ISBN: 159609088X, $13.95, 384 pp.

As the subtitle states BAD ADVICE is "A Nasty Little Book for Good Girls Who Want to Be Bad". Actually the "reference" book is a satirical series of tips on how to turn around situations. Tongue in cheek, readers will either laugh out loud over the suggestions, test some (be prepared for the consequences when you try Evel Knievel stunts like the get off work tip because that could backfire and get you fired), or dislike the inanity and stop reading. This reviewer found the book hilarious reading a few pointers at a time while my spouse tried unsuccessfully to hide the tome as he did not want to be the subject of experimenting. So take off your Ronald McDonald's mask, confront the opponent with zaniness and absurdity, and transform into a bad girl. Aside to Ms Vialli: I am AARP ancient so does that mean it is too late for me to convert? Then again maybe I don't have to change as there are writers, publishers and readers who classify me as such and some might try these ruses on a pain in the butt bad girl reviewer.

The Witness
Dee Henderson
ISBN: 1414308124, $13.99, 378 pp.

Deputy Chief of Police Luke Granger is in a shopping mall when a female tells him there is a woman in the ladies room who needs help. He rushes over there; a shocked Kelly Brown (w ho is really Amanda Griffin who is on the run) informs him to go to the storeroom in Bressman's Jewelry where he'll find victims murdered by one of the worker's ex-husband. She also tells him that she can't stay because she is being chased by someone who wants her dead and she has been on the run for five years. Three years later, Amanda Griffin contacts Luke, telling him that the crime lord who wants her dead is in jail even though some of his loyal men are willing to kill her after they get the ledgers that belong to Robert Wise. Mandy came back because her sisters inherited a lot of money which is in the news and makes them a target of her enemy. Luke assures Maggie that he will keep her family safe so Mandy decides to stay awhile. Two deaths related to heir sisters' inheritance occur and the man who tried to kill her in New York City is in town. Another death occurs and Mandy decides that she will find the killer who is trying to destroy her and her loved ones. Dee Henderson has the magic touch when it comes to creating characters readers care about. The audience will find themselves crying, rooting for the killer to be found and hoping Mandy can find some happiness after eight years of running from a killer not knowing where to go so he can be safe. The deaths that occur weigh on her and the guilt almost destroys her but Luke, who cares about her, helps her carry her burden and her need to find the culprit. THE WITNESS is an exhilarating thriller that has enough action, romance and intrigue to grab and keep reader interest.

The Sacred Cut
David Hewson
ISBN: 038533849X, $22.00, 342 pp.

In Rome, Laila, a homeless Iraqi refugee seeks warmth from the wintry weather when she observes the brutal murder in the Pantheon. The victim is naked with mystical carvings etched into the flesh and positioned apparently to mimic Leonardo da Vinci's The Vitruvian Man. Roman detectives Gianni Peroni and Nic Costa places the witness under police protection with pathologist Teresa Lupo "mothering" theyoungster who saw so much death and destruction at home and now in Rome. The two Italian cops investigate the homicide when FBI agent Joel Leapman orders them to back off or else while his Fed partner Emily Deacon tries to be diplomatic asking the locals to stay out of the case as it is part of a wider global investigation into a killer with no boundaries. Others Rome homicides occur, but neither Peroni or Lupo can understand the meaning of the religious symbolism and positioning of each corpse. The Italian police wonder whether it is a ritual killing or a calling card to play cat-and-mouse with the cops and are angry that the Feds know so much more but offer nothing to further the Roman inquiries. The third Roman police procedural starring Peroni and Costa is a fabulous thriller that has the audience enticed and captured by the opening moment when Laila is introduced to the reader. The story line is filled with twists as the readers like the two local detectives wonder if a religious serial killer is at work and what is the culprit trying to accomplish. The Feds add obxiousness especially the rude Leapman while omitting what they know about the killer. Fans will fully appreciate this strong tale while wondering for most of the novel where David Hewson is guiding us.

The Younger Man
Sarah Tucker
Red Dress
ISBN: 0373895658, $12.95, 272 pp.

In London as divorce attorney Hazel Chamberlayne nears her fortieth birthday her cynicism towards the opposite sex grows geometrically at the same time the empty nest syndrome beckons with her beloved daughter heading off to college. Hazel feels quite good with being a senior partner and believes life begins at forty, but also feels somewhat lonely having not dated since her own divorce. The firm has a new legal partner, Joe Ryan, who Hazel, shocking herself, finds quite desirable as she has not felt that way towards a male in a long time. Joe, though he has a live-in girlfriend and is ten years her junior, reciprocates her feelings. Though Joe makes efforts to prove not all men think with that head as he is falling in love, Hazel refuses to step out of her safe zone as she knows an affair with a junior partner could cause havoc on the firm and besides he has a lover; no sloppy seconds for her. This is an interesting look at a boardroom romance between a senior female partner and the junior male newcomer; part of the profundity is the woman being the older person in the potential relationship. When the story line focuses on Hazel and her relationships with her ex, her daughter, her staff, and now Joe, the tale is top rate. When her zillion friends share the lead, the plot slows down under overload. In spite of too many sidebars tidbits, Sarah Tucker provides a compelling relationship tale between an older woman and THE YOUNGER MAN.

The Breakup Club
Melissa Senate
Red Dress
ISBN: 0373895585, $12.95

At a New York publishing firm, the quartet work on a complex project, but realize they share in common that each has been involved in a recent breakup. They start to lend an ear to one another. Thirtyish Lucy Miller-Masterson is stunned that her handsome spouse, a doctor, is apparently dumping her by New Year's. She is not sure whether she wants Larry to leave now or plead with him to stay, but is most concerned for her twelve year old daughter Amelia. Lucy's depressed younger sister Miranda Miller is in denial that her beloved Gabriel Anders dumped her instead of marrying her. She will do anything to get him back but as six months have passed and Gabriel has a new lover, Miranda musty face reality. Christopher Levy feels real good now that he and his wife Jodie have becomes the parents of Ava. Thus he is stunned when his spouse moves in with another man taking Ava with her. Finally the youngest Roxy Marone jilted her best friend Robbie Roberts on the day of their wedding. Still, in spite of being the dumper she feels like the dumpee as she wonders if she made a mistake. Rotating the point of view between the foursome, fans receive a deep look at the aftermath of a relationship when it falls apart. Contemporary readers will appreciate the interesting cast including solid support players working to overcome depression to get their lives back in motion.

Dead Walkers: The Protectorate
Angelique Armae
ImaJinn Books
ISBN: 1893896366, $13.75

In 1815 Ireland Donovan Bramwell is a mixed breed part vampire and part mortal. His grandfather heads the Protectorate, an organization consisting of vampires and humans at war with the malevolent Upyran Vampires sect that sees mortals as the lowest rung of the food chain. Donovan hates both sides. When the Upyran Vampires Prince Vestos bit him and killed his father, the Protectorate did nothing. Now his grandfather has become a total vampire so he expects his heir Donovan to lead The Protectorate or he will be left penniless and homeless. At the same time Donovan deliberates his future, Ceni Princess Iceni needs help regaining her lost amulet stolen by Vastos when the vampires and their Roman allies eradicated her people. She chooses Donovan as her best bet and starts to seduce him into being her loyal slave, but her effort fails when he reads her mind. Still he finds a desire to help Ceni and wonders if she already completed her seduction of what is left of his soul that he fears will make him enslaved to Vastos. However Vastos has his own dilemma as he knows his soul is rotting. To save himself he either must kill Donovan or Iceni for he is a Dead Walker too. DEAD WALKERS: THE PROTECTORATE is a terrific fantasy that provides the audience a powerful tale in which the three prime species, vampires, mortals, and the quasi seem genuine especially in their varying interrelationships. The action-packed story line provides insight into the diverse vampiric clans and how the quasi live in human and vampiric camps. The triangle of life and death between the lead trio makes for a compelling one sitting supernatural thriller, but it's the world they live in that fascinates readers.

More Sweet Tea
Assortment of authors
ISBN: 0967303591, $14.95

As expected from the Mossy Creek ensemble, this anthology provides an entertaining insightful look at the south. The fifteen tales are well written with each focusing on relationships made better by sharing sweet tea (no artificial ingredients allowed). As this reviewer read two to three tales a night, the charming stories reminded me of the trial scene in My Cousin Vinnie in which Pesci as the defense lawyer describes how to cook grits as he actually uses that as a metaphor on life. That is what the MORE SWEAT TEA and SWEET TEA gifts the audience. Fans will find the anthology quite endearing and groundbreaking as these belles of the south now include a male contributor this time, (Mike Roberts) amidst the iron maidens with hearts who have provided strong regional short stories with a variety of regional recipes such as Aunt Sophie's Pennies from Heaven or Bubba's Chili that go well with MORE SWEET TEA.

Hot Pursuit
Karen Rose, Annie Solomon & Carla Cassidy
ISBN: 0451217349, $6.99, 272 pp.

"Dirty Secrets" by Karen Rose. A letter that is mislaid brings former high school friends Christopher and Emma back together in an effort to recover it. However, neither expected the danger from losing the letter as secrets are revealed that some would say should have remained hidden. "Necessary Betrayals" by Annie Solomon. Because she feels it is important to be legit following the imprisonment of her father five years ago, Francesca ended her ties with her dad's mob friends even before he died. However, following a mob murder, her sister Gina apparently observed it and then vanished afterward. Fearing the worst, Francesca turns back to those she avoided including the mob and the police detective Quinn whose efforts sent her dad to prison. "Endless Night" by Carla Cassidy. Amanda cannot believe how her blind date could turn so dangerous, but like a B movie it does. She finds herself on the run with a former cop Clay whose identity has been revealed to a hit-man hired to kill the ex law enforcement official. These three action-packed novellas start at hyperspeed only to accelerate even faster until the final climax. Each tale contains strong women in the Perils of Pauline like trouble working to survive alongside a male who risks their lives to keep these courageous females they are falling in love with alive.

Suite Fantasy
Janice Maynard
ISBN: 0451217500, $13.95, 256 pp.

"Suite Seduction". In Atlanta Katie is insecure about how much her boyfriend Dylan cares for her as he always praises her for being sweet. She plans to show him the smoky sexy side of her at Scimitar Hotel, in Asheville, North Carolina. "Suite Surrender". Scimitar Hotel manager Shellie is sad that her assistant Tyler is leaving for another job as they work so well together. His reason is because he can no longer handle his unrequited love for his boss. During a snowstorm, the hotel shuts down sending the guests to the main city and leaving Shellie and Tyler by themselves. Tyler cannot stop himself from kissing Shellie and soon the pair make love. "Suite Revenge". Since she was fourteen Emily has had a crush on her brother's friend Luke. When she has a chance to bid on him during a bachelor's auction to bring in money to the Knoxville Supporters of Children's Hospital, she decides to go for broke and bid, win, and take him to the Scimitar for a weekend of sex. These three erotic contemporary romances are heated and passionate as the amiable lead couples make it at the Scimitar, but readers will wonder if the magic of love will last beyond the fantasy weekend.

Chocolate Kisses
Francis Ray, Maryann Reid & Renee Luke
ISBN: 0451217497, $13.95, 272 pp.

"A Chocolate Affair" by Francis Ray. When they attended Columbia together, he thought they would be together forever, but instead without warning or explanation Miranda dumped Lucian. He vowed that if the opportunity ever arose he would dump her. Now the CEO of A Chocolate Affair has that chance, but wonders who will be hurt more if he walks. "A Good Man is Hard to Count" by Maryann Reid. Savannah is a man eater who loves them and leaves them; she keeps score by placing a candy stick in a jar for each hunk she devours. That is until she meets firefighter Clinton, who is the entire candy store. He demands commitment while she craves variety or does she? "Chocolate Kisses" by Renee Luke. When Marcus tells his best friend Nicole that he accepted a job that means moving away, they fall into each other's arms and make love. They agree this was a temporary aberration, but both crave more Chocolate Kisses yet neither want to harm their friendship by speaking of their sweetest desire. These three heated Valentine's Day romances will satiate the audience's sweet tooth while placing immense pressure on significant others (no subtle hint to my spouse) to come through on the holiday.

Lady Anne's Most Dangerous Man
Jeanne Westin
ISBN: 0451217365, $6.99, 352 pp.

In the modern year 1665 virtue is not rewarded at least in the court of King Charles II. Lady Anne Gascoigne knowing she must do something to keep the stalking regal from taking her virginity, turns to the strongest of her suitors Edward Carter, the Earl of Waverby as she assumes once he deflowers her on their wedding night, she will be safe from royal assault. However, Anne is mortified to learn that her fiance bartered her virginity with Charles II in consideration of future favors. With the help of her father, Anne flees the castle. Her dad also arranges for the illegitimate nobleman, the notorious highwayman, Gentleman John Gilbert, to keep his beloved daughter safe until he can arrange a new betrothal. John accepts the mission because he owes a debt of honor or this unrecognized son of a duke would have been hung. However, to his chagrin John desires the beautiful and feisty Anne who returns his need, making him wonder how honorable he truly is when all he wants is to bed his ward. Mindful of Fielding's Tom Jones, LADY ANNE'S MOST DANGEROUS MAN is an amusing rollicking seventeenth century romp that uses historical tidbits to paint a depraved court as a background to the romantic adventures of John and Anne. The lead pairing is superb as his brain says honor but his other head says are you nuts (no pun intended) with her sweet seduction encouraging him. As the outlaw and the lady fall in love with the regal retinue looking for her, fans will wonder will they or will they not take her off the virgin commodity exchange.

Dakota Dreams
Madeline Baker
ISBN: 0451216865, $6.99, 352 pp.

It has been four years six months and counting since Jim Buckner arranged for Chasing Elk to be sent to Yuma Prison, a hell hole of abuse from the likes of guard Fat Tom. Only revenge and seeing his daughter Leah keeps Chasing Elk going. When an opportunity arrives to escape, he takes it, but is severely injured in the process. With her parents recently dead and Apache Marteen wanting rancher Catharine Lyons as his woman, she so far she has refused him using the excuse that her man is coming for her though she knows she will not have much time left to say no. She either must return to Boston or he will take her as her brother Mark is no protection. When a near dead Chasing Elk reaches her ranch at about the same time as Marteen and his retinue of braves, she claims he is her husband. The stranger agrees. As Catharine nurses Chasing Elk back to physical health and he begins to work the ranch, an attraction between them arises. However, Marten wants him dead; the law wants him in prison; Chasing Elk wants his daughter; Catharine wants his love. However, first his mind must heal if he lives long enough. DAKOTA DREAMS is a tense Indian romance starring a courageous heroine and a battered male with demons screaming at him to avenge the death of his wife and to bring his daughter home, which he wants to believe, is Catharine's ranch. The character driven tale is loaded with plenty of action as the key players will converge in a showdown. Though the support cast seems somewhat one dimensional, Madeline Baker's latest nineteenth century star-crossed romance contains a fresh fun story line.

Sweet Water
Anna Jeffrey
ISBN: 0451217373, $6.99, 352 pp.

In Agua Dulce, Texas, Mr. Patel informs Marisa Rutherford that their town of ten residents in West Texas has been bought over eBay. Marisa worries that the owner will build a modern monster petrol station that will put out of business her mom's Pecos Belle's Emporium & Eats. Marisa wonders what she and her Alzheimer's afflicted mom will do once the newcomer arrives. Realty speculator Terry Ledger knows even for him this million dollar gambit seems insane. However, he pictures a travelers' oasis in the middle of nowhere, but the ten citizens, that is those with their faculties, consider him an idiot. He soon realizes that his prime obstacle is the beautiful intelligent town leader Marisa; if he can sell the concept to her, she will sell his plan to the others. However, as Terry works on the roadblock, he and Marisa begin to fall in love. He alters his plans to expand his persuasion to include Marisa as his life's partner, but she was burned once by love and fears touching a greater heat the second time around. SWEET WATER is a warm contemporary romance starring amiable lead protagonists and a town of eccentrics who meddle, matchmake and mother the stars. The changing relationship between Marisa and Terry make the tale; on a personal level they begin to fall in love though she doubts her competency with those feelings; on a professional level they are combatants with different dreams for the future of Agua Dulce and for one another. Though the solution seems too simple, fans will enjoy this slice of life in West Texas.

Summer Breeze
Catherine Anderson
ISBN: 0451217101, $7.99, 432 pp.

In 1889 seventy years old Darby McIntosh rides to Joseph Paxton's ranch with a bullet in his back. He asks Joseph to watch over his beloved Rachel Marie Hollister, who is all alone with the person who murdered her family a few years ago coming for her. After stopping the blood flow, Joseph gets the doctor and his brother David the sheriff to see the critically wounded ranch foreman. Joseph and David head to Rachel's ranch where they find her home totally barricaded. She refuses to talk to them. Joseph breaks through a wooden barred window, but she fires her shotgun at him. His dog Buddy follows him and he pleads with her not to shoot his canine. He assumes she is nuts, but lies down in the hallway anyway as he promised. The next morning Joseph joins David to interrogate the nasty Pritchard family and Rachel's Aunt Amanda. Joseph detests the Pritchards and assumes they are the killers. As he stays with Rachel, she begins to trust him. To his shock he falls in love especially after she kills him at poker, but first he must find a way to allow her to feel safe when he is not there. This historical romance is fully driven by a strong cast especially the intriguing lead female and the man who has come to love and understand her. Fans will hope they find a way to be together although Joseph's constant denial of not marrying can become irritating. Still that is minor in retrospect as the audience will enjoy this deep nineteenth century drama starring a battle fatigue trauma victim and the wise hero who learns that she is the woman who has opened the world for him not visa versa.

Speak of the Devil
Richard Hawke
Random House
ISBN: 1400064252, $21.95

In Manhattan private detective Fritz Malone enjoys the Thanksgiving Day parade near Central Park in spite of the balloon from some kid constantly hitting him. However, his enjoyment ends when he sees some guy with a Beretta looking closely at the Mother Goose float. He warns Rebecca Gilprin who is Mother Goose in time, but the shooter turns towards Fritz firing at him and the crowd. Seven including the mother of the balloon kid and a cop are dead. Police take a handcuffed bag on his head Fritz to the Municipal Building treating him like he is the killer. However, they have no choice but to release him. In spite of the media blaring "Parade of Terror" the NYPD Police Commissioner Tommy Carroll and Mayor Leavitt want to hide the truth behind the mass murder using the idea that Fritz and Rebecca are an item. They begin by warning Fritz to work with them and further inform him that he does not get credit for shooting the culprit. Fritz investigates what is going on only to learn that body parts of the deputy mayor being held prisoner is being delivered to Tommy. Speak of a fantastic detective story! Readers will fully appreciate this excellent Manhattan murder mystery. The action-packed story line never slows down from the moment that Fritz goes for a bagel and a parade until the final altercation. Fritz is a terrific protagonist who seems part hard-boiled and part sensitive soul. The support cast especially his pal Margo add depth to a great tale. Though a January release SPEAK OF THE DEVIL will be on everyone's short list for mystery of the year.

Time after Time
Denise Little (Editor)
ISBN: 0756403103, $7.50, 320 pp.

The basic underlying themes of this sixteen collection anthology are time travel and or alternate history. Each tale is fun as readers follow the exploits of either a famous real person or fictional character whether that is Arthur choosing a path to become the legend or another that leads to a petty failed tyrant, or Bing hauntingly singing White Christmas in the background of a murder. Fans will appreciate the problems of the world's last vampire; an individual who believes in traditional repast stuck dining on rats buying a time machine to obtain better meals. Combining technology, history, fantasy, and religion (Yahweh's PDA and Jesus star in two respective tales), this is a fabulous compilation of new very creative tales of the paradox of time or a modification to a pivotal moment that altered changes history. TIME AFTER TIME provides readers with strong entries especially for those speculative fans who enjoy ironic twists to the past, present, and future.

Wolf Star
R.M. Meluch
ISBN: 0756403243, $23.95, 336 pp.

The Roman Empire was never destroyed it just went underground waiting for the right time to emerge. That time came when FTL ships were built and the planet of Palatine because the home world of the New Roman Empire. Even though it has a better military and more hardware, Earth has the slingshot technology that allows ships to travel vast distances between space stations without entering Roman territory. Now Rome is working on a catapult technology; the mission of the USS Merrimack and USS Monitor is to find the space stations and destroy them. Captain Farragut of the USS Merrimack has run into a Roman convoy in a part of space where they shouldn't be and he hopes to follow them to the space station where he believes one of the catapults is being built. It is a trap that the Romans have set up using technology from a surprising source in the hopes of capturing the Merrimack. The captain evades the trap but it turns out the common enemy of both, the Hive, an insectoid sentient intelligence will devour the two civilizations in less than a decade unless humanity works together. R.M. Meluch writes military space opera that is so exciting that fans will red this heart thumping action-packed novel in one sitting. Emphasis is more on action than characters but that doesn't take away from the interest Wolf Star generates in the readers as the big picture is more important than individuals who are made into stereotypes to fulfill a certain role. It will be interesting to see future books in this series when former enemies work together to destroy a common enemy.

The Skewed Throne
Joshua Palmatier
ISBN: 0756403316, $23.95, 352 pp.

One thousand years ago, the great and powerful and socially enlightened city of Amenkor was caught in the White Fire, a phenomenon that didn't change immediately change things but soon famine, disease, and madness slowly infested the land. The city was slowly able to bounce back until five years ago when the White Fire returned and this time the people are in dire straights. Varis, a child of the slums, grows up to become a tracker and spy for a guard who obeys The Mistress sitting on THE SKEWED THRONE. Varis has a special sense that allows her to see people in grays (those who are good) and reds (those who would do harm) so she knows that the Seeker guard Erick is hiring people who commit crimes and kill. When she is sick of her role, she flees into the heart of the city where she saves the life of a merchant targeted by an assassin. He hires her and they soon learn that with the famine wide spread there is a dangerous cabal of merchants that are gathering all the goods that would be needed over the winter so they can sell them for a huge profit. The Mistress won't listen to her people who need her to take control and save what is left of Amenkor so desperate people try to shake the political structure of the city. The heroine is the main reason THE SKEWED THRONE is such an interesting fantasy. She goes from a slum child struggling to survive to an adult with a strong sense of morality. She sees what she had done in her past and tries to become a better person in the present. She is stubborn and loyal in a place where people behave dishonorably. The very survival of her city forces her to do something she finds abhorrent. Readers are treated to a realm in flux where one person's actions can make a difference. This is a fine fantasy that readers will enjoy immensely.

Nate Kenyon
Five Star
ISBN: 1594144389, $25.95, 343 pp.

He was an alcoholic who didn't care about much of anything until the day he was driving drunk and killed a mother and two children. Billy Smith spent ten years doing hard time for his crime but when he was paroled he was still in the prison of his mind. About a year after he left prison, he starts hearing voices and sees visions of a woman. He finds her on the beach, a prostitute and a junkie named Angel. He kidnaps her and the voices draw him to the small Maine town of White Falls. Angel now stays with him willingly because she is having the same dreams and visions and hearing the same voices. There is a darkness to the town, an evil that Billy and Angel can sense even if they don't know what it is or what it wants besides the two of them for reasons they don't understand. This evil is going to culminate during the spring festival and only Billy can stop a malevolent spirit from coming through a portal and completing a plan set in motion almost three centuries ago. Reminiscent of Salem's Lot, BLOODSTONE is a terrifying horror novel that is action oriented yet doesn't neglect the development of the characters that come across as believable to the audience. Even ghosts take on a new dimension in this chilling tale as Nate Kenyon's concept of what they are is both original and frightening. This is the kind of horror novel that will make readers want to sleep with all the lights in the neighborhood shining brightly.

A House Divided
Sydell Voeller
Five Star
ISBN: 1594144354, $26.95, 236 pp.

Though he is a decade older than her, August and Rebecca met when he was filming in Freemont, Oregon, Winter Rose. They marry, move to Los Angeles, and have a daughter Wendy. However, their Hollywood love story ends tragically when a crazed fan kills August. Rebecca returns to her hometown where her sister still lives. She wants to move into the Winter Rose where her memories with August are perfect; besides she can make some money leasing the place to Galaxy Productions that want to do a sequel there. However, owner Dr. Mark Simons plans to tear down the place and replace it with a halfway house for his patients. The psychiatrist believes this is God's command as a penance for him not being there for his mom when she committed suicide. While he seeks God's approval, she rejects God for allowing a bad thing to happen to a good person. Though they argue over the house and differ over God, they fall in love, but that seems not strong enough to form a relationship when their individual pasts haunt them. A HOUSE DIVIDED is a two-character driven inspirational tale that focuses on the differing needs between a pair in love that though powerful seems not strong enough as each has not yet contended with tragedy in their pasts. The story line focuses on the struggles of the present relationship to cope with what has scarred their respective hearts, which includes how they disagree on God. Though the action caused by a "friend" seems unnecessary even if he "snapped" because the duo have more than enough on their baggage to cope with.

Angel with a Gun
Joe DeCicco
Five Star
ISBN: 1594143579, $25.95, 264 pp.

Four years ago Brian Wilkey raped a preadolescent, but was freed by an activist liberal judge on a technicality. This case motivated Mike Romano to become a New York cop because he wants to put away the animals. He becomes upset to learn that a child molester raped a little girl in his neighborhood in Queens, but got away with the odious crime. Mike also learns that a beat cop rarely works predatory sex crime cases though this particular one haunts him as it reminds him of why he became a cop. Though he knows he should not investigate, he begins to notice the department is loaded with corruption starting near the top with deputy inspector Bryan who is too busy to seek out a predator. Thus Mike begins to search for clues to identify the pedophile before this animal harms other children. Fans of gritty neighborhood police procedurals will appreciate this tense cat, cat, and mouse thriller though it is biased against activist liberal judges but ignores conservatives (i.e., the severely burned woman in Maryland) and Judge Breyer's writing that judges actively judge or else allow a computer to rule. Mike is a heroic Blue Knight who wants to keep the streets cleaned of the predators that at times seem to lock away the law abiding citizens in their "prison" homes. His courage and obstinate determination to stop the child rapist turns him into an avenging ANGEL WITH A GUN and makes for an exhilarating action-packed tale as he tries to follow official procedure, which is frustrating and not often easy.

Jenny's Legacy
Cassandra Barnes
Five Star
ISBN: 1594144338, $26.95

In Millwood General Hospital near Phoenix, contractor Kyle Cordell waits for his preadolescent son Jared to get a cast put on his broken arm; at the same time and place, psychic psychiatrist Gaelynn Graham waits for results on her dad. Divorced Kyle helps her somewhat confused mom stay calm. The next day Kyle and Gaelynn learn they will share a storefront, but he becomes angry when he finds out she is a psychic. Years ago his teenage sister died due to the antics of a guru so he and his parents detest all forms of New Age mumbo jumbo; his father runs the powerful Family Foundation Against Mind Control. When his other son Jason insists he saw the horror of the nearby school killings in Phoenix before they happened, Kyle tells him it was nothing and move on. An upset Jason talks with Gaelynn, a school counselor, who provides him insight into visions of a clairvoyant. This angers Kyle even as he is desires sleeping with the enemy. However, his black aura comes to a pivotal moment when Jason apparently runs away while his grandfather starts to destroy Gaelynn and mentally abuses Kyle and his mom. This is an interesting paranormal family drama starring an attractive cast except for his dad who is painted as an abusive fanatic who is quite a contrast to her caring, loving father. The clever story line uses differences caused by being a psychic as a means to showing how crippling any form of human prejudice is to everyone. Though his change of heart seems too easy, fans will appreciate this deep look at JENNY'S LEGACY needed to overcome narrow-minded bigotry.

Sirius about Murder
Sue Owens Wright
Five Star
ISBN: 1594143641, $25.95

In South Lake Tahoe, the residents debate development of Alpine Paws Park on valuable shorefront property; some people feel the lakeside land should be used to develop expensive housing that will bring plenty of new income to the town. One person opposed to the land going to the dogs has been sending threatening email signed off as SIRIUS ABOUT MURDER. When affluent matriarch and sponsor of the dog park Abigail Haversham is murdered the police immediately assume the anti canine Sirius committed the homicide. They investigate that path while Elsie "Beanie" MacBean and her canine Cruiser wonder if the land controversy hides a different motive. She follows leads down another path, but she and her Basset hound could become the next two victims as SIRIUS ABOUT MURDER has no qualms about killing again. This interesting amateur sleuth tale stars a fine protagonist who's at home with the dogs probably more so than with people except for her best friend Rosie Clark, a canine lover of course. Though the killer and the motive come out of nowhere, Beanie outthinks the pros in solving the case while endangering herself, Rosie and their dogs. SIRIUS ABOUT MURDER is a treat for pet lovers.

Tell Me No Lies
Linda Hope Lee
Five Star
ISBN: 1594144168, $26.95

Seattle artist Julie Foster hides her relationship to her late grandfather Ben Gabriel from the Cooperville Murals Committee when she accepts the commission to paint three historical murals. Ben was arrested for embezzling funds from the Cooperville First national Bank forty years ago, but fled town before facing trial. He allegedly killed his accuser, bank president Cyrus Linscott, whose widow Millie hired her. Julie meets Millie's grandson Gregory, a loan officer at the bank, when her SUV rams his new jeep. She commiserates with his feelings of damaging something new. Once he calms down, they quickly hit it off and begin to fall in love, but he makes it clear how important honesty is after a failed recent relationship. Just when she plans to tell him the truth, he learns from a private investigator just who she is. As she insists they should talk, he rejects her just like his family does. They buy out her contract so she leaves town heartbroken just like her mother warned her would happen. TELL ME NO LIES is a strong character study that has two families seeing the same event differently as Julie refuses to believe her grandfather was a killer while the Linscott brood has no doubt about who murdered the family patriarch. The contemporary romance goes smoothly until the sleuth reports on the connection destroying what looks like a simple tale of love. When the truth is revealed at the end, fans will believe the finish simplified what was until then a complex relationship between two individuals in love potentially torn apart by how their families intertwined forty years ago.

In Milady's Chamber
Sheri Cobb South
Five Star
ISBN: 1594143706, $25.95

In spite of his recent rejection of her due to her failure to produce an heir Lady Julia Bertstrom Fieldhurst remains faithful to her spouse a Foreign Office bigwig. However, she considers taking a lover for the first time, her escort Rupert Latham, but when they enter her bedchamber they are greeted by the corpse of Lord Fieldhurst lying on her floor with her scissor in his neck. The media and his superior Mr. Colquhoun immediately assume it is a lover's triangle, but Bow Street Runner John Pickett thinks that is too easy a solution though the paramours had the time to commit the homicide. He focuses on the cousin and cousin-in law as having a monetary motive. The more John digs, the more likely it seems Julia killed her spouse. He begins to wonder if her beauty has spellbound him to ignore her treachery just like his boss thinks. However, he tries a different path involving the Foreign Office and a purloined letter hoping that will prove the clue to lead to the killer. IN MILADY'S CHAMBER is a terrific Regency police procedural starring a likable Bow Street Runner who like everyone else wonders if beauty has dazzled the beast. John is the focus of the story line as he follows clues that go nowhere except dead ends and begins to doubt his theory that Julia is innocent though he continues to pursue alternate paths other than the lovers' triangle murder. The support cast augments a fabulous historical mystery.

The Righteous Blade
Stan Nicholls
ISBN: 006073891X, $13.95, 336 pp.

Immortal Qalochian swordsman Reeth Caldason of Bhealfa detests the paladin clans, enforcers of the rule of the tyrants that run the brutal rivals the Rintarah and Gath Tampoor Empires. All others are subject to their cruel sorcery or abuse from ground armies. Reeth knows that first hand as much of his tribe were killed by the Paladins. Almost as bad as his need for revenge of sending his people to near extinction, Reeth loathes the curse of immortality that haunts him and includes a by-product of out of control rage leading to violence and cruelty on a scale that even the Paladins fear. As Reeth seeks the cure to his malady, he becomes entangled with a rebellious plot to eliminate the heir to the Bhealfa throne, Devlor Bastorran at a time when the Gath Tampoor Empire rules the island. Devlor the merciless learns of what he assumes is a betrayal and vows to kill those involved especially the immortal Reeth; if as rumor states that he cannot die, then Devlor will torture him for eternity while crushing the rebels that Reeth joined. The second "Dreamtime" novel (see THE COVENANT RISING) is an intriguing sword and sorcery tale filled with plenty of action, but little of it of a magical variety. Instead the tale focuses more on Reeth's laments and Devlor's scheme to avenge those who plotted against him starting with the immortal swordsman. Thus the two prime antagonists share in common a gut need for revenge. THE RIGHTEOUS BLADE is a well written fantasy thriller even with no enchantments.

Spider Blue
Carla Damron
BellaRosa Books
ISBN: 0974768561, $25.95, 294 pp.

In Westville, South Carolina, everyone is shocked when someone stabs to death the mother of two children, nurse Frances Callahan in front of her home. Shannon McPherson's best friend Maggie Wells is watching the kids, but fears for her own life. Shannon drags her therapist boyfriend Caleb Knowles to Maggie's home to see how they can help her. His friend Detective Claudia Briscoe heads the investigation so Caleb, who has worked with law enforcement before agrees to let her know if the kids say anything useful. The next morning Caleb's boss Dr. Matthew Ryker calls to tell him to get over to Tindall Manufacturing where they provide employee assistance counseling. Apparently, worker Murphy Lumford killed floor supervisor Buck Swygert and severely wounded machine operator Sally Weston and electrician Beard. Along with Matthew and psychiatrist Dr. Grey Lazarus, Caleb has his work cut out as the firm's workforce is stunned and badly in need of grief and fear counseling. The cops asks Caleb to interview Murphy to learn why while also providing assistance to Frances' four year old daughter Emma, who has haunted him from that first night when he saw her eyes just after her mom was murdered. The cast makes the tale must reading for fans who want more than the murder investigation. Readers accompany Caleb as he tries to help battle fatigue syndrome victims get through the shock of murder at "safe houses" like the plant or the nurse's home. As with the delightful KEEPING SILENT, Carla Damron provides a deep thriller that concentrates on the relationships of an everyman struggling to help others cope, but wondering who will help him cope with their haunted eyes.

Shadow over Kiriath
Karen Hancock
Bethany House
ISBN: 0764227963, $13.99

The king of Kiriath, Abramm Kalladorne, knows that though he has defeated several foes, the invincible Black Moon army of Esurhmarches towards his country crushing the feeble opposition along the way. Esurh plans to control all land that touches the Sea of Sharss including Kiriath. To Esurh, Abramm will always remain the "White Pretender" slave who fought in their arenas at one time. Abramm also has internal dissension fostered by the still popular Mataio religious order, whose insurgency failed, but remain openly defiant and objects to his rule. Abramm accepts a marriage of alliance with the ruling family of nearby Chesedh; he will wed Princess Briellen, but Abramm is more attracted to her younger sister Lady Madeleine, who feels the same way as he does. If they go down that path they will fail their respective nations at a time when their enemies near. The third epic tale in the award winning Legends of the Guardian-King saga, SHADOW OVER KIRIATH, is a fantastic allegorical fantasy that contains several major subplots that tie back to the main superb story line. Though he has defeated his internal opponents such as his brother (who sold him into slavery) and the Mataio order, both and others remain a threat to his reign and to his country. Those machinations pale alongside of the coming invaders as even the monarch has doubts that Eidon will save his people from slavery. He also ponders how to marry the woman who stirs his blood without alienating Chesedh or Eidon. Karen Hancock provides a powerful stand alone epic tale that is excellent as a stand alone, but is incredible when read back to back to back with its predecessors (see LIGHT OF EIDON and THE SHADOW WITHIN).

Things We Once Held Dear
Ann Tatlock
Bethany House
ISBN: 0764200046, $13.99, 400 pp.

Almost three decades ago, Neil Sadler left Mason, Ohio following a suspicious looking death in which the locals including his beloved friend Mary Beeken hold him culpable though the law did not. He vowed never to return home and successfully forged a new life. Twenty-seven years later, Neil mourns the sudden loss of his wife with an obsession to go home to learn what really happened that drove him away though he doubts the welcome reception even after all this time that has past. Mary has also come home to Mason looking for solace. Her life is not a happy one as her husband, a battle fatigue syndrome cop, takes out his frustrations and anger on her. Neil is shocked that he still desires Mary with the tragedy hanging over their heads and some more recent baggage to keep them apart. Already doubting God and feeling sorry for himself, he begins to wonder if he is the modern day Job as he knows he can never have his Mary even if she loves and believes in him. This is a terrific inspirational that uses a tragic mystery and more recent traumas to paint a tale of a Doubting Thomas whose only shred of belief is that God is testing or simply punishing him if he exists. As Neil and Mary reconnect they look back at what happened to break them apart. Hooked grateful fans will wonder whether Neil will find salvation with the Lord, what did occur years ago, and what will happen between Mary and him. Ann Tatlock inspires her audience with her deft touch.

River Rising
Athol Dickson
Bethany House
ISBN: 076420162X, $17.00

In 1927 Reverend Hale Poser arrives in Pilotville, a stilt town in the Louisiana bayous, seeking his roots as the New Orleans orphan found evidence that his parents came from this remote swamp town. Strangers are not readily accepted as the integrated townsfolk cannot believe anyone from the outside would voluntarily come here unless they carry a hidden agenda. Still Hale obtains work as a janitor at the Pilotville Negro Infirmary and attends the African Assembly of God Church, but no one trusts him even with his stating he seeks his origins are here. Rumors spread that he is a miracle worker when he assists on an extremely difficult birthing. When a newborn black is kidnapped, racial harmony disintegrates. Hale is upset with the abduction of the innocent, which seems similar to his history. He works as hard as anyone trying to rescue the child, but soon discovers that Pilotville has had many kidnappings of infants with a cover-up that goes beyond the encroaching flooding Mississippi. He keeps digging though he knows he could vanish as alligator bait in the nearby slough. RIVER RISING is a great atmospheric historical thriller that grips the audience from the moment that the reader realizes this is not a backwater save the soul tale, but much more. The varying perspectives provide the audience with a taste of a 1920s isolated small-town living in what appears to be a racially harmonious place, but as differing points of view surface, this proves a facade. The who-done-it and its cover-up add depth to the story line, but it is the caring Hale who serves as the distrusted focus and catalyst of a terrific period piece.

The Strength of His Hand
Lynn Austin
Bethany House
ISBN: 0764229915, $12.99

King Hezekiah has returned his people to worshipping only Yahweh after the brutal paganism that highlighted the reign of his sire. With the return to praying to the One God, Judah has seen prosperity. Perhaps the only thing that has not gone right for the monarch is the lack of an heir; this especially disturbs his beloved wife Hephzibah. Desperate to bear a male child, Hephzibah visits a pagan shrine worshiping the fertility goddess Asherahl and offers a deal to this false deity. Stunned when he learns what his wife did that broke the Commandant and the key principle to his reign, an irate Hezekiah devastates the pagan shrine. However, he is severely injured because of his berserker ranting. Once calm he knows his country's future is at stake so he turns to God for help and forgiveness for him, his wife, and their people. God answers through the prophet Isaiah who provides direction to clean his house and to select his heir. The third tome of the fabulous Chronicles of the Kings series, THE STRENGTH OF HIS HAND, offers a terrific look at King Hezekiah's reign at a time of moral and religious crisis that threatens to destroy all he believed in and worked to achieve. Interestingly, the transgression of worshipping the false god by Hephzibah was done out of love for her spouse (good intentions can be an express way to hell). As Lynn Austin did with the insightful SONG OF REDEMPTION and GODS AND KINGS, fans will learn much about ancient Judah while cherishing this excellent work of biblical fiction.

Got the Look
James Grippando
ISBN: 006056458X, $24.95, 400 pp.

FBI Special Agent Andie Henning has been chasing after and failing to stop the elusive serial kidnapper, who scorns the law enforcement opponents with cryptic notes and riddles while walking away with millions. The latest encounter is in Ginnie Springs, Florida where wealthy Drew Thornton paid, $1million to get his wife back; he does but she is dead. Miami attorney Jack Swyteck is stunned and irate now that he knows that Mia, the woman he has been sleeping with, is married to rich business mogul Ernesto Salazar. However, before he can work his way through his outrage and other simmering emotions, the serial kidnapper abducts Mia. The criminal informs Ernesto to "Pay me what she's worth" to you. This time, the spousal response is she is worth nothing. Shocked by Salazar's outright refusal to pay though Andie believes that is the right course of action, motive aside, Jack begins a desperate search to rescue a woman who means a lot to him in spite of her deceit. What makes the latest Swyteck thriller a triumph that stands out amidst the rash of serial criminal novels is the reactions of Ernesto, Jack, and Andie to the snatching of Mia. The story line is action-packed and filled with twists as Jack learns first hand when clues take him down wrong paths and cul-de-sacs. Though the serial felon "entrepreneur" seems out of leftfield and his taunting clues appear as if a wrong number was dialed, this is no run of the mill "Son of Sam" like imitator. Readers will appreciate Jack's latest suspense thriller as he battles with an ingenious villain and the Feds.

Ancient Rising
JC De La Torre
Luna Brillante
ISBN: 1411642651, $13.95

Author Dan Ryan feels euphoric about life. His writing career is a major success and he loves his wife and daughter who reciprocate. This is a happy well adjusted family. That is until the car accident killed Dan's beloved females leaving him distraught and depressed. Not long afterward a weird stranger visits Dan claiming he is the Greek god Hermes and that the Pantheon is looking to him to release them from a curse that has bound the Gods to sunken Atlantis for twelve thousand years. Skeptical at first Dan assumes Hermes is a lunatic or con artist trying to take advantage of a grieving person, but he soon believes that Hermes is who he says he is and his destiny is to find Atlantis and free the Greek Gods. He travels to Greece where he joins the research team of Aegean archeologist, Theo Constantopolus, now into his third decade quest to locate Atlantis. Theo's rival billionaire Graham Solitaire plans to find Atlantis first and will torture and kill to achieve his goal of turning the legendary island into a tourist paradise. This exciting fantasy thriller grips the audience from the moment Hermes announces to Dan that he is a god. The tale never slows down as other deities "interfere" in the lives of mortals and the rival archeologists compete for the ultimate prize, but major findings along the way encourage Theo's team though the actions of Graham's thugs dishearten them. This is a fabulous wild ride that readers in search of something well written, quite interesting, and very different will appreciate this fist book in a great epic saga and look forward to more adventures.

Wrong Place, Wrong Time
Andrea Kane
ISBN: 0060741325, $21.95, 336 pp.

Sally Montgomery and Frederick Pierson go away on a romantic tryst that has Devon the adult daughter of the woman worried about her mom who has not really dated anyone since her divorce fifteen years ago. Sally shares some of her daughter's concern as she is nervous about her romantic rendezvous, afraid that something will go wrong. Something does when someone murders Blake and burns down the cabin that the pair was using. The cops assume Sally is the prime suspect while she is on the lam fearing her boyfriend's father is somehow involved and after her. Her former husband, an ex NYPD detective turned sleuth Pete "Monty" Montgomery rushes to Duchess County, New York to learn the truth and more important to protect the mother of his children. Devon also tries to prove her mom's innocence, but admits to herself she finds Frederick's nephew Blake quite attractive though he seems to want to hang her mother for killing his uncle. Readers will believe this is the right place, right time to enjoy Amanda Kane's latest romantic suspense thriller. The story line is action-packed as two families converge with different opinions as to whether the beleaguered Sally killed Frederick. Pets provide comic relief unless you are the victim of their stealing your roast beef or chaperoning your lovemaking. Fans will appreciate this fine class war who-done-it as the street wise middle class battles with the snooty upper class in a suburbian tense tale.

Road to Paradise
Max Allan Collins
ISBN: 0060540281, $24.95

As a youngster named Michael O'Sullivan Jr. he fought with his father against the Chicago mob. However, he changed his name to Michael Satariano and though "legit", the fifty years old fronts for the mob as the head of the Cal-Neva Lodge and Casino in Lake Tahoe. Michael is already thinking of retirement with his beloved spouse. He loves his teenage daughter and worries about his son serving in Nam. Still life is perfect. That changes when Sam Giancana returns from self-deployed exile in Mexico to regain his job as the Godfather regardless of cost. He orders hits and many people including innocents die. Sam demands Michael kill someone, but he refuses. When the homicide occurs, the evidence points towards Michael. The Feds cut a deal in which he testifies against Sam and will disappear with his family inside the Witness Protection Program in Paradise, Arizona. However, the past is coming for him and he must take to the road just like his dad did, one killing at a time. This is terrific final tale that grips the audience just like the previous two novels (and movie) did. The story line starts off idyllic as the audience meets the middle age Michael, a former killing machine chip off the old block and his family. He is middle class America circa 1973. When Sam demands being anointed as king of the mob again, the action explodes leading to a High Noon climax. Max Allan Collins is at his best as completes his terrific road trilogy with a triumph and perhaps the audience can coax him into one more for the road.

Gentlemen & Players
Joanne Harris
ISBN: 0060559144, $24.95, 432 pp.

Only the elite attend St. Oswald's boys' grammar school in Northern England. Popular classics teacher Roy Straitley, in his ninety-ninth term, recognizes that truism as he for instance could never have attended this upper crust school for the affluent, but though his roots differ from that of his students the headstrong proud instructor loves teaching here as he has for three decades. However, this year is different though it has just begun; Roy remains utterly loyal to St. Oswald's, but fears his time is over and considers retirement as the electronic age has made him feel like a dinosaur and the German department displaced him from his long timer office. He might adapt to email though he doubts it and relocation though he hates it, but five new faculty members prove difficult. One of the newcomers Snyde, the long time handyman's child, hides his identity returning as a teacher with plans to destroy St. Oswald's. As the violence Snyde perpetuates grows increasingly dangerous, an academically cocooned Roy and his peers ignore the omen that murder may follow. Readers know from the start that Snyde has an Everest gripe with his mistreatment when he lived here as the son of a worker as he and Roy share narrative honors. Roy is a fabulous crusty aging teacher who considers retirement. On the other hand Snyde's anger from alleged childhood affronts at home and from the school fuels his obsession but fails to come across as a potentially deadly antagonist as his alibis condoning his sociopath behavior seem weak. Still readers will appreciate this game of chess between an in check Roy vs. Snyde seeking checkmate, which he defines as the demise of St. Oswald's.

Who's Sorry Now?
Jill Churchill
ISBN: 0060734590, $23.95

In 1933 Hudson Valley, New York, the Great Depression has wrecked havoc on everyone symbolized by the loss of the post office; residents look through the mail sacks to pick up whatever is theirs. Robert Brewster arrives at the station to get his mail and that of his sister Lily. Before picking up his letters, Robert and a porter help a young widow and her grandfather with their luggage. He returns to get his correspondence only to find an elderly woman sifting through the mail threatening to destroy it. He seeks the porter but finds the man dead. Not long afterward someone paints a red swastika on the shop window of the elderly newcomer. Robert worries that evil has invaded his impoverished town. Adding to his apprehension is back at the mansion of Grace and Favor, where he and Lily live, the Harbinger brothers uncovered a skeleton. Robert and Lily investigate seeking a link between two potential homicides and the defacing, but soon fear that the target is their hosts Grace and Favor. This is more a historical tale than a mystery even though the amateur sleuths investigate the homicides and the hate crime. Fans will appreciate this fine entry in the Grace and Favor series. The story line brings vividly to life the bygone era of survival in small town New York during a bad economic period with specific examples like the revered employed police chief unable to pay his mortgage and losing his home. The inquiries are fun to follow as the siblings seek a link between murder past and crimes today, but that takes a back row seat to the deep insightful glimpse at the Great Depression.

A Long Shadow
Charles Todd
ISBN: 006078671X, $23.95, 352 pp.

In 1919, someone murders the Dudlington constable as he apparently was investigating something in the nearby forest. Still haunted by severe guilt feelings about Corporal Hamish who he ordered executed for insubordination during WW I Rutledge is mentally more unstable than ever; on top of battle fatigue syndrome he also poorly copes with his recent investigation into a grisly mass murder (see A COLD TREACHERY). Still his police skills remains superb so he travels to the ends of world to investigate who shot an arrow into the constable's back. The locals resent the outsider, but Rutledge still learns that a young girl recently vanished. He wonders if the disappearance and the homicide could be linked and seeks the connection. As he continues to dig for clues a woman claiming to be a psychic insists she can help his troubled soul as she asserts she can speak with the dead. Though he has doubts about her skills Rutledge leans towards trying to plead for forgiveness from Hamish. At the same time that the spiritualist has knocked him somewhat off his sleuthing game, an adversary plays cat and mouse with Rutledge, purposely leaving clues that suggest the culprit could kill the inspector at any time. This is one of the best most haunting historical mystery series on the market today with the latest entry as powerful as the previous seven tales. Rutledge is an intriguing person struggling alone to deal with the haunting of his soul. The mystery is terrific and the insights into post WW I isolated northern England is insightful and vivid. However, as always it is the psychological look at a veteran unable to deal with what he did and saw during the war that makes Charles R. Todd's dark thriller a winner once again.

Nothing but Trouble
Michael McGarrity
ISBN: 052594916X, $24.95, 336 pp.

Out of the blue Johnny Jordan asks his old friend Santa Fe Chief of Police Kevin Kerney to be a technical advisor for a movie that is being partially shot on his family's ranch. Kerney thinks it will be fun but on his way to the ranch headquarters of the Granite Pass Cattle Company, he finds the body of a young man who has just died. He later is approached by the FBI who tells him that the dead man was an agent working undercover to break up a network of smugglers transporting illegals over the border. Kerney is asked to keep an eye out on the doings of the ranch and report to another undercover contact. Not satisfied with the way the investigation is being handled, Kerney does some sleuthing on his own. His wife, a colonel in the US Army attached to the Pentagon, goes outside the chain of command and asks her boss's superior to let her go to Ireland where a Vietnam deserter and smuggler is relocating under an assumed name. This is a hot potato because in addition to her quarry, she works to bring in a smuggler with close ties to the presidential administration. The choices she makes changes the dynamics of the Kerney family. This is one of the best books in the Kevin Kerney series because readers have a balanced view of the protagonists' marriage as they struggle to survive a long distance commuter relationship with the wife sent to various hot spots in the world. Fans who like to get behind the scene and learn how a movie is made will like NOTHING BUT TROUBLE, a police procedural filled with action, intrigue and a touch of romance. The mystery is well thought out with unexpected twists and turns. Michael McGarrity writes his usual realistic and entertaining crime thriller.

The Last Templar
Raymond Khoury
ISBN: 0525949410, $24.00, 400 pp.

In 1291 Acre, the Muslim onslaught devastated the last stronghold of the Latin Kingdom of Jerusalem. As the city burned, Grand Master of the Knights of Templar William of Beaujeu, nearing death, knows they lost here, but sends Aimard of Villiers accompanied by his protege Martin of Carmaux to escape with a mysterious chest on the only vessel left intact in the nearby harbor, The Falcon Temple, regretfully leaving behind their brothers to die. At the present day Metropolitan Museum of Art, Treasures from the Vatican are on display when four masked men wearing the medieval garb of the Templar Knights ride horses out of Central Park into MOMA. As the tuxedo opening gala crowd flees, stunned archaeologist Tess Chaykin watches in fascinating horror as one of the horsemen says something in Latin before reverently grasping one of the objects before fleeing into the night. FBI Agent Sean Reilly heads to investigation assisted by his longtime partner Nick Aparo and Vatican envoy Monsignor De Angelis and soon Tess joins them in a quest that crosses three continents and over seven centuries. The exciting thriller, THE LAST TEMPLAR contains two fine subplots with most of the action happening the present, but much occurring back in the late thirteenth and early fourteenth centuries. The historical aspects seem more fascinating as the audience obtains a taste of the Templar Knights' honor and faith while the present is fun but also suffers in part from the Browning of religious conspiracy theory novels syndrome. Still this is a fine tale that even Da Vinci would enjoy.

Love Walked In
Marisa de los Santos
ISBN: 0525949178, $23.95, 320 pp.

In Philadelphia while managing Cage Dora, Cornelia Brown dreams of one day her Prince Charming sweeping her off her feet like in a Hollywood movie such as her favorite the Philadelphia Story. Alas after serving many cafe au lait, her champion has not arrived yet, but that does not stop Cornelia from dreaming and waiting. At the same time Cornelia fantasizes about her Jimmy Stewart, eleven-year-old Clare lives with her single mother, who the child believes is mentally falling apart especially since the bat. Clare tries to reason with her father, but he is to busy for her so instead she dreams of being an orphan princess. Cary Grant finally comes to Cafe Dora when Martin Grace enters. Cornelia thinks he is her Tracey to his Hepburn. Through Martin, Cornelia meets Clare, whose honesty shocks the adult and makes her re-look her fantasies. Also Cornelia's childhood friend Teo wants more from her at a time she is confused since allegedly she thought LOVE WALKED IN the cafe when Martin first entered, but now she feels maternal connections to Clare. This is a fine chick lit tale starring likable characters, but also falls short as Clare's major issues and concerns are given a short shift. Cornelia is a terrific protagonist whose fantasy has finally come in for coffee, but the reality of her dream does not hold up as well under scrutiny especially with Clare providing her a candid lens to look at Martin's relational shortcomings. Still this is a fine story with Clare being the beacon of light and hope in spite of her parents' neglect.

Facing Rushmore
David Lozell Martin
Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 0684853493, $23.95

How did the St. Louis Memorial Arch turn black has puzzled scientists and FBI Agent Charlie Hart. Lakota Sioux ghost dancer John Brown Dog claims he caused it to happen and also insists the only way to return it back to its former state is to wash the arch with non-pasteurized milk. Still Charlie interrogates John to learn more about what chemicals he used and how dangerous they pose to the public. Instead of direct responses or even ignoring the Fed, John rambles all over the place including weird references to meeting God's whore Elena in Tennessee. Charlie admits he has no idea what John is telling him especially about controlling shape shadows. Frustrated Charlie gives up and assumes the guy is a lunatic. That is until John conjures up the shape shadows. Meanwhile a freed John heads west to vandalize other American monuments and warns the descendents of the founding fathers that unless DC cedes all public forests and other Federal/State lands to the Native American population, no newborn will grace the country except the offspring of a select small band of Indians. Readers will agree with Charlie and the power mongers that no way will a biblical level disaster occur like John claims will happen. Yet somehow David Lozell Martin locks in his audience who follows the suspenseful goings on to observe what impossibility will next occur because hooked fans will start to accept that John has the power through the shape shadows to enact revenge on those who have destroyed the Indian way of life. This action-packed thriller is a cautionary tale that asks humanity "What's Going On?" as we destroy the planet and head towards extinction.

7 Deadly Wonders
Matthew Reilly
Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 0743270533, $23.00, 400 pp.

"In ancient times at the peak of the Great Pyramid of Giza, there stood a magnificent Capstone of Gold" so powerful that anyone who possessed it owned the world. The crown's prime purpose is to prevent the global destruction caused by the Tartarus Rotation, a solar sunspot that occurs every 4500 years, which unchecked leads to unbelievable heat and subsequent flooding. Fearing what will happen after him, Alexander the Great broke the Golden Capstone into seven pieces, placing a segment within one of the ancient wonders to be brought together at the next rotation, but in between it won't be misused to gain a millennium of unchecked power. Governmental and other influential leaders want to own the Capstone to possess its legendary power. However, six of the Wonders are gone so finding the segments will prove difficult. The international deadly competition that Alexander wanted to avoid has happened even as the next Tartarus Rotation is near. One group consisting of seven small nations believes the Capstone needs to be shared by all. They put together an octet led by an Australian. Though they lack the resources of their opponents, they own a key asset that the enemies want to steal from them; ten years old Lily is one of two known people who can interpret the ancient text needed to find the Capstone segments. Though key players are reasonably developed so that they seem genuine, few matter as the Capstone is the prime player in this exhilarating thriller that grips the read with the acknowledgments and one of the best opening lines (see first paragraph above) and never releases its tentacles until the explosive climax. The action-packed story line never slows down as the race for the seven pieces is dangerous for those competing and perhaps even more so for those observing. Matthew Reilly provides a powerful adventure thriller that is action, action, and more action.

Day of the False King
Brad Geagley
Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 0743250818, $24.00, 254 pp.

In 1150 BCE, the wife of Pharaoh Ramses III arranges to have him killed and her son placed on the throne. Ramses III dies from injuries he incurred from the assassination attempt and his ailing son Ramses IV sits on the throne but fears that if he dies, a regent, probably selected by his enemies will take charge as his heir is too young. He fears that they plan to kill him just like they did his father. The pharaoh asks his friend Semerket, the Clerk of Investigations and Secrets, to journey to Babylon to ask the ruler to lend him the sacred statue of Bel-Marduk which is said to have healing powers. Semerket eagerly obeys his Pharaoh's wishes because this will allow him to see his beloved ex-wife who was exiled to Babylon because of her second husband's part in the conspiracy. He arrives in a Babylon conquered by the Elamites with King Kutir sitting on the throne. He will let Egypt have the statue if Semerket can find out what happened to his sister who along with Semerket's ex-wife was on an estate when a massacre occurred but neither body was found. His search is hampered by rebels who want the invaders thrown out and Semerket is their prime target. The hero is a detective in the tradition of Marlowe but his one vulnerability is his love for his ex-wife who divorced him to marry a man who could sire a child on her. He is tough, blunt, and in your face but he risks his life to obtain the information that will lead him to his wife's whereabouts if she is still alive. Brad Geagley brings to life ancient Babylon, where intrigue, rebellion, and murder are every day occurrence. This is a fascinating and exciting historical mystery.

Malpractice in Maggody
Joan Hess
Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 0743226399, $23.00, 258 pp.

The 755 residents of Maggody, Arkansas wonder what is being build at site of the old folks home guarded with a high wire fence and a security person with a mean looking attack dog at his side. The place is going to be a high priced rehab center staffed by Dr. Vincent Stonebridge (who lost his license in California and was forced to relocate), Dr. Randall Zumi (a psychologist whose wife is divorcing him) and Dr. Brenda Skiller (a psychologist who believes in the holistic approach). The four patients include former child star Dawn Dartmouth who is in for a court ordered psychological examination; Senator Alexandra Swayze who is running for reelection but needs to kick her addiction for painkillers: Toby Mann, a former quarterback who is on a ninety day court ordered psychological evaluation; and diet guru Dr. Dibbins who needs to lose a massive amount of weight so that he can go on a book tour. It is hard to tell who the inmates are as the patients and staff act the same but chief of police Arly Hanks isn't interested in what goes on there unlike the rest of the town until the receptionist is murdered. Then she has to deal with doctors and patients who can drive a sane person crazy. MALPRACTICE IN MAGGODY is a hilarious police procedural due to the antics of the patients and staff, all of whom have their own agendas that doesn't include getting cured. On the part of the patients, they want what feeds their addictions and the staff wants them to pay for exotic treatments to inflate their profits. Readers will find themselves laughing out loud at some of the activities of the townspeople as their try to find out who the patients are and why they are there.

The Bishop in the Old Neighborhood
Andrew M. Greeley
ISBN: 0765303345, $24.95

In Chicago the residents, especially the Irish Catholics, are horrified that three naked, mutilated corpses were found in the sanctuary of St. Lucy's Church. The media turns the homicidal desecration into a circus while the police struggle with the case. Meanwhile Cardinal Sean Cronin assigns his sleuthing Bishop Blackwood "Blackie" Ryan to investigate who caused the desecration of the church and why. Blackie begins his search for the truth by looking into the controversial parish priest Father Mikal Wolodyjowski. He soon learns that Father Mikal was involved in the strange unsolved deaths of six college students six decades ago though no direct link to him ever surfaced. Still he wonders if this is vengeance for those deaths or is someone warning the church that anything goes to prevent gentrification? In his fifth tale, Bishop Blackie is as erasable as ever as he tries to solve homicides sixty years apart in between a Bushmill or two; most readers will find the historical murders are more intriguing than the present day killings. Father Mikal is a fascinating figure as Bishop Blackie tries to ascertain whether he was the ultimate target. Though he pontificates a bit too much on various sidebars that take away from the who-done-its, fans of the series will appreciate the latest appearance of this priestly Colombo.

Otto Penzler Presents Grandmaster
Warren Murphy and Molly Cochran
ISBN: 0765311631, $14.95

They were born on the same day on different continents as Justin Gilead is an American and Alexander Zharkov is a Russian. They first meet at ten years of age over a chess game. However, that night Justin watches assassins kill his father in a seedy Paris bar. He is rescued from the same fate by monks from the highest mountains in Asia who were looking for him as they believe he is the latest reincarnation of Brahma. For the next decade and a half he lives and studies Buddhism under their tutelage. However Russian troops attack and burn down the remote monastery. Justin survives but is filled with rage and a need for vengeance against the Russians. He obtains work for the CIA enabling him to focus on his target Zarkhov, the chief of the Russian top secret espionage elite unit Nichevo. The life and death chess game between two masters will leave one as the GRANDMASTER and the other dead. Readers will quickly understand why this novel won an Edgar Allan Poe Award in 1985 though the Iron Curtain has since fallen, turning what was contemporary back then into historical especially the insight into the life and death of grandmaster chess as played by the Russian Bears. Justin moves the action-packed plot forward as his Buddhist trained skills enable him to accomplish seemingly impossible achievements; on the other hand Zarkhov is a vestige of the Soviet Union adding to the sense that this is a historical thriller. Fans will marvel at how newlyweds (at that time) Warren Murphy and Molly Cochran gifted their readers with a novel that remains tense and exciting though the perspective has changed.

Little Town Lies
Anne Strieber
ISBN: 0765310945, $23.95

Burned out at almost forty and tired of being AN INVISIBLE WOMAN to groping men, Houston social worker Sally Hopkins quits her job. Feeling more like Ms Dyingly Sad, the depressed Sal seeks solace by returning to the only place she ever felt was home in her troubled life Maryvale, Texas. The town sheriff Sally's Uncle Ed provides her work in his office though she has no experience. Her first case is a disaster as she fumbles and bungles her investigation into animal mutilations. However, she begins to uncover that the town that she thought was her childhood haven is filled with criminal predatory activity. Besides the animal mutilations, sex with a minor, alcohol misuse, illegal drugs and spousal abuse are prevalent. Beneath all that is an apparent serial killer who has murdered three women with a baseball bat. Not trusting even her beloved Uncle, but instead teaming with State Trooper Rob Farley, Sally makes inquiries on all these sinister happenings. Though well written, readers will have a hard time accepting nepotism (of course the White House cronyism makes it a bit more plausible) of a law enforcement official placing an amateur into investigative scenarios even if it is his niece. The story line is all over the place as Supergal Sal works on five major crimes and the homicide case. Still Sal is an intriguing protagonist who does the yeoman's job of keeping the plot somewhat focused as she solves case after case and finds time to fall in love.

Ex and the Single Girl
Lani Diane Rich
5 Spot
ISBN: 0446693073, $12.95

On Valentine's Day in Syracuse, New York Portia Fallon received an epiphany when her boyfriend Peter dumped her. Over wine and corn chips she concludes that except for her quartet of cats, she is pathetically hopeless when it comes to men. Just like all her female relatives men always leave. Thus when mom asks her to come home for awhile, Portia, assumes she has lost her head or at least her grits, and puts aside her dissertation and heads to Truly, Georgia to spend a summer with her family. Of course that means becoming the fourth member once again of the Truly famous Miz Fallons (mom, Aunt Vera; and grandma Bev) as mom warmly reminds her daughter that they are victims of the infamous "Penis Teflon Effect". Still the Miz Fallons decide that Portia needs a local "Flyer" to move past that peck Peter. They select British novelist Ian Beckett whom they assume has the right stuff (i.e., penis). While Portia and Ian work closely on renovating a farmhouse she falls in love with him. Peter arrives and proposes. The "Penis Teflon Effect" can be overcome with love, but to persuade that motley of female believers otherwise may take a lifetime. The Miz Fallons are a zany trio who drives Portia crazy with their antics including trying to get her a temporary man to move her itch on. She, in turn, realizing the family curse is an unsubstantiated myth decides to out-zany the lunatic fringe of her family. Chick lit fans will enjoy this wild bunch even if the relationships are beyond the bizarre.

Taken by Storm
Kathie DeNosky, Kristi Gold & Laura Wright
Signature Select
ISBN: 0373285361, $5.99

"Whirlwind" by Kathie DeNosky. Her chasing partner Daryl tells her no more hazardous duty for him since he now has a newborn. However, storm-chasing researcher Kacie Davidson refuses to quit. Gallant rancher Josh Garrett joins her for no one should ride the weather alone. Neither expected the lightning to come from their hearts. "Upsurge" by Kristi Gold. The hurricane threatens to cause havoc to the Florida Panhandle. Resident Marissa considers leaving permanently while her neighbor Greg wants her to stay with him permanently. Greg hopes the hurricane will give him the opportunity to tell his beloved how he feels as he wants to lay out his heart before the storm hits. "Wildfire" by Laura Wright. The wildfire is out of control causing destruction to the California mountainside. Smokejumper Gabe risks his life to save Edge magazine reporter Nora, the woman he still loves though they stopped seeing one another. Nora has not told her former boyfriend that he is rescuing two people when he tries to take her to safety. These are three fast-paced well-written romantic suspense novellas in which heroes and heroines battle nature and to a degree one another while also falling in love, but understanding the immediate priorities.

Wealth Beyond Riches
Gina Wilkins
Signature Saga
ISBN: 0373836856, $5.99

In Dallas, attorney Sean Jacobs informs his stepbrother Ethan Blacklock that the latter's estranged mother Margaret accidentally died when she tumbled down a set of stairs. Shockingly, an unknown schoolteacher at least to the family and servants Brenda Prentiss inherits the brunt of the multimillion dollar estate as long as she cares for the late Margaret's four beloved cats. Before meeting the family, Brenda visits D'Alessandro and Walker Investigations because she believes someone tried to kill her; she explains abut the odd inheritance from someone she is sure she never met. Brenda and Ethan meet at what is now a mansion so that he can take what he wants of his late father's stuff as stipulated in the will; he takes few items none with any major monetary value as he explains he and his mother had a final falling out when he rejected law school to open up a landscaping business. Brenda wonders if he wants her dead as he inherits if she is out of the picture. As they each fight their attraction to one another, more attempts on her life occur. WEALTH BEYOND RICHES is an interesting romantic suspense that grips the audience who wonder whether Ethan's attitude towards his mother's wealth and bitterness disguises his desire to obtain the funds at any cost. The audience will also want to know the logic behind an apparent stable Margaret bequeathing her fortune to a stranger. The cast is strong especially the lead couple and though an unlikely twist adds fun and intrigue the tale belongs to the series of mysteries that fans will want to know the answers.

Come Home to Love
Joan Hohl
Signature Select
ISBN: 0373836899, $4.99

In high school, Matthew Martin asked Katherine out, but she informed him that she was seeing Kevin Acker. He brusquely walked away from her. Katherine and Kevin eventually married while Matthew accrued wealth. Years later, Katherine becomes a widow. After allowing some time to pass Matthew offers her a marriage of convenience that seems so cold to Katherine, but is her only option from a bleak lonely life. She agrees to serve as his hostess at his business galas and to sleep with him though the latter frightens her even as a mature woman as she has not slept with any man except Kevin. Her children detest the fact that their mom remarried; his sister Elizabeth "the queen" feels the same way reminding Matthew that this woman rejected him years ago. Soon Katherine falls in love with her spouse; Matthew has loved her since he was a star teenage baseball player. However, neither will step forward revealing their heart's desire as both fear ridicule and rejection; his sister fosters their lack of confidence towards one another flaunting her pal DeeDee at her brother while Matthew wonders whether his spouse will run off with his brother. This interesting second chance at love tale is filled with secondary characters who, for the most part, want to weaken the shaky relationship between the lead couple until it implodes. Even his brother who worries about his sister-in-law tries to protect her by not encouraging her to work things out with Matthew. Though a little communication could have gone a long way to bringing love home, readers will appreciate this family drama pondering throughout whether the marriage is doomed even with a child and love to anchor it.

Surf Girl School
Cathy Yardley
Signature Select
ISBN: 0373836678, $5.99

Allison is so tense and stressed out her doctor is concerned that she will stroke out or suffer cardiac arrest. She tries various hobbies, but finds them either boring or stressful. In desperation, she tries surfing, but finds she desires her instructor Sean Gilroy, who wants the widget (woman midget) to go home as he feels she will only get hurt. Sean reciprocates the need, but hides it from his student, who refuses to quit though she is not very good at surfing. Instead she learns something else from her mentor that some tension can be good that is if she can persuade Sean to help her release it. As she pushes to excel, they fall in love, but will the workaholic accept a surf bum as the man who can help her enjoy life without living like a Kamikaze pilot. Modernize an overworked with the same intensity adult Gidget and you have Allison though Sean is more the Kahuna than Moondog. The relationship between Allison and Sean changes as the story line progresses and that makes for a fine sun and fun romance. Readers will wonder whether Allison can stop to smell the ocean air and if Sean accepts responsibility that comes with a relationship or will they sink to the bottom before their love can fully blossom.

Half Past Dead
Meryl Sawyer
ISBN: 0373770634, $6.99, 384 pp.

Three years ago Kaitlin Wells was convicted of robbing the Mercury National Bank. She went to Danville Correctional Facility. Now the prosecutor in her case Harlan Westcott informs her he knows she is innocent as new evidence from another investigation surfaced. He offers her a deal that will free her immediately on a work release program or she can linger for a year of two in prison until the undercover operation is completed. She agrees to help him catch the criminal once she learns her mother is dying from ovarian cancer though she knows her mother and sister deserted her. Over the objection of the affluent, Ole Mississippi football fanatics, and those who blame him for the suicide of his high school girlfriend Verity, former big city cop Justin Radner is appointed temporary sheriff of Twin Oaks. Even before he starts he has a homicide to deal with but also looks into the bank robbery in which Kat went to prison; likewise she does too. As they compare notes, they plan to prove she is innocent while they fall in love with one another. HALF PAST DEAD is an exciting police procedural-amateur sleuth romantic suspense with a heroine who wants desperately to prove she is innocent before her mom dies. The story line is action-packed, but also provides a cautionary tale that justice is not blind or equal as the prosecution could afford to go all out against Kat while she depended on brainless public defender way out of his league. Readers will appreciate this fine thriller that never slows down once the culprit knows the cop and the convict are searching to uncover him or her.

Blame It on Chocolate
Jennifer Greene
ISBN: 0373770634, $5.99, 384 pp.

At Bernard's Chocolate in Minnesota, for four years horticulturist Lucy Fitzhenry worked on developing a new strain of cocoa that could grow outside the rain forests. She has finally succeeded. Euphoric she informs her boss Nick Bernard who tries the chocolate and thinks it is the best he ever had; she agrees. Neither were prepared for the side effect as they make love. Several weeks later Lucy suffers from shame and nausea that she assumes is a stressed induced ulcer; Nick feels guilty that he lost control and took advantage of his top researcher. When his grandfather throws them together to market the new Bliss, their attraction grows stronger. As she learns why she is suffering nausea bouts, they fall in love, but can they really BLAME IT ON THE CHOCOLATE? Mindful of the Hudson-Day vehicle LOVER COME BACK, BLAME IT ON CHOCOLATE is an amusing contemporary romance starring two likable individuals who need Bliss to make them realize they love one another. The story line centers on the campaign to market Bliss while the lead couple struggle with that one night and its aftermath. Fans who enjoy a lighthearted romp will appreciate this sweet tasting tale.

Carolyn Davidson
ISBN: 0373771495, $5.99, 384 pp.

He came back from the war wheelchair bound, but Jake McPherson's sweetheart Lorena pulled him out of his depression; they married and had a son Jason. However, in 1877 Lorena died and the spark she gave to Jake was buried with her. Three years later, Jake remains a recluse while his nine year old son gets into trouble. Schoolteacher Alicia Merriweather takes Jake and Jason to task for the lad's behavior and the dad's neglect. Though she dislikes Jake, Alicia begins to take care of Jason and clean up their house. He soon out of the blue offers a marriage of convenience that she accepts. As they become better acquainted with one another, she sees the decent man hiding insider an acrimonious shell while he sees the caring nurturing woman hidden by her tall rigid spinster armor. Their admiration turns to love, but neither takes the first key step out of fear of ridicule and rejection. REDEMPTION is a fine late Reconstruction Era romance starring a courageous take no prisoners heroine, a crusty angry war veteran whose deceased wife was a nice nurturing person, and a neglected preadolescent growing up too fast (mindful of a lock key child). The interrelationship between the trio makes the tale worth reading as Jake realizes how fortunate he is to find love for the second time pulling him out of his depression. Though he, in some ways mentally heals too easily, historical readers will appreciate this fine look at the therapeutic power of love.

The Gazebo
Kimberly Cates
ISBN: 0373770510, $12.95

Deirdre McDaniel detests the chore of going through her childhood home in Whitewater, Illinois but knows she must see what she wants to keep since her mom Emmalie died. Her brother Cade offers to help, but she insists on looking at her hope chest by herself although she allows her teenage daughter Emma to help her. Deirdre finds a shocking letter in which she learns that her father the Captain did not sire her. She confronts the Captain, who lives with Cade and his wife, but he is shocked with the news that Cade already knew. Deirdre needs to meet her biological father though she risks tearing apart her family, which has taken years to come together. She hires private investigator Jake Stone to investigate as she and her family has had some experience with him (see PICKET FENCE). As he searches for her dad, Deirdre reassesses the sleuth upgrading him from jerk to sensually caring; he fell in love with her a few years ago, but knew he could do nothing about it at that time. Now he plans to push his case although she obstinately hides behind her vow to take care of Emma above all else. THE GAZEBO is an absorbing family drama starring an individual who never felt at home and now believes she knows why. Her need to find her patriarchal roots is a disguise to avoid what she really wants: a reconciliation with the Captain. The well written romantic subplot in some ways intrudes (the intelligent understanding Jake feels that way too as he hesitates to act on his desire) on a strong character study of a woman seeking to ascertain where she fits with the family that raised her.

All Roads Lead to Texas
Linda Warren
Harlequin SuperRomance
ISBN: 0373713142, $5.50

Callie Lambert fears her abusive stepfather who she assumes killed her mother; however her trepidation is not so much for herself, but for her younger half-brother and two half sisters. Feeling a need to protect them, Callie abducts her siblings and flees New York for her birth town Homestead, Texas using a different identity so as to make sure she cannot be traced. She assumes that law enforcement will ultimately catch up to her vile stepfather. Callie knows having four young people move into the small town would not allow them to stay in hiding, but she plans to insure nothing would place her in the spotlight of the sheriff's office. However, that is before she met Sheriff Wade Montgomery, who seems to have more than just a passing interest in her and her charges as they are attracted to one another form the first encounter. Still he upholds the law so she dreads what he will do if he learns the truth. Wade realizes she hides a secret that keeps her anxious especially around him, but wants to help her even if it means losing the job he always wanted for not helping her means losing his heart. The duo enhanced by the antics of her siblings and the townsfolk make for a fine romantic thriller with the suspense coming early and late. The ensemble cast is top rate with the varying individuals having differing personalities. Though the stepdad is mean to the bone with no redeeming quality, fans will appreciate this return Home to Loveless County entry due to a fine plot focusing on the trepidations of Callie cautious distrust of falling in love.

Daddy Lessons
Victoria Chancellor
Harlequin American
ISBN: 0373751028, $4.99

Having divorced her womanizing spouse Ed, elementary school teacher Kate Wooden returns to Ranger Springs, Texas with her six year old son Eddie to be close to her Aunt Jodie and her brother Travis and his family since her son's dad abandoned the lad. Former Hollywood animal trainer stuntman Luke Simon has retired from the movies to settle in the ranch next door to that of Kate. He plans to establish a retirement home for aging performing animals even though some are a bit cantankerous. Eddie keeps sneaking off to see the animals like the zebras next door. Surprisingly Luke is very patient with the boy. However, he soon has a big shock to cope with when a man insisting he was the brother to the late Shawna Jacobs informs him that his tryst with the deceased nine years ago led to a daughter Brittany. He is determined to create a home for Brittany, but has two weeks to learn how to be a father; Kate gives him lessons. Neither of the adults is prepared for how much their respective youngsters need same sex parenting and even less ready for how much in love with one another they become. DADDY LESSONS is a fine family drama in which the romance comes later as the problems of rejection and abandonment place the two kids on the front burner. The quartet struggles with issues that are outside the scope of opposite sex parenting as Eddie needs a male in his life after his father left him and Brittany likewise a female after the death of her mother. The romance between Kate and Luke is sweet, but it is the needs of the children that drive this fine contemporary.

Marrying the Marshal
Laura Marie Altom
Harlequin American
ISBN: 0373751036, $4.99, 248 pp.

An elated Caleb Logue plans to ask his pregnant girlfriend Allie Hayworth to marry him. However when he shows up with the ring, he finds she is gone. She left him a note saying she lost the baby and before that him. He is stunned to say the least and his father, a former US Marshal and now small town Oregonian sheriff, searches for Allie, but fails to find her. Nine years later his superior assigns Portland based Deputy US Marshal Caleb Logue to protect Judge Allie Hayworth over his objections. When Caleb arrives he is stunned to see her with her eight years old son Cal. After recovering from the initial shock that left him paler than the Stay-Puft Marshmallow Man, Caleb needs to know why and demands time with his child. Allie has hated Caleb since she felt he abandoned her once she informed him she was pregnant, but feels guilty not telling him of his son. Though irate, he still loves her and wants to be Cal's father. First he must keep her safe from a real threat while persuading her that they belong together as a family. Though a little communication nine years ago would have meant no story, fans will enjoy this second chance at love suspense thriller. The story line contains two interrelated subplots: the real threat to the judge and the efforts of Caleb, once he somewhat calms down, to convince his beloved to accept him in the lives of her and their son. Caleb and Allie come across as real people with their human mistakes. Laura Marie Altom provides a warm character-driven family drama with just the right amount of external suspense to enhance the novel.

Sharing Spaces
Nadia Nichols
Harlequin SuperRomance
ISBN: 0373713177, $5.50

While working on a wedding at the Inn on Christmas Cove, her mom calls Senna McCallum to tell her that her grandfather the Admiral just died in North West River, Labrador; that the funeral is being held today; and he will be cremated. Finally he named her as his executor. Senna wished she had been closer to the Admiral, whom she had not seen in five years, but is shocked that he named her to handle his estate instead of one of his male offspring. The trip to Goose Bay takes forever, but Senna, after meeting the Admiral's lawyer, travels to the fishing lodge to meet the partner and best friend John Hanson expecting a crusty old sea wolf. Instead John is a handsome hunk currently drunk around her age. As they squabble over who the Admiral really was, they fall in love, but she is a wedding planner while he is a fishing host in a place where no one would celebrate nuptials, but love makes strange partners. SHARING SPACES is a terrific contemporary romance due to the rich vivid detail of Labrador provided by Nadia Nichols that gives the audience a strong picture of an area not often used as a backdrop. The lead duet are a fine pairing as the Admiral apparently believed when he selected Senna (though hard to tell how he knew since he pretty much isolated himself from his family). The story line is character driven as John and Senna argue over the Admiral's virtues and what to do with the fishing lodge (to sell or not to sell that is the question). This tale has a strong eccentric cast starring in a fine modern day tale yet Labrador steals the show.

A Million to One
Darlene Gardner
Harlequin SuperRomance
ISBN: 0373713169, $5.50

While watching the news, Kaylee Carter learns of an Ohio woman Sofia Donatelli who recently won the lottery, but years ago gave up her daughter for adoption. Though the odds are slight, Kaylee believes she might just be that child and may have found what she always wanted to feel: that she belongs somewhere. Accompanied by her six years old son, Kaylee leaves Florida to meet Sofia. However, in Ohio Sofia's stepson Tony believes that no one in their right mind travels well over a thousand miles on what seems a hunch; he assumes Kaylee is a con artist out to steal from his beloved stepmom as the vultures have begun arriving. Still he also admits he is attracted to Kaylee who knows she is falling in love with him, but to persuade him that her quest is love not money seems impossible. Though the audience will share Tony's skepticism that a logical person does not make such a trek without more information, fans will enjoy this fine contemporary romance because they also hope that Kaylee finds what she seeks, belonging to a loving family. The lead couple is a charming pair as he cannot believe that he loves a con artist and she fears that the man she treasures will reject her because he cynically presumes the worst. A MILLION TO ONE is a fine tale of a woman seeking love in the right place.

Give Me Fever
Karen Anders
Harlequin Blaze
ISBN: 0373792239, $4.75

In New Orleans, Tally Addison lives in a Court du Chaud townhouse built by her ancestor pirate Gabriel Dampier about two centuries ago. She believes her relative buried booty in the home that she now owns. Tally hopes to find the lost treasure so that she can use it to purchase the Blue Note where she performs. Private investigator Christien Castille offers to help her find the buried treasure. She accepts his offer with the stipulation that their relationship remain platonic. Christien wants more, but accepts her terms as he hopes that buys him time to change her mind about them. Neither is aware that Gabriel has an interest in her falling in love. If she can break the family curse that makes the recipients always choose blind ambition over love, Gabriel will be able to finally move on. This fevered paranormal investigative romance is a fun story that leaves the audience believing in ghosts. The key triad seems very real whether they are of the specter world or the mortal realm as the humans fall in love seeking her ancestor's loot while said relative plays matchmaker from beyond. GIVE ME FEVER is an entertaining often amusing and highly spirited romantic romp.

Don't Open Till Christmas
Leslie Kelly
Harlequin Blaze
ISBN: 0373792263, $4.75

Noelle Bradenton detests Christmas because her memories are all bad. Her opinion is proven when apparently Santa Claus robs the donations given to the Give a Kid a Christmas that her center is running. Chicago Police Detective Mark Santori investigates the theft; he also feels Yuletide is a downer as he finds the holiday season a big hypocrisy with the capitalists owning the season. The robbery fits into his mood; this is an all time low in disgusting human behavior with some Scrooge stealing from needy little kids. As Mark investigates the theft, he and Noelle are attracted to one another. Noelle figures sex with the cop will be the perfect present for her while he dreams of unwrapping her clothing as the ideal Christmas Eve activity. Neither expected to want the other permanently under a mistletoe, but who will open the box filled with love first. This humorous passionate contemporary holiday romance is fun to read because of the antics of the "bah humbug" lead duet. Each rejects Christmas until they meet one another and begin to see little miracles all around them. Fans will want to open this terrific blazing inspirational tale long before Christmas arrives.

The Lighthouse
Mary Schramski
Harlequin Next
ISBN: 0373880693, $5.50

Eight months ago forty-two years old Christine McGuire's mother died in a car accident. The realtor has not returned home since though her father grieves his loss by himself and could use support; for that matter so could Christine as mom was the glue that kept the family together. Deciding to see her dad over the Christmas holidays, Christine wants to forge a closer relationship with him. Joe feels the same way as he knows he blew the past when he was never there for his daughter. However, though they share the same objective, love one another and still mourn the loss of a loved one, neither can take the first step out of their roles to reinvent their relationship. This deep look at father daughter relationships between two adults is as profound a tale that a reader will find because the two lead protagonists know what they want and know what they must do, but neither can do it for fear of rejection. By switching perspectives, fans not only understand the motives to not take that first tentative step, but also a strong comprehension of how they felt towards the late matriarch.

Blackberry Winter
Cheryl Reavis
Harlequin Next
ISBN: 0373880723, $5.50

Investment banker Loran Kimball braves the Capital Beltway as she does a lot since her mother Maddie became ill. The two have always been together as Maddie raised her as a single mother never telling her illegitimate daughter who her father is or anything else about her past. Loran gave up asking as a child as Maddie was and is too private of a person to reveal any information. However, this time Maddie is not home to Loran's panic. After checking with the hospital she learns from the neighbor that Maddie went to the North Carolina hills for a few days. Frightened that for the first time since she has known her mom, Maddie went home apparently in search of her past, Loran decides to follow. She wonders what she will find in the Carolina mountains including instance roots like a father and other family members after four decades without anyone except her mother, but most important she prays that mom is okay. Rarely does a novel contain the depth that the key characters contain as they do in BLACKBERRY WINTER. Readers will understand the motives of mom, Loran, and others that led to the forty year hiatus. The story line grips the audience from the moment a puzzled Loran learns mom went south for apparently a planned short visit, but like the banker ponders why. Fans will appreciate this you can go home with empathetic strong people as Loran discovers her roots and much more in the Carolina mountains.

Holidays Are Murder
Charlotte Douglas
Harlequin Next
ISBN: 0373880715, $5.50

In Pelican Bay, Florida overworked Detective Maggie Skerritt knows she could use a break, but hides behind her work to avoid the holiday pressures on her from her family and to a lesser degree her lover and former law enforcement partner Bill Malcolm. Maggie tells everyone who ignores her ramblings that she will get into the spirit as soon as she solves a series of commercial robberies. However, before resolving the thefts, Maggie begins working on a homicide that to her chagrin gets her socialite mother on her back. The victim is the son-in-law of her mom's best friend and in spite of mother's insistence otherwise the prime suspect is the wife. Bill helps her with her inquires even as he pressures his beloved to marry him. The latest Skerritt mystery (see PELICAN BAY) is a fabulous police procedural due to the lead character who knows she needs R&R, but fears that rest does not include relaxation as her mother and her lover have demands on her time. Thus she is motivated to work the robberies and the murder investigations to avoid commitments to her family for the holidays and permanently with Bill. The who-done-it is cleverly devised so that the audience joins the heroine as she follows the clues.

Dragonflies and Diamonds
Kate Austin
Harlequin Next
ISBN: 037388074X, $5.50

Two years ago her mother died from breast cancer shaking up then forty-years old Randy Roman, who already suffered from panic attacks and other anxieties. Now her sister Susan suffers from the same illness sending Randy's stress level to the stratosphere. Increasing her sibling's anxiety exponentially, Susan asks Randy to escort her two sons Mickey and Eric to their hometown of Cranberry Portage, Canada to sprinkle their mom's ashes over the turf the woman cherished. Unable to say no, Randy screws up her courage, takes leave from the bank she has worked at for two decades, and begins the quest accompanied by her nephews and Dexter the canine they found on the trail. Along the way Randy becomes comfortable with her charges and much of her stress vanishes. In Cranberry Portage, she meets biologist Tom Webb, who lives in what was once her mom's home. DRAGONFLIES AND DIAMONDS is a captivating look at a woman who finds anything outside of her narrow comfort zone debilitating, but shows courage as she treks with her nephews on a journey that turns into one of self discovery. Randy is a crippled person unable to do much more than work at the bank when her sister hits her with the only task that she cannot refuse in spite of the crippling fear that threatens to drown her. Readers will sympathize with the embattled heroine trying to overcome her phobia though the ending is too simple for such a deep psychological drama.

Dating the Mrs. Smiths
Tanya Michaels
Harlequin Next
ISBN: 0373880685, $5.50

In Florida recently widowed Charlotte Smith figures things could not get any worse as she raises her children Ben and Sara alone though Rose, her mother-in-law, pleads with her to move to Boston so she can help. However, things do when her boss at Kazka Medical Supply informs her that part of the company including her job were being transferred to another state. Deciding instead to see Rose, Charlie takes her two young children and drives fifteen hundred miles to spend the holidays in Boston. The kids love being with their only living grandparent, but Charlie has problems as she and Rose has never been close. Still for the sake of the kids, they try to compromise, but that is difficult when two strong-willed opinionated female adults battle for supremacy as in many ways Charlie is a chip off the old block even if Rose is her in-law not a blood relative. DATING THE MRS. SMITHS is a warm contemporary tale that centers on two generations of adults struggling with a loss of the loved, one that bound them together while trying to nurture the two children. The conflicts between the two Mrs. Smiths seem genuine as both are portrayed as real people with needs and desires including time to mourn while also considering what is best for the children especially the sensitive Sara. Tanya Michaels uses humor to somewhat defuse the conflict in which nobody is wrong, but two rights may not prove positive.

A Long Walk Home
Diane Amos
Harlequin Next
ISBN: 0373880707, $5.50

Her husband who walked on water in her mind died eighteen months ago, but not before Annie learned he betrayed her trust in him. Moving on Annie Jacobs has become the vice president of the loan department at Portland National Bank. Before she can settle in her new position, her estranged sister Dana calls to ask a favor; while she is in rehab, can her teenage daughter Summer stay with her aunt in Maine? Reluctantly Annie agrees. Annie is shocked when the teen dressed totally in black arrives. Summer is sullen and nasty towards everyone including Annie, her lover Tony Marino and her two best friends. Everyone tells Annie not to put up with the garbage and ship the ungrateful punk home. However, Annie sees a frightened child trusting no adult as neither her mom nor her aunt have ever been there for this neglected Goth teen. Annie plans to change that by taking the guff, but also showering her niece with tough love as they both begin to heal with the help of one another. This is a strong character driven tale starring two people hurt and betrayed by those who they respectively love the most in the world. Summer is a fabulous character as Diane Amos provides the audience with a powerful look into a distraught disengaged teen. Though some of the plot seems off kilter to the personalities of the lead pair, readers who appreciate an insightful family drama will want to take A LONG WALK HOME with Annie and Summer.

Starting From Scratch
Marie Ferrarella
Harlequin Next
ISBN: 0373880677, $5.50

Randolph & Sons forty-six years old editor Elisha Jane Reed enjoys working at the prestigious publishing house though her personal life is going nowhere. She rationalizes that she has all she needs with her widowed brother and his two daughters fifteen years old Andrea and ten years old Beth who live near her. Her current gala is the release of what is expected to be a blockbuster written by Ex SEAL Ryan Sutherland. However, as she throws herself 24/7 to insure her new author succeeds, tragedy strikes when her beloved brother Henry informs her he has pancreatic cancer. Stunned Elisha has no time to cry as she now must remain optimistic though the disease is fast and fatal if not for her, than for Henry and her nieces. Her philosophy of dealing with problems fail miserably as it does trying to coax Ryan to behave like a proper best selling writer should. So what does a stressed out editor do, simply throw out the rule book and STARTING FROM SCRATCH and dive head first into a sweet tooth delight. The story line takes its time to introduce the audience to the prime players, but once readers learn Henry has cancer, the tale becomes a deep character study focusing on coping when your life is turned upside down; instead of looking up at the next rung, you try not to fall any lower as the ooze beneath the ladder is in your vision. Ryan abetted by Henry and his children bring out the worse in a beleaguered, bewildered, and beheaded Elisha who feels she must have played football without a helmet as she poorly adjusts, in spite of her caring efforts, to a shift in reality.

The Lady's Hazard
Miranda Jarrett
ISBN: 0373293798, $5.50

In 1805 London, Bethany Penny handles the cooking at her family run gambling spot Penny House, a favorite locale of the Ton. She also feeds the poor who come around for handouts at the back door. After serving in the Peninsular, William Calloway returns to London a broken soul with a mission. He plans to prove Bethany poisoned members of his regiment. However, not too long after meeting Bethany, William believes she is innocent. Instead of being shocked by his investigation with her as the prime suspect, Bethany joins him. As they work to uncover who the killer is, they begin to fall in love. However though he will die for his Bethany, William has secrets that once revealed will turn his beloved from loving him to loathing him. THE LADY'S HAZARD is a terrific Regency romance starring a courageous caring female and a somewhat tortured male. Bethany's goodness brings light into William's darkened soul, but apparently not enough as he believes he is not good enough for her. Bethany sees deep into his inner most sanctuary and concludes William is a good person and refuses to accept his denial of her belief. The mystery adds spice to a fine historical making sub-genre fans want more Penny novels.

The Police Chief's Lady
Jacqueline Diamond
Harlequin American
ISBN: 0373750986, $4.99

The unsubstantiated scandal caused by the spouse of a patient sexually harassing her, but blaming her, sent the disgusted big city doctor fleeing Los Angeles to any place where she can start over, but not have her troubles follow her. Dr. Jenni Vine chooses Downhome, Tennessee; most of the residents are elated to have a physician live and practice in town so they could not care less what would send a glamorous beautiful blond from Southern California to hillbilly country. The only exception to ignoring Jenni's past is suspicious widower Police Chief Ethan Forrest who refuses to accept the beach blond could want to remain in town; he quietly learns the details of the scandal that drove her away and assumes she is guilty or why run. As she becomes concerned over the welfare of a patient that could lead to a new scandal and is kind to Ethan's son, the cop realizes he loves the lady doctor, but doubts she will stay as he still believes she is big city. The romance between on the surface apparent opposites (who actually share many common values) is well written, but it is the medical needs in a small-town that make this a fantastic contemporary tale. The fully developed lead couple, his son, and the townsfolk enable the audience to look closely at health issues facing this country, but do so inside a strong story line. THE POLICE CHIEF'S LADY is a 24K gem of a tale.

Out of Town Bride
Kara Lennox
Harlequin American
ISBN: 0373750978, $4.99

Still in shock though several weeks have passed since her fiance Marvin Carter vanished taking money with him, Sonya Patterson continues to prepare as if her wedding was to occur. Sonya wants to delay telling her ailing mom Muffy the truth for fear that would trigger a deadly final heart attack as her beloved mom has not recovered from a recent one. Sheriff's' Deputy John-Michael McPhee assumes that Sonya, whom he has known since childhood as the son of a gardener and later her bodyguard for a decade, is a spoiled brat. However, he looks into the case of her missing boyfriend though he wants nothing to do with Sonya, who he assumes continues her nuptial preparations to avoid the embarrassment of being jilted. However, as he gets to know her like he never did when he was a child or employed by her family, John-Michael sees a kind hearted woman worried only about her mother. As he falls in love, he wonders if his beloved can see him as her soulmate rather than her former employee. The final Blond Justice trilogy is a terrific romantic suspense starring two likable obstinate individuals who readers will root for them coming together as much as seeing Marvin the con finally caught. The cameo return of the heroines from the previous books (see HOMETOWN HONEY and DOWNTOWN DEBUTANTE) showcases how clever Marvin is and the difficulty of catching him. Fans will enjoy this fine investigative romance as the lead couple fall in love and close in on Marvin, but will they succeed whereas the previous two paring found love but not the con artist.

Grin and Bear It
Leslie LaFoy
Harlequin Next
ISBN: 0373880731, $5.50

Daniel Kavanaugh dumped his wife Stacy to be with exotic dancer Pammy. As they obtain a divorce, they argue over whom should possess what material items. In fact in recent weeks Daniel has been nasty and testy while Stacy wants to move on to start her life over. The dispute ends when Daniel dies in a plane crash, but his corpse is missing. At a memorial service for Daniel, all hell breaks loose leaving Stacy to wonder what is going on. Adding to her bewilderment is a string of crimes that include homicides and break-ins. As law enforcement looks into the situation, Stacy finds herself surprisingly attracted to two hunks intimately involved in the case. GRIN AND BEAR IT lives up to its title as the story line combines tons of fast-paced action with loads of humor and a side order of romance into a palate pleasing thriller. Stacy is a fabulous protagonist trying to regain equilibrium in her life following her spouse's desertion, but each step she takes seems to lead to a deeper chasm; still she refuses to quit. Readers will enjoy accompanying the heroine as she hunts for a new life, but only appears to land deeper in the quicksand of her previous one.

Curiosity Killed the Cat Sitter
Blaize Clement
ISBN: 0312340567, $23.95, 240 pp.

In Sarasota, Florida Dixie Hemingway still reels from the accidental deaths of her thirty year old husband and their three year old son when a nonagenarian driver hits the wrong pedal in a parking lot. Needing to time to recover, Dixie goes on medical leave from the Sheriff's Department to become a pet caretaker. While making her rounds, Dixie enters the home of Marilee Doering to take care of the client's cat Ghost. In the Abyssinian's water bowl lays a dead male, who apparently drowned on the spot. Marilee has vanished and soon the corpse is identified as her lover who sired a child with her that he forced her to give away. Soon Dixie uncovers other lovers of Marilee before finding the woman's decaying corpse. Knowing she has to be the prime suspect having found two dead bodies, Dixie uses her skills to investigate the homicides. The key to why this is a fantastic who-done-it is the multifaceted Dixie who brings so much to the story line; not just angst and grief. Her investigation into Marilee's life reveals secrets, money, and Ghost who inherits it all. The killer keeps an eye on Dixie to insure she does not get too close because if she does stalking will become murder. With a strong support cast (including animals especially Ghost and people deceased) fans of fast-paced clever mysteries will appreciate Dixie's efforts to uncover the culprit before she either goes to jail or dies.

Unacceptable Death
Barbara Seranella
ISBN: 0312347987, $23.95, 256 pp.

Ex junkie, ex-con, ex prostitute Munch Mancini finally has her life together and it is a good one. She makes a decent living as an auto mechanic, has a side business as a limousine driver, totally adores her adopted daughter Asia and owns her own home. She is in love with police officer Rico Chacon and the two plans to get married very soon. Munch is not afraid to think of their future even though Rico is working undercover in a dangerous operation that he won't ever tell her about. Word comes from her police officer friend Mace St. Josh that Rico was murdered and that she should be prepared to talk to Internal Affairs. Munch learns that his survivor pension and death benefits are up being withheld pending an investigation. The department claims that Rico in the company of two drug suppliers was shooting at police officers. Munch knows Rico was clean and she becomes a police informant to prove that Rico was working the right side of the law. This proves a dangerous position to be in because she is caught between cops with their own agendas and two Mexican drug traffickers who seek cocaine that was stolen from them. Munch is the poster child for the bad girl turned honest citizen who obeys the laws and stays clean. Her ability to act the part of a criminal is only one of the reasons the police use her to find out what happened to Rico. She goes along with them because if she finds evidence he was a good cop, they will publicly exonerate him. Barbara Seranella has written a heart-wrenching thriller that looks at the politics behind police actions.

The Promise of Happiness
Justin Cartwright
ISBN: 0312348800, $23.95, 304 pp.

The last few years have been rough on the usually successful Judd family of Cornwall, England. It started three years ago when prodigal daughter art historian Juliet was convicted in New York for selling stolen Tiffany windows purloined from a Queens cemetery. She has just been released from prison though she never committed the crime; her boyfriend actually stole the contraband. Her father is ashamed by the desecration almost as much as the conviction; he also struggles with having lost his position several years ago. Her brother Charlie, a successful business man, picks his sister up at the airport, but remains distant from her as she let him down with the theft; he also contemplates whether he really wants to marry though he is engaged to do so shortly. Her other sibling Sophie the TV producer blames her shortcomings on Juliet's disgrace though the drugs and the married man is all her own doing. Meanwhile mom avoids everyone's issues as she hides behind cooking. The five Judds are back in Cornwell for the first time in years and will either kill each other or turn to each other for comfort. Readers will run the gamut of emotions as they will see their own family in the distraught Judd brood. The tale is obviously character driven as the quintet elicits laughter and tears for an enthralled audience who will wonder if Justin Cartwright is writing about their family. Fans will appreciate this powerful look at family foolishness that makes the Judds us and us the Judds.

Beyond Coincidence
Martin Plimmer and Brian King
ISBN: 0312340362, $23.95, 288 pp.

This is a terrific look at the failures of the law of probability as the authors provide over two hundred seemingly random events that appear impossible yet are documented as occurring. The included anecdotal are fun to follow though many are macabre like the sisters driving on separate surprise visits to one another crashing into each other or the three unrelated Birds crashing their three vehicles with one another. The stories grip the reader who wonders what next can happen, but hope not to them. Fans will ponder if the new age pseudoscience intelligent design has validity as the hands behind the improbable described real happenings. However, before the claims are made that this tome makes physics doctrine of intelligent design, let's not ignore that some of the outcomes of the events must have been made by an ironic stand-up comic using people as cosmic jokes. When Composer Osborne asked poet Raine if he wanted to collaborate on an opera based on a Pasternak work if they gave permission, the latter said yes, had the book in hand to read before the call and had permission since his wife is the author's niece. Believe it or not this collection is no coincidence that it is a fascinating fun analysis of the impossible happening inside a chaotic world that leads to the odds of a demand for a sequel quite high.

Noelle Mack
Kensington Aphrodisia
ISBN: 0758213891, $12.95

In London, no male womanizer holds a candle to the hedonistic wealthy widow Lady Fiona Gilberte. Her looks alone guarantees any man who cherishes women would desire her, but she also can buy almost any male she wants to temporarily to share her bed as everyone has a price. Decadency is what Fiona lives for whether she controls one or more partners at her luxurious Mayfair mansion. When the queen of seduction meets the king of rakes Lord Edward Delamar sparks (and other body fluids) fly. Both are attracted to one another perhaps because they are the rulers of their gender used to the other sex bowing to their desires; neither will submit to the other, but both want one another. That is until he introduces her to world of silken bondage. Readers will not need Viagra with the sensual sexual stupendous THREE on hand (no pun intended). The story line heats up the sheets as few tales do when Fiona and Edward begin the sex contest that could turn into a win-win situation for both of them. Though obviously the adventures occur in the boudoir, the lead pair share more than just fulfilling desire, as the audience will realize that they each subtly seek much more, but expect much less. Noelle Mack provides a fabulous erotica romance.

Wolf Tales
Kate Douglas
Kensington Aphrodisia
ISBN: 0758213867, $12.95

With her life in ruins, Alexandria Olanet needed escape, but in an isolated area has a car accident that has her white car buried in snow. She treks off to find shelter, but eventually collapses. She somewhat awakens to warmth and the best sex of her life before fully awakening the next morning to meet her rescuer and companion Stefan Aragat, a cursed werewolf who lost the ability to change physical form leaving him a half-human half wolf who has given up on life and feels nothing but loneliness. Xandi's love gives him hope to confront the werewolf wizard Anton Cheval who cursed him. Xandi and Stefan agree to visit Anton together. However, Stefan fears how his new beloved will react if his desires for his former mentor surfaces. An elderly man greets the duo at Anton's home, but Stefan behaves haughtily angering him; the old man turns into a wolf, dominates Stefan and sexually uses him in front of Xandi. Humiliated by his submissiveness in front of his soulmate, but more afraid that the old man Anton might mate with his Xandi, Stefan also fears he will never become fully human ever again and eventually lose her because of that. However Xandi encourages him that their quest has just begun. WOLF TALES is not like the werewolf tales like the Howling as the story line is much more complex especially the sexual interrelationships between the Chanku members (werewolf pack). The story line contains heterosexual, homosexual and bondage trysts that fit apropos in defining the Chanku morality system. Xandi is a courageous person finding a new life filled with love and awe while her mate gains hope that one day he will make love to her as a human. Kate Douglas provides a Mercury hot paranormal erotic romance that will burn the readers' fingers (and a few other spots).

The Hard Stuff
Karin Tabke, Bonnie Edwards & Sunny
ISBN: 0758214081, $12.95

"Stakeout" by Karin Tabke. Police Detective Stevie Cavanaugh wets her pants salivating over the "Italian Stallion" that she watches as Mario "Rocky" Spoltori is hung. However, as she admires her target, Special Agent Jack "Thorn" Thornton arrives at the surveillance site provoking memories of the best night she ever had; fantasy could never match the hardness of reality, but he was married at the time. They still want one another but the divorced Thorn wonders whether Stevie will geld him or love him. "Bodywork" by Bonnie Edwards. Wealthy widow Lisa Delaney hires auto mechanic Tyce Branton as his touch is the best to fix her late husband's classic car collection for an auction. Neither has forgotten twelve years ago, but he does not trust her as she disdained her trailer park roots which included him and married a sexagenarian. Lisa vows she will not lose her heart this time to the womanizer who tossed her aside years ago. Of course he is the best with body parts so she might consider a frolic or two. "Chinatown" by Sunny. Lily Huang obtains the phony Chinese passport and Singapore visa that enables her illegally to enter New York where the ruthless people-smuggling Red Lion gang strip her, find her tracking device, and realize she is an undercover cop. They lock her in the basement with undercover FBI Agent Wes Penzatti. As they share captivity and more, they must escape before the merciless gang leader Billy Kim kills them, but freedom means the end of their togetherness fantasy. These three romantic novellas are well written stimulating tales. Though Bonnie Edwards' input does not seem to belong with the police procedural contributions, fans who like their literature torrid will enjoy this erotic anthology.

Gotta Have It
Renee Alexis
ISBN: 0758213921, $12.95

"Reacquainted". They were sweethearts years ago, but drifted apart. Both prepare to "veg" out at their perspective gate at Midway Airport when Caroline Pierce and Marc Brown accidentally meet and sparks fly. Both think destiny wants them to soar to new sensual highs. "Atten-Tion!" Marlisse Tanner the masseuse has the touch that can take the aches out of the most stressed military officers and enlisted men from nearby Fort Benning who visit her. However, new base commander David Carrington looks so good she wants him to massage and caress her entire body to bring the heat to special pleasure spots. "A Note to Mr. Fine". All the female students attending his Penn State seminars think Professor Aaron Ford is hot. Butler College sophomore Arlene Cannon writes a sexual fantasy co-starring the two of them. When the teacher gets a copy of the student's dreams, he finds his own appetite wet though he was dripping from the moment he first saw her. Still even if she is a summer student and he a visiting instructor, he should not cross the line; yet Aaron and Arlene teach each other anatomy lessons in spite of interference from her best friend. These three torrid contemporary romantic novellas will elate erotica fans (and their mates) as they contain fun sexually explicit stories starring hot to trot lead protagonists. The tales need a warning label to have a vibrator or significant other handy (pun intended).

I Shaved My Legs for This?!
Theresa Alan, Holly Chamberlin, Marcia Evanick & Lisa Plumley
ISBN: 075821085X, $12.95

"Love Is Blind (Or at Least Nearsighted)" by Theresa Alan. Heather attends a wedding in Wisconsin when the bride Carmen asks her to chaperone John the swamp thing whose girlfriend dumped him on the morning of the nuptials. Hating blind dates, Heather shockingly likes John except he is California and she is Chicago though he insists he knows the best Italian in the Windy City. "Cleo Barnes: Worst Blind Date Ever" by Holly Chamberlin. Nine months ago Cleo dumped Justin, her two-timing boyfriend and stereotyped all males as predators. She likes Max, who worships her, but once he canceled a date she assumes he is cheating on her as she sees him as a Justin clone. "Love Is Like a Box of Chocolates" by Marcia Evanick. Judith the RN feels like an idiot when it comes to dating as somehow she always accepts losers. That is until a persistent friend insists she date Hugh, who she finds has that sweet buttercream taste in his kiss. "Just Jennifer" by Lisa Plumley. In San Diego Jennifer, after a string of losers, vows to go on thirty blind dates in thirty days expecting none to lead to a second time. As she reaches the last one a hunk of a zillionaire, she reflects on her roommate's brother Gavin the surfer as the one for her yet he refuses to give up his freedom though the ties they share are love. These are four lighthearted fun novellas that focus on the downside of blind dates(from the woman's perspective) as each of the lead females at some time wonder why I SHAVED MY LEGS FOR THIS?

Lucy Monroe
ISBN: 0758208758, $14.00

In Oregon, Tyler McCall runs a mercenary training school that he thought his best student would one day want to take over the operation. However, his daughter Josie is tired of soldering and wants nothing to do with the school; instead she switches to computers. In the meantime Tyler starting to feel his age, needs a willing partner so offers a sweet deal to Daniel Black Eagle, who accepts though he worries about the Josie connection. However, someone blows up the school with Tyler inside. He is rushed to the hospital as he new partner and his daughter go there to see if he is okay. Not only is he not there, Josie wonders if Daniel, better known as nitro for his skills with all types of explosives, planted the bomb that devastated the mercenary school that she called home. She plans to find her dad, uncover the identity of the culprit and deal with that person accordingly. However she may be the best combat soldier in the world, but when it comes to the bedroom she is an amateur; Daniel wants to be her loving instructor even as he accepts she probably can take him in a fight. The second Lucy Monroe exhilarating mercenary soldier romantic suspense is a fast-paced thriller that grips the reader once the explosion rips apart the school. Daniel is an interesting hero who has some childhood scars that make him doubt commitment, but knows he wants Josie at his side forever. While he defies the macho mercenary male when he accepts that his beloved is no pussycat and probably the superior fighter; Josie is a captivating mix of feminism and military toughness. Readers are READY and WILLING for the final tale to appear.

Valentine's Day Is Killing Me
MaryJanice Davidson, Leslie Esdaile & Susanna Carr
ISBN: 0758212844, $14.00

"Cuffs and Coffee Breaks" by MaryJanice Davidson. Greeting card designer Julie goes to meet her Valentine's Day blind date at a restaurant only to find him waiting for her wearing handcuffs while a corpse lies near him. The cops arrest her date charging him with homicide. Julie debates whether to write it off as another date from hell or to prove he did not commit murder. "A "No Drama" Valentine's" by Leslie Esdaile. Jocelyn has given up on Valentine's Day at least when it comes to men; instead this year she arranges a pamper party with her female pals, but each has to bow out. However, apparently half the world crashes her "pampering" party including Police Vice Squad Detective Raymond who with one look decides to toss everyone out so he can pamper Jocelyn. "Valentine Survivor" by Susanna Carr. After her insensitive boyfriend Calder failed her on Valentine's Day one year ago Shanna planned for this year's holiday to be perfect. Everything is in place except she lives up to her surname Murphy as her date canceled and still stuck at the office she finds the dead body of her nasty boss. Desperate, Shanna calls her former boyfriend to help her. Calder readily agrees as he wants his Shanna back. These three fine Valentine's Day romances contain strong males, beleaguered females and fun twists.

Two Little Lies
Liz Carlyle
ISBN: 0743496116, $6.99, 384 pp.

Because his pal Sir Alasdair MacLachan cuckolded a blacksmith (see ONE LITTLE SIN), Quin Hewitt finds himself fleeing along with his friend and his buddy's brother Merrick. They duck into a fortune teller's tent. The Gypsy informs the three hell raisers that their wicked past is catching up to them. Only Quin seems shaken by the prognostication as he thinks of his former mistress Viviana Alessandri, whom he once desired but rejected as being beneath his station as he is the heir to an earldom. His carefree days end when his father suddenly dies leaving Quin responsible for the family estate and a weeping mother, who is driving him crazy. He decides he needs a spouse, a sensible logical woman who can take care of his mother and the servants. Suddenly his mother has stopped the crying binge becoming euphoric with the prospect of grandchildren so she throws a bash. Opera star Contessa Viviana Bergonzi di Vicenza, his former lover, attends. He still desires her and she has never stopped loving him nor has she forgiving him. However she remains beneath what he requires of a wife while she has children to care for; love does not seem to matter. The second "Little" historical romance is an amusing tale that stars two wonderful lead characters who love each other, but he rejects her twice as being unsuitable for marriage. Quin is a rogue struggling with becoming Mr. Dependable while the reappearance of his Vivie makes that role even that much more difficult as he still desires her even as he wonders who sired the oldest of her children. Fans will enjoy this fine 1830 tale while waiting for Merrick to get his comeuppance as the third "little: hedonist.

Playing Easy to Get
Sherrilyn Kenyon, Jaid Black & Kresley Cole
ISBN: 1416510877, $14.00

"Turn up the Heat" by Sherrilyn Kenyon. Allison cleans aisles at Wal-Mart, but escapes her dreary life when she wins a vacation. Vince hides at the resort as the mob want him dead. They meet and sparks fly, but so do bullets. "Hunter's Oath" by Jaid Black. Needing closure, Sofia heads to the Arctic Circle where her only relative her beloved brother died in a military helicopter crash. However, she is kidnapped and taken underground where she is put on the marriage auction block. Viking warrior Johen buys her, but now must persuade the Outsider that they belong together. "The Warlord Wants Forever" by Kresley Cole. Nikolai the vampire chief and Myst the Coveted Valkyrie are in love with one another. However, vampires and valkyrie are natural enemies so the two duel for superiority in their taboo relationship. These three fine novellas star delightful protagonists starring bad dudes and sexy females challenging them for who will be the top gun. Though the Black and Cole have a fantasy spin to their tales while Ms. Kenyon's contribution is straight suspense, fans will appreciate the characters as the women PLAYING EASY TO GET take charge of these tough wise guys.

The Hunt
Allison Brennan
ISBN: 0345480244, $6.99

Miranda and Sarah were fleeing the killer, but the latter was falling behind. Miranda wants to live, but cannot ignore her friend. She goes back to help Sarah, but the predator closes in on them with his rifle, aims and fires. Sarah is dead while Miranda manages to escape. Twelve years later in Montana, the seventh mutilated victim Rebecca Thomas of the serial killer the Butcher shakes up Sheriff Nick Thomas, who is pleased his friend FBI Agent Quincy Peterson will help on the investigation. Quin needs to end the reign of terror for Miranda Moore, a tough survivor who he carried to safety when she fled the Butcher twelve years ago. He loves her, but she is fixated on the Butcher, the reason he kicked her out of the FBI Academy. When another young woman is abducted, Quin leads the investigation with Miranda, a member of a Bozeman search-and-rescue unit, on his team. The second Allison Brennan FBI thriller (see THE PREY) is an exhilarating tale that grips the audience from the moment that Nick, Quin, and Miranda converge on the latest murder scene and never slows down until the final conflict with the Butcher. The police procedural serial killer story line grips readers as they hope the cops can rescue the college coed before she becomes the latest brutalized Big Sky victim. The romantic subplot between Quin and Miranda adds tension as they love one another, but she has not forgiven him for flunking her at the FBI Academy, the hardest thing he ever did. Nick augments the pressure as he wants Miranda as his wife. Romantic suspense fans will cherish this taut thriller and look forward to more with THE KILL coming soon.

Capital Murder
William Bernhardt
ISBN: 034545149X, $25.95, 384 pp.

In Washington, D.C. Oklahoma senior US Senator Todd K. Glancy is in trouble with his Sooner Red state constituents due to a video surfacing on TV news in which he having sexual pleasure with an intern Colleen working for him. However, his woes turn even worse when the young woman is found murdered in a tunnel passageway that leads to the senate offices. Not trusting the DC crowd to defend him, Todd turns to his law school friend Oklahoma attorney Ben Kincaid to represent him in court. Ben questions his client, but immediately believes that Todd is lying to him most likely because of the "legal" opinion of his public relations guru. Soon Ben wants off the case as he begins to feel Todd is not only holding out on him, but he might have done the homicide. However, he knows if he does quit his legal career would be shattered and besides the large fee might shut up his criticizing mom. Ben mounts his usual all out defense, but still fails to obtain the truth from Todd. The legal aspects of the thriller is well handled, but feels trite perhaps because of the headlines from a few years ago with nothing new coming from the courtroom. On the other hand, Ben and his fellow Sooners tours of the seats of power are terrific, satirical and often humorous as they bushwhack everyone with barbs, asides, and colloquies even while security constantly keeps these rubes from the Beltway elite. In his fourteenth tale, Ben's fans will appreciate his observations as an outside the Beltway "tourist" looking at the shenanigans of the high and mighty inside the Beltway.

Out of Time
Patricia Lewin
ISBN: 0345479629, $6.99

After completing a case that ends in tragedy, FBI Crimes Against Children expert Alec Donovan goes to Miami instead of reporting in because he needs solace and only the woman he loves Dr. Erin Baker can provide t. However, before they can share dinner, CIA operative Bill Jensen arrives asking Erin to help the Company whom she used to work for by offering her the only carrot she would accept. Erin is to go to Cuba where her biological father Dr. Emilio Diaz works for Doctors for Life. She has not seen him in years since he vanished from her and her mother's lives. While visiting her dad under the guise of a teacher (not a stretch as she is a professor), Erin will try to learn what happened to Agent Joe Roarke. Though angry at her dad, Erin goes to Cuba and finds fatherly love, but something much more sinister too. OUT OF TIME, the sequel to OUT OF REACH is a terrific romantic suspense tale with much of the emphasis on the action and relationship between father and daughter; the love subplot between Alec and Erin takes a back seat to a degree, but never vanishes from the minds of the audience. The story line is fast-paced as Erin seemingly reconciles with her father who explains why he disappeared even as she looks into what happened to Joe while an anxious Alec is prepared to leave Florida as a one man cavalry. Fans will appreciate this strong thriller.

Hot Flash Holidays
Nancy Thayer
ISBN: 0345485513, $16.95

The Hot Flash club musketeers Faye, Alice, Marilyn, Shirley, and the last recruit Polly go to unwind at Shirley's Haven, a spa whose clients are older women. They enjoy their time there, but soon each returns home to the reality of a Yuletide with enemy combatants, their battling relatives. Taking no prisoners the give me menopause team prepares for the invaders. While cooking a meal for her son, finicky daughter-in-law, and grandchild, a distraught Polly sets her kitchen on fire. Faye rushes to the airport to meet her grandchild, but breaks her ankle in her haste when she slips. Alice feels an all round depression as her family grows especially out of control. Marilyn struggles with caring for her elderly mother, but not as much as what to do when her boyfriend suddenly asks her to marry him. Finally Shirley, hoping to encourage her younger boyfriend to propose, gives him money to self-publish his novel. The holidays are a disaster for the Hot Flash Club members, but they all look forward to January when they can get together in good cheer, peace, and gossip for all. The third Hot Flash tale (THE HOT FLASH CLUB and THE HOT FLASH CLUB STRIKES AGAIN) is a fine story that once again pokes fun at family relationships as seen by the quintet. Each of the fearsome "fivesome" is unique and remains consistent to their behavior in the previous novels. Though at times the humorous asides seem bah humbug stale having heard the cranks and moans before, fans will enjoy the nickel defense as the membership survives the latest holiday escapades of surmounting the family feuds with love and understanding.

The Draco Tavern
Larry Niven
ISBN: 0765308630, $24.95, 304 pp.

This twenty-seven collection anthology centers on THE DRACO TAVERN with the only recurring character being the barkeeper-owner Rick Schumann. The stories take place in Mt. Forel, Siberia where the United Nations and the Chirpsithra of Europa with the help of earthlings built the "inverted city". The tales (a somewhat loosely used term) though extremely short in depth with some not registering as even a short story are deep suggestions of what was, is and will be on "Playground Earth". Each entertaining entry leads to thought provoking analysis based on the relative background of the individual (especially on subjects like God, wisdom, and knowledge, etc). Science fiction readers who treasure exploring cultural anthropology concepts that include aliens from Mars, Europa, and elsewhere will savor this compilation, a few anecdotes at a sitting toasting Larry Niven for opening the mind.

The Crippled Angel
Sara Douglass
ISBN: 0765303647, $25.95, 368 pp.

In 1381 Europe is on the brink of destruction as so many no longer believe the Church as is the center of their lives. Rome has lost control with heresies arising everywhere and the affluent increasingly demanding more; peasants doubt scripture as they seek a better life on earth rather than wait for their heavenly reward. Much of the collapse is beyond Rome's control. Demons have escaped their eternal prison and are poised to breech the gates of Heaven. The Great Archangel Michael orders pious monk Thomas Neville to destroy demons cloaked as humans. However, on his quest for what he initially assumes will be his ticket to heaven, Thomas begins to have doubts that he is on the right side especially when he encounters heretics who make sense in their criticism of the Roman Church. Besides agreeing with dissenters like Father John, he also concedes there are probably demons using mortal form to cause dissension. Unbeknownst to him his soul is the battlefield of Armageddon, but which side is good and which is evil remain the question and the fate of the world rests on Thomas's choice. The final tale in the Crucible trilogy is a terrific novel that brings together this excellent alternate historical medieval fantasy. The audience needs to read the previous books first as the dangling threads from THE NAMELESS DAY and THE WOUNDED HAWK lead up to this stirring climax. Thomas is a fabulous representative of the age as he satiates his mortal needs when he has a chance but also begins to live up to his name as a doubter. Mindful of James Blish's fabulous Heavenly War duet (see BLACK EASTER and DAY AFTER JUDGMENT) though they take place in different times, fans of angelic-demon war thrillers will appreciate this miniseries as the fantastic whole is greater than the separate parts.

The Children of the Company
Kage Baker
ISBN:076531455X, $24.95, 304 pp.

Dr. Zeus of the Company has learned the secrets of time travel and how to turn mortals into immortal cyborgs that he sends back in time to hide art, artifacts and anything else that would benefit the Company in a place where the company can recover it. Cyborgs also turn young children into cyborgs as new recruits for the company. Cyborgs have been on the Earth for many millennia, raising man up on two legs and bringing new civilizations into being. Executive Facilitatior General Labienus looks at files that span the millennium to learn that the company did not play fair with the cyborgs. He has plans to take over the world and eliminate the company and Dr. Zeus if he can defeat his life long enemy who has discovered a new race of mortals, Homo sapiens umbratilis, mortals who can invent anything and are easy to manipulate. Throughout time Labienus subtly influences history so that when the moment is right he will be in a position to make his move to control the world. Kage Baker's Company novels are always fun to read but CHILDREN OF THE COMPANY is particularly good because it shows the different eras that the agents operated in from the dawn of time to the San Francisco earthquake to the future when a virus was deliberately let loose on a world so that some scientific research would be lost until Dr. Zeus "finds" it. This is a stupendous series because one never knows in what direction Mr. Baker will take readers.

The Midnight Work
Kassandra Sims
ISBN: 0765353946, $6.99

In Chicago, though she knows how dangerous it is to meet a stranger, Sophie feels a connection with her chat line friend Oliver so she agrees to see him. Upon seeing her in person at a bar and combining that with the blog exchanges, he believes she is his destiny whom he lost about a millennium or so ago. She ignores his new Age fetish as he makes her come alive until an accident leaves her dying. When she recovers, she realizes she is no longer human; Oliver has changed her into a vampire, saving her "life". Shocked, Sophie is not sure whether she should hate her mentor or love him; she knows she still remains attracted to him. Still she has the time of her life due to him until she panics as she failed to feed the cat and runs away from her teacher. Oliver is scared, a new feeling since he became a bloodsucker, because he let his feelings interfere with his duty. He failed to warn her to avoid fairies at all cost. He is willing to die (except that he is already dead), to save his beloved who insists she must combat the dreaded death fairy. THE MIDNIGHT WORK is a fabulous paranormal tale in which there is an entirely different ethos system is in play. Killing humans for supper is acceptable as most of species vampire see them as cattle. Once converted, Sophie understands this as she needs to dine too. Other supernatural occurrences darken this eerie world as Kassandra Sims provides a lighthearted yet dark humorous tale.

Terry McGarry
ISBN: 0765304295, $27.95

The Outerlands using darkcraft have successfully attacked the island continent of Eiden Myr, which was a safe haven for at least fifteen centuries. Desperate efforts to save the isle so far have failed and apparently those still living are doomed as monsters from the myths assault them in spite of the rebirth of the magelight with new practitioners (wordsmiths, illuminators and binders) establishing fresh triads. The last hope is for a Triad to travel to a haunted realm where they will probably die. They must cast spells using the taboo darkcraft. They are too young and the mage leaders like Breida Shielder wonder how far they have fallen already having depended on lunatics to defend their island home and now the inexperienced youngsters. Breida also ponders if they succeed somehow, who will contain this Great Triad that includes someone close to her that she wants to protect, but knows she cannot indulge in such a luxury. This is high fantasy at its best as Terry McGarry closes her trilogy (see ILLUMINATION and THE BINDER'S ROAD with terrific finish. The story line is action-packed, but never loses sight of the importance of key characters and not just the Great triad members. Readers will treasure this fabulous end to a great saga, but be advised that to fully savor the epic tale read the previous novels first.

Shadows in the Starlight
Elaine Cunningham
ISBN: 0765309718, $23.95, 288 pp.

After being fired from the force as someone had to take the fall for the failed deadly bust, former Providence police officer turned private investigator Gwen "GiGi" Gellman thinks her mentor died from murder not an alcohol induced accident as the evidence seems to 100 percent suggest. However, when her running partner police officer Kate Myers is gunned down after helping her, GiGi believes the homicide is related to her efforts to prove that someone forcibly put scotch into Frank Cross' before dumping him into Narragansett Bay to drown though the ME and Kate say otherwise. She now has a second major incentive to learn the truth and bring her friend's killer to justice, her style. Her style means half elf as GiGi has recently learned she is a changeling (see SHADOWS IN THE DARKNESS). She struggles with the concept, but also has a curiosity to learn more about her elven heritage though that has to remain on hold while she searches for clues to the two murders, seeks missing people, and tries to stop a pimp using a "legal" herbal aphrodisiac to prostitute Russian girls. However, all converge on the corrupt PPD at the same time elf Ian Forest demands she comes out of the closet to their side. The Changeling Detective tale is a fantastic fantasy mystery starring a wonderful protagonist struggling with the loss of her job, the death of her mentor, the murder of someone assisting her, and learning she is a half-breed. The action-packed story line turns readers into believers that elves and half-elves reside in New England, albeit hiding their genetic make-up from the hated humans, yet the story does not skimp on the investigations. SHADOWS OF SUNLIGHT is a terrific tale that sub-genre readers will cherish while wondering what the future will hold.

Jennifer Fallon
ISBN: 0765309920, $25.95, 512 pp.

Fifteen years old Lady Marla Wolfblade, sister to the High Prince of Hythria Lernen, is an asset used by her sibling to forge an alliance. He sold his pawn in holy matrimony to King Hablet of Fardohnya and in exchange Lernen strengthens his hold on the throne from invaders and usurpers. He can call on the powerful armies of his future brother-in-law to defend Hythria against an attack from Medalon, to enable him to control the feisty Warlords of his country, and especially put down the outraged Patriots that condemn the self-gratifying aristocracy. The Patriots assassinate Ronan Dell whose hedonism emulated that of the High Prince. Most residents of Greenharbour will secretly rejoice that the abusive pervert is dead; his frustrated advisor the dwarf Elezaar is one who feels relief from the demise. Elezaar offers his services to Marla. She takes to his suggestions like a student to a beloved fatherly mentor as he trains her to be a Madam Machiavelli in a regal world of backstabbing. Through his aid she instead marries a provincial warlord that causes problems for her brother with the King and increased aggression from Medalon. Still when she gives birth he names his nephew his heir. The opening act of the Wolfblade trilogy is a superb fantasy constructed on a believable complex patriarchal society in which men forge political alliances that includes selling disposable females to cement them. The story line introduces the reader to a vividly described caste system where everyone knows their place. Marla is the star of this coming of age high fantasy as she matures to the point that she is as good at deadly political chess manipulations as anyone; that leaves fans doubting whether she will survive to see her son as the High Prince.

Orphans of Chaos
John C. Wright
ISBN: 0765311313, $24.95

The five orphans (Colin, Quentin, Victor, Vanity and Amelia) are the only students at the school where they stay all the time being locked in their respective room every night. None know their real name, age, or their linage including where they come from as they chose their names when they were eight to ten years old. All that this quintet knows is the school where conditions are harsh and at times abusive at least for them. Each has a unique talent. Amelia can observe and influence the physical world in four dimensions and perhaps more. Vanity locates hidden passages in locations where none seemingly existed before her finding them. Quentin is a warlock who has a familiar, Apsu that is a walking stick. Colin employs magic by mentally picturing what he wants to achieve and willing it to happen. Victor uses his mind to telekinetically control matter. The staff is at least as weird as the pupils. When the Board of Visitors and Governors meet to discuss the pupils, Amelia and Victor listen in and learn somewhat about their origins, their Greek God keepers, and the war. This is not Harry Potter's school as the students are abused by the staff including the spanking of Amelia and Professor Glum's lusting for her and somewhat for Vanity. The five youngsters have unique personalities and several of the faculty likewise have distinctive traits. The story line focuses more on their captivity and attempts to leave even if they just sneak into the nearby town rather than on the talents. Adult fantasy readers will appreciate this opening gamut of what appears to be the Prisoner locked away in a jail school in which discipline draws the line between the prevailing and the capitulated.

Secrets Volume 15
Jane Thompson, Cynthia Eden, Saskia Walker & Leigh Court
Red Sage
ISBN: 0975451650, $12.99

"Simon Says" by Jane Thompson. "Frat boy" columnist Simon needs to know why reserved librarian Georgina hates him so as she put him down when they first met at her cousin's party three weeks ago and now again at another gala. He investigates to learn how he wronged her, but instead discovers her secret that she writes erotica under an alias. He wants to make her fantasies (and his) real. "Bite of the Wolf" by Cynthia Eden. On their first meeting, werewolf Gareth informs Trinity that she is his soulmate, but instead of jumping into his arms, she writes him off as an attractive lunatic. Thus he takes extreme measures by kidnapping the woman he insists he cherishes, but has his work cut out convincing her they belong together, which includes out of bed too. "Falling for Trouble" by Saskia Walker. Police officer Oliver wants to help Sonia's brother before he gets into trouble. He concocts a plan that Sonia's agrees to help him with, but neither expected the scheme to twist into the greatest sexual encounter of their lives. "The Disciplinarian" by Leigh Court. Her family is concerned with her un-lady like behavior so they send Clarissa off to learn from the Disciplinarian the deportment of an obeying spouse. However, besides teaching obedience, her instructor also trains her in providing sexual pleasure. These four novellas, though different in sub-genre, provide the usual heated sexual and at times amusing erotic romances that make this series always one of the best.

Little Big Heart
Dolores J. Wilson
ISBN: 1932815414, $6.99

At the Billings regional medical center, widower neurologist Dr. Daniel Lucas and his six years old son Joey are inexplicably drawn to his comatose patient a Jane Doe, the victim of a horrendous beating. Joey sits by her hospital bed as she done almost every day since Jane was admitted two weeks ago and tells her stories from the old west just like his mom used to tell him. Somehow Cassie Ryan hears the little boy and dreams of a life in the old west where she lived with only her son Joey after her abusive spouse abandoned them on their ranch. When a drifter, Daniel Lucas arrives seeking a place to bunk down for a while in exchange for work on the ranch, Cassie agrees. They fall in love, but tragedy intervenes. When Jane awakens she relates her story to Daniel who does not scoff at what she says but believes that what she dreamt could have occurred as he already is in love with her. However, whoever beat her left her to die. This is a terrific romantic suspense thriller with two subplots (past and present) that tie very well together through the connection of a love that even death could not kill. Cassie and Daniel are star-crossed lovers who seem like their past history is going to repeat itself while Joey seems wiser than his year. Paranormal fans will enjoy this fine reincarnation thriller while wondering if good (love) or bad (murder) kismet will occur.

Purity of Blood
Arturo Perez-Reverte
ISBN: 0399153209, $23.95, 288 pp.

In 1623 Madrid Chief Constable Martin Saldana arrives at the crime scene of a strangled woman sitting in a sedan chair in front of the church; she holds a pouch containing fifty escudos and a handwritten note stating: "For masses for her soul". He confides to his friend Captain Diego Alatriste that he is unable to resolve who murdered the woman and what motive caused the homicide. Don Francisco de Quevedo asks Alatriste to help him before the soldier returns to his hometown of Breda, Flanders where hostilities have once again broken out. Francisco's daughter Elvira is being held at La Adoracian, a convent that is a harem for the dangerous Father Juan Coroado. The duenna who brought Elvira and two other novices there simply vanished. Adding to Francisco's fears is that he and his daughter are not "not of pure blood", which makes them fodder for the Inquisition fire. Alatriste accepts the assignment as he is not one to idly stand for the abuse of power, but soon connects Coroado's concubine center to the plaza homicide with both linked to the Inquisition. The sequel to the wonderful seventeenth century sword-buckling CAPTAIN ALATRISTE, is a terrific action-packed tale that starts off with the plaza homicide and never slows down until the final confrontation. Besides the heroic escapades of the lead protagonist, who has some set backs during his rescue attempts, readers obtain an in depth look at Inquisition Spain, but the historical tidbits are cleverly interwoven into the fabric of the adventures. Once again Arturo Perez-Reverte provides a fabsulous fast-paced thriller starring a wonderful super soldier who delays his entry to the war flaring up back home to risk his life trying to rescue a damsel in distress.

Sea Change
Robert B. Parker
ISBN: 0399152679, $24.95, 304 pp.

Former L.A. cop Jesse Stone continues to reclaim his life starting with not drinking now for ten months and thirteen days and counting, becoming the police chief of Paradise, Massachusetts and starting a cautious reconciliation with his former spouse reporter Jenn. However this is Race Week so Jesse knows he will earn his keep starting with the goliath drunk football player whom he subdues with a stick to the testicles and charges him with cleaning his vomit from the back seat of the police car. However, things turn ugly when a badly decomposed female corpse with no identification washes ashore. Though difficult to identify with crabs already having dined on the victim, the police learn she is wealthy divorcee Florence Horvath of Fort Lauderdale; her yacht the Lady Jane is docked in Paradise. Jesse interviews the crew, her parents her sisters and others but no one will say much. In fact the best clues come from the video of Florence's sexual encounters. Next stop appears to be Florida where Fort Lauderdale police officer Kelly Cruz offers help on and off the case. In some ways Jesse is the anti-Spenser though he contains some of the same traits such as obstinacy, loyalty and courage. His latest investigation is cleverly mixed with relatively small police matters so that the audience receives a strong procedural enhanced by everyday events. The who-done-it is well written as the audience and Jesse wonder about the victim whose parents live a stark retirement while Florence was a jetsetter (yacht-setter). Readers will enjoy this strong police procedural while not only wondering who killed Florence, but will Jesse step out on Jenn?

Jesse Kellerman
ISBN: 0399153306, $24.95, 384 pp.

Thirty-six years old Los Angeles secretary Gloria Mendez has been in love with her boss, novelty import business mogul, Carl Perreira, for years though she accepts it is unrequited so she hides her deep regard from him as he has not shown any sexual interest in her. Carl goes on vacation in Mexico. Following a relatively minor earthquake, Gloria listens to a strange jumbled message that Carl left on her answering machine. She tries to follow-up as Carl apparently has disappeared somewhere in Mexico's backcountry. Gloria tries LAPD, who dispatch her to the Tijuana cops, but neither departments show the slightest interest in the case. Not soon afterward, Gloria learns that Carl allegedly died in a car crash inferno. Devastated by her loss, Gloria travels to Mexico to bring Carl's remains home for burial. However, even that simple kind gesture proves difficult and dangerous starting with when she meets a young man claiming to be Carlos Perreira, son of her Carl and others who assume she is either a partner or lover with insider information on the activities of a man she thought she knew. Gloria is the center of this fine cerebral mystery in which much of the action is inferred until near the end. Though not a particularly courageous individual, the heroine shows her mettle when she tries to do what she believes is the right thing for Carl and subsequently begins an amateurish sleuthing into what happened to him and why. Proving DNA matters, Jesse Kellerman debuts with a delightful character driven who-done-it.

The Cat Who Dropped a Bombshell
Lilian Jackson Braun
ISBN: 0399153071, $23.95, 208 pp.

The town of Pickax, four hundred miles north of everywhere, is celebrating the sesquicentennial (a century and a half of existence) with plans being made for three parades, family-reunions, and two auctions (one centers on people bidding on kittens). Newspaper columnist Jim Qwilleran, the richest man in the northeast central United States and the owner of those adorable Siamese cats Koko and Yum Yum, intends to immerse himself in the festivities so that he can write up articles for his column. The wealthy Ledfields ask Qwill, through their attorney, if their nephew Harvey could sketch his barn for his college entrance portfolio. When Harvey arrives to do the designs, Koko leaps down three stories and lands on Harvey who hates cats. Koko also swipes a picture of Harvey and puts his claws through it. Qwill senses the cat doesn't like the man but wonders why. When the sesquicentennial activities begin, Koko gives a piercing yell in the middle of the night, which Qwill knows means someone was murdered; an out of town visitor was killed when he and his brother were hunting rabbits. During all the activities the Ledfields are in seclusion because their allergies are bothering them. First Mrs. Ledfield dies and soon Mr. Ledfield succumbs to the same ailment. Their deaths put a pall on the celebration. After twenty eight "The Cat Who" books one would think that the series has run out of lives but nothing can be further from the truth. The CAT WHO DROPPED A BOMBSHELL is a purrfectly delightful cozy and Koko the cat with ESP delights the audience with his amusing antics. Readers who like a fun cozy with delightfully eccentric characters including the felines should look no further than Lilian Jackson Braun's latest novel.

The Session
Judith Kelman
ISBN: 0425205568, $24.95, 368 pp.

She loves her job working as a therapist on Riker's Island and the small victories mean more to her than the money she would make in private practice. After working with Jeannie for months, the inmate who hid under her cot and hardly said a word marches in to P.J.'s office and tells her she is getting married. Seeing no harm in allowing that to happen even though it wouldn't be legal, the ceremony is marred by a fire alarm drill that upsets the inmates. After things calm down and the patients are settled down, Jeannie is found murdered and P.J. is fired for allowing the ceremony to happen in the first place. Through her former boss, she meets a woman who believes P.J.'s talents shouldn't go to waste and refers clients to her until she can get a job in the forensic field of psychology. When she goes to Jeannie's funeral she meet's her late patient's son and Aunt Lottie who believes the husband Charlie Booth killed her. Lottie shows the therapist a scrapbook of pictures chronicling Charlie's abuse of his wife and son. Unable to think of a little boy in that monster's care P.J. decides to find the proof that Charlie is a killer so the little boy will be taken out of his care and winds up almost becoming the murderer's next victim. The heroine will endear herself to readers as she goes against the advice of her twin sister, her ex-husband, her former boss and the police to get justice for Jeanie and freedom from fear for her son. When she finds that she doesn't have the evidence to put Charlie away, she takes the little boy into her home because Lottie is in the hospital and there is no one else to keep him safe. Her courage and determination will insure fans will want to read more adventures starring this heroine. Judith Kelman has written a riveting, exciting crime thriller.

Fool's Gold
Jane Jakeman
ISBN: 0425207773, $13.00, 256 pp.

In 1833, for the first time in his life, Lord Ambrose finds a passionate desire to be with Elisabeth Anstruther, the governess to Edmund Crawshay, whose parents were recently murdered. Ambrose arranged for the child to be educated while proposing marriage to the lovely Elisabeth. To his dismay she refuses to wed him and instead accepts a post as a companion to Lady Jesmond, about thirty miles from Ambrose's home Malfine. Elisabeth and Ambrose exchange letters in which she tells him that her companion wants to learn French and that Sir Antony of Jesmond Place is an invalid cared for by young Dr. John Kelsoe. However, the last correspondence states that Dr. Kelsoe was found dead in his bed; local Dr. Langbridge found a vial of prussic acid near the corpse so declared suicide by poisoning, but Elisabeth has doubts as he was in good spirits. Ambrose arrives more to insure the safety of his beloved though he knows part of accomplishing this includes investigating whether a homicide occurred. As with LET THERE BE BLOOD and THE EGYPTIAN COFFIN, the latest Ambrose historical mystery is a delightful tale that brings to life 1830s England's West Country inside a strong investigative tale. Ambrose is terrific as he is in love, but the woman of his dreams though she likes him and perhaps loves him, believes she must move on in her life. The inquiry into whether a murder or a suicide occured is deftly handled so that the audience keeps wondering and wanting to know more as Jane Jakeman provides a wonderful entry in one of the best early nineteenth century mystery series.

My Favorite Witch
Annette Blair
ISBN: 0425207234, $6.99

Kira Fitzgerald feels doubly betrayed when she observes her professional hockey playing fiance using his stick to score with her sister. The white witch swears off all athletes even considering placing a curse to have a certain body part vanish. She moves on starting with new employment as the assistant to the director of Special Events for Pickering Foundation. National Hockey League superstar Jason Pickering Goddard is out for at least six months after suffering a knee injury. His adoring grandmother coaxes him into becoming the director of Special Events for Pickering Foundation in jeopardy of closing, which in turn could devastate Anthony's Home for Boys. Neither Kira nor Jason wants to work together because she distrusts hockey players and he fears that wand she totes may cause harm to his pride and joy. However, as she watches Jason actually spend quality time with the orphans and seemingly enjoy it and his proposals to raise money are top rate, she feels he bewitched her. He reciprocates as the white witch has charmed the skates off of him. As they fall in love, both wonder what will happen if he returns to the rink. Obviously Annette Blair is a white witch as she charms her readers with the amusing MY FAVORITE WITCH, the sequel to the also magical THE KITCHEN WITCH. The lead couple is an enchanting pairing as the attraction, with an assist credited to Grandma, intensifies in spite of dueling wands as neither wants to score with the other. Though the orphans for the most part are too precocious, readers will enjoy this amusing bewitching sports romance especially when the gloves come off.

The Star Witch
Linda Winstead Jones
ISBN: 0425201287, $7.99

In Colubyana, the Fyne witch rejected the wizard making him so angry he cursed the Fyne women so that their love will always die. Over the next three centuries any Fyne witch who married for love watched either their mate die young or ultimately hate them. Of the three current generations of Fyne siblings, the oldest Isadore watched her spouse die. She and her sisters vow to never marry or fall in love until the youngest Sophie breaks the pledge (see THE SUN WITCH) and Juliet follows (see THE MOON WITCH). While the prisoner of Emperor Sebestyn, Isadore contemplates whether the trio can actually end the Curse. Meanwhile Captain Lucan Hern is stunned that he cannot get the prisoner out of his mind; his desire for her is that strong. This is out of character for the duty bound soldier, who has spent his life in training to fulfill his destiny as Prince of Swords. Rebels led by the other two Fyne witches are coming to attack the Emperor, who sends Isadora to a hell where no one has ever returned. Isadora sees this as the chance to finally lift the curse even if it takes her death to do so while Lucan risks his life to rescue the woman he loves. The final tale of the bewitching Fyne Witch trilogy is a fabulous climatic romantic fantasy. The story line is more complex than before filled with fascinating twists beguiling the unsuspecting reader. The lead couple, the emperor, and the other sisters and their spouses lead to a magical enchantment that grips the audience wondering if the Curse can truly be lifted or will a three-peat tragedy strike as Linda Winstead Jones beguiles her fans.

Death on the Lizard
Robin Paige
ISBN: 042520779X, $24.95, 336 pp.

Two years earlier, though the competition is fierce, the Marconi Wireless Telegraphy Company successfully sent the first wireless message across the Atlantic from their Bass Point Station in Lizard Village, Cornwall. However, by 1903 much of the initial euphoria has worn off as sabotage slows down progress. More frightening, a fisherman finds the battered body of Jack Gordon who the officials declared fell off the nearby cliff to his accidental death. When a second accident leaves another employee dead, the company and the locals conjecture whether a rival is warning off the workforce; no one believes an accident occurred as two tragedies so close together seem too coincidental especially since more damaging disruption including the stealing of a key valuable piece of equipment has occurred at the wireless station. While Lady Kate Sheridan visits her grieving friend Lady Jenna Loveday, whose daughter Harriet recently drowned, local authorities ask her husband Charles, a successful amateur sleuth, to investigate the two "accidental" deaths that they now believe are homicides. He soon connects Harriet's drowning, the deaths of the employees of the wireless company to the industrial espionage and sabotage, but that knowledge places Charles and Kate in danger from a person willing to kill to take control of the growing international communications business. DEATH ON THE LIZARD is a fantastic historical mystery, which in spite of a wonderful who-done-it investigation, the early twentieth century communication technology takes front and center as readers cannot help but to compare it with cell phones and internet instant chat lines, etc. The story line is action-packed, but also provides a deep historical look at Cornwall and at the beginnings of the technology revolution. The key cast members, not just the sleuthing marital team, are fully developed as Team Paige is at their best with this insightful look at the late Victorian Age.

Craig Dirgo
ISBN: 0425207501, $14.00, 320 pp.

After being cheated out of money he should have gotten from his patents involving alternating current, Nikola Tesla vowed to keep his next project secret until the patents were secure and the robber barons of the 1890's had to pay him for using his new invention. He was trying to find a way to use wireless electricity sent through the earth to a specific point. He succeeded beyond his wildest dreams in his test project but he caused the San Francisco Earthquake of 1906, although nobody connected the two events. In the present in Serbia Galadin Ratzovik who was instrumental in the ethnic cleansing is wanted by the UN War Crimes Commission. He has Tesla's notes and a scientist to work on two experiments to trigger earthquakes in Spain and Italy. NIA Agent John Taft is sent into Serbia to figure out what is going on and if the quakes can be related to Tesla's experiments. A note is given to the UN demanding the release of former President of Ilic who is being held at The Hague awaiting trial for war crimes. John Taft is sent home but learns that the demands are a cover for an action that would totally decimate the United States. The latest work of Craig Dirgo, co-author of The Oregon Files, will appeal to the fans of Clive Cussler and Tom Clancy. TREMOR is action oriented but there is enough background information on Tesla, a real nineteenth century genius, and enough fill-ins on the key characters to make this a well-rounded and balanced novel. The protagonist is a man of honor, willing to lay down his life to save otherss; his dedication will appeal to mainstream readers of both genders.

Strictly Taboo
Jaid Black
ISBN: 0425202453, $13.00

"Naughty Nancy". Nancy Lombardo vows to be the belle of the Halloween party as she has lost weight, shed the spectacles, and will hide her brain behind Xena Warrior Woman. An ancient looking crone comes out of nowhere frightening Nancy predicting a long journey. Something weird occurs and she finds herself lost and naked in the home of Vorik Fa Vader. He expects his yenni "guest" to make love 24/7 gargoyle style. "Nemesis". For thirteen years Diane Sullivan tried to make it as an actress in Hollywood, but failed. What hurts as much is fellow Buckeye Garek Ennis, a bully, made it big in football. Now that is water under the bridge, her first concern is now her six years old daughter Jenna, whose father rejected her before she was born. For her is why Diane is on the Rhine about to earn money and perhaps have sex on the Carnal Voyage. Garek is on board too feeling self-pity as his career is over. Then he sees Diane. "Barbarian". In 878, when the Northmen attack their Wessex keep, Lothar Godeuart leads the counter attack but dies in the ensuing battle. His sister Lady Elen loathes the Vikings who are divided over this attack. Warlord Amund prefers settling with is people in Mercia as part of the deal with King Alfred, but agrees to help Ivar get his "love slave" Lady Elen, who he holds culpable for traitorous acts against him. Instead Amund wants Elen at his side as his equal even though she belongs to Ivar who makes her feel like a woman. These are three torrid tales that are dramatically different from one another, but showcase the vast talent of a wonderful author.

Wedding Rows
Kate Kingsbury
ISBN: 0425208044, $5.99, 202 pp.

It's not easy putting on a fancy wedding in England during World War II but many of the villagers contributed their rationing coupons so Priscilla Pierce and Captain Willy Carbunkle have the wedding of their dreams. Many of the attendees, including Lady Elizabeth Hartleigh Compton noticed a stranger at the wedding who wasn't invited by the bride or the groom. After the newlyweds leave for their honeymoon in Scotland, the guests discover the stranger in the basement, a cake knife in his chest. It turns out the victim is Brian Sutcliffe who came to be with his girlfriend Tess Winterhalter, one of the bridesmaids. Several guests saw them argue; when the constable confronts her, she explains he was cheating on her. Her father admits that he was furious with the fortune hunter and Tess' mother is glad he can't hurt her daughter anymore. All of the Winterhalters come under suspicion but Lady Elizabeth intends to undertake her own investigation since she is almost positive they are innocent. The latest Manor House cozy is a fine historical mystery with the lady of the manor talking to the guests who were at the wedding in the hopes figuring out who the real killer is. What make this series so special are the effects of WWII on a small suburban village. Kate Kingsbury is a talented writer who provides a compelling mystery that relies on brainpower, not blood and gore to find the solution to the who-done-it.

Good Girls Do
Cathie Linz
ISBN: 0425208486, $7.99, 336 pp.

After a wild hippie like childhood, librarian Julia Wright moved to Serenity Falls, Pennsylvania to live a straight lifestyle. Three years later she has succeeded at getting away from the New Age zaniness of her mother and sister. However, her idyllic time in a quiet controlled town implodes over six new arrivals. First town bad boy Luke Maguire has come home to run his late father's bar; this surprises the locals as Luke failed to even return for his dad's funeral. However except for one person no one realizes that Luke's highly regarded father abused him. He cannot resist stealing kisses from Julia. Next her mom, sis, and niece arrived accompanied by two llamas move in with Julia. She hides her pop tarts that she needs to get through their insanity, which includes encouraging her to sleep with Luke, who she already cannot resist even without the urging of the cheerleaders. This is a fun contemporary romance in which Julia has never felt comfortable with the antics of her mom and sis, and now her four year old niece who is an expert on vaginas and lets everyone know it. Though Julia and Luke are the stars, the ensemble support cast enhances the tale with their escapades that aggravate the heroine and amuse (for the most part) her beloved. Though mom's secret seems anticlimactic, fans of You Can't Take It With You like romantic romps will enjoy this funny family tale.

Hot Water
Kathryn Jordan
ISBN: 0425207579, $13.00, 288 pp.

Forty-six years old Minnesota French teacher using the pseudonym Julia Reeves is unhappy because her long term husband Ralph ignores her as he spends all his time on his fleet of land moving equipment. She learns about Hidden Springs Spa and resort in California where sexual fantasies occur. With the help of heir sister who will cover for her with Ralph, Julia plans to indulge herself. She also hires a male prostitute over the Internet whom she calls William. At the spa, Julia and William enjoy a terrific time together. For her she reconsiders her marriage; for him his profession. As Ralph arrives looking for his wife, the lovers wonder if a weekend will prove adequate as their feelings may land both in HOT WATER. This is an erotic romance that showcases a wonderful middle age protagonist (even if she is an adulteress) who has decided to go for the gusto after years of spousal neglect as he is wedded to his business. William is an intriguing protagonist though one must wonder why he is attracted to his client. Still this is a fine character study that looks closely at a person who decides that there must be more to life than duty and responsibility and has gone out to find it though many readers will condemn her approach as amoral.

The Switch
Diane Whiteside
ISBN: 0425208176, $14.00, 304 pp.

In 2001 Seattle, former Army Ranger Sean Lindstrom owns the building containing the bookstore near the BDSM dungeon. There he meets US Treasury Agent Beth Nakamura who is looking for various non-fiction sex books. She orders him into the backroom and he obeys her command. She demands the submissive follow her orders and Sean does everything she commands she do ending with him jacking himself off in front of her. She is stunned with how easily she took control of this big dude while he is shocked that he came easily as he has been a monk for about a dozen years. They agree to meet for more S&M lighthearted fun and when they do sparks fly. As they share sexual fantasies, Beth and Sean fall in love with one another, but both have monster doubts about a future together. He is a widower with a high school senior son whose memories of marriage are not that good while she was humiliated by her womanizing ex-fiance so has trust issues. Though the opening encounter at the bookstore (not the ten years earlier military operation in Latin America) seems more a fantasy, erotic romance readers will appreciate this fine look at dominant-submissive behavior. The relationship between the lead couple starts off at a high bang and never slows down as they enjoy their sexual encounters. Not for everyone, THE SWITCH is a heated novel that takes adjusting to the topic, but once done readers will appreciate that the tough ex Ranger who could kill without blinking has a submissive streak in the bedroom; now to find those satin ropes.

Heiress for Hire
Erin McCarthy
ISBN: 0425207617, $13.00, 304 pp.

Mark Johnson arrives in Cuttersville, Ohio to dump his eight years old stepdaughter Piper on her biological father, farmer Danny Tucker. Danny is stunned as he had no idea that he sired an offspring as the late mother Nina Schwartz of Xenia, Ohio never said a word to him. However, he believes Piper is his and welcomes the shy neglected child into his home. With his mother out of town and unsure what to do, Danny turns to his ex-wife Shelby, who recently married Boston (see A DATE WITH THE OTHER SIDE) for help. However, visiting wealthy heiress Amanda Delmar takes charge of shopping though she never stepped inside a Wal-Mart before. He is desperate for a baby sitter while he works the field but Piper rejects everyone including his take the hill mom; everyone except Amanda and her teacup poodle Baby. Danny offers Amanda the position; since she needs the work as her dad citing tough love cut her off without a penny, she accepts. As the heiress, the farmer, and the child become acquainted, they fall in love with the help of the Weeping Woman ghost, but can these three different individuals forge a family? Perhaps with ghostly matchmaking they can. This amusing paranormal contemporary romance contains serious undertones especially the neglect and mental abuse of a preadolescent. The strong cast including the return of the lead couple and a key ghost from the first Cuttersville novel makes the tale work with humor, sexual tension, and the patience to help Piper realize she deserves love and much more. Fans will appreciate Erin McCarthy's delightful pennies form heaven tale of opposites in love pushed together by a needy child and an even needier ghost.

The Trouble with Magic
Madelyn Alt
ISBN: 0425207463, $6.99, 272 pp.

Sleepy Stony Mill, Indiana holds many secrets that the majority of the residents are unaware of including Maggie O'Neil but she will shortly find out about one of them and her life will never be the same. She works in a collection agency, a job she hates. One morning instead of going directly to work she feels pulled to heading to town on the road that will lead her to River Street and the exclusive stores there. It starts pouring so looking for a store that is open she literally falls into Enchantments, an antique shop owned by Felicity Down. Maggie and Felicity hit it off and when Felicity's officers a job, she reveals she is a practicing witch. Maggie doesn't believe in the New Age mumbo jumbo but accepts the job. On her very first day, Felicity gets a call from her estranged sister and leaves Maggie in charge. When Felicity arrives at her sister's house, she finds her sibling murdered. The police believe Felicity is the killer but Maggie believes she is innocent; she intends to find out who the murderer is. THE TROUBLE WITH MAGIC is a bewitching amateur sleuth tale with touches of the paranormal. Although Maggie wants to deny the existence of ESP she can't convince herself that the voices she hears or the ability to feel other people's emotions are the products of an insane mind. Felicity believes she has talent and drives Maggie into the writer of her group N.I. Ghts (Northeast Indian Ghost Hunting and Tracking Society) since the small town contains spirits only sensitives can feel or hear. There are many suspects with viable motives as Maggie as a loyal friend refuses to let Felicity take the fall for something she didn't do. Forecasting the future, Madelyn Alt has a surefire winner on hands.

The Sempster's Tale
Margaret Frazier
ISBN: 0425207668, $24.95, 352 pp.

In England of 1450 widowed Sempster (seamstress) Anne Blakhall loves David Weir, a foreign merchant who is a Jew pretending to be a Christian since all members of his religion were expelled from England during King Edward's time. He has many secrets that he keeps from her but circumstances force him to let Anne into a part of his clandestine life. He wants her to bring gold smuggled in to Dame Frevisse, who in turn will deliver it to her cousin Lady Alica, the recently widowed Duchess of Suffolk. Frevisse is not happy that her cousin bribed her nunnery by promising them funeral vestments to get her to come to London. In the middle of a local rebellion against King Henry VI and his favorite nobles Frevisse becomes involved in two murder investigations. Hal, the step-son of Anne's friend Raulyn is murdered with what looks like Hebrew letters on his naked body. The second homicide occurs during the London riots while they all take shelter in Raulyn's home. David's heritage is discovered and a priest orders that he is to be tied up and taken away to the Bishop when London returns to normal. The priest is murdered and his body found outside the door and it becomes apparent to David and Frevisse that there is a killer in the house who must be stopped. Readers get a glimpse into a bygone era where England is fed up with their monarch who taxes them unmercifully to fill his coffers and that of most loyal nobles. The way Christians thinks of Jews in a land where none are surprised to be is frightening because the prejudice is based on rumor and innuendo of people who have never met a Jewish person. The who-done it is told against this backdrop of prejudice and anger at the king which makes for a complex and compelling mystery. Fans of Sharon Kay Penman's medieval mystery series are going to love this book.

Leather, Lace and Lust
Edited by M. Christian and Sage Vivant
Berkley Heat
ISBN: 0425205401, $13.00

Turning Thomas Carlyle's nineteenth century theory that in society clothing makes the man, twenty authors contribute tales in which clothing makes the sexual encounter. Some of the tales are XXX erotica and the few that are not are XX as the authors do not hide anything except some seductive garb. There is some profanity and obviously plenty of sex in various positions for instance one hunk who is the gold medalist of tonguing spends much of his time buried in a head scissor and then there is the collars and codpieces they use to have even more fun. These fun fantasy frolics are not for everyone because it runs much of the gamut of sensual pleasures to include S&M targeting those fans who appreciate equatorial heat in their shorts will enjoy LEATHER, LACE AND LUST; my spouse did and he did not read the book nor borrow the dog's collar or own a codpiece as for silk.

A Minister's Ghost
Phillip DePoy
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312339348, $23.95, 288 pp.

Georgia folklorist Fever Devilin knows that those residing in Appalachia distrust outsiders. When he gave up the boredom of academia to return to his hometown of Blue Mountain, the local Georgians considered him tainted and treated him like an alien (see THE DEVIL'S HEARTH). Still he perseveres and assisted his friend Sheriff Skidmore "Skid" Needle on an investigation and hooked back up with Lucinda. An accident at a train crossing in nearby Pine City leaves Lucinda's two teenaged nieces, Rory and Tess, dead. Lucinda refuses to believe an accident occurred because as she logically says to Fever that even if their car stalled on the tracks, they could have left the vehicle. Though he believes the tragedy was an accident, he tells Lucinda that he loves her (saying this affection for the first time) and will make inquiries, but he soon finds the obvious conclusion false. The third Blue Mountain amateur sleuth tale is a terrific entry in a strong series (see THE WITCH'S GRAVE) as Fever is caught up with investigating what seems a sad tragedy. The insight into the townsfolk and the local culture is incredible; so strong that in some ways it supersedes the fabulous investigation. Though the ending seems implausible, fans will appreciate Devilin's latest adventure on his hometown turf.

The Damned
L.A. Banks
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312336241, $14.95, 496 pp.

Family members meet beloved dead mothers who should have been in heaven, but instead were liberated from hell to bring terror to humanity; one touch is all it takes to change a sane person into a raving lunatic or if they are fortunate death. All hell is breaking loose complements of Lilith, the Unamed One's consort. She has freed the minions from the layers of hell as a preliminary skirmish in the inevitable war. Even the Neteru-Guardian team has felt the impact with members lost due to the touch of a living dead loved one. Lovers Damali and Carlos interrupt their interlude to stop Lilith and to obtain the key reference The Book of the Damned before all is lost. However to prevent Lilith from furthering her diabolical scheme they must cut off her head; a task that is not just daunting, it is impossible. Failure meets pandemic infection of humans with the hell spawned madness. The sixth Vampire Huntress Legend tale is an action-packed thriller that grips the audience from the start when the daughter asks her mom why she is not in heaven with a response that only THE DAMNED could provide and never slows down until the final confrontation at the gates of hell. The mother-daughter relationship sets the tone of the tale. Carlos is heroic as he knows what must be done but though expecting to fail courageously sets out to do the job. Surprisingly the usually confident Damali spends a lot time doubting her relationship with her lover and the mission. However, Lilith is the fascinating one in a macabre sense as she liberates the minion to attack living loved ones. This is one series readers can bank on as being powerful and fun.

Holmes on the Range
Steve Hockensmith
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312347804, $22.95, 304 pp.

In 1892 during a cattle drive in Montana, Otto "Big Red" Amlingmeyer reads aloud around the campfire from the novel the Red Headed League. His brother Gustav, known as "Big Red" enjoys the cleverness of the lead protagonist, Sherlock Holmes, vowing to emulate his new hero as he believes he has deduced his life's calling. After spending most of their money in Miles City, the "Red" siblings obtain work at the Bar VR Ranch. Not long afterward the manager Perkins, who never works outside, dies in a stampede that everyone assumes is a tragic accident; that is everyone except Big Red wearing his Holmes hat wonders if a murder occurred. When a second person dies allegedly a suicide, Big Red shifts to high sleuthing gear as he knows something a foul is a foot. This refreshing take on the Holmes mystique will have the audience hooked from the first fumble by Big Red and keep readers enthralled until the final solution when the obvious is set aside. The story line deftly blends the Wild West with sleuthing so that fans of the great detective will enjoy leaving Baker St for Montana while the historical Americana crowd will appreciate this deep tale. Elementary readers, a sequel is a must.

Unleash the Night
Sherrilyn Kenyon
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312934335, $6.99, 384 pp.

Ten years ago his were-parents died leaving Wren Tigarian totally alone in the world; no clan will recognize this taboo induced offspring, the son of a were-tiger and were-snow leopard; many believe he is an abomination. Thus he learned to trust only himself as a were-hunter living in Sanctuary along side neighbors whose overt hatred flow from everyone's eyes. Six months ago in New Orleans someone murdered Cherise Gautier in her home; her son Nick vanished without a trace so the local cops assume he murdered his mother and fled the crime scene. Nick's friend Marguerite D'Aubert Goudeau rejects the official position as she knows her buddy adored his mom. Ignoring the warning of her US Senator from Louisiana father to stay away from the Gautier mess, Marguerite searches for Nick starting at one of his favorite haunts in Sanctuary where she meets Wren. They are attracted to one another from that first glance, but she is on a quest, which makes him jealous; soon she adds a second mission to prove that her beloved Wren did not kill his parents he is now being accused of the double homicides. UNLEASH THE NIGHT, the latest Dark-Hunter fantasy thriller, is one of the best entries in a strong series. Wren is the classic misfit loner who believes he found his life mate in Marguerite, the courageous Cajun who shares his feelings, but has a quest to complete before pursuing their forbidden relationship that will leave her dad wanting to filibuster it . The who-done-it elements augment a strong urban romantic fantasy that seizes the night from an enchanted audience.

Empress of India
Michael Kurland
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312291442, $24.95, 320 pp.

In 1890, the Empress of India leaves Calcutta carrying a quarter-ton of gold to deliver to the Bank of England in London. The vessel also carries an assortment of passengers including the notorious Professor James Moriarty and the malevolent Colonel Sebastian Moran. Brigadier General Sir Edward St. Yves leads thirty Highland Lancers watching over the fortune; his eighteen years old Lolita like daughter, Margaret accompanies him. Moriarty and Moran compete for possession of the valuable heavily bejeweled statuette "Queen of Lamapoor" also on board. However, someone steals the gold shipment. The English government immediately assumes Moriarty did the deed. They ask Holmes to retrieve the stolen loot from the Professor, but instead he vanishes. Meanwhile Moriarty not enjoying the limelight that interferes with his "business" activities decides to solve the case of what appears to have been an impossible theft. The latest Moriarty investigative tale is a fabulous historical mystery that uses the "locked room" concept enhanced by a vivid look at relationships during the late Victorian era "The Sun Never Sets on the British Empire" mindset. The terrific story line contains a strong who-done-it and how he or she purloined the gold, but is held together mostly by the "hero" who finds being the prime suspect interfering with his efforts to win the prize of GREAT GAME instead of Moran succeeding at the endeavor. Michael Kurland provides a wonderful thriller as the unknown opponent seems to match Moriarty with for wit.

London's Thames: The River That Shaped a City and Its History
Gavin Weightman
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312340176, $23.95, 160 pp.

This is an insightful intriguing look at how the Thames River shaped London with its uncanny tides that enabled major shipping as they run in both directions. Dubbing the city as "London-on-Sea" Gavin Weightman makes a strong case that it is the river that turned London into the great city it is. Mindful of Kornblum's AT SEA IN THE CITY: NEW YORK FROM THE WATER'S EDGE, Mr. Weightman gets very specific in supporting his theory with evidence from history and the present. Tidbits from Caesar to the Regency to Dickens and to the Millennium make for a fine time especially for those fascinated by what shaped a major urban area as well as for tourists and residents whether it is a odious dirty plunge into sewage, boat races, fish, floods, towers and bridges, etc. Numerous black and white photos enhance a picture of a city that has been around since the Romans founded Londinium as a military encampment in the first century. T.S. Eliot, who understood mighty rivers having been raised in St. Louis, summarizes the impact best in the Waste Land when he names the Thames as London's "strong brown God" flowing and controlling much of the history of the city. This is a fascinating work that is fun to read over a few days.

Blindfold Game
Dana Stabenow
St. Martin's
ISBN: 031234323X, $23.95, 272 pp.

The dirt bomb set in a busy market street on Pattaya Beach, Thailand killed over a hundred mostly local shopkeepers and Japanese tourists, but some were American and other nations' military. No one stepped forward to claim the act. Just after the terrorist strike, two men calling themselves Mr. Smith and Mr. Jones meet with sea Captain Fang and maritime shipping expert Mr. Noortman. They hire the two maritime experts to deliver a special cargo to Alaska. CIA satellite technology catches the notorious Fang and Noortman with the two men in Thailand. Concerned that they were involved with the Pattaya Beach terrorism, which may have been a test run for something greater, CIA Agent Hugh Rincon is assigned to investigate and stop any incident from reaching American shores. He quickly realizes that he might spend quality time with his wife, whom he has been with the equivalent of one year in the decade they have been married, because Sara Lange is the executive officer of the U.S. Coast Guard Sojourner Truth patrolling the Maritime Boundary Line in the northern Pacific Ocean. That is quality time trying to stop the plot of Smith and Jones targeting 240,000 civilians in Alaska. Expanding from her wonderful Kate Shugak and Liam Campbell Alaskan mysteries, Dana Stabenow provides readers with an action-packed, fast-paced, but very plausible international thriller. The story line travels the globe until the climax off Alaska, which includes battling the nasty weather as much as a terrific sea and air maneuvers. Thriller fans will welcome Ms. Stabenow into the genre with this powerful tale that will be read in one enthralling sitting.

Lisa Miscione
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312341857, $23.95, 336 pp.

That afternoon, writer Lydia Strong finally completes her latest novel, The Lost Girl, which for some reason was difficult creating. Just after finishing the tale, her grandpa calls to tell her that her father, whom she met once, died in Nyack, New York. Things come in threes; that night NYPD Missing persons Unit Detective Matt Stenopolis discusses with Lydia about Lily Samuels, a missing former NYU journalism student of hers. Three weeks ago, Lydia's brother Mickey committed suicide in Riverdale. Over two weeks ago Lily called Lydia pleading for her help as she says she is out of her league. Lydia responded leaving a voice message, which is why Matt is here. As Lydia and her husband former FBI Agent Jeffrey Mark ask questions of the cop, Matt abruptly cuts them off and leaves. His partner Jessamyn Bresslow reminds Matt that Lily is out there seeking proof that Mickey was murdered in spite of the overwhelming evidence to the contrary. Unable to remain on the sidelines, Lydia and Jeffrey begin to search for her missing protege starting with tracing the last days of her sibling. The fourth Strong thriller is a terrific investigative tale with an intriguing late twist that most of Lisa Miscione's fans will appreciate though some might say is too over the edge; this reviewer is with those who will enjoy the SMOKE and mirrors spin. The dueling investigations between the police detectives and the married connected couple are fun to observe while the death of her irresponsible biological father provides further insight into what makes Lydia tick. This is a fine entry in a delightful series.

To the Brink
Cindy Gerard
St. Martin's
ISBN: 0312990936, $6.99, 352 pp.

Five years have passed since Ethan Garrett divorced Darcy because he could not cope with her work for the State Department as the former Green Beret knows first hand dangerous assignments. Darcy continued her government job while Ethan joined E.D.E.N. Security in West Palm Beach, Florida struggling to get on with his life. However, a panicked Darcy leaves a message for Ethan that she is deep trouble and needs help immediately. He quickly learns that she is in the Philippines and apparently the prisoner of the deadly Abu Sayyaf terrorist group. With his two brothers and a close friend, they enter the Philippines planning to rescue his former wife. TO THE BRINK, the sequel to the exhilarating first Bodyguard thriller, TO THE EDGE, is a fabulous action-packed tale that starts off with a rush and remains at a high excitement level until the final explosive climax. Even with the fireworks from start to finish, the key cast members are fully. Readers will enjoy the action but it is the feelings that still exist between the protagonists that make this novel a very special cross-genre treat. Cindy Gerard writes a gripping high octane romantic suspense.

Silent Reckoning
Debra Webb
Silhouette Bombshell
ISBN: 0373513860, $4.99

In Nashville, former teacher Merilee Walters became a homicide detective though she is deaf. Currently she investigates undercover a serial killer. The case is quickly complicated by her new partner Ray Patterson who apparently loathes women especially as cops and therefore is unable to cooperate with her. Even more perplexing to Merilee is that the inquiries seem to lead to two prime suspects with both having close ties with her former fiance Heath Woods whose girlfriend was the latest victim. As the investigation continues Merilee also finds herself every attracted to her superior, Chief of Homicide Steven Barlowe. He would never break the code of ethics by seeing a direct reports individual. She may dream of her boss lying naked with her, but she too would never break protocol; besides stopping the murderer remains priority one. Merilee is an intriguing police officer as she refuses to allow her deafness to stop her from doing her job and in fact applies her other senses to a much greater than normal degree in trying to solve the case. The who-done-it investigation is cleverly handled so that the audience observes the courageous intelligent Merilee seek clues. The three males in her life (the ex, the partner, and the boss) enhance the readers' observation of a strong detective.

The Big Burn
Terry Watkins
Silhouette Bombshell
ISBN: 0373513909, $4.99

Smokejumper Anna Quick has braved some of the worst fires with aplomb and courage. However, nothing prepares her for the shock that her dad Jason, whom she thought died eight years ago in Asia, is apparently alive in Kuala Lumpur. Though the State Department insists they are working on his release, Anna cannot sit idly by as her dad is a prisoner of terrorists on a remote island. Anna accompanies Delta Force operator John Brock as they head to Malaysia to mount a rescue. However, she soon learns that more then just terrorists hold her father prisoner; the island he has called "home" for the past eight years is turning into an out of control inferno. Finally feeling useful, Anna plans to do what she does best smoke jump to save her dad. THE BIG BURN grabs reader attention from the opening scene in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia and never misses a beat until the final spin. Anna is a terrific courageous character who needs to be part of the rescue of her dad; the fire allows her to do so. John has doubts about her tagging along on the search and rescue mission, but soon changes his mind when he realizes how helpful Anna is. This action thriller starring likable heroes is a one sitting fun read.

Trace of Innocence
Erica Orloff
Silhouette Bombshell
ISBN: 0373513895, $4.99

In New Jersey genetic criminologist Billie Quinn assumes the convicted are guilty with little room for a mistake fostered by being the offspring of a mobster who along with his colleagues always claimed innocence even when caught during the act of breaking the law. She never knew when her dad might not come home when he is a guest of the state; in fact he is about to be released from Rahway. Her mom was murdered when she was nine though the person arrested had an airtight alibi. Former NFL star and now lawyer Joe Franklin and Sister Catherine "CC" Christine hire The Genetic Testing laboratory to evaluate evidence that convicted David Falco of rape and murder ten years ago in the infamous Suicide-King case. Billie and her boss Lewis LeBarge begin to look at what has been collected so far. As always, Billie's first reaction when she is asked to prove the innocence of a convicted murderer is he is guilty. However, Billie begins to change her mind and for the first time wonders if the system has convicted the wrong person. Using new DNA testing to prove her new assertion, Billie is unaware that the true culprit is observing her progress; if she gets to close she will become the next victim. This is a terrific criminal investigation tale that will hook the audience with the work performed by Billie and Lewis. The case is a fabulous did he do it while the support cast enhances the plot as they either bring out the best and worst in Billie and Lewis or further the inquiries. Fans of powerful sleuthing mysteries will appreciate this fine drama that never slows down once the GTL team accept the case and will want future investigations starring the ensemble.

A Model Spy
Natalie Dunbar
Silhouette Bombshell
ISBN: 0373513887, $4.99

Vanessa Dawson enjoyed her modeling work until the downsizing of the jet set party lifestyle hammered home with the abundance of drugs available; she became an addict. Realizing she needed to quit the drugs, Vanessa also concluded her modeling life left the temptation too great so she left that too to start over. Vanessa has also joined the Gotham Roses whose mission is to insure justice is meted to the wealthy who break the law without a care. However, The Roses assign her to go back into the modeling world where drugs hooked her; she fears the temptation is too great. Someone murdered two models in Miami including her former roommate with rapper-clothing designer Taye Rollins as the prime suspect. Vanessa is to work from within to uncover whether he committed homicide and if not who did. Vanessa is an absorbing protagonist as she fears going right back into the fishbowl with the conditions that led to her fall yet intrepidly does so out of loyalty to her murdered friend. Trey would also be interesting, but pales next to Vanessa. Readers will enjoy the murder investigation as Vanessa, who already has doubts about her judgment, kicks herself for falling in love with the prime suspect. Though the ending seems abrupt and rushed, fans of the Gotham Roses will appreciate their latest mission.

Devil's Due
Rachel Caine
Silhouette Bombshell
ISBN: 0373513879, $4.99

Though she knows he is a bad apple, private investigator Lucia Garzia wants to kick herself as she is attracted to former Kansas City cop Benjamin McCarthy, a convicted mass murderer; however, she does not act on her feelings for him. He is freed from prison as new evidence sent to Lucia from a Fed proved his innocence of that crime, but that he was a corrupt cop taking money from the mob. When Lucia learns he works for the clandestine Cross Society that she has done some work for in fighting crime she sees this as her opportunity to get to know Ben better. He, on the other hand, distrusts everyone after his wrongful conviction prison stint, but is forced to work with Lucia on a weird case. Though desiring her, trust is critical in any relationship including crime fighting partnering and he has none. Lucia seems like the magnet for bad dudes as almost everyone she meets is a nasty criminal type ready to rape and or kill her. The case the lead duet become entangled in is fascinating as they go down some psychic channels; however, it is the relationship professionally and personally that makes the investigation and the tale as he refuses to rely on anyone for anything including love although she ultimately got him freed from incarceration. Romantic suspense fans will enjoy this fine tale even if there are too many villains for two super sleuths to deal with.

Ms. Longshot
Sylvie Kurtz
Silhouette Bombshell
ISBN: 0373513844, $4.99

Gotham Rose Club member Alexa Cheltingham anxiously has waited for her first field assignment when she learns that several suspicious accidents had happened on the Palm Beach jumping circuit with one horse who died while competing having traces of cocaine in his blood. She is to go undercover as a horse groom at the stable where the daughter of the Mayor of New York Leah Siegel trains. She is to protect Leah, but also try to uncover the identity of an assailant killing steeds. The wealthy heiress is excited, but has some concerns when she runs into Ross Herdel, someone she knew as a teen and might expose her as a sham though she knows her way around a stable. Alexa, knowing there is no place or show in her assignment, keeps her eyes and ears open hoping to catch someone in the act as the culprit leaves no clues behind when that dastardly punk murders a horse. She also finds herself falling in love with Ross, but fears his reaction once he learns the truth about why she is here; he on the other hand ponders whether she might be involved in the horse killings as he cannot fathom why the rich heiress suddenly became a groom. Dick Francis fans will enjoy this deep look at horse racing that serves as the anchor to the investigative romantic suspense thriller. Alexa is a terrific protagonist as she struggles with growing feelings for Ross, but also increasing fears of what he might be doing. Readers will want to take this fine tale to the pari-mutuel window, which for this reviewer means leaving Georgia.

Double Dare
Vicki Hinze
Silhouette Bombshell
ISBN: 0373513836, $4.99

Secret Assignment Security Specialist (SASS) Agent Maggie Holt hates working with men ever since her former spouse Jack cheated on her with her once best friend. Maggie does not trust males to protect her back as they always think with the wrong head and that adds unneeded danger during precarious situations. The SASS operative has no choice when the assignment forces her to team up with a male civilian, Dr. Justin Crowe of Crowe Pharmaceuticals as he is the scientific expert in preventing a deadly virus being released by Thomas Kuntz most likely at the Santa Bella Mall on Christmas Eve. Maggie knows from the dossier that Justin was caught cheating on his wife, who is now his ex. However as they work together she admits to herself Justin is not like her ex husband though he did wrong as he understands the seriousness of the mission must come before any personal feelings. As they work together to prevent the terrorists from succeeding, Maggie and Justin fall in love, but their priority remains stopping the lethal assault. Once a reluctant Maggie finishes sassing her new teammate and goes to the mall hoping to be just in time to stop a tragedy, the tale goes into hyperspeed and never decelerates until the final altercation. Readers will need a seatbelt as this thriller stays at faster than light speed throughout the story line. Yet in spite of the action, fans will understand Maggie's aversion and Justin's ability to overwhelm her doubts though he did cheat on his ex-spouse. Vicki Hinze provides a delightful speeding rocket ride.

The Cardinal Rule
Cate Dermody
Silhouette Bombshell
ISBN: 0373513852, $4.99

CIA Agent Alisha MacAleer hates her current assignment. Her handler and mentor Greg Parker informed her that she must go undercover looking into the activities of an American scientist working at a base in Kazakhstani. No matter what she does she knows she will hurt someone dear to her as the target is Brandon Parker, son of her mentor. Still she does the job as the professional she is seeking to learn whether he is developing a robotic soldier and if yes how far along has he come. However, the investigation falls apart from the beginning as Alisha is outed immediately. Not sure who gave her away, she flees trusting no one; not even those from her agency. Professionals follow her with plans to silence her about what little she has learned. This thrilling suspense will leave the audience breathless, but also like the heroine bewildered with who is doing what to whom except that everyone seems to be after Alisha. Adding to her confusion (but in this case not the audience) she has no idea what she learned that has made her a target. Readers will commiserate with Alisha as everyone she meets is a potentially deadly stranger especially the wild card Riechart, whom she is very attracted to even though is a freelancer.

Already Dead
Charlie Huston
Del Rey
ISBN: 034547824X, $12.95, 288 pp.

He looks like an ordinary man, can see his reflection in the mirror and has a girlfriend. She has HIV and won't make love to him but he doesn't tell her he's a vampire who can cure her by her drinking his blood but that would mean she catches the vampire virus and would become like him. The vampires group together in clans but Joe Pitt is an independent, working for the powerful Conclave and the Society. He sees zombies and follows them into a deserted warehouse and kills them all except the one human who wasn't bitten. His sense of smell is so strong that he smells a carrier, someone who transmits the disease but doesn't succumb to it. The Conclave asks him to come to their headquarters where their security chief tells him he has to find and kill the carrier that night or things will go bad for him. He is also expected to meet the wealthy and powerful human Merilee Horde who wants him to find her runaway daughter Amanda. During his investigation, he is hunted and almost killed so many times he loses count but he finally realizes that his cases intersect and someone wants to kill him to keep him from discovering what that junction point is and what is means for the vampires. ALREADY DEAD is an intriguing vampiric romantic investigative tale starring an interesting protagonist whose morality is different from those of humanity yet seems similar especially when it comes to his girlfriend as Joe proves he can love someone. The cast starting with the lead character makes the audience believe that the paranormal is normal while Joe's sleuthing is fascinating to follow as he struggles with both of his assignments. Charlie Huston provides an engaging supernatural who-done-it that readers will appreciate.

Savage Messiah
Robert Newcomb
Del Rey
ISBN: 0345477073, $26.95, 592 pp.

In Eutracia, the final skirmish OF THE SCROLLS OF THE ANCIENTS ended with the good Tristan defeating his evil half-brother Wulfgar; at least everyone (including readers) thought that was the war to end all wars. However, instead as a bi-product of the heroic battle, the spring of good magic, the Orb of Vigors, was ripped open. Now unchecked magical energy is dripping everywhere, as the orb falls from the sky ravaging anything that crosses its path. Only Prince Tristan can mend the Orb and stop pandemic destruction from occurring. However, for Tristan to fulfill the quest, his blood tendencies must be altered by the First Wizard Wigg. A mistake would kill Tristan and subsequently all of Eutracia. However, Wulfgar thought dead (once again by all) returns as Enseterat who is abetted by the Heretics of the Guild applies the Scroll of Vagaries to cause havoc in his effort to enact revenge on those who defeated him while he attempts to conquerg the world. Most fans of the first trilogy (see Chronicles of Blood and Stone) will enjoy the return to the realm with the initial tale in the Destinies of Moon and Stone three-peat. The story line is action-packed moving forward at a fast pace as is usual in a Robert Newcomb fantasy. Tristan continues to be a great likable champion and his allies are strong amiable supporters of him. On the other hand the return of Wulfgar seems wrong, magical blood aside, and he feels less dimensional than in his previous escapades. Though somewhat a rehash, the Blood and Stone crowd will find this opening gamut quite appealing.

Sorrow Without End
Priscilla Royal
Poisoned Pen
ISBN: 1590582144, $24.95, 248 pp.

Prince Edward is in the Mideast determined to wrest Jerusalem out of the Saracen's hands; many wounded soldiers, in body and soul, are returning home and countless of them stop at Tyndal Priory where they hope to get rid of their afflictions in the hospital run by the monks and the nuns. One the road to Tyndal Priory, a man returning home kills a foot soldier in a very gruesome manner. Ralf the crowner (a man who hunts down criminals) brings the corpse to Tyndal Priory to have the nuns look at the body for clues. Brother Thomas, who has just returned to the priory, examines the body and thinks is his former jailer; he faints. When he comes to, he refuses to tell Ralf why he fainted. He is imprisoned in a cell until he is willing to tell Ralf the truth but the prioress Eleanor believe the real killer is hiding out among the patients. When a second murder occurs, a thorough investigation is undertaken. Fans of Sharon King Penman will want to read SORROW WITHOUT END a medieval mystery that captures the flow of the Middle Ages. The mystery is well constructed and thought provoking as readers learn about life inside the priory and the battle fatigue syndrome afflicting the soldiers who made it home. There are many suspects but nobody seems to have a motive for the killings. This book is made even more interesting then most medieval tales because it shows that the nuns and monks have human emotions that they are forbidden by their vows to act on.

Spurred Ambition
Twist Phelan
Poisoned Pen
ISBN: 1590581741, $22.95, 262 pp.

After learning that her mother committed malpractice to win a case and had an affair that resulted in Hannah Dain being born the attorney leaves Richard Dain's law practice to look for her biological father. This proves hard to do since all the records were sealed by court order on behest of Richard, the man she thought was her father who preferred her younger sister. She accepts a short term job with the Tohono O'odham Indian tribe to put together a real estate private placement. The day before she starts work, she goes rock climbing on the reservations and runs into difficulties. She is rescued by Tony Soto, a Native American/Latino who turns out to be her boss. While on a tour of the reservation, three men wearing blue bandanas so Hannah doesn't see their faces kidnap Tony. The police search for him while she finds his book with two sets of numbers for the real estate deal. When Tony escapes more violence occur starting with the death of the tribal chief. Hannah begins to wonder just how innocent Tony is and if his zeal for the betterment of the tribe is real or a clever fraud. Fans of Tony Hillerman will rejoice now that Twist Phelan joins the sub-genre scene. Readers don't have to be financial analysts to get the gist of the security scam and in fact learn more about fiscal misconduct then can be found in a SEC case. There are three murders, one kidnapping, evidences of money manipulations that Hannah thinks are linked together and she sets out to prove it. This is a very entertaining and action filled amateur sleuth tale that brings to life the Indian reservation on the Arizona desert.

Veniss Underground
Jeff VanderMeer
ISBN: 0553383566, $14.00

Way in the future, during a time when those living in the twenty-first century would be considered tame, perversion is so wide-spread it is the norm; Living Artists create grotesque biological pieces of art. At the same time the genetically altered meerkats plan to either turn the lesser "natural" humans into drudges or make them extinct, whichever proves easier. In Veniss, Nicholas is a Living Artist, but lacks the skills necessary to become popular though he fantasizes otherwise while producing what some say is excrement. Perhaps it is from being raped in a chemical tub or just a bi-product of her relationship with her former lover sleazy Shadrach, but Nicholas' twin sister Nicola sees Veniss much clearer than her rose colored glassed brother does. Someone breaks into Nicholas's apartment and steals his artisan tools. Desperate he asks Shadrach to introduce him to his employer Quin, the world's greatest Living Artist and the uncrowned "emperor" of iniquity. Shadrach provides directions, but Nicholas gets lost and begins a frightening but eye opening odyssey through the layers underneath Veniss. Take Homer's rendering of the myths and put them in a future nightmarish landscape painted by Dante to get a feel for the horrific adventures awaiting Nicholas as he journeys through the underbellies of the dissolute city he calls home. The story line is filled with detail that brings to life loosely put humanoid like creatures that will shock the audience as much as it stuns the lead protagonist, who comes from an already depraved society (some will say so do we). A well written and thought provoking parable, VENISS UNDERGROUND is a fabulous novella (there are also three shorts included) that grips those brave enough to make the trek into the degenerate bizarre.

Full Moon Rising
Keri Arthur
ISBN: 0553804588, $15.00, 304 pp.

Riley and Rhoan are two hybrid siblings, half vampire and half werewolf with the wolf side dominating both of them. They keep their nature secret because the werewolves look down at the rare hybrid. Both work for the Directorate of Other Races, an organization that polices the supernatural and keeps humans safe from the ones that are evil. Riley enjoys sex with different partners because the heat of the moon demands she have sex as the full moon rises or she will be hit with moon madness, a state where she is not in control of her faculties and can commit damage without know she is doing it. Although she has two fantastic sex partners, she is aroused when a sexy powerful vampire knocks on her door asking to speak to Rhoan who is out on an assignment. When she senses he is in danger, she with the help of her new vampire friend Quinn rescues her brother from a place that is collecting sperm and eggs from the supernatural community against their will. This ties into the disappearance of several guardians who are part of the Directorate and an illegal cross species clones project to create the perfect soldier. As Riley, Rhoan, their boss and Quinn investigate, attempts are made on their lives and Riley will soon learn the pain of betrayed by those she trusted most. Keri Arthur is one of the best supernatural romance writers in the world and the best to come out of Australia. After the audience reads this book, they will want to read her backlist (see because they are as good as FULL MOON RISING. There is enough romance, action and intrigue to satiate the most discerning reader. Character development is fantastic making readers want to read future books starring Riley, an incredible person who will do what is necessary to keep her loved ones safe. There are several loose threads dangling so readers can be assured of at least one sequel and this reviewer can hardly wait.

Lisa Gardner
ISBN: 0553804316, $25.00, 368 pp.

In the middle of a stormy night in Tillamook County, Oregon, the local police find the abandoned car running with the windshield wipers working. Oregon State Police Sergeant Detective Carlton Kincaid is awakened to take over what is a crime scene as blood is everywhere. The deserted vehicle is registered to Lorraine Connor of nearby Bakersville. Former FBI profiler turned private sleuth Pierce Quincy has had much tragedy in his life. His oldest daughter and his first wife were murdered; his other child was saved only by the frantic fighting of fellow agent Lorraine "Rainie" Connor. They retired and eventually married, handling occasional cases. Quincy informs Kincaide what he knows about Rainie to this obvious person of interest, her husband. He knows that the cop thinks that he killed his wife, but with a sardonic smile that displays his fear and concern he informs Kincaide that he does not know Rainie and begins his own investigation in the nearby woods because nothing will stop him to save his beloved and if too late take out her killer. GONE starts at a fast-paced, but accelerates from the moment Kincaid interrogates Quincy with questions likes why his wife would be on this lonely road in the middle of the night and what was he doing while she went out on a drive and never slows down until the final alteration with a killer. Readers will feel Pierce's concern for Rainie because he knows in his heart what can happen to a loved one, but in his head he also realizes how capable she is; as his brain and heart battle with each prevailing at different moments, fans will wonder along side of Kincaid and Quincy what happened to Rainie.

Almost a Lady
Jane Feather
ISBN: 0553587560, $6.99

Meg Barrette was walking near the seafront of Folkstone with a friend who has to go home while she goes on to visit the lending library. Afterward, a storm strikes before Meg can reach shelter; she slips and loses consciousness. When she awakens she is on The Mary Rose, a ship at sea with Captain Cosimo in charge. Cosimo explains that his men were to pick up Ana, his espionage partner, but instead erred. In fairness Meg looks like the missing Ana, who Cosmo fears has been captured by the French. Cosimo realizes that his guest is feisty and brave so he wonders if she can replace Ana on a key mission. She finds herself attracted to him though she knows he is the wrong type of man for her. Still as he tries to seduce her into cooperation on two fronts, the boudoir and the French, he never expected to fall in love with what should have been an expendable pawn. Instead he now has to decide whether to save his Meg or the lives of a thousand strangers. ALMOST A LADY is fast-paced early nineteenth century romantic suspense thriller that takes off from the moment that Meg awakens on the Mary Rose and never slows down until after Cosimo has to decide between love and the common good. Meg is an intriguing protagonist whose courage even Cosimo admires though she adapts to espionage perhaps too easily. Still she and her beloved rogue make for fine high seas and on land anti-Napoleonic escapades.

Forever Odd
Dean Koontz
ISBN: 0553804162, $27.00, 334 pp.

In Pico Mundo, California lives a man with two powerful paranormal gifts. He can communicate with the dead and using psychic magnetism that can visually hone in on whoever he is looking for. One night Odd Thomas sees Dr. Jessup; he knows that the man is dead and that his adopted son Danny is in terrible danger. When he reaches the Jessup home, he finds the battered body of the doctor on the floor but Danny is nowhere around. His psychic magnetism leads him to the tunnels of the Maravilla Flood-Control Project where Danny and his kidnapper traveled. He eventually finds the trail that leads him to the destroyed Panamint Resort and Spa Casino where explosives are taped on Danny. The ringleader Datura used Danny as bait to get Odd to the casino because she wants him to produce a ghost for her. As back-up she has two strong men under her spell to do her bidding. Odd saves Danny hustling him into a safe place while he plays with these vicious hunters in the hopes that a plan for getting Danny and him free of these psychopaths will come to him. This novel takes place a year after the events in ODD THINGS and readers find the vulnerable, likeable, and emotionally drained Odd Thomas still working with the authorities to put the bad guys behind bars. The villainous woman whose beauty hides an ugly heart and soul will creep out the reader with her perceived belief that she does the right actions. Dean Koontz is at the top of his genre with a sequel that his myriad of fans will treasure.

The Smoke Thief
Shana Abe
ISBN: 0553804480, $15.00

In 1737 in Darkfrith, England lives the Drakon shapeshifting race. For well over a millennium, the Drakon have kept secret from their neighbors who and what they really are, but now THE SMOKE THIEF may end their anonymity. The felon steals jewels before seemingly vanishing in a puff of smoke. Alpha chief Marquis Christoff must stop the thief from further exposing their clan. He uses the Langford diamond as a lure; he succeeds capturing the rogue Clarissa, who is actually a hybrid half human half dragon with the ability to change. However, in capturing Clarissa, Christoff loses the precious diamond he used as bait. Considered his property based on Drakon law, he forces her to work with him to regain the gem even as passion erupts in the skies and on the earth between them. This exciting historical romantic fantasy grips the audience from the moment that readers begin to comprehend the skills of the thief and the danger she places the Drakon side of her heritage. The story line is action-packed from the beginning and takes several in air twists that add to the fever pitch of an invigorating thriller. The lead couple is a delightful charming pairing of individuals falling in love, an emotion neither wants, but cannot avoid. Shana Abe provides a terrific tale that screams for similar future novels in the Drakon universe.

An Accidental Goddess
Linnea Sinclair
ISBN: 0553587994, $6.99

When Raheiran Captain Gillaine Davre regains consciousness in a sick bay she knows that is not a new occurrence. However, her Sentient Integrated Mobile Nanoessence space ship, Simon, informs her that three hundred forty-two years and sixteen hours have passed since her last conscious memory of fighting the Fav'lhir. Another shocker surfaces when she learns everyone believes she sacrificed herself to save the Khalarans from certain defeat at the hands of the Fav'lhir and honored for her sacrifice by naming her the Goddess Kiasidira. Drinking Devil's Breath does not make anything easier for her as she realizes she must hide who she is because society has constructed key elements focused on the Goddess Kiasidira. Cirrus One Space Station Commander Admiral Rynan "Mack" Makarian knows that his "guest" Gillaine hides secrets from him. He also realizes that Gillaine, who is at best a smuggler and at worst working for the enemy, is his soulmate that he has waited to love for over four decades. Mack assumes she feels the same way and expects her to reveal the truth eventually, hopefully sooner than later. Everything comes to a head between them when the Fav'lhir attacks for the first time in three hundred plus years. Outer space fans will treasure this fast-paced science fiction thriller that starts with a bewildered heroine struggling with the exaggeration of her death. From that opening mental chat with Simon, fans are hooked to accompany Gillie on her efforts to initially buy time for repairs to Simon but ultimately lead the fight. Mack adds a fine supporting romantic subplot that provides additional tension to the star who feels so much stress that drinking Devil's Breath only gives her headaches. Readers will agree that this is a FINDERS KEEPERS tale.

Girl Sleuth: Nancy Drew and the Women Who Created Her
Melanie Rehak
ISBN: 0151010412, $25.00

This is an interesting biography in that Melanie Rehak looks into the creation of one of the most popular fictional detectives of all time, Nancy Drew and the creators who wrote the stories. As with the Hardy Boys, the Girl Detective story lines followed a precise formula to include fun but impossible twists and red herrings as well as escapes that MacGyver would have been proud to have made. Still Nancy Drew became and is an icon as the courageous teen willing to risk much for what she believes is right. Edward Stratemeyer, the genius who established the Rover Boys and the Bobbsey Twins novels, developed the formula (with help from his assistant) for a girl sleuth combining the Ruth Fielding tales with the boy detectives Hardy Boys. He hired journalist Mildred Wirt, who authored the Fielding books for him, to ghost write the Nancy Drew thrillers starting in 1930. She scribed the first dozen with an emphasis on an energetic never quitting Drew, who did not fear getting dirty. After Stratemeyer died, his daughter Harriet wrote the stories with a different but still energetic Drew that accentuated the teen's deportment as much as solving the mystery. Ms. Rehak provides a fun look behind the scenes that anyone who read (or watched the TV show) the Drew novels including this reviewer will appreciate.

When Gravity Fails
George Alec Effinger
ISBN: 0765313588, $13.95

In the future, the residents of the North African city of Budayeen are in a state of fear as a serial killer, using the "moddie" technique of plug in personalities to enhance his or her skills by becoming someone else, tortures and murder his prey. No one seems capable of stopping this maniacal predator. None of the competing factions that control the city own private detective Marid Audran as the sleuth has little ambition to succeed so has never became beholden to anyone. Instead all he desires out of life is just enough cash to pay for his heavy drug use that makes life bearable. As the killer murders some of Marid's friends, two century old crime kingpin Friedlander Bey demands Marid investigate and eradicate the killer, who is causing problems for his lucrative business. In exchange for doing so, the mob chieftain offers plug-ins to the detective. Though he courageously says no, circumstance pulls the reluctant Marid into the case of stopping a killing machine at the cost of those who respect him. This is a reprint of a fabulous futuristic Arabic private investigative thriller first released in the mid 1980s. The hero is a classic 1930s hardboiled detective except the time and place are so radically different, which in turn makes him at variance with the Spade-Marlowe prototype in many ways. Plug-ins and "medicines" are a standard way of life at least in Marid's mind, but not to be used to enhance serial killing as the cartridge enhanced murderer does; this is what he must face along with partnering with the devil in what is a terrific sci fi who-done-it.

Just Between Us
Cathy Kelly
ISBN: 0743490266, $15.00

In Kinvarra, Ireland, Rose and Hugh Miller are about to celebrate their fortieth wedding anniversary. The parents are especially proud of each of their adult daughters who will join them for a gala to mark the event. Stella, a single mom, is a successful lawyer; Tara has done well as a soap opera writer and recently married; her youngest Holly seems happy with an artistic life. Everything seems perfect for the Miller brood as they prepare for the ruby wedding party. However the matriarch does not see her world through rose colored glasses. She has some doubts about spending her golden years with Hugh. Stella is brilliant at law and even as a mom, but feels lonely as the love of her life has never surfaced; Tara is doing great at the job, but the love of her life appears to be a drunk; Holly may be the envy of everyone due to her free lifestyle, but in reality is bored yet fears making any changes. These four females will bond even more so over the course of the festivities. This is a tremendous family drama as the four females through asides and discussions reveal that they reveal doubts about their so-called perfect worlds. Each feels they suffer from a major failure at something significant yet also knows that they share a sisterly bond (including one with the matriarch) that helps each cope with their personal crisis not solving them only surviving their troubles and misgivings. Readers will find this book a powerful and realistic character study.

Fashionably Late
Beth Kendrick
ISBN: 074349959X, $13.00, 320 pp.

Accepting her boyfriend Kevin Bradley's proposal, Becca Davis calls her sister Claire in Los Angeles. Showing no joy, Becca mentions the teddy bear containing the ring; Claire suggests dumping his butt. When she speaks to her other sibling Gayle, she once again displays no enthusiasm; Gayle suggests dumping his butt. The world's safest couple finally argues over Kevin's ten year plan until Becca returns the ring ending a five year relationship. Encouraged by her two confident older sisters to take a chance in Los Angeles, Becca leaves New York to take the Southern California fashion world by storm. As Kevin frantically pleads with her to come back to him, she struggles with the demanding Beverly Hills prima donnas who reject what they specifically asked for. Making it easier to stay and try yet more difficult and complex is life Wildman Connor Sullivan, the bane of life insurance, whom she desires like nothing she ever felt with reliable Kevin. As the center that keeps the story line focused, Becca is a fabulous protagonist struggling with a lack of confidence that conflicts with a desire to design women apparel. Her relationship with Kevin allowed her a safe haven that enabled her to avoid more dangerous males. The support cast that includes her sisters, her former fiance, her zany demanding customers, and her new hunk provide further insight into the star of the tale. Beth Kendrick provides an insightful look at a talented young woman who lacks the confidence to step out and challenge the world; paraphrasing one of her sisters, she has the spirit but not the stomach; yet puts on her rubber underwear and finally takes a chance.

On Blue Falls Pond
Susan Crandall
ISBN: 0446616397, $6.50, 448 pp.

Eighteen months ago Glory Harrison is rescued from an inferno by Dawson, Tennessee Fire Chief Eric Wilson; her husband Andrew died in the blaze and not long afterward she miscarried. While her beloved septuagenarian Granny Tula Baker believes that God has a reason to put her granddaughter through such a tragedy, Glory, though she remembers nothing from that tragic night no longer believes. She flees her hometown as the memories haunt her; no place feels like a home anymore. Tula asks Glory to come home for a short stay so she can see her one last time as her eyes are failing her. Though reluctant to return to the site of her tragedy, Glory would face demons for her beloved Granny Tula so she comes home. Glory becomes upset when she thinks Eric is using Granny Tula to watch his three year old son Scott, whom he believes has a behavioral problem though his ex-wife Jill denies this. As she sees him help Granny Tula she revises her belief. She begins to remember what happened on that fatal night, but will it be in time to prevent more misfortune from reoccurring? ON BLUE FALLS POND is a strong glimpse at how individuals react to crisis differently with some hiding or running away while others finding solace to help them cope. Granny Tula turned to God after the tragedy while Glory turned away from God; Eric accepts that there is problem with his son while Jill rejects any notion that the child has any deep rooted behavioral issues. The late exciting suspense takes away from the core value of a powerful psychological drama that grips the audience once Glory starts shaking as she approaches Dawson.

Remember Me
Deborah Bedford
ISBN: 0446690430, $12.99

In the 1960s as a boy Sam Tibbits looked forward to spending his summers with Aubrey McCarts at Piddock Beach, Oregon. During the rest of the year the youngsters diligently exchanged letters. That is until the time he, as a college student, came calling to see her, only to be met by silence as she and her family moved without a forwarding address. They even sold their boats in nearby Portland leaving no trace behind. Sam is heartbroken. Sam has become a dedicated minister fully devoted to his congregation, but especially is there for widowed sister Brenda and his nephew. He never married as he still thinks of his Aubrey as the one. Mentally exhausted from the demands on his time and mind, he needs to get away for awhile. Though there are bittersweet memories, he returns to Piddock beach for the first time since his shattering college visit. Aubrey is there. Sam wonders if this is a miracle or a cosmic joke as she has someone with her. This is much more than a second chance to perhaps rekindle the flame of youth as the story line is a deep character study that focuses closely on memories vs. realties when the recollections are somewhat challenged. The cast makes the tale though Sam is the focus as the prime players are flawed people and even the young die and cancer is a reality. A fantastic inspirational, readers will treasure this keeper as Deborah Bedford rises above the morality noise to provide a powerful tale of life and death leading to hope that readers will remember long after they close the book.

Dumping Billy
Olivia Goldsmith
ISBN: 044669505X, $13.95

Unlike her "Bitches of Bushwick" female pals, whose only goals in life are marriage and children in a Brooklyn Forever haven Kate Jameson wanted more, which was why she fled was across the Bay into Manhattan. She worked hard at school and shockingly went to an Ivy College studying to become a psychologist. Her dreams seem answered as she lives a good singles life in Chelsea apartment and enjoys her work as the school psychologist at the exclusive Andrew Country Day school. When Kate and Brooklyn's Barber Bar owner Billy Nolan meet, they feel an instant attraction. Kate's best friend, Elliot Winston and his significant other fear that Kate is determined to commit romantic suicide; as Billy not only lives in that third world nation Brooklyn, but also every time he dumps a woman she marries her next date. The gay couple worries about who Kate will marry; especially if she meets him in the barbaric outer boroughs. Kate decides DUMPING BILLY first will keep her from the Billy curse so she arranges for a Brooklyn B's to date him; not realizing how jealous she would become. The latest Olivia Goldsmith's novel DUMPING BILLY is a zany romantic romp, but alas not one of the great author's better works (see THE FIRST WIVES CLUB) as the key players even Kate seem more like caricatures stereotyping an image rather than full blooded New Yorkers. The females do fare better than their male counterparts as the Brooklyn B girls provide some amusement with their contrast to the one who got away Kate even as she considers returning to the fold. Ms. Goldsmith's most dedicated fans will want to read this madcap cross-boroughs tale.

Lord of Temptation
Paula Quinn
ISBN: 0446615951, $6.50, 336 pp.

In 1071 William's Royal Commander Lord Dante Risande accompanied by his loyal friend Sir Balin de Farge visits the keep of Lord Bryce Dermont whose brother Edgar might be a traitor. He is surprised to find a Norman slave but wants Gianelle Dejiat in his bed. She refuses but he offers her protection especially from Edgar. When Bryce is poisoned, Edgar accuses Gianelle, but Dante out maneuvers him and takes her and her friend Casey, who looks like his late sister with them, promising that William will look into the homicide. Dante believes that Edgar killed his brother and plans to prove this and that the man is a traitor. He also tries to coax the lovely Gianelle into his bed, but though she seems interested she says no as she wants her freedom, something she has never tasted. As they battle over their attraction and he sets out to prove her innocence by uncovering the identity of the real killer, they fall in love, but she fears any relationship with her new master means slavery. Lord of Temptation is a very complicated medieval tale that besides the obvious historical romance contains p several mysteries (not just the prime one listed above) that all merge into a strong Conqueror thriller. Gianelle is a wonderful courageous protagonist used to brutal males while Casey, on the other hand, is reticent and fearful having fallen from a safe haven to the abuse of men. The males in their lives are caring kind warriors willing to die to protect their beloved women, but also chivalrous towards other females regardless of station. The enigma of Hereward the Wake adds depth and leads to an obvious sequel to the pleasure of readers.

Giants of the Frost
Kim Wilkins
ISBN: 0446617288, $6.99, 520 pp.

Victoria Scott travels to the island of Othinsey, two hundred nautical miles off the Norwegian Coast as a meteorologist at Kirkja station. This job will help her in getting her doctorate in meteorology but the drawback is that many of her fellow workers believe this island is haunted as they hear voices in the woods at night. One evening she meets Vanir whom Victoria feels as if she has known all her life and beyond. She is right because they have loved once before when she was Halla who lived on Othinsey circa 1104 with her missionary uncle and his family. Odin didn't want Christ worshippers on his island so he sent his son Vanir to kill them but he fell in love and was unable to do it. He was prepared to leave Asgard and stay with Halla but Odin destroyed that dream. Now Halla has returned as Victoria and is once again in danger from Odin who fears that his son won't be there to save him on the day of Rangorak. Vanir vows to save her this time and find a way to be together but fate is immutable and some things are not meant to be unless someone can get the Fates to change their minds. Kim Wilkins has written one of best and most beautiful romantic fantasies in years. The hero is prepared to die for his love or give up his mortality while Victoria fights the supernatural creatures on the island who destroy to gain Odin's favor. Her love for Vanir is so beautiful it will bring tears to the readers' eyes because she doesn't seem like she will get the happily ever after they both desperately deserve.

Time to Run
Marliss Melton
ISBN: 0446614815, $6.50

US Navy JAG Captain Bartholomew Garret runs a tight ship at home expecting his wife Sara to even alphabetize canned goods and his ten year son Kendel to be quiet when he is at home. When Kendel plays his music loud, an angry Bartholomew strangles to death his son's pet rabbit. Sara knows they must leave him before his mental abuse turns to physical abuse on them. Chief Petty Officer Chase McCaffrey relaxes at Ocean Naval Base following completion of his latest assignment as a SEAL sniper. He notices Sara sitting outside Garret's office as her husband expects her to wait all day for him until he finishes his work. He asks Sara to give a package to JAG Lieutenant Renault who is tied up in a meeting. Because he is leaving to check his newly inherited Oklahoma ranch, he calls Sara to verify she gave the package to Renault. She begs him to take her and Kendel to Oklahoma. Chase takes them to his ranch and gets them new IDs. As the adults fall in love and he mentors her son teaching him to whittle. A supremacist group that his late stepfather belonged to and Bartholomew make it unsafe for Sara and Kendel. Marliss Melton's latest SEAL romantic suspense is an exciting tale starring a fine lead couple and her likable son. The return of Hannah from IN THE DARK will be welcomed by readers who have not forgotten this strong FBI agent. Though Sara adapts too easily and Bartholomew has no redeeming qualities (one must wonder why the Navy let him obviously mentally abuse his wife), fans will enjoy this wonderful thriller.

Leave it to Claire
Tracey Bateman
ISBN: 0446696080, $12.99

Novelist Claire Everett raises her three children with the help of her mom, but if one asked the kids they would insist their mother is too busy on her books to give them quality time. They believe her ex their father Rick, who married Darcy last year, makes time for the fifteen year old Ari, thirteen years old Tank and ten year old Shawn. Claire freaks when her mom informs her that she is moving to Texas to be with her other daughter and grandchildren. During a debilitating panic attack teacher Greg Lewis helps Claire until she can cope again. Not long afterward, Claire undergoes carpal tunnel syndrome surgery that allows her six weeks to realize how she has destroyed her life, neglected her children, and blamed Darcy, who has been kind and caring to her kids. Claire vows to change, but it will take more than a six step plan to succeed. She must learn to trust in people and believe in God if she is to achieve her objective of providing love, warmth and comfort to her children. LEAVE IT TO CLAIRE is an intriguing character study that focuses on a working mother balancing between the needs of her three children and her at home job. The problems and expectations from her loved ones while she works at home are deftly handled and very believable. Though Claire believes her stress comes from her children's demands, her mother leaving town, her ex-husband and his wife, and her editor, readers know that much is internally-driven. Though some might object that her only chance to straighten out her broken relationships is to find God, everyone will agree this is a well written look at a beleaguered working mom.

Bitten & Smitten
Michelle Rowen
ISBN: 0446617008, $6.50, 400 pp.

Her blind date Gordon Richards is tossing a dirt sandwich on Sarah Dearly in a gravesite at a cemetery. She thinks he is lunatic, but he reminds her that he offered her eternity and bit her in the neck. He claims she belongs to him as her vampiric creator, but Sarah assumes the word lunatic is not strong enough. That is until the hunters arrive and kill Gordon. Sarah flees into what she thought was the night, only to end up in the arms of another crazy person claiming to be a vampire, six century old Thierry de Bennicoeur. She soon realizes that she was changed and her only hope to survive remains Thierry as her bloodsucking mentor. Meanwhile someone has sold out the vampires to the hunters who are killing them one at a time. Sarah falls in love with her teacher, but he insists it is time for him to die once he uncovers and kills the traitor. She has waited a lifetime for love so, refusing to allow Thierry to not exist, she plans to teach him a thing about life. BITTEN & SMITTEN is a terrific vampiric chick lit tale filled with biting humor due to the caring antics of Sarah who goes from one calamity to another. She is the Perils of Pauline of the undead and other paranormal species while Thierry is her reluctant Dudley Do-Right always coming to the rescue when all he wants is to end his existence. Ironically, he has eternity to do so except he seems to spend all of his time kissing, biting, or saving the newest bloodsucker. Readers who appreciate a witty lighthearted supernatural romantic romp will want to read this fun tale of love and rescue amongst the night crowd.

The Musashi Flex
Steve Perry
ISBN: 0441013619, $7.99, 336 pp.

In the twenty third century, planets have been colonized all over the galaxy policed by the confederation who has spies everywhere. The MUSASHI FLEX, a martial arts game where contestants duel each other, is one way to move up in a stagnant hierarchy. Lazlo Mourn, who played the game for fifteen years, is ready to retire until he saves the life of journalist Cayne Sola who was trying to tape the number ten player. Lazlo finds that he has stepped outside the box and into a new paradigm that lets hims beat opponents he couldn't touch before. Multibillionaire Ellis Shaw has it all, power, prestige and women but what he really wants is to be the champion in the MUSASHI FLEX. However, he lacks that something extra needed to become a champion. He has his scientists work on the drug Reflex that speeds up his movements and starts steadily moving up in the numbers of MUSASHI FLEX. He meets the beautiful Azul at an art gallery and the two starts a relationship not realizing that she is a plant sent by control to find out about Reflex. These four people are going to find themselves linked in a way they never thought possible. With steroids making superstars in sports and some suggesting the use of asterisks for modern records, though occurring in the distant future, MUSASHI FLEX is a timely science fiction thriller as the wealthy Shaw uses his money to find a chemical way to become the sport's champion. The three prime relationships, Shaw-Luna, Mourn-Sola, and Shaw-Mourn are deftly handled to enhance the personalities of the two male combatants so that the audience knows the demons that drive each before they finally meet with everything on the line. Weird but fascinating in many ways, this is an intriguing science fiction tale with a timely message.

The Atrocity Archives
Charles Stross
ISBN: 0441013651, $14.00

"The Atrocity Archive". The mission of the ultra top secret British espionage agency the Laundry is to defend the crown against occult attacks. The agency employs a variety of employees, but perhaps at the lowest rung is Bob, a computer repairman. However, Bob stops what could have been a nasty incident occurring during a demonstration. His reward is a leap into the cold to save the world from devastation from beyond that plans to snack on the universe once this essence pierces the once thought of impregnable barrier. "The Concrete Jungle". The country starting with the Laundry is in trouble as some big shot plans to change agents into zombies so that he can take over the country and ultimately the world. Only Agent Bob and local police officer Josephine stand in the way of stopping the zombie attack, but first he must explain why he failed to follow standard operating procedures when he called for backup during a deadly confrontation in which he failed to fill out the proper form and going through the chain of command. Saving the world does not stop a written reprimand and counseling as follow the rules not logic prevails. Taking Get Smart into a technological paranormal world is what the novel (The Atrocity Archives) and the novella (The Concrete Jungle) is all about as Bob battles supernatural combatants and the bureaucracy with differing but always humorous results. Both tales are satirical fun as the espionage thriller goes through the rinse cycle as only officious government regulations would expect. Charles Stross writes a wild zany pair of occult spy escapades.

Edited by Lou Anders
ISBN: 0451460650, $14.95, 336 pp.

As described in the introduction, this sixteen collection science fiction anthology focuses on future trending of "new fears arising out of sociological, biological or technological change". Each tale centers on a particular hot button that a relatively large populace believes will lead to the end of society as we know it; similar as pointed out by Mr. Anders to the 1950s and 1960s nuclear trepidations. The contributions range the spectrum of controversy such as bioengineering or "living" after death, and of course AI, etc. Overall the compilation is superb with some tales going very deep in spite of the shortness. A shocked audience will ponder bad choices that lead to the denigrating of a group; not necessarily purebred human. Though a few tales surface the potential, they do not dig deep into the impact; however, for the most part most of the compilation will leave readers wondering whether Pogo is right that we met the enemy and he (or she or it) is us.

A Host of Dragons
Alan F. Troop
ISBN: 0451460618, $7.99, 352 pp.

Even though he has been home two years, Chloe remains angry and unforgiving towards her spouse, Peter DelaSangre for leaving their home Caya DelaSangre and got caught up in the lure of the seadragon (see THE SEADRAGON'S DAUGHTER). When Chloe asks for a family outing, the first in months, Peter readily agrees though he hates having to be amidst the mob of people. They, accompanied by their son Henri and daughter Lizzie, go to Miami for a day on the peninsular. At the dock they notice a man staring at them and then he almost kidnaps Lizzie. After retuning to their island home, twelve strangers arrive. Peter assumes he and his kin are threatened from the Oudere Raad Corporation who wants to destroy him and his family. They scour his ancestral archives and soon abduct Lizzie. Peter knows he must confront these foreigners, but in his natural essence, as a dragon who plans to dine on a dozen humans. The fourth DelaSangre entry is an exciting urban fantasy in which Peter has to battle with an enemy that has invaded his island, assaulted his heritage, and ultimately kidnapped his daughter as these Europeans plan to destroy him. As a were-dragon, Peter's morality is different than that of humans and he sees things differently. Interestingly the four DelaSangres seem like a regular family on an outing together until the incursion occurs. Peter loves his family while Chloe reciprocates but is jealous when he goes off with other females. A HOST OF DRAGONS is a fine entry in a series starring a hero with a different ethics system.

Rebel Ice
S.L. Viehl
ISBN: 0451460626, $7.99, 384 pp.

It has been over two years since Dr. Cherijo Torin's ship crashed on the Ice planet of Akkabarr. Because she was bioengineered to be near indestructible she survived but she has no memories of who she is or where she came from. The Iislegs live on the surface of the planet slaves to the Windlords who live in habitats orbiting the planet. The surface dwellers are dependant on their masters for food, shelter, and medicine and in return the Iislegs give them their women and whatever else they desire. of women and the skin of outsiders and other desires. Duncan Reever, Cherijo's husband, has not given up hope that his wife is alive. Using the identity of a League member, he is allowed to travel to the surface of the planet. It is never a good time to be on Akkabarr but it is even worse now. Led by Teulon, a Joren whose clan was destroyed in the incident that forced Cherijo to land on the ice planet, a rebellion is brewing. Duncan is hindered in his search for his wife by people who don't want him to find her but he is determined. Although he doesn't realize it, it doesn't appear there will be a happily ever after for them even if he succeeds in his quest. The latest Stardoc novel is full of action and political intrigue but the heart of the story lies with the characters who live in a cold world in every sense of the world and have a culture much different than that of earth. The societies of the Iislegs and the Windlords seem very realistic almost as if the author visited that world and decided to write about it. S.L. Viehl keeps her series fresh by always putting her protagonists in new realms. REBEL ICE is a terrific outer space science fiction novel.

Traitor to the Blood
Barb & J.C. Hendee
ISBN: 0451460669, $23.95, 368 pp.

Magiere is a dhampire, born of a human mother and a vampire father. Her birth involved the death of five different species including an elven and a dwarf because she was brought into being for a specific purpose known only to her father. He searches for an orb that will allow him not to need human blood but his dreams tell him that for his quest to be successful he needs a dhampire. At the moment, Magiere's father and a companion follow her and her lover into Lord Darmouth's province in the Warlands. Leesil was an assassin, slave and spy for Lord Darmouth as were his parents but one day he got fed up with the atrocities he committed and ran away. He needs to know if his parents still live and expects to find the answers in his home province. A friend tells Leesil that his elven mother and human father were last seen running into the lower levels of Lord Darmouth's keep. Leesil, Magiere, the sage Wynn and the fae dog Chap investigate this puzzle. None of the band knows that two opposing forces, the vampire and elves, are maneuvering them and danger doesn't just come just from Darmouth but from enemies they don't even know exist. Magiere and Leesil are two outcasts who are on a quest that puts them against people who have different plans for them. There is a lot of intrigue in TRAITOR TO THE BLOOD which is one of the reasons it is so hard to put down. Readers finally learn a lot about Leesil's past and his homeland is reminiscent of the old Soviet Union as he and his fellow travelers try to find out what happened to his family. The love that Leesil and Magiere share gets them through some dangerous events. Readers will eagerly await the next book in this terrific series.

Harriet Klausner
Senior Reviewer

Laurel's Bookshelf

Mighty Good Land
Dan Powers
Black Greyhound Media
P.O. Box 40367, Nashville TN 37204
ISBN: 097063711X, $12.95 US / 17.95 CAN, 103 pp.

Dan Powers is not unknown to poetry lovers. His work has been featured in numerous journals, and he appeared in the PBS special, The United States of Poetry, with Nobel and Pulitzer Prize-winning poets Walcott, Brodsky, Milosz, and Ginsberg. After reading Mighty Good Land, I will state without hesitation that Dan Powers can hold his own in any company of poets. Black Greyhound's mantra is "Poetry not for pussies." Powers fulfills that philosophy nicely. These poems come from a place of strength and dignity. No pussies. No b.s. No kidding.

In "Good Earth and Poor," sometimes a man has to settle for less than he had hoped, and let it be enough:

He paid my way to ag school and settled
for two and a half acres in the middle of the bend,
a stand of walnuts on the hill
and earth black in the center
for a garden that would grow tomatoes,
beans, and sweet corn -- where his motion,
wheeled in the order of those green rows,
was more of grace and dance than toil...

"Third Missed Payment" takes us into a man's contemplations and holds us there:

The old windmill erected by my grandfather
whirls its blades against the red edge of the world.
In the dusk of winter we are surrounded.
At the edge of the woods, darkness unfolds early
to take the fields.

And again, in "Aftershave," we accompany the man into a place of unspeakable sorrow, "the cold rage of the nursing home" where his father lives:

I walk quickly down the hall
past the reaching arms of others,
frost of their uncharmed faith
stretching from their hands.
I walk past them all, aloof and inexhaustible,
my father's aftershave clinging to my face.
I walk past them all, cool as ice
that breaks loose from its own shore
and, breaking, falls away.

"Aching Hands" has a trembling sense of hope and despair so poignant I could scarcely bear to read it. I quote one excerpt here:

My best gloves won't stay on for anything,
won't keep these farmer's hands
from growing rough and cracked in the cold
or keep them from aching
in the heat of the woodstove.

I bend an hour over the bathroom sink,
scouring black dirt and grease
from knuckles and fingernails,
rubbing hand cream into my palms
and thinking of your breasts warm and sleek
beneath the red satin gown from Christmas.

One of Powers' strengths is how he uses words to share places and emotions. This excerpt from "Children's Graves in the Back of our Farm" is a perfect example:

I pondered through the fall
how twelve small graves could lie untended --
how in all that green place
honeysuckle runs amuck with blue-eyed grass
and periwinkle flits like butterflies among the stones,
how death has been abandoned to the woods
and is no more permanent than life.

From the aesthetically pleasing cover to the poems inside, this book is beautiful in every way. Whether expressing despair, horror, suppressed rage, or a fluttering flame of sexuality not quite snuffed by life, Dan Powers' poetry communicates a powerful message of quiet dignity. Mighty Good Land is highly recommended.

Coffee Royal
Pocatello Blend -- Rare Beans
Penelope Reedy and Leslie Leek
Blue Scarab Press
P.O. Box 4966, Pocatello ID 83225-4966
no ISBN, Chapbook at $3 plus $1 shipping

When the editor of Blue Scarab Press sent the 17th and 18th Pocatello Blend chapbooks for review, he said they were the "penultimate ones." By that I gathered they were the last, or nearly the last in the series which is slated to end in 2005. This series of chapbooks by southeast Idaho writers and poets has been exceptional. How so many fine wordsmiths managed to align themselves in one geographic location is a pleasant mystery to contemplate.

Penelope Reedy teaches English at Idaho State University and writes a column for the Idaho State Journal. She was founder, editor, and publisher of The Redneck Review of Literature for two decades. Reedy contributed several poems as her half of Coffee Royal. This excerpt from "Mood Indigo: Camping Out With the Purple Sage Cowbelles" provides a distinct taste of a time and place few of us will ever experience:

Coffee brews
on a sagebrush fire.
Coyote wails.
Stout Arabians and American Saddlebreds
munch hay, shudder, snort.
The tents, pitched,
could be any color.

"If I Left" is a stark, truthful rendering of that ancient tug and pull between male and female, expressed clearly, in ways every reader can understand:

If I left
he'd sit at the bar
and pout, while
divorcees with big tits
and dyed hair
flock around him claiming,
"All he needs is a good woman."

And if I stay
until he shoots me,
catches me in the act of poetry,
barricaded behind a wall of books,
the Women's Auxiliary would say,
"She drove him to it."

Leslie Leek is a Senior Lecturer in the Department of Communication and Rhetorical Studies at Idaho State University. A book of her short stories was published by Blue Scarab Press in 1993. Her short story, "Intimate Itinerary -- Meditation on an Evening Walk in Pocatello", shows us Pocatello from a sidewalk view and shares Leek's engaging writing style:

I pass by many houses inhabited by people who try to trick the wind into revealing secrets at their door. They hang wind chimes or bright colored wind socks to seduce the passage of breeze. They are the decoders of emptiness and sound. I wonder what they make of the messages they receive.

There are front doors yawning open thick with the breath of summer twilight. Fragments of voice waft out of shadows and punctuate the air with word clues I should never forget if I know what is good for me.

If this is, indeed, the last chapbook in the Pocatello Blend series, I'm sad to see it end. Like every pairing in the series, Reedy and Leek are exceptional writers who complement and contrast in pleasing ways. These labors of love from Blue Scarab Press are a gift to readers everywhere. Each of the eighteen chapbooks is highly recommended.

Backcountry Blend
Pocatello Blend -- Rare Beans
Janne Goldbeck and Jackie Johnson Maughan
Blue Scarab Press
P.O. Box 4966, Pocatello ID 83225-4966
no ISBN, Chapbook at $3 plus $1 shipping

The Pocatello Blend series of chapbooks began in 2003 and will end in 2005. Each chapbook is a limited edition featuring two writers who live in or have ties to the southeast Idaho area. It's November 2005 as I write this review. I'll be sorry to see the series end. Each Pocatello Blend contributor has one sure thing in common:

They love southeast Idaho and generously share their home with readers.

Janne Goldbeck is an English professor and poet who lives in Pocatello. "Bird Watching" is her contribution. She marvels at small, shy birds feeding amidst larger predators:

I strain to see this feast of birds through sunstreaked,
fissured glass. These stains
cannot be washed away. They lie between my vision
and the wind that spills the birds to flight.
Still, I see wings blurred as if the falcon's talon
had torn my eye,
as if I looked through tears.

And later in the same poem she turns her eyes to pelicans alternately waddling, soaring, and diving for fish along the shore:

....Who can bear
this grace out of ungainly birds, a black tipped wing turning
in the failing light.

Jackie Johnson Maughan is an essayist and author of four non-fiction books. She also has two novels awaiting publication. Maughan's contribution is a story titled "Pelicans and Blue-footed Boobies." Her prose style is easy-going, humorous, and informative. I quote these brief excerpts from her five page story as a sample:

"I paid $7,000 to see a blue-footed booby, what with travel insurance, air fare, and a cabin on our adventure travel tour of the Galapagos Islands.

Thirty years ago, the brown pelican was close to extinct because of broad spectrum insecticides such as DDT. But now it is making a comeback, something we did not know until we saw so many of them in the Galapagos. There is an irony here since Ecuador itself is a heavy user and manufacturer of DDT.

...back to the blue-footed booby. Imagine you had legs that ended at your knees and a body shaped like an upside-down lightbulb. Add to this a pair of neon- blue clown feet. You're trying to get a girl and the girls like these big, blue feet......Anyway, you mark out your turf with guano which is really only a circle you've drawn on the rock. And you dance. You put your right foot in, you put your right foot out. You put your right foot in and you shake it all about. And the girls come, all the way from Idaho, $7,000 worth.

As in all the Pocatello Blend chapbooks, Goldbeck and Maughan make a fine team. If you haven't discovered these Idaho writers and Blue Scarab Press, now would be the ideal time.

Ireland's Coastline: Exploring Its Nature and Heritage
Richard Nairn
The Collins Press
West Link Park, Doughcloyne, Wilton, Cork, Ireland
Dufour Editions, Inc. (dist.)
Chester Springs PA 19425-0007
ISBN: 1903464501, $47.95, 232 pages

9,000 years ago -- long before Egypt's pyramids or Greek and Roman civilizations flowered -- Ireland's people harvested the sea. These ancient tribes were a hardy breed who thrived along a coastline sculpted by wind, sea, and rain. They gleaned sustenance and shelter from the bounty found along primordial seacoasts. This book, with its breathtaking photographs and informative prose, provides a thorough history of Ireland's seacoasts.

The author is a sailor, ornithologist, explorer, and nature reserve warden. Through that knowledge and experience, Nairn shares with readers a view of Ireland's seacoasts they might not understand otherwise. Birds, plants, and topological features of individual coastlines are discussed in detail. Fish, shellfish, eels, and sea mammals are identified along with their contributions to Ireland's distant past, present, and future. He explains the benefits of flat plains, estuaries, rocky cliffs, and sand dunes. We see efficient fish and seaweed traps built by ancient Celts and the remnants of their shelters. We learn how the ancestors of present day Irishmen extracted iodine from seaweed. Through photographs, prose, and annotated sources, Nairn leads his readers on a fascinating path from Ireland's antiquity to her present day.

Modern Ireland is determined to protect her natural resources. Global warming and its effect on sea and weather is a concern, because the Irish have a long and intimate relationship with the sea and its bounty. Harnessing wind, sun, and sea for energy is another priority. Ireland understands that the land and sea are interdependent, that the sea's abundance is limited, and that coastal erosion is adversely impacted by human interference. Ireland offers sandy beaches and clear waters for surfing and sailing; rocky shores and fish rich reefs perfect for scuba diving; and plentiful opportunities for bird watchers, whale spotters, and fisherman. The long term goal is to protect a pristine land that people worldwide enjoy and revere, whether we are of Irish descent or not.

Ireland's Coastline is highly recommended. Richard Nairn shares information in interesting, informative ways and the full color photographs are stunning. Well done!

Mark of the Lion: A Jade del Cameron Mystery
Suzanne M. Arruda
New America Library Imprint
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
ISBN: 0451217489, $23.95, 352 pages

Ms. Arruda's debut novel has already garnered high praise, long before its release date of January 2006. That praise is well-deserved. Jade del Cameron is an appealing heroine and locales in France, England, and Africa are beautifully rendered. Mark of the Lion is a mystery but could easily be categorized as literary fiction because Arruda's writing style is that good. If she doesn't become a household name and best selling icon, I'll be surprised.

Jade del Cameron epitomizes American toughness and determination in the early 20th century. Raised on a New Mexico ranch, Jade is doing her bit during World War One by driving an ambulance at the Front. She's a top notch driver and mechanic, a gutsy girl who pilots a rickety Model T Ford through crossfire and shellbursts all day, every day. Transporting wounded and shell-shocked soldiers is a heartbreaking job. Despite her courage, War has taken a hard toll on Jade. When friend and would-be suitor David Worthy crashes his plane, Jade is the first person on scene. Before his death, David extracts a promise from her: Find his brother Abel and investigate his father's suspicious death in Africa. Jade is a girl who keeps her promises. At war's end she dedicates herself to honoring David's last request. In her new job as reporter for an American magazine, she begins the investigation in England then heads for Nairobi.

In Africa, Jade encounters an intriguing mix of characters: English Lords and Ladies living like royalty; native warriors and servants; working class coffee growers trying to survive Africa's climate; and shape shifting witch doctors out to end her investigation. Jade is enthralled by Africa's wildlife, people, and vistas, but doesn't lose sight of the purpose for her visit. The search for David's brother takes her from Nairobi to the foothills of Mt. Kilimanjaro. Handsome Harry Hascombe heads the safari to Kilimanjaro country. Jade is courageous and capable, a crack shot. And thanks to her Spanish-Irish-French ancestry, her looks attract Harry like a magnet. But Jade is all business and focused on the promise made to a dead pilot. She believes the mystery is all but solved until first a lion, then a hyena try to kill native guide, Pili.

I won't share more of the plot because the mysteries are only partially solved by book's end. Jade will carry on her investigation with the next book in this series. Because of top notch prose style, exciting plot, and memorable characters, Mark of the Lion is highly recommended.

Circe, After Hours
Marilyn Kallet
BkMk Press
University of Missouri - Kansas City
5101 Rockhill Rd., Kansas City MO 64110-2499
ISBN: 1886157510, $3.95, 95 pages

Marilyn Kallet is a multi-published poet. Her work has been around for decades now and that richness, that patina of time, shines through in this latest book. With an engaging mix of sly humor and eloquent recollections, she brings readers into her thoughts. Ms. Kallet has learned to see life in everything and face the world on her own terms. Gone is her youthful reticence and propriety, back when she was a young "Great Poet":

I was a great poet, composed,
understated, subdued.
Never let personality leak
into a syllable.
I wrote psalms with my silences.

But with age came wisdom. Reality set in, as in this charming excerpt from "Heartland, Revisited":

I'm old enough to be your Meemaw.
You chase me like a puppy yapping after a car.
If I turned around? Some crush
you'd have then. Honey, I'm taking
hormone replacement therapy.
You're pure testosterone.
I can't take you.

Her thoughts of death and holocaust are simple and poignant, as in this excerpt from "To My Poem of Hope":

Dear poem, if we look again,
and we must,
we will find scraps,
scrawled words, secret histories,
the cry between the lines....

Ms. Kallet says with humor that her signature poem is "No Makeup" and I can understand why that would be true. This poet disguises nothing. Lust, regret and sorrow share time equally with laughter and a peaceful acceptance of self:

"I'll have to rely on poetry,
won't I?"
And how, at fifty, I love
in my face and lines,
and in your hands, dear reader.

As I read the poems in this book, the word "elegant" came to mind more than once. Marilyn Kallet is a strong, courageous, compassionate, humorous woman who writes her humanity in elegant ways.

Chance of a Ghost: An Anthology of Contemporary Ghost Poems
Edited by Gloria Vando and Philip Miller
Helicon Nine Editions
3607 Pennsylvania, KC, MO 64111
ISBN: 1884235387, $14.95, 288 pages

This exceptional anthology of poets features 171 gifted poets, writers, educators, and artists. Some are Pulitzer Prize winners, Pushcart Prize winners, or Poets Laureate. Others are less famous but equally well-respected among peers and poetry devotees. All poets represented here are extraordinary. I don't use the words "exceptional" and "extraordinary" lightly. If anything, the poetry in this book soars beyond my ability to describe.

Space constraints do not allow for providing detailed excerpts from poems by 171 poets. Nor was it possible to choose only a random sampling of excerpts when each and every individual poem is so excellent. Suffice to say the ghostly spirits here visit readers in many guises. Poetry styles range from freeform to formal to rhyming, with subject matter that is whimsical, imaginative, and often stunning. Death has no dominion here. These spirits can be anything, anywhere:

-- wallflowers of the other world;
-- spectral mice;
-- phantom fingers;
-- motes drifting in a shaft of light;
-- a feather-touch from behind;
-- the white sift of warm air lifting;
-- a single shuttered syllable;
-- ornamental spaces in the lace work of worlds;
-- the whistles and bells of remorse and mortality.

The proceeds from this book will benefit the library of The Writers Place, a literary community center in the heart of Kansas City. For those who love poetry written by accomplished wordsmiths, Chance of a Ghost has my highest recommendation.

Lightered: New and Selected Poems
Van K. Brock
Anhinga Press
P.O. Box 10595, Tallahassee FL 32302
ISBN: 0938078844, $18.00, 185 pages

Within this book are five decades of poetry, Van Brock's history as poet and human. Brock speaks of the ordinary in extraordinary ways, and this includes the title's meaning. Lightered is a southern U.S. colloquialism for "lighter wood" -- fatwood, pine tar-rich wood that burns whether wet or not. True to his title, Brock's poetry burns on every page. His topics range from everyday happenings to destroyed human and animal habitat to love, racism, and human annihilations, past and present. He is equally adept at free form or sonnet. And his treatment of ekphrasis -- poetry inspired by viewing photographs or paintings -- is exceptional. Simply stated, Brock is an accomplished poet and this book is packed with wondrous words.

"Indian Summer (A Photographic Memory)" is one example of ekphrastic poetry. In it, Brock contemplates a picture of himself as an infant in South Georgia: many have died to turn these pines into houses, this red
clay into porch pillars, flues, and fireplaces, all of them
making me into this inauspicious blinding moment, myself.

In this excerpt from "This is Not a Love Poem", Brock memorializes past times in a once pristine land and grieves its passing:

This is not a love song. Listen.
It is the wind on a prairie where
no buffalo roam and no smoke rises
in the long winter without villages;
this is the muffled sound in the iron rails
spiked to the hewn bodies of the lost forests...

"Peter's Complaint" is written from the viewpoint of the Apostle, the man Christ himself named The Rock:

I try to remember if you are what we remembered.
But I cannot clearly remember you --
And never saw you clearly. When we both were,
The air was always filled with vapors of dawn,
The dust of day, the haze of twilight, starlight.
Our sight was never steady or finely shaded.
And I was not a rock.

In Lightered, Van Brock shares his joys and sorrows honestly. Some memories are wounds that can't be healed. Hitler's holocaust and America's failed promise haunt him. Lightning-struck trees speak flawed runes, and coyotes howl their outrage at an ever-dwindling territory. This poet shares his vision in beautiful, uncommon ways. This book is highly recommended.
Editor: Michael Burch
Sponsor: Alpha Omega Consulting Group Inc.

Reviewing a website is a first for me. I discovered The HyperTexts when reviewing books published by Joe Ruggier, editor of Multicultural Books in British Columbia, a Burch colleague. The books were of such excellent over-all quality, I wanted to know more about Burch and HyperTexts. Visiting The HyperTexts turned out to be an exhilarating and enlightening adventure. The site is easy to navigate and positively loaded with memorable poetry and essays. It's a website devoted to capturing the potential beauty and intensity of the English language. I found gems written by past poetic masters and new, compelling offerings from contemporary poets.

To ease navigation for readers, Burch has divided his website into varying topics of interest:

"Esoterica" features poems by icons of the ages who are not necessarily known for their poetry: Einstein, Ben Franklin, Abe Lincoln, Ronald Reagan, Hemingway, and Elie Wiesel, for example.

"Essays and Assays" features essays, interviews, and reviews, with a focus on writers / poets who produce exemplary work.

"Rock Jukebox" features lyrics by sonwriters like Simon, Dylan, Springsteen, Lennon, and McCartney. Burch believes that today, as in our ancient past, some of the most passionate poetry took musical form.

"The Masters" is devoted to poems by the great classical masters of poetry and
contemporary icons.

"Featured Works" presents in detail examples of poetry Burch admires along with commentaries. I found this topic to be an excellent learning experience for poets and poetry lovers.

"Mysterious Ways" features poetry, art, and literature that deals with things mysterious, such as God, eternity, death, and afterlife.

"Grace Notes" examines the philosophy of grace and all its meanings. Grace is a word and a concept that has remained unspoiled from ancient times to the present day. All forms of grace, eternal and kindly, is what you'll find here.

"Thanksgiving" is a verbally stunning and beautiful testament from Burch. From the survival of Iraqui War buddies to thoughts of his mother, this topic is poignant and uplifting.

"A Dram of Epigrams" features short poems, one-liners, witticisms and zingers from the famous, near famous, and infamous.

"Wit and Fluff" is an entertaining amalgam of humorous and thought provoking quotes.

In addition to the diverse topics mentioned, readers are provided links to other websites and a helpful search option. The featured contemporary writers are listed alphabetically to the far left of the home page and each one is worth exploring.

Michael Burch is a man who puts his money and energy where his heart is. The HyperTexts reflects his philosphy and social conscience in a myriad of ways. This website is an esoteric celebration of old and new, classic and modern. By avoiding arbitrary labels and limits, Burch provides the highest form of excellence available to readers. He searches out and introduces sights and sounds he believes will excite and charm. And, thanks to the sponsorship of Alpha Omega Consulting Group, he does it without popups or other forms of advertisement.

If you enjoy poetry in any form, or prefer to be enlightened and educated in unusual ways, this well-crafted website is sure to be a favorite.

I recently discovered Press 53 when author / poet Tom Sheehan told me his latest book would be published there. I asked to review that book, and said, "Any publisher with the good sense to accept a Tom Sheehan book must be exceptional." Later that day I received an email from Kevin Watson, Press 53 Editor. He introduced himself by saying he was the man with the good sense to publish a Tom Sheehan book. The rest is history. I evaluated the Press 53 website, agreed to review their current books in release, and was most impressed with what I saw. Thus, this interview with Kevin Watson.

MBR: Thank you so much for agreeing to this interview, Kevin. Tell us a bit about yourself. For example, why did you decide to form a new publishing company?

Kevin: I've always liked sharing. You'd have to ask my mom, but I don't think she ever had to make me share my toys with my brothers or friends. I've done the same with art for years, sharing music and books. That's probably what attracted me to writing, the sharing of ideas and stories, and what eventually led me to editing the Silver Rose Anthology: Award-Winning Short Stories 2001 for a New York City-based arts foundation. So I think becoming a publisher was a natural step. Now I just have to increase my number of friends and get them to pay for the art I share.

MBR: What is your philosophy as a writer and publisher?

Kevin: Stay out of the way of the story. That's how I approach my own writing and that's how I approach someone else's work when editing. When writing, I basically give a person a problem then follow along and take notes while this person tries to work through it. When editing, I respect the voice and style of the writer. If I have a question about something, I ask, even if it's a comma, until the writer and I have reached an understanding. If the story isn't working for me, I might ask a question or suggest the writer try something different, like changing from first-person past tense to a third-person present tense, but the writer can always dismiss my suggestions. Of course, I can always reject on the story. The writer/publisher relationship has to one of mutual agreement.

MBR: Are you a traditional press, or do you utilize print on demand technology?

Kevin: I have this mantra: "Technology is a wonderful thing." I use print on demand by Lightning Source, a division of Ingram Books, so I don't have to tie up my working capital in inventory. POD technology is to the point now where you really can't tell it's POD. We've got beautiful color covers and the pages are acid-free 55# natural shade opaque paper. Plus, LSI offers me US and UK distribution on my terms. I love the flexibility, too. If I find an error that got past my proofreaders and me, I can fix it easily, rather than wonder, while I'm sitting on a thousand copies, why we didn't catch it. The book itself is a quality product, so the real test is making sure the writing is quality.

MBR: The covers and content of both Press 53 books I've read so far have been exceptional. How do you choose the books you want to publish? What do you look for in a manuscript submission?

Kevin: Thank you. I decided early on that the covers should have original art and that the cover artist should get a page in the book for his or her bio. I also decided that the writer should have a say in how the book looks, from the cover design to the inside layout, right down to the font. I've heard too many writers complain about and even apologize for the way their book's designed. It's silly to me that a publisher would take a manuscript and dress it any way it pleases without consulting the writer. Publishing is a partnership, and both the publisher and writer should be proud of the book. So at Press 53, we both have to agree on the overall design.

As for how I choose what I publish, I'm a realist. I like great dialogue, vivid descriptions and interesting problems. I like crisp, clean writing that surprises me, keeps me guessing, keeps me thinking, but in a subtle way. If I haven't connected with the voice or the story after the first couple of pages, I usually quit reading.

MBR: Do you plan to focus on short story collections or will you consider all genres?

Kevin: The short story market is soft right now, which is why short story writers are constantly being asked by agents and publishers to write novels. For the past fifty years or so, most of the big money has been put into marketing novels, so the reading public has been convinced that that's where the best and most satisfying writing is found. But I'm also sensing a rebirth of sorts. Hollywood is turning more and more to the short story for ideas. Two recent films, Million Dollar Baby and Brokeback Mountain, both came from short stories. When the general public picks up on this, I think the short story is going to make a comeback.

That's not why I'm publishing short stories, though. Our first few books are short story collections simply because I love them. Plus, I'm primarily a short story writer, so that's where I'm connected. I plan to publish poetry, creative nonfiction - like personal essays and slice-of-life memoirs - and novels. I'm also very interested in novellas. I would love to see a return of the novella as well. But one of my goals for Press 53 is to bring readers back to the short story, the espresso of the grande latte publishing world.

MBR: The literary marketplace is a competitive milieu for small independent presses. My personal belief is that excellence should be rewarded. Do you believe cream -- in this case Press 53 and your authors -- rises to the top?

Kevin: The one thing I don't like about that analogy is the suggestion that somehow the best rises to the top. It takes a hell of a lot of swimming against the whirlpool to get to the top and stay there. I also believe that success can't be the goal, as in awards, prizes, best sellers or an Oprah pick. My focus has to be on doing what I love and doing it well, and never compromising my values by publishing what I think the market wants. I want to find writing that I love and put it out there in the marketplace and, hopefully, the writing will get people talking and sharing. I would also love to get to the point where thousands - well, okay, millions - of readers can't wait to read the next Press 53 title. That would be a nice reward.

MBR: What advice do you have for writers seeking publication with your company? What will impress you?

Kevin: I don't like doom and gloom, all is lost, there is no hope, humanity is debased kind of writing. Show me the inner struggle of humanity, the search for something worthwhile, but don't preach or set out to teach. The story should allow the reader to be a witness, not a student, and leave the reader thinking about the events, the choices made or not made. Let the characters breathe, be patient, be subtle, and, above all, tell an interesting story.

MBR: Is there any question you wish I had asked or any other information you wish to share with our readers?

Kevin: I'll probably think of something tonight right when I turn out the lights. That's the life of the writer, always wishing we'd said something else or said it differently. But I do want to thank you for talking to me.

MBR: Thank you, Kevin. Check the Press 53 website at

Laurel Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Shelley's Bookshelf

The Missing Professor
Thomas B. Jones
Stylus Publishing, LLC
P.O. Box 605, Herndon, VA 20172-0605
ISBN: 1579221386, $18.95

Thomas B. Jones has been a college educator for thirty-five years as a professor of history, academic administrator, faculty developer, educational consultant. He co-authored PROMOTING ACTIVE LEARNING: STRATEGIES FOR THE COLLEGE CLASSROOM, and his range of writing includes articles in U.S. history, teaching, and education.

Professor Jones uses the mystery genre as a learning tool. The tale begins with a brand new Ph.D., Nicole Adams launching her teaching career (against the advice of her advisor) at a small liberal arts college in Iowa called Higher State University. Jones uses Nicole as a sort of lab rat in the tale, with her arriving at a school in obvious financial distress with an out-of-control dean and cynical faculty. Nicole is immediately tapped for every committee assignment the dean can think of to throw at her, and although she is quick to make friends with her peers, they have their own struggles with disillusionment:

"They bitch about the textbook, and mine's a good one - very readable and has lots of supplementary stuff," said Clark. "I asked them today if they'd bought the historical novel that's due in two weeks. About half the class just plain admitted they hadn't. I couldn't believe it."

Jones presents new challenges for Nicole in each chapter of the book, ranging from student inertia to peer review and new ideas on scholarship and learning. He throws in a little political intrigue and bombastic faculty to make things interesting. But his methods are well structured, as the informal case studies he includes if one turns the book upside down contain careful questions relating to each step of Nicole's journey.

Dr. Jones cleverly uses the mystery genre to create a new type of discussion book for curriculum and education students. His mystery isn't meant to be a tightly structured literary tale, but rather a theoretical study of the problems that graduate students will encounter as new teachers as they enter the marketplace. His discussion of the relevance of old curriculums, the notion of tenure, the sliding motivation of students, approaches to the classroom, and career planning gives students a ruler to use to plot their careers.

Murder on the Mother Road
Brenda Weathers
New Victoria Publishers
P.O. Box 27, Norwich, VT 05055-0027
ISBN: 1892281236, $12.95


Libby is a slightly over-the-hill psychologist who is wandering the west in her brand new Airstream RV, healing from breast cancer and an insensitive mate who ditched her for greener pastures. She is on her way to a balloon festival, but gets waylaid when she stops in to the Knight's Rest Motel and Cafe to top off water levels in the RV. She comes face to face with an old college sorority sister who has fallen on hard times:

"We hadn't been all that close all those years ago. She had been a queenly senior my freshman year. But I had no doubt that this was Janet, of the Pasadena Witherspoons. We had lived on the same floor of the sorority house. My most vivid memory of Janet was her log legged stride in the hallways or across campus, a black beret pulled low on her head, a long cigarette between her fingers, a volume of Ezra Pound or Jack Kerouac under her arm."

It turns out that Janet and her brother are both murdered, and since there are only a suspicious and cruel niece and nephew around who are scheming for the family millions, Libby feels it is incumbent upon herself to look into things. The "things" turn even more suspicious even as Libby herself becomes a target for a determined and sinister murderer.

MURDER ON THE MOTHER ROAD is a down-to-earth page turner with lots of wit and humor. Libby is self-deprecating, but actually is a resourceful and clever woman who is able to get to the bottom of the self-serving crooks who seem to surround the sagging Knight's Rest Motel and Cafe. She befriends it's proprietress, Hazel Tutt, and manages some relationship counseling with Hazel and her boyfriend Billy Ray. But perhaps the most personal relationship that is formed is with a bulldog named Sugar who is just looking for a good home. MURDER ON THE MOTHER ROAD is entertaining, funny, touching, and is a great read. Brenda Weathers really knows how to put together a good tale!

Crimson Snow
Jeanne M. Dams
Perseverance Press
John Daniel & Company
Post Office Box 2790, McKinleyville, CA 95519
ISBN: 1880284790, $13.95

A lover of all things Victorian and Edwardian, Jeanne M. Dams is a lifelong resident of South Bend, Indiana and writes historical mysteries. She is of Swedish descent, and her CRIMSON SNOW incorporates all of these influences to form a tale set in Indiana that is well researched and full of the flavor of the times. Dams has nominations for both the Macavity and the Agatha Award, and has won the latter.

Hilda Johansson is at a peculiar crossroads. A Swedish immigrant, she is presently employed as a maid. But all that will soon change, as her intended has just been offered a position that will enable her to quit her job. She and her Irish fiance will also begin married life in a house that will be given to them by Patrick's uncle and aunt. But when her young brother's teacher is brutally murdered and an innocent man stands in danger of being accused, Hilda puts on her detective hat:

"Mr. Barrett held up his hand. 'You see, Daniel Malloy is a good friend of mine. I've been his lawyer for many years, and I know he family well. He told me all about what you did in that unfortunate business a couple of years ago, how you, virtually unaided, solved the crimes of which he had been wrongly accused.' He waited while Hilda took that in, and then continued. 'The police brought Pinkerton's men in for this business, from the time they first found the body, but the seem to be doing nothing but making a lot of fuss and learning nothing new. I-my wife is suffering a good deal over this. Would you be willing to-to do whatever it is you do, to winnow out the facts of the matter?'"

Written with extensive research into a documented murder, Jeanne M. Dams then recreates the world of 1904 in South Bend, Indiana. Hilda Johansson is an endearing character who has the youth, optimism, and intelligence to advance herself in the sometimes corrupt world of the Gilded Age. Dams builds a convincing scenario to explain this unsolved murder with events swirling around Hilda, who keeps her head, solves the murder, and gets her man. Dams is a romantic, and the love story surrounding her tale is touching and straightforward.

Murder Below Zero
Ron Lovell
Penman Productions
PO Box 400, Gleneden Beach, OR 97388
ISBN: 0976797801, $14.00

Written as the fourth Thomas Martindale murder, Ron Lovell casts himself as the mouthy journalist, based on his own experience as a journalist and professor of journalism at Oregon State University. Using global warming and the Arctic as a backdrop, Lovell gives readers a glimpse of the Pacific Northwest and the much more pristine Arctic Circle. MURDER BELOW ZERO was preceded by: MURDER AT YAQUINA HEAD, DEAD WHALES TELL NO TALES, and LIGHTS, CAMERA...MURDER.

Retired professor Thomas Martindale jumps at the chance to join a scientific expedition to the Arctic as a public relations guru. But almost immediately his "once in a lifetime" opportunity turns difficult from the onset. His old flame, another professor, shows up with the man who tore her away from Tom years earlier, who now has his now gay lover in tow. The autocratic project head, Jameson, who has possibly sold his soul...and the safety of the a suspicious Russian company who have their own agenda:

"'The company is Siberoil, which owns a lot of the oil and gas fields in Siberia,' he answered, finally. 'The guy who controls that company has a Western view of the value of public relations and advertising. He thinks the company will gain prestige if its logo is on the tags Boris puts on the whales. He plans to use photos of the whale-tagging operation in a new public relations and advertising campaign.'"

Lovell treats readers to a fast-paced, tightly plotted mystery that is all too current. He knows his subject matter, whether it be what effect global warming has had on the Arctic to real time problems that have resulted from the breakup of the Soviet Union. He uses this unique knowledge as a backdrop to craft a fascinating plot. His characterizations are well defined and mesh smoothly with the tale, and the reader can't help but become engrossed from the first page.

This scientific, quasi-military, mystery thriller is one that should be a must read. Lovell really knows how to weave a plot; and when the ending comes, the reader is bowled over by the power of the story. Lovell's MURDER BELOW ZERO is a masterpiece and would make a great movie! He also gains environmental kudos for explaining the effect of global warming on the fragile eco-system of the Arctic. A big thumbs up!

Roan's Requiem
Robert L. Hecker
Hard Shell Word Factory
ISBN: 0759940258, $12.95

As husband of Frances Kavanaugh, legendary Hollywood Westerns screenwriter, Robert L. Hecker certainly has a muse. He is also extremely accomplished, having had a distinguished career flying missions during World War II. He spent his career after the war writing radio and TV dramas, and then morphed into writing more than 500 documentary and marketing films dealing with a wide range of subjects. Robert also has a degree in music and has begun writing songs in the country, gospel, and big-band genres. He has eight mysteries to his credit, and ROAN'S REQUIUM is the first Benjamin Roan mystery in a series.

Benjamin Roan co-owns a high-tech security company in Newport, California. At the beginning of this industrial espionage tale, Roan has landed in Mbarabab prison in Uganda, Africa after being arrested on trumped up charges while trying to deliver a computer. He and his cellmate, Jack Blutcher, escape and make their way back to California, where Roan is welcomed back by the employees of his company but receives a somewhat tepid and mysterious reception from the love of his life:

"Throughout dinner she was strangely silent, scarcely toughing her food. I had also lost my appetite. Something had come between us and I couldn't figure out what it was. I wanted to recapture the spell that had been there when I had taken her into my arms at her apartment. Love had been there. I was sure of it."

There is something captivating about lost love, and Hecker makes the most of it in this riveting tale of industrial spy games. Hecker cooks up one heckuva great plot which puts Benjamin Roan in one tight spot after another before he finally comes up with the tragic answer to his questions and nabs the bad guys. Roan's serious determination is offset by his friend Jack's antics, but together they make a pretty good team.

ROAN'S REQUIEM is a most excellent page turner that captures the imagination of the reader from the very first page. Robert L. Hecker's high level of writing expertise is apparent in this sizzling story. Hecker's attention to the vagaries of love and the ruthlessness of greed form the cornerstone of this eminently entertaining tale.

City Different
Stephen Hazlett
91 Juniper Hill Loop, Cedar Crest, NM 87008
ISBN: 1591137608, $14.95

Stephen Hazlett is a veteran of Vietnam and the Army Corps of Engineers. Born in New Jersey, he gravitated to Silicon Valley as a computer professional and finally ended up in New Mexico, where he writes full time. He's published four books besides CITY DIFFERENT: NINA'S STORY; THE FAMILY O'SHEA; A PRIVATE WAR; and THE BUDDHIST.

City Different, a nickname for Santa Fe, New Mexico, is the setting for this Silicon Valley mystery. Eddie Collins is a wealthy Internet guru with a successful successful that he has to hire a CFO, Chief Financial Officer. The tale begins when his young and exotic wife, Nina, runs out of their home in a panic and he finds his CFO murdered. Did his wife shoot him? She has disappeared, and Eddie returns to Santa Fe, her home town, in search of her and the answers to his questions. Nina is well known in Santa Fe, and her Aunt Helen is a powerful and menacing figure in the story as Eddie finds himself returning to her again and again for answers that aren't forthcoming:

"'You're becoming a regular here,' she said, stepping aside to let me enter. She closed the door and walked past me into the Great Room, seating herself on the long couch. I followed behind, but preferred to stand, looking down at her. She really did look tired. Her eyelids were half-closed and her face was pale and covered with fine wrinkles in the light from the window behind her. I found myself wondering how old she actually was."

Stephen Hazlett has managed to craft a fine mystery out of Santa Fe history, including the travails of the Indians who were tortured, ripped off, and driven from the best lands. Santa Fe is almost half way between Los Angeles and Chicago, and Hazlett is interested in maintaining its authenticity. His story is a murder mystery with layers of intrigue both on an environmental level as well as an interpersonal level. He captures the beauty of Santa Fe and the small town politics that retain its uniqueness. Hazlett's characters are shadowy, and the plot moves along in a typically Southwestern, unhurried pace. Eddie Collins is a young, intelligent nice guy who is only trying to regain his lost love. But he finds more than he bargains for, and therein lies the tension in the tale. An excellent read from a mystery craftsman, CITY is worth the time.

Shelley Glodowski
Senior Reviewer

Shirley's Bookshelf

Inside Out
Gerald Zipper
Helm Publishing
3923 Seward Ave. Rockford, IL 61108
ISBN: 0976919338, $14.95, 288 pages

Lawrence Dallek, a struggling writer is one of our main characters in this outstanding read by author Gerald Zipper. Lawrence, not the normal mild manner writer but a gutsy, street smart one who will need every ounce of that ability for the job ahead of him; that is, if he can ever figure out just what that is and if he can stay alive long enough to complete it once he does. One phone call, a need for cash to pay his bills and a short trip to Las Vegas pulls our Lawrence into a situation that touches international bounderies and will call upon everything within him to stay alive. Interested yet? You should be.

We meet the lovely Randy Cahn, government worker who is determined to have this mystery job completed and we meet Jimmy Sardi who is the one with the money, the power and also the core of danger for everyone who comes in contact with him. This is a story packed full of mystery and intrigue, suspense, adventure and romance. I am in such a dilemia as how to tell you about this work without destroying the surprise and mystery element that is there. The job that our Lawrence must complete is wrapped around our countries economic well-being and there are those who will stop at nothing to make sure this does not come to pass. Absolutely nothing, while Jimmy will stop at nothing to make sure it does. What a mix!

Listen, let me just say this. If you want a book that will keep you glued to your seat from beginning to end this one is for you. A storyline that rolls up and down hills, twists around winding curves, hits dead end roads and slings you back to where the ride began is what's in store for you. Your mind will be trying to grab the pieces of the puzzle, put it all together and just when you think you've come to the end of the road, you'll be hurled down another steep hill and taken on yet another ride of a life-time. Inside Out, a novel that I am proud to recommend. Don't miss this one.

Ghost Whispers
William Gorman
Helm Publishing
3923 Seward Avenue Rockford, IL 61108
ISBN: 097691932X, $12.95, 172 pages

I suppose most of us sometime in our lives has felt a chill, heard a voice, seen a shadow and we look around expecting to see someone but no one is there. If we were to ask ten people if they have ever encountered something like this, more than half would say they have. We are all touched with the supernatural but some have had more intense experiences than others and we are told these stories in this excellent work Ghost Whispers, by author William Gorman. The setting, north-central Illinois in the midst of small towns and common people is where we begin our journey. The stories, not so common as we are treated to the tales of mysterious ghost like walkers in many different situations, a heartbroken mother singing lullabies to the child of her heart and the tale of a young girl named Ellen saved from certain death by a friend who had just died, and this is only the beginning.

These stories are written in depth, woven with information that brings you fully into the background of the story you are reading. The tales, hair-raising and spine tingling, draw you to read on and leave you with a knowing that we are not alone and the life we live will impact our eternity. Great job and a wonderful reading experience. Recommended.

Amber's Guide for Girls
Amber J. Mariano
Synergy Books
100 Kramer Lane, Suite 300 Austin, Texas 78758
ISBN: 1933538031, $9.95, 88 pages

In this upbeat work by Amber Mariano, young girls will partake of some solid advice on subjects such as school, relationships and family. Our author speaks in a personal, down to earth manner, with warmth and sincerity as she shares her heart from her own experiences to the reader. The book is colorful and formatted in a fun design and after each subject the author has included a page where the reader may jot down their own feelings on that matter. She also includes several little quizzes which adds some spice and fun to the read. All in all this book is a nice little package that young girls will learn from and enjoy.

Say Goodbye to Stubborn Sin
Clark Gerhart,MD
Siloam Press
600 Rinehart Road Lake Mary, Florida 32726
ISBN: 1591856256, $13.99, 208 pages

Being in the ministry for many years I have read countless Christian self-help books, some are helpful, some are not. I will say from the top,"Say Goodbye To Stubborn Sin," is one of the finest I have ever read. Dr. Gerhart has dared in this work to go to the core of stubborn sin. You know the kind, you think you have it licked only to find it's ugly head popping up again and again. You are frustrated, embarrassed and at wits-end. You just don't know what to do anymore, nor where to turn. You feel like a failure to yourself, to those you love and worse of all to the one you serve, God.

In this work, the author digs down to the root of these stubborn sins, our flesh, our physical self. The information he gives probably won't be 'flesh pleasing' to you, but it certainly will be an asset to 'sin ceasing.' A new twist on an old problem, revealing revelation that could well change your spiritual walk forever and finally giving you the freedom you have been longing for. I recommend this for all serious Christians that are seeking to walk in victory.

Light Speed Bible
William Proctor, Editor
Broadman & Holman Publishers
127 Ninth Avenue North MSN 143 Nashville, Tenn
ISBN: 1586400665, 1588 pages, $19.97

I was so excited when I received this Bible to review, and I was not disappointed in what I found. Author William Proctor has developed a Bible reading plan that surpasses all others. In his plan you have four reading zones that amazingly enough actually help you to read the Bible quickly and retain and understand what you read. Wonderful!

In the beginning of the Bible the plan is clearly laid out for you and is easy to understand and implement in your reading. I am not going to go into the particulars of his plan but I will tell you that it works and that is what is important. Now, I know what you are thinking; reading the Bible should not be a speed-read. Let me say this; I read my Bible everyday and study the Scriptures, yet I found this plan to enhance my Bible reading and my retention of what I was reading. That is a big plus for me. You can still study your Scriptures and meditate in the Word; but trust me, your reading comprehension will definitely increase, and you don't have to use this method every time you open your Bible.

Just speaking solely on The Light Speed Bible itself is a joy. It is a wonderful Bible. The lettering is just large enough to be easily read and include subtopics for quick finding. In the back we find what is called," Holman CSB Bullet Notes," which is a listing of biblical words and terms. All in all "The Light Speed Bible," is just what you need to enhance your Bible reading and understanding; I highly recommend this work to all those who want more in their understanding of God's Word. Thumbs-up on this one.

The Real Meaning Of Life
David Seaman, editor
New World Library
14 Pamaron Way Novato, California 94949
ISBN: 1577315146, $14.00, 308 pages

David was faced with an assignment for his class and to his amazement this assignment turned into a book as David asked a question on the internet, "What is the meaning of life?" David tells us in this work how shocked he was to the many responses that he had ranging from silly and lighthearted to intense and heart-felt. The responses came from people in all walks of life, from intellects to simple folks, from Christians to Buddhists, rich and poor, kind and cruel, the answers flooded in.

I believe this work will enlighten you. After all, people actually had to take the time to sit and write their response and I believe we find from this book that the answer to that question is based a lot on where that person is in life, what experiences they have had and their spiritual commitment or lack of the same. Think about it; if you were to answer that question, just what would you say? An interesting and fun read; you will enjoy this book.

Angel Dogs
Allen & Linda Anderson
New World Library
14 Pamaron Way Novato, California 94949
ISBN: 157731493X, $13.95, 256 pages

Talk about a warm, fuzzy, heart touching book, this is it. Authors Allen & Linda Anderson have touched on the very core of the existence of our beloved pet, the dog. Taking accounts from numerous people they share with us stories of courage, love,loyalty, sacrifice and more that our four legged friends have bestowed on humans. After each story we have a short meditation that enhances the read.

I am a dog lover so for me this just re-enforced their need in our world and helped me appreciate them more. Are they indeed sent from our Maker as messengers of love? I believe that may well be true. If you love dogs, or even if you just want to understand their unique service to man; this book is for you.Written in a tender, honest, interesting and absorbing way; you will find it difficult to put this book down. I recommend "Angel Dogs" highly. Absolutely amazing insight!

To Right All Wrongs
Joyce Taylor Dennis
Great Reading Books
2100 Kramer Lane, Suite 300 Austin, TX 78578
ISBN: 1933538075, $17.95, 314 pages

My first words about this book; absolutely compelling and un-forgetful. It is the story of those whose lives were intertwined due to a tragedy.

Set in New York City we meet the Sandowski family, are introduced to the loving mother, abusive father and her five children. We are particularly taken into the life of her daughter Janice who finds her friend dead, is attacked by the murderer, escapes and sets the story into motion. This act of violence brings together two families, one wealthy and one poor, and a detective who falls in love with our sweet Janice. The story is bittersweet as the author takes us back into time when Janice's mother left her homeland of Ireland to travel to America with a man who had stolen her heart. Her life with him was dark and hard but in this work you will be amazed at this women's faith and love that sustains her and finally brings her peace.

I could never do this story justice in one small review, but I will tell you it has deep emotional stirrings, romance, deceit, loyalty, murder, suspense, love, hate and some of the most interesting characters that I have met in a long time. I was truly moved in this read and can honestly give this book a high recommendation. I promise you will not be disappointed; well done Ms. Dennis. Thank you; truly a pure reading enjoyment.

Home Therapy
Lauri Ward
Penguin Group
375 Hudson Avenue New York, NY 10014
ISBN: 0399152962, $34.95, 304 pages

Author Lauri Ward definitely catches your interest in her book, "Home Therapy," by using real stories of real decorating concerns of many different clients. People young and old; living in small spaces, large spaces, having freedom in finances or little to spend all blend together and find a solution in her work. In each chapter we are introduced to people with a specific decorating problem and shown the solution. It is done with words, sketches and pictures of before and after. I love seeing the final outcome. The problems are identified in detail, corrected and once the solution is completed the final result is told and shown.

This book has some great decorating ideas; but the nice extra here is the personal touch that Ms.Ward gives by allowing us to share personally in her interaction with her clients. In doing this we can relate to the problem and even see where it may apply in our own decorating dilemmas. A great book, packed full of decorating problem solutions, colorful pictures and a personal warm touch. Recommended.

Someone Not Really Her Mother
Harriet Scott Chessman
Plume Publishing
Division of Penguin Group
375 Hudson Avenue New York, NY
ISBN: 0452286972, $12.95, 176 pages

Hannah Pearl resides in a nursing home in Connecticut because Hannah drifts from this time to others as her battle with memory loss slowly wins. Hannah's life has not been easy; first she loses her family in the Holocaust, then her husband in the war, but Hannah was a fighter and made a life for herself and her daughter; a daughter whose heart aches at the emotional loss of her mother.

This book is Hannah's story. Told through her memory flashbacks, and seen through her daughter and granddaughters eyes as they struggle to understand not just what is happening to Hannah, but what she wants to leave with them before she departs this life. It is an emotional read but one that will touch your heart with truths as past and present become one and you realize that life is precious for those who know love.

Cow Crimes and The Mustang Menace
Sharon Dunn
Kregel Publications
PO Box 2607 Grand Rapids, MI 49501
ISBN: 0825424909, $12.99, 284 pages

This was my first taste of writing by author Sharon Dunn and I must say I was impressed. In this tale I met spunky Ruby Taylor, a young woman who is a mix of childlike giggles and womanly flare. We find there has been a series of bizarre ranch thefts plaguing her area and Ruby, more by circumstances than choice, becomes involved in the investigation. Will this complicate her emotional development with deputy Wesley; who is also desperately trying to uncover who is behind these thefts, or will it ultimately bring them closer. We are also introduced to some characters that allow Ms. Dunn to expand on Ruby's wealth of off-beat humor and outlook on life. Her mom who is desperately trying to domesticate Ruby; a savory Sheriff who has a past that influences his present and a man whose ancestry background has become the focal point of hatred and revenge.

The work is lively, upbeat and full of colorful characters. It is a mix of humor, Christian principals and emotional conflicts while satisfying the mystery lover in all of us. Definitely one that is perfect to curl up with for a fun enjoyable read.

Experiencing the Great I Am
Bryant & Cindy Heflin
Kregel Publications
PO Box 2607 Grand Rapids, MI 49501
ISBN: 0825427797, $12.95, 224 pages

Faith, hope, encouragement are essential to every human being; without these we at times could never face tomorrow or live today. Jesus did not promise us a perfect world, but He did promise us His strength to endure whatever life may bring our way.You know, in life there is an old saying about things it goes something like this, " You don't need it until you need it." I have often thought that about those who ignore God, just don't have time to know Him or just don't care to know Him. Troubles touch every humans life and for us who know Him we have an edge on those who don't. Remember, "You don't need HIM, until you need HIM," and in this life you will need HIM. Think about it. This book will help you do just that.

In this work, Experiencing the Great I Am, we are given 40- Faith-building stories from Christians who have tasted the pain of life in various forms and have encountered the Great I Am. Each story takes you along their personal experience that at times will not only show you that indeed God is ever present; but will put you on your knees in thankfulness that you have not lived their journey. This book is a strong reminder of how fragile life can be; but it is also a stronger reminder of how faithful our God IS! The authors share their hearts with you, sometimes with raw emotion, but always at the end of the journey is the Great I Am!

If you need encouragement to know that God never leaves you, if you want a reminder of His love for you or if you just want to share stories of His ever present help in times of trouble, please read this book. A heart-warming work that will leave you smiling, looking up and whispering, "thank you," to a God who never leaves us and always loves us.

A Tongue In The Sink
Dennis Fried, Ph.D
Eiffel Press
PO Box 339 Osprey, Fl 34229
ISBN: 096793351X, $13.95, 205 pages

I love a book that is interesting and also makes me smile; I found such a read in Mr. Fried's work, "A Tongue In The Sink." It was like a breath of fresh air to me, one enjoyable read for sure. Taking us back to his childhood in the 1950's, our author shares his childhood in a fun and entertaining way. He packs his work full of stories that will make you giggle and chuckle,but you will find you will also feel the stirring within you of your own heartstrings as you remember your own growing-up years. Good or bad. This is a great read and I am proud to recommend it to you. Sit back and enjoy. A top of the notch work that should not be missed.

ABC Exercise With Me
Julie Gomes, author
Julia Dungan, illustrator
JCCJ Press
PO Box 137 Norfolk, MA 02056
ISBN: 0977020703, $7.50, 32 pages

This is an outstanding book for children. In this work they learn their alphabet in a new fun way. Each letter tells of a little girl or boy who is doing an activity, for example take letter H; Hopskotch Hallie is her name; hopping is her favorite game!

Children learn several things, their alphabet, in both upper and lower case; the importance of activity in their lives and American Sign Language alphabet is included on each page showing the symbol for each letter. Outstanding. The illustrations are very colorful, bright and cheery and show children of all races just like the children they interact with everyday. Children will love this read. I highly recommend this book; it's great.

Snowbaby Could Not Sleep
Kara LaReau, author
Jim Ishikawa, illustrator
Little, Brown Publishing
1271 Avenue of The Americans New York, NY 10020
ISBN: 0316607037, $14.95, 32 pages

I was very impressed with this book. It is the story of a little snowman who could not sleep and what his snow-parents do to help him. What a cute idea for a story. The illustrations are absolutely adorable; the book is very well constructed and the storyline unique and original. All in all a wonderful book that should lit up any child's eyes with reading or listening to enjoyment. I recommend this one.

I Love Messes
Robie H. Harris, author
Nicole Hollander, illustrator
Little, Brown Publishing
1271 Avenue of the Americans New York, NY 10020
ISBN: 0316109460, $7.99, 28 pages

In this little read we find a little girl who loves to make a mess and she does a good job in this story. She draws red dots on her face and invades the refrigerator where the real fun begins as she makes circles with raspberry yogurt. Soon both the little girl, her dog and the kitchen is anything but clean. Daddy is not pleased, but we find in this story that he understands his daughters desire to learn through making a mess. Gently he talks to her and explains messes are okay to a degree and if we make a mess, we must also clean it up. Very colorful, cute illustrations that definitely add to the story.

The Sorcerer's Apprentice
Mary Jane Begin
Little, Brown Publishing
1271 Avenue of the Americans New York, NY 10020
ISBN: 0316736112, $16.99, 32 pages

The Sorcerer has an apprentice and this little girl is not happy at what she is asked to do. After all, why should she mop and sweep the floors and do all these menial tasks when their are spells to learn? How can doing these things help her to become a Sorcerer? She decides to take matters in her own hands by casting some spells to help her do her work and almost loses her life in this colorful tale. This book teaches that patience, discipline and doing what one is told can be a wise decision to make. The illustrations are very good, colorful and realistic and the book is very well constructed.

Q & A With Point of Grace
Point of Grace
Howard Publishing Company
3117 North 7th Street, West Monroe, LA 71201
ISBN: 1582294631, $9.99, 136 pages

In this outstanding book we have some real questions and some real answers concerning maturing in life from our Point of Grace gals, Denise, Shelley, Heather and Leigh. Questions gathered from teen girls are placed before them. Topics range from, "What do you do if you really like a guy and he doesn't like you back?" to "How do you deal with stress?" The answers are truthful, upfront and are laced with spiritual wisdom. The gals also answer some personal questions, like how the girls met and if they were friends before they started singing. Very interesting and presented in a non-preachy easy to digest way that will make any young girl comfortable in reading and receiving their advice.

This is a neat little book and will really be an asset to a young person whose head is full of why?, what to do?, how come?, and just questions about life in general as they struggle with growing-up. A book that is well worth your attention; one great read that fills a large need.

Make It Real
Point of Grace
Howard Publishing Company
3117 North 7th Street, West Monroe, LA 71201
ISBN:1582294623, $14.99, 210 pages

What an absolutely delightful book this is; I loved it and know you will too. First, the cover design is sure to catch the eye; it is bright and inviting, wooing you to taste the morsals of spiritual wisdom inside. What is this work about? How to live a better life by living the Word of God. This is done in a non-preaching way, light-hearted yet packed with the truth of the Word of God. We have topics such as words, worth, and relationships and we have questions, answers and tips to help along the way. The format is a personal, easy to follow read and draws you from one page to another. All in all this book is a big winner. It's real, it's fun and will be a jewel in any readers hands, young or old. Highly recommended!

The Christmas Tree Fairy
Marion Rose & Jason Cockcroft
Bloomsbury Children's Books
175 Fifth Avenue New York, NY 10011
ISBN: 1582346682, $15.95, 32 pages

Meredith always wanted to fly and she always wore her pretend wings; could her dream come true? On Christmas Eve she meets the Christmas tree fairy who lost her wand and needed Meredith to help get it back to her. Meredith is excited, perhaps the Christmas tree fairy will give her a wish and she will be able to fly,but on her adventure Meredith learns what true giving is all about. This is a delightful tale teaching children to care for others. The illustrations are very well done, colorful and definitely bring the story to life. A wonderful Christmas tale for young and old.

Groundhog Stays Up Late
Margery Cuyler, author
Jean Cassels, illustrator
Walker & Company
104 Fifth Avenue New York, NY 10011
ISBN: 0802789404, $17.85

In this delightful tale we find that Groundhog does not want to go to sleep. He wants to play, make snowmen, have a snowball fight and build a fort, but all his friends are ready for a long winter nap. Groundhog is stubborn and stays awake, but soon finds himself to be lonely so he plays a trick on his friends to wake them up way before February 2nd. Maybe that wasn't too good an idea. What do you think happens? You'll giggle when you find out.

This is a really cute tale showing that if you play a trick on someone you can expect to get it back many times over. and also gives children the story of Groundhog Day. The illustrations are bright and cheery and flow nicely with the story. This is sure to entertain your child.

Shirley Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Vicki's Bookshelf

Scrapbook Studio
American Girl / Pleasant Company
8400 Fairway Place, Middleton, Wisconsin 53562
ISBN: 1584857315, $17.95, 40 pages,

American Girl's "Scrapbook Studio" book and craft kit has everything girls will need to make a bright, beautiful scrapbook that has their own personal imprint all over it. The kit includes a 32-page scrapbook with plastic page protectors, 10 sticker sheets with frames, labels, and photo corners; line stencils; two lengths of ribbon; and an 8-page idea booklet to spark the imagination for unique layouts. A cheery and charming addtition to American Girls' superlative line of bestselling activity books like "Sticker Art," "Sparkle Card Kit" and the "Pages and Pockets" organizer. For ages 7 and up.

Jumpman Rule #2: Don't Even Think About It
James Valentine
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
ISBN: 0689873530, $14.95, 282 pages,

Rule #1 was broken, but luckily disaster has been averted (at least for now), and Jules, Gen, and Theo are back in the second "Jumpman" book in the new series. Their first adventure found them whisking through Time, talking to coats, and just managing to save Theo's life. It turns out that was just a warm-up. In the second chapter of the mind-bending JumpMan series, Jules and Gen (finally) go on a date, Theo turns out to be the biggest celebrity anyone in the year Fifteen Billion and Seventy-Three has ever seen, and we meet a peculiar and very irritating old man who insists that the entire history of the world is about to be overturned -- and that only Jules and Gen can save it. And that's just the beginning. There are sinister forces at work, and Rule #1 is not just going to be broken, it's going to be smashed apart. It's funny, it's thrilling, it'll blow your mind. But what else would you expect from the acclaimed and internationally bestselling author James Valentine?

Dragon's Hoard: A Knight's Story
Paul Steward and Chris Riddell
Atheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
ISBN: 0689872410, $9.95, 136 pages,

Following "The Joust of Honor," "Dragon's Hoard: A Knight's Story" is the third slim volume in this commercial fantasy series for middle grade readers ages 7-11. In this episode, the protagonist springs into action when he finds himself face to face with a dragon. Page turning action keeps this young fantasy moving at the speed of light.

Ghost Ship
Dietlof Reiche
Blackstone Audiobooks
P.O. Box 969, Ashland OR 97520
ISBN: 0786175788, $45.00, 10 CDs,

When the bay goes mysteriously dry and a ship lost two hundred and thirty years ago suddenly appears, Vicki and her small community are thrown off course. Can she, along with her friend, Peter, manager to get aboard the haunted Storm Goddess and unlock it's ancient curse? Dietlof Reiche's masterfully plotted novel blends ghost story, pirate legend, and spine-tingling mystery into one captivating high-seas adventure. Translated by John Brownjohn and read by Marguerite Gavin for this unabridged audiobook adaptation.

Something Wicked This Way Comes / A Sound of Thunder
Ray Bradbury
Blackstone Audiobooks
P.O. Box 969, Ashland OR 97520
ISBN: 0786175354, $72.00, 8 CDs,

In Ray Bradbury's unforgettable modern Gothic masterpiece, "Something Wicked This Way Comes," something evil arrived in a small Midwestern town on the crest of the wind one autumn night. A dark carnival with frightening attractions and supernatural characters sets up stakes. It is up to two 13-year-old boys, James Nightshade and William Holloway, to figure out a way to save the souls of the town. This unabridged audiobook also contains a second work by Bradbury, "A Sound of Thunder," in which a safari company promises to transport adventurers back in time so they can hunt any animal that ever existed. The animals are selected according to their natural time of death. Nothing else may be altered because it might change the course of the future. When one foolish hunter comes face to face with a Tyrannosaurus rex, the carefully constructed safari goes wry and the future is up for grabs. Narrated by Stefan Rudnicki, recipient of two AudioFile Earphones Awards.

Treasures of the Snow
Patricia St. John
Blackstone Audiobooks
P.O. Box 969, Ashland OR 97520
ISBN: 0786175915, $45.00, 5 CDs,

This new version of a classic, set in the mountains of Switzerland, is a delight for all ages. When Annette get's Lucien into trouble at school, he decides to get back at her by threatening the most precious thing in the world to her: her little brother, Dani. But tragedy strikes. Annette knows she can never forgive Lucien for what he did to Dani, and she is going to make sure that no one else does either. She is so filled with rage that she sets out to alienate and humiliate Lucien at every turn. But then some surprising things began to happen to both of them. Patricia St. John's stories are classics of their time and have been enjoyed by generations of children. This edition of "Treasures of the Snow" combines her superb skill as a storyteller with language sensitively adapted to a new generation of children. Revised by Mary Mills, this unabridged audiobook edition is read by Pamela Gurelick.

The Egyptology Handbook
Emily Sands
Candlewick Press
2067 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02140
ISBN: 0763629324, $12.99, 80 pages,

Readers 4-8 are invited to discover the wonders of Egypt in this hands-on, interactive journey. The fictional story of Emily Sands'ill-fated expedition to find the lost tomb of Osiris was told in her journal, "Egytology." Now a new book, written by Miss Sands for her niece and nephew, has been discovered! Here, in this illustrated course book, Sands offers 30 lessons exploring the history and culture of Ancient Egyypt that are sure to make readers grade-school experts in Egyptology.

Jazz ABZ
Wynton Marsalis, author
Paul Rogers, illustrator
Candlewick Press
2067 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02140
ISBN: 0763621358, $24.99, 76 pages,

In a swinging improvisation with poster artist Paul Rogers, Wynton Marsalis celebrates the spirit of twenty-six stellar jazz performers, from Armstrong to Dizzy - and showcases the same number of poetic forms. A is for "almighty" Louis Armstrong, whose amazing artistry unfolds in an accumulative poem shaped like the letter he stands for. As for sax master Sonny Rollins, whose "robust style radiates roundness," could there be a better tribute than a poetic rondeau? In an extraordinary feat, Pulitzer Prize-winning jazz composer Wynton Marsalis harmonizes his love and knowledge of jazz's most celebrated artists with an astounding diversity of poetic forms - from simple blues (Count Basie) to a complex pantoum (Charlie Parker), from a tender sonnet (Sarah Vaughan) to a performance poem snapping the rhythms of Art Blakey to life. Matching Wynton Marsalis's musical cadences note for note is the bold, poster-style art of Paul Rogers, highlighted in two phenomenal foldout spreads. The art's vibrant nostalgic feel is echoed in an exquisite design, with its size simulating an old 78 LP and its endpapers die-cut to mimic a vintage record sleeve. Complete with a discography and brief biographies of the featured musicians as well as notes on the various poetic forms, this is truly an incomparable gift book - for older children learning about jazz, longtime jazz aficionados, lovers of poetry, and readers of all ages who appreciate the finest in book design.

Mercy Watson to the Rescue
Kate DiCamillo
Candlewick Press
2067 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02140
ISBN: 0763622702, $12.99 ,72 pages,

From the one and only Kate DiCamillo comes an irresistible new hero for early chapter book readers, brightly captured with comic nostalgic flair by Chris Van Dusen. To Mr. and Mrs. Watson, Mercy is not just a pig - she's a porcine wonder. And to the portly and good-natured Mercy, the Watsons are an excellent source of buttered toast, not to mention that buttery-toasty feeling she gets when she snuggles into bed with them. This is not, however, so good for the Watsons' bed. BOOM! CRACK! As the bed and its occupants slowly sink through the floor, Mercy escapes in a flash - "to alert the fire department," her owners assure themselves. But could Mercy possibly have another emergency in mind - like a sudden craving for their neighbors' sugar cookies? Welcome to the wry and endearing world of Mercy Watson - an ebullient new character for early chapter-book readers in a series that's destined to be a classic. A very easy-reading chapter book for ages 5-7.

The Silver Spoon of Solomon Snow
Kaye Umansky
Candlewick Press
2067 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02140
ISBN: 0763627925, $14.99, 292 pages,

Readers will laugh out loud at this daft and clever account of a foundling who sets out in search of his destiny, only to encounter some woeful misadventures along the way. In a wretched hovel at the top of a moor lives a boy named Solomon Snow. Each day he slaves for Ma and Pa Scubbins's laundry service, and each night he slurps down a bowl of vegetable slop, wishing only for the luxury of a spoon. Imagine poor Solly's surprise when he learns that he's actually a flounder - er, foundling - dumped ten years ago on the Scubbinses' doorstep in a (laundry) basket, with a silver spoon right in his mouth! The utensil was long ago pawned by Pa, but that doesn't stop Solly from setting out in search of his spoon, his real parents, and his rightful inheritance. Joining him on his quest are a pair of unlikely companions: a bossy, pointy-nosed writer named Prudence and the insufferable Infant Prodigy, a circus performer with some well-practiced tricks up her sleeve. Will Solly finally locate his spoon, and have to wear velvet pantaloons? Prepare for a preposterous ending sure to surprise and delight the Intelligent Reader as much as it does our intrepid hero. "The Silver Spoon of Solmon Snow" is a solid gold novel for readers ages 9-12.

Adele Richardson
Capstone Press
151 Good Counsel Dr., P.O. Box 669, Mankato, Minn. 56002
ISBN: 0736843264, $21.26 (list), $15.95 (school/library), 24 pages,

The Bridgestone Animal Library brings the fascinating world of animals to life, in the World of Reptiles set. Large photographs, easy-to-read text, a range map, and a life cycle diagram explore the animal's characteristics, habitat, life cycle, and food, as well as the dangers it experiences. In "Alligator," for instance, it's pointed out that with 80 teeth, and a jaw strong enough to crush turtle shells, a gator will eat almost anything that crosses its path. Other high-interest subjects in this series are "Crocodiles," "Geckos," and "Green Iguanas." For a reading level of grades 2-3, and an interest level of grades 2-5. Includes color photos, amazing facts section, life cycle diagram, contextual definitions of unfamiliar terms, and a link to the internet site.

Ellen Sturm Niz
Capstone Press
151 Good Counsel Dr., P.O. Box 669, Mankato, Minn. 56002
ISBN: 0736843078, $21.26 (list), $15.95 (school/library),

Look into deep, dark caves and see the amazing formations in their underground rooms. Explore how caves form, what plants and animals live in them, and which U.s. state is known as the Cave State. For informative explorations of Earth's land and water formations, young readers can turn to Bridgestone's Earthforms set. Each book highlights the plants and animals of an earthform and how it is created, as well as how people and weather change it. Vivid photos, amazing facts, and maps complete these fascinating geography introductions. Recommended for school and public libraries catering to inquisitive 2-3 graders. Other titles in the series tackle the subjects of archipelagoes, canyons, caves, hills, islands, mountain,s peninsulas, plains, valleys, and volcanos.

Chicken Pox
Jason Glaser
Capstone Press
151 Good Counsel Dr., P.O. Box 669, Mankato, Minn. 56002
ISBN: 0736842888, $21.36 (list), $15.95 (school/library), 24 pages,

Did you know that most people get chicken pox only one time? Grade K-3 students can learn more about chicken pox, including its causes, symptoms, and treatment, in this grade 1-2 reading level easy-to-read. For healthy doses of information about common childhood illnesses, check out the First Facts Health Matters st. simple text and colorful photos accurately cover causes, symptoms, treatment, and ways to prevent health problems. Other titles in the series are: "Asthma," "Colds," "Flu," "Head Lice," and "Pinkeye." Includes color photos, glossary, bibliography, index, an "Amazing But True" section, and links to the publisher's internet site.

The Hello, Goodbye Window
Norton Juster, author
illustrated by Chris Raschka
Michael Di Capua Books / Hyperion
114 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10011-5690
ISBN: 0786809140, $15.95, 32 pages,

In the new picture book written by Norton Juster, celebrated author of "The Phantom Tollbooth," The kitchen window at Nanna and Poppy's house is, for one little girl, a magic gateway. Everything important happens near it, through it, or beyond it. Told in her voice, her story is both a voyage of discovery and a celebration of the commonplace wonders that define childhood. It is also a love song devoted to that special relationship between grandparents and grandchild. The story is made especially joyful by the lively and loose illustrations of Chris Raschka. For lap readers, ages 4-6.

The Bus Ride That Changed History: The Story of Rosa Parks
Pamela Duncan Edwards
illustrated by Danny Shanahan
Houghton Mifflin
215 Park Ave. So., NY, NY 10003
ISBN: 0618449116, $16.00, 32 pages,

In 1955, a young African-American woman named Rosa Parks took a big step for civil rights when she refused to give up her seat on a bus to a white passenger. The bus driver told her to move. Jim Crow laws told her to move. But Rosa Parks stayed where she was, and a chain of events was set into motion that would eventually change the course of American history, and prove that one person can change the world. Fifty years later, and published just prior to the death of Mrs. Parks, The Bus Ride That Changed History" retraces that chain of events by introducing the civil rights movement one idea at a time. Readers ages five through nine are invited to take a ride through history with this unique retelling of what happened when one brave woman sat down to stand up for civil rights.

The Good Lion
Don Brown
Houghton Mifflin
215 Park Ave. So., NY, NY 10003
ISBN: 0618563067, $16.00, 32 pages,

"My father and I settled in Africa in 1906…and it was there, as a small girl, I was eaten by a lion." So begins a true story from aviatrix Beryl Markham's autobiography. Here young Beryl and a "tame" lion called Paddy come together in an encounter that challenges our notions of wild and docile, trust and duplicity, punishment and forgiveness. Coupled with Don Brown's dramatic, atmospheric watercolors of the African landscape, "The Good Lion" is a powerful story of forgiveness that will leave readers wondering about the true natures of man and beast. For readers ages 6 through 10.

The Silent Witness
Robin Friedman, author
illustrated by Claire A. Nivola
Houghton Mifflin
215 Park Ave. So., NY, NY 10003
ISBN: 0618442308, $16.00, 32 pages,

With "The Silent Witness: A True Story of the Civil War," Robin Friedman and Claire A. Nivola reveal, through the story of Lula and her beloved doll, the story of a nineteenth-century family who saw the Civil War unfold before their very eyes. Four-year-old Lula McLean lived on a plantation overlooking Bull Run Creek. There her family grew wheat, corn, and oats. In July 1861, troops fighting in the newly begun Civil War arrived on the McLeans" front lawn in Manassas, Virginia. The peaceful countryside where Lula often spent time playing with her favorite rag doll became a campsite full of cannon and trenches and tents. Wilmer McLean decided to relocate his family to a tiny village called Appomattox Court House, away from the war and the troops. But a few years later, on April 9, 1865, as Lula played with her rag doll, two visitors in tall boots made their way into her house. Lula and her doll were about to become part of American history. A lovely picture book story of the Civil War told through the eyes of a child. For ages 5-10.

A Certain Slant of the Light
Laura Whitcomb
Graphia / Houghton Mifflin
215 Park Ave. So., NY, NY 10003
ISBN: 061858532X, $8.99, 288 pages,

In the class of the high school English teacher she ahs been haunting, Helen feels them: for the first time in 130 years, human eyes are looking at her. They belong to a boy who had not seemed remarkable until now. And Helen - terrified but intrigued - is drawn to him. The fact that he is in a body and she is not presents this unlikely couple of ghosts with their first challenge. But as the lovers struggle to find a way to be together, they begin to discover the secrets of their former lives and of the young people they come to possess. This haunting debut novel grips readers from the first page. For years, Helen has avoided the sweeping pain of her hell by attaching herself to various hosts, but when she meets James - a ghost living in the body of a teenage boy - and realizes she could possibly inhabit a human body, she leaves the lonely security of her invisibility for the chance to feel again. A riveting supernatural love story for ages 14 and up.

Bicycle Man
David L. Dudley
Clarion Books / Houghton Mifflin
251 Park Avenue South, NY NY 10003
ISBN: 0619542337, $16.00, 250 pages,

Twelve-year-old Carissa lives with her widowed mother, Lorena, in rural Georgia. There aren"t many ways for a black woman in the South in 1927 to make a living. Lorena does laundry for white ladies, but she wants Carissa to have the opportunities that come with education. Both of them yearn to move up north, where Carissa was born. Into their lives rides an elderly man on a shiny blue bicycle. Bailey is a wanderer, a storyteller, a thinker, a kind and sociable man who can repair and tighten up and fix just about anything. Soon he"s part of Carissa"s life, almost like the grandfather she never had. He teaches her how to ride his bicycle, and how to find her balance in other ways as well, and Bailey"s time with Carissa and her mother helps him decide how to continue his own journey. A vividly rendered setting, strong, memorable characters, and a narrative rich in humorous and poignant moments make this first novel a compelling and distinctive coming-of-age story.

Junie B., First Grader: Jingle Bells, Batman Smells
Barbara Park
Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
ISBN: 0375828087, $11.95, 128 pages,

It's holiday time, and Room One is doing lots of fun things to celebrate. Like making elf costumes! And singing joyful songs! Only how can Junie B. enjoy the festivities when Tattletale May keeps ruining her holiday glee? And here is the worst part of all! When everyone picks names for Secret Santa, Junie B. gets stuck with Tattletale you-know-who. It's enough to fizzle your holiday spirit! Hmm…or is it? Maybe, just maybe, a Secret Santa gift is the perfect opportunity to give May exactly what she deserves. And excellent stocking stuffer for ages 6-9.

Melissa Lion
Wendy Lamb Books / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
ISBN: 0385746431, $15.95, 160 pages,

A lyrical and poignant novel, "Upstream" is about a teenage girl's quest to come to terms with the death of her boyfriend. Set amidst the backdrop of the Alaskan wilderness, Melissa Lion ("Swollen") once again gives her readers a heartbreakingly realistic look at loss, the effect it has on a 17-year-old girl on the brink of adulthood. Marty's life changed forever the day that Steven approached her to help with the school whaling project that she was spearheading. Although they were neighbors, Marty barely knew Steven until the day the were formally introduced and they became inseparable. When a fateful hunting trip separates Marty forever from Steven, she struggles to ease back into society and mend the fragments of her shattered life. Deeply affecting. For readers age 12 and up.

Barry, Boyhood
Andy Spearman
Knopf / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
ISBN: 0375832645, $15.95, 230 pages,

According to author Andy Spearman, a "boyhood" is a rare breed of animal that is a boy on the outside, and a dog on the inside. Girlhounds may also exist. Could happen overnight life magic or all of a sudden. In Spearman's amusing middle grade novel "Barry, Boyhouund," the protagonist soon finds out that there are lots of advantages to being a dog. You don't have to clean your room, for example, or use dental floss. But things eventually get crazy. Barry eats something too disgusting to mention, a raccoon explodes, and Barry's attacked by telepathic squirrels. An innocent squashed frog gets involved, plus Barry's mom gets pretty mad. And all that's before the really bad thing happens. The two talking fleas on Barry's head fill in the details. Dog gone cute.

Sammy Keyes and the Dead Giveaway
Wendelin Van Draanen
Knopf / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
ISBN: 0375823506, $15.95, 278 pages,

The bad news: Sammy's made a deadly mistake. The good news: No one knows she did it. The delicious dilemma: Everyone thinks her archenemy Heather is to blame. Now Heather's in a major jam, and in some ways it's only fair-Heather's pinned more than a few crimes on Sammy. Besides, there are distractions galore to keep Sammy from confessing. Like the end of the school year. And the Farewell Dance. Especially the dance, because she's going with Heather's brother, Casey. But Sammy knows that the truth has an uncanny way of resurfacing, and when it does, the stench can be more vile than the junior high cafeteria. Wendelin Van Draanen's superior middle grade mystery series continues to thrive, thanks to sizzling wit, true dialog, and the most winning jr. detective ever in teen lit. (Take that, Nancy Drew!)

All-of-a-Kind Family
Sydney Taylor
Delacorte Press / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
ISBN: 0385732953, $15.95, 192 pages,

Sydney Taylor evokes a simpler and gentler time in "All-of-a-Kind Family," a time-honored classic since its first release in the 1950s. Based on Taylor's own family and childhood, this charming book captures the everyday life of an early 1900's Coney Island home with little money, but plenty of love. As readers share in the ups and downs of this remarkable family through the eyes of Ella, Charlotte, Henny, Sarah, and Gertie, they will discover the special traditions of the Jewish religion and holidays as well. For ages 8-12.

Lion Boy: The Truth
Zizou Corder
Dial Books for Young Readers
345 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014-3657
ISBN: 0803729855, $16.99, 234 pages,

In the final book of the bestselling "Lionboy" trilogy by a unique mother-and-daughter writing team, Catspeaker Charlie Ashanti and his parents are reunited in Africa - but not for long. Charlie soon finds himself on a boat bound for the Caribbean, where he and his nemesis, Rafi Sadler, will be sold to the Corporacy! Charlie's parents and his faithful lion friends are in hot pursuit, but can Charlie outwit his captors and topple the Corporacy's wicked enterprise? That's the plan, and Charlie intends to pull it off - no matter the cost. Lionboy is a New York Times bestseller, and both previous books in the trilogy were Children's Book Sense Picks. Now here's the highly anticipated third book - and the best yet! It's an exhilarating, page-turning tale that brims with suspense and guarantees a satisfying finale to Charlie's whirlwind adventure. Zizou Corder is Louisa Young and Isabel Adomakoh Young.

The Kingdom Keepers
Ridley Pearson
Disney Editions
114 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10011-5690
ISBN: 078685444-8, $17.99, 326 pages,

In this fantastical thriller, five young teens tapped as models for theme park "guides" find themselves pitted against Disney villains and witches that threaten both the future of Walt Disney World and the stability of the world outside its walls. Using a cutting-edge technology called DHI - which stands for both Disney Host Interactive and Daylight Hologram Imaging - Finn Whitman, an Orlando teen, and four other kids are transformed into hologram projections that guide guests through the park. The new technology turns out, however, to have unexpected effects that are both thrilling and scary. Soon Finn finds himself transported in his DHI form into the Magic Kingdom at night. Is it real? Is he dreaming? This gripping high-concept, high-tech tale will thrill every kid who has ever dreamed of sneaking into Walt Disney World after hours and wondered what happens at night when the park is closed. As much fun to read as it obviously was for author Ridley Pearson to write. For ages 10 and up.

Cool Stuff and How It Works
Chris Woodford
375 Hudson St., NY, NY, 10014
ISBN: 0756614651, $24.99, 256 pages,

From iPods to antibiotics, "Cool Stuff and How It Words" takes the reader on an eye-eopening journey through the world of modern technology. The book features clear accessible text explaining in detail various aspects of modern technology; imaging techniques that reveal inner secrets of high tech devices; and specially commissioned designs and images of more than 500 full-color thermal pictures, x-rays, electron microscopy, digital artworks, cross-sections, and cutaways. Tech-savvy kids will love learning all about today's most innovative inventions - where they came from, how they do what they do, and where they might take us in the future. An engaging, informative, no-nonsense, and up-to-the-second look at the technological things that most interest kids.

Hidden Child
Isaac Millman
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
19 Union Square West, NY, NY 10003
ISBN: 0374330719, $18.00, 74 pages,

Isaac was seven when the Germans invaded France and his life changed forever. First his father was taken away, and then, two years later, Isaac and his mother were arrested. Hoping to save Isaac's life, his mother bribed a guard to take him to safety at a nearby hospital, where he and many other children pretended to be sick, with help from the doctors and nurses. But this proved a temporary haven. As Isaac was shuttled from city to countryside, experiencing the kindness of strangers, and sometimes their cruelty, he had to shed his Jewish identity to become Jean Devolder. But he never forgot who he really was, and he held on to the hope that after the war he would be reunited with his parents. After more than fifty years of keeping his story to himself, Isaac Millman has broken his silence to tell it in spare prose, vivid composite paintings, and family photos that survived the war.

Little Bird's ABC
Piet Grobler
Front Street
20 Battery Park Ave., Asheville, NC 28801
ISBN: 1932425527, $8.95, 60 pages,

A is for Apple, B is for Boy, right? Not according to these little birds. A is for a jumping bird's cry of Alley-oop. H is for the sound a bird makes when it sneezes Ha-choo. T is for a woodpecker's Tok tok. Readers of all ages will be surprised and amused twenty-six times by the silly sounds that little birds make in this charming, whimsical alphabet book by South African artists, Piet Grobler. It's an especially good giggle for knowing pre-schoolers.

Richard Scarry's The Animals's Merry Christmas
Kathryn Jackson
illustrated by Richard Scarry
Golden Books
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
ISBN: 0375833412, $14.95, 72 pages,

Golden Books proudly reissues this beloved Christmas collection, chock-full of funny animal stories and poems. This oversized format features Scarry's earlier, more painterly style and makes a perfect gift. A true holiday treat for Scarry fans. A young picture book for readers 2 through 5.

Little Pear
Little Pear and His Friends
Eleanor Frances Lattimore
Harcourt Inc.
525 B Street, San Diego, CA 92101
15 E. 26th St., NY, NY 10010
ISBN: 0152054960 (Little Pear), $16.00
ISBN: 0152054847 (Friends), $16.00, 130 pages,

Eleanor Frances Lattimore (1904-1986) was an American citizen born and raised in Shanghai. She began her career as an artist, but became known as the author and illustrator of more than fifty popular children's books. A number of her stories are based on her experiences growing up in China, including this pair of "Little Pear" classics. Little Pear is a young boy who lives in a small village in China. Although his story takes place long ago, he is much like any little boy today--always on the lookout for excitement and adventure! Little Pear is just looking for fun, but he has a knack for finding trouble without even trying! Join him as he stows away to the fair in a wheelbarrow full of vegetables, nearly flies away on a kite, has a mishap with a firecracker, and is rescued from the river by a houseboat family. Sweet, innocent children's literature for readers age 6 - 10.

Santa Claus The World's Number One Toy Expert
Marla Frazee
Harcourt Inc.
525 B Street, San Diego, CA 92101
15 E. 26th St., NY, NY 10010
ISBN: 0152049703, $16.00, 32 pages,

How does Santa know how to match the exact right toy with the exact right kids every December? Marla Frazee's new picture book "Santa Claus: the World's Number One Toy Expert" answers that question by taking a behind-the-scenes look at Santa's job the other 364 days of the year. Santa is the world's number one kids and toy and gift expert, and he works long, long hours the whole year through, taking notes, compiling his research, thinking and testing and changing his mind. Then, at last, he gets it all figured out, and on Christmas morning, he makes magic happen - 99.9% of the time. Celebrated author-illustrator Marla Frazee's fresh, lively take on a traditional subject is sure to become a favorite with young believers everywhere. With deliciously humorous moments and a warm, unexpected ending, this book is truly a Christmas treat, one that begs to be read aloud and savored year after year. Careful readers will notice that the one child in the story who was puzzled by his gift is joyfully juggling on the back of the book. Perhaps Santa gets it right every time after all? A new holiday classic! For ages 3 - 7.

Wizards at War
Diane Duane
Harcourt Inc.
525 B Street, San Diego, CA 92101
15 E. 26th St., NY, NY 10010
ISBN: 0152047727, $17.00, 560 pages,

Diane Duane's popular Young Wizards series continues to thrill readers in the eighth installment of the series, "Wizards at War." The novel begins when Nita and Kit return home from their vacation to find that all of Earth's higher-up wizards have vanished - and even worse, disappeared at a time when very strange events are taking place all over the planet. Soon enough, Kit, Nita, and Nita's sister, Dairine, discover that their friends and fellow wizards are busy fighting a terrifying invader, and they must join the front lines. White-knuckle action and a genuinely suspenseful conclusion drive this winning fantasy. For ages 12 and up.

Fooled You: Fakes and Hoaxes Through the Years
Elaine Pascoe, author
illustrated by Laurie Keller
Henry Holt & Co.
115 W. 18th St., NY, NY 10011
ISBN: 0805075283, $16.95, 88 pages,

Practical jokes are meant to fool individuals, but hoaxes are meant to fool the world - and some people fall for them. Would you? "Fooled You" investigates the history of crop circles, aliens on earth, fairies caught on film, giant cats and more. What do these phenomena have in common? They are all hoaxes. Researcher Elaine Pascoe presents well-researched chapters on nearly a dozen infamous hoaxes - from the 1800s to the present - exploring the stories behind them (how they came to be as well as who instigated them) and pondering why people were so easily fooled. These tantalizing accounts hold tremendous appeal for all ages and are as much about the craftiness of perpetrators as about the gullibility of believers. Would you have been fooled? You'll just have to read "Fooled You" to find out. For inquisitive minds ages 9-11.

Heir of Mystery
Philip Ardagh
Henry Holt & Co.
115 W. 18th St., NY, NY 10011
ISBN: 0805074775, $9.95, 130 pages,

In this second Unlikely Exploit, Fergal McNally's brain - last seen in a pickling jar in the basement of Sacred Heart Hospital - is stolen, and the remaining McNally children are mysteriously drawn to Fishbone Forest and the forgotten crumbling mansion that lies at its heart. Here they meet the terrifying teddy-bear-clutching Mr. Maggs, who plans to make sweeping changes to the world…which is all rather unlikely, isn't it? Packed with black humor and excitement, this is another surefire winner in the satirical series for middle grade readers.

Jimi and Me
Jaime Adoff
Jump at the Sun
114 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10011-5690
ISBN: 0786852143, $15.99, 329 pages,

In "Jimi and Me," a novel about love, loss and the power of music, poet Jaime Adoff tells the story of one boy's struggle to cope with the loss of his father through Jimi Hendrix's songs. After the sudden and violent death of his father, Keith James realizes one certainty in his life: everything is going to be different now. Barely a month has passed and Keith is being forced to move form big-city Brooklyn, New York to small-town Hollow Falls, Ohio. An outcast with his psychedelic wardrobe and big '60s afro, Keith finds solace in his zealous appreciation of Jimi Hendrix, the greatest guitarist who ever lived. Struggling to start over, Keith finds comfort in Jimi's music, and lyrics, and even finds a connection to the man himself - Jimi was a left-hander who loved to write just like Keith. But as he begins to get a handle on his father's death, he discovers the secrets of his father's life - secrets that threaten to tear apart what's left of his fragile family. Told entirely in poetry, "Jimi and Me" is either an aesthetic turn-on or off-putting. Written for ages 12 and up.

Tony Abbot
Scholastic Press
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
ISBN: 0439749425, $14.99, 324 pages,

Unlike the traditional Santa Claus myth, "Ringle" is a coming-of-age story about an orphan who becomes a force for good in a dark and violent time. It is a tale of fantasy, of goblins, elves, and flying reindeer -- and of a boy from the humblest beginnings who fulfills his destiny. Tony Abbott's tale begins in 500 A.D., when goblins kidnapped human children and set them to work in underground mines. Kringle is one such child until he discovers his mission: to free children from enslavement. His legend lives on today, as he travels the earth every Christmas Eve to quell the goblins once more. A creative, embellished Christmas myth for ages 8-11.

Aladdin and the Enchanted Lamp
Philip Pullman, author
illustrated by Sophy Williams
Arthur A. Levine Books / Scholastic Press
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
ISBN: 0439692555, $16.95, 72 pages,

Philip Pullman, acclaimed author of the bestselling "His Dark Materials" trilogy, has taken on the classic story of "Aladdin and the Enchanted Lamp." In this masterful retelling, Pullman stays true to the familiar portrayal of Aladdin as the nischievous young boy who unravels magic form a lamp while placing him in a more historically accurate setting. Aladdin is a lazy wretch whose only trade is making mischief and breaking his poor mother's heart - certainly not the type of boy for whom destiny has a plan. But then a Moor arrives in the marketplace with a dagger of gold and a smile revealing teeth pointed like needles. Aladdin leads him into the desert where a hidden garden of enchantment conceals powerful magic. Told with Pullman's inimitable style and illustrated in rich and vibrant color, "Aladdin and the Enchanted Lamp" is a tale of treachery in the sand, jinnees, jewels, wishes, and the love of a princess. For ages 7-10.

So You Want to Be an Explorer?
Judith St. George, author
illustrated by David Small
Philomel / Penguin
345 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
ISBN: 0399239699, $16.99, 52 pages,

So you want to be an explorer? What does it take, you ask? To find out, take a look at Judith St. George and David Small's witty collection of some of the best explorers the world has ever known.You know Marco Polo and Christopher Columbus, but what about Mary Kingsley, who studied cannibals in Africa, or cowboy Jim White, who, by mistake, found Carlsbad Caverns?
Full of boundless energy and illustrations you won't forget, this historical jaunt will inspire the explorer in all of us, young and old. (But especially those 4 through 8.)

The Reader's Digest Keyboard Course
Reader's Digest Books
Reader's Digest Road, Pleasantville, NY 10570-7000
ISBN: 0762106883, $30.00, 208 pages,

Here are 100 melodies that are unforgettable hits performed and recorded by many different stylists, both vocal and instrumental. New piano students will find the glorious melodies and lyrics of such composers as George and Ira Gershwin, Richard Rogers and Oscar Hammerstein, Cole Porter, Jerome Kern, and Irving Berlin surprisingly accessible. These unique arrangements are created to be enjoyed in a variety of ways: vocal lines, black easy-to-play piano lines and blue melody lines that can be played by a variety of instruments. Red beat marks and peel-off numbered stickers for those who cannot read music ensure success for beginners. The variety of selections are sure to be a welcome addition at parties, family get-togethers, sing-alongs, and other gatherings where people want to play and sing classic songs.

Carolinda Clatter!
Mordicai Gerstein
Roaring Brook Press / Millbrook Press
2 Old New Milford Rd., Brookfield, CT 06804
ISBN: 159643063X, $16.95, 32 pages

Kids love giants and kids love noice. This winning combination merges in both lyrical text and pain-and-ink illustrations in the tale of a bearded giant and a little girl's cacaphony in "Carolinda Clatter," the latest by Mordicai Gerstein, the 2004 Caldecott Medal-winner for "The Man Who Walked Between the Towers." Spurned by the full moon, a love-struck giant falls into a deep sleep, and villagers soon erect a town on his belly. They remain silent for fear of waking him, but when talkative and singing red-haired Carolinda bounds onto the scene, she noisily awakens the giant. Everything is instantly transformed, becoming melodic, beautiful and magical. Awakening the sleeping giant enlivens the entire town, and readers will be eager to see where all the commotion leads. This picture book is an energetic and touching story about a spirited child, the power of self-expression and the mysterious ability to transform and soothe the wild giant in us all. For ages 5-8.

Clara and Asha
Eric Rohmann
Roaring Brook Press / Millbrook Press
2 Old New Milford Rd., Brookfield, CT 06804
ISBN: 15964303101, $16.95, 32 pages

In "Clara and Asha" -- as in Eric Rohmann's Caldecott Medal-winning "My Friend Rabbit"--a simple storyline becomes the basis for fun and sophistication. Clara's friend Asha is an enormous fish, which means that hide-and-seek, Halloween, snow days, and afternoons in the park offer surprising opportunities for adventure. With oil paintings that playfully suggest stories within stories and convey great emotional range, this is a captivating book about the special world of a child's imagination--where a giant fish might come to visit, and the things you do and the things you fell with an imaginary friend are intensely real.

Winter's Gift
Jane Monroe Donovan
Sleeping Bear Press
310 North Main Street, Suite 300, Chealsea, MI 48118
ISBN: 158536231X, $15.95, 32 pages,

It may be Christmastime but on a small forlorn farm the holiday season is best forgotten, along with painful memories of loved ones lost. Mother Nature has other plans, however, and a chance snowstorm brings together two unlikely hearts -- one human and one beast - yet both yearning for comfort, companionship, and that most elusive gift of all, hope. This lustrous jewel of a picture book for young readers is quietly told and perfectly complemented by soft, evocative painting, reminding even the most cynical of readers that the heart indeed can recover and go on.

Oh Say, I Can't See
Jon Scieszka, author
illustrated by Adam McCauley
Viking / Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers
345 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
ISBN: 0670060259, $14.00, 72 pages,

In the newest "Time Warp Trio" book by the hilarious Jon Scieszka, the intrepid time travelers find themselves face to face with the father of our country. "I cannot tell a lie," said General George Washington. "The Time Warp Trio helped me cross the Delaware River and surprise the enemy troops." So how did Christmas Eve in the twenty-first century turn into Christmas Day in 1776? Well, as usual it was sort of an accident. Reader's will have to turn the pages to find out from Sam's time-warping great-granddaughter Samantha…and her leaky cat. American history may never be the same. And excellent addition to the ever-popular chapter book series for ages 7 through 11.

Good Morning, Digger
Anne Rockwell, author
illustrated by Melanie Hope Greenberg
Viking / Penguin Putnam Books for Young Readers
345 Hudson St., NY, NY 10014
ISBN: 0670059595, $15.99, 32 pages,

"Good morning, Digger - big and strong and yellow. Early this morning I heard you call. 'Grrr-clank! Grrr-clank! Grrr-clank-clank!' What could be more exciting to a young child than the rumbling and rolling of enormous construction trucks? When they stop . . . right on your street! A boy watches in fascination as construction workers and their tremendous trucks transform a vacant lot into a wonderful new neighborhood center. With Anne Rockwell's lively language and Melanie Hope Greenberg's detailed illustrations, "Good Morning, Digger" shows the different stages of a building's construction, from deep hole to its tallest girders - and most importantly, all the trucks that help along the way. A terrific pre-school book for the millions of children who can't seem to read enough about trucks.

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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