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MBR Bookwatch

Volume 4, Number 7 July 2005 Home | MBW Index

Table of Contents

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

Donovan's Bookshelf

Internet Piracy
James D. Torr, Book Editor
Greenwood Press
PO Box 5007, Westport, CT 06881-5007
0737723289 $28.70 1-800-225-5800

Here's another Greenwood title geared/intended for a young audience with high relevance and recommendation for ESL and low-reader adults. INTERNET PIRACY focuses on the primarily-music piracy going on in the industry, with contributors providing essays inspecting the underlying issues on both sides. These pro/con arguments provide clear discussions any reader can use to aid in personal determination of ethical behavior. An important set of concerns related in exceptionally clear language for a young adult audience becomes acceptable to adults too in INTERNET PIRACY.

Folk Music
Norm Cohen
Greenwood Press
PO Box 5007, Westport, CT 06881-5007
0313328722 $75.00 1-800-225-5800

Joining others in Greenwood's excellent college-level history series 'Guides to American Roots Music', FOLK MUSIC: A REGIONAL EXPLORATION covers all aspects of American folk traditions, from differing styles ranging from blues ballads to hollers and erotic songs, to instruments, regional differences in folk music, and the evolution of songs. A thorough exploration of major and minor genres and sub-genres keeps FOLK MUSIC an in-depth study worthy of college-level classroom attention for any American music history course.

Multiculturalism in the United States
John D. Buenker & Lorman Ratner, Eds.
Greenwood Press
PO Box 5007, Westport, CT 06881-5007
0313324042 $75.00 1-800-225-5800

If MULTICULTURALISM IN THE UNITED STATES: A COMPARATIVE GUIDE TO ACCULTURATION AND ETHNICITY sounds familiar, that's because it here appears in a revised, expanded edition to update ideas initially presented twelve years ago. There've been numerous shifts in immigration patterns and immigrant makeup during that time, and seventeen essays provide comparative tools for reference. Seven new ethnic groups - Arabs, Haitians, Vietnamese, Koreans, Filipinos, Asian Indians and Dominicans - are added to this edition to round out new essays on the other groups, and expanded essays which remain. An outstanding college-level reference.

The Establishment of the Han Empire and Imperial China
Grant Hardy & Anne Behnke Kinney
Greenwood Press
PO Box 5007, Westport, CT 06881-5007
031332588X $45.00 1-800-225-5800

China's Han Dynasty created a prosperous empire from 206 BCE to CE 221, promoting a less harsh society than that of their Quin predecessors and developing technological advancements from the water mill to stoneware and paper. From elements of social change in Han times to kingdom problems and issues, its role in world society and politics, and its importance in establishing centralized control in Asia, THE ESTABLISHMENT OF THE HAN EMPIRE AND IMPERIAL CHINA is essential reading for any college-level scholar who would understand the importance of this developmental period.

Bioethics and Medical Issues In Literature
Mahala Yates Stripling
Greenwood Press
PO Box 5007, Westport, CT 06881-5007
0313320403 $49.95 1-800-225-5800

Advances in science have brought with them their own unique ethical and medical dilemmas, bringing the discipline of philosophy directly into the world of science. Students from high school to pre-med receive a well-rounded introduction to literary references to bioethical questions, from the beings created by technology to illness and end of life issues. Topics for oral or written discussion accompany synopses of plots.

The Scientific Revolution and The Foundations of Modern Science
Wilbur Applebaum
Greenwood Press
PO Box 5007, Westport, CT 06881-5007
0313323143 $45.00 1-800-225-5800

Joining others in Greenwood's 'Guides to Historic Events, 1500-1900' , THE SCIENTIFIC REVOLUTION AND THE FOUNDATIONS OF MODERN SCIENCE is a recommended pick for both high school and college-level library holdings, reviewing connections between science and philosophy from 1500 to 1700, a period which created the foundations for the modern science we know today. Chapters survey changing scientific ideas, key individuals who fostered these changes, and changing methods for knowledge's advancement.

American Indian Food
Linda Murray Berzok
Greenwood Press
PO Box 5007, Westport, CT 06881-5007
0313329893 $49.95 1-800-225-5800

Relatively few titles have been written covering American Indian Foods; much less in depth: this fact makes all the more valuable Linda Berzok's in-depth coverage of the history of American Indian foods and traditions. From how foods were gathered, prepared and stored to changing recipes, newly added foods, and food customs and traditions, AMERICAN INDIAN FOOD is an important coverage.

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

Four fine new titles are college-level recommendations and are also picks high school libraries can use: each diverse topic provides an excellent historical background and introduction. Robert P. Sutton's MODERN AMERICAN COMMUNES: A DICTIONARY (0313321817, $65.00) surveys utopian communities around the country, providing historical overviews of 20th century US communes covering their beliefs, key founders, and history. An A-Z reference makes it easy to look up individuals or communes alike. Recommended for social science reference holdings. Norman Pounds' THE MEDIEVAL CITY (0313324980, $45.00) will find its place in many a high school library as well, joining others in the 'Greenwood Guides to Historic Events of the Medieval World' series in covering Medieval life in cities and towns. From dangers of everyday living to different aspects of religious and social life, chapters use annotated primary documents and descriptions to lend authenticity to a coverage perfect for school research projects. H. Roger Grant's THE RAILROAD: THE LIFE STORY OF A TECHNOLOGY (0313330794, $45.00) and Eric G. Swedin and David L. Ferro's COMPUTERS: THE LIFE STORY OF A TECHNOLOGY (0313331499, $45.00) each belong to Greenwood's 'Technographies' series. High school students in particular will find these quick references provide easy consultation on the 'life story' of each technology's evolution, covering different generations of computers and trains, surveying their importance in American lives, and following key changes and events. All are excellent references, highly recommended.

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

Two important, very different references are recommended college-level picks. New to the 'Exploring Social Issues Through Literature' series is Charles E. Wilson Jr.'s RACE AND RACISM IN LITERATURE (031332820X, $49.95), examining major writings which have addressed race issues, from Native Son and The Chosen to House on Mango Street. The focus on selected novels allows for not just plot summaries and critical commentary, but for a review of the book's history and analysis of how racism is portrayed. THE EZRA POUND ENCYCLOPEDIA by Demetres P. Tryphonopoulos and Stephen J. Adams (0313304483, $125.00) is a recommended pick for specialty college collections: Pound's work changed the course of poetry and made him one of the 20th century's greatest writers, and here are hundreds of A-Z entries referencing his works, influences, and interests. About a hundred expert contributors provide entries perfect for quick reference, many quite detailed and lengthy, which will also lend to student papers.

Diane C. Donovan
West Coast Editor

Harold's Bookshelf

Linux Network Security
Peter G. Smith
Charles River Media, Inc.
10 Downer Avenue Hingham, MA 02043
ISBN: 1584503963 $49.95 492 p.

If you are a network administrator who needs to get a quick handle on Linux security this would be a very good choice. It covers the basics of security in general (weak passwords, key logging, Trojans, network topology, etc.) as well as security issues that are specific to Linux.

It does a good job of explaining how Iptables are used in a firewall and how to tune the network. Linux Network Security does appear to thoroughly cover all the basic system security considerations including the passwd file, shadowing, enforcing security, using PAM, and SUDO security. The best part of the book is when the author gets to how to choose an appropriate distribution, use a chroot jail, and protect memory.

In addition to the basic Linux security common to all distributions the author discusses role based access control, the Linux Intrusion Detection System, and the secure Linux distribution SeLinux. The book ends with sections on securing the most common services for Linux - Apache, SSH, NFS, NIS, DNS, BIND, and FTP. It also includes a section on keeping your system secure using Tripwire.

If you need additional help on specific issues there are six appendixes which cover recompiling the kernel, kernel configuration for networking, firewall scripts, and cryptography. This book is obviously intended for the Linux network administrator, but the level of knowledge assumed is somewhat confusing. For some pieces it seems to assume no prior knowledge (like Chapters 1 and 2) and for other areas it seems to assume some basic prior understanding of Linux (although admittedly minimal). Keep in mind that there are whole books on some of these items (like securing Apache) so there is obviously much more detailed information available if you have a specific need. Linux Network Security is highly recommended to network administrators who are dealing with a basic file and print sharing network or who need a solid overview of Linux security and some of the security problems with common services.

Assembling Panoramic Photos
Bertrand Bodin, Arnaud Frich, Albert Lemoine
O'Reilly & Associates, Inc.
1005 Gravenstein Highway North Sebastopol, CA 95472
ISBN: 0596009755 $19.95 96 p.

If you have ever wanted to try your hand at creating panoramic photographs but just didn't know where to start or have had a hard time getting it right then this book is for you. It details the process from how to compose and shoot the pictures, digitize them, assemble, and retouching them to create your final composition. Some of the examples include unique point of view projects like "Urban Sphere" where the 360 degree panorama appears as the surface of a sphere. You should be warned that all the techniques illustrated are done using Adobe Photoshop software. So, if you are planning to follow along then you will need a copy of Photoshop. Written by nine leading French artists, Assembling Panoramic Photos is excellently done, lavishly illustrated and details the various techniques used to achieve masterful results.

Don't Click on the Blue e!
Scott Granneman
O'Reilly Media, Inc.
1005 Gravenstein Highway North Sebastopol, CA 95472
ISBN: 0596009399 $19.95 254 p.

This book is basically a primer on making the switch to Firefox as your web browser of choice. While Firefox is a better browser in many ways, it is not without its problems. For example, occasionally you run across a website that is poorly written and has sections that are specific to Microsoft Explorer and Microsoft update will only allow Explorer to use the update feature.

So, why change from Internet Explorer? Even with the newer versions it always seems to be a step or two behind other Internet browsers. Firefox is wonderfully convenient with tabbed browsing, better support for web standards, greater user control, and security that is so much better than Explorer as to make Explorer security appear to be non-existent. It has better pop-up blocking and far fewer infections from spyware and other malicious code. Since switching two years ago and adding GhostSurf I have not had any spyware or other infections. I spend a lot of time on the Internet and would become infested on an almost daily basis, but not anymore.

This book is designed for the person who wants to make the switch or wants to try out Firefox. Firefox can run alongside with Internet Explorer so you can learn how to use it while still having the ability to use Internet Explorer's update service and similar Microsoft only items. The authors do a good job of explaining how to setup Firefox, how to use it effectively and even how to tweak it with extensions so it works the way you want it to work. "Don't Click on the Blue e!" is highly recommended and an excellent resource for people looking to improve their browsing experience.

Test Driving Linux: From Windows to Linux in 60 Seconds
David Brickner
O'Reilly Media, Inc.
1005 Gravenstein Highway North Sebastopol, CA 95472
ISBN: 059600754X $24.95 334 p.

A true test drive, this book includes a Linux Live CD that can be placed into your computer and booted directly to Linux without affecting your current operating system. As a result you can test drive Linux without any concerns about your current system integrity.

The book covers the popular KDE desktop environment, using virtual desktops, change backgrounds, the Konqueror web browser, playing music and videos, games, email, using the organizer, and Instant Messaging. It also includes a section on using Gimp, an image editor similar to Photoshop, and OpenOffice, the suite of word processor, spreadsheet, database, and presentation software that many prefer to Microsoft's Office suite.

This is an excellent introduction to Linux and how to use it on a daily basis. It does not cover the details that a power user might want but it does cover everything an average desktop user would want to know. It also includes a good selection of programs so you can see what can be done with Linux. Just keep in mind that you are running them off the CD and so it runs much slower that it would if installed on the hard drive. While it is designed to allow the novice to experience Linux, if you already know a little about Linux you can mount up your Windows hard drive and work on the files on it. Test Driving Linux is an excellent book for the novice Linux user or anyone who wants to try the Operating System without committing to it right away.

Digital Audio Essentials
Bruce Fries, Marty Fries
O'Reilly Media, Inc.
1005 Gravenstein Highway North Sebastopol, CA 95472
ISBN: 0596008562 $34.95 330 p.

This book assumes nothing and starts with the very basics of digital audio. From an examination of system requirements, performance factors, and external interfaces it moves the reader along to how to connect your computer to your stereo including the good and bad features of different interfaces.

Of course, once the hardware has been selected and configured correctly the next obvious place to go is to examine the software and that is exactly what Bruce and Marty Fries do. They cover ways to organize your music, get music off the web, using Internet radio, using portable digital audio players, and many other ways to get the most out of your system.

In the more technical sections of the book the authors examine things like audio formats, recording, ripping, editing, digitizing records and tapes, burning CDs and CVDs and fixing various common programs. They even include a section on making your own Internet Radio Station.

This is the basically the essentials of what a novice to intermediate fan of digital audio needs to know. The most advanced portion of the book is on using a waveform program to remove the hiss and pop of a bad recording. It does not cover advanced topics like mixing, combining, and using multiple tracks. Digital Audio Essentials is highly recommended for the novice to intermediate digital audio fan and just recommended to the more advanced user. It is, after all, only intended to be an essentials book and not an advanced treatise and it succeeds well at achieving that goal.

Mastering FreeBSD and OpenBSD Security
Yanek Korff, Paco Hope, Bruce Potter
O'Reilly Media
1005 Gravenstein Highway North Sebastopol CA 95472
ISBN: 0596006268 $49.95 413 p.

If you are looking at implementing one of the BSD distributions of Linux and want to secure your installation this book is an excellent choice. The authors cover the basic security that applies to all Linux distributions such as filesystem security and creating a sandbox, and then follows up with security options specific to BSD. The chapters cover installation, secure administration, creating a secure DNS server, secure mail servers (including Sendmail, Postfix, and qmail), secure web server, firewalls, intrusion detection, system auditing and incident response, and some forensics. However, the forensics information provides a decent overview without being detailed enough to be very useful.

The authors do a really good job of explaining not only how to do various tasks but also the reasoning behind it and how it works to resolve specific problems. I like the fact that the authors don't do this in a piecemeal approach but provide a pathway to get to the system hardened before heading off into the specifics of harding particular services link DNS and Sendmail. They actually have a step by step procedure starting from a fresh install. This alone makes this one of the better books on hardening FreeBSD and OpenBSD. Mastering FreeBSD and OpenBSD Security is highly recommended

Linux Desktop Hacks
Nicholas Petreley & Jono Bacon
O'Reilly Media
1005 Gravenstein Highway North Sebastopol CA 95472
ISBN: 0596009119 $24.95 307 p.

Linux Desktop Hacks: Tips & Tools for Customizing and Optimizing Your OS is one of the better choices among the books of this genre. Although I have worked with Linux for years there were still several tips in here that I did not know and found very useful. Each chapter focuses on a particular area of the desktop computer and how you can make it perform the way it should or look totally different. Some of the subjects covered include changing the Boot Manager, bypassing the Manager, redefining keys, using macros, switching users, using multiple desktops, using creative cursors, using Windows and Mac fonts, running the desktop over the Internet, sharing applications and monitors, viewing Microsoft Word Documents in a Terminal, displaying a PDF document in a terminal, reducing startup time, encrypting email, configure Firefox, forwarding ports, new user setup, link monitoring, tweaking the kernel without recompiling, using unsupported printers, and boosting hard-drive performance. An excellent resource for those who have moved to Linux on the desktop, Linux Desktop Hacks is highly recommended.

The Real Business of Web Design
John Waters
Allworth Press
10 East 23rd Street New York, NY 10010
ISBN: 1581153163 $19.95 229 p.

This book takes a somewhat different approach to web design than the majority of other books. Instead of concentrating on a pretty site with the latest technology that looks great but doesn't increase your business he concentrates on building a customer experience and customer loyalty. This is about design for the web experience and therefore your customer's perception of the value received from that experience.

The basic process can be distilled down into three basic components: Identify the visitor, be clear as to your business objectives with that visitor, and move the visitor to reach that objective. This is a book about designing effective web sites for business and following business fundamentals instead of worrying about an artistically designed site that looks great but does not create customers. This is not to say that design is not important. The author goes in depth about the importance of the site's look and feel as well as its functionality.

One very important point should be noted here. There are plenty of books about designing a website with your business mission in mind. On these sites the business owner generally puts what they want the customers to want. This is not customer focused. Mr. Waters focuses on giving the customer what they want because what the customer perceives as value is what really counts and brings them back. The Real Business of Web Design is highly recommended.

The Practical Manager's Guide to Open Source
Maria Winslow
Open Source Migrations
112 Tharrington Drive Chapel Hill, NC 27516
ISBN: 1411611462 $35.00 215 p.

Exactly what the title promises, this is a survey of open source business software solutions from the business manager perspective. Most of the books on the market that laud the merits of open source programs are directed at the technically oriented user. This book provides management with the information they need to determine if they should investigate the use of open source software in their business. It includes actual case studies including the specific software products used and a cost savings analysis as well as how to calculate the Total Cost of Ownership if you are looking at making a change away from Windows products.

The book contains almost no technical jargon. It is a high-level overview of the programs available, what each one does, advantages and disadvantages, and where to find additional information. Ms. Winslow includes information on all the most popular business applications and distributions of Linux. She even includes information on determining when you should and should not make the switch and when a hybrid network is the most appropriate as well as how to get users and management to buy into the change. The Practical Manager's Guide to Open Source is a great non-technical overview of open source business programs and the perfect place to start for management considering Linux in their network.

Strengthening Your Singing Voice
Elizabeth Sabine
ProMusic Press
447 Georgia Street Vallejo, CA 94590
ISBN: 1931140413 93 $14.95

Written by a vocal coach who has worked with the likes of Axl Rose and Colin Hay, Strengthen Your Singing Voice shares her techniques and thoughts on how to sing without experiencing voice fatigue as well as how to build a stronger, powerful voice. The book includes a CD that demonstrates some of the lessons and warm-up exercises which is very helpful. With a good education on how the vocal cords and diaphragm work together to produce sound as well as how to care for them properly, sing without damaging them, and a lot of other important information. Includes a section on breathing that I wish more singers would learn - how to breath without making breathing sounds. While nothing replaces one-on-one teaching between a student and teacher, Strengthening Your Singing Voice is a reasonable alternative and recommended.

Spurn the Burn, Treat the Heat
Shekhar Challa, M.D.
Kansas Medical Publishing
2200 SW 6th Street Topeka, KS 66606
ISBN: 0974388335 $18.99 127 p.

Acid Reflux Disease affects millions of Americans and most of them don't understand the seriousness of the disease. In fact, most of them don't even know they have the disease but instead think they just have a problem with occasional heartburn. Dr. Shekhar Challa discusses the symptoms, diagnosis, and treatment of Gastroesophageal Reflux disease (GERD). The book includes a section on frequently asked questions and recipes specifically for GERD sufferers.

Dr. Challa describes uses very lucid writing to explain exactly what the disease is and does in a very understandable manner. He also discusses the difficulties of diagnosis and how sometimes you may have the problem without experiencing any heartburn. A great book for anyone with Acid Reflux or who wants to understand the disease, Spurn the Burn, Treat the Heat is highly recommended and very informative.

Sophie and the Scoundrels
Nancy Rue, author
Grace Chen, illustrator
an imprint of Zondervan
5300 Patterson SE Grand Rapids, MI 49530
ISBN: 0310707587 $5.99 121 p. Ages: 9 - 12

Sophie takes a trip to NASA for a take-your-daughter-to-work day. Of course she learns a lot on that trip and when she and her friends have to do a science project they decide to convert their tree house into a mock-up of a space station. Unfortunately they start squabbling with each other and things soon get out of hand.

To add to the problems someone is sabotaging their efforts, mom is having problems of her own and nothing seems to be going right. Of course things do get resolved and through it all they learn valuable lessons in life based on Biblical principles. Sophie and the Scoundrels is a recommended read.

Shell Scripting Recipes
Chris F. A. Johnson
2560 Ninth Street, Suite 219 Berkeley, CA 94710
ISBN: 1590594711 $39.99 405 p.

If you are using a Bourne-type shell, and BASH in particular then you will find a lot of valuable information in this book. Author Chris F. A. Johnson provides an extensive education on scripting including scripts for viewing, editing, and manipulating files, manipulating strings, altering the path variable, monitoring the file system, filtering spam, backing up, archiving, deleting, and many other common tasks. How far can you go with a shell script? He even gives a working example of a database application written completely in script. On the other hand if you just want to have some fun there are even scripts for creating anagrams, fitting words into a crossword, or finding words that contain a given set of characters.

While the book is really written for the technically oriented reader, even the very basics that most users should already know are still covered. The format is more typical of what computer technicians want - this is the item to be discussed, this is how it works, this is an example, move on to the next one. When I am looking for answers this is the format I prefer and I found this book extremely useful. It will be on my bookshelf as one of the first to grab when I want to do scripting in Linux. Advanced and powerful, a real resource for the power user of the Bourne shell, Shell Scripting Recipes is highly recommended.

Beginning Databases with PostgreSQL, Second Edition
Neil Matthew, Richard Stones
2560 Ninth Street, Suite 219 Berkeley, CA 94710
ISBN: 1590594789 $44.99 541 p.

Despite the fact that many books claim to be for everyone from the beginner to the professional this book is one of the few that actually hits the mark. Not content to just dive right into PostgreSQL and how to us it, the authors include a lot of database history and theory that is sadly lacking from similar books. But it is not just for beginners. The authors include more advances sections on things like accessing the database using C, PHP, Perl, Java, and C#.

Between this beginning user and advanced user level the authors fill in all the intermediate parts so the book ends up providing a well-organized education from the principles of database design through database setup, query, ODBC access setup, and using a programming or scripting language to accessing and updating the database. The book also includes detailed information on selection procedures, data manipulation, functions, stored procedures, triggers, and PostgreSQL Administration. As a result you end up with a book where the database theory applies to all relational databases and as it becomes more technical in nature it moves from there to information specific to PostgreSQL for the advanced user, administrator, or programmer. Beginning Databases with PostgreSQL, Second Edition is highly recommended to anyone interested in using the particular SQL engine.

Pro Perl
Peter Wainwright
2560 Ninth Street, Suite 219 Berkeley, CA 94710
ISBN: 159059438X $59.99 990 p.

This is a very comprehensive book for those who want to learn the Perl language from the ground up. The author does an excellent job of being detailed without being repetitive or writing at too basic a level. Intermediate users of Perl can find a lot here but even a novice will find sufficient explanation to allow them to learn the language from scratch. The book is well organized and starts with an introduction to Perl followed by how to acquire and install Perl. From there it goes right into the meat of the language with variables, operators, data types, interpolation, substitution, subroutines, regular expressions, working with files and directories, etc. Besides the language itself the author deals with some of the common administrative tasks like adding new modules and packages. The book ends with some advanced topics like embedding Perl and dealing with processes, signals and threads, and networking.

At 990 pages this is a massive book that is easy to follow and full of examples to show exactly how each concept should work. Pro Perl is highly recommended to everyone from the complete novice to advanced level Perl programmer and includes a lot of detail that I have spent hours on the Internet looking for before.

The Starving Family
Cheryl Dellasega, Ph.D.
Champion Press, Ltd.
4308 Blueberry Road Fredonia, WI 53021
ISBN: 1932783148 $25.00 259 p.

With plenty of books from doctors and sufferers of eating disorders on the market, one of the areas that has been missing is how families cope with loved ones with those disorders. The Starving Family fills that gap by sharing the insights of various caregivers. Eating disorders or any other kind of similar problem does not occur in isolation. It affects and involves everyone who cares for or about the individual. Educational, insightful, and full of encouraging advice for those dealing with this problem The Starving Family is highly recommended.

Strange & Fascinating Facts About Famous Brands
Charles Reichblum
Black Dog & Leventhal Publishers, Inc.
151 West 19th Street New York, NY 10011
ISBN: 1579123562 $9.95 304 p.

Have you ever wondered how different brands got their names? Now you can get the answer and the often fascinating story behind each brand name. Kellog, Post, Jell-O, Alka-Seltzer, and dozens of other brands are detailed as to how they started, how they got their name, competitors, mistakes, and successes. A fascinating read, it only takes a minute or two to read about each of the brands. But you will find yourself reading several at a time if you can put it down at all before you are done. Strange & Fascinating Facts About Famous Brands is highly recommended, educational, and fun.

Jesus and the Gospels
Professor: Luke Timothy Johnson
The Teaching Company
4151 Lafayette Center Drive, Suite 100 Chantilly, VA 20151-1232
Format: Audio CD, Tape, DVD, Video Tape
Lectures: 36

When you mention the word "Gospels" most people think of the first four books of the New Testament. There are however, many other Gospels written by the early church. In this series of lectures Professor Luke Timothy Johnson examines how Jesus is portrayed in both the four canonical Gospels and several of the non-canonical ones.

Professor Johnson looks at these Gospels predominantly from the viewpoint of literature, but also examines how they came to be, the similarities between them, their differences, and the historical and cultural context in which they developed. These various Gospels have had far-reaching effects in the development of Christianity and our views of Jesus, Mary, and Christianity itself. Professor Johnson provides a systematic and detailed analysis as he delves into the details of all these factors to bring out the various views of Jesus held by the early church. These views can differ greatly from the more sterile view found by examining Him as only a historical figure.

Professor Johnson is one of the most highly regarded experts in the area of New Testament studies. A Benedictine monk for nine years his knowledge is extensive and his delivery style entertaining. Jesus and the Gospels is highly recommended.

The American Identity
Professor: Patrick N. Allitt, Ph.D.
The Teaching Company
4151 Lafayette Center Drive, Suite 100 Chantilly, VA 20151-1232
Format: Audio CD, Tape, DVD, Video Tape Lectures: 48

Exactly what makes a person identify with being an American besides just being born in America? Professor Allitt examines a wide spectrum of people from every walk of life and every period of American history to try to answer that question. The people whose lives he examines include settlers, explorers, reformers, industrialists, artists, scientists, inventors, military figures, movie stars, sports heroes, and humanitarians. The individuals include John Smith, William Penn, Abigail Adams, Lewis and Clark, Horace Mann, Frederick Douglass, Louisa May Alcott, Black Elk, William Mulholland, Booker T. Washington, Henry Ford, Al Capone, Helen Keller, Duke Ellington, Shirley Temple, Douglas MacArthur, Roberto Clemente, Jesse Jackson, and 28 others who changed how we think, how we perceive ourselves, or how we perceive our county.

A total of 46 people get a full 30 minute lecture each as you work through all the lectures. Fascinating and insightful, Professor Allitt never loses sight of his goal of defining those attributes and common factors that define what it is to be American. He provides a fascinating perspective on how these individuals define a period of time, a particular viewpoint, or otherwise affected the way Americans think about America. The American Identity is a highly recommended purchase.

The Story of Human Language
Professor: John McWhorter
The Teaching Company
4151 Lafayette Center Drive, Suite 100 Chantilly, VA 20151-1232
Format: Audio CD, Tape, DVD, Video Tape Lectures: 36

With over 6,000 languages in the world and linguists claiming they all originated from one, the first question on many people's mind is how did we get so many? Professor McWhorter describes how sounds change, words change, and whole languages change over time and are basically in a constant state of change. When a language stops changing it is on its way to becoming extinct. This extinction has been the fate of many, many languages and is part of the process of how we arrived where we are today.

At the opposite end of extinction is the creation of a new language. One of the ways this comes about is detailed by Mr. McWhorter when he discusses dialects and creoles. In the case of dialects he describes how these languages develop within another language, develop into a creole, and then new language.

But languages don't always move apart into new languages. Sometimes two languages borrow words from each other to the point that they become more and more similar. But whether moving apart or closer together, a living language is always changing.

Professor McWhorter also examines how major changes in pronunciation can occur, such as the "great vowel shift" in English. In a very interesting lecture he discusses the pronunciation of various English words before and after this shift. In this case, as in all the others, Professor McWhorter does an excellent job of picking interesting examples to illustrate his points.

Languages, language groups, dialects, pidgins, creoles, everything about the human language and how it changes is covered in this series and I found it to be one of the most fascinating courses from The Teaching Company. The Story of Human Language is highly recommended.

Mr. Lincoln: The Life of Abraham Lincoln
Professor: Allen C. Guelzo
The Teaching Company
4151 Lafayette Center Drive, Suite 100 Chantilly, VA 20151-1232
Format: Audio CD, Tape, DVD, Video Tape
Lectures: 12

Who was Abraham Lincoln? What was it like to be him? How did he understand American politics and the political process? What was the history of his position on slavery and exactly what was that position? What were his talents that allowed him to lead us through the Civil War? In this series of lectures Professor Guelzo openly discusses Lincoln's failures as well as his successes and the myths that surrounded him. One of the more unusual pieces is a discussion of Lincoln's relationship with his father and how his early habits affected that relationship. While only 12 lectures in length it is an excellent and thorough introduction to Lincoln the child, son, father, husband, and president and a recommended purchase.

Luther: Gospel, Law, and Reformation
Phillip Cary, Ph.D.
The Teaching Company
4151 Lafayette Center Drive, Suite 100 Chantilly, VA 20151-1232
Format: Audio CD, Audio Tape, Video Tape, DVD Lectures: 24

Martin Luther is the first name to come to mind for many people when you mention the Protestant Reformation. Although a lot of people are familiar with his later writings they are often not familiar with the details of Martin Luther's life and how his faith progressed from a fear of being condemned for his sins to a faith that freed him from those fears. Dr. Phillip Cary does an excellent job of introducing the listener to the real Martin Luther, as both a human being and a theologian. Some of the thoughts and processes he went through can be described as strange by today's standards but represent a common way of thinking during medieval Europe. Dr. Cary presents these beliefs and the evolution of Martin Luther's views brilliantly as the listener comes to know Luther as a person.

Starting with Luther's belief in seeking grace by means of penance, confession of sins, self-accusation and self-hatred he eventually comes around to realizing that grace is received by just believing the Gospel. Once he realizes this he soon attacks many of the practices of the Catholic church. As a result he is soon branded a heretic and has to hide while the reformation he started continues. Eventually even the many converts that accepted the Reformation become fragmented between those who want the reforms to move faster and those who only want to make minor changes within the current church.

Dr. Carey's coverage of Luther's live is extensive and even includes an interesting piece on Luther's wife, an ex-nun, and their family life. A large part of the last several lectures examines Luther's views on the doctrines of the Lord's Supper, Infant Baptism, Justification, Predestination, Politics, and the Jews. This series of lectures brings Martin Luther to life as a real person who had his own questions and struggles as he sought the truth. With an even-handed treatment of Luther that exposes his flaws (such as his vicious attacks against his enemies) as well as his greatness, Luther: Gospel, Law, and Reformation is highly recommended.

The Linux Enterprise Cluster
Karl Kopper
No Starch Press, Inc.
555 De Haro Street, Suite 250 San Francisco, CA 94107
ISBN: 1593270364 $49.95 405 p.

If high-availability is one of your primary concerns for your computer network then an enterprise cluster is something you will want to look into. In this book the author does an excellent job of explaining the purpose of an enterprise cluster and exactly how they work. Not just theory, the book details exactly how to install the various components of the system and even includes the required software on CD.

This is the first book I have seen on Linux clustering that not only provides a theoretical background but also a complete detail on how to actually implement it in the real world. He details setting up the heartbeat, IP failover, NAT, synchronizing and cloning, handling packets, and load balancing. Easily the best book on Linux Enterprise Cluster setup and maintenance that I have seen to date, The Linux Enterprise Cluster is highly recommended.

The Washing Machine
Nick Kochan
Texere imprint
5191 Natorp Boulevard Mason, OH 45040
ISBN: 1587991594 $29.95 286 p.

One of the best reads of the year, The Washing Machine details how various banks, politicians, terrorists groups, black market dealers, and others launder illegal money to give the appearance of coming from legitimate enterprises. The author is not shy about naming specific banks, groups, and techniques that have been used and follows the money trail from beginning to end. Some of the companies and groups mentioned include the Bank of New York, the Russian Mafia, Al Qaida, and offshore financial entities in Ireland, Turkey, Sri Lanka and other places. The final chapters deal with what the various countries and law enforcement are doing today to help curb the problem. This is a real education in what goes on in the underworld of illegal activities and how the income gets reintegrated back into business enterprises that appear legitimate. The Washing Machine is a highly recommended read for anyone interested in the financial underworld.

Dora Camp
Cypress House
155 Cypress Street Fort Bragg, CA 95437
ISBN: 1879384639 $15.95 124 p.

When a perfectly normal person suddenly has a brain injury as the result of an aneurysm, stroke, accident or other cause they have become a victim of acquired brain injury. It can happen to anyone and can run the full range from a minor incident to a complete loss of physical and mental functioning. Brainstorming is in part the saga of Norm and Dora Camp and how their lives changed when Norm had a heart attack that resulted in brain injury. It is the story of patience and perseverance and the lessons learned as they go forward with their lives. Brainstorming is highly recommended as a book of hope for those with a similar situation, understanding for caregivers, and encouragement for the defeated.

The Giant Surprise: A Narnia Story
Hyawyn Oram
HarperCollins Children's Books
1350 Avenue of the Americas New York, NY 10019
ISBN: 0060083611 $15.99 40 p. Ages: 4 - 8

A delightfully written and illustrated story that brings the wonder of Narnia to the young and young at heart. Puddleglum is a Marsh-Wiggle and Lally a young Wigglet who live in the marsh. When their two marsh mice friends are captured by giants they have to figure out how to rescue them. Beautifully illustrated and with a solid storyline, The Giant Surprise is a a recommended read.

Buzzmarketing: Get People to Talk About Your Stuff
Mark Hughes
Portfolio / Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
375 Hudson Street New York, NY 10014
ISBN: 1591840929 $23.95 225 p.

Over the past few years one of the most common themes in effective marketing has been tapping into the power of buzz marketing. Finding a way to get people to talk about your product or service is arguably the most effective method of marketing you can get. This word-of-mouth advertising is basically what buzz marketing is all about. There are plenty of books that discuss how effective it can be and have lots of examples of how well it works. The problem is that most of them don't discuss how you go about actually getting buzz marketing going. How do you get people to start talking about your product? That is what differentiates this book from most of the others on the subject.

Mark Hughes provides an interesting analysis of how to get people talking about your product and making it the topic of conversation on a regular basis. He provides a specific set of tools and information on how to get the buzz started. The focus of the book is on an analysis of why people talk about a product and how to use that information to your advantage. The only practical guide on buzz marketing that I have seen, Buzzmarketing: Get People to Talk About Your Stuff is highly recommended.

Ear Training For the Contemporary Musician
Keith Wyatt, Carl Schroeder, Joe Elliott
Hal Leonard Corporation
7777 W. Bluemound Road PO Box 13819 Milwaukee, WI 53213
ISBN: 0793581931 $19.95 120 p.

If you've ever wanted to teach yourself to recognize particular notes and patterns this book is an excellent resource. The authors examine things like the major and minor scales, fifths, sevenths, melodies, sightsinging, triads, and diatonic progressions. They also do an excellent job of describing what is happening, the theory behind it and how to use it to help train your ears to recognize the notes, progressions, etc. The book includes exercises, answer sheets, and two CDs with examples of the various notes and tones from the book so you can practice. If you are serious about ear training you can't go wrong with Ear Training For the Contemporary Musician.

Free Gulliver
Tripp Friedler
Trost Publishing
400 Poydras St. Suite 1850 New Orleans, LA 70130
ISBN: 1933205008 $19.95 118 p.

Even the title to this book gives you a preview into the creative abilities of the author. Free Gulliver: Six Swift Lessons in Life Planning plays on Jonathan Swift's book Gulliver's Travels and his experience with the residents of Lilliput. Although small in size and Gulliver is huge in comparison the Lilliputians succeed in keeping him under control. They do it by using thousands of small strings, each of which are small enough for him to break easily but when combined they hold him fast to the ground. This is the premise of this book and its whole purpose. We tend to let so many small things tie us down that in total we become incapacitated. This book is about freeing Gulliver - freeing yourself from all those little things that hold you back. Although he details the process in this book the basic premise it to figure out your vision of where you want to go and then cut the strings that hold you. Free Gulliver: Six Swift Lessons in Life Planning is highly recommended to people who feel overwhelmed to the point of being almost unable to cope with life or unable to move forward toward their goals.

Write It Right
Dawn Josephson, Lauren Hidden
Ground Rules Press
PO Box 8006 Hilton Head Island, SC 29938
ISBN: 0974496626 $17.95 127 p.

Whether just an article or an entire novel most of us need to edit our work to give it that professional finish. This book is not a grammar book with all those rules on how to make your work syntactically correct. Instead it takes a larger view and supplies the basics of writing well. For example the "ground rules" include checking to make sure the story is organized well and and checking that paragraphs have a topic sentence that the rest of the paragraph relates to. For each of the ground rules the authors discuss how to check your work to see that it conforms to the rules and how to change it so it does.

The section starting on page 33 is a welcome change from most writing books. The authors suggest that you should identify areas where you have problems and include them on a check list of editing problems to watch for. But, how do you know your problem areas if you don't see the problem? This section gives several examples of sentences with various problems. Find the ones where you don't see a problem, go to the answers section that explains the problem and you have your short list of items to learn about and watch for in your work.

For the person looking to raise their writing quality to a higher level of professionalism Write It Right is a recommended read.

A Woman's Guide to Saving Her Own Life
Mellanie True Hills
Healthy Ideas Press
13213 N Ridge Circle Leander, TX 78641
ISBN: 0976600803 $39.95 169 p.

Many women are surprised to find that heart disease kills more women each year than breast cancer. Another surprise is the fact that each year heart disease kills more women than men. When Mellanie True Hills had a close call with a coronary artery 95% blocked and nearing a heart attack she decided to do something about her situation. How she saved her life and changed the heart disease scenario is what this book is about.

The author provides extensive educational material on risk factors and what to do about them. She also includes an excellent section on heart attack and stroke symptoms and how the symptoms of a man and of a woman may be quite different as well as how it is diagnosed and why it is often harder to diagnose in women than men.

After discussing how she was able to change her health she provides a how-to guide on developing your own plan to stave off or recover from heart disease. The book ends with an appendix containing multiple forms you can use to help develop your plan.

This is an excellent resource full of information covering the complete spectrum of heart disease. While it is written for women and has a lot of information specific to women, the method of developing a plan that you can use to ward off heart disease is useful for everyone. As such, A Woman's Guide to Saving Her Own Life is a recommended read for everyone.

Within Arm's Reach
Ann Napolitano
Shaye Areheart Books
280 Park Avenue New York, NY 10017
ISBN: 1400051886 $23.00 308 p.

Within Arm's Reach is a fictional novel set in New Jersey and told from the view points of six different people. Of course everyone is dealing with their past as well as the problems of the present. An Irish-American Catholic family, they are thrown into a crisis when unmarried Gracie becomes pregnant. The author does an excellent job of walking the reader through the maze of complex relationships between the characters as each shares their life story and point of view. For readers who thrive on a well-written family saga and the typical soap opera fare they will enjoy Within Arm's Reach and find it a recommended read.

Moral Intelligence
Doug Lennick, Fred Kiel, Ph.D.
Wharton School Publishing
One Lake Street Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
ISBN: 0131490508 $25.95 247 p.

Not every business leader lacks a moral compass that guides their lives despite what the news services would have us think. In fact, the authors of this book suggest that everyone has an innate moral compass and the moral intelligence to know what is right and wrong. What the leaders lack when they engage in questionable or blatantly illegal actions is the moral capacity to follow that compass.

The second part of the book was the most interesting to me. In it the authors examine how to develop the skills to apply moral intelligence in the real world. They examine several areas of ethics including integrity, responsibility, compassion, forgiveness, and emotions. The final part of the book deals with moral leadership and how it can be used to create a morally intelligent company.

The bottom line is that those who can apply moral intelligence keep their moral compass, their goals, and their behavior in alignment in everything they do. By realizing that success and moral action are not mutually exclusive they have become some of the most successful people in the world. The authors even include a moral competency inventory in the appendixes which can be used to help determine where you and your company stand currently. Moral Intelligence is highly recommended to all business leaders whether a foreman over just a few people or a CEO leading thousands.

Why Great Leaders Don't Take Yes for an Answer
Michael A. Roberto
Wharton School Publishing
One Lake Street, Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
ISBN: 0131454390 $29.95 235 p.

One of the most common problems of business and committees is the tendency of the members of the committee to say "yes" to whatever the owners or upper management proposes. In a company where career paths can be sidetracked quickly by not supporting your superior it is the only answer to give. As a result there is no legitimate feedback for management decision making. This is the problem addressed by author Michael A. Roberto.

Mr. Roberto proposes that great leaders develop a culture of conflict and consensus at the same time. Of course conflict must be created in a constructive nature and kept constructive. The problem is how to effectively deal with a lack of candor and stimulate a clash of ideas while keeping it constructive. Chapter three is one of the best ones in my opinion and the author does an especially good job of discussing the factors that keep dialog from being candid and the barriers to expressing and discussing dissenting opinions. Chapters 4 and 5 looks at the art of how to stimulate an increase in conflict and voice a dissenting opinion without seeming to be difficult. Of course once you have these conflicting ideas out in the open you have to somehow come to a consensus. Why Great Leaders Don't Take Yes for an Answer is a recommended for all business people but especially for those who utilize committees and boards for direction.

Don't Just Relate - Advocate
Glen Urban
Wharton School Publishing
One Lake Street Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
ISBN: 0131913611 $27.95 221 p.

Customer knowledge and power has changed drastically over the last few years and using the same old marketing methods is a sure formula for failure. That is the basic premise of this book and the author makes a compelling argument while also providing a blueprint for how to adapt to this change. One of the ways that the market has changed drastically is the level of education of the consumer. With the Internet and easy access to information on your company, competitors, and even opinions from your clients or competitors the customer can find out anything they need to know about you or your company.

Instead of selling the potential customer we need to be an advocate for them. That means telling them not only the good things about your service or product but also the weaknesses. Being up front about everything builds trust and trust builds loyal customers. Throughout the book the author argues that by building trust the customer advocate gains several major benefits. Among these are reduced customer acquisition costs, higher profit margins, and a long-term competitive edge. I particularly appreciated the fact that the author followed his own advice and pointed out industries where advocacy makes the biggest difference and where advocacy is unlikely to make much difference. Don't Just Relate - Advocate is a highly recommended read and should be required reading for anyone involved in regular contact with your customers or potential customers.

God vs. The Gavel
Marci A. Hamilton
Cambridge University Press
40 West 20th Street New York, NY 10011-4211
ISBN: 0521853044 $28.00 311 p.

It would be hard to conceive of anyone who would argue that religion has not brought tremendous good to the world. Unfortunately, these same people can quite easily turn to one of the many incidents of our time where religion has also been used to harm others.

In her book God vs. The Gavel author Marci Hamilton argues that the church, while being allowed to perform their purpose and service in the world, should also be subject to the rule of law that they should cause no harm. The author takes a well-argued position that there should be some limit on religious freedom when it harms others. Examples include the child who can easily be treated for a life-threatening illness but is not due to the religious beliefs of the parents, or the family that moves into a quiet residential neighborhood but then finds a church starting in the house next door followed by houses demolished to make a large parking lot, etc. Some of the issues are not as far reaching as these and include such matters as allowing a beard to military personnel whose religion specifies it, or kosher food for a Jewish inmate in a prison. There are many, many of these places where the interests of the state and the church intersect.

This book is a call to all of us, including religious practitioners, to practice our religion as we will as long as it harms nobody else. The author's arguments are firmly grounded in the First Amendment and the intent of its framers. Brilliantly argued, although many will have difficulty with the idea of accountability to anyone other than the local church, God vs. The Gavel is recommended reading.

Spring Into Technical Writing for Engineers and Scientists
Barry J. Rosenberg
75 Arlington Street, Suite 300 Boston, MA 02116
ISBN: 0131498630 $29.99 290 p.

Technical writing is it's own special world. Using standard writing techniques almost ensures that readers will have a difficult time understanding technical material. This book comes to the rescue of the technical writer by detailing the proper techniques and the things you need to take into consideration when writing. For example, nobody would argue that a technical book written for people with a doctorate degree should be very different from a technical manual written for the complete novice. So, knowing your intended audience is one of the most important places to start when writing technical material.

Section 2 covers the basics of writing including passive versus active voice, sentence structure, dealing with pronouns, working with lists, tables, and graphics and many more detailed pieces of information for writing. Section 3 then applies that information to the accepted layout of specific kinds of documents including manuals, web sites, proposals, internal planning documents, lab reports, PowerPoint presentations, and even e-mail. The last section covers the basics of editing.

This book is one of the best I have reviewed on this subject. The author walks you along the complete path from beginning to end with expert advice and detailed information. Whether it is a technical manual, a proposal, or something as basic as a lab report, Spring Into Technical Writing for Engineers and Scientists is a must read guide for how to do it right.

Spring Into HTML and CSS
Molly E. Holzschlag
Pearson Education
Addison-Wesley Professional
One Lake Street Upper Saddle River, NJ 07458
ISBN: 0131855867 $29.99 298 p.

While there are many much thicker books on HTML and CSS on the market there is very little in them that is not in this book. There is very little extra wording here but instead the authors take a direct approach to the subject. Each item is described in a fully understandable way with examples and an easy reading style. The book also serves as a basic reference on XHTML. If you want to understand how to write, edit, or understand a web page you can easily do so with this book. If you want to know how to do something in particular it is explained in a couple of pages and you can write it immediately, not 20 pages of fluff. Spring Into HTML and CSS is highly recommended as one of the fastest and easiest ways to get up to speed in HTML and CSS.

Green Weenies and Due Diligence
Ron Sturgeon
Mike French Publishing
1619 Front Street Lynden, WA 98264
ISBN: 0971703116 $28.95 288 p.

One of the things that distinguishes most industries is some form of jargon used by the insiders. Here to rescue the newbie is a compendium of terms and definitions from the world of business. Besides general jargon that is common among most businesses like alpha dog and peanut gallery it includes terms specific to particular industries such as Investments, Accounting and Tax, Debt and Banking, Legal, Real Estate, Insurance, Contracts, Business Planning, Acquisitions, and Divestitures. This is fascinating reading with lots of terms I've heard before and even more that are entirely new to me. Done in an interesting style that leaves you unable to put the book down as you read entry after entry it is a fun and informative read. Green Weenies and Due Diligence is highly recommended for anyone in the business world who wants to understand the slang used in their industry.

Fix-It and Forget-It Diabetic Cookbook
Phyllis Pellman Good
American Diabetes Association
Good Books
PO Box 419 Intercourse, PA 17534
ISBN: 1561484598 $15.95 272 p.

Counting carbohydrates and working through food exchanges in order to deal with diabetes can be a time consuming activity, especially for the busy working person. This book contains slow-cooker recipes complete with exchange list values, and information on fat, calories, cholesterol, fiber, sugars, protein, and just about anything else you would want to know in order to prepare a nutritious meal that takes minimal time out of your busy schedule. Casseroles, steak, stews, vegetables, chicken, potatoes, wings, barbecue, soups, chowders, desserts, snacks, and beverages are all well represented with an excellent selection of each as well as many more items. One thing is for sure, these recipes don't sacrifice flavor in any way. The recipes include recipes like Chicken in Mushroom Gravy, Lemon-Garlic Chicken, Potatoes O'Brien, Apple Crisp, and Carrot Cake. Fix-It and Forget-It Diabetic Cookbook is an excellent cookbook not only for diabetics but for slow cooker fans of all types.

Springboard to Success: Strategies to Keep Business Casual From Making Business... Casual
April Callis
Kensington Press
403 Kensington Road East Lansing, MI 48823
ISBN: 0976517108 $19.95 113 p.

The last paragraph of the introduction to this book clearly defines the objective - " help you discover how to present a professional image and conduct yourself with professional manner that transcends appearances". With the advent of "business casual" the perceived separation of the management from the worker by virtue of dress was greatly diminished. The problem is that it has also caused many employees and management to also take a much more casual attitude toward business. What is "business casual" and how can you draw the line that makes dress business casual without making the employees too casual about the business? Author April Callis tackles this question as she examines what constitutes a professional image, making a great first impression, proper business attire, business etiquette, interviewing skills, and presentation skills. Each of these areas are presented from the standpoint of creating the right image right from the start. Springboard to Success is required reading for people new to the office environment (especially high-school and college graduates) and recommended to those who are moving up the corporate ladder.

Fine Dining Madness
John Galloway
iUniverse, Inc.
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100 Lincoln, NE 68512
ISBN: 0595337775 $18.95 315 p.

Author John Galloway takes the reader on an inside tour through the world of fine dining from the perspective of the workers. Throughout the book he dispenses the rules of courtesy when dining out but does so with a humorous and very entertaining style. Mr. Galloway provides a lot of insight into the inner workings of a restaurant including how the server quickly determines who will be a good customer and who will not, often before they are even seated. Don't like the level of service you receive? He also discusses how to be treated like royalty at your favorite restaurant. Although written predominantly for the patron of the true upper scale fine dining restaurant much of the advice is also applicable to the average restaurant. Fine Dining Madness is an eye-opening, and fun read recommended for everyone.

The Pirate Coast
Richard Zacks
77 West 66th Street New York, NY 10023-6298
ISBN: 1401300030 $25.95 380 p.

After America became a nation it was only a few years before another country declared war on it. In 1801 Tripoli declared war on the United States. The pirates of the Barbary coast (including the Tripoli area) made a regular practice of capturing the ships of any nation plying the waters of the Mediterranean and declaring war made it easier to justify. When a Navy ship was captured and all on board taken for slaves Thomas Jefferson had to decide whether to pay the ransom or engage the nation's very small Navy in a war. Enter William Eaton, a failed military officer who, for various reasons, President Jefferson asks to engage in covert operations to remove the leader from power. This is the story behind the first covert operations of the United States long before the CIA ever came into existence. Author Richard Zacks' writing technique engages the reader so the story comes to life. The Pirate Coast is a highly recommended read for anyone interested in history.

Harold McFarland
Senior Reviewer

Klausner's Bookshelf

Scattered Suns
Kevin J. Anderson
ISBN 0446577170 $24.95, 476 pp.

When Chairman Basil Wenceslas used a device to ignite a gas giant he unknowingly destroyed the beings known as the hydrogues in it. The hydrogues declared war on the Terran Hanseatic League and nothing in the league's arsenal seems able to stop them. The hydrogues also declare war of the Hanseatic's ally the Illdira, the only other major civilization in the Spiral Arm. Instead of uniting against a common enemy, the worlds of the Hansa and those of the IIdira are sinking into internal chaos. There is a civil war taking place among the Ildira while the leader's daughter was specially bred to negotiate with the hydrogues but nobody can guarantee her success. Basil is descending into madness, acting the tyrant to people, worlds, and colonists who don't agree with his orders. The only hope to defeat the enemy lies with the verdani, an organic based sentience similar to the Theron world forest which was destroyed in a hydrogue attack. It means working together if civilization hopes to survive the almost unbeatable hydrogues. Anyone who loves a good space opera will want to read SCATTERED SUNS the fourth novel in the Saga of the Seven Suns. This work moves the story further along but leaves the audience with a feeling of anticipation as they wait for the next edition to be published to see what happens. Kevin J. Anderson is a talented storyteller and his ability to create characters both human and alien that are believable makes his novels very special.

The Silence of John
D. S. Lliteras
Hampton Roads Publishing
1125 Stoney Ridge Road, Charlottesville, VA 22902
ISBN: 157174410X $19.95

At the shadow of The Cross, John is unable to speak, a cretin amongst the brave women waiting for him to provide solace. He failed Jesus though he is the sole male disciple to remain at the Cross. The women are all there making him feel even more helpless and humiliated by his cowardice in contrast to their courage. In frustration he bangs his head against the wood of his stake. John sees Ester's disdain for him and the other men who fled seeking a safe haven. When he goes to talk with the resurrected Thief, Dinah tells him to back off as he is unworthy. When John reaches The Cross he drops to his knees in tears soliciting unwanted pity from Mary Magdalene and most of the other female followers, but more scorn from Ester who believes he is not honorable to even kneel where their beloved teacher died; he is no longer their equal. Mary the blessed mother tells all to accept God's Will, as she forgives those who failed him. Will John remain silent or heed the guidance of the beloved sacred Mother? Though the tale comes across more like vignettes describing the reactions of individuals to the aftermath of the crucifixion, fans of D.S. Lliteras' terrific biblical novels will appreciate the strong look at how the followers behaved when their leader died. The women are strong in differing ways while the men pusillanimously hide; interestingly the gospels that come later are all written by men. Due to the perceptive discerning look at the survivors, THE SILENCE OF JOHN is a fabulous entry in a terrific insightful series, though a different writing style than the previous novels.

A Bride Most Begrudging
Deanne Gist
Bethany House
ISBN: 0764200720 $12.99

In 1643, Lady Constance Morrow says goodbye to her beloved Uncle Skelly, a prisoner on board the Randolph. Skelly failed to bow to the king so he will spend the next seven years as an indentured prisoner in the Virginia Colonies. Before Constance can leave the vessel, the captain and his crew abduct her and toss her in with the other female detainees. Two months later Constance is for sale in Virginia while Skelly died on board. To the spirited lass' chagrin odious tobacco farmer Emmett wins the booty. However, Drew O'Connor collects the prize having won Constance in a card game. He takes her to his tobacco farm where he only wants her to serve as a maid and companion to his younger sister. He definitely does not want marriage still mourning the death of his beloved Leah. Drew rejects Constance's babble that she is the kidnapped daughter of an earl until he realizes she can't cook or clean or do anything domestic, but he desires her. She falls in love with her employer. A BRIDE MOST BEGRUDGING is a fantastic colonial romance that highlights the plight of women and incarcerated indentured servants. The gist of the story line provides a vivid look at the mid seventeenth century Virginia Colony, especially life on a tobacco farm. The lead couple is a delightful pairing as he begins to believe her only after he sees how domestically pathetic except for their kisses she is. The support cast is a bit extreme either being real nice folks or loathsome soulless thugs. Still Virginia and the prime lovers make for a wonderful historical tale.

In Plain Sight
Lorena McCourtney
Revell (Bethany House)
ISBN: 0800759559 $12.99, 311 pp.

Ivy Malone now appreciates being an invisible LOL (Little Old Lady) since avenging Drake Braxton begins to carry out his threat towards her after her testimony convicted his brother of murder. At first she ignores Braxton's harassment knowing from solving the murder of her best friend Thea (see INVISIBLE) that the police cannot help her. She no longer can ignore him when her house caught fire with her inside. Ivy consults with the Lord and decides it is time to go invisible again. Her niece DeeDee Harrington and family are off to Hawaii so Ivy moves into their isolated family property near Little Tom Lake, Arkansas. An unfriendly enigmatic loner, Leslie Marcone, thinks she is the Harrington housekeeper and Ivy fails to correct him; he hires Ivy to be his housekeeper, which she accepts as she wants to uncover his secrets. Meanwhile two former lovers arrive while police sergeant Yates plays matchmaker between Ivy and his widower dad that is when he is not considering arresting her for interfering with an investigation that could leave her dead. Everyone's favorite amateur sleuth LOL is back in a wonderful tale as she is as visible in the Arkansas side of the Ozarks as she was in the Missouri side. Ivy is as nosy as ever uncovering everyone's secrets, which places her in danger, but is comforted with her knowledge that the Lord is with her. Fans of a strong regional amateur sleuth tale with a subtle Christian message that augments understating of the heroic LOL on the lam will appreciate this fine tale that will surely bring Lorena McCourtney IN PLAIN SIGHT of the sub-genre.

Country of Origin
Don Lee
ISBN: 039332706X $13.95, 315 pp.

In 1980 University of Berkley graduate student Lisa Countryman, a half-Japanese, half-black American, conducts her dissertation research in Tokyo on the brutal societal conformity of bar girls. Lisa also has a personal agenda to learn more about who she is as a mixed race person. Needing work, Lisa finds employment as a hostess girl at a Tokyo men's club. Eventually she vanishes and her disappearance comes to the attention of American Junior Diplomat Tom Hurley, who has no interest in a half-breed's disappearance except as a nuisance that takes him away from the embassy pool and cocktails, which in his mind is more important to a purebred Hawaiian that he insists he is. In fact he is embarrassed by his roots of being a hybrid half-Korean, half white. Police Inspector Kenzo Ota, who spent three miserable teen years in Missouri, investigates the missing American, feeling strongly this case could make his career if he can solve it fast. This is an interesting look at racial relationships told through the three key characters whose convergence centers on the disappearance. The entertaining story line grips the reader from the moment that Lisa's vanishing is reported and never slows down as Tom half heartedly and Ota fully are engaged in learning what happened to her. Though minor in terms of the plot, the Tokyo embassy is in bright contrast to the stark Iranian hostage situation that is occurring at the same time. Don Lee uses a Japanese police procedural to provide a strong look at is racial origins.

Changer of Days
Alma Alexander
ISBN 0060765755 $6.99, 339 pp.

At the final battle with Toth near the Ronval l River, the king is killed and the general is mortally injured. Command fell to Fadrun who felt unequal to the task and promised the king's baseborn son Sif that if he would lead the men he would throw the army behind him and make him king. The true heir Anghara went into hiding as Sif led a pogrom against the Sighted (people with psi powers). Anghara returns from the desert realm of Kheidrun, where she has grown into her powers. On her first day back on her native soil she is captured by Sif's men and thrown into the dungeon where she resides for months until her loyal friend Kieman rescues her and takes her back to Kheldrum to heal and regain the Sight that was lost in Sif's dungeons. Her allies back home prepare the people for her return because this time when Anghara returns, she expects to take back the crown, the castle and the realm with the help of her subjects. The sequel to THE HIDDEN QUEEN is a beautiful fantasy with a protagonist who is strong and vulnerable at the same time. When she first fled the castle she was nine years old, untrained in the sight and unable to lead a nation; in the intervening years she grew up to be a courageous and strong-willed royal, ready to take back what is hers with the help of the man who loves her and kept her name alive in the hearts and minds of the people. Alma Alexander is a terrific storyteller who creates an imaginary world that seems very real.

Dan Simmons
ISBN: 0380978946 $25.95, 576 pp.

While Helen mourns the death of her husband with the help of her lover twentieth century scholar Hockenberry, the Greek and Trojan warriors have united to fight the Olympic Gods who caused much of the conflict with their meddling (see ILIUM). However, the Gods have not been sitting back for a millennium as they are used to interfering, intruding and attacking mortals so they begin a counter assault. Abetting the humans is the moravecs space robots, but that might still prove inadequate as the allies war with the Gods they once worshipped. While Helen dresses for Paris' funeral following some lovemaking with traveling historian Hockenberry, in other dimensions the robotic voynix revolt against their dissolute human masters and Prospero and Caliban battle the Tempest god Setebos. Meanwhile Achilles mourns his beloved dead Amazon queen as Odysseus journeys to an alternate Earth. Soon these seemingly divergent happenings will converge with Trekkies appearing while Helen buries Paris before and after making love with Hockenberry. The storytelling talent of Dan Simmons is incredible as he somehow brings together this Homeric epic that feels more complex than the DNA helix yet the multiple story lines blend into a cohesive delightful satirical tempest of a novel. The story line combines humor with action adventure in a terrific time alternating science fiction thriller. Readers need to set aside several days to read this enthralling work slowly as Mr. Simmons "sneaks" in all sorts of tidbits. Readers will treasure this sequel that is as good as or perhaps better than the highly regarded ILIUM.

Love Underground
Amanda Cockrell
ISBN: 0451215826 $6.99, 288 pp.

In Hellas, Persephone is the prettiest maiden in the land, but though she has female friends like Echo and Narcissa, boys her age have nothing to do with her except the bodacious Hermes. Males fear her mother Demeter who has god-like powers and her great-grandfather High Priest Aristippus who communicates directly with Zeus. Persephone lives like a bird in a gilded cage as Demeter keeps her safe and apart from the other gender with an iron fist that only she and Aristippus can use. That is until the Lord of the Underground, Hades, sees her and desires her. He comes up from under the ground in her garden to abduct Persephone. In his dark realm he offers his "soul" to her, but she rejects him. Frustrated, but not a quitter, the obstinate intelligent Hades courts his prisoner showing her what no male dared, a wondrous world even if it is home to the dead. Feeling alive for the first time Persephone begins to see passion for the first time with her underworld warden even as her mother searches heaven and earth for her. Amanda Cockrell provides a fantastic retelling of one of the great Greek mythological tales, the story of Persephone. The heroine, her wannabe lover and her determined mother come together in a delightful romance even with the underground as the setting. Fans of modern day renditions of the ancient mythos will treasure Ms. Cockrell's entertaining novel of LOVE UNDERGROUND.

Lord Temptation
Lauren Royal
ISBN: 0451215923 $6.99, 384 pp.

They first met when Alexandra was eight years old when her brother brought him home from school. Over the next seven years, Griffin Chase came home with his friend Tristan Nesbitt to the delight of Alexandra. When she turned fifteen, Tristan informed her that his Uncle Harold is sending him to Jamaica to oversee the property he owns there. Alexandra is heartbroken as she knows he is the man she loves, but being perfectly behaved, too young and treated as Tristan's younger sibling she says nothing. In 1815 Tristan returns to England as a Marquess where Griffin asks for help to revive the family vineyards as he has done with his own. Alexandra, who never made a match during her seasons due to family deaths, realizes her teenage puppy love remains fully intact as an adult. However, Tristan has no plans to marry anyone; Griffin has selected Lord Shelton for his sister; and Alexandra remains a compliant model of behavior. The paragon concludes that she must break the codes of ethics to gain Tristan's attention as a husband and lover not a brother, but he insists never his bride though she has owned his heart when he was just a Mr. LORD TEMPTATION is a wonderful Regency romance starring two likable lead protagonists whose love for one another has been kept secret until the second time around. Griffin wants Alexandra as his wife, but when she was too young he was too common and now that he has a title his scandal makes him unsuitable for her. Though typical of the sub-genre, fans will enjoy Alexandra's chase after the man she loves.

Murder of a Smart Cookie
Denise Swanson
ISBN 0451215842 $6.99, 272 pp.

After being dumped by her boyfriend and losing her job and apartment, Skye Denison returns home to Scumble River, Illinois where she becomes district school psychologist. She needs a job when school is out especially so because she wants to buy her cottage. She becomes a salesclerk in Cookie's Collectibles but when she sees Cookie trying to cheat eighty-nine year old Alma Griggs out of a vase worth thousands of dollars, Skye tells Alma not to sell it. Cookie fires Sky who gets a job with the Mayor her Uncle Dante pulling together the First Annual Route 66 yard sale. She rents her home to Faith Easton, the star of TV show Faith Finds, who is coming to televise the miles long flea market. Everything is going well for Skye who has no trouble coordinating the event until her mother and grandmother find Cookie's murdered body in the liquor cabinet they are using to store stuff for the yard sale. Shortly thereafter, Sky and her mother find Alma's body in the trellis on her home, a sword in her body. The sheriff thinks Skye and her mother are viable suspects so once again she has to find out who the killer is. This is a hilarious amateur sleuth mystery as the heroine goes from one crisis to another trying to pull the Route 66 yard sale together. Denise Swanson never lets her characters get stale as they constantly grow. IN MURDER OF A SMART COOKIE, the author has a lot of surprises in store for the reader as the characters undergo certain changes in their lives ever the secondary support cast. This is one mystery series that just keeps getting better and better.

The Chase
Cheryl Sawyer
ISBN: 0451215664 $6.99 448 pp.

In 1815, as Napoleon returns to France, Jacque Decernay, who fought for the English, is accused of desertion. Convicted, the English military sentence Jacques to death. No one stands up for Jacques, perhaps because he is as low a rank as anyone can be in the English army as fodder because how else would one use a French "traitor". Surprisingly in light of the French killed her husband, Francophile Lady Sophia Hamilton sends a letter to the leadership that saves Jacques's life. She sees this as payment for his saving hers years ago. Meanwhile Jacques worries that Sophia is probably in danger from her fellow Englishmen, who want her dead because they fear she knows they betrayed their country. One man in particular pursues her to her home in Sussex with plans to murder her at the first opportunity. Only Jacques who has also followed her to Sussex can keep her alive, but she wonders if she trust a Frenchman especially one whose loyalties seem wrong. THE CHASE is a fine Regency romantic suspense starring an intrepid heroine struggling between whom to believe has her interests at heart. Interestingly, she remains ignorant to what she possesses while a traitor has everything to lose if she learns and reveals what she holds. Jacques is a refreshing protagonist as the audience learns the conflicting emotions that run through his head as he betrays his beloved vivre la France. Cheryl Sawyer writes a tense historical intrigue starring a novel hero and the brave woman he protects with his life.

Dearly Depotted
Kate Collins
ISBN 0451215850 $6.50, 304 pp.

After flunking out of law school, Abby Knight buys Bloomers, a New Chapel, Indiana flower shop from the original owner Lottie who sold the store when her husband's medical bills nearly forced them into bankruptcy. For the Fourth of July weekend, one of Abby's clients ordered begonias in red, white, & blue but the supplier sent pink carnations forcing Abby to spray paint them red. She is also the bridesmaid at her cousin Jillian's wedding, the same relative who stood up four husbands-to-be. Abby makes sure that her cousin goes through with their wedding but after the nuptials, she finds a dead body in the gazebo. The dead man is the father of Melanie's child (jillian's cousin) who had a fight with Melanie's father. Instead the police arrest the boyfriend of Abby's assistant because he threatened the victim after he discovered he was embezzling from his company and has a record that says he murdered someone in Texas. Abby sets out to prove he is innocent even though it puts her life in danger. Dearly Depotted is an exciting who-done-it because there are so many suspects who had reasons to kill the victim that readers will become absorbed in the story and will finish in one sitting. The heroine is loyal to her friends and is determined to find a suspect other than Richard while she is trying to figure out if her friend Marco who she is attracted to is ever going to take her out. Kate Collins' amateur sleuth tale is original and charming with so many unexpected twists that readers will have a hard time trying to figure out who the murderer really is.

The Company Car
C. J. Hribal
Random House
ISBN: 140006287X $24.95, 402 pp.

Emil Czabek is coming home to celebrate with his six siblings the fiftieth anniversary of their parents. As he travels to the gala, Emil thinks back over the five decades together of Wally and Susan and prays he never ends up like them though his gut tells him he is a chip off the old block. Emil reflects on his parents' marriage on the It's Your Marriage TV show to fleeing Chicago for the suburbs and fleeing the burbs for a Wisconsin farm. He thinks of all the failed get rich schemes that dad tried between children and how he always tried to protect his family, albeit fumbling at his efforts. Emil ponders if he is as big a bungler as his father was as he considers what to do about his aging parents and contemplates whether his spouse cheats on him between her triathlon events. The family gathering for a special event makes for a fine drama that uses internal and external perspectives to provide the audience a deep look at an extended family especially the core parents and siblings through Emil's filter. Emil is a terrific narrator who not only sheds light on his family, but his relationship with his wife as he sees things. At times the baseball size starting team can become overwhelming to keep score of especially when spouses and grandchildren come off the bench, but readers who appreciate an insightful character study that provides an interesting fifty year viewpoint with enjoy this perceptive tale.

Doranna Durgin, Meredith Fletcher & Vicki Hinze
Signature Collection (Harlequin)
ISBN: 0373285221 $5.99

"Chameleon" by Doranna Durgin. Samantha "Sam I am": Fredericks can change into any disguise including becoming a street hooker or invisible. She is the only hope to keep a battered women's shelter safe when a mole reveals its secretive location on the Underground Railroad. However, only Jethro "what you see is what you get" Sheridan can keep her safe as he seeks his missing sister. "Upgrade" by Meredith Fletcher. In 2052 bionic superwoman FBI Agent Christine Chace is assigned to uncover the identity of who is leaking classified information to the enemy Bronze Tigers. Anyone including friends and peers she has known for years might be guilty so Christine trusts no one. However, her investigation spins out of control with an innocent young life potentially becoming collateral damage with her only help coming from security expert Dalton Geller, but can she trust him? "Total Recall" by Vicki Hinze. The terrorists plan to bring their trademark destruction to the United States by bombing the White House during a Fourth of July fireworks gala. U.S. Customs Agent Ben must stop them because cancellation is not an option because that means giving in to the terrorists. He turns to incredible photographic memory Special Agent Darcy as his only hope to stop a catastrophe. These three novellas star courageous strong women with a special skill each and the men who love them risking their lives to try to keep them safe in precarious situations. Each exciting tale is high octane super fast so that fans of romantic suspense with a touch of sci fi will want to read supercharged SMOKESCREEN.

Season of Shadows
Muriel Jensen
Signature Saga
ISBN: 037383652X $5.99

While her husband Naval Reservist John Keaton serves as a chaplain in Iraq, office assistant Julia dies in a tragic car accident leaving behind their two young children. On that same fatal day, John is wounded during a firefight so several months pass before he can look at his late wife's personal things including her journal that states that one of her two bosses at M&S Money Management embezzled client funds. Since she only gave a first name in her account, John plans to learn which one Ron Scieszka or Ron Milford is guilty of misusing funds and he believes murdered his spouse. John targets Milford, who retired with an affluent lifestyle that is evidence of excessive wealth while Scieszka continues to work and struggle to stay afloat. Thus John relocates with his children to Maple Hill, Massachusetts where Milford resides. John's efforts to stay low key abruptly ends when he rescues little Misty O'Neill from drowning. Maple Hill Mirror reporter Kay Florio wants to do a story with pictures on the hero, but John refuses. Curious Kay begins inquiries into why he rejected positive publicity; unaware of the perils she places the Keatons in. SEASON OF SHADOWS is a wonderful romantic suspense investigative saga that establishes the prime cast members so that a late twist becomes realistic and even more intense and gripping. Kay is a fabulous journalist investigating John, who in turn looks for proof that Milford killed Julia. Their falling in love complicates and compromises her efforts to uncover what her beloved hides, which amplifies the tension. Muriel Jensen writes a strong thriller that her audience will be thankful for a fine reading happening.

The Gentleman's Club
Joanna Wayne
Signature Spotlight
ISBN: 0373836511 $5.99

In New Orleans, the lowest attorney on the food chain at the corporate law firm of Williams, Williams and Castle, Rachel Powers prepares to assist a client with the IRS when a battered woman insists on seeing her. Tess Shepherd explains a friend sent her to Rachel. Five years ago Tess says she met wealthy Logan McCain following her high school graduation celebration; he forced himself on her and she gave birth nine months later to twins Danny and Davy. She never saw him again until recently when he demanded the boys. Rachel does not practice family law so she recommends where Tess can get an attorney, but the woman walks out, not interested in anyone else. Not long afterward Tess is murdered and her twins are missing. Although she knows she gave the right advice, Rachel feels guilt and concern for the boys. She begins making inquiries concentrating on insuring the safety of the children. When she gets to know Logan, she concludes he is no killer and would never force himself on a woman, but she also recognizes the rose colored glasses of love. Romantic suspense readers will enjoy this strong tale due to the transition of the lead couple especially Rachel who slowly and believably goes from suspicious to a woman in love who trusts her partner. The story line is action-packed with an interesting twist albeit used too often in literature and movies. Still the cast is fine; the cause is heroic; and the escapades delightfully written so that sub-genre fans will want to follow the exploits of Rachel and Logan as they risk their lives to rescue the twin boys.

Melting Point
Debra Cowan
Silhouette Intimate Moments
ISBN: 0373274408 $4.99

In Presley, Oklahoma, a suburb of Oklahoma City, the fire department answers a warehouse fire when a shot is fired from behind at the firefighters killing Dan Lozano. He is the fourth firefighter murdered in three months by a serial killer. Detective in charge Kiley Russell interviews firefighter Collier McClain, who witnessed the incident and learns he had a grudge against the latest victim; Lozano slept with his ex-fiancee. When fire inspector Teresa Spencer goes on maternity leave, Collier replaces her, which means he will work closely with Kiley on trying to sop the serial killer targeting firefighters. As they work together, they begin to fall in love, but both know their first duty is to uncover the murderer before someone else dies. The second Hot Zone tale (see BURNING LOVE) is an action-packed romantic suspense starring two likable heroes. Fans will appreciate the metamorphosis of the lead couple that begins with a rocky confrontational start, but eventually evolves into mutual trust and respect and ultimately a blazing love with toothbrushes serving as the symbol. The who-done-it is cleverly devised so that readers like the cop wonder if Collier could be a psychopath. This is a fine work by a top author who's always worth reading.

Danger Calls
Caridad Pineiro
Silhouette Intimate Moments
ISBN: 0373274416 $4.99

Until she met Ryder Latimer, FBI Agent Diana Reyes saw the world as black and white, good guys defeating bad guys. However, her perspective of the world is overcome even while she falls in love with Ryan though it is not her feelings for him that confounds her beliefs; it is his being a vampire that brings colors into her drab world (see DARKNESS CALLS). Dr. Melissa Danvers is the human caretaker of Ryder Latimer, a position she inherited from her parents when they died last year. As she learns her duties by studying her father's journals, someone steals one of them. Fearing for Ryder's life, Melissa asks Diana's brother Sebastian, a security consultant and computer guru, for help. Already attracted to one another, both wonders how they will avoid falling in love knowing they are already half way there. Neither knows that the person who stole the journey stalks Melissa needing more information to complete a diabolical plot. The second "Calls" supernatural romantic suspense is a fantastic thriller that grips the audience from the moment that Melissa realizes one of her late dad's journals has been stolen. Once again the audience will believe that vampires exist although Ryder plays more of a secondary role this time as opposed to his being the lead as he did along side of Diana in the first tale ((see DARKNESS CALLS). The two humans, Melissa and Sebastian star in this heated intrigue in which they attempt to keep Ryder safe while trying not to fall in love. In an incredibly short time, Caridad Pineiro is proving to be one of the sub-genre's best writers.

Double Vision
Vicki Hinze
Silhouette Bombshell
ISBN: 0373513593 $4.99

Air Force explosives specialist Captain Katherine Kane is in the Middle East trailing after a dangerous terrorist Thomas Kunz, a cunning person who runs GRID as a means to destroy America who he obsessively loathes. Thomas has replaced agents with doubles loyal to him. Katherine realizes she can only depend on herself, but the stakes are raised when Thomas abducts Americans to use as hostages. Realizing she has no choice, Katherine turns to an outpost base commander Major Nathan Forrester for help. He is willing to work with her in freeing the hostages and capturing Kunz, but he also tries to hide his desire for the captain with a gruff exterior; in fact he fears commitment since his wife died a few years ago. However, as the danger mounts for Katherine and Nathan he realizes he can no longer ignore his heart's insistence that he loves his teammate. DOUBLE VISION is an action packed military thriller that starts at high octane adrenalin levels and never slows down even when Katherine and Nathan display their growing love for one another. Surprisingly, even with the non stop action, the cast is solid and believable. Especially so is Thomas, a near perfect villain whose hatred of America and willing to do anything to harm Americans seems so genuine that he makes the tale even with two delightful opponents challenging his every move.

Doranna Durgin
Silhouette Bombshell
ISBN: 0373513607 $4.99

FBI legal attache Selena Jones took the foreign post in Suwan, capital of war ravaged Berzhaan after she caught her husband Colin in the arms of another woman when he was supposed to be on assignment overseas. As far Selena is concerned her marriage is over. However, Berzhaan Kemeini rebels take control of the embassy holding hostage many people including Prime Minister Omar Razidae, American Ambassador Allori, their staff, and visiting college students. On the loose as a wild card though trapped inside the complex is Selena who makes contact with the Feds. As she works to free the hostages, Colin is her lifeline to the outside, an assignment he demanded because he will do anything including storming the facility to free his wife who he loves. Take Die Hard out of Los Angeles to the Middle East and change John McClane to a female Athena Academy grad to get somewhat an idea of this exciting thriller. The story line centers on the action as Selena tries to find ways to disrupt the terrorists and save the hostages. Selena is heroic as the "roadrunner" battling the "Coyote" while Cole is frantic to hug her from the moment he realized that something was wrong by how she left their DC apartment until the final "cartoon" confrontation. Doranna Durgin writes an exhilarating fast-paced Athena Academy thriller.

Trigger Effect
Maggie Price
Silhouette Bombshell
ISBN: 0373513615 $4.99

In Oklahoma City, former cop forensic statement analysis expert Paige Carmichael provides a seminar on how to interpret documents and verbal and nonverbal language as clues to criminal behavior. However, she is also disturbed to learn that serial killer Dr. Edwin Isaac, who she busted, escaped; he is leaving messages for Paige. The threat to Paige is taken seriously by local law enforcement and homicide detective Nate McCall is assigned to keep her safe. As she provides instruction, Paige hears a comment from one of her students that raises her alert level. However, she knows from experience no one will believe her. At the same she is attracted to Nate who does not hide his feelings that she is a charlatan although he desperately desires her. Soon he will learn how accurate she is in "reading" words when he has to keep her safe from Isaac and his peer who want her dead. This is an exciting police procedural romance with the emphasis on the action. Paige's skill, especially with forensic communication, will intrigue the audience as it is cleverly interwoven in the plot to include the heroine having problems interpreting the confusing signals from Nate who wants her but scorns her expertise as voodoo magic. The story line is filled with suspense, but having two antagonists sometimes makes it difficult to follow who is doing what to whom. Still this is a terrific bombshell with a fabulous lead couple more than worth the price.

An Angel in Stone
Peggy Nicholson
Silhouette Bombshell
ISBN: 0373513623 $4.99

Fossil hunter Raine Ashaway is proud of the success of her family, owners of renowned Ashaway All, including herself in finding remnants from the dinosaur age. She is excited to learn of an opalized T-Rex tooth with the owner insisting the entire dinosaur is in the same state. However, instead of a simple purchase and expedition, Raine finds herself in direct competition with rival Kincade who seems to hate her and her family, but she has no idea why; even worse she is attracted to him while he seems to detest her. Cade and Raine head to Borneo, a divided island owned by three nations to find the full opalized T-Rex. She wants to find the bones before her rival does to keep her family reputation as the top gun while he wants to devastate Ashaway All as much as finding the remains. However, as they wok their way inland on the world's third largest island, a third competitor willing to kill has entered the game. To survive not necessarily win, Cade and Raine must team up or else. AN ANGEL IN STONE is an exhilarating romantic suspense thriller that emphasizes the action and adventure as much perhaps more than the changing relationship between the lead couple. Raine is a fantastic heroine and Cade is her perfect counter as he does not worship her as a female Indiana Jones, but holds her in contempt until he is forced to truly know her. Readers of action packed thrillers in an exotic place (the descriptions of Borneo augments the tale) will want to peruse Peggy Nicholson's exciting novel.

No Strings Attached
Millie Criswell
HQN (Harlequin)
ISBN: 0373770642 $6.99, 384 pp.

In Manhattan, Samantha Brady feels like a failure. She has had no success as a writer, believes her biological clock is ticking after babysitting the neighbor's infant, has yet to meet Prince Charming, and depends on her roommate stockbroker Jack Turner to cover much of their expenses. Their parents back in their hometown of Rhinebeck, New York hope Jack and Sam, best friends, would become more, but both fears romantic entanglement with one another could devastate their friendship. Jack helps Sam with her depressed mood while she encourages him to leave his SOB of a boss to start his own firm, which he does. One night of celebratory inebriation leads to an evening of love making. The next morning Jack fears for their friendship while Sam knows he is her Prince Charming. Knowing she is asking for trouble, Sam plans to convince him that they belong together that is until she realizes she is pregnant and becomes unsure as to whether Jack loves her more than just the mother of his child and best friend. Though the tale of best friends falling in love has been used numerous times as a plot device and adding a pregnancy almost as frequent, Millie Criswell writes a fine contemporary romance starring amiable nice people. Readers will agree with the parents of the lead couple that Jack and Sam belong together more than just as platonic roommates. Sub-genre fans will enjoy this warm uplifting New York tale due to the genial cast that makes this romance fun to read.

Every Waking Moment
Brenda Novak
ISBN: 0373770456 $6.99, 384 pp.

For six abusive years, Manuel Rodriguez has kept his insignificant other Vanessa Beacon a virtual prisoner. He never married her because his family, especially his mother, would not accept her because she is from the wrong ethnic background, but he also refuses to let her go. With the help of Carlos the gardener and others Vanessa escapes when he is away on business. She changes her name to Emma Wright and flees the prison with their five year old diabetic son Dominick whom she calls Max for their trek. Manuel beats up Carlos and forces him to report the car he gave to Emma which was reported stolen to the police. They find the vehicle in Fallon, Nevada, but unoccupied. Instead, San Francisco stockbroker Preston Holman reluctantly gives the mother and son a ride east. He is heading to Iowa to confront Dr. Vince Wendell who he blames for the death of his son two years ago. Meanwhile Manuel has to save face with his family so is coming to take back his heir and at a minimum beat up or perhaps even kill his fantasy woman. EVERY WAKING MOMENT is an exhilarating romantic suspense thriller with the emphasis on the chase as the heroine knows evil is following but is handicapped by her son's health needs in her bid for their freedom. Manuel makes the story line work because though obsessed, he takes advantage of tools to abet his pursuit. Manuel's family business and Preston's thirst for vengeance seem like "convenient" devices enabling yet subtracting from a powerful woman on the run plot. Brenda Novak provides a compelling tale that grips readers from the moment they realize that the bird flew the coop.

An Unexpected Pleasure
Candace Camp
ISBN: 0373770626 $16.95, 336 pp.

In 1879, Irish-American Deirdre Mulchaey dreams that her dead brother Dennis wants his family to avenge his death. Deirdre's older sister journalist Megan needs to know whether her belief and that of her family is true that English aristocrat Theo Moreland killed her brother Dennis when they were on a South American adventure together ten years ago. She is also interested to learn whether Theo's expedition found the treasure they sought in the jungle and if yes what happened to the booty. Her sibling's dream is the impetus to act. Used to going undercover, Megan knows she needs to infiltrate Theo's home, Broughton House. She succeeds by obtaining a position as governess to Theo's younger twin siblings. Megan and Theo find an instant attraction that shackles him because he recognizes her as the star of his dreams. She tries to tamper down his allure for her that feels so good yet makes her also believe she is behaving like a traitor to her late sibling's memory. He also wonders why he keeps finding her in odd places in the house as if she searches for something. The lead couple is a fabulous pairing as both suffers guilt over the same person; he from the South American fiasco and she from betraying her brother. As they fall in love, neither is happy with this unwanted and undesirable emotion. The mystery of what happened builds suspense as Megan investigates while Theo wonders what she is seeking and who she really is because he recognizes her from his fevered dreams during the fatal expedition. Fans will appreciate this entertaining well written Victorian romantic mystery with a touch of the paranormal.

Before Sunrise
Diana Palmer
ISBN: 0373770413 $16.95, 304 pp.

In 1997 in Chenocetah, North Carolina, Native American cultural anthropologist Phoebe Keller, curator of the Chenocetah Museum, receives a call from a claimant saying he found a Neanderthal skeleton on the reservation. She is skeptical because a development dispute is brewing but before Phoebe can arrange testing of the alleged prehistoric remains, the person who called her is murdered with his body left inside a cave. FBI Agent Jeremiah Cortez leads the investigation. As a college senior three years ago Jeremiah felt a deep attraction to Phoebe that she reciprocated. However, he broke her heart as both went on with their respective lives. As they work together on the investigation, they fall in love even while the danger mounts from those who want to hide the entire truth. This is a terrific romantic suspense using a Native American background to enhance the plot. The lead sleuths make a fine team though both struggle with the ardent simmering desire for the other; their relationship seems like a throwback to a simpler romance novel yet is extremely complex as expected from fully developed protagonists. The who-done-it is cleverly designed to keep the audience alert although a twist late in the tale seems off kilter. Still readers will appreciate Diana Palmer's strong police procedural contemporary romance.

His Real Father
Debra Salonen
Harlequin SuperRomance
ISBN: 0373712790 $5.50, 296 pp.

Documentary director Joe Kelly comes home to Worthington, California to film his family's bar Joe's Place before it is sold. To his shock, the buyer is Lisa Malden, who he has been attracted to for over seventeen years, but his twin brother Patrick scored with the ten teen Lisa should have been his sister-in-law but she never married Patrick although she gave birth to Joe's nephew Brandon who she raises as a single mom. Upon seeing Lisa, Joe knows he still wants her; Lisa reciprocates Joe's feelings, but does not want to deal with another Kelly. Still they spend plenty of time over Kelly's bar and soon their deep attraction turns to love. However, neither feels adequate to take that first step towards the other with their history in the way. HIS REAL FATHER is a strong character study that looks at a couple that almost made it as teens, but did not and now have a second chance to rectify their error. The support players enhance the relationship between the lead duo so that readers understand motives to not act on feelings. Debra Salonen writes a strong family drama with the emphasis on a fully developed functioning cast.

A Family for Daniel
Anna DeStefano
Harlequin SuperRomance
ISBN: 0373712804 $5.50, 296 pp.

In Sweetbrook, South Carolina, elementary school principal Joshua White struggles to raise his abused nephew Daniel, who detests the small town and wants nothing to with his uncle as just the latest dumping on a relative. Every time Josh tries to help Daniel acclimate, he fails. After dealing with abuse, Amy Loar drops her daughter Becky at her mother's home in Sweetbrook while she tries to make a career in Atlanta. Becky has problems adjusting with all the recent traumas in her life and soon gets into a fight with fourth grade classmate Daniel. Their feud grows until Amy is forced to come to town. For some reason, perhaps a deep understanding of Daniel's internal demons, Amy seems to reach him where as Josh fails to have the slightest positive vibe with the son of his sister. On the other hand Josh seems to have done well with Amy's daughter. As they work together to help one another raise their respective child, these childhood friends fall in love, but each knows the kids must come before their own needs. A FAMILY FOR DANIEL is an intriguing family drama that focuses on the impact of abuse on adults and children. The lead couple, their children, and other support players like her mom and teachers bring to life the small South Carolina town that shows it takes a village to raise a child. Though the woes are cleaned up relatively easy (this is a romance), fans of powerful contemporary tales with social issues will want to read Anna DeStefano's fine storey.

Certified Male
Kristin Hardy
Harlequin Blaze
ISBN: 0373791917 $4.50, 250 pp.

In San Francisco, someone steals valuable stamps from her grandfather's business while Gwen Chastain was on watch. Feeling guilty that she devastated the family business and needing to make amends, Gwen follows the thief to Las Vegas. There she disguises herself as Nina, a gambler, in an effort to recover what was lost. San Francisco sportswriter Del Redmond is in Vegas covering the World Series of Poker. When he meets Gwen, he can immediately tell she is not a cark shark. Curious over the masquerade and liking her he feels he pulled the ace of spades to complete a royal straight flush, but also wants to know what she is hiding from him. Poker will never look the same after reading this heated contemporary romance. The story line is fun to follow as Gwen tries to stay in sexy card sharp character (when she is more a homebody) to catch a thief while Del wants her in the buff not bluffing so he raises the ante with their relationship being the stakes. Though grandpa's investment reputation being shattered and distrusted as reasons to not call the cops seems wrong (maybe that is my ignorance) CERTIFIED MALE is a fine action-packed romance.

Thrill Me
Isabel Sharpe
Harlequin Blaze
ISBN: 0373791909 $4.75, 251 pp.

Just in New York from Pine River, Wisconsin where Oshkosh is ten times the size, office assistant to a college dean May Hope Emerson is to meet Trevor (who she originally met when he visited the college) at the Hush Hotel bar. Instead she encounters male action thriller author Beck Desmond. She is on the rebound from a six year relationship with Dan and his agent demands he learn what pleasures a woman or he will be an ex-writer as his tough as steel hero needs some romancing. After small talk, she checks into the hotel with plans to spend an evening of pleasure with Beck. As Beck and May spend time together, their initial attraction ignites into heated passion and finally love. However, he wonders if she using him to get over heartache while she ponders whether he just needs a role model to enable his testosterone champion to meet his feminine side. This is an engaging torrid contemporary romance starring two likable lead characters who the audience knows belongs together. The secondary cast are nice people hoping Beck has found his true love (after they get an autograph). Isabel Sharpe thrills readers with this fine tale of Wisconsin cheese meeting New York bagel on the streets of Manhattan.

An Engagement of Convenience
Molly Molay
Harlequin American
ISBN: 0373750757 $4.99, 250 pp.

At Today's World magazine, publisher Tom Eldridge angrily confronts graphic artist employee Lili Soule for passing out a petition to keep the Riverview Building where their office is located so that the day care center will beopened. As a single mother of twins she needs the after school facility, but Tom says the insurance costs to keep a quality day care center is expensive and the building management will make the final decision. Tom has problems with his father wanting him married. He plots to buy time until his sister Megan returns to town so their dad can concentrate on her. Since he admires the gutsy Lili and likes her two children in spite of her daughter accidentally zinging him in the family jewels with a ball, he offers the mother of two an ENGAGEMENT OF CONVENIENCE that will keep dad off his back and provide some help to her. Reluctantly yet enthusiastically Lili agrees though she fears her heart may break. Lili is a fabulous modern day woman struggling to balance her personal and professional lives as a single mom raising two needing to put food on the table. Tom terrific is also a fine character who readers will like. The ENGAGEMENT OF CONVENIENCE seems inane as neither Tom nor Lili would agree to such an arrangement as that is out of character for either. In spite of that strained subplot, this Sullivan's Rules tale is a fine contemporary romance with hard working caring individuals that fans will like and enjoy watching love blossom.

The Mommy Wish
Pamela Browning
Harlequin American
ISBN: 0373750749 $4.99, 249 pp.

Only for Grandpa Emmett would Molly Kate McBryde board the Fiona in Coastal Carolina to deliver it to her relative in Fort Lauderdale. At the Tarheel Marina dock Molly trips and meets seven years old Phoebe, who is using an unplugged vacuum cleaner. The little girl mentions her dad and she lives on board the Fiona where he drinks beer. She cannot imagine why Grandpa Emmett would allow a drunk to live on his boat, but plans to find out. She quickly learns that Phoebe's dad is Captain Eric Norvald who will sail the ship to Florida. On the coastal voyage south, Phoebe notices a change in her widower father from24/7 Mr. Grumpy to nice and friendly; he even smiles. As she places messages in bottles that's he tosses in to the Atlantic, she believes that Molly is the cause and prays that the career woman becomes her mommy; Molly would second that emotion as she falls in love with the Norvalds. THE MOMMY WISH is a terrific relationship drama starring several realistic individuals besides the obvious lead couple and the precocious child. The story line emphasizes the need to move on when confronted with the loss of a loved one, but to do so at your pace. In spite of the inane title and the overly intelligent and too mature child, readers will treasure this deep powerful family drama that will bring accolades to Pamela Browning.

McKettrick's Choice
Linda Lael Miller
ISBN: 0373770294 $16.95, 352 pp.

In 1888 on the ranch of his biological father in the Arizona Territory, Holt McKettrick is waiting for the preacher to arrive to marry him to Margaret when a visitor from his home state of Texas arrives with a note that he carried from friend Frank Corrales. Apparently the man who raised him John Cavanaugh is being dispossessed from his land and his best friend Gabe is going to be hung as a murdering horse thief. He informs his bride to be that they will not marry at least that day, leaves his daughter with her grandfather, and rushes back to Texas to try to save the day. In San Antonio, Judge Fellows is exasperated with his daughter Lorelei who refuses to wed her fiance Creighton Banning. Instead as Holt arrives in town, she burns her wedding dress and flees to the dilapidated ranch she inherited from her late mother. Her neighbor Holt helps her and soon they fall in love though her father convicted Gabe and her influential former fiance has made the bid for John's land. The follow up to the McKettrick bride trilogy is filled with suspense and action, but belongs to a pair of rowdies who do not believe in love until the emotion slaps each of them in the heart. The story line is fast-paced, but also provides a deep look at late nineteenth century Texas through the colorful cast. Linda Lael Miller provides a terrific western romance that embellishes why this is one of the sub-genre's better miniseries in the last few years.

Her Last Temptation
Leslie Kelly
Harlequin Temptation
ISBN: 0373692285 $4.50

Cat Sheehan is stunned that Temptations, the bar owned by her family is closing. She wants to save the place, but feels helpless knowing she has no options. At the same time, Cat ponders cleaning up her act by finding a nice guy rather than the bad boys she always has dated. Her resolve ends when musician Dylan Spencer enters Temptations as he has bad boy and temptation written all. Dylan and Cat begin seeing one another in what is a heated affair. However, Dylan fears the relationship will end once he reveals the truth about himself. Dylan is a nerdy software engineer who has loved Cat since high school, but she never knew he existed back then as he was too clean and straight for her to enter his circle and she does not know him today as she knows the bad boy musician. This is a fitting title to the last novel in what has been a two decade terrific imprint. HER LAST TEMPTATION is a fine heated contemporary romance that fans will appreciate due to two delightful lead characters with a fabulous premise of wild girl seeks good boy, but falls in love with bad boy who is actually a good boy in disguise. Leslie Kelly insures that the Temptation line goes out with quite a bang as the audience will treasure the final act.

Jennifer Archer
ISBN: 0373230346 $5.50, 304 pp.

Forty years old Cecilia "CiCi" Dupree feels much older than her age. She recently filed for divorce from Bert, but believes she should have killed him and buried him at the sacred canine peeing ground after seeing him kissing a neighbor's daughter barely older than their teen. CiCi just took her widow mom Belle out of the Parkview nursing home to live with her and her college age daughter Erin. However, the three generations of females under one roof cause an overflow of estrogen that drives the one pulled in the middle over the edge. Using lists to keep track of the demands by her mom and her daughter, CiCi knows that being the SANDWICHED generation leaves no time for her. Yet she wonders if she would have it any other way as the women find they have different needs, different desires, and different perspectives yet share the need, desire and perspective of loving relationships. The family drama is told by rotating perspectives that reflect the background of the individual woman as they tell their side. Whereas CiCi uses a first person narration, Belle sends letters to her deceased spouse and Erin uses instant messenger and email; this technique highlights the differences between the three generational females yet also shows their common bond. Though somewhat disruptive and requiring a reader adjustment, Jennifer Archer scores a bull's-eye with this insightful relationship drama.

Riggs Park
Ellyn Bache
Next (Harlequin)
ISBN: 0373880537 $5.50

They met as little kids in the DC Riggs Park area and have remained friends for over fifty years though Barbara Cohen lives in Wrightsville, North Carolina while Marilyn Waxman remained in the Washington area. Marilyn informs Barbara that she is back and she needs to see her to discuss what happened to another friend Penny when they were in college. Knowing that it is cancer Barbara agrees to visit her best friend although she is having personal problems with her lover Jon. Marilyn shocks Barbara when she mentions she will undergo a facelift prior to the experimental cancer treatment. Even more stunning is the secret that Penny had a child before vanishing; the father is either Marilyn's famous singing brother Steve or an unknown she apparently met on the "Bus Ride to see Steve. Reluctantly Barbara agrees to search for clues that would lead to Penny's offspring. As she begins her quest in the old neighborhood she realizes you can never go home, but continues her elusive venture. This fine middle age amateur sleuth character study is a well written buddy tale with a cast that makes the ensemble cast especially the lead female friends seem real. The friendship between Marilyn and Barbara serves as the key foundation to an intriguing plot. Barbara's inquires begin somewhat late in the novel as she is not convinced she should follow the clues until she realizes her beloved buddy needs to know the truth. With a terrific final twist to the delightful RIGGS PARK, readers will look forward to what comes next from Ellyn Bache.

Jody Gehrman
Red Dress (Harlequin)
ISBN: 0373895267 $12.95, 320 pp.

In Austin, Texas, Claudia Brown enjoyed the sex with her boyfriend Jonathan, but is not ready for anything permanent. She decides to discard domestic tranquility especially since Jonathan has already found a younger female and return to amazon tart status. She steals Jonathan's SUV and drives west only to have his bus ignite on fire; an oil change would have helped before the engine went up in flames, but it is too late now . Biker Clay Parker takes Claudia and her cat Medea to Santa Cruz where she will teach theatre at the University of California at Santa Cruz. Claudia and Clay hit it off until she learns he is married to a department peer and to make matters worse, his mother heads the department. Her class thinks she is a flake as her acting technique seems way out and some say so. However, her biggest issue is that she is falling in love with Clay and he seems so in love with Selena. TART is an engaging west coast chick lit tale starring a nice woman determined to return to her "roots" although Claudia cannot fully hide the real woman. Sub-genre readers will enjoy Claudia's up and down (figuratively but somewhat literally) relationship with "bad" boy biker Clay, who is a kind caring person. Fans will agree with his assessment that communication between them such as her asking him about his feelings would have solved many of their problems, but the fun is that she did not so the audience obtains an interesting dysfunctional relationship drama.

Miss Bubbles Steals the Show
Melanie Murray
Red Dress
ISBN: 0373895275 $12.95, 304 pp.

At twenty-five, Stella Aurora Monroe feels like a big failure as she has not taken Manhattan by storm as an actress though she has tried for over six years. Adding to her feeling of failure is that she wakes up with some strange dude in her bed, having no idea of his name only she must have met him at Hell's Bar. After tossing the hunk out, her day goes further downhill when her neighbor Christian Porter treats her with his usual sarcastic disdain. Stella takes her beloved cat Miss Bubbles to the vet when a Jack Russell gets loose and frightens the feline, who while hiding whistles. Another client Francis Paine sees the white Persian perform and suggests Stella take Miss Bubbles to the Cherry Lane Theater where she would obtain a part in a play. Excited for Miss Bubbles, Stella is also jealous that her cat is going to be a star and paying the rent while Christian is beginning to look nicer. Talk about truth in advertising, MISS BUBBLES STEALS THE SHOW in this fun Manhattan chick lit romance. Stella almost seems like two people as she is kind to her feline owner yet a "bigger than big jerk" towards Christian although she always feeds him. Still Stella is no contender for smartest character as she sleeps around with no pleasure in that; readers will enjoy learning why in this fine lighthearted romp.

A Little Change of Face
Lauren Baratz-Logsted
Red Dress
ISBN: 0373895259 $12.95, 304 pp.

In Danbury, Connecticut, her best friend Pam commented that Scarlett Jane Stein has her share of male friends and admirers because of her boob size. This shakes up Scarlett Jane, who thought men liked her because she was friendly and a nice person. If Pam is right and not just jealous, Scarlett wonders if that could be why she never met Mr. Right. Scarlett decides to experiment by sending out a frumpy schlumpy version. Pam helps her change into a dowdy version of herself. Scarlett changes her name to Lettie Shaw, her look, her home and even her job. Now she hopes to find someone who will get past her chest size to love the inner Scarlett. Two men enter her life, but does either see past Lettie to Scarlett. A LITTLE CHANGE OF FACE is an intriguing contemporary chick lit starring a likable protagonist who wonders if her good looks are a handicap hindering her finding a man who loves her. The story line is fun to follow when it concentrates on the transformation to a dumpy lead protagonist and the two men in her life. However, sidebars to include her so-called best friend acting like a Kamikaze drill instructor treating her like the enemy and Scarlett speaking hip hop with a black attorney pal seem inane for educated people and clearly in poor taste. Simply Scarlett needs to dump her best pal and treat TB (don't ask) with respect maybe the love of her life will do likewise.

Grave Intent
Deborah Leblanc
ISBN 0843955538 $6.99, 374 pp.

Ephraim Stevenson branded his infant daughter with the imprint of a gold coin that he made for her so that she will have payment when she dies and not be stuck in the netherworld. At the age of nineteen Thalia dies in a freak riding accident in a small town in Louisiana; her family arranges for her funeral to be held at Savoy's Ephraim takes the gold coin off the ring he is wearing and puts it in his daughter's coffin. Michael Savoy's father Wilson comes back home during the Stevenson funeral because some very bad people want to collect on his gambling debts. He sees the gold coin and steals it with every intention of using it to pay off his bookie but he loses it before that can happen. The ghost of Thalia's grandfather warns Michael that unless the coin is returned to Thalia within forty eight hours, death will come for his loved ones. Michael's wife and daughter are at their summer retreat under supernatural siege with his child's life slowly slipping away, Michael and Wilson are also under ghostly attack at the funeral home. Only returning the gold coin to Thalia will save his daughter from certain death. GRAVE INTENT is a chilling horror story worthy of a Bram Stoker nomination. Wilson's sets events in motion by stealing from a corpse, which doesn't phase this hedonist, who symbolizes selfish me-me negative behavior; in contrast Michael and his wife risk their lives to save their daughter and readers believe they would insure that Thalia has the money to take passage to the other side even if their offspring was not in danger.

City of the Dead
Brian Keene
ISBN 0843954159 $6.99, 357 pp.

Long before Lucifer fell, he sided with his fellow angels to rid the earth of the Siqquism. They were banished by the creator to the Void, a place colder than Hell is hot. The Siqquism have the ability to inhabit a body once the person's soul leaves it. Once humanity is erased from the planet the Ellium can corrupt the plant life and poison the seas then the Teraphim can destroy the world with fire before all three species move on to another planet to start the process again. The zombie-like creatures have killed most of the humans and the only ones left alive are hiding in a skyscraper thought to be impregnable. It was designed and built by wealthy entrepreneur Mr. Ramsey after the Twin Towers were destroyed. It is a beacon lit up so that any remaining humans can go there if they can avoid being killed and possessed by the Siqquism. It is there that humanity will rise or fall against an entity who seems invulnerable and unstoppable. What Anne Rice did for vampires, Brian Keene does for zombies who can only be destroyed by a blow to the head so they won't rise again. Humanity's last protectors are seasoned warriors who have learned that the zombies inhabit birds, rats and mammals. The terror they feel is real and frightening because even though they have weapons that can keep the creatures at bay, their overwhelming numbers make people feel the war is lost before it begun.

Forgive the Wind
Cindy Holby
ISBN: 0843953071 $6.99

After losing a leg during the Civil War, Caleb Connors heads west. In the Wyoming Territory he breaks his remaining limb. With a chicken pox epidemic devastating the area, only Amanda Myers is available to nurse Caleb back to health, which she does. However, the nurse falls in love with her patient, but assumes Caleb could never reciprocate those feelings with a fallen woman like she is as she was forced to live in a brothel and while there became addicted to opium. Caleb actually loves his angel of mercy. He helps her fight her addiction, but though he confesses his love she rejects him for his sake until she sees the portrait he painted of her. The latest "Wind" Americana historical romance (see WIND OF THE WOLF and WINDFALL) provides a deep entertaining look at Wyoming during the end of the Civil war and beginning of the Reconstruction Era. However, unlike the previous tales the violence that existed is ignored as if Lynch Ranch is an oasis that avoids the dangerous marauding and outlawry that plagued the Territory. Still the lead couple is a delightful pairing of two likable individuals mentally devastated by the war and in the case of Caleb physically too. The Cindy Holby nineteenth century sagas are fabulous tales worth chasing after as they are pleasant and vibrant reads.

Hungry Tigress
Jade Lee
ISBN: 084395504X $6.99

By 1896 American expatriate Joanna Crane loves the Chinese culture and people after spending the last decade living in China. Feeling obligated to help free her adopted people from the tyranny of the emperor and the westerner imperialist nations, Joanna tries to enlist with the Boxers, but instead is attacked as a foreigner. Shaolin Monk Zou Tan rescues her. Zou takes Joanna to Tigress Shi Po where he studies the Tigress form of Taoism. Fascinated, she soon joins him in his studies and quickly finds herself in love with her gallant rescuer. When the emperor's troops arrive, Zou, who is not what he seems, moves Joanna to another haven, but doubts he can keep his beloved westerner safe much longer though he willingly would die to do so. HUNGRY TIGRESS provides an incredible look at customs, religion, and the relationships between the Chinese and the westerners around the time of the Boxer Rebellion. The story line combines plenty of action with a terrific window on the late nineteenth century in China especially through the eyes of the lead couple. Interestingly, Zou is a fabulous protagonist who is a key reason history and eastern religion flows so easily within the fine plot; however, Joanna seems less developed as her motives fail to come across, leaving her a pale imitation of Lydia, the star of the wonderful prequel WHITE TIGRESS. Still fans who appreciate an exotic historical will want to peruse Jade Lee's fabulous novel and look forward to the next entry in 1890s Chinese saga, LAUGHING TIGRESS.

The Lily Brand
Sandra Schwab
ISBN: 084395552X $5.99, 352 pp.

In 1815 though the Napoleonic war is over and the exchange of POWs begun, Gratien keeps his healthier English prisoners incarcerated until he can sell them. At ChÉteau du Marais Lillian's stepmother Camille mentors her on domination of the sexes; over the years Lily has learned to ice her heart and obey. As a nineteenth birthday present, Camille selects Troy from amongst Gratien's "guests" as Lillian's pet. Troy loathes his owner who brands him with her namesake flower. Lillian enables Troy escape before fleeing to England to her grandfather's house. One year later they meet at a gala. He detests her, but to avoid scandal, they marry. To his chagrin he desires his abomination of a wife although he notices how kind she is to others. To him she shows the ice that enabled her to survive Camille and he displays his scorn towards her. However, soon love blossoms in the most unlikely of relationships as he melts her frozen heart and she peels away his disdain, but the French witch wants her heir back. THE LILY BRAND is a remarkable extremely dark Regency romance. The metamorphosis of the lead couple is brilliantly developed so that the audience can feel the changes from rage and shame to respect and love. Camille, as sinister as any character in recent years, will fascinate the audience in a macabre way sort of like the first appearance of Darth Vader. The sprinkling of some French (easy to translate) augments a fabulous historical not for everyone but grips the audience once Camille selects Troy as Lily's toy and never lets go until a confrontation on the continent.

C.J. Barry
Love Spell
ISBN: 0505525747 $6.99, 368 pp.

She knows she earned this first run as a freight captain when she helped rescue her brother Zain from slavery (see UNLEASHED), but Torrie Masters is nervous yet confident. However, when the computer reports the engine is melting down, Torrie sends her crew away hoping to save the day and not go down with the ship. Instead of dying, the meltdown proves false, but the Dead Zone Ghost Rider pirates led by Qaade Deter capture her ship. Surprisingly, Qaade sets Torrie free returning her vessel to her, but keeping her cargo. Later when he learns that slavers have kidnapped her, he comes to rescue her, but at the cost of his precious hijacked cargo. Once he frees her Qaade demands she help him recover the cargo he stole from her because his piracy assists the Slipstream rescue people from slavery although he wonders who will save his heart enslaved to the feisty captain. The fourth "Un...ed" science fiction romance is a terrific outer space action thriller that stands alone even with a Masters as a protagonist as in previous tales. The story line feels somewhat like swashbucklers in outer space, but with the test that the pirates, believing slavery is an abomination, free the slaves at every opportunity. C.J. Barry provides a fast-paced action-packed thriller starring two wonderful characters that make believers of the audience that piracy in space exist. Fans of speculative fictions will appreciate Ms. Barry's latest stellar story and seek the previous three "Un" novels that are well worth reading.

Celtic Fire
Joy Nash
Love Spell
ISBN: 0505526395 $5.99, 309 pp.

In 116 AD Northern Britannia, Celtic Queen Rhiannon detests killing the Roman wolf, but knows she has no choice. Magdog the Druid master deemed that the foreign military commander must be sacrificed to satiate the Horned God Kernunnos in the Rite of the Old Ones. One year later in Assyria, the specter Aulus Aquila visits his brother Lucius pleading with him to come to Britannia to rescue him from a fate worse than death. Lucius believes his sibling somehow lives so he becomes the Roman Commander at Britannia to learn the truth about Aulus. To his chagrin he is distracted in his quest by one of his prisoners Rhiannon, who knows that the soul of his brother is trapped within the stones. As they fall in love, the Celtic Queen realizes she must escape to thwart Magdog from binding another Roman Commander to the Horned God's stones. This ancient times paranormal fantasy romance is a terrific tale that employs otherworldly elements and a deep historical base to provide readers with an entertaining star-crossed lovers novel. Rhiannon is a courageous individual risking more than just her life to keep her beloved safe; Lucius is her fine partner if they can triumph over their guard-prisoner and Roman-Celtic differences and defeat Magdog. In many ways the villain makes the thriller brisk and entertaining as he brings to the plot wizardry fantasy components that on top of the forbidden love lead to fans cherishing the CELTIC FIRE that flows between the lead couple.

Making It Up As I Go Along
Maria T. Lennon
Shaye Areheart (Crown)
ISBN: 1400081904 $21.00

After globetrotting the world as a War correspondent thirty-eight years old Saffron "Saffy" Roch returns home to Santa Monica with a newborn Halla and no mate as the father Dr. Oscar remains in Sierra Leone. She feels out of place in the Los Angeles area especially when she meets other nursing mothers at the renowned Santa Monica Pump Station. Saffy's adoptive mom recently passed away disinheriting her hippie offspring Francis leaving the estate including Malibu Beach property to Saffy with the stipulation she never gets back with Oscar. When another former lover African Joseph Hanna, is incarcerated as a traitor, Saffy decides to intervene by buying his freedom, but must sell the Malibu estate to raise the cash. Meanwhile Francis, pretending to be her friend, obtains help from Saffy's biological mother and Oscar to cheat her out of her inheritance. While nursing, Saffy and Halla go to Africa to prevent an execution. MAKING IT UP AS I GO ALONG uses contrasts to tell the story of the civil war in Sierra Leone. On one hand is Saffy struggling with American style motherhood amidst the Southern California trophy wives. Though moving between now in chick lit L.A. and then in ravaged Sierra Leone costs continuity, the technique enhances the comparative analysis base of an emphatic story line.

The Exiled
Posie Graeme-Evans
ISBN: 074344373X $14.00, 416 pp.

In the latter half of the fifteenth century in Brugge, Belgium, Anne de Bohun remembers what it is like to be a servant, but now enjoys the economic freedom of being ward to wealthy English merchant Sir Matthew Cuttifer. Knowing she probably can never go home though she misses her lover, Matthew's household makes it easier to raise her infant son Edward without his father, King Edward IV who cannot acknowledge his offspring. Actually Anne is more of an apprentice than a ward as she learns the merchant business. She begins to successfully buy and sell including the trading of paintings, but also gains the wrath of her all male rivals who resent competition with a woman. Her enemies multiply in number and in intensity seeking anything to put her back in her place. She knows that if they learn the secret of her child's blue blood, death would stalk them. This sequel continues the story of Anne started in the entertaining THE INNOCENT. The story line provides a captivating perspective to the merchant world of 1560s Belgium where the heroine's male adversaries see her as an abomination that must be thwarted. Anne is a fabulous protagonist who serves as the focus of the tale almost reading like a work of biographical fiction. Posie Graeme-Evans writes a terrific medieval historical that will have her audience clamoring for the final novel in this stupendous saga.

Benedict Arnold: A Drama of the American Revolution in Five Acts
Robert Zubrin
Polaris Books
11111 W. 8th Ave, unit A, Lakewood, CO 80215
ISBN: 0974144312 $9.95

In 1777, the colonial forces flounder in the battle at Saratoga, New York against the troops of English General Burgoyne. The ragtag rebels are ready to retreat although no orders have come from leader General Gates. Realizing that an opportunity for success is at hand and Gates is nowhere to be found, General Arnold rallies the troops and leads a counter assault. The Americans win the battle, but Gates takes the glory. Over the next few years, Arnold proves to be the best field Commander, but fame and fortune seem to go to others less capable and in some cases abject failures. Beautiful teenage Pennsylvanian Tory Peggy Shipton and British top colonial spymaster Major John Andre recruit the frustrated Arnold to betray the West Point Fortress. They almost succeeded except for the unlikely heroic intervention of three skinners. This five act play is a strong biographical look at one of the most fascinating tragic figures in American history. The story line paints quite a different picture of Benedict Arnold, whose name denotes traitor. Of equal interest is the insightful glimpse at other key Founding Fathers especially Gates as well as Arnold's two partners in treachery. Readers will appreciate this fine drama and hope a production will one day follow.

The Ezekiel Option
Joel C. Rosenberg
ISBN 1414303432 $22.95, 446 pp.

Oil and natural gas were found in and around the Red Sea, so much so that the Jews and Palestinians joined forces to create an oil producing company that brought wealth to the area and peace to an unstable region. Russian oil prices plummeted putting the country in a great recession but the president was in favor of the oil for peace program initiated by the United States. That plan ended when the U.S. destroyed a Russian plane with women and children aboard that looked like it was going to crash into the White House. The Russians attack the United States for such an aggressive act saying that there were no terrorists on that plane. A coup in Russia brought to power a Hitler like tyrant who used the airplane disaster to kill the elected leader of the country. He brings about a European coalition that is willing to go to war against Israel using nuclear devices if that country doesn't unilaterally disarm. With no allies to turn to, only the promise in Ezekiel can save Israel from total annihilation. Readers who loved the Left Behind series will definitely want to read THE EZEKIEL OPTION. While LEFT BEHIND takes place minutes before the Rapture, this novel takes place as events leading to the rapture begin. The events that take place in this book are all too plausible and fans of action thrillers will find themselves thoroughly immersed in the storyline so much so that they will not be able to put the book down until the last page is turned.

Thunder at Dawn
Jill Gregory
ISBN: 0440241782 $6.99

Assistant District Attorney Faith Barclay needs time away from the job following the Jimmy Clement prosecution that led to his execution and subsequent proof of innocence and an ancient leaning judge letting free abusive ex-cop Hank Baymon on probation. Before leaving Philadelphia for her hometown of Thunder Creek, Wyoming, Faith arranges for Hank's wife and children to disappear because she knows he will kill them. In Thunder Creek, Faith and Zach McCallum are stunned to see one another for the first time in a decade since he left her to marry his pregnant girlfriend in Texas. Now divorced, he raises his son Dillon by himself. Faith and Zach realize they remain attracted to one another. Unbeknownst to her, Hank is stalking her as he plans to first take care of Faith and then his wife and her kids; no one walks out on Hank and lives to tell it. Meanwhile Zack courts a reluctant Faith who does not trust him while someone has begun killing people in Thunder Creek with Faith seemingly in the center of the bulls-eye. The suspense is high and increases throughout the twisting plot as the audience anticipates a showdown between the villain and the heroine. Adding to the tension is the likable lead couple who belongs together, but must overcome their history. Jill Gregory wisely also sends his too precocious son away on vacation so he is not a pawn of the killer or a matchmaker both over done in literature. The final twist seems improbable, but romantic intrigue fans will still take delight in the third terrific Thunder tale (see THUNDER CREEK and NIGHT THUNDER).

The Dying Hour
Rick Mofina
ISBN 0786016973 $6.99, 352 pp.

After an argument with her boyfriend, Karen Harding packs her suitcase and heads for her sister's home in Vancouver for some emotional comfort. The weather is bad, forcing Karen to stop at a truck stop for some food and coffee. She notices a reverend who is sitting quietly reading a book and drinking a cup of coffee. When she starts driving again, her car goes a few miles before it sputters to a stop. The reverend, who is driving an R.V. offers to call the auto club and takes her to shelter in his RV to dry off which she gladly accepts. The next thing she knows she is tied up and the reverend is driving to an unknown location. Jason Wade, an intern working for a Seattle paper, wants to beat out the other five interns for a job as a junior reporter. He sees the Karen Harding story as his ticket into a permanent job and his tenacity bears fruit as he comes face to face with the Evil wearing the face of an ordinary man. The story is told from the viewpoints of Jason and Karen, one who sees the story as his ticket out of working at the beer company for the rest of his life and the other who witnesses the depravity of a sick mind and the perverted things he does to his victims. Karen's innocent belief in goodness, the product of missionary parents who performed work in Africa, is a stark contrast to her twisted captor. Jason's resolve and unwillingness to give up the story is Karen's only chance for rescue. Rick Mofina is a brilliant thriller writer on a par with Dean Koontz.

The Closed Circle
Jonathan Coe
ISBN: 0375414150 $25.00

In Birmingham on the brink of the new millennium, senior accountant and wannabe author Benjamin Trotter has never forgotten the one that got away, Cicely Boyd, though two decades have passed. His frustrated wife Emily knows she still compares unfavorably to his teen love. However, he has a new secret interest, Malvina, who works as media guru for his parliament member younger brother Paul, who shares an attraction. Other friends from their 1970s ROTTERS' CLUB also have come complete circle. Claire Newman has returned from years in Italy. Her ex husband Philip Chase has become a journalist; so has Doug Anderton. All have moved on in Blair's new world order yet never quite matched their dreams. As he did with the ROTTERS' CLUB, Jonathan Coe takes a swift acerbic bite out of this time Blair's English society excesses, which have gone full circle from the welfare state to let the eat cake as long as someone else pays the tab. The story line is satire at its most cutting, which means the key cast members though heading into middle age remain caricatures representing a stereotype. No protagonist including the ROTTERS' CLUB alumni are fully developed in spite of having troubles, which adds to the feel that society is changing, but its members are bushed from the changes. Not for everyone, THE CLOSED CIRCLE is a Monty Python look at Blair's England through a post Iraq 9/11 altering lens.

Death's Little Helper
Peter Spiegelman
ISBN: 1400040795 $22.95

Affluent private eye John March does not need to work as his has a trust fund from the family banking business to pay his bills. Still, he enjoys sleuthing the mean streets and back allies of Wall Street solving financial related cases for his clients. Worried that her alimony gravy may have ended, Nina Sachs hires John to find out what happened to her missing ex-husband, Gregory Danes, former financial guru who has recently fallen from grace on the Street. John quickly learns that Gregory's firm Pace-Loyette reprimanded him for unethical behavior and rumors abound that the SEC is coming for him. However, the simple missing person's case turns bizarre when John realizes competing sleuths are searching for Gregory. These soulless detectives work for some deadly folks high up in the Russian Mafia. If John can stay alive long enough to march from one clue to the next, he might find the missing former spouse, but not necessarily breathing. Though John at times pontificates even when he takes a punch or bullets whiz by, fans will enjoy this hard boiled detective with a susceptible to love heart and seek his previous appearance (see award winning BLACK MAPS). The story line is action-packed as the simple inquiries turn ugly with adversaries willing to act as DEATH'S LITTLE HELPER. John is terrific and the end of the rainbow will stun the audience as much as it ravages the hero. Readers will enjoy Peter Spiegelman's unique look at the center of the capitalist system from a lethal perspective.

Club Sandwich
Lisa Samson
ISBN: 1578568854 $13.99, 352 pp.

In the Baltimore suburbs, Ivy Schneider finds life overwhelming. She writes a newspaper column, works at the family restaurant, raises three kids including one in diapers, insures her widowed mom gets her dialysis treatment and has no time for herself. Her spouse Rusty tours with the Heavenly Harmonics gospel barbershop quartet and is away from their bed quite often, failing to accompany her to her twentieth high school reunion. At the end of her rope, Ivy feels all alone and squeezed from all ends. She places an ad for other individuals trapped as the sandwich generation to contact her. To her surprise several folks do share her feeling that the world is collapsing on her. Together they form CLUB SANDWICH to help one another cope. A stunned Rusty cannot believe his wife depends on strangers rather than him, but how he acts now that Ivy has formed a support group remains to be seen. This is a deep family drama that centers on the pressure of being the sandwich generation struggling to care for ailing parents and nurturing children at the same time. Ivy is a terrific superwoman feeling the weight of the world with no, one including her spouse to help her balance her responsibilities until she forms the club with similarly "trapped" soul mates. Lisa Samson provides a deep psychological character study that showcases a growing phenomenon.

Where There's A Will
John Mortimer
ISBN: 0670034096 $24.95, 238 pp.

Octogenarian John "Horace Rumpole" Mortimer provides a series of intelligent humorous essays and soliloquies on living life to the fullest especially the young, which the author insists has no age barrier but instead is a state of mind (and body - though outdoor sex at 81 or even 54 sounds vulgar to voyeurs not the players). The chapters are brief and to the point, as Mr. Mortimer provides his readers with his last will and testament of sorts that uses literary references to emphasize his philosophy of enjoying yourself. He has written these thirty-two essays on a myriad of topics that range the gamut of modern stifling not living. Speak up rather than echoing silence as Mr. Mortimer employs amusing word play, puns, and other uplifting humor to provide sound advice filled with fury to the young to live life for you rather than become someone else's tale signifying nothing.

Three Day Road
Joseph Croyden
ISBN: 0670034312 $23.95, 354 pp.

World War I is over and a dying Xavier is coming home to Eastern Canada to live his last days with his beloved Auntie Niska. Morphine is the only thing that keeps the pain at bay. When he is not over-drugged he and Niska recall his childhood when she taught him how to hunt and Xavier taught his best friend and fellow vet Elijah Whiskeyjack how to hunt too. Niska wonders if her blessing the two lads enlisting in the European war was a mistake. The trench warfare is horrendous as just a few yards away Fritz the enemy fires at the Canadians and visa versa. The conditions are terrible between the lice, lack of clean water, food rationing, and wet socks leading to trench foot when frost bite does not set in. Only morphine makes conditions palpable. Xavier and Elijah become snipers although that does not improve their conditions in hell while Elijah racks up an astounding kill rate as though he depends on morphine to numb the senses except his marksman eyes. THREE DAY ROAD is an intriguing look at the effects of the trench warfare during World War I on Canadian Indians, who volunteered to serve. However, the story line graphically concentrates more on the atrocities and the aftermath of the war (the killing fever that Xavier suffers from, and the morphine addiction and killing frenzy that engulfs Elijah, etc.) that could have hit anyone who served On The Western Front. Though Joseph Croyden provides a deep look at the horrors of war just not enough on the impact on the Indians who fought a white man's war nor their tribe once they came home.

Shan Serafin
Bancroft Press
P.O. Box 65360, Baltimore, MD 21209
ISBN: 1890862401 $22.95, 268 pp.

In New York City attending a college summer school program, seventeen years Sophia is lonely and in some ways jealous of her best friend Shauna. While Sophia struggles with their math and physics class to just attain a C, Shauna is running an A in both. While no male seems to notice Sophia, the beautiful Shauna can have everyone. Having discussed killing one's self with over the counter drugs with pharmacist, Sophia feels she has nothing to look forward to. However, that night her enthusiasm picks up when Shauna mentions that Justin likes her and will be at a party. Sophia has no idea who Justin is, but looks forward to meeting him. At the party no Justin appears and Sophia along with a fat classmate are invisible females to the horde of horny males. Though her friend JP tries to calm her down, Sophia has had it with life. She gives it one week for someone to prove to her that she is meaningful or else she will end her forlorn existence. Though targeting young adults as a cautionary tale to seek help if you feel forlorn enough to contemplate suicide, older readers will appreciate this deep look at a teen in trouble. The story line is told from Sophia's perspective as she wonders why she is invisible to males and a failure in every other aspect of life. Shauna, the pharmacist, and others remain oblivious to Sophia's pain of believing she is a non person unworthy of life. Setting the stage of Sophia's disenchantment with living, once the countdown begins Shan Serafin grips readers, who pray for a Prince Charming climax even knowing this is not a fairy tale.

Case of Lies
Perri O'Shaughnessy
ISBN: 0385337957 $25.00

With her teenage son accompanying her, attorney Nina Reilly feels she has gone complete circle having recently left her former lover Paul van Wagoner behind in Carmel and returned to her hometown of South Lake Tahoe to practice law. Her masseuse Chelsi offers a deal of two rubdowns in exchange for legal advice to her Uncle Dave Hanna, which Nina agrees. Two years ago, someone robbed three people at the Ace High Motel, but before leaving, that person shot and killed Dave's pregnant wife, schoolteacher Sarah. No one was caught and the three witnesses quietly fled town. Dave sued the motel, but ran out of money and wants to drop the case. His niece and brother-in-law feel he should pursue his suit. Nina accepts the case, but also hires the son of her office assistant, private investigator Wish Whitefeather to see if he can uncover the identity of the killer. Neither realized at the time the twists the investigation will take involving card shark mathematicians Yale grads, wealthy Texans, a trek to Germany, a serial killer and the return of Nina's ex husband. CASE OF LIES is an exhilarating legal thriller in which Reilly is at her best in her latest appearance, which says a lot since this series is consistently a best seller. The story line seizes the audience from the moment most of the players appear on the stage starting with readers wondering what the connection between two blackjack card-counting experts have with a motel murder and other spins follow that all seem reasonable, even the final chiller. Though more investigate than legal, series fans will immeasurably relish the newest life of Reilly CASE OF LIES.

Nothing to Fear
Karen Rose
ISBN: 0446614483 $6.50, 528 pp.

In Wight's Landing, Maryland, two intruders shoot Paul and overpower Cheryl Rickman. The female invader finds frightened deaf twelve years old Alexander Vaughn hiding under life jackets in a bedroom closet. She tosses Alex and Cheryl in the trunk of their car. In West Virginia, Bryce calls his sister Sue on her cell phone to ask if she can bail him out of jail in Ocean City, Maryland. Fearing he will talk about the kidnapping of the Vaughn child, she agrees to call their Uncle Earl and Aunt Amy, two losers she plans to kill soon. However, instead of Earl or Amy, James answers. James who she killed rising from the dead tells her he murdered Earl and Amy and is coming for her; when you kill someone make sure their dead. Needing time to pull off the multimillion dollar ransom and related revenge, Sue executes Cheryl and heads to Chicago to hide with Alex at Dana Dupinsky's Hanover House, a safe house her prison cellmate used. At about the same time Alex's parents have reasons not to call law enforcement, so they turn to security expert Ethan Buchanan, Alex's godfather. Soon, everyone will converge in Chicago. The paragraphs above depict the opening ten percent of an action packed thriller that never slows down until that final High Noon convergence in Chicago. The cast whether they are an innocent frightened young pawn in a family drama, his parents, cold blooded killers, a professional trained in Afghanistan to track people in hiding, or a woman's shelter manager come across as real especially their reactions towards the crisis. NOTHING TO FEAR is a tense chilling suspense that readers will appreciate from start to finish.

Sweet and Sugar, Hot and Spice
Kimberly Raye
ISBN: 0446614017 $6.50, 346 pp.

Los Angeles based Eve Farrel, owner of Sugar & Spice Sinema hot videos attends her sister's marriage in a panic. This is her second sibling to wed recently leaving her alone as the sole single to face the wrath of their anti matrimony mother. NASCAR driver Linc "Shooter" Adams has pretended to be a bad boy on the circuit because he wants to upset his hometown voters so his best friend Craig Sanders wins the mayor election to replace Linc's dad. Instead, Shooter leads by 33 points as everyone assumes he is just having a good time sowing his wild oats. At the reception, Linc and Eve see the other as the solution to a parental problem. She gains a most despicable husband while he gains a most unacceptable wife. Neither expected to fall in love while they kept parents off their respective backs temporarily. The third Farrel anti-marriage contemporary romance is a fun tale just like its two predecessors (see KISS ME ONCE, KISS ME TWICE and SOMETIMES NAUGHTY, SOMETIMES NICE). By having Eve jump into a marriage of convenience out of fear of dealing solo with her guerrilla feminist mom, Kimberly Raye refreshes her plot device. Sweet and Sugar, Hot and Spice is an amusing ending to a fine trilogy in which the offspring let down their mom by marrying the men they love.

Lord of Desire
Paula Quinn
ISBN: 0446615943 $6.50, 352 pp.

In 1065 England, King Edward declares that winners in battle earn estates. Thus when Lord Richard, who seemed invincible, was finally defeated by the Norman Lord Brand Risand, everyone at Avarloch is shocked. King Edward and Duke William of Normandy have agreed that Brand will wed Richard's daughter Lady Brynnafar Dumont to avoid unrest and war. Brynna detests the idea of marrying a Norman, but will do so for the good of her people. Brand refuses to marry anyone having been betrayed just one year ago by a woman. Meanwhile Sir Luis plans to make trouble by fostering the seemingly natural distrust between Normans and Saxons especially taking advantage of Brand's distrust in the loyalties of any woman especially the bride that William forces him to wed. Still he finds himself falling in love with Brynna, who was halfway in love with him when in the nearby woods one year ago she saw how gentle he was with the love of his life. The interest in this fine historical romance lies in the setting as readers obtain insight into political maneuvering before the Conqueror triumphs. The story line feeds on the distrust between Saxons and Normans, but is augmented by wise individuals like Richard, whose beloved late wife was a Celt with the same suspicions between people. Though typical of Conqueror romances with a sly sneaky scoundrel stirring trouble by taking advantage of the Saxon Norman rivalry, Paula Quinn provides a vivid look at England just prior to the Battle at Hastings.

Without Warning
Tom McCrory
PageFree Publishing, Inc.
109 South Farmer Street, Otsego, MI 49078
ISBN: 1589611829 $22.95 192 pp.

In Huntington Beach, California someone enters the office of Payroll Computation Services and kills eighteen employees. The media immediately knee jerks to disgruntled employee, but Detective Bart Starcevich, who leads the inquiries into the mass murders sees no obvious link as such though the few survivors of the Orange County branch of PCS remain the prime suspects. There is nothing at the crime scene that proves useful and no one was left alive as a witness to the slaughter. Bart and his team feel stymied as public pressure to catch the killer grows. FBI Profiler Tracy Conway is assigned to do her magic to help Detective Starcevich narrow down the suspect list. The two cops look closely at three individuals, the daughter of one of the victims Julie Albright, sales representative Denny Lydick and accounts payable manager Carl Strayhorn. When Starcevich finds the murder weapons inside a storage locker rented by Strayhorn, he books him for murder. However, his Federal profiler has doubts as something does not add up right and Starcevich also has concerns as the evidence suddenly appeared like magic too easily pulling a dead rabbit out of a hat after going nowhere. Police procedural fans will gain immense pleasure from this terrific mass murder investigative thriller. The story line is action-packed, but centers on two law enforcement officials who struggle with a case that seems to have no motive, suddenly appear to have solved the homicides, but filled with doubts that something is off kilter that they do not see. WITHOUT WARNING readers including this reviewer of this fine tale will seek other suspense laden works by author Tom McCrory (see COMPANY CONFIDENTIAL).

Mission to Minerva
James P. Hogan
ISBN: 0743499026 $26.00

On earth, deputy director of physics for the UNSA, Dr. Victor Hunt receives a call from an older Dr. Victor Hunt inhabitant of a parallel universe. Victor knows that only the Thuriens of the planet Minerva, who once occupied this solar system, can interpret this odd exchange between two Hunts residing in differing universes. UNSA puts together a team to journey to Minerva to obtain assistance. The scientists soon explore the Multiverse, in which all endless deviations of "this" world exist. However, problems have surfaced causing paradoxical events that cross the multiverse for instance on the earth's moon a human skeleton in a weird spacesuit was found. Knowing that something is wrong, the earth scientists deploy a Thurien machine to investigate the phenomena of apparently their counterparts crossing into this reality for a time. MISSION TO MINERVA is a complex tale that is not easy to grasp because scientific theory is a major element that at times overwhelms the fiction. When James P. Hogan goes into overdrive explaining what is going on from a theoretical perspective, the audience will be fascinated but the plot stalls and for some it will be boring. Newcomers to the Giant Stars tales are provided with an introduction from the "past", but that too is imbued with much of the latest in physics making that is somewhat difficult to follow. Still worth reading for those who prefer the over the edge science as the solid foundation to their sci fi, but this novel clearly need a week to complete the project.

Into the Looking Glass
John Ringo
ISBN: 0743498801 $24.00

Thirty seconds after the president learns the news, the country is stunned as the media reports an explosion devastated the University of Central Florida. However, no radiation or electromagnetic pulse is detected; the NSA eliminates terrorists using an unheard of WMD, a non viable option. Everyone soon agrees that something happened in the lab of Dr. Ray Chen. They dispatch the only available physicist with a top secret clearance, the poster boy for absent minded Professor Dr. William Weaver accompanied by Navy SEAL Command Master Chief Robert Miller to investigate. William and Robert reach ground zero where Chen's former lab was; they find an interdimensional doorway that works from both sides. This enables invading aliens to enter planning to conquer the earth. Only Weaver and Miller with rednecks and some real army stand in the way of the deadly Dreen who annihilate life on planets. Non-Dreen ETs follow who are not malevolent towards earth, but plan to blow the place up if William fails to close the door. INTO THE LOOKING GLASS is a humorous action-packed science fiction that will remind readers of the opening of the Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy as the not so bad ETs want to blow up the planet though no malice is intended. William is terrific as he cannot remember to pay his cell phone bill or call his irate girlfriend, but the President knows this Huntsville resident must save the world. Weaver's partner Robert is real military struggling to accept that he needs the nerd to succeed. John Ringo is at his most amusing best with these doorways to and from other dimensions leading to a wonderful save the earth sci fi.

Daniel Hecht
ISBN: 1582344957 $14.95, 448 pp.

In 1999 in White Plains, New York, New York State Police Detective Morgan "Mo" Ford and his partner Mike St. Pierre become involved with the useof deadly force. Mo kills violent rape suspect Big Willie, the cop's second deadly incident. Though exonerated, Mo's boss Marden warns him to watch his butt as Westchester County DA Flannery wants to hang him. Marden approves sick leave so Mo can recover from the injuries he received from the refrigerator built Big Willie. Before Mo can go on leave, he is asked by White Plains Police to come to a murder scene. To his chagrin, the victim Daniel O'Connor is strung up with the same M.O. employed by the Howdy Doody serial killer who murdered thirteen people in the New York-New Jersey area. However, the FBI arrested the Howdy Doody Killer three months ago. Mo wonders if there is copy cat murderer or if the wrong person is behind bars. Meanwhile Flannery tells Mo he wants him on the case because if something goes wrong he has the perfect fall guy. This reprint of a powerful police procedural will have readers up late in a one sitting read from the moment Mo chokes Big Willie out for the count. The story line works on two levels, the investigation and the politics. PUPPETS is as good a serial killer tale as readers will find. An added bonus for readers is the as fascinating psychological thriller SKULL SESSION will be reprinted also.

Paul L. Bates
Five Star
ISBN 1594143129 $25.95, 315 pp.

The world is a bleak and dark place for people like Wyatt Weston who lives below the poverty line. Not having an income is one way of disappearing or being killed which has the benefit of keeping the population stable since natural resources are disappearing at an alarming rate. Wyatt has a unique talent of waking up missing a body part and being able through the power of his mind to regenerate it. Rachel Void wants Wyatt but she has left behind Heartland where all the decision makers and power brokers live under a dome because the air that everyone else breathes in the world is polluted. A chance meeting with one of the leaders of Heartland Victor Crist earns Wyatt the job of bodyguard, a dangerous job since his new employer wants to change the world order. Wyatt doesn't know that if he makes it through the coup alive, he probably will play a strong role in what will be a new world. Not one word in this entire novel indicates this is planet earth. It could be any world where the plague and religious wars destroyed much of the orb and there is very little chance of nature regenerating itself without a major paradigm shift. Readers will find this dark grim work reminiscent of A CLOCKWORK ORANGE where those in control know what lies beyond the next symphony. Paul J. Bates has written a work that takes the reader one step beyond the edge.

At Risk of Being a Fool
Jeannette Cottrell
Five Star
ISBN: 1594142920 $25.95, 270 pp.

In Salem, Oregon, while taking care of her spouse's increasing memory loss in which he does not remember her, fifty-eight years old retired teacher Jeanie McCoy also works part-time as an instructor at an at-risk youth program. Her current class consists of six students, ages seventeen to twenty-one, preparing for the GED exam. Jeanie knows to keep her distance as her students are violent, but in spite of the fact that anyone would knife her for touching their boom box she cares for each one of them like a mother hen. When a pipe bomb at a Delancey Brothers Construction site injures supervisor Bryce Logan, the cops suspect one of Jeanie's pupils Quinto the artist, who works there. Unable to ignore the situation, Jeanie with the help of another student Sorrel, the amazon mother of an infant, begins investigating what happened and soon realizes one of her dangerous "cubs" could be the culprit. Where Jeanie found the time to nurture her ailing spouse, teach her rowdy students, and become involved in an investigation is hard to fathom even if she leaves no time for herself. AT RISK OF BEING A FOOL is a fine amateur sleuth mystery complex, mesmerizing and entertaining. The mystery comes in late and takes a back seat to the classroom drama in which each student has a unique personality as discerned by Jeanie. The who-done-it is fascinating, but the classroom rules.

Winner Takes All
Diane Amos
Five Star
ISBN: 1594143668 $26.95, 263 pp.

In New England, Floyd's RV holds a raffle with the winner receiving a brand new Winnebago. However, due to a computer virus causing a glitch, tickets with the same number were sold. Thus, when Floyd called out 12, 7, 6, 8, 4, & 15, O'Leary Construction Company owner Thomas O'Leary and People's Bank official Karen Ann Brown claimed the prize. Floyd offers a contest between the two stubborn rivals. They will share the Winnebago for one month on a tour of Maine with the one who brings in the most publicity to his financially troubled dealership winning the vehicle. Thomas brings along his Labrador Bear while Karen Ann brings her cat Luce and the seven year old and his two younger brothers of her hospitalized friend, a single mom. With Peter, Charles and infant Byron as chaperones and Floyd pulling stunts so both will lose, Karen Ann and Thomas fall in love, but both fears what will happen after the chaotic contest ceases. Readers will win with this amusing romantic road show as Diane Amos shows her talent by providing a fine love story with children, pets and unscrupulous Floyd dampening the heat between the lead couple. Karen Ann is a solid lead protagonist needing to be loved as her parents are aloof towards her; Thomas, showered with sibling love, needs space after raising his brothers and sisters following the deaths of their parents in a car accident. The kids, dog, and cat provide comic chaos while Floyd is someone readers will not want to buy a used car from. WINNER TAKE ALL is a fun contemporary.

D.C. Brod
Five Star
ISBN 1594142890 $25.95, 453 pp.

Ben Pike realizes that his murder will put daughter Maxine in a precarious position because he didn't have the time to tell her what she needed to know. He goes to his death believing his daughter will have the inner fortitude and strength to follow the path he laid out for her. When word reaches Max and hers sister Olivia that Ben is missing and presumed dead, Olivia teams up with Nick, Ben's step-son, in England to find the stone that has been in his family for generations. The stone comes to Maxine upon Ben's instructions along with a book about the Arthurian legend. Rhys Lewis, a psychologist and Nick's uncle, wants the stone and will do whatever it takes to retrieve it because it is from Excalibur and when the stone and the jewel meet unlimited power will be at the disposal of that person. Max is aided by her father's friends in getting to the Island of Alyssum owned by Arthur Penn where she will meet her destiny. The forces of good, in the persons of Arthur and Nick, who confront Rhys, find they have created a strange twist to the Arthurian legend. Readers who love the King Arthur stories will find this tale a special treat with so many threads of Celtic mythology running through the storyline. Each major player is a symbol of a character from Camelot including Nick who is a descendant of one of King Arthur's knights. Of course there are some modifications made to the actual myths to better set the plot in the present but D.C. Brod is a sparkling fantasist who brings the legend into the present.

Two Graves Dug
Penny Micklebury
Five Star
ISBN: 1594143013 $25.95, 216 pp.

Lower East Side private sleuth Phil Rodriguez is shocked by who wants to hire him, punk Carmen Aiello, who has announced to the entire lower Manhattan that he wants to see the PI. Carmen wants Phil to learn who is harassing black psychiatrist Jill Mason, who helped his daughter. Once Phil identifies the bum, Carmen plans to take care of business feeling he owes a debt to Dr. Mason. Phil begins his inquiries in the hood, but soon finds his case involves a serial rapist picking on the young. At the same that Phil walks the mean streets, his partner Yolanda Aguierre uses the computer for evidence, but relies more on her psychic skills for clues. Together they plan to stop prevent further harm to Jill and to the young females. Though Phil seems the hard boiled type and the story line reads like an urban noir, what makes the novel New Yorkese is the consolidating, blending and assimilating of several languages especially Yiddish, Spanish, and English into one common vernacular. Readers will like the courageous lead protagonist who sees the wealthy doctor and the poor street person as people worth keeping safe; in other words his bias is towards punks and wannabe Mafiosi. Fans of Manhattan mayhem will want to walk the Village and other streets below 14th as Penny Micklebury writes a strong inner city mystery.

Now Comes Death
Kinley Roby
Five Star
ISBN: 1594142874 $25.95, 278 pp.

On Hobson's Choice near Tequesta City, Florida, Helen Bradley and Harry Brock are conducting a bird census for the Audubon society when they come across a rotted corpse. Harry realizes that the dead man is Truly Brown, who was to shortly inherit a fortune. The police tell Harry, a private investigator, to stay out of their case as he intends to do without their warning. Helen's friend Riga Kraftmeier, vice president at Three Rivers Bank & Trust Company, wants to purchase Hobson's Choice so she hires Harry to expedite her efforts to include if necessary solving the homicide. As Harry investigates, his pregnant wife Katherine warns him that she will leave him if he fails to change jobs. Harry wants to comfort her, but ignores her threat as this is his occupation, but soon wishes he heeded her admonition as he finds himself endangered by two families feuding. The second Harry Brock investigative tale (see DEATH IN A HAMMOCK) is a fabulous who-done-it as the hero's personal life interferes with his concentration on the case. The story line is action-packed, but also loaded with angst as Katherine lays out an ultimatum and Helen is more fun to be with so readers who do not want a large spoonful of the humanizing element will want to pass. For readers like this reviewer the personal aspects enhance a strong murder investigation that leaves the audience with a fine all around novel.

2,000 Miles to Open Road
Trey S. Barker
Five Star
ISBN: 1594143234 $25.95, 303 pp.

In Carson City, Nevada, Halford Turnbull negotiates with Jonathan Templeton exchanging a DVD that proves he did not commit murder for $20,000. However, before they complete the exchange Dogwood intercedes demanding the 20K belongs to him as Halford stole the loot form him. All hell breaks out with bullets firing everywhere. As the cops arrive, Halford escapes, but as he drives off a woman dives through the passenger window of his car. Halford's new "partner" Apple Valley gives him instruction on how to get out of town with cops everywhere. He knows his only hope for freedom is to reach his brother Hanford who assumes Halford is guilty. The trek to Huntsville, Texas is dangerous with cops ready to bust him at every point, two groups of goons chasing after him for the DVD or the money or both, and even a local church wants to literally bust him. Only Apple Valley seems to get him through roadblocks, but he wonders what the former stripper wants of him. 2,000 MILES TO OPEN ROAD is a wild thriller in which everyone seems slightly deranged (eccentric seems too gentle of a description). Thus the audience will have a good time hitching along with Apple and Halford as it seems like half of Nevada want him dead, the money he stole, and the DVD he needs to prove his innocence. Readers who enjoy a wild ride will want to sit cannonball with the lead duo as they are chased across the southwest.

Moon in the Water
Stan Gordon
Five Star
ISBN: 1594141185 $26.95, 287 pp.

In 1830 Indian Territory just north of Santa Fe, Lozen shocks the members of the Warm Springs Apache clan as she outruns and is more accurate with a bow and arrow than boys her age. Her brother Victorio and family friend Teyze train her in the ways of a warrior, but she is put to the test when she wrestles a much bigger male. To everyone's shock except her family and Teyze she defeats her opponent using cunning to overcome his power advantage. Receiving formal training as the only female warrior in the tribe, Lozen shows skills as a healer too. As the Apache are being overwhelmed by Mexicans and White Eyes, many turn to Lozen for spiritual and worldly leadership. As she tries to lead her people with strength against overwhelming odds, Lozen, also known now as "Power of the Blue Hands", knows the danger of the encroachment that could destroy her people's way of life, but how to prevent it seems just beyond the next mist. MOON IN THE WATER is a gender bending historical fictionalized account of a real Indian while focusing on the lifestyle of a southwest Apache tribe struggling to survive against outside intrusion. Lozen keeps the story line focused as the star who defies sexual barriers to become a warrior and leader. Using the story of Lozen as an underlying basis to his fascinating story line, Stan Gordon provides a deep look at Apache customs at a time when the tribe was in peril from the outside encroachment.

One More Tomorrow
S. A. Martin
New Concepts
ISBN: 1586086766 $11.49, 309 pp.

In Miami, vampire Galen Kent stops a mugger attacking Bookworm's Delight store manager, Stephanie "Stevie" Novak. He offers to take her home, but she is wary of a stranger though she acknowledges he rescued her. A cop arrives who vouches that Galen is a good guy working as a police auxiliary. Reassured Stevie allows Galen to take her home, not realizing that he used his vampiric powers to coax the cop into praising him. Unbeknownst to Galen, his clan leader Moloch observed the entire incident. Moloch does not comprehend why his selected replacement interceded and subsequently allowed a mortal to live. He plans to watch what develops and if necessary kill his ward and drink Stevie's blood. As Galen begins to court Stevie, he knows why she is in his blood as he has waited for a millennium for the reincarnation of his beloved Linette and now that she is here, he will do whatever it takes to keep her safe from his mentor and others as well as find a way for them to be together forever. Vampire romance fans will not want to miss the delightful ONE MORE TOMORROW, a fine tale starring two star-crossed lovers and the evil that shadows their every step. Galen is an admirable soul who drinks blood from only criminals while Stevie is a courageous person wondering if she truly loves the vampire. Although Moloch seems too intelligent and malevolent not to recognize the essential goodness of his apprentice (one can soundly counter argue that it goes against his blood to believe a vampire would love instead of hunt a human), readers will want more tales like this strong love story.

Immaculate Deception
Iain Pears
ISBN: 0743272412 $13.00, 224 pp.

Prime Minister Antonio Sabauda guaranteed the safety of the Claude Lorraine masterpiece, on loan from the Louvre. Alas museum security and art thieves obviously misunderstood the PM as the painting is stolen. Desperate to recover the stolen painting, but without the media and consequently the public knowing, Sabauda assign acting chief of the Rome Police Department's art theft squad with recovering the lost art. The government cannot pay the ransom demands as that would break Italian law that is very clear that kidnappers are not to receive ransom money. Like magic an anonymous package containing the exact amount of Euros arrives. A bit surprised by the appearance of the cash, Flavia is further shocked to learn that the thief Maurizio Sabbatini drowned in a tub of plaster with the time of death occurring before he made the ransom demand. While Flavia struggles with her case wondering if the PM is pulling a stunt or perhaps her retired mentor General Taddeo Bottando, her spouse Jonathan Argyll looks into the stealing of the Immaculate Conception painting four decades ago. Neither realized the link between the thefts, but they better soon as more corpses follow the death of Sabbatini. IMMACULATE DECEPTION provides intriguing varying perspectives of the Italian art world especially from the husband-wife team, the PM, the museum that lost the painting, and the thief, etc. The who-done-it is somewhat convoluted and difficult to follow as the connections between the art thefts seem more like a nebulous version of the DNA helix. Still it is fun to follow Flavia and Jack struggle to solve art mysteries four decades apart and a murder too while their right and wrong morality is challenged as never before.

False Testimony
Rose Connors
ISBN 0743261976 $25.00, 256 pp.

On Cape Cod, two lawyers coming from different directions in their careers met and became partners in their own firm. Marty Nickerson spent years as a prosecuting attorney in the District Attorney's office and Harry Madigan was a public defender before they became defense attorneys. They are lovers and work together on each other's case of which they have two. U.S. Senator Charles Kendrick's staffer Michelle Forrester disappears without a trace between the time she left her boss's home and the time she was due to visit her parents. Both his wife and daughter know he had an affair with her. He has Marty to represent him but when Michelle's dead body is found the Senator admits his guilt; Marty doesn't believe him. Harry is concentrating on the case of Derrick Holliston, who spent most of his young life in juvenile and just got out of prison. He is charged with the murder of Father Patrick McMahon. Derrick insists the priest was forcefully trying to sexually abuse him but the state claims it was a robbery gone terribly wrong. Both lawyers believe their client is guilty but they just might get him off on a technicality. Two different cases, two very different people from opposite sides of the economic and social strata. Neither one is telling the truth but one is innocent and his lawyer believes part of the job is to find out who it is. The legal maneuvers of both lawyers are virtuosos employing brilliant strategy while in the end justice is served on all fronts. Rose Connors holds her own with the likes of John Grisham and Scott Turow.

Looking For Peyton Place
Barbara Delinsky
ISBN 0743246446 $24.95, 365 pp.

Middle River is the New England town that Grace Metalious' novel Peyton Place was based on. Middle River looks quaint and wholesome, but people have secrets would ruin them if they get out. It is a company town and Sandy Meade owns the Northwood Paper Mill that employs most of the townsfolk so people are very reluctant to talk about the wrongdoing of Sandy and his son Aidan. When Annie Barnes, a famous writer, thinks about her mother's death, she isn't sure that the official verdict tells the whole story. She returns to Middle River where she sees Phoebe have the same symptoms that her mother had. After doing some research, she thinks that they and other villagers suffer from mercury poison. The only place in town that uses mercury is the paper plant. The Meades try to turn the townsfolk against her and run her out of town before she learns what they are trying so desperately to hide. Making matters worse is that Annie falls for James Meade who refuses to tell her what he knows about his family and the possibility of mercury poisoning afflicting the people of Middle River. The best part of reading a Barbara Delinsky book is that she never tells the same story twice and she imbues her storyline with a relevant social issue. LOOKING FOR PEYTON PLACE is a fabulous mainstream women's fiction book focusing on a spunky protagonist. Annie is determined to find out what is wrong in her town because she doesn't want to lose her sister or have other innocent people fall ill or die. Ms. Delinsky puts her heart into her work.

The Graveyard Position
Robert Barnard
ISBN: 0743253469 $25.00, 288 pp.

Attorney Merlyn Docherty returns to England after twenty years living in Brussels for the funeral of his Aunt Clarissa Cantelo, a noted spiritualist. He is also the heir to the Cantelo empire, which angers his extended family; many of whom feel he is an imposter as the real Merlyn has been assumed dead for years. Rather than sit back while his relatives pick apart his bones like vultures and believing that a dark secret is being concealed from him, Merlyn investigates the Cantelo clan. He especially wants to learn what is being hid and to ascertain the complex coalitions so as to determine who might prove a trustworthy ally. As Merlyn begins to put together the puzzle, one of his loving relatives tries to kill him, upping the ante. THE GRAVEYARD POSITION is more a bittersweet family drama than an amateur sleuth tale. Merlyn is the only sympathetic character as his clan is used as hyperbole as the family from hell, making the case of nurturing can be hazardous to one's well being. The support cast is so ugly especially towards Merlyn but also somewhat with one another that each illicit scorn from the reader. Thus the dialogues, which are the key device of the plot, are amusing but also overdone, losing somewhat Robert Bernard's sharp wit. Though no BONES IN THE ATTIC, fans will cherish his latest family skeletons in the closet mystery.

The Death Collectors
Jack Kerley
ISBN: 0525948775 $24.95, 336 pp.

In 1972 in Mobile Alabama Circuit Court, as he sentences Marden Hexcamp, Judge Penfield does not hide his repulsion for the convicted serial killer, whose trial led to the hospitalization of two jurors with nervous conditions. The Judge makes it clear that the electrocution at Holman Prison will somewhat clean this evil. Marden states that only art is worth living for. However, before he can be escorted out of court, the "Crying Woman", who sat outside the courtroom with a vigil during the trial, pulls out a gun, tells Marden she loves him and kills him before shooting herself to death. Three decades later Mobile Police Detectives Harry Nautilus and Carson Ryder spend 99% of their time on homicides but the remainder of their work involves the only specialists assigned to the renowned "PISS" squad, the Psychological and Sociological Investigation Team. Currently, they investigate the murder of a hooker; other killings follow. The link appears to be Hexcamp's paintings. Apparently, they, as are other items of famous serial killers, become valuable collectibles; one death collector apparently has crossed the homicide line to obtain the blood memorabilia of his or her diabolical heroes. This is a weird police procedural that starts with a bang and never slows down while fascinating the audience with the ghoulish memorabilia that THE DEATH COLLECTORS covet. Making what seems a farfetched tale realistic is the recent pack of cards that showcased infamous serial killers and mass murderers that sold rather gruesomely fast. Harry and Carson (NY football Giants fan?) are two solid cops whose PISS case leads to good citizens collecting the macabre. Jack Kerley writes an eye opening grisly dark thriller.

Killer Swell
Jeff Shelby
ISBN: 0525948805 $23.95, 304 pp.

In Mission Beach, California while meeting wealthy Marilyn Crier, surfer private investigator Noah Braddock thinks back eleven years ago when he dated her daughter Kate, but the mother ended the relationship like an avenging angel. Now Marilyn wants to hire Noah to find her missing daughter who failed to meet her spouse Randall Tower at the San Francisco Airport as planned. Noah wants to say no even when Marilyn mentions a former patron recommended him and she knows he loathes her; he reluctantly agrees to find Kate in spite of Marilyn. Noah tries to remain detached as he questions Randall, staying in San Diego's La Valencia. After another confrontation this time with the spouse over Noah's motivation, he questions Randall about his relationship with Kate. He obtains typical marital woes not enough to make a wife run away, but Noah wonders why Randall seems calm with his spouse missing for two weeks. Noah visits the Marriott where Kate stays when she is in town. In the parking lot he notices an isolated poorly parked Mercedes in two spaces. Inside he finds Kate. His former lover, Detective Liz Santangelo heads the official homicide investigation by warning Noah to stay out of it, but he feels he owes Kate for what could have been. This is a fun beach noir that grips the audience from the personality-expressive opening line until the final reunion over the Pacific rocks. Noah is a likable slacker who works enough to surf without bills hanging over his board, but once on a case throws everything into the investigation. The murder mystery uses the San Diego area to enhance a solid sleuthing story.

Homicide My Own
Anne Argula
Pleasure Boat Studio
201 West 89th St., #6F, New York, NY 10024
ISBN: 1929355211 $16.00, 219 pp.

In Spokane, his adult girlfriend turned in systems analyst thirtyish Charles T. Houser when she caught him having carnal relations with a fourteen year-old Stacey. Rather then face the music of sex with a minor, Charles jumps bail taking his Lolita with him. However, a Native American security chief at the Shalish Island Casino near Canada catches him and locks him up. Spokane Police Department Lieutenant sends Odd Gunderson and Quinn to bring him home. Their trip back is delayed because Charles attempted suicide and cannot travel. Odd learns of the double murders of teenage lovers Jimmy Coyote and Jeannie Olson over three decades ago that was not solved. Frightening his partner because he knows things he should not, Odd somehow seems to provide insight to what happened. Quinn, already irritable from hot flashes, wonders if her younger male partner suffers from menopause or could a supernatural happening like a reincarnation or a spirit returning have occurred; Odd and Quinn investigate the now hot cold case homicides. This is a marvelous odd police procedural told from the perspective of grouchy Quinn who just wants a shower to cool off from post menopause but instead is picking up a sex offender suspect, which leads to a weird investigation. The story line grips the audience who like Quinn wants to know what is going on as her partner acts odd with information he should not know unless he was there, which is an age impossibility except if you believe in otherworldly occurrences or quantum physics. Ann Argula writes a quirky fun who-done-it that readers will value and demand more form this odd couple.

Black Rose
Nora Roberts
ISBN: 0515138657 $7.99, 384 pp.

In Memphis, forty-five year old Rosalind "Roz" Harper for the most part feels good about life mostly because of the young that has brought her family home Harper House back to life. Her "son" David takes good care of the estate. Her In the Garden's nursery manager Stella Rothchild does likewise although the mother of two young sons will probably leave once she weds her beloved Logan. Finally her beloved employee Hayley Philips has a delightful newborn who makes Roz feel like an indulgent grandmother. The two flaws in Roz optimistic outlook are the return of her sponge of an ex husband Bryce Clerk doing what he does best trying to live off someone else with Roz his target and the mystery of the Harper Bride ghost. The former is a question of ignoring him though Bryce keeps pushing; the latter is to much a presence to pretend she is not there so Roz hires genealogist Dr. Mitch Carnegie to look into her past. Mitch quickly becomes a ghost believer even as he falls in love with his reluctant client, who ponders a second chance after the failure of her first attempt at marriage. This paranormal family drama is a Nora that can stand alone but reading the previous novel, BLUE DAHLIA, enhances the experience as the audience will have a taste how far the Harper "extended" family including ghosts has come. The ensemble cast seems genuine and clues to the mystery of the ghost augment the novel. Nora Roberts is at her best with the first two novels of the Garden trilogy leaving readers to anticipate quite a finish to the miniseries.

Oceans of Fire
Christine Feehan
ISBN: 051513953X $7.99, 384 pp.

Like her sisters, marine biologist Abigail Drake has a magical affinity; hers being the ability to communicate and bond with water creatures especially dolphins. While swimming off her Sea Haven, California home, Abigail's idyllic life ends when she sees a homicide and the killers know she observed them. Interpol Agent Alexsandr Volston tracks stolen Russian art by a thief he knows is a cold blooded killer. His case and Abigail's safety intertwine so he knows where his priority is even if Interpol's needs fail to match. Alexsandr plans to keep his beloved safe and take advantage of a chance to rectify his greatest error dumping his soul mate Abigail four years ago. Abigail knows she needs Alexsandr's protection, but refuses a second chance for him to destroy her heart. Combining a touch of whimsical magic with a tense thriller, Christine Feehan writes a tremendous romantic suspense. The fourth Drake sisters' novel starts off serenely as Abigail swims with her oceanic pals, but quickly accelerates when she eye witnesses the homicide and never slows down until she and her protector brazen it out with the deadly enemy. This is a fine entry in the enjoyable Drake sisters' series (see TWILIGHT BEFORE CHRISTMAS, LOVER BEWARE, and MAGIC IN THE WIND).

The Light Years Beneath My Feet
Alan Dean Foster
Del Rey
ISBN 0345461282 $23.95, 245 pp.

The Viilenjii stole Chicago businessman Marcus Walker, a dog named George, and other alien species from various parts of the galaxy and are taking them to a place where they will be sold as pets. Luckily Marc and George (who was operated on so he could speak), the brilliant K'eremu a Sequi'aranaqua'na'senemue and Tuuqualia Braouk were able to gain asylum from the ultra civilized, technologically advanced Sessrimathe. His host doesn't know where any of the alien home worlds are so out of desperation Walker becomes a successful cook that attracts the attention of the visiting Niyo who offer him and his friends employment. Since it is one step closer to their home worlds, they accept the offer and become such a success that nobody wants to help them get home. Walker and company come up with an ingenious plan that will make the people of Niyo glad to get rid of them. This is book two in "The Taken" trilogy and it is every bit as good as the precious LOST AND FOUND as well as the Pip and Flinx novels. Alan Dean Foster's trademark dry wit, colorful characters and mesmerizing story line will insure readers eagerly await the last book in this series. Marcus and his companions become true friends despite the difference in their species' philosophy and are there for one another in good times and bad.

Magic Street
Orson Scott Card
Del Rey
ISBN 0345416899 $24.95, 400 pp.

One day while driving home Dr. Byron Williams acts totally out of character by picking up a homeless person he dubs the Bag Man. This creature tells him his wife is pregnant and when they arrive home, he finds his spouse who wasn't pregnant giving birth to a baby boy. The Bag Man puts the baby in a paper bag and orders them to forget what happened which they do. A few hours later Cecil "Ceese" Tucker finds a baby in a bag by the drainpipe. The child called Mack Street is taken in by Una Lee Smitcher who with Ceese raises him will love and the whole neighborhood of Baldwin Hills, an affluent black community, takes him into their hearts. Mack has odd dreams, the ability to see another person's deepest desires and give it to them in a perverted way. For years he does his best to suppress the dreams or cut them off before something bad happens. However, he finally learns who and what he is and who he will have to fight if he doesn't want true evil, the opposite side of himself to be let loose on an unsuspecting word. This is Orson Scott Card's first contemporary urban fantasy and he demonstrates his considerable talent with a work that is sure to win him an award nomination. Readers see Mack mature from a baby to an adult who begins to understand he is the essence of all the things good and bad. It is impossible not to care about him and we root for him on when it is time to face his real enemy, himself. MAGIC STREET is a spellbinding tale that engages the audience.

Any Wednesday I'm Yours
Mayra Santos-Febres
ISBN: 159448001X $14.00, 320 pp.

Julian Castrodad works as the overnight proof reader at the newspaper La Noticia until a rival cuts into their circulation and he is downsized. His friend Tadeo Chamdelau obtains Julian a job working graveyard along side him at the Motel Tulan where most patrons pay an hourly rate. Julian keeps a journal of the activities he witnesses that run the gamut of San Juan society especially that of the repeat customers. He is very interested though he learns to use his "peripheral vision" to not be caught observing the antics of labor attorney Efrain Soreno with union VIPs as they make a deal over development of Parallel 37. Almost as interesting is the antics of drug lord Chino Pereira who uses Tadeo as a cheap "messenger". However, the one that hooks Julian eventually indirectly costing him his lived in girlfriend Daphne due to neglect is "the Solitary Lady" who after having sex with her on several Wednesday he calls M. As he watches and participates in the night life, clients converge leaving one dead and Julian under suspicion of murder. ANY WEDNESDAY I'M YOURS is a gripping Caribbean urban noir that hooks the audience with its fascinating look at transient life at a seedy motel before spinning into more typical homicidal waters. Much of the intriguing story line centers on the goings-on at the motel through the eyes of Julian. As such, thriller fans will find the pace perhaps a bit slow, but readers who treasure a shadowy atmospheric insightful suspense tale will cherish this deep look at "losers" spending the dark morning hours in various states of hiding.

Mew is for Murder
Clea Simon
Poisoned Pen
ISBN 1590581822 $22.95, 391 pp.

It hasn't been a very good year for Theda Krakow, copy editor for the Morning Mail in Cambridge, Massachusetts. She and her boyfriend broke up when he took a job out of state and even more devastating her beloved cat James died. She quits as a copy editor to become a freelance writer for the Morning Mail. When she sees a kitten near a house in her neighborhood, she finds herself charmed by her. The kitten Mussetta belongs to Lillian Helmhold who has a house full of cats that people dump on her. Theda decides to do a story on Ms. Helmhold but on the day she approaches her she finds her dead in the house. The police think Lillian tripped and a resulting head injury caused her death but the victim's friend Violet Hayes thinks she was murdered. Theda believes it is a possibility and starts investigating even while she thinks someone is in the house illegally, looking for something. Clea Simon has a definite talent for writing investigative mysteries and her love for felines shine through on almost every page. Theda is gutsy, independent and totally likeable. The who-done-it is well crafted and readers will have a good time trying to figure out who the killer is and why it was necessary to kill an elderly lady who hurt no one. MEW IS FOR MURDER is a delightful start to a new series.

Mary Anna Evans
Poisoned Pen
ISBN: 1590581199 $24.95, 306 pp.

Last minute replacement for a pregnant forty-five year old, archaeology graduate student Faye Longchamp leads an excursion into a remote Alabama area to study the Sujosa who have lived in isolation here for centuries and are apparently immune to modern day diseases like AIDS. Faye knows how reticent the Sujosa are with outsiders. Not long after arriving, the abode where Faye and others stay is an inferno. She escapes, but her oral historian expert Carmen Martinez dies in the fire. Fire Marshal Adam Strahan struggles with how the fire began while Faye wonders how a metallic suitcase that Carmen possessed vanished. Not long afterward, a teenager dies at what appears to be a suicide at a cell phone construction tower, but Adam, Faye, and others ponder whether a clever homicide is covered up to look like self inflicted death occurred. Could Carman have found something that has led to someone murdering to keep secrets hidden? The sequel to ARTIFACTS, RELICS is a terrific mystery that provides the audience with a wonderful look at Alabama through an archeological lens that glimpses back at the state's history from a modern viewpoint. The story line is exciting from the moment Faye survives the deadly arson until the climax that will surprise the audience. Readers will enjoy this fine regional who-done-it while anticipating more appearances from Faye working in the field.

The Old Buzzard Had It Coming
Donis Casey
Poisoned Pen
ISBN 1590581490 $22.95, 226 pp.

In 1912 Oklahoma, Harley Day works a hard scrapple farm barely making ends meet and beating up his wife and frightening his children. They wouldn't have the farm if it wasn't for their oldest son John Lee who knows that his father owns a still and sells moonshine. One night, Harley doesn't come home but nobody worries because that is his norm. John Lee finds his father dead in the snow and at first thinks he froze to death. When the women prepare the body for burial, neighbor Alafair Tucker finds a .22 bullet from a lady's derringer in his head. She soon learns that John Lee is in love with her daughter Phoebe and she with him. Alafair's .22 is missing and she fears that her daughter gave it to John Lee, the sheriff's number one suspect, making Phoebe an accomplice. To ease her own mind, Alafair decides to investigate and discovers that every person she talks with has a reason to want Harley dead. Readers get a taste for early twentieth century frontier living in THE OLD BUZZARD HAD IT COMING. Alafair is a delightful character; a tigress, who will protects her cubs and doesn't care if she puts her life in danger while questioning lowlife customers of Harley. The historical research that serves as a foundation to this work makes the storyline believable and earns Alafair her own series.

Running on Empty
Lynn Montana
ISBN: 0060742550 $5.99, 384 pp.

Near Monterrey, California, wealthy Skylar Ambrose Tyler proposes for the sixth time to Josie Mayne. After putting him off on his previous five Monday proposals, she surprises him this time by accepting if he agrees to her several stipulations. She insists that she continue her late father's business as the Mayne in Mayne Aviation to include bounty hunting, that her co-pilot Red Baron the dog lives with them sharing their bed amongst others. They celebrate that night just the three of them until her ex-husband Pardee makes it a foursome claiming he needs her help with a family emergency. Apparently the Mexicans have captured Pardee's son Quinn; Josie loves her former stepson, but has doubts about joining the rescue. However, using the guilt card, Pardee obtains her reluctant agreement to help save Quinn from some nasty folks. As Pardee and Josie share the danger, their love reignites; though she expects nothing to survive except memories once they safely extract Quinn, Josie knows she must end her engagement with kind and normal Sky. Lynn Montana's romantic suspense thriller runs on a full tank as the action past (flashbacks add reader comprehension to the relationship between Josie and Pardee) and present moves at hyperspeed, which matches the personality of the narrating heroine. The escapade-driven story line contains solid lead characters, a fine canine matchmaking sidekick (guess who Red Baron selects), a nice person in Sky, and nasty banditos. Mindful of a 1930s action-packed romp, fans of exciting adventure tale with plenty of romance will enjoy RUNNING ON EMPTY.

Rita Ewing
ISBN: 0060570555 $12.95, 282 pp.

After striking out for the third time to get the New York Fitness Club to open a facility in Harlem, Nona Simms decided her boss Marilyn cannot get past the image of a black slum to grasp the demographics she calculated; instead Marilyn implies she cooked the numbers. Nona sees an opportunity to better herself and do something positive for her community where she lives with her daughter Kelly. She quits to open up BRICKHOUSE gym in Harlem, which becomes very popular leading to best selling books and videos and TV appearances by Nona, a celebrity who still remembers her roots. Her flagship soon comes under assault to when Downtown gives authority to Reverend Watkins and his Harlem Empowerment Office to tear down Brickhouse to make room for Harlem East Mall in spite of the community desire for both. Nona quixotically fights back, but her best friend Leila Lomax and her partner Allen Wade have personal problems; she thinks her spouse New York Knicks star Shawn is cheating while he has returned to steroid use. Only Derrick Carter, whom she hates, seems to be there for her and a troubled Kelly. BRICKHOUSE focuses on an optimistic Harlem where dreams can occur. Though some readers like Marilyn will insist this is a fantasy because a middle class venture cannot work in a community like Harlem, my spouse always talks fondly of working in the Gold Coast section. The story line contains several characters fully developed whose woes can happen to anyone anywhere, but clearly unsinkable Nona is the center that keeps the tale together. Paying homage to Harlem, Rita Ewing hits the winning shot with this delightful contemporary tale.

Emily's Reasons Why Not
Carrie Gerlach
ISBN: 006059425X $12.95, 266 pp.

In Los Angeles, nearing thirty with her bio clock ticking and gravity pulling at her body, Hollywood publicity guru Emily Sanders wonders why all her friends seem to have spouses, children, and the suburbs while she has not had a decent date lately. She analyzes with her psychologist "coach" Dr. D. how come she has failed to find Mr. Right, but has a lifetime of Mr. Wrongs. Dr. D suggests she draw up a top ten reasons of why these are Mr. Wrongs. Emily begins evaluating the attributes of the hunks she dated to see what trait made them terrible spousal material. She begins to see a pattern of hooking up with womanizing rats starting with her boss and continuing with others including the baseball player. As she begins to realize she exists in the ooze beneath the lowest rung of the Hollywood food chain, with the help of her loving canine Sam and a couple of true friends, Emily begins to look inside to learn why she punishes herself with these losers because she now knows that to find the man who will love her she must first learn to love herself. EMILY'S REASONS WHY NOT is at times an amusing chick lit tale though the heroine is no Letterman or for that matter even a Jones and her whine can turn into a headache. The story line focuses on Emily's analysis of her failed relationships and what she really expected from them. Die-hard genre readers will appreciate her lament as Emily provides solid reasons why fans should read her bemoaning bio on the men in her life; others take a pass.

A Perfect Hero
Samantha James
ISBN: 0060006633 $6.99, 384 pp.

In 1818 Lady Juliana Sterling rides the public coach to her home when the Magpie stops the vehicle to rob it. The driver panics and tries to escape but takes the curve too sharp. The horses and the driver die. Magpie takes the unconscious passenger with him to his hideaway, a nearby isolated hunting lodge. Magpie, known in polite society as Lord Dane Granville, is attracted to his patient. Not sure what to do with her, he locks her inside the hunting lodge before meeting with Home Office ally Phillip Talbot. They are working undercover trying to trap a killer who they believe is part of their office. When he returns Juliana surprises Dane by grabbing his gun and firing, hitting him in the shoulder. Instead of fleeing, she removes the bullet, stitches the wound, and helps him heal. A few days later, Dane cannot resist kissing Juliana calling her kitten. As they begin to fall in love, she pleads with him not to go out as Magpie, but he knows he must for England's sake. Regency romance readers will enjoy the courageous antics of the strong lead couple and the return of her brothers; stars of previous novels (see THE PERFECT BRIDE and THE PERFECT GROOM). The interesting story line grips the audience as Dane must do what he believes is right even though he hates defying his beloved who he thinks the world of. The third tale provides a fine finish to a superb trilogy; still some miniseries readers might object to a major recurring thread not answered though this reviewer thought that was a perfect ending.

The Daring Twin
Donna Fletcher
ISBN: 0060757825 $5.99, 384 pp.

In 1558 Scotland Fiona tells her twin Aliss that she refuses to marry Tarr, head of another clan. The twins agree to pretend to be each other although Fiona is a known warrior and Aliss a highly regarded healer as Tarr wants to wed only the "strong" one because of her potential breeding. When Tarr learns that his enemy Raynor has attacked his keep, he leaves taking both women with him. Once he determines which one is Fiona he will wed her. On the trek back to Tarr's keep, Raynor and his men attack. With the help of the twins, one fighting and the other healing the wounded of both sides, Tarr's forces win, no one dies, and he captures a wounded Raynor. At the keep that suffered no damage, the twins keep up their ruse although Raynor finds he is attracted to one more than the other; however whether she is Fiona he does not know and for the clan's sake he must have the 'strong" one while he struggles with "attacks" on his keep that make no sense. THE DARING TWIN is a terrific historical romance that stars a superior cast especially the lead frustrated male and the twins. The exciting story line combines a terrific romance with an amusing "subterfuge" subplot involving how the twins keep the hero alert trying to figure out who is who with the difference in their appetites serving as the prime identifier. Aliss' paranormal healing abilities are used to foster the plot and the mysteries of who the twins really are and why the attacks on the keep make for a fine sixteenth century Scottish tale although the villain seems obvious.

The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly I've Dated
Shane Bolks
ISBN: 0060773103 $12.95, 291 pp.

Accountant Rory Egglehoff understands that there have been three philosophical giants: Aristotle, Confucius and Yoda; the first two she learned about in high school while the latter she saw first hand as a seven years old making the greatest impression on her. Over the years she sought Han Solo or at least a Jedi Knight in shining armor, but always found nerds except for Hunter Chase, star quarterback and homecoming king, in high school. However the force was not with her as he never noticed a nerd like her. When Hunter moves into the office next door, Rory concocts a plan to catch the attention of her hero. However, to achieve her objective, she feels she must hide her family and friends from her champion. This backfires as he learns the truth behind her stellar image, which she expects he will laughingly expose at their high school reunion. Though the Star Wars references are fun they after a time take away from a solid chick lit tale in which a heroine on a quest for love learns to look deep inside a person so that a jock can be smart, vulnerable and caring while a nerd need love and passion. The lead couple makes for a fine story line as Rory assumes her rogue champion will betray her just like Leia originally expects of Han. Chick lit readers and Star War fans will enjoy how the nerdy princess and the courageous Jedi Knight found the force of love.

The Marriage Bed
Laura Lee Guhrke
ISBN: 0060774738 $5.99, 384 pp.

In 1833, Lord John and Lady Viola Hammond remain the talk of the Ton as they continue to remain estranged for eight years with no heir, but he never cared because his solid best friend cousin Percy is next in line. That changes when John receives a letter from John's widow Constance that he died along with their son. Grieving for his loss, John needs an heir because he will not allow the estate to be destroyed by his next in line, a wastrel. John visits Viola, informing her of the deaths and that he expects them to share a conjugal bed once he returns from the funeral. Viola says she will not sleep with him; John says he is within his legal right and she will or else he will take her to the House of Commons where even her ducal brother knows he will win. Following the funeral, John returns to London to get Viola. He admits that he wed her for her money, but liked her. She asks for more time and they begin seeing one another for he courts his wife who he is beginning to fall in love with while she always loved him. The strong lead couple and fine support cast including a former mistress with his child make for a delightfully sweet historical romance. The story line is well written staying within the battle of the sexes as no major threat to either John or Viola occurs except what they have done to themselves. Thus suspense readers should look elsewhere, but fans of a fine gender war tale will want to peruse this pleasant 1830s love story between two estranged likable people.

Hero, Come Back
Stephanie Laurens, Christina Dodd, and Elizabeth Boyle
ISBN: 0060564504 $6.99, 384 pp.

"Lost and Found" by Stephanie Laurens. In 1834 London Reggie Carmarthen (see ONE WILD NIGHT) needs a wife and heir. He hopes to be as happy as his friends the Cynster twins are in their recent marriages, but has no one in mind until he assists Anne Ashford as she yells at Lord Elderby that young Benjy is his offspring. Reggie wonders if this passionate woman that he has known for years could become his ardent bride. "The Third Suitor" by Christina Dodd. In 1847 Dorset, Harry Chamberlain (see IN YOUR ARMS) looks down from his balcony to see a woman hiding in the bushes below. She introduces herself as Lady Jessie McMillan explaining that she is an heiress hiding from a suitor, Marques Jenour-Redmond. Harry agrees to help Jessie avoid her suitors but soon wants to court her too. "The Matchmaker's Bargain" by Elizabeth Boyle. In 1818 England Amanda Preston visits Esme Maguire hoping she can fix her broken heart. The matchmaker and her cat Lord Nelson are stunned when they realize who the intended is although that is not quite what Amanda has in mind. At Esme's home, once wounded veteran James Reyburn (see ONCE TEMPTED) and Amanda meet, love blossoms, but she has a secret that keeps her from telling her beloved how much she loves him. These three nineteenth century English romances demonstrate that a hero can come back at least in a well written novella. The male protagonists were secondary characters in previous stories, but show the respective author's skills as each successfully move to top billing. HERO COME BACK is a delightful historical collection.

When We Meet Again
Victoria Alexander
ISBN: 0060593199 $6.99, 384 pp.

In 1818 Naples Pamela Effington and Prince Alexei meet at a masquerade party and are immediately attracted to one another. They slip away from the gala to spend the best night of their respective lives making love before going their separate ways. Four years later Alexei and Pamela meet again in London where due to circumstance they share the same townhouse. The attraction remains as strong as the memory of that blessed evening, but both know scandal could ruin them. They agree to pretend to be betrothed but soon both desires that their temporary sham become the real thing as they are in love, but will either risk their heart by courageously confessing their feelings as he is a royal with no kingdom and nothing to offer and her reputation is shattered by him? The tenth Effington Regency romance is a fine entry in the series due to the strong lead couple having a second chance at love, but neither is prepared to take the key first step towards the other. Though Pamela is similar in tone to previous Effington females (it must be in the genes), and Alexei is the male equivalent to previous stars coming out of The House of Pruzinsky, their relationship keeps the audience off balance. Sub-genre fans know the Effington clans are some of the best historicals and WHEN WE MEET AGAIN holds up that banner of quality.

Marry the Man Today
Linda Needham
ISBN: 0060514140 $5.99, 384 pp.

In 1853 suffragette supporter Elizabeth Dunaway plans an incident to insure she will be arrested as a way of protesting the lack of women's rights. However, her scheme goes awry when Earl Ross Carrington rescues her. Even more shocking Elizabeth is forced to marry her "hero" for proprietary sake. Though a bride attracted to her spouse, Elizabeth continues her support of women's rights working as a conductor on the underground train that helps abused females to flee an untenable situation. At the same time, Ross keeps a vigil on developments in Russia and Austria that could impact England. When their two ventures suddenly merge, they realize they love one another, but first England is in jeopardy. MARRY THE MAN TODAY is a strong Victorian romantic suspense that grips the audience from the moment that Ross rescues Elizabeth and never slows down until the final altercation. The story line is action-packed starring two courageous champions although their respective causes differ. Fans obtain an intriguing look at the frustrations of the early suffragettes struggling against a tide of "family values" that assumes a woman needs a man for food, shelter and safety/protection. Though the merging of the two subplots seems strained, readers will appreciate this fine historical tale.

Julie and Romeo Get Lucky
Jeanne Ray
ISBN: 1416509690 $22.00, 256 pp.

In Somerville, Massachusetts Romeo Cacciamani and Julie Roseman were raised by their respective families to detest one another. The clans have been competitive florists; so each family member grew up loathing one another. Both in their sixties and divorced from others, three years ago shockingly ROMEO AND JULIE GET LUCKY (see JULIE AND ROMEO) and fall in love with one another just as their children did. However, the older couple does not live together. Instead Julie's home includes her daughter, her son-in-law (Romeo's son) and her grandchildren while Romeo's is loaded with the family of his other son. When Romeo goes macho lifting Julie up a set of stairs, he injures his back. As she nurses her beloved back to health with the help of Father Al, their families continue to make demands on both of them, which they lovingly try to achieve. This is a humorous novel that deeply explores relationships especially in extended families. The story line contains plenty of pathos, but also employs amusement so as not to overload the audience. Each of the members has unique personalities, but the tale belongs to the older couple finding one another while "mixing it with love that makes the world taste good" for their cherished descendents. Readers will feel lucky if they peruse this fine charming family drama.

Mistakes Men Make
Byron Harmon
ISBN: 074348309X $13.00, 304 pp.

In the eight months that former NFL star cornerback Eric Swift has been a top sports anchor at ABC in New York he has made it with almost a dozen women. As he did when he was at the pinnacle of his football career, Eric works hard at his broadcasting job, but player even harder on the nightlife prowl. However, his co-anchor, Eden Alexander, sacks his advances to go out with him. Eden's resistance ends and she accepts a date with Eric, but she selects the locale. She takes him to the Black Baptist Church Convention where former rapper-turned preacher Reverend Francois provides uplifting services that Eric ignores as heaven to him is having Eden in his bed. He feigns interest in the Reverend's message to entice Eden, but also cheats on the side. Eric soon feels like Job with no one seemingly to turn to unless he heeds the Reverend's message. His best friend from his DC days LeBaron and his wife face medical complications while she is pregnant; his father is seriously ailing; finally he lost his chance at love with Eden. Though the relapse back into hedonistic player seems odd for reformed dissolute womanizing champion Eric (see ALL THE WOMEN I LOVED for why), readers will appreciate this fine uplifting novel. Eric is a terrific protagonist who wants his cake and eat it to and seems to have succeeded until his just desserts come home to haunt him as he worries about the Browns, his parents, and his sacked opportunity for something heavenly inspirational with Eden. Byron Harmon, one of the best authors at providing heartening enriching novels starring immoral males finding the way, provides a well written inspiring tale.

One Night With a Prince
Sabrina Jeffries
ISBN: 0743477723 $6.99, 384 pp.

In 1815 Widow Marchioness Lady Christabel needs to destroy letters that if released would probably lead to her father's execution and a major scandal involving the Prince Regent, and definitely devastate her life. To gain access to the letters means behaving scandalously by pretending to be the mistress of the owner of the Blue Swan Men's Club Gavin Byrne, who must hate her as she almost shot him last year when he visited to collect her husband's debt to him. Although he wants no part of this scheme, Gavin admires the spirited Christabel. Still he would have said no except that his fellow members of the Royal Brotherhood of B#stards, his half-brothers Draker (see TO PLEASURE A PRINCE) and Iversley (see IN THE PRINCE'S BED) convince him otherwise. He detests his biological father the Regent, who rejected him and his mother, but agrees to assist her because he plans to use the letters to expose the Prince. As Christabel and Gavin forge a working partnership though with differing goals, the danger and their attraction mount. The third Royal Brotherhood Regency romance, like its two predecessors, is a terrific tale that the audience will cherish due to the strong lead couple and fine supporting cast. The story line centers on the teaming of Christabel and Gavin, but with each having a different agenda on how to use the letters once obtained. Neither expects failure as it seems simple enough, but love and an adversary make the purloining quite dangerous to the pair but fascinating to the audience. Sabrina Jeffries' royal flush series contain three fabulous historical novels.

Marriage Most Scandalous
Johanna Lindsey
ISBN: 1416505458 $25.00

In 1808 Sebastian Townshend is stunned to learn that his best friend Giles Weymess married a "whore" who he just slept with; however, he was unprepared for Giles to challenge him to a duel as the new wife weeping confessed that Sebastian seduced her. At Dueling Rock, Sebastian kills Giles. Feeling guilt and wanting to die, Sebastian flees to the continent where he becomes Raven the mercenary. When a series of near deadly accidents occur to Sebastian's father Douglas, his ward Lady Margaret Landor wonders if his younger son Denton and his spouse want to inherit early. She knows the only person she feels can keep her beloved guardian safe and uncover the truth is Sebastian. She travels to illicit his help; he refuses to go home unless she pays his mercenary fee that she cannot remit or her body in trade. Offering him a fortune they return to his home to learn the truth even as they fall in love. MARRIAGE MOST SCANDALOUS is a fabulous Regency romantic suspense starring a wonderful courageous heroine and her remorseful brooding champion. The exciting story line at times reads like an amateur sleuth tale as the lead couple try to keep his father safe and learn who the malevolence is as much as a save his soul historical. With several Lindsey twists, sub-genre fans will treasure this author's latest fine scandal driven tale.

The Nosy Neighbor
Fern Michaels
ISBN: 0743477499 $7.99

Her brother Steven Baker sitting second chair tries to make his sister Lucy feel better as they only did their job earning $500K defending Justin Riley, but she heeds the words of the grandmother of her acquitted client's victim that she rot in hell. Though "lucky" to have never lost a case, she feels she has lost much more successfully defending the guilty. Drunk to forget, not to celebrate, Lucy tells Steven no more taking criminal cases as she knows Justin killed the little girl. Lucy flees to the suburbs to play tennis, jog, and walk her dog. However six months from the time she left defending the monstrous cretins of society, FBI Special Agents Harry Conover and Larry Smith confront her about her fiance Jonathan St. Clair, who they insist is Leo Banks from Ohio not Virginia. Lucy thinks about what she knows about Jonathan, but concludes that her information about him is vague. She needs to know the truth. As she makes inquiries, she also is exasperated with her nosy neighbor Wylie Wilson; following an accident Lucy can read minds enabling her to know whom to trust. Fern Michaels provides an interesting paranormal romantic suspense thriller that never slows down from the moment that the Feds confront Lucy until the final clash. Lucy is terrific with and without her ESP skills while the support cast provides the depth to her investigation. Though some readers will believe that the paranormal element subtracts form a solid intrigue; others will find it enhances the plot; either case, Lucy's use of mind reading seems genuine as she goes from skeptic to believer as she stars as the main ingredient in this tense thriller.

Close Case
Alafair Burke
ISBN: 0805077847 $21.00, 336 pp.

Multnomah County, Oregon Deputy District Attorney Samantha Kincaid has her thirty-second birthday disrupted when she is assigned to work a highly visible homicide, the murder of investigative reporter Percy Crenshaw. Samantha goes to the Portland crime scene where she learns the victim was bludgeoned to death in his driveway. Not long afterward the police get a confession from a young man Todd Corbett who also points the finger at his pal Trevor Hanks. However, Todd recants the confession insisting the police used questionable tactics. Since the city is already in an outrage protesting law enforcement excesses especially the shooting death of African American Delores Tompkins by a white police officer, Samantha's simple case falls apart. Still Samantha, knowing she is under "trial" after her previous media case, begins tracing Crenshaw's paths to find who had motive. She never expected that her inquiries to take her into a cooperative police- drug trafficking. Her cop pals including her boyfriend object to Samantha's involvement, which could also lead to her murder if she is not careful. The latest Kincaid legal thriller is a dynamic tale that sub-genre fans will want to read as soon as possible. The story line provides fascinating legal battles like the dispute over Crenshaw's work files that are totally interwoven into the plot. Samantha is a dedicated courageous Deputy District Attorney, who tries her best to bring a killer to justice though her compatriots will question her methods, but readers will not. Instead they will take pleasure in CLOSE CASE, a fine thriller.

Double Tap
Steve Martini
ISBN: 0399150927 $26.95, 432 pp.

Successful wealthy CEO of Isotenics, Inc. Madelyn Chapman enjoys her bi-coastal lifestyle that includes abodes in Manhattan and Virginia. However, one day when she returns to the house she considers her home in La Jolla, California, someone assassinates her with a double tap, two precise bullets to her head. The police follow clues that lead to career veteran Emiliano Ruiz. He hires attorney Paul Madriani to represent him. Paul faces an uphill battle as not only evidence places the accused near the crime scene; Emiliano had the skill to perform the precision operation. Adding to his dilemma is that Emiliano provides no background information about himself especially a seven year data hole in the middle of his long military career. The prosecutors cooperate as much as his client refuses to impart information on the victim's link to the military. Still Paul continues to dig to insure he bestows the best defense he can for his silent client. DOUBLE TAP is a terrific thriller that has the hero frustrated at ever turn as his client refuses to cooperate and the prosecution is even less forthcoming. Paul keeps digging for information, but for every step forward he takes two steps backward. Still he wants to put up a strong defense even if he wonders if Emiliano committed the homicide. Steve Martini is at his supreme best with this tale that showcases a struggling legal defense unable to obtain any cooperation.

Origins in Death
J.D. Robb
ISBN: 039915289X $24.95, 352 pp.

In 2059 New York City someone murders reconstructive and cosmetic surgeon, Dr. Wilfred Icove. The victim was found in his office with one stab wound to his heart and no other evidence of a struggle. NYPD Detective Eve Dallas leads the investigation into the murder of "Dr. Perfect" with pressure to find the killer from residents and the media because the victim was a kindhearted family man who gave so much to the city. Besides no apparent struggle as the crime scene is so clean one could eat off the floor, the security disks display a woman leisurely entering and later leaving the building, who apparently was Icove's final appointment of the day. Eve investigates the patients, staff and family, but finds Icove lived a sterilized life without one slight blemish. The case turns bizarre when Wilfred's son dies in the same manner. In both cases they seem to have trusted their killer. Frustrated the great detective believes that a hidden dark secret shared by the compassionate dead duo is the motive, but even with her beloved Roarke, the wealthiest man in the universe, helping her dig for information, Eve finds an imperfect case going nowhere as the ORIGINS OF DEATH remain elusive. The twenty-first "In Death" science fiction police procedural is a fabulous entry in the wonderful series as Eve even with her ace in the hole Roarke finds her investigation into the homicides of the sanitized clean father and son making no progress. This makes for a fine investigative tale that displays that even Roarke has limitations. Eve is at her best sleuthing on the mean streets of futuristic Manhattan seeking the ORIGINS OF DEATH of two seemingly outstanding conscientious citizens.

Undead and Unappreciated
MaryJanice Davidson
ISBN: 0425204332 $21.95

Betsy, Queen of the vampires, detests everything about her new life except the midnight sales. The worst part of being an undead is she desires the king her alleged spouse Eric Sinclair, but on the other hand wants nothing to do with him or his minion. Her dad arrives to inform Betsy that she is not to come to her evil stepmother's baby shower, which is why the event is being held during the day; Sinclair offers to go in her place. Her flustered dad lets slip that his spouse had a child when Betsy was thirteen and her father was still married to her biological mother. Apparently, the child is her stepsister. They visit step-mom and Eric hypnotizes her into revealing a little more information about Betsy's half-sister starting with abandoning the infant on the floor of a hospital lobby. As Betsy investigates with the unwanted help of Eric, her gay roommate and two other vampires, they begin to find a devilish trail towards the long lost half blood relative. The third "Un" and "Un" contains all the wacky fun from the previous two tales (see UNDEAD AND UNWED. and UNDEAD AND UNEMPLOYED), but retains a brisk sparkle due to the delightful amateur sleuth investigation. Betsy is her usual irreverent self still wondering how she became queen and why she cannot escape Eric's lure though a late shoe sale still solaces the soul (that is if she has one). MaryJanice Davidson is at her humorous biting best with this devilish tale of our favorite vampiress since Vampirella started seeking a blood relation.

Mrs. Hudson and the Malabar Rose
Martin Davies
ISBN: 0425202828 $14.00, 336 pp.

In spite of freezing snowy December weather, Londoners are excited over the arrival of the Malabar Rose, a ruby given by a Maharajah from India to the Queen. Adding to the excitement of the ruby's arrival is that master magician and illustrious illusionist the Great Salmanazar comes to town. Though he puts on quite a show, the fact is that wherever he appeared in Europe, precious jewelry were stolen, but his show always served as his alibi. Many anticipate his performance to coincide with perhaps the theft of the Malabar Rose. Whitehall Street sends an emissary to seek Holmes out so he can check the precautions in place to keep the gifted ruby safe, but he and Watson are away. However, as many expected while the Great Salmanazar performed, someone steals the Malabar Rose under the nose of Scotland Yard and other guards. Holmes' housekeeper Mrs. Hudson heeding her employer's advice to first look at the obvious figures like Salmanazar who she believes pulled a sleight of the hand, but to confirm it and recover the gem will take an even greater illusion on her part as waiting for Holmes and Watson to come home will prove too late. The latest Mrs. Hudson novel is a fabulous Victorian mystery that grips the audience with its spirited picturesque moving portrait of the era. The story line focuses on Mrs. Hudson's efforts to verify her theory that the Great Salmanazar used a magician's ruse to trick Scotland Yard while stealing the precious jewel. As with its prequel, MRS. HUDSON AND THE SPIRITS' CURSE, the Baker Street crowd will enjoy this fine amateur sleuth historical starring the Great detective's housekeeper, who obviously picked up a few pointers from her employer.

Another Word for Murder
Nero Blanc
ISBN: 0425202704 $14.00, 320 pp.

The two families met in a Newcastle, Massachusetts park that allowed dogs to frolic. Crossword puzzle guru Belle Graham and her spouse former cop turned private eye Roscoe Polycrates walk Kit while oral surgeon Dr. Dan Tacete, his wife Karen and their four and half years old daughter Lily brought Bear. They quickly become friends. However, Karen is distraught because Dan is missing not too long after he warned her to watch herself. Soon afterward, his corpse is found. Homicide Detective Al Lever investigates though no evidence indicates foul play occurred and the authorities believe it is most likely a tragic accident or a suicide took place. When someone threatens Lily and Belle receives related nursery rhyme crossword puzzles, Roscoe begins to make inquiries as no one threatens his spouse or a little girl. He soon finds the good doctor used blackmail and even his charity cases have a dark side to them; worse apparently Karen has a questionable perhaps darker history. ANOTHER WORD FOR MURDER, the tenth Graham-Polycrates crossword puzzle mystery, contains the same gimmick as the previous tales; the Nero Blanc team refreshes the story with a more personal who-done-it, mindful of the earlier novels. The story line combines the cerebral (six puzzles toed to nursery rhymes) with a fine investigation that takes several twists as Roscoe begins to uncover the dark side of the neighbors, but unsure why Lily and Belle apparently are targets. No puzzler, this is an entertaining robust entry in a unique series.

The Cradle Robbers
Ayelet Waldman
ISBN: 0425202844 $23.95

Juliet Applebaum knows that her spouse Peter Wyeth is becoming impatient as she keeps putting him off sex. Juliet is still recovering from giving birth and breast feeding her third child, the off the scales Sadie. The former Los Angeles Public Defender has two other young children to cope with, but returns to work at the investigative firm she co-owns with former cop Al Hockey. Dartmore State Prison convict Sandra Lorgoree hires Julie and Al to learn what happened to her two years old child who vanished along with his foster parents. As the two sleuths start their investigation, someone kills Sandra. The prison concludes that it is a sad lockdown murder, but Juliet thinks otherwise. Instead of giving up the case since her client is dead, Juliet increases her efforts feeling she owes it to Sandra. However, the mother of three might have reconsidered her dedication if she knew how deadly her wealthy adversaries are. The latest Mommy Track Mystery is a terrific tale because of Juliet who struggles with the case and her personal life. Her youngest infant seems to think she is a 24/7 milk truck; her spouse loves sex with her but she wonders if he is cheating as she deflects his needs; and the investigation that takes a dangerous conspiratorial life of its own. Ayelet Waldman provides a fabulous investigative tale that contrasts the heavy crimes with the heroine's home life.

Nice Girls Finish First
Alesia Holliday
ISBN: 0425204057 $13.00, 416 pp.

In Seattle, Vice President of Marketing, a job she did not want, Kirby Green fires her entire her staff of four in a matter of four months for what she claims as incompetence, her boss Banning gives her an ultimatum. Kirby must get one person to say she is nice person within thirty days or she can forget her three week vacation in Italy with Jules and perhaps her job too. Kirby does not believe she went too far, and feels her punishment is extreme. She also wonders who will call her nice without her bullying them. No one she concludes so bullying it must be. At the same time Kirby's new secretary Brianna wants to become an opera singer, but her instructor tells her she too underweight for any roles and her fiance Lyle wants a stay at home spouse and mom not a professional performer. Which dream should Brianna give up? Readers will need to adapt to the changing first person perspective, but once accomplished will appreciate this fine insightful look at two women trying to make it. Interestingly, Kirby's bullying management style sounds much like the Bolden school of supervision. Both females seem real especially their ambitions, goals, and concerns. Alesia Halliday provides a refreshing reading experience in NICE GIRLS FINISH FIRST- just ask Kirby?

Handbags & Gladrags
Maggie Alderson
ISBN: 042520278X $13.00, 306 pp.

Chic Magazine fashion expert Emily Pointer would rather shop till she drops instead of dining on food or men though she makes an exception with Australian photographer Miles McCrae, who scores more often with her than her spouse sees her. Of course Miles has more opportunities as both attend the same international shows. Still Emily wonders about all the one night stands in Milan, Paris, New York, London and Plant Tharg, etc that she has with sexy Miles. Even more so she begins to panic as she starts questioning her clothing theory of women that the garb makes the female so nothing is worn that is between the age of six months to a couple of decades; older that that might start a fad while younger is the hip chic chick trend. As Emily ponders is that all there is, she also dissects her non-relationship with Miles and that guy she is married to, what's his name? Though the audience might consider Emily as a shallow clothing hound, she is much deeper as she struggles with her lifestyle feeling more inadequate daily. The story line focuses on her in a chick lit style, but also provides insight into the fashion world from design to runway to the fantastically dressed rich and famous. Maggie Alderson writes a droll sexy story starring a superb spirited soul struggling with HANDBAGS & GLADRAGS as the meaning of life.

Mozzarella Most Murderous
Nancy Fairbanks
ISBN 0425203999 $5.99, 295 pp.

Food Columnist Carolyn Blue is in Sorrento Italy to enjoy the city while her husband Jason attends a scientific conference sponsored by Ruggiero Ricci, owner of Ricci Chemicals. Carolyn arrives ahead of Jason who is stranded in Paris due to an air-traffic controller's strike and spends the day and evening with Paolina Marchetti who is at loose ends because her lover stood her up. The next morning Carolyn is having coffee by the pool when she sees a body floating in the water. It is Paolina who turns out to be Ruggiero's lover. Carolyn thinks she was murdered but the police don't want to investigate because of the mob connections of her boss and his wife's noble lineage. Carolyn teams up with Bianca, the wife of a scientist also attending the conference, to prove it was murder and to try to find the killer. MOZZARELLA MOST MURDEROUS is one of the funniest amateur sleuth mysteries to come along in years. Bianca, who is nine months pregnant, and looks it, finds herself, due to her delicate condition, in strange situations that border on slapstick comedy. While two different sets of police offices waste the taxpayers' money, Carolyn and Bianca are busy finding suspects with possible motives. Nancy Fairbanks has written the best mystery of her career.

The Sound of Us
Sarah Willis
ISBN: 0425203026 $23.95

In Cleveland, fortyish Alice Marlowe lives life alone except for her cat Sampson. She dates, ahs friends, and her parents still live in Columbus, but the sign language interpreter expects she will die alone. That has been her feelings since her twin brother died Vince, who still "converses" with her. In the middle of the night the phone rings. On the other end is a very young sounding voice desperately asking for Aunt Teya. Alice informs her she dialed the wrong number. The frightened kid hangs up. Alice worried about the girl uses 69 to insure the kid is safe, but instead learns the child's mommy has not come home in quite a while; Alice tries Teya's number only gets a message. Unable to leave six years old Larissa by herself, Alice coaxes the child into giving her the address even as she calls the police. They bond, but the child has turned mute since foster home placement. Alice applies to become her foster mother, which she succeeds in doing, but worries how lonely she will be when the mother of her beloved Larissa returns. Sarah Willis writes a fabulous inspirational tale that focuses on everyone's needs to love and be loved regardless of ethnicity, race, religion, sexual preference or other divisive isms. The story line grips the audience from the moment Larissa dials the wrong number and continually provides the reader with an inside look at the soul of Alice and through her that of Larissa and the missing mother. Mindful of Losing Isaiah, THE SOUND OF US is a strong thought provoking tale.

The Beauty of Bond Street
Jacqueline Navin
ISBN: 0425203565 $6.99

With the help and encouragement of her lover Robert, Widow Lady May Hayworth continues her search for the illegitimate children of her late wastrel brother in hopes of establishing them in society. She has met with success with Michaela (see PRINCESS OF PARK LANE) and Trista (see HEIRESS OF HYDE PARK), loving both of her nieces. She has also found a third offspring, Sophie Kent, who is a bit more aloof than her two half-sisters. Her late husband's rogue nephew Gideon Hayworth, an Earl, is badly injured during a duel. He is brought to May's home to heal. When Gideon and Sophie meet sparks fly and soon love blossoms. However, she has a secret that will leave him distrusting her and besides he fears commitment, which is how they end up engaged to others. The third Mayfair Bride Regency romance is a terrific historical starring two delightful protagonists whose verbal battles are worth the price of admission. The return of Lady May is a reason to rejoice in of itself, but unlike the first two novels in which she steals the show from her nieces, this time the lead couple takes charge. The story line centers on the growing affection and internal concerns between Gideon and Sophie. Fans of the series will enjoy the latest "offspring" whose behavior as May has noticed is quite different from her siblings, who along with their husbands are welcomed back.

The Lady Lies
Samantha Saxon
ISBN: 0425203581 $6.99

In 1811 Portugal French troops capture English legendary soldier Lord Aiden Duhearst. The prisoner is brought to English traitor Lady Celeste Rivenhall for interrogation. Knowing how important Aiden is to the war effort, she informs the French officers that she will escort the prisoner to the Emperor. Though attracted to her Aiden despises the turncoat. He escapes although unbeknownst to him it is because of Celeste, who hid from the English hero that she is a double agent working for Lord Falcon. Falcon calls Celeste back to England to use her wiles to uncover who in the inner circle is betraying the crown. When Lady Davis is killed, Aiden assumes Celeste arranged the murder and is the traitor. To his chagrin Aiden falls in love with Celeste; although she reciprocates he vows never to act on his feelings as he plans to prove she is the traitor. This action packed story line grips the audience the moment Celeste threatens Aiden so that everyone witnessing her performance including the prisoner believe she is a vicious femme fatale working for the French against the English. The who-done-it is cleverly devised so that while Celeste hides her espionage mission yet searches for the truth, Aiden seeks proof she is the guilty party. Samantha Saxon serves up a stupendous Regency romance.

The Turquoise Ring
Grace Tiffany
ISBN: 0425202488 $23.95

In 1567 Toledo, Spain in the forbidden Jewish Quarter, seventeen years old Leah buys the odd shaped turquoise ring from medal shopkeeper Julian del Rei though doing so means risking her maternal religious background. She gives the ring to her beloved twenty-year-old Shiloh ben Gozon as a token of their love. However, not long afterward she is betrayed. In 1568 a still stunned Simon decides that hiding his Jewish heritage and beliefs from the Spanish Inquisition remains risky and he wants his baby daughter to grow up safe yet overtly Jewish. Simon flees Spain taking his infant Jessica with him to live as a merchant in Venice. Of all his possessions he smuggles out of Spain, he prizes most the ring that his beloved Leah gave him. In Venice, someone steals his precious ring that he planned to one day give to Jessica. As he struggles to regain what he considers a family heirloom that reminds him to never forget, Shiloh ends up in court battling his most acrimonious business competitor. Though the review above focuses on Simon, in fact Shakespearean scholar Grace Tiffany retells The Merchant of Venice through the perspectives of five women from the play (Leah, Jessica, Nerissa the maidservant; rich heiress Portia, and Spanish exile Xanthe). , Each tells quite a tale related to the ring and Simon. Readers will appreciate this superb rendition that provides a powerful look at sixteenth century Spain and Venice by the chutzpah rewriting of The Merchant of Venice. Fans will seek previous historical fiction from a delightfully entreating author whose works, MY FATHER HAD A DAUGHTER: JUDITH SHAKESPEARE'S TALE and WILL, provide terrific insight into the life and times of William Shakespeare.

The Tale of the Holly How
Susan Wittig Albert
ISBN 0425202747 $23.95, 320 pp.

After the death of her fiance, children's author and illustrator Beatrix Potter buys Hill Top Farm in the Lake District village of Near Sawrey. After a period of adjustment, Miss Potter and the villagers accommodate one another as she has the farmhouse renovated so she can live there when she isn't needed by her parents in London, particularly her mother who is always demands Beatrix help her with her "nothing" crisis. Miss Potter buys sheep from local shepherd Ben Hornby, but when she arrives to collect them, she finds him dead with evidence proving he was murdered. Miss Potter also befriends sad Caroline, whose grandmother, Lady Longford doesn't want to know her since she disowned her granddaughter's father (her son) for not marrying the women she had picked for him. Caroline overhears the governess Ms. Marline plotting to pull a stunt with a person applying for the head school teacher position against her grandmother. Remembering Miss Potter's kindness on a previous excursion, she goes to her for help and she along with some of the locals set a trap to catch two very clever villains. THE TALE OF THE HOLLY HOW is a charming adorable amateur sleuth tale set in a village where animals talk to help one another in the tradition of Sneaky Pie Brown. There is a sub-plot involving villagers sponsoring badger baiting (forcing badgers to fight with money bet on the outcome) until all the animals work together to break up this vile practice. Susan Witting Albert enables readers to see the world threw the magical eyes of Miss Beatrix Potter.

Bloodless Shadow
Victoria Blake
ISBN: 0425203093 $14.00, 304 pp.

Private investigator Samantha "Sam" Falconer left Oxford to escape her ghosts living (her stepfather) and dead (her heroic father) as much from becoming a tabloid joke when she found the corpse of a four year old girl with no logical explanation how she did it. Sam fled to London where she opened up Gentle Way, vowing to never return to Oxford. Her pledge ends when her brother Mark asks her to investigate the disappearance of London-based art critic Meg O'Connor who lives in Oxford with her husband John, Mark's friend and the actual client. Before she can complete the case, someone murders John's former girlfriend the horrid Alice Knight. When the police learn John was still seeing her, suspicion falls on him. Meanwhile, Sam is stunned by a letter allegedly from her deceased dad dead two decades claiming he still lives and by threats to her obese feline terrorist cat Frank Cooper. The sleuth wonders what links these personal incidents, the homicide of Knight, and probable murder of Meg. Interestingly the current investigation takes a back seat to the heroine's personal life that includes her world championships in judo (just ask her ex boyfriend how good she is), her adulation of her dead dad, estrangement from her mom and step-dad and Oxford. The hints of ghostly assistance on her previous case in Oxford are not explored so readers feel a left out (hopefully rendered in a future tale). The current inquiries are cleverly drawn so the audience has a taste of the city while Meg, a fighter to the bitter end of her fingertips, tracks down a killer, a prankster or perhaps her father, and other demons in a fine sleuthing tale.

Ice Tomb
Deborah Jackson
Invisible College Press
P.O. Box 209, Woodbridge, VA 22194
ISBN: 1931468192 $15.95

In 2015, volcanologist Erica Daniels believes she will be named as the crater impact specialist on NASA's mission to establish moon base. To her chagrin, her bitter rival David Marsh, who stole her thesis when they were academic lovers, gets the assignment. However, Dr. Albert of NASA offers Erica a different project where he believes her expertise is badly needed. In Antarctica, a hotspot inside the ice has been found and investigated by scientists at the McMurdo Station, several are missing and apparently dead; global warming has been ruled out as the heating seems to come from a machine that one of the doomed scientists claimed is similar to a gigantic MRI. Accompanying Erica on this quest is archeologist, Allan Rocheford, who plans to prove Atlantis existed, but he is also know for selling his finds to the highest bidder. Erica's mission is to learn how big a threat to the world that recently included China as a member of the growing democracy club is this phenomena. ICE TOMB is a terrific science fiction that works on several levels because the scientists seem real as jealousy, intellectual thievery and ambition get in the way of solid research. The story line is fast-paced with aggressive Erica bullying everyone in sight providing much of the first person perspective. At times the plot switches to David on the moon. This occurs especially when he knows he must face the lioness he betrayed for her opinion on what he as found. Readers will enjoy this strong thriller.

Look Closely
Laura Caldwell
ISBN: 0778321835 $6.99, 384 pp.

The unsigned letter contained a cryptic message of "There is no statute of limitations on murder. LOOK CLOSELY". Manhattan attorney Hailey Sutter has no idea who sent it, but knows what the writer is alluding to, the accidental death of her mother Leah when she was only seven years old. Over the next two decades whenever Hailey asked her father what happened, he insisted she was ill and tells her no more including what happened to her two siblings who vanished without a trace just after Leah died. However, this time with the letter as a catalyst, she begins asking questions and learns that her mom died from a head injury. Not long after that Hailey begins remembering flashes of what happened on that fatal night and starts to wonder if her father killed her mother. LOOK CLOSELY is a thrilling who-done-it that the audience wants to know the truth once Hailey gets the letter and decides she needs to know especially if her dad killed her mom and what happened to her siblings. The story line is fast-paced as the heroine begins exploring her mind for clues and seeking knowledge from others who might have tidbits. Though Hailey seems too egocentric, the audience will allow her that because of what occurred when she was a child but still not like her. Laura Caldwell provides a solid thriller that hoods readers with the need to know.

Endless Chain
Emilie Richards
ISBN: 0778321983 $19.95

In Toms Brook, Virginia, Minister Sam Kinkade enjoys working with the congregation of the Shenandoah Valley Community Church until his programs to help the growing Latino population adjust runs into strong opposition including nasty vandalism. On the plus side he hires Elisa Martinez to serve as liaison between the communities that Sam represents. Though engaged to a social climber, Sam is intrigued by Elisa who remains a mystery but is terrific as a sexton. Unbeknownst to Sam, Elise is on the run changing locations, jobs, and names often so as to hide her identity and insuring she stays detached. However, first the congregation's quilting circle, then the rest of the members and finally Sam have gotten inside her heart so that this time vanishing into the night will leave her scarred forever with memories of what could have been if only. However, as she lingers, Elise' past arrives in town forcing decisions by one and all. ENDLESS CHAIN is an intriguing community drama that will have the audience wondering what or who is Elisa running from and what will happen to her and her beloved Sam when the past catches up to her. This work is inspirational although the well written story line does not offer miracle clean ups but provides a miraculous tale of redemption, and second chances with a congregation coming together with the nurturing healing of love, which is the miracle. Emilie Richards provides her audience with a beautiful and wonderful character driven contemporary romance.

Five in a Row
Jan Coffey
ISBN: 0778321924 $6.99

The first incident occurs in Albany, New York followed by Providence, San Diego and Miami. In each case the driver insisted the car drove it self. Insurance companies and car manufacturers are concerned though no one has linked the four incidents. Following the fifth event when a school principal's vehicle reportedly did the same thing, the consortium hires Colter Associates to investigate. Ben Colter heads to the new site in Wickfield, Connecticut while the other two associates split the remaining four locations. In Wickfield, Ben meets computer guru Emily Doyle who he recently offered a job to, but she declined since she is a single parent raising a ninth grader by herself. They are immediately attracted to one another. However, unbeknownst to either, Lyden Gray, a participant in Emily's on-line chat, thinks she is a goddess who he must protect from evil-doers like principals who take up her time as he can hack into any computer program even those in a car. With wireless cell phones used to set off explosions, the technology seems frighteningly plausible. Thus readers obtain a powerful scary investigative thriller that grips the reader from the moment we comprehend what Lyden achieved from a remote distance with the principal's car. Colter and Emily are intelligent likable protagonists, but the obsessed Lyden steals the show with his dangerous skills that makes one wonder about the safety of a car with all the computer gizmos inside.

Susan Anderson
ISBN: 0778322009 $6.99, 384 pp.

Jackson "Jax" Gallagher arrives in Las Vegas using a high stakes poker tournament to hide his efforts to steal his late father's prized autographed 1927 World Series ball from his dad's widow dancer Treena McCall. Jax was estranged from his father, but loathes the widow who he assumes took advantage of the much older man. He regrets the loss of the ball, an heirloom from his grandfather, but he foolishly used it in a poker game in Monaco with the dangerous Sergei Kirov, fan of Americana collectibles. Failure to payoff his debt will mean broken bones. Jax meets Treena but hides from her that he is her stepson albeit older than her. He is shocked that she is nice and seems to genuinely like her dad and fails to come across even remotely as a gold digger. As they fall in love, he knows he cannot steal the ball though he will be lucky to survive the beating from Kirov's thugs and fears she will hate him when she learns who he is. Treena is a nice person (perhaps too good) who actually nursed an ailing Big Jim throughout their short marriage, which in turn cost the dance captain spot. She loved Big Jim like a father and mourns him when she meets the son, who she falls in love with like a lover. Jax appears selfish at first but ultimately tries to do the right thing. Kirov is an interesting Elvis loving thug. Together this threesome makes for a fine romantic suspense with the action coming late.

Mary Alice Monroe
ISBN: 0778321878 $19.95, 384 pp.

For eight generations, the Blakely family has owned SWEETWATER plantation on coastal South Carolina, but now the 300 acres that are left of what was once 1300 acres is in jeopardy of being lost. The patriarch Morgan fears he failed with property taxes intended to drive people off the land so developers could buy it cheap. His love of the land drove his oldest son Morgan to Montana. However, during a fight with his wife Mama June, Morgan suffers a stroke. Montana comes home to help his beloved Mama June. He visits his dad in the hospital to see an elderly ailing man. Though Morgan's wealthy sister and his son-law Hank push to sell the land, Mama June says no that she will wait until her spouse tells her what he wants her to do. Montana promises to help her. So does former housekeeper Nona Bennett, who hopes to pass on the three century tradition of making baskets out of the local sweetgrass. This is an entertaining family drama centering on the hope for the future when the present looks at its darkest and lies in forgiving the past so that the family can cohesively and caringly come together. The ensemble cast consists of several individuals who enable the audience to observe differing attitudes and motives especially between the two prime generations. Though lacking action, fans of a complex multi character study will appreciate Mary Alice Monroe's powerful look at what drives each member of the SWEETWATER extended crowd.

A Delicate Finish
Jeannette Baker
ISBN: 0778321827 $6.99, 384 pp.

Two years ago Jake Harris walked out on his wife Francesca, their young son Nick, and his family's Santa Ynez vineyards. Francesca reverted back to her maiden name of D'Angelo, rolled up her sleeves, and with the help of her mother-in-law Juliana tried to keep the vineyard alive with increase pressure from conglomerate giant GGI to sell while also raising her son. Now Jake returns and wants his wife back, but refuses to explain why he left or where he has been. At the same time, GGI agent Mitchell Gillette wants Francesca, but youthful Juliana desires him. While Nick and Juliana welcome Jake back as if nothing happened, Francesca wants nothing to do with him, but Mitch does not feel like the man for her either. This is an interesting contemporary fiction starring likable realistic protagonists. The story line centers on relationships at a struggling vineyard trying to stay independent when the large conglomerates are like Pac-Man gobbling up everything. Francesca makes the tale work because though she loves her returning spouse and feels an attraction to Mitch, she keeps both in perspective as the former deserted her son and the latter represents the evil empire. Fans will appreciate this fine wine country tale though the ending seems too easy.

Secrets 12
Dominique Sinclair, Jess Michaels, Leigh Wynfield, and Saskia Walker
Red Sage
ISBN: 0975451626 $12.99

"Good Girl Gone Bad" by Dominique Sinclair. "Glimmer" magazine staff writer Reagan is assigned one shot to succeed or fail at writng an article "Relationship -Independent Women" although she has no practical experience with men. She visits the bookstore to browse through bad girl titles. Noticing her taste in literature, Luke offers to provide her real world experience insisting action speaks louder than words. "Aphrodite's Passion" by Jess Michaels. Colonel Kelsey died saving Major Gavin Fletcher's life. In 1885 London, Kelsey's adult children demand Gavin "repay" his debt by finding their missing stepmother Selena; they want her committed for "hysteria". Gavin traces Selena to Cyprus worshipping Aphrodite; he prefers worshipping Selena. "White Heat" by Leigh Wynfield. Three years ago Malachi's goons killed Raine's team; she survived. Seeking revenge, Raine has devastated Malachi's wealth, but fled to an isolated icy planet to hide from her enemy. Walker refused to expose his people to death when he was betrayed so he is imprisoned in "Hell Frozen Over". Walker escapes and Raine saves his life. "Summer Lightning" by Saskia Walker. Businesswoman Sally is on vacation idling her time with the sun, nature walks, and sculpting. On the beach, she observes a man strip before swimming like a fish. Sally returns to her cottage overheated to sculpt her God of the cove only to have her model Julian arrive at her place. Secrets 12 is a torrid, erotic anthology that keeps the bar of excellence readers expect from the series at high quality levels. Though the sub-genre varies each tale is fun to follow as the lead couples seem real even as they heat up the sheets (an oxymoron as Secrets means heated excellence).

Secrets 13
Rachelle Chase, Amber Green, Charlotte Featherstone, and Calista Fox
Red Sage
ISBN: 0975451634 $12.99

"Out of Control" by Rachelle Chase. Encouraged by a friend, Astrid applied as a goof to an ad for a submissive female that she assumed was an event planner. Erik placed the ad literally as is. "Hawkmoor" by Amber Green. Shapeshifter Darien has found the missing woman intended to be his after an almost two decade search. However, martial arts instructor Mary assumes he is crazy until she realizes that he is her only hope when evil comes for them. "Lessons in Pleasure" by Charlotte Featherstone. Earl Damien tries a desperate ploy to win back the heart of his beloved Lily. He forces her best friend's husband into a duel, but Lily offers him anything including her if he avoids the fight. "In the Heat of the Night" by Calista Fox. Heiress Molina is believed to be in danger from a century old family curse. Former employee Nick is assigned to protect her. They were once lovers until she could not commit. As he does his job he wonders how to keep his heart safe. No secret anymore this anthology provides readers with some of the hottest well written romances around. Fans will appreciate this collection as each tale is hot with fabulous protagonists though they run the gamut of sub-genres. Adding to the pleasure is that the wait was only six months rather than the customary year.

Breath & Bones
Susann Cokal
200 North 9th Street, Suite A, Columbia, MO 65201
ISBN: 1932961062 $23.95, 384 pp.

In the latter half of the nineteenth century in Denmark, Famke was raised by nuns who cannot deal with the precocious rowdy child. Finally the sisters find her work when she was a teen on a farm. Toiling on a farm seems too boring so Famke takes off for Copenhagen. She moves in with an untalented English painter Albert and earns a living as a model and his lover though he performs worse in bed than he does with a brush. Failing in Europe, Albert returns to the States leaving his mistress behind. Missing him, Famke follows Albert across the Atlantic though to pay passage she "converts" to Mormonism so that a missionary will pay her ocean voyage tab even if that means becoming the third living wife. Landing in America, her trek continues cross country while her tuberculosis that she caught in the monastery worsens until she reaches the Hygeia Springs Institute for Phthisis in California where they promise a cure. The electrical treatments provide sensual pleasure much greater than Albert ever did, but the TB remains as strong as ever. Still following her ex, she catches up to him in San Francisco, but will they reunite. This is an oddly amusing but extremely dark look at the late nineteenth century as seen mostly through the eyes of a delightful hedonist protagonist. The strong cast provides a different perspective to the 1880s in Denmark and the United States then the audience normally sees, but it is fabulous Famke as a female Tom Jones (the novel not the singer) who holds the tale together. Susann Cokal is an author worth following with this strong showing and her previous powerhouse (see MIRABILIS).

The Forbidden
L.A. Banks
Griffin (St. Martin's Press)
ISBN: 0312336225 $14.95, 466 pp.

When the Chairman of the sixth level of Hell realized that vampire Carlos Rivera was working against him, he has him taken into the sun to be incarcerated. Damali, a Neteru (a being who fights evil) cries for her lover and performs a ritual leading to three angels returning him to the mortal world, something that has not occurred since Jesus raised Lazarus from the dead. The Chairman wants to bring Damali into his domain so that when she becomes fertile again he will impregnate her with the Antichrist. Lilith, Adam's first wife and currently married to the devil, possesses the embryo of Damali and Carlos that they are now seeking. She needs to find them so she can become fertile and birth the Antichrist so that she can defeat her spouse and become ruler of Hell. One part romance, one part horror, and one part fantasy, in which the sum turns into a fantastic thriller in which readers from all genres not just these three will appreciate this stunningly stupendous work. L.A. Banks' tale will remind readers of novels by Laurell K. Hamilton and Tanya Huff because of the extremely entertaining plot but it also includes a strong social message that redemption is possible for even the biggest sinners. Carlos, a drug dealing criminal, has been brought to the Light by his love for Damali. THE FORBIDDEN is one to take to the bank.

Weaving Shadows
Margaret Murphy
St. Martin's Press
ISBN: 0312328532 $24.95, 400 pp.

Nine months have passed since London barrister Clara Pascal was abducted (see DARKNESS FALLS), but she still suffers from stress. Her husband and their daughter are losing patience with her fears and she suffers from a panic attack when she tries to enter criminal court. That is why she switched to family law with her friend, Michelle "Mitch" O'Connor providing her with a job in her family law practice. Clara meets clients, Chris and Diane Tobin on a custody case. Chris explains he had an affair with a friend, who became pregnant and gave birth to Helen. The couple had visitation rights to see Helen, but the mother recently died so they want permanent custody. On the surface he being the father should make for an easy brief, but the Tobins only provide the tip of the iceberg to Claire. At the same time, another family friend, a single mother, who was Chris' lover, has been found dead. The police find evidence that ties Ian Clemence, a convicted murderer just freed, to the victim, but Claire begins to wonder whether the cops target the right man as she wonders about her client. This British legal thriller is a terrific sequel that follows up on the aftermath of the events that occurred to Clara in DARKNESS FALLS. The story line is action-packed, but clearly the characters, especially the beleaguered heroine trying to return to practicing law, make for an excellent tale. The police procedural elements are used to provide suspects especially Ian; Clara decides to represent him more for her sake than his though she fears entering a criminal court. Murphy's Law consists of developing great characters inside a great plot leads to a great novel.

Sins of the Night
Sherrilyn Kenyon
St. Martin's Press
ISBN: 0312934327 $6.99, 384 pp.

At night the innocent coed left the library when the Daimons attacked her, but just when she appeared to be their feast, a Dark-Hunter appeared. However, instead of saving the human as their code demands, he feasts on her blood leaving her soul to the Daimons. The Alexion, hunter of rogue Dark Hunters, knows he must deal with his friend Marco's breaking the code of not harming humans. Though he knows he needs to put Marco to death, the Alexion hopes to save the "soul" of his pal. However, he finds himself distracted by that rarest of Dark Hunters, a huntress Dangereuse "Danger" St. Richard, who tried to kill him as she knows he is the executioner of her kind. In spite of their auspicious first encounter, The Alexion and Danger fall in love, but duty calls, which means killing more than just his friend; he must kill the Dark Huntress he loves as she is controlled by one of the nastier Goddesses. This is a super entry in one of the best romantic fantasy series on the market today. The story line is action-packed but Alexion's dilemma of choosing between his beloved and his duty make for quite a tale as fans will wonder which way he will go. Either way he knows his "resurrected" heart beating with love will turn to ashes. Sherrilyn Kenyon provides a fabulous thriller with a strong cast supporting two star-crossed lovers whose relationship seems tragically doomed from the start.

Desert Summer
Michael Craft
St. Martin's Press
ISBN: 0312334230 $23.95, 288 pp.

Former Broadway director Claire Gray heads the Theater Department of the relatively new Desert Arts College in Palm Springs, California. She currently is hosting a summer workshop, which will culminate with the production of Daphne Du Maurier's Rebecca, based on the play, not the movie. Her boss, college president Glen Yeats asks Claire and the head of costuming Kiki Jasper-Plunkett to attend a party he is hosting so that he has friends with him when his second ex-wife Felicia arrives to cause havoc over a landmark Santa Barbara house she gain ed in the divorce settlement. Felicia can live in the home, but cannot sell the property though it lies on choice real estate. Not long after Felicia showed up in all nasty regalia, she is found dead from poison. Detective Laren Knoll strongly suspects Glen killed his ex; Glen turns to Claire, who recently solved the Lara case and two other mysteries, to prove his innocence (see the three previous seasonal Desert tales). DESERT SUMMER is an enjoyable amateur sleuth mystery starring a likable protagonist and a strong support cast. The story line is fun to follow as all evidence points towards Glen as the killer so that even Claire and Kiki, who think highly of him, and the audience have no doubt Felicia pushed him over the edge. The tale develops the key players early on so that when the author pulls twists and red herrings the cast and the audience are fooled. This is one author who knows his craft.

The Perfect Paragon
M. C. Beaton
St. Martin's Press
ISBN: 031230448X $22.95, 240 pp.

In the Cotswolds, figuring she might as well get paid for having someone try to kill her, Agatha Raisin turned pro, opening up Raisin Investigations. After working a dangerous case in which she almost died (see THE DEADLY DANCE), Agatha hires new office help that she hopes is a bit friendlier and safer than her previous assistant. A new client snooty Robert Smedley hires Agatha to prove that his wife Mabel is cheating on him. Though she fears a domestic investigation, Agatha accepts the case because she needs the money, but finds Mabel seems to be a paragon of society. She shows no indiscretions, goes to church, and volunteers her time. Agatha wonders if Ms. Smedley is human as she finds nothing on Mabel. The sleuth locates the corpse of teenager Jessica Bradley. Feeling good will while wondering if Mabel is rubbing off on her (God forbid) Agatha volunteers to investigate the murder; positive publicity being a virtue. However, when someone murders her client (thank goodness she received an advance) she drops the case since no one can pay her expenses or fee that is until the widow hires Agatha to prove she did not murder her late husband. Agatha Raisin is her usual crusty, in your face self in this fabulous entry of the long running series refreshed by her turning pro. Unlike most of the literary sleuths who feel obligated to solve a client's murder, Agatha stays true to character seeing no economic gain by wasting her time on a non-paying job until THE PERFECT PARAGON hires her. M.C. Beaton is at her best with this fine tale filled with twists but kept together by the irascible uncouth Agatha.

Hole in One
Catherine Aird
St. Martin's Press
ISBN: 0312342292 $22.95, 240 pp.

At the Berebury Golf Course, female "Rabbit" Helen Ewell plays with her friend Ursula Millwood when she sinks a shot into a bunker on the sixth hole. As she struggles to dig out of the sand trap she uncovers the head of a dead person. Hysterical she tells Ursula she thinks she may have stroked an eyeball out of the trap. Calleshire County Police Superintendent Leeyes is at the links on his day off. He calls his chief of Criminal Investigation Division Detective Inspector Sloan to get over to the country club "quicker than soonest". Sloan begins to investigate the homicide with the help of dimwitted Crosby and astute "pretty Polly" Perkins. The pastoral setting of the country club in which the two ladies slowly (and the plot like wise) play a poor woman's brand of golf lulls the reader into expecting a serene village cozy. However, once Helen makes her chip shot, the British police procedural moves through eighteen fast holes. The story line is humorous at times but never loses sight that first and foremost is that there is an official investigation into who killed and buried the head in the sand. Catherine Aird's latest Sloan story is a fine entry in a strong series.

Friday Night Chicas
Mary Castillo, Caridad Pineiro, Berta Platas & Sofia Qunintero
St. Martin's Press
ISBN: 0312335040 $13.95

"My Favorite Mistake" by Mary Castillo. Desperate as her career in Hollywood looks over before it took off after ten years of trying Isela last year optioned a work that gives her the "Feel". She has stolen her former boss Dave's VIP pass to a Friday Night in Los Angeles gala while he is out of town to meet and persuade director Tyler to take on her project. "Hearts Are Wild" by Caridad Pineiro. Though she would prefer to forget, birthdays are important to Tori's family so she expects a small party with the Rodriguez brood and amigas for the Big 30. However, she never expected Friday Night in South Beach to be blindfolded and taken to a casino yacht or end up in a strip card game with a hunk. "Revenge of the Fashion Goddess" by Berta Platas. She was extremely shy when she attended North Elmwood Park High School fifteen years ago as a fashion-challenged teen, but has come along way since. However, the Friday Night in Chicago reunion raises all of Cali's insecurities in spite of making it as a designer in New York even with Rick there. "The More Things Change" by Sofia Qunintero. Her old roommates host a bachelorette party for Gladys at a male strip joint on Friday Night in New York City. However, a few drinks later, inhibitions gone, Gladys vanishes with one of the studs. How will she tell her fiance? These are four fine novellas with a Latino flavor that readers will enjoy. Each tale contains a strong female protagonist, a solid support cast, and terrific hunks as Friday night around the country is a fun anthology.

Wives at War
Jessica Stirling
St. Martin's Press
ISBN: 0312340249 $26.95

In 1940, the German bombers seem everywhere, softening England and Scotland for what looks like the next Blitzkrieg invasion. Still in spite of the fears and the anticipation of the worst, most citizens remain loyal to the crown and try to whatever they can to support the war effort. The Conway sisters are typical Scotswomen trying to help their country battle Hitler. While her spouse fights as a soldier, Babs evacuates her three oldest from Glasgow keeping only the youngest with her as she works as an office assistant in the Ministry of Labor. She detests "Johnny Foreigners" ever since her former employer Dominick deserted her sister Polly to flee for America with their children in tow. Polly manages her estranged husband's business while he stays safe in New York. The third sister Rosie, though deaf, works at a factory where she is verbally abused due to her handicap. The trio's loyalty to country and husbands is tested when Dominic returns with an American and a plot that forces each sister to choose. Few writers bring out the fear and courage of those who stayed behind on the home front doing what they could to support England the way Jessica Stirling does. Her latest war tale (see SISTERS THREE) is a strong character driven tale starring three siblings who though fearing for loved ones feel they must help Scotland in the Battle of Britain. As usual, the key players, particularly the three sisters, contain different personalities as they react in varying ways to the situations they confront. Dominick's plot adds tension and suspense, but WIVES AT WAR pays homage to women who stayed home to work in support of the war.

Love Creeps
Amanda Filipacchi
St. Martin's Press
ISBN: 031234032X $23.95

Manhattan gallery owner Lynn Gallagher seems to have everything going for her even attracting a stalker, a short, overweight and bald accountant Alan Morton. Instead of being repelled by his actions and calling the cops, Lynn notices his obsession provides Alan with a zest for life as her admirer. She wonders if stalking might give her a passion for living too as her love life and her gallery fail to do so. At the nearby bakery, Lynn selects wealthy handsome attorney Roland Dupont, Alan's squash playing opponent, as the object of her "affection". However, Roland wants nothing to do with his stalker, which perversely increases Lynn's pestering of him. Roland reconsiders his disdain for Lynn when he learns that she Alan's target of love. Satirical but also somewhat inane, LOVE CREEPS is unexpectedly an insightful look at modern society through the various lens of individuals with major psychological issues. The stalking triangle stuns the audience who will not know what to expect next from the lead trio as their interrelationships and uncertainties are laid bare. Living up to its dark title from the first line until the last, readers receive an amusing modern day farcical relationship.

Judgment of the Grave
Sarah Stewart Taylor
St. Martin's Press
ISBN: 0312337396 $24.95

Harvard University Professor Sweeney St. George studies funerary art to include historical gravestones. Currently she is in Concord seeking clues to a Revolutionary War gravestone maker who specialized in unique rounded stones. At a cemetery, she meets twelve years old Pres Whiting, who is bald from chemotherapy. Pres tells her that his family has a grave stone carving business and has had one so since the late eighteenth century. When Pres struggles to go home, a concerned Sweeney follows him to make sure he is okay. Pres stops when a dog seems overly excited. He follows the canine to see what is going on when he finds the corpse of a man wearing a Revolutionary War reenactment uniform that includes a hole in his stomach. Pres shows Sweeney whose friend Cambridge Detective Tim Quinn investigates the homicide. Sweeney and Pres help him, but concentrate more on the disappearance of a minuteman in 1775. In her third appearance, the heroine provides an interesting look at graveyard art while in the background Sweeney and Quinn try to resolve two mysteries. Pres is a fabulous preadolescence whose health brings a pale over the who-done-it as the audience and Sweeney pray for a miracle, but doubt one will happen so they settle for Scherezade. As with MANSIONS OF THE DEAD and O'ARTFUL DEATH, Sarah Stewart Taylor provides characters that readers care what happens to them; in this case especially Pres, Sweeney and the General.

Dancing In the Dark
Mary Jane Clark
St. Martin's Press
ISBN 0312323158 $21.95, 352 pp.

After her husband was jailed for committing a white collar crime Diane Mayfield, an on air news correspondent who works for Keys Network, is the sole breadwinner for her family. They are all looking forward to a vacation at the Grand Canyon when Diane's boss assigns her a story in Ocean Grove, NJ. Leslie Patterson disappeared for three days and when she was found nobody believed that the young woman was really abducted. The town feels she staged the whole thing to get attention. Diane is supposed to interview her but when she and her crew arrive a second young woman is also abducted. This time when she is found she is dead because she choked on her own vomit. A former mental patient is arrested and the person who took the second woman never meant for her to die or for anyone to be accused of the murder. A third woman is abducted and Diane's son is in the place where the kidnapper brings the unconscious woman. Diane races against time to rescues her son before another life is snuffed out. The logic of the kidnapper to shape her abduction to prove that the mental patient is innocent is a great plot device to bring about a dramatic confrontation between the criminal and the reporter. Mary Jane Clark writes a fantastic who-done-it filled with characters who could have committed the crimes because they act in a suspicious manner. There is plenty of action and lots of false leads so that readers won't guess who the real perpetrator is. When the audience discovers that person's identity, they will truly be shocked.

The Rogues' Game
Milton T. Burton
St. Martin's Press
ISBN: 0312336810 $23.95

In 1947 a forty-three years old man drives into a Texas city in a brand new Lincoln convertible with a beautiful blonde Della. He books a room for them for two weeks at the Weilbach Hotel informing the clerk he may stay longer. The next morning as the man expected Deputy Sheriff Ollie Marne visits him to learn what he is doing here. The man bribes Ollie to get him access to the weekend poker game at the hotel's Plainsman Suite where to sit costs five thousand. Not long after meeting with Marne, the man and Della have breakfast with ex-convict Herbert "Chicken" Little and Ice Pick Willie. Ice Pick is irate when the man insists the scam to con banker Clifton Robillard could take six months though Chicken Little seems calm; the man knows he has an enemy in Ice Pick. The game has begun. This post World War II noir is character driven by the no nonsense amused narrator who provides no name for himself or the city he works his game in. The story line is action-packed but clearly belongs to the poker playing anti-hero who bluffs his way through scenarios without fear of someone calling his hand. A final twist adds to a strong late 1940s Texas suspense thriller that never slows down once the man with no name begins raising the ante.

Honk if You Love Real Men
Carrie Alexander, Pamela Britton, Susan Donovan & Lora Leigh
St. Martin's Press
ISBN: 031233916X $13.95

"Naughty" Girl" by Carrie Alexander. Estrella has seen the construction worker from the bus for weeks now and each time she salivates over him. Her friend Brenda learns he is Jesse and encourages Estrella to make a play for him. She does pretending to be a sophisticated lady planning to seduce the hunk in her boudoir or swimming pool when she is not cleaning the place as a maid. "Wanted: One Hot-Blooded Man" by Pamela Britton. The rape left Breanna fearing male contact especially sexual. She decides only her high school sweetheart who she has not seen in ten years can help her. Breanna travels across the country to tie up Trent with desire and hopefully overcome her fears. "Mercy Me" by Susan Donovan. Screenwriter Winifred suffers from writer's block just when she needs her next work, the Max Mercy script, finished. Her agent Artie decides she needs to leave town to concentrate so he arranges for her to work in the Berkshires. Expecting isolation, Win meets her neighbor Mac, who is there to heal from injuries, but both find an attraction instead. "Reno's Chance" by Lora Leigh. Raven always desired the brother of her best friend Morganna, but Reno never seems to reciprocate, treating her instaed like another sister. Reno is home from the SEALs on leave, but circumstances forces him to live with Raven who decides this is her opportunity to show him she does not want a brother. These are four interesting contemporary romances with three humorous tales while Pamela Britton's provides a serious drama, which seems out of place. Still these are fine novellas that readers will welcome.

Cold Granite
Stuart MacBride
St. Martin's Press
ISBN: 031233995X $24.95, 464 pp.

Grampian Police Detective Sergeant Logan McRae has been out on sick leave for almost a year recovering from the stab wound to his stomach by since convicted killer Angus Robertson. On his first day back, Logan is at a riverbank in Aberdeen, Scotland where the corpse of a three year old child David Reid lies ritualistically mutilated. Since no Detective Inspector arrives at the scene, Logan takes charge and visits the victim's mother to tell her the tragic news; however Press and Journal slimy reporter Colin Miller broke the story and already called the family for reactions. The grandfather punches Logan in the stab wound; the cop is rushed to the hospital but is okay. The next morning, DI Insch informs Logan that if Logan cannot hold up he will push paper. As Insch and his team make inquiries with the lingering fear that a serial killer has just started, a child Richard Erskine is reported missing; once again the media obtains a leak. Dubbed Laz by the team, Logan feels he must stop a ritualistic murderer and uncover who is selling out to the press making the effort that much more difficult. This novel is a strong Scottish police procedural starring a solid support cast led by no nonsense Insch and other strong protagonists, but centered and held together by Logan, a fine cop doing his job in accordance to rules and regulations. Stuart MacBride displays a fondness for the COLD GRANITE of Aberdeen that adds an urban noir feel to the investigative story line. In spite of the overuse of serial killers glutting the market, readers will want more police stories starring Logan and company.

The Stepmother
Diana Diamond
St. Martin's Press
ISBN: 0312337372 $24.95

In Florida, wealthy sixty-five years old Steven Armstrong underwent knee replacement surgery and subsequent therapy. He soon falls in love with his physical therapist thirty-three years old Charlene "Charlie" Hendricks, who raises a young teen Tara by herself. He informs his son Matthew, who replaced him on the board of Ucandoit, a chain of hardware warehouses that he plans to ask Charlie to marry him. Matthew tells his two siblings; Hollywood actor Gary and art show sponsor Trish. Realizing marrying a kind older man would help her daughter, Charlie accepts. However, someone is unhappy with her marrying the self made millionaire and tries to kill Charlie, but fails. A second attempt ends tragically with Steven dead and the police suspecting the new rich widow. She is unable to sit idly by while suspecting one of her step children is trying to kill her. To save herself, Charlie investigates the homicide assuming that she was the target not Steven in spite of evidence to the contrary. Though the title seems like a poor B movie and the premise seems unlikely that at least one of the adult professional children would turn to murder, readers will appreciate this strong amateur sleuth thriller that grips fans with surprising twists. The story line is fast-paced from the first attempt to kill Charlie and never slows down until the final twist that will stun the audience. The key to this diamond of a tale is that like Charlie readers will believe one of Steven's children is the killer, but which one makes for a fine tale.

When the Dead Cry Out
Hilary Bonner
St. Martin's Press
ISBN: 0312339461 $23.95

In 1975, Clara Marshall and her two young daughters, Lorraine and Janine, vanished without a trace. The Devon and Cornwall Constabulary like all the locals suspect the husband and father Richard of killing his family. Clara's father Sean MacDonald especially believes his son-in-law murdered his daughter and grandchildren. He insists that she dumped him for another man. After failing to find any evidence of foul play the missing person's investigation was finally filed cold case. Almost three decades later, divers exploring a sunken Nazi E-boat find parts of a skeleton wrapped in tarp and chains inside. Detective Superintendent Karen Meadows believes they have found part of the remains Clara, but what happened to the children. The missing person's case is reopened as a murder investigation with Karen, who lived next door to the Marshalls when the three females disappeared, leading the inquiries. As he has been for twenty-eight years ago, Richard remains the prime suspect. WHEN THE DEAD CRY OUT is an intriguing British police procedural that is excellent when the story line concentrates on the investigation; the plot bogs down a bit when Karen's personal woes is the focus. The case is cleverly designed so that the audience will detest Richard, who readers will want proven as the killer when he seems unfazed by the skeletal recovery of a family member. Karen is much more volatile than the seemingly serene prime suspect. Hilary Bonner writes a solid who-done-it starring a fine protagonist who uses humorous self deprecation to handle life's setbacks.

The Icon
Neil Olson
ISBN: 0060748389 $24.95, 368 pp.

Though they fought for the same side against the Fascists, former Greek intelligence agent Andreas Spyridis and ex Greek resistance fighter Fotis Dragoumis detest each other going back to the summer of 1944 when the village Katarini burned to the ground leaving many dead. Their hatred remains deep though Andreas's son and Fotis' niece are married and the former's grandson Matthew Spear is the latter's godson. The almost six-decade old feud has crossed the Atlantic to Manhattan where Matthew works as a curator at the Met. Matthew negotiates with the estate of Herr Kessler to purchase for the Met a religious icon apparently stolen by the Nazis from the Katarini church before it was torched. The Greek Orthodox Church bids on the icon and Matthew backs off once he learns the history of the artifact. Kessler's granddaughter Ana accepts the Church's offer, but the agent instead of delivering it steals the object. Andreas thinks Fotis stole the icon, but Ana and Matthew wonder if a Nazi officer allegedly visiting New York from Argentina stole the artifact that some believe has healing powers. Though the romance seems forced and unnecessary as the tale contains plenty to sustain the family dispute without that subplot to heat or cool the feud. THE ICON is an intriguing thriller that grips the audience from the first moment in Epiros. The action-packed story line employs amateur sleuth elements to bring out what occurred fifty-six years ago in Greece that led to the spat as well as several viable suspects mostly from World War II. Neil Olson writes a fascinating novel that fans will immensely enjoy.

Blood of Angels
Reed Arvin
ISBN: 0060596341 $16.95, 288 pp.

Davidson County, Tennessee Assistant District Attorney Thomas Dennehy successfully prosecuted the state execution of teenager Wilson Owens for the murder of grocery manager Steven Davidson and sixty-eight years old customer Lucinda Williams. However, Lucinda was alive when EMT Charles Bridges on methamphetamine stuck an air tube down the wrong hole. Thomas prosecuted with Charles spending time in prison for negligent homicide. Case closed - wrong. Kwame Jamal Hale, with Professor Buchanan of the Justice Project at his side, confesses he did the homicides setting up Owens, for the fall, and he claims he has the proof. The media is in a frenzy that Thomas, who convicted two separate independent individuals for that crime, may have hung the wrong guy. This interferes with a death penalty prosecution of Sudanese immigrant Moses Bol, accused of raping and killing with his DNA all over the crime scene. A "credible" witness, Presbyterian pastor Fiona Towns insists Moses was with her at the time of the homicide. Adding to Thomas' doubts that he can find any juror to support capital punishment at this time, someone is stalking him. BLOOD OF ANGELS is a fabulous legal thriller that takes a close look at capital punishment from various perspectives including the prosecutors, the criminals, the Justice Project volunteers, and a much divided community. Thomas is an interesting protagonist who struggles with how infamous robbery-murder impacts on his current homicide case while anti-death-penalty demonstrations and race riots engulf Nashville. The personal threat to Dennehy is not as effective as it could have been if the stalker had been an anti capital punishment zealot conceptually similar to an anti abortion person killing the "enemy". Still this is a gripping tale.

No Way Back
Michael Crow
ISBN: 0060725834 $25.95, 292 pp.

Someone has to take the fall when the media headlines a drug bust that went bad. Baltimore brass blames maverick police officer Luther Ewing; Captain Dugal suspends him for six-months. Luther is irate that his superiors made him the patsy when it was not really his fault and wonders how to pass time for a half a year for an adrenaline junkie like him. However, CIA bigwig Mr. Westley keeps an eye out for renegade cops in trouble for doing their job especially someone he knows first hand like he does Luther from their days in Sarajevo. Luther detests Westley, but not as much as the Baltimore Police Department brass and the torturous thought of being idle for a half year. He agrees to baby-sit in what Westley says is a walk in the park. Luther knows walking in parks can prove dangerous, but accepts the assignment to protect a South Korean businessman from being abducted or killed from those who want stop his $7.5 million deal with rogue Russian generals. Luther as Terrence Prentice, falls in love with the Russian spy Nadya and realizes that Westley has lied about the danger to him and his client. Once the police procedural aspects are over and Mr. Westley assigns Luther to his simple protection task, the story line goes into hyperspeed and never slows down until the whole truth is revealed. Luther, Westley, and Nadya are stereotypes borrowed from the Cold War, but the audience will not care as they pull off an action-packed thriller in which fans will follow the escapades in one sitting to figure out who's who. NO WAY BACK is a tremendous thriller that espionage suspense fans will crow about the rush.

Every Which Way but Dead
Kim Harrison
ISBN: 006057299X $6.99, 512 pp.

Rachel Marianna Morgan worries about the ever-after as a familiar to Algaliarept though the deal she struck with the demon to save her family especially Ceri enables the witch to keep her soul. When Al realizes that Rachel still has free will, he rages in frustration and warns her that she is still his familiar though he cannot force her into his realm. Thus she must show caution or else Al will come back sooner than later for her. Still that does not stop her from protecting the thousand year old elven child from her "master". When Al comes for her Rachel expects at a minimum she will turn back into a DEAD WITCH WALKING, but most likely worse. Rachel also deals with more mundane problems like her boyfriend dumping her, her roommate Ivy a vampire falling off the bloody wagon, and Kisten another vampire wanting to share a bite or two with her. Life or is that un-life is normal for Rachel as she deals with THE GOOD, THE BAD, AND THE UNDEAD of otherworldly and human drug lords and howling insurance salesmen. The latest Rachel Morgan tongue in cheek tale is a bewitching story that grips the audience from Al's first demand ignored by our heroine until the final altercations with combatants like Al, family members, and vampires. The story line is action packed, but as with the previous dead and undead tales, readers believe in the supernatural as the norm. The only criticism of this magnificent Morgan adventures is staying up all night to read it as Kim Harrison beguiles fans not to put down her latest thriller in spite of 500 plus pages until they finish.

Deadly Double
Adrianne Byrd
ISBN: 006056539X $6.99, 384 pp.

In the Atlanta area, Josephine "Josie" Ferrell has lived a good life as the only child of nurturing affectionate parents. However, her world turns upside down when she meets her twin sister Michele Andrews as she had no idea her sibling existed. Josie welcomes Michele into her life. However, one day Josie awakens to find herself inside Keystone Mental institution with everyone calling her Michele although she insists she is Josie. The only one who believes her is Dr. William Hayes who fell in love with Josie years ago and though he has not seen her in sixteen years he recognized the effect she has on him and knows he is not that shallow to allow two identically looking females to do that to him. Risking arrest William abducts Josie from the mental institution to hide her in safety until they can stop the real Michele pretending to be Josie before something worse happens to the real article. Readers will want to write off this novel as the home environment turns separated sisters into good twin bad twin has been done a zillion times including stealing identities. However, that would be a shame for suspense fans as Adrianne Byrd provides a tense action-packed thriller that starts with the escape and never slows down even when looking back to the first meeting and the switch. Josie is a beleaguered lead character with only William believing her because he uses loves to delineate between the siblings. Though a sold pair, the plot belongs to the diabolical ingenious Michele who makes this twin thriller worth the read.

Bitsy and the Mystery at Amelia Island
Vonda Skinner Skelton
Silver Dagger
ISBN: 1570723079 $8.95, 192 pp.

Twelve years old South Carolina native Bitsy Burroughs is visiting her best friends, Garrett and Ellie Price who recently moved to Florida's Amelia Island when she meets the local bully Ernie van Tache in a confrontation in which she refuses to back down. Ernie roughs up the smaller Bitsy until his twin sister Bernie warns him off or else he will face the wrath of their aunt. Not long afterward, the townsfolk debate whether to convert an abandoned house into a resource center to help children. Strange things begin occurring including a ghost trying to chase away anyone entering the abandoned house. Bitsy leads a team of preadolescent investigators made of the twin bullies and the Price siblings, along with the neighbor's dog and a cockatoo trying to expose who is behind the seemingly otherworldly happenings. BITSY AND THE MYSTERY AT AMELIA ISLAND is an excellent amateur sleuth "ghost" story that targets the younger middle school student, who will enjoy the antics of courageous heroine who stands up to a bully, a witch, and a ghost. The story line follows Bitsy's escapades as she bravely takes on one antagonist after another. Young readers will enjoy her adventurous vacation on Amelia Island.

A Clean Kill
Leslie Glass
ISBN: 0451411897 $7.99, 368 pp.

NYPD Chief of the Midtown North Detective Unit April Woo and her spouse Precinct Captain Mike Sanchez look forward to their upcoming but delayed twice honeymoon. However, their week away may be delayed again as someone slashed to death thirty-four year old Madeleine "Maddy" Wilson, wife of renowned chef Wayne and mother of their two young children. The prime suspect is the nanny Remy Banks, but she is reedy thin and could not have overpowered the in shape victim who fought back; the other possible killer is Maddy's trainer Derek who had the strength and opportunity, but motive seems lacking. Neither suspect shows any signs of being in a recent fight. Not long afterwards, someone suffocates to death Maddy's best friend Alison Perkins, a mother of two. Once again the nanny Lynn and Derek the trainer are the prime suspects with Derek being the obvious tie between the two victims. As Lieutenant Detective Woo and Captain Sanchez investigate homicides in the exclusive East Side of Manhattan, motive seems lacking for the trainer an unless there is a nanny conspiracy the same holds true for Lynn and Remy at least with the other's employer. While illicit secrets and affairs become known, the killer remains unknown illicitly in plain sight. Leslie Glass' latest police procedural will Woo her new fans as the tale is a solid investigative novel. The story line focuses on the case, but also provides insight into a married law enforcement couple seeking personal time together. Although the killer seems obvious especially by the second murder, readers will enjoy this Manhattan romp starring two likable protagonists whose extra incentive to solve the case fast is honeymooning before retirement.

An Ex to Grind
Jane Heller
ISBN: 0060599251 $24.95, 384 pp.

In Manhattan financial planner Melanie Banks and football hero Dan Swain seemed like the model married couple until he blew out his knee ending his sports career. Dan becomes a sponge living off his wife's income, but doing nothing with his life. Disappointed and disgusted with her "bumbo" husband, Melanie divorces Dan, but New York forces her to provide him with alimony and joint custody of Buster the dog. Melanie detests paying this slacker any money so she hires matchmaker Desiree Klein Heart Hunting to find Dan a woman to live with for ninety days, which will end her payments to him. Instead Buster introduces Dan to his veterinarian, they fall in love and he now has a cause to better himself and get past the self pity. However, Machiavellian Melanie sees in the new Dan the old Dan that she loved and married; she wants him back so she revises her plan not caring who is hurt in the process even Evan who offers kibble to Buster as a way to Melanie's heart. Though Melanie rationalizes why she throws ethics out the window, fans will not feel empathy towards the wicked witch of the east. On the other hand, the transformation of Dan from superstar to super slacker to superman seems real as Melanie gives no support emotionally when he most needs her while his new love encourages him to get back in the playing field as a coach. Fans of Jane Heller will see her trademark humor underlying the serious plot, but the star Melanie fumbles the ball as she is too callous about others for the audience to care about her.

Lord Byron's Novel: The Evening Land
John Crowley
ISBN: 0060556587 $25.95, 352 pp.

Lord Byron, Mary Shelley, and Percy Bysche Shelley were enjoying each other's company in Byron's Swiss villa while it stormed outside. Pondering the writing talent and the gloomy weather, Mary challenges her host and her spouse to "compete" with her in writing a ghost story. Everyone knows that Mary wrote Frankenstein while assuming that Byron, feeling out of his "romantic" lane, gave up the ghost. Instead Byron's cryptographic genius daughter Ada finds her father's manuscript and re-scribes it in code so her mother who loathes her father does not destroy it. Over a century later, working on a web site that focuses on women in the sciences, Alexandra Novak conducts research into Ada, who worked with renowned nineteenth century mathematician Charles Babbage, when she finds the code book of Byron's novel, The Evening Land. Knowing her estrange father, a Byron expert, would delight in her find, Alexandra breaks the code to read the tale of Ali, illegitimate offspring of Lord "Satan" Sane and a wife of a Bey whose father found him as a preteen and took him back to England where the kid's adventures in a gothic environs begin. John Crowley provides a brilliant tale told in two major parts in the nineteenth century and today. The genius of the novel is the novel within, The Evening Land in which Mr. Crowley uses Byron's writing style to create the work that the late author most likely never completed in spite of the myth of lost manuscripts. Unique, refreshing and entertaining, readers will appreciate this fabulous fictionalized account to include the inner novel that many will believe is the genuine article.

Dead Man Docking
Mary Daheim
ISBN: 0060566485 $23.95, 336 pp.

In San Francisco Serene "Renie" Jones of Cajones Graphic Design tells her cousin Judith McGonicle Flynn that she is going to get her Uncle Bob to sue Cruz Cruises for breech of contract. Not long afterward, Renie informs her cuz that CEO Magglio Cruz settled rather than face a court case. To sweeten the settlement Renie and her spouse psychiatrist Dr. Bill will go on a cruise trip for free. Coincidently, Judith mentions that she and her spouse Joe were thinking of taking a week off from their B&B. However, Bill becomes tied up with a patient threatening to jump from a ledge so Renie persuades Judith to accompany her. Before they can leave town, someone murders Magglio. Unable to resist the investigating of the homicide over the objections of their spouses and the cops, Renie and Judith make inquiries as two more people are killed and the two cousins could be at the top of the list if they continue to sleuth. The latest Bed and Breakfast mystery is a well written amateur sleuth tale in which the cousins begin their inquiries towards the middle of the plot, but once they start nothing including their concerned spouses can stop these resolute obstinate detectives. The 1930s decor to the cruise vessel adds a feel of suspense to the investigation. As usual Renie and Judith behave in their typical fashion with the former charging into situations where only fools dare go while the latter follows praying that the next escapade will not occur for quite awhile. Mary Daheim serves up another charming B&B who-done-it.

Always Time to Die
Elizabeth Lowell
ISBN: 0060504153 $24.95, 352 pp.

Near Taos, someone murders former New Mexico Senator Andrew Jackson Quintrell III, but everyone who knew him feels the womanizing low life got his just desserts. Meanwhile his sister-in-law Winifred Simmons y Castillo, who rejoices in Andrew's death, hires historian Carolina "Carly" May to develop the family tree. Her nephew New Mexico Governor Josh Quintrell, Andrew's legitimate son, worries that his father's philandering could cost him his bid for the White House. He is pleased the old man cannot cause any new scandals, but worries about might shake out of the tree when the genealogy chart is completed. Dan Duran, the unrecognized great-grandson of the late Senator from an illegitimate tryst, also has big concerns over Carly's study because it upsets his mother; he wants the endeavor stopped. When Carly refuses, Dan decides to keep an eye on her to see what dirt she digs up. However, someone else warns Carly to cease and deist or else she will be stopped in a violent manner. Dan joins her to uncover the family secret that someone wants buried and is willing to kill to keep it interred. He wonders if a highly visible politician would stoop so low. This is a detailed suspense thriller filled with realistic and complex characters that will intrigue those readers who want more background information on topics critical to the story line. The use of DNA and the dating of old photographs that provide historical state tidbits augment the investigation and adds depth to the cast especially the heroine but also slows down the action. Still ALWAYS TIME TO DIE is a strong, realistic and exciting thriller in which the romance plays a key but secondary subplot.

To the Power of Three
Laura Lippman
ISBN 006078492X $24.95, 448 pp.

Since they were in third grade Kat Hartigan, Josie Patel and Perri Kahn were the best of friends doing everything together and letting nobody in their magic circle. Josie was the follower glad that she had these two friends; everyone loved Kat and was willing to do whatever she wanted and Peri lived her life by her own principles. They were inseparable until their last year in high school when it became obvious that Perri snubbed Kat. One day the three girls met in the bathroom and by the time their encounter ended, Kat was dead, Perri was injured and lapsed into a coma, Josie was shot in the foot. Josie tells police that Perri brought the gun to school and killed Kat and shot her when she tried to take the gun away from her and then shot herself. The students, teachers and the town are affected by the tragedy but the police assigned to the case don't believe Josie is telling all she knows because the evidence doesn't quite match the story. With Kat dead and Perri near death, only Josie knows the truth and she isn't talking. Laura Lippman's latest work is exceptional not only because it is a fantastic crime thriller told from the viewpoints of the surviving victim, the police, and the parents of the three seniors but because she makes a strong case for responsible gun control. The whole tragedy could have been averted if the owner of the gun showed some responsibility with a teenager in the house. Believable characters starring in a conceivable scenario make TO THE POWER OF THREE a powerful reading experience.

The Burning Girl
Mark Billingham
ISBN: 0060745266 $16.95, 368 pp.

North London is shook by the brutality of the opening assault by the Turkish Zarif family, who employs a vicious hit man, leaving an X carved on the back of victims, members of the competing Ryan family. As DI Tom Thorne leads the investigation into the vicious murders, he also knows that the Ryan family will retaliate in violent kind once they recognize the adversary who has killed four of their members. Thorne knows that neither family could care less what happens to innocent bystanders because war is hell. As he struggles with the gang war, former DCI Carol Chamberlain asks for his help. Two decades ago someone torched schoolgirl Jessica Clarke believing she was gang boss Kevin Kelly's daughter Alison. Seemingly coincidently, Billy Ryan heads what was the Kelly family. As Gordon Rooker, who confessed to the fiery murder, is up for release, someone has called Carol claiming to have burned her. Reluctantly he agrees to look into the 1984 horror and the present phone calls, not realizing this all tie together with the X marks the spot. Turning from his usual Thorne serial killer plot, Mark Billingham provides an interesting English police procedural that grips the audience with THE BURNING GIRL scenario and the gruesome X calling card. Bordering on an antihero, the DI is at his best as a thorn in the sides of both gangs as he crosses the legal line to insure justice for a little girl is served; he is not as motivated with the homicides of the gangs. Carol is an intriguing secondary character who with her over the hill cold case squad retirees seems perfect for her own tales.

Kittyhawk Down
Gary Disher
ISBN: 1569473943 $23.00, 288 pp.

Though it took him years, Melbourne Homicide Squad Inspector Hal Challis' believes he has moved past his former wife's efforts to have her lover kill him now that he is seeing newspaper editor Tessa Kane and making new friends. Still Angela keeps in contact using the threat of suicide as a blackmail ploy to get Hal to forgive her and to help get her out of her life imprisonment. Hal knows the suicide threat is real, but wants nothing to do with his ex spouse who still haunts him as he regularly visits her anyway. Hal meets Kitty Casement, an aerial photographer who he likes in spite of his seeing Tessa. Someone threatens Kitty's life so Hal assumes she took pictures that threaten the illegal activity of the culprit although this could be part of nasty letter writer the Meddler or her spouse Rex. While searching for a missing toddler and working the latest homicide, Hal and his team struggle to identify who succeeded in ultimately killing Kitty. Though the above paragraphs concentrate on Hal, this terrific Australian police procedural provides numerous perspectives especially that of other cops working the mundane like a teen party or the homicide. The story line is fast-paced, but the key is that all the cast seem genuine even those that could have easily slipped into stereotypes. KITTYHAWK DOWN is a fabulous tale due to the solid caseload and strong characterizations starting with Hal whose life is moving forward one day at a time.

Groucho Marx, King of the Jungle
Ron Goulart
ISBN: 031232216X $22.95, 240 pp.

In 1940 former Los Angeles Times crime reporter Frank Denby takes his sleuthing pal Groucho Marx to meet director Joel Farber who wants to use the comedian in a supportting ole as J. Darwin Underbush in his film Ty-Gor and the Lost City. The meeting is cancelled as someone killed the title star Randy Spellman. Joel wants to hire Groucho and Frank to investigate the homicide, but they say no because the screenwriter promised is pregnant wife cartoonist Jane Danner that he would not conduct any murder inquiries. Jane shocks Frank when she asks him to prove that the prime suspect stuntwoman Dorothy Woodrow did not kill her former lover over his rejecting her as the cops believe. Instead family friend Enery McBride insists Dorothy is his girlfriend, but cannot go to the police because of the bias towards interracial couples. Groucho and Frank learn that Randy was a nasty sort blackmailing people; many individuals would want him dead. The detectives know that a happy Hollywood ending may not occur since Dorothy seems too involved with the late Randy for someone who had not seen him for months. Though one-liner Grouchoitis has spread to Frank and Jane, fans of Hollywood amateur sleuth tales will appreciate the amusing GROUCHO MARX, KING OF THE JUNGLE, a take off of his role in Animal Crackers. The who-done-it is cleverly devised so that the readers along with the wannabe detectives begin to wonder if Dorothy actually killed Randy. Ron Goulart writes a funny historical mystery that brings to life 1940 Hollywood especially Groucho Marx at a time when his last movie was a bomb.

The Lion of St. Mark
Thomas Quinn
ISBN: 0312319088 $24.95, 320 pp.

In the fifteenth century, marine commander Antonio Ziani and Giovanni Soranzo are rival Venetians who hate one another. Giovanni believes that Antonio's careless regard for safety by attacking impenetrable Ottoman positions cost the life of his brother. He plans vengeance, but first they must fight off the Ottomans who threaten Venetian business life on the high seas and ultimately Venice itself. While both continue the war against the nasty invaders, they also work business deals whenever a respite occurs. It is during these lulls that the two enemies pick up their adversarial relationship by trying to destroy the other when Antonio is not a prisoner of war. When the Ottomans return, they and other Venetians put aside their avarice business interests to unite in a war that seems to have no final solution except perhaps the trashing of Venice if those who already have conquered Byzantium have their way. Though interesting especially the powerful use of real events and persona and well written, the Ottomans are depicted as totally evil while the Venetians may worship business as their "God" are ethical (no oxymoron jokes about ethical business men - my brother-in-law is one). The story line grips the audience as the Venetians battle against overwhelming odds to save their lifestyle and city even putting aside feuds like those in Romeo and Juliet. Keeping in mind the obvious bent of the story line that to the victors go the historical fiction, THE LION OF ST. MARK provides readers with an interesting look at a fifteenth century culture clash.

The Mosaic of Shadows
Tom Harper
ISBN: 0312338678 $23.95, 273 pp.

A millennium has past since the west fell, but Byzantium still keeps alive the tradition of the Roman Empire. However, by 1096, corruption amongst the royal family and their retinue has weakened the leadership and subsequently the Byzantium Empire. Only the icon of the Emperor keeps the country from collapse. However, someone using a much more powerful arrow than ever seen before tried to assassinate the serene majesty Emperor Akexios and killed an armored guard with this weapon. Concerned for his ruler and his empire, Chamberlain Krysaphios hires Demetrios, unveiler of mysteries, who found the Eparch's daughter when everyone thought she was dead. Adding to Krysaphios worries is the great army just in from the west to help battle the Turks resides outside the city with no one knowing where their loyalty lies. The Chamberlain wants Demetrios to uncover the identity of the assassin and who this killer works for before any other incident occurs. Demetrios makes inquiries inside the hedonistic palace, pleasure brothels, and the military camp, but at each point he finds a very complex seditious conspiracy that if successful could leave the Byzantium Empire flowing in a bloody civil war with Turkish invaders waiting to pick apart the remains. THE MOSAIC OF SHADOWS is a an exciting historical mystery that uses late eleventh century Byzantium as the backdrop to the tale. The story line reflects a teetering society seemingly in trouble from its excessive indulgences at a time when threats are coming from the east for sure and probably the west too. Reminding readers of Saylor's Gordanius and Roberts' Decius, Demetrios is an interesting protagonist who escorts readers on a terrific tour during his dangerous investigation.

The Princess and the Pirates
John Maddox Roberts
ISBN 031233723X $22.95, 188 pp.

In the year 703 Rome, Decius Metellus wants to know why after serving two years as an aedile during which his popularity rose to unprecedented heights because he did so much good works, he can't be elected predator. The answer is simple: Politics. The Metellus family has different candidates they want to run for office this year and they think Decius needs more seasoning in the military arena. Rome has recently annexed Cyprus from Egypt resulting in a resurgence of piracy in the area. Decius is sent there to break up their operation but when he arrives he finds a teenage Cleopatra there who gladly lends her vessel to his three ship armada. Although he is not certain he can trust the princess, he accepts her help and once he starts investigating, he realize there is a conspiracy that reaches to the highest levels of the Cyprian government. Trapping and catching the conspirators will prove to be the most difficult assignment of his life. John Maddox Roberts has the gift to describe a bygone era so perfectly that readers actually believe they are there. The author keeps his series fresh by constantly changing the location from Rome so although the protagonist remains the same, the far flung Roman Empire is described in exquisite meticulously researched detail. As usual, SPQR IX is a vivid and well designed historical mystery.

Summer's Child
Luanne Rice
ISBN: 0553587625 $7.50, 400 pp.

Every June 21, the Connecticut media makes a big show of the vanishing of pregnant pixie Mara Jameson nine years ago. Like everyone else retired State Police Officer Patrick Murphy, who worked the still unsolved case, reflects on how the married Mara went out to work her grandmother's rose garden, but vanished; but unlike most people who believe her spouse Edward Hunter got away with killing Mara Patrick believes she is alive. In Cape Hawk near the Gulf of St. Lawrence, Lily Malone owns the store In Stitch while raising her almost nine years old daughter Rose alone. Rose has a heart condition that has required surgery and will require one more operation. Lily reflects back to when she was Mara knowing she misses her beloved grandmother but fears what Edward would do to their child if he ever found them; that dread that he will do something ugly made her run in the first place. However, the past is catching up to Lily who fears Rose will be his victim if he finds them. The suspense grips the audience from the start even though the lead protagonist does not make an appearance until a few chapters into the gripping story line. Instead readers "see" Mara through the eyes of her grandmother and Patrick; ironically Edward's perspective comes out much later well after the audience has met Lily, Rose, the child's best friend Jess and their kind neighbor Dr. Liam Niell. Lily is a courageous soul struggling not to be a "bruised rose" before returning home (see the upcoming SUMMER OF ROSES for those events) with Liam at her side ready to protect both of his females.

Chill of Fear
Kay Hooper
ISBN 0553803174 $25.00 352 pp.

FBI agent Quentin Hayes belongs to the Special Crime Unit where all the members have at lease one psychic skill used as an additional tool in their arsenal against criminals. Quentin has been haunted for twenty years by the death of Missy, his playmate at the Lodge, a secluded resort that caters to clients who want their privacy. Every so often, Quentin returns to try to solve Missy's murder; this time he has a real chance of doing so because Diana Brisco is there too. Diana has believed all her life she is insane because she hears voices, suffers blackouts and sees things that aren't there. When Quentin meets her he knows immediately that she is a medium and her years in a drug stupor to cure her condition were a waste of time. Gradually Diana begins to believe and trust Quentin especially when the ghost of a child that disappeared at the Lodge leads her to his bones allowing him to pass on. Missy and others prepare Diana to fight the evil that has lived on at The Lodge for over a century and to send it to a place where it can't come back. In Kay Hooper's universe evil is a tangible force that can be reincarnated or if it is strong enough possess the living being who has a medium psychic ability. Recurring characters from previous books gives readers a sense of continuity while treating them to an exciting paranormal police procedural that gives new meaning to the word dead. The author draws the reader into the storyline and once there they can't leave because they want to see what happens next in this thrill a minute chilling fantastic reading experience.

Summer of Roses
Luanne Rice
ISBN: 0553804103 $23.00, 323 pp.

Nine years have passed since a then pregnant pixie nee Mara Jameson fled her Hubbard's Point Connecticut home and the abuse of her spouse Edward Hunter for the sake of her unborn child. She changes her name to Lily Malone, relocates to remote Cape Hawk, Nova Scotia, opened up In Stitch, and raised her ailing (heart condition) daughter Rose by herself until Dr. Liam Neill entered their lives. Now Mara has come home accompanied by her child and her beloved Liam because her ailing granny in Shoreline Hospital needs her though she knows Edward will find out and probably come for her with hatred in his heart. When Dr. Kirkland informs her that the unconscious granny suffers from carbon monoxide poisoning, she concludes Edward tried to kill her. She knows Edward will come for Rose using legal means, manipulating the media as the deserted hurt spouse who is whispered by many as wife killer and other deadlier methods at his disposal to achieve what he wants, the destruction of Mara. This terrific suspense sequel to the SUMMER'S CHILD continues the tale of Lily returning to the life she fled almost a decade ago courageously knowing the risk she takes. The story line is character driven by brave people not just the heroine and Liam, but others to include a surprising courtroom twist. Though Edward is a tarnished loser, something in his gene pool allows him to select intrepid women and sire brave offspring. SUMMER OF ROSES is a terrific thriller that can be read alone, but is enhanced when perused back to back with its delightful predecessor.

Dean Koontz
ISBN: 0553804154 $27.00, 400 pp.

Four years ago in Napa County Billy Wiles' fiancee Barbara fell into a botulism-induced coma. She has resided ever since at the Whispering Pines Convalescent Home. Following a shift tending bar, Billy finds a note on his windshield that states "If you don't take this note to the police and get them involved, I will kill a lovely blond schoolteacher. If you do take this note to the police, I will instead kill an elderly woman active in charity work.. You have four hours to decide. The choice is yours". Billy shows the note to his pal police officer Lanny Olsen, who tells him to forget it because it is just a sick joke. However, the note writer batters a lovely blond schoolteacher to death, chosen because Billy failed to officially go to the police. Other notes follow, offering deadly choices for Billy to select or not select. Billy ponders why him wondering if perhaps Barbara's twin sister Dardre could be the psychopath; she covets the $3 million that her sibling won in a legal suit. If he is right could Barbara be the next target followed by Billy. VELOCITY lives up to its title as the pace accelerates at rocket speed and the INTENSITY of the suspense grows with each moral decision that Billy using all his wiles makes or not makes. The exhilarating story line is a parable of modern society as the President with Congress for instance "chooses" in a sense who gets what type of healthcare and who does not indirectly impacting who lives. Dean Koontz is at his best combining his trademark suspense with a thought provoking issue on who will live and who will die and why.

The Washingtonienne
Jessica Cutler
ISBN: 1401302009 $23.95, 304 pp.

Wall St. Mike via Queens informs his fiancee Jacqueline Turner that she is to move out of his Manhattan apartment in two days having learned she lied to him to spend time with Kevin. Stunned as she thought he would keep her in designer clothing forever, Jacqueline knows her over paying Internet copywriting position would not pay the New York rent. Jacqueline figures DC should be cheaper as will crashing in April's apartment. April also should help her take the Hill. However, Jacqueline quickly learns that DC is filled with media phobic types so if a girl wants fun she needs to start it herself. Soon she has a minion of power brokers begging her for her time. Her friends suggest she start a blog so they can follow her exploits amongst the rich and powerful who beg her for favors. The fun of this novelization by former Congressional staffer Jessica Cutler's real blog is guessing who's who. However, that inane gimmick is unable to make a strong biographical fictional plot yet somehow is enough to keep the voyeurs like this reviewer to keep reading. Fans of titillating exposes will enjoy THE WASHINGTONIENNE that will remind the audience of the original blog that raised family values inside the Beltway to new hypocritical heights.

Star Quality
Lori Foster, Lucy Monroe & Dianne Castell
Brava (Kensington)
ISBN: 0758210043 $14.00

"Once in A Blue Moon" by Lori Foster. Since moving to Delicious, Ohio six months ago, Stan Tucker has wanted widow Jenna Rowan, owner of The Book Nook. Since she shows no indication of reciprocity, he has hidden his feelings and blocked out his paranormal ability to read minds especially hers. However, the blue moon enhances his skills so when he enters her store during such a lunar moment, Stan is overwhelmed by Jenna's images of XXX sex with him. "Moon Magnetism" by Lucy Monroe. Every full moon, hotel manager Ivy Kendall turns into a magnet, who devastates electronic devices. Her boss Blake Hawthorne visits Delicious to insure the installment of a computerized system that Ivy has avoided installing. Ivy expects to lose her job except that she and Blake have an attraction much more powerful than magnetism. "Moonstruck" by Dianne Castell. Leaving the Delicious courthouse following her divorce from a philandering spouse, Julia Simon wishes the rat would fall into the town fountain, which he does. Next Julia wishes that private investigator Marc Adams would ask her out on a date followed by heated sex, both occurs. Other wishes come true too. Julia concludes that the blue moon is granting her wishes, but now knows what it is like to get what you wish for; one night is not enough with Marc, but will he desire more without the magic to compel him? Fans of heated fantasy romance will not want to wait for a full moon to read these wickedly delicious tales containing STAR QUALITY protagonists. Readers could not wish for a better collection than these three entertaining novellas.

Confessions of a "Wicked" Woman
Susanna Carr
ISBN: 0758210795 $14.00

Maysfield Sheriff Jack Logan thought his worse two problem are the imminent flood and living down his reputation as a town bad boy during his wild oats youth. He soon realizes he is way off in his assessment when he pulls Stephanie Monroe out of the creek where she sank her SUV. She is in town seeking her runaway business partner.. Jack takes a soaked Stephanie to the sheriff's office where dressed to the part she pretends to be an L.A bad girl. Jack can see through her fake image to the small girl- sweet woman that Stephanie tries to hide. As the townsfolk complain about Stephanie's outrageousness and Jack is forced to arrest her for indecent behavior that even he as a reformed bad guy knows is nothing, they fall in love, but she fled a hometown that is a clone of Maysfield for the bright city lights. This amusing chick lit tale centers on the premise that Jack was once a bad boy while Stephanie was once a good girl, but both easily sees inside the other to a caring heart. The amusing tale focuses on Jack knowing he should not fall in love with the transient, but does and Stephanie knowing that she should not fall in love with the local yokel but she does. Susanna Carr provides a wickedly hot humorous fun tale.

Beach Blanket Bad Boys
Linda Lael Miller, Morgan Leigh, Susanna Carr, Alison Kent, Lucy Monroe & Jill Shalvis
ISBN: 0758210949 $14.00

"Batteries Not Included" by Linda Lael Miller. Gayle grew up in the back of her mother's bar where she fell in love with Tristan but left town heartbroken. Ten years later Gayle is helping her mom sell the bar while avoiding Tristan, who still heats up her blood. "Sara Smiles" by Alison Kent. Six months ago Jax asked Sara to marry him, but she said no. Sara knows she made a mistake, but Jax has doubts. "Seducing Tabby" by Lucy Monroe. In Port Diamond every female including shy Tabby wants English visitor Calder. Tabby cannot compete with her beautiful sister Helene who every male covets. Yet Calder asks Helene about her sibling. "Captivated" by Jill Shalvis. Insurance investigator Ella is handcuffed in her cottage's bathroom when her estrange-husband James arrives. They still love one another, but James fears for her safety making it impossible to live together. "Sister Switch" by Susanna Carr. Tracy persuades her identical twin Jessica to take her place as the bride at her wedding rehearsal while she works a business deal. However, Tracy fails to return in time for her wedding to a man she doesn't love while the man she does catches her in the act. "Spencer For Ever" by Morgan Leigh. After a decade away, Arden returns to Martha's Vineyard hoping to get Kip back in her life permanently. He refuses to believe he is no more than a summer fling to be discarded in the Fall. All six tales are hotter than a summer sun romances starring strong bad boys and the women who can match their ardor.

Single Girl's Guide to Murder
Joanne Meyer
ISBN: 0758202644 $12.95, 291 pp.

NYPD Homicide Detective Andy Faluso heads the investigation into the murder of professional escort Dick Kordell. The prime suspect is wannabe actress and super mannequin model dummy Karen Doucette because she was dating the deceased just shortly before he died. Andy has focused on her as he is in her Manhattan kitchen as much as her refrigerator and on the phone with her so frequently he must have communication stock. Interestingly he believes she is innocent. Karen admits to herself she wanted him dead for cheating on her with her ex best friend, but she just dropped both of them, not killing anyone. Still someone who knew of her relationship with the late lover has left evidence to hang Karen. Concerned that Andy, who she likes having around, will arrest her, Karen poses as a freelance journalist to interview Kordell's wealthy female clients to determine who wanted that Dick dead. THE SINGLE GIRL'S GUIDE TO MURDER is a lighthearted New York amateur sleuth tale with obvious police procedural elements. The story line reflects the heroine, a cool, breezy, and nice person. The murder investigations (professionally and amateurish) nicely contrast one another especially when ironically the reader knows why Andy spends so much time with Karen while she remains clueless. Joanne Meyer writes a fun Manhattan mystery that in spite of an Irish Stew queen sized ending deserves chapter two in Karen's guide to mayhem and bad cooking.

Princess Charming
Jane Heller
ISBN: 0758211694 $6.99

The three forty-something friends with no men in their lives, Elaine Zimmerman, Pat Kovecky and Jackie Gault, have gone on several vacations together. Pat and Jackie decide that their trip ought to be a Caribbean cruise on The Princess Charming. Reluctantly the third amigo agrees though the sailing makes her nervous. The trek starts off poorly for Elaine when she loses her luggage; she replaces her missing clothing by buying from the boutique sequined gowns that she must wear at all times. Elaine panics when she overhears someone planning to murder one of her buddies. She wonders which of the people at their table the killer is. She makes inquires hoping that is not Sam Peck, who she likes, but how could it be the elderly couple too busy having sex to kill anyone or the stockbroker and his wife too busy shopping and avoiding sex to kill anyone. Though the three female buddies are overly stereotyped, readers will enjoy this fine amateur sleuth romance due ironically because of the likable trio. Elaine is the prime star cruising for clues on who and why someone she dines with wants to kill one of her friends even as she wonders if a major suspect is at long last the love she has waited for over four decades to meet. Jane Heller writes a lighthearted romantic cruise mystery that is fun to read.

Lucy Monroe
ISBN: 0758208642 $14.00, 304 pp.

The stalker frightened author Lise Barton with the threats to her beloved brother, sister-in-law, and newborn niece. Feeling a need to keep them safe, Lise moves from Texas to Seattle. However, the calls, the presents like the blood red rose once sent to her, and the anonymous email follow her still menacing her family. Her sister-in-law Bella was upset that she believes she caused Lise to relocate as Lise alibis her way out of Thanksgiving and Christmas visits. Bella sends her brother Joshua "Wolf" Watt to persuade Lise that she is welcome at any time in her brother's home; Josh assumes he is the cause since they passionately kissed and more until he left her to try to do the impossible forget her. Lise tells Josh about the stalker. The former Ranger turned mercenary plans to keep his Lise safe while he and his cohorts Hotwire and Nitro capture a sneaky predator. However, Josh and Lise wonder who will keep their respective hearts safe from one another. Be READY for a strong ardent romantic suspense thriller starring two courageous heroes and a couple of testosterone hunks. Readers will feel the heat as the passion between Lise and Josh flow at the same time her stalker raises the stakes feeling betrayed. The villain pales next to this strong team of lover and friends. Lucy Monroe provides a Hot wire story line tale so filled with explosive Nitro that sub-genre readers will enjoy the heated action wondering whether this lone Wolf will remain solo.

Hot Ice
Cherry Adair
ISBN: 0345476425 $19.95, 352 pp.

T-FLAC operative Huntington St. John blows out a wall of San Cristobel prison and rescues jewel thief Taylor Kincaid, who is blind probably from guards slamming her head on the rock hard floor. He takes her to a safe place and demands she provide him with the codes that along with diamonds she stole from Morales. She denies taking any codes and wonders if Hunt works for Theresa Smallwood whose deal she earlier rejected. Though attracted to Taylor or whatever her name is as she has used a lot of aliases over the years, Hunt knows the codes are critical if he is to stop Morales and the Mano del Dios terrorists from causing a nasty incident in sixty days. Smallwood wants her too, but unlike Hunt who tries to avoid collateral damage, she and her top spy group do not care who dies as long as their cause is further served. Then there is Morales who wants Taylor back because no one escapes his wrath of God mentality. HOT ICE is an action packed thriller that contains a strong cast who meet at Taylor, the focus of frenzied activity. Taylor is the key to the tale and she holds up well though her shadowy successful cat burglary profession seems to have failed her with Morales, Smallwood, and St. John. The attraction between Hunt and Taylor enhances the overall suspense as that is just one more thing out of control for the heroine. Cherry Adair writes a strong thriller that grips the reader from start to finish wondering who will come on top in an exciting antiterrorist espionage encounter.

Breaking Point
Suzanne Brockmann
ISBN: 0345480120 $21.95, 384 pp.

In 2003, FBI hostage negotiator Chief Max Bhagat saved the life of Gina Vitagliano during a terrorist incident, but he was injured. Over the next few months he went through rehab and she was there. They fell in love, but by January 2004, a desperate Gina forced her beloved to see a relationship counselor; he still hid behind his rationalizations why she needed to find someone else. Not long afterwards, she gives up at least for now and takes a medical aid assignment in Kenya. In June 2005, Jules Cassidy informs his boss Max that Gina was killed in a terrorist incident in Hamburg, Germany. Max informs Gina's family and accompanied by an unwelcome Jules flies to Hamburg to bring the corpse home. However, at the morgue, the woman identified as Gina is not her. No clue locally gives them much to go on, but for some unknown reason Gina had flown from Kenya to Germany along with fellow aid worker Molly Anderson who has ties to former operative Jones. He is the link and bait to extract Gina from the terrorists who Max feels abducted her; now to find Jones. The legendary Max is at THE BREAKING POINT as he feels more pain with Gina's abduction than he did during rehab when he thought death would be kinder. The multifaceted story line is more complex and tense than previous tales as it switches time frames back and forth between the events summarized in the first paragraph above, but is also a bit difficult to follow at times. The return of the openly gay Jules will please Suzanne Brockmann's fans, who wonder when he will star in a future romantic suspense.

The Courtesan
Susan Carroll
ISBN: 0345437977 $13.95, 560 pp.

In 1575, courtesan Gabrielle Cheney visits reclusive friend Cassandra Lascelles at run down Maison d'esprit where the latter's family were killed as befitting witches. Gabrielle wants to insure her friend is okay and ask Cassandra to communicate with her only love Captain Nicholas Remy who her brother informed her died. The s?ance conducted by Cassandra brings up the spirit of Nostradamus but fails to find Remy whom Gabrielle wants to apologize to for her behavior towards him on Faire Isle when they met three years ago (see THE DARK QUEEN). Cassandra knows that means he still lives but says nothing. Just after leaving her friend to return to her sculpturing studio though she no longer uses her talent, Gabrielle is stopped by Remy who followed her. At first believing he is a ghost, she finally realizes her beloved lives. As Gabrielle walks a thin line between being the Courtesan of King Henry of Navarre and her love for Remy, the Dark Queen Catherine de Medici, the most powerful and most connected witch has plans of her own for the upstart. The second Cheney sister historical tale combines otherworldly and romantic elements into an insightful look at the de Medici impact in Paris. The story line is action-packed starting with the s?ance and never slowing down until the final climax in which Catherine's bewitching minion and her political power seems too daunting to be overcome by a bewitching courtesan and her beloved soldier. Fans will enjoy this sixteenth century suspense thriller and seek the first tale when sister Ariane battled THE DARK QUEEN while looking forward to the third sibling's story.

Heart's Desire
Laura Pedersen
ISBN: 0345479556 $13.95, 416 pp.

Though she would prefer not to work another summer at mother and son Olivia and Bernard Stockton's estate garden where she took refuge last year (see BEGINNER'S LUCK), Hallie Palmer knows she needs the money to offset some of her freshman year debts. So Hallie returns to her Ohio home accepting the same job she held in the past. However, she is shocked when a depressed Bernard informs her that his lover Mr. Gil dropped him. He enlists Hallie's help to bring Gil to his senses and restart their relationship. At the same time, Hallie sees her high school boyfriend Craig and, though she has a college beau, she remains attracted to him. He feels the same way even reflecting on whether their agreement to see others was realistic as being together feels like the right thing. Is it her HEART'S DESIRE or just a nostalgic summer love? This sequel stars the still whimsical charming former poker champ Hallie, a likable teen still feeling crowded in the Palmer household as the second born with a horde of siblings. The story line beguiles the readers as the older wiser Hallie is helplessly overwhelmed once more with relationships, her own with Craig, and Bernard with Mr. Gil. Fans will appreciate Laura Pederson's teen queen who hopefully returns for one more entanglement perhaps as a recent college graduate whose only work is yard work at the Stockton home garden.

Killing Time
Linda Howard
ISBN 034545345X $25.95, 370 pp.

By the year 2207, technology for time travel is available but it is strictly monitored and a person must have permission to go back in time. The technology was developed from an item in a time capsule buried in 1985 in a small Kentucky town. When an unauthorized person transits back to 2005 where the time travel is buried, FBI agent Nikita Stover is sent back to retrieve the person and make sure the capsule is buried so that it can be found in the future. Police officer Knox Davis doesn't believe Nikita is a FBI agent so she has to show him things that don't exist in his time to prove she is a time traveler and a Fed from 2207. The person who came to 2005 from the future is killing people who witnessed the burying of the time capsule and is trying to terminate Nikita. She believes there is a traitor in her agency but the biggest danger is not to her life but to her heart because she is falling for Knox who is beginning to love her and is desperate to keep her alive. Nikita is afraid that when she tells him the truth about her origins, he will turn away from her in disgust. This is a very different type of thriller that Linda Howard has written, one that involves time travel and a heroine who is not an alpha. She is a vulnerable woman, unsure of herself but she has courage and the ability to adapt to an environment that is very alien to her. There is plenty of action in KILLING TIME but the strength of this novel lies in the developing relationship of the two protagonists.

This Dame for Hire
Sandra Scoppettone
ISBN 034547810X $21.95, 253 pp.

She started out working as a secretary for Woody Mason of A Detective Agency in 1940 but when the Japanese bombed Pearl Harbor, he enlisted. Wanting to have the business when he came home, he made his secretary Faye Quick a private detective and she is now working her own cases with her own secretary to do the clerical work. Since January of 1942 she has been doing well for herself and not even tripping over the murdered body of a woman in the snow dousing her enthusiasm for life. A few months after finding Claudette West, her parents arrive in her office wanting to hire Faye to find their daughter's killer because they believe the police aren't giving the case enough attention. Feeling an obligation to the woman, she accepts the case and quickly learns that Claudette had a lot of men interested in her and was pregnant. Faye pounds the pavement asking anyone who was close to Claudette what they knew of the men (most of them suspects) and the pregnancy. She thinks that there is a link between her lover and her murder. Applying solid investigative methods she is bound to find out who the killer is. New York City in 1943 is dark & gritty just like the case the protagonist is working on is. Sandra Scoppettone captures the ambience of the era through the use of historical facts and the era's vernacular. Renowned for her grand-breaking Lauren Laurano Novels, Ms. Scoppettone has created another fabulous series that is sure to win her an award nomination for its originality and brilliant characterizations.

Confessions of a Lingerie Addict
Jennifer Ashley
Making It
ISBN: 0505526360 $6.99, 372 pp.

On December 31, wealthy Larry "Mr. Perfect" Bryant ends his relationship with San Diego KCLP DJ Brenda Scott. Depressed she comes home where she joins her roommate Clarissa's New Year's Eve party. The next morning, Brenda awakens to find a hunk in her bed; she has no idea who he is or how he got there or even the slightest details. Feeling a bit better about turning into a wild woman at least for a night and she hopes that wild is the apropos word as she remembers nothing after several martinis, Brenda has become fixated on women's lingerie wearing sexy expensive items under her business apparel to remind her that she is the mouse that roared. However, two months since the life changing event, Brenda meets the hunk again. Nick Jordan thinks Brenda is a wild woman unaware of her real past. Besides wanting to strip off her clothing, he strips away her secrets to include her lunatic boss, her failed brother, her sex driven mother, and her obsession as he falls in love with his Brenda that make her his Ms. Perfect. CONFESSIONS OF A LINGERIE ADDICT is a lighthearted contemporary romance. Brenda is a nice person helping others cope and coping herself by wearing sexy underwear that makes her feel more desirable. Nick is her terrific stud who slowly learns all of his beloved's secrets and falls in love with each Brenda he uncovers. Jennifer Ashley writes a warm amusing romp that is fun to follow as Nick peels away the complex layers that make up Brenda while wanting to add him as the biggest most loving piece of the puzzle.

Edna Buchanan
Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 0743250559 $24.00, 272 pp.

In Miami preservationist Kiki Courtelis visits the police department's Cold Case Squad to investigate the murder of 1950s city Mayor Pierce Nolan in front of his home in 1961. Kiki informs the cops that if they fail to act, the most famous unsolved case in the state will remain that way forever because developers have bulldozers ready to tear down Nolan's home the Shadows. She also admits that the Cold Case Squad is her last hope to save the elegant but abandoned 1920s style house from progress. Sergeant Burch reluctantly leads his team on a search of the premises, but is stunned when they find a box containing the remains of seven babies that died four decades ago. DNA testing proves that Pierce sired none of the infants. While much of the squad is morbidly fascinated with the infanticide, Police Officer Sam Stone works a more personal cold case, the murders of his parents in 1987. He is astonished to learn that the cop Ray Glover, who informed him and his grandmother that his parents were murdered, died not long afterward in an accident. Mindful in positive ways of Ed McBain's 87th Precinct, the two prime subplot cases never intersect yet both grips the audience for differing reasons. Readers like most of the cold case squad and the city will be ghoulishly mesmerized by the murders of the former mayor and the babies; on the other hand the audience and the city will empathize with Sam's need for closure as his inquiries lead towards a conspiratorial cover-up by Miamians, but who and why appears just out of reach. Edna Buchanan writes a terrific police procedural.

Crusader's Cross
James Lee Burke
Simon & Schuster
ISBN: 0743277198 $25.95, 336 pp.

In 1958, half brothers Jimmy and Dave Robicheaux work as doodlebugs putting down cable along the Texas-Louisiana shoreline. During an off day on Galveston Island, the siblings became stranded on a sandbar with a shark swimming nearby. Ida Durbin paddles out and rescues the guys, but refuses to provide any personnel information although Jimmy is attracted to her. When he learns she is a prostitute, he tries to take her away with him. When her pimp, Lou Kale intercedes, Jimmy overcomes him; however, Ida fails to meet him at the rendezvous point and the brothers never learn what happened to her. The mystery is solved decades later when Troy Bordelon, lying in a hospital on life support after being stabbed several times during a brawl, tells Dave that he saw his uncle take Ida away with him. Dave was planning to ignore the clue until two redneck deputy sheriffs display interest in his meeting with Troy so he investigates not realizing that the New Orleans mob, a local sheriff's department, and the Chalons family want him stopped. The latest Robicheaux thriller is the usual intense gritty tale starring an individual who at times seems he took one punch too many from George Foreman, but finds the inner strength to try to do what he feels is right. The story line starts with an intriguing look back to Dave's pre Nam days while providing the foundation for the latter day mystery; a clever technique that showcases James Lee Burke's abilities to tell a coherent story. In both eras, readers obtain a close look at Dave and to a lesser degree Jimmy as Mr. Burke is in top form with this powerful suspense thriller.

The Wedding Night of an English Rogue
Jillian Hunter
ISBN: 0345461231 $6.99

In 1814, Colonel Sir Russell Althorne asks his officer Lieutenant Colonel Lord Heath Boscastle to keep his fiancee Julia safe while he is in France searching for crazy French espionage agent Armand Auclair. Heath has survived war, imprisonment, torture, and family; he would do any of those over again rather then spend time with the widow Julia Hepworth, but he owes Russell for saving his life so he reluctantly agrees. Six years ago, Heath met Julia when she shot him and he followed up by kissing her. He never forgot her, but she rejected his advances and married someone else who since died in India. Julia also never forgot the kiss that in spite of a husband and a fiance has been the sexual highlight of her life. She became engaged to Russell when he helped her after her husband and dad died close to one another, but no longer grieving she has doubts about marrying Russell. Heath's brother Grayson tells him Russell has impregnated his mistress and suggests he seduce his beloved Julia as Russell no longer deserves loyalty. As Heath and Julia fall in love, they first must deal with Auclair, who is in England not France, and then Russell. From the moment the lead couple re-meets for the first time in six years, the heated romance between them makes the tale although the suspense is strong as the audience anticipates showdowns with her fiance and the crazed clever killer. The return of characters from the first Boscastle novel SEDUCTION OF AN ENGLISH SCOUNDREL adds strength to a fine story line although the finish is real but anticlimactic.

Wicked Fantasy
Nicole Jordan
ISBN: 0345467868 $6.99

In 1811 adventurer Trey Deverill meets with his partner shipping magnate Samuel Maitland who introduces him to his sixteen year old daughter Antonia. That night Trey hears a strange noise outside, investigates and finds Antonia slinging arrows. They talk and she says she regrets not being able to go on a grand adventure. He asks what that would be so she responds by asking him to kiss her, which he does, but quickly leaves because she is too young and the child of a friend, who wants her wedded to nobility. Four years later, Samuel is dead and Antonia is unofficially betrothed to another of her father's business associates Lord Heward. Family housekeeper Mrs. Peake believes Heward murdered her employer Mr. Maitland. The night before Heward and Maitland argued over the aristocrat selling slaves; afterward Maitland drank from a bottle given to him by Heward and keeled over. Heward summoned his doctor who declared heart it a attack, and the bottle vanished. Because Samuel supported the Guardian of the Sword that Trey is a member of, he must protect Antonia by finding out if Heward is a killer, but falls in love with her. WICKED FANTASY is a cleverly crafted Regency romantic amateur sleuth thriller that grips the audience once Trey provides the details behind Mrs. Peake's suspicions. The story line is loaded with plenty of action as Trey investigates as best he can, handicapped by needing to proceed cautiously in case Heward is innocent and the right spouse for Samuel's daughter. The heroine is a terrific amazon princess who deserves the best just as Nicole Jordan provides that to her audience.

Strange Valley
Darrell Bain
Twilight Times
ISBN: 1931201234 $15.50

Census Bureau career civil servant Harry Beales is stunned with the data that reflects Masterville in the Arkansas Ozarks. The small town contains no measurable crime, a much greater than average life-span, no international business chains as everything is locally owned, no federal money is received not even Medicare or Pell Grants, the marriage rate is very low, but offspring very high and no major religion has taken hold. However, the oddest fact is that these trends can be traced back to the Civil War. Harry's findings reach NSA; they become concerned with this oddity in the center of the Bible Belt especially since the objective of the President of the United States is to imbue Christian family values as the Bill of Rights. NSA field agents Daniel Stenning and Shirley Rostervick are sent to Masterville to uncover and destroy this heretical conspiracy in the middle of the United States that the POTUS and the NSA believe is the biggest threat to national security since the wall fell. Using hyperbole to highlight the extreme of the fundamentalist religious right movement, Darrell Bain provides a powerful political thriller. The story line showcases a central government that feels so strongly in the end state of Christian based federalism that it leads the people to a restrictive faith in which the means to get there do not matter. This includes beating the bushes to thwart a small town whose residents are living together in harmony as that is not necessarily a pious life style. This reviewer kept thinking of the bane imposed on Rushdie as this strong thriller with a powerful message leaves readers to ponder what is right. Darrell Bain has written a fabulous eye-opening tale.

Charlotte Boyett-Compo
Twilight Times
ISBN: 1933353198 $18.50

As children siblings Weir and Genevieve Saur watch, the Tribunal steals their family estate leaving them with not even time to mourn the death of their father. Thirsting for revenge, the pair manages to survive; eventually they become pirates plundering the coast of Serenia. Sailing the Wind Lass, the Saurs and their crew come across a "ghost" ship, a prison vessel with two near dead survivors, a crew member and a prisoner, trapped in the hull. The convict is Syn-Jern Sorn, son of the Duke of Winterstorm, who Weir holds culpable for his father's death. Weir wants Syn-Jern dead while Genny feels he should not be faulted for the sins of the father. She prevails and as he heals, they learn that his step-brother Trace Edward Sorn betrayed him. As the Weirs decide whether to abet Syn-Jern on his quest to devastate the Tribunal, he hides his power that if used could kill many including innocent people even as he and Genny begin to fall in love. The second novel in the WindTales miniseries trilogy is a strong erotic dark romantic fantasy that can be enjoyed as a stand alone but is enhanced by insider references to other Wind stories especially WINDFALL. The story line is action-packed, yet as expected by Charlotte Boyett-Compo, the key cast members are fully developed and not just the lead couple and her brother; for instance others like the Saurs' piracy partner Patrick embellish the plot as the audience cares for them. A final twist will stun fans as this fabulous author shakes her readers from complacency as few if any authors in continuing series ever do. Encore kudos to a terrific writer.

The Moon Child
Alex Roces
Twilight Times
ISBN: 193120120X $15.50

Like the aging healer Lucila, Maria was abandoned as a baby. Lucila found her and raised her as her own, teaching her "daughter" how to use herbs to heal the nearby villagers in spite of being outcasts, undesirables and even physically abused for not knowing their lineage. Lucila also knows that her ward has power as the MOON CHILD. Maria befriends all the spirits, flora and fauna of her forestry home, but is uncomfortable with humans except for her "mother". The barrio Captain Arturo falls in love with Maria, but she initially shies away from him until he persuades her that they belong together and he would never purposely hurt her. They move into a home together not realizing buried beneath is the grave of Maya, a forest mortal maltreated by the villagers whom she cursed before dying. Additionally, Pacita, who loves Arturo, plans to destroy his relationship with Maria. At about the same time, Juanito comes to the forest playing the flute like a God as he hypnotizes all the women in a search for a soul. He may have found his soul when he falls in love with Maria. This delightful romantic fantasy that in some ways feels like A Midsummer Night's Dream focuses on the need for belonging through nurturing and love. Several key protagonists behave even spitefully due to loving someone else though in some cases it is unrequited. The fantasy elements enhance the basic need to have someone love you. Though clearly Maria's tale, the support cast, (whether magical or human, kind or enviously desperate) enchant the audience in search of the "elusive butterfly of love".

Charlotte Boyett-Compo
Twilight Times
ISBN: 193120151X $18.50

In Viago, her father the Duke informs Gillian Cree that she will marry her family enemy, the lecherous vile Rolf de Viennes to pay a debt. Though her sire demands that honor is served by the marriage, her brother Nick vows to take her to safety to Boreas, but the snowstorm stops their escape. The siblings find refuge in a bleak manor house in the middle of nowhere. The dismal home belongs to Prince Kaelan Hesar, who fell in love only to have his Jarl disapprove his choice, incarcerate him and ultimately sold him in marriage. Since his spouse died, Kaelan lives as a recluse caring for no one not even himself. Ironically the woman he loved that started his cycle of doom has now sought shelter in his home. Gillian brings Kaelan back to life and though he is not to even see her, this time he refuses to let her go. They visit a priest who marries Gillian and Kaelan, but though they hope for a long and happy relationship together, their respective families and de Viennes have darker plans for the loving duo. WINDFALL is a tremendous romantic fantasy that emphasizes the relationships and attributes of the key cast members. Readers will appreciate the second chance at love between the lead couple and the unselfish attitude of Nick, which contrasts nicely with his avaricious father, the depraved Rolf, and Kaelan's power greedy Jarl. The audience will enjoy this tale with newcomers wanting to read more "Wind" tales from an author that us fans know is one of the best writers of dark heated romantic fantasy.

Eyes of Truth
Linda Suzane
Twilight Times
ISBN: 1931201382 $16.95

In the Kingdom of Naj, natural disasters, murders and plagues are the norm in the remote province of Funara. For the most part when death walks the street of the provincial capital of Dak-Moon, the ruler of Naj, Cojii leaves it up to the locals to deal as best they can although he possesses the gift, like all descendents of the god Insu, of the Eyes of Truth that enables him to detect when someone lies. Normally the homicide of a gardener would be ignored by the monarch. However the circumstances of the death concerns Cojii as potentially a new illness that drains the blood has arisen; more immediately worrisome is that High Magistrate Shoki visiting the area has not reported in four moons as required. He sends his brother Dar to investigate accompanied by retired assassin and expert liar Waulo. Dar quickly realizes the convicted killer of the gardener is innocent. Soon he and Waulo follow a path that leads to Shoki, who apparently is "studying" blood while a plague decimates the pleasure girl population. Like many epic fantasy tales, the vast cast may seem overwhelming at times even with a character list and the use of one or two syllable names, yet fans will not care once Cojii sends Dar on his mission. The complex entertaining storyline combines a mystery-like investigation and elements of a legal thriller inside a fantasy saga. However, the talent of Linda Suzane is to insure her audience believes in the Gods and their descendents with the abilities to perform the paranormal whether they contain innate lie detector genes or professional mendacious skills.

Monkey Trap
Lee Denning
Twilight Times
ISBN: 193120134X $19.50

At the Goddard Space Flight Center, the staff observes a fight between aircrafts in outer space, which end with both objects plunging toward earth. One crashes in Columbia and the other in Washington DC. Officially the government claims space debris. In Columbia, Black Ops drug lord assassin Captain John Jacob Connard takes a bullet during a jungle fight and lies near death in a cave until an entity somehow enters his body. John quickly learns to heal himself and to use other telepathic powers. For saving his life, his symbiotic partner demands John kill the enemy who will destroy all living beings on earth unless stopped. FBI Agent Lara Ellen Picard rides her bike when a bee flies into her mouth stinging her several times. Struggling for air she stumbles off the path and is near death below the biking path until an entity somehow enters her body. Lara quickly learns to heal herself and to use other telepathic powers. For saving her life, her symbiotic partner demands Lara kill the enemy who will destroy all living beings on earth unless stopped. MONKEY TRAP is a terrific science fiction starring two humans who become the battle armor for aliens at war. Readers will wonder who the evil species is as the evidence is cleverly designed so that the audience keeps switching perspective to include one or the other, both and even neither. The father-daughter team Dennng opens the Nova Sapiens trilogy with an exciting, fast-paced thriller that keeps fans on the edge of their seats wondering who contains the potentially pandemic killer.

Charles Stross
ISBN 0441012841 $24.95, 400 pp.

On the dawn of the new millennium, technology has outpaced humanity's ability to keep up with it. Implants plug humans into the internet at all times. Artificial Intelligences have become smarter than its creators and people upload themselves into the neural net leaving their bodies behind. People can replicate themselves and live on two different time tracks and the ability to contact alien species is just a heartbeat away. The three generations of the Macx clan have done their best to adjust to a brave new world. Manfred is working tirelessly to get the franchise for uploaded minds while his daughter Amber has sold herself into indentured servitude to get away from her mother who wants her to follow in her footsteps as an unaugmented human. Sirhan, the product of another Amber who didn't go through the wormhole has brought the family together from various incarnations to help them make the history museum on Saturn a reflection of the history of the humans. The Macx family also must find away to pull away from whatever is dismantling the solar system to create a Matrioshke brain that is clearly more brilliant than humans in all their various forms. This novel has appeared as short stories in Asimov's Science Fiction magazine from 2001-2005. Each story has been extended with its own chapter in a seamless plot. The individual members of the Macx family and those who came into their orbit show three generations of technological change and how it affects society. All three Macx characters are fully developed and have their own distinct personalities but when they come together they are a force to be reckoned with. Charles Stross has written the singular most explosive work of his career.

Fall Girl
Pierce Askegren
ISBN 0441012773 $7.99, 256 pp.

In the distant future five of the most powerful businesses in the world come together and built Villanueva a working colony on the moon. There is also small federal facility Armstrong Base where Wendy Scheer works. Ten years ago an extraterrestrial artifact was found past Pluto. Erik Morrison is in charge of Ad Astra, the building of a spaceship to find the origins of the artifact. Wendy is forbidden to enter Villanueva because she has a psi ability that makes people want to do what she asks. Erik's security officer is just now dismantling Wendy's spy network sending back to Earth anyone they think might haven been her agent. One of those due to be shipped home is Enola Hasbro who doesn't want to leave and jumps at the chance when offered new employment. There is a movement a foot to stop Ad Astra from becoming a reality and unknowingly, Enola is in the middle of it. Erik thinks there is nothing to the reports of danger to his life while Wendy is doing her utmost to keep him alive. Action, adventure and intrigue are the hallmarks of FALL GIRL. This would make a fantastic movie because people will really care about the characters, especially Enola who becomes the object of opposing forces trying to manipulate her. Erik is an interesting figure who in a little over a decade becomes a power on Villanueva and seems destined to be a hero recognized for future generations for his work in space travel.

Academ's Fury
Jim Butcher
ISBN 0441012833 $23.95, 472 pp.

The realm of Alera has stood for over 1,000 years, pushing back barbarian hordes behind a shield wall to keep out the icemaen on one of its borders and guarding the other with well trained legionnares. The people are able to control the furies, elementals who do the bidding of their master. The only person in the entire realm who doesn't have a fury is Tavi, a young man who saved the realm from being overrun by the Marat horde. Now the realm is in trouble from within and without. The First Lord is old and has not named an heir. He overextends himself and falls into a coma leaving the realm in the hands of his most trusted people including Tavi. Two noble families are plotting to overthrow the First Lord while an old enemy from across the sea is plotting to plunge the realm into civil war. The vord, an intelligent species that takes control of an individual, has woken after a long slumber and is busy multiplying and taking control of people in the capital and in Calderon. If they are not stopped, the whole realm will be one hive mind. Jim Butcher is a brilliant world builder who has created a place based on the Roman Empire, complete with political intrigue, treachery and determination to keep out the barbarians at the gates. Tavi plays a critical role as he learns to be a spy for the realm while helping to protect the secret of the First Llord's illness. He has grown since the events in FURIES OF CALDERON took place and his strength and loyalty makes him a valuable asset to the realm even though some consider him a freak because he can't control a fury.

James Clemens
ISBN 0451459946 $24.95, 480 pp.

In the Nine Lands of Myrillia, the hundred gods reside side by side with man offering their Grace (blessings) to the Shadowknights and their chosen handmaidens and men. They are rooted to their part of the land and cannot leave it and each god and goddess has its own distinct personality and quirks. On Punt Island, disgraced Shadowknight Tylar, broken in body and spirit, holds the dying goddess Meeryn in his arms. With her last breath, she fills him with her Grace, heals his body, marks him and utters the word Rivernscyr. Arrested as a godslayer, Tylar escapes his prison with the help of a thief and they make their way to Tashijan to learn what Rivernscyr means. Tylar dreads returning to his former home because Kathryn, his former betrothed who testified against him at his at his trial, is there as is the warden who presided over his trial. He doesn't know that Kathryn has learned that he was set up to protect the secrets of a cabal that is working to sever the gods link with mankind. When he and his allies arrive, Kathryn is waiting for him, ready to help him in his battle with the warden and a corrupted god who can destroy the world if he can lay hands on a certain weapon. The author of the Wit'ch novels has started a new series the Godslayer Chronicles and the first novel SHADOWFALL is a fantastic fantasy that is epic in scope. The hero fights on the side of the righteous even though he has every reason to be bitter because everyone he cared about turned against him and the system that was supposed to protect him was perverted so that he became a broken in body and soul slave. He is a true hero, a character readers will treasure. James Clemens once again sets the standard of excellence for high fantasy.

A Brother's Price
Wen Spencer
ISBN 0451460383 $6.99, 320 pp.

Imagine a world where women have trouble giving birth to mal children because of an extremely high rate of still births and miscarriages. Women rule the world, run the factories and farms, and keep the males hidden to protect them from desperate females who are husband thieves. Men are considered property with no rights whatsoever. They are sold to wives of their family's choosing. Jerin Whistler is luckier than most because his family loves him and want to make a match for him that will make him happy. That chance comes when he helps rescue a female on his property who had been attacked. It turns out she is a royal princess and her sister Ren comes to find her. Ren falls in love with the handsome Jerin who shares her feelings. Because they have royal blood flowing through their veins Jerin is considered eligible to be the prince consort. When they get to the capital, all Ren's sisters agree to the match but there is a plot to overthrow the crown and Jerin is caught in the crosshairs. When it comes to fresh, innovative storytelling, almost nobody is better than Wen Spencer. In a world where men are cosseted and hidden away because they are so rare, the hero accepts his lot in life as the norm since that is how it has always been. Feminists are going to take this book as their symbol because the author proves women can do what are traditional male roles in our world. Once the audience starts this novel, they will find it absolutely impossible to put down.

PI on a Hot Tin Roof
Julie Smith
ISBN 0765312557 $24.95, 304 pp.

By day she is a private detective and by night she is a poet who gives readings in clubs and coffeehouses in New Orleans. One day she gets a call from the Orleans Parish Prison and Talba Wallis is shocked that her lawyer friend Angie Valentino is in jail for drug possession. Angie is her employer's daughter and Talba trusts her implicitly so when she says she was framed, the private detective is determined to clear her name. The person who ordered the frame was Judge Buddy Champagne who didn't want Angie representing the people from Venetia Isles who oppose his using the Pelican Marina for commercial purposes because it would ruin the neighborhood. Talba goes undercover at the judge's house as a maid to see if she can find proof to exonerate her friend. In a strange twist the judge is murdered and his fiancee hires Talba to find out who the killer is. Julie Smith can always be counted on to write an exciting who-done-it and with P.I. ON A HOT TIN ROOM she exceeds her standards of excellence. The heroine has a tough job because the victim was crooked and had a lot of enemies, some of them in his own family so there are a lot of suspects with viable motives. Watching Talba pursue the investigation is a treat because she has the talent and the confidence to do a good job. She becomes personally involved with the victim's teenage daughter and it is for her that she wants closure which means finding the killer. Award winning Ms. Smith has written perhaps her best mystery in her illustrious career.

Dangerous Ground
Larry Bond
ISBN: 076530788X $25.95, 336 pp.

Commander Lowell Hardy knows his nuclear submarine the USS Memphis should have been mothballed years ago, but the lack of enough procurement funding to buy new keeps the vessel in service. Using major combat equipment items long after their life cycle expired is the norm so that does not shock the veteran naval officer. The USS Memphis assigned to escort two scientists Dr. Joanna Patterson and Dr. Emily Davis into the forbidden Russian Arctic Ocean to inspect for illegal dumping and leakage of the buried nuclear fuel containers. Grounded pilot Jerry Mitchell is the expert on using Manta, an underwater robot that is key to the inspection. Lowell has several concerns with this job. Will his ancient ship handle the icy Arctic Ocean? How is he to keep his crew's resentment towards the three newcomers from endangering the mission? Finally, he must elude the Russians to prevent an incident with international repercussions. The real mission is to determine how safe from terrorists this mother lode is; all will quickly learn that it is not as a real threat exists. Not quite the FIRST TEAM such as THE HUNT FOR RED OCTOBER because much of the cast behaves so predictably they almost sink the fast-paced, action-packed story line. Surprisingly in spite of casting from canned Submarine 101 characterizations, the tale grips the audience even before the USS Memphis reaches its target zone; once inside the Russian waters, the plot goes into incredible knot speed so that the audience feels as if they are along for the ride. DANGEROUS GROUND is for fans of Steven Seagal's Under Siege as likewise the action is to the nth degree.

Otto Penzler Presents: Peregrine
William Bayer
ISBN: 0765311615 $14.95

The peregrine falcon soars over Manhattan when a falconer signals the bird of prey, which instantly zooms down at incredible speed attacking a female skater in Rockefeller Center while a Japanese tourist films the deadly assault. Her throat is ripped open in a nanosecond. "Lucky" by being at the right place at the right time with evidence to show her viewers the brutal killing, Newscaster Pamela Barrett obtains the film and gives a first hand account on TV. The falconer enjoys Pam's broadcast and contacts her by mail. Others die as violently as the skater while the psychopath continues to fascinate in a macabre way Pam, who the Falconer is obsessed with owning. However, she sees a pattern to the victims as each is young and looks eerily similar to her. NYPD Detective Frank Janek struggles with stopping this maniac, but Pam believes she is the key as bait to stop an assailant whose weapon is a bird trained to kill upon command. Otto Penzler brings back one of the most exciting thrillers from 1981, Peregrine. The story line grips the audience from the start as the bird of prey soars at an incredible speed tearing the young woman's throat in a blink and keeps the pace of the falcon throughout the tale. Underlying the chills is the obsession of the three key human players. Pam though appalled also "welcomes" the killings as a chance to make it big as a media star; Janek "appreciates" the case as his opportunity for salvation (and the springboard for his own series); while the falconer keeps bloody score as the sport's champion whose exploits Pam and other broadcast.

Moon's Web
C.T. Adams and Cathy Clamp
ISBN: 0765349140 $6.99

Whether he goes by Tony Giodone or Joe Giambrocco, he was one of the best hit men the Mafia employed until he attempts to kill the wrong target. His intended victim tears into his throat like a feral animal, but instead of dying Tony is turned into a werewolf (see HUNTER'S MOON). His new essence embellishes his skills as a paid assassin. He met Sue when she hired him to kill her, but his enhanced animal senses told him that she was his prime mate. Sue and Tony (Anton to his Czarist Russian pack leader Nikoli) are a couple who belong to a shapeshifting community. As Tony begins to have strange visions of other people, he realizes he, his beloved, and the Sazi werewolf community is in trouble by a creature much more powerful and deadlier than he ever was. When the malevolence abducts the shapeshifting girlfriend Babs of his former employer, Mafia Don Carmine threatens to expose werewolves to the media with an old fashioned gang war if Tony fails to rescue his woman. The second Tony and Sue werewolf chronicle is a terrific tale that will have fans howling for more escapades from this couple and their pack. The action-packed story line converges around Tony as he is linked to the evil, to his former employer, and to his pack while all he wants is to persuade Sue that they can make it running around together. The key to the moon tales are simple; C.T. Adams and Cathy Clamp insure their audience believe in the supernatural.

Alector's Choice
L. E. Modesitt Jr.
ISBN: 0765313871 $27.95

Limited talent though highly ranked, Alector Colonel Dainyl travels to Dramur to learn what is going on in this outpost where recent troubles have occurred. At the same time Cadmian Captain Mykel leads a force sent to Dramur to stop a local rebellion before unrest leads to fighting. Their missions converge as decisions by superiors lead to war. When Mykel, a native, shows indications that he has talent perhaps more than Dainyl, the Alector has a new concern. On Corus, only the Alector, a race from a dead planet, is allowed to have the talent and live. Does he kill the captain whom he needs to stop the rebellion that has exploded because of incompetence on the part of Dainyl's leaders? The fabulous fourth Corean Chronicle is an exciting complex (and at times convoluted) fantasy that fans of the series will relish; newcomers should start at book one (see LEGACIES, DARKNESSES, and SCEPTERS) to fully appreciate the intricacies of the multiple story lines. The magic seems real due to the fully developed key two players and a strong support cast. The epic fantasy focuses on the potential implosion of a civilization though it might simply metaphases into wider civil rights. Read the saga to learn which way talented L.E. Modesitt, Jr. takes his audience.

Outside the Dog Museum
Jonathan Carroll
Orb (Tor)
ISBN: 0765311852 $13.95

The Sultan of Saru tries to hire Pritzer Prize winning architect Harry Radcliffe to design a dog museum, but though he takes the bribes like a brand new car, Harry declines. Recently divorced over his Colonel Sanders' recipe and balancing two beautiful strong women, Fanny Neville and Claire Stansfield, at the same time he is a recovering mental breakdown patient struggling with what is reality under the guide of psychiatrist Venasque. Reality strikes in the form of an earthquake devastating Harry's Santa Barbara home. Venasque's dog and the Sultan rescue Harry, who now feels obligated to both so agrees to the zillion dollar canine museum. In the Saru, Harry feels the magic is now in him, but soon finds himself in the middle of a Civil War in which his patron dies. Still Harry begins to understand the meaning of reality as magically altering when perceptions change while Harry also changes. OUTSIDE THE DOG MUSEUM is a fantastic allegorical tale of a not so nice individual falling through the rabbit's hole. The amusing story line contains a powerful message while making a case that perception is relative. Readers will wonder if Harry's physical and mental transformations are magical or just the antihero going further over the edge following the insane shopping spree, the earthquake, and the war. Fans of metaphorical action tales will appreciate this fine satire by an author with the perfect surname even if Harry lacks Alice's innocence.

The Hollowing
Robert Holdstock
Tor Orb
ISBN: 0765311100 $14.95, 332 pp.

Overcome and unable to move following the death of his son Alexander, Richard Bradley feels he has no reason to live. However, just as his despair overwhelms him Richard meets scientists Alexander Lytton and Helen Silverlock, who believe that the lad still lives, but in some way foreign to human thought in the midst of the mankind's unconsciousness within the dark Ryahope Wood. They further explain that they have studied the wood that is under siege from the mind of its newest entry, Richard's son. Lytton and Silverlock hope that Richard can save their precious wood from his son whose fears are destroying it. Unable to resist even the slightest hope, Richard follows scientist Arnauld Lacan into the wood where he begins to find a weird world with different natural laws as all myths breath here. However, he fails to find Alexander, whose lament continues to erode the wood. As he penetrates myths and legends with no gain to his quest, Richard loses his last sliver of hope until he encounters Sarin the Tall Grass Lady from biblical times, who if she chooses can help him complete his quest though he does not know if she would and if she does what the outcome would be.. This is a terrific deep fantasy that like its predecessors (see MYTHAGO WOOD and LAVONDYSS) is extremely complex and rich so it will take several days to read to taste the vast flavors. Readers will wander along with Richard savoring various mythos like Jason (some are worth re-reading because one time is not enough) as the multifaceted story line contains so much to grasp. Robert Holdstock is at his mythological best with this Mythago Cycle entry.

Flying in Place
Susan Palwick
ISBN: 0765313863 $11.95, 189 pp.

In Wisconsin, everyone in the small town thinks highly of surgeon Dr. Stewart Gray, who dines with the elite. However, the much adulated Dr. Gray hides a dark side from public view. Every night after his wife an English teacher falls asleep he visits his twelve years old daughter Emma to have his sexual way with her. Uncomfortable and with no place to escape, Emma flies away in her mind though her body remains in place. On her mental trips she begins meeting her sister Ginny who at ten years old died long before Emma was born. Emma becomes more withdrawn with every nocturnal visit as her only friend is her sibling's spirit. School nurse Halloran notices the bruises on Emma's body and the negative trends of withdrawal and grades collapsing; she soon concludes that the epitome of upper crust society Stewart was assaulting his child. Still it is hard to prove until Emma's Aunt Donna arrives; she knows the real Dr. Stewart Gray not the image and believes history is repeating itself. FLYING IN PLACE is a deep thought provoking reprint of an insightful very dark early 1990s tale. The key characters are purposely left as two dimensional. This approach enables the reader to decide whether the two sisters are actually flying together or just a defense mechanism of the preadolescent, but also restricts the cast as women are courageous or victims and men nice or sinful. Black and white with no gray, FLYING IN PLACE grips the reader from the moment the mask falls off of Stewart and never eases the emotional shock until Donna confronts him.

Jennifer Fallon
ISBN: 0765309882 $25.95, 496 pp.

In Sanctuary, the last King of the Harshini Korandellan believes the war is over with the recent surrender of the Defenders of Medalon to its neighbor Karien. Many of the Defenders fled to the wilderness as outlaws. The only hope for Medalon resides with another neighbor Hythria, but its Krakandar Province Warlord Damien Wolfblade has internal problems while struggling to replace the recently deceased High Prince as the country's leader as a rival wants the throne. The only hope for the Harshini is half-Harshini-half-human R'shiel, the demon child, who must confront Xaphista, leader of the triumphant Kariens. R'shiel strengthens Damien's position by arranging a marriage between the beleaguered Hythria leader and Princess Adrina of the fourth neighboring realm Fardohnya as a further buffer to halt the Karien assault from destroying the remaining two countries. Still with the help of half-Harshini Brak, R'shiel knows the time for her confrontation must happen soon before the Harshini become too weak to survive. In spite of a recap (that will irritate readers of the first two novels), fantasy readers will find it better to read the first two novels (see TREASON KEEP and MEDALON) to gain a better understanding of the complex relationships; it is worth the time and money. The story line contains several subplots that smoothly converge for a fantastic climax. The saga provides an intriguing look at political necessities to rule while centering on R'shiel learning on the job yet knowing the confrontation that awaits her in which failure means the end for the Harshini and the devastation of three of the four countries. Book Three of the Hythrun Chronicles is a fitting heroic end to the Demon Child's epic saga.

Neal Asher
ISBN: 0765315122 $14.95, 320 pp.

In the distant future, the Heliothane Dominion has won the devastating war against the genetically altered Cowl. However, though defeated in their present time, some of the Cowl escape fleeing to different ages in the past. The Heliothane Dominion knows they must follow suit to prevent changes to the time stream and to their victory. In the near future (to us that is) in an austere Britain Polly, a drug using prostitute becomes part of the time war when Nandru an AI "enters" her psyche and she touches a tor-beast taking her even further back in time. Heliothane Dominion Government Agent Tack, who previously killed Nandru, follows to stop the Cowl but instead is brought along with the hooker on a journey to pre-mankind. Tack knows he must stop Polly, an innocent who potentially could alter the war's outcome. COWL is an enjoyable time travel science fiction in which the physics seem plausible enhancing the action-packed trips back through WWII, Ancient Rome, and other stops along the way until ultimately reaching pre-mankind. Intriguingly no one even Polly garners empathy as Neal Asher caustically provides no insight into why the Cowl and the Heliothane Dominion leaderships behave malevolently towards others tossing aside human pawns when expedient; rationales have been forgotten lost to the wells of time. Mr. Asher provides a powerful time military sci fi that reads somewhat like an espionage thriller in which the audience will find it difficult to determine the good vs. the bad guys as both sides have all the time in the world to cause havoc.

The Divided Crown
Isabel Glass
ISBN 0765307464 $25.95, 384 pp.

It has been two years since Mathewar, the master of the College of Magicians and his wife Lady Angarred visited the court in the capital city of Pergodi in the kingdom of Karededin. They are surprised to get a summons from fourteen year old King Jerret to return to court. When they arrive they see much that distresses them as Jerret went to war with Goss because he bankrupted his treasury and needs the wealth of Goss to stay solvent. In the castle are the Bound, soulless men and women who have no sense of identity and must obey the Binder who is a member of the Huru family that the king exiled for treason. The king is prepared to recall the Huru family, Noldeth and his two sons Polgar and Cullen while leaving Drustig in exile in Og. A palace coup leaves the king dead and Cullen on the thrown but Drustig is coming to take his power away from him. Both brothers possess half of a magic crown. One that binds and one that loosens the binding and drives people mad. Mathewar must find a way to destroy Drustig and bring the two halves of the crown together otherwise Karededin will plunge into a civil war. This sequel to the DAUGHTER OF EXILE is more action oriented but there is enough romance between the various couples so that fans of romantic fantasy won't feel cheated. The protagonist has some life lessons to learn and he must gain the wisdom to wear the crown without succumbing to its temptations. All the various sub-plots tie back to the main storyline so that readers feels satisfied with the way the story ends. It is hoped Isabel Glass, a gifted and creative fantasist, visits this world in the future books.

Child of a Rainless Year
Jane Lindskold
ISBN: 0765309378 $25.95

When Mira Fenn turned nine years old her mom Colette disappeared and the preadolescent moved to Ohio to be raised by foster parents there. Several decades later, when her adoptive parents die, Mira finds the deed that proves she owns the Las Vegas, New Mexico home that she originally lived in. Having no excuse to rationalize avoiding her past, Mira heads home to learn why Colette vanished without a trace. In Las Vegas, Mira feels at home in Phineas House with mirrors everywhere especially in odd places. She learns from the caretaker Domingo that the house has pleaded with him to colorfully paint it over; Mira agrees that the house needs vibrant pastorals. As they work in harmony restoring Phineas House, Mira and Domingo begin to understand the ancestral link between their families and the intelligence of the edifice that whispers colors to the artists. They also begin to learn what happened to Colette and more about each other, but will a growing fondness be enough to prevent family history from repeating? This is an interesting fantasy tale in which the mundane contains magic, depending on the color as varying shades have differing charms. The middle aged Mira is a solid protagonist while Domingo serves as a fine balance to her whose acceptance of magic is in her genetic make up to do so. The story line contains complex concepts of reality; however, too much remains unresolved so that the audience at the end of the day will feel blue having to wait for an apparent sequel.

The Carpet Makers
Andreas Eschbach
ISBN: 0765305933 $24.95

The economy of Planet G-101/2 in the Gheera galaxy is a primogenitary constructed around artisans who stitch carpets one knit at a time from the hair of their spouses. The creation is bone wearying taking a lifetime to complete one carpet that is sold so that the carpet-maker's son can live on the proceeds while stitching his carpet for his son, etc. The finished products are transported by royal ships to the off world Star Palace of the most revered and feared immortal Emperor Alexander. Word reaches G-101/2 that the Emperor Alexander was deposed and probably dead and that his empire crumbled. On Central World in Alexander's Star Palace the Council of Rebels are stunned to find no hair-based carpets. They are even further shocked when they audit the records in the royal archives to learn that ten thousand plus planets have been stitching hair based carpets for millenniums with the finished products going to a planet that does not appear on the celestial charts. The Council has no idea where this orb is or why Alexander established such a manufacturing hub and spoke system, but they plan to learn why. THE CARPET MAKERS is a fabulous outer space tale that though written ten years ago satires the global economy with the family based cottage industry that is all over the galaxy through generation after generation. The story line contains two intriguing mysteries of where is the planet that apparently has stored a zillion hairy carpets and why this system. Although no character seems fully developed, readers will appreciate the irony and wonder if the new economy saves social security by not allowing anyone to retire while their oldest offspring inherits the job.

A Love Story
Denene Miller & Nick Chiles
ISBN: 0451215168 $14.00, 244 pp.

After his family moved from Brooklyn into her Queens neighborhood, Aaron Simmons met Nina Carruthers in kindergarten. They became best friends and remained that way through the ups and downs of the next twenty-five years always there for the other when needed. Nina detests Aaron's bartending at a strip club. So when they finally get it on, she wants to see this Cocoa, who he once said is the only performer at the club he would not mind dating. As they move in together, she keeps secrets from him such as bailing out her father and he hides from her that he had sex with Cocoa. Hoping he will leave the strip joint to pursue his goal of becoming a photographer, Nina offers to fund this endeavor. However, the photos of Cocoa worry Nina because she fears that her beloved best friend will soon end their relationship as lovers and as pals while he cannot believe she no longer trusts him like she did when they were just best buds for two decades. Rotating male and female perspectives, Denene Miller & Nick Chiles provide a well written beautiful love story that provides the deep tone of each of the lead couple. The story line uses flashbacks to give some additional insight into the shared past, which enhances the understanding of both players. A LOVE STORY is a fine tale that uses a gimmick to near perfection to provide a beguiling contemporary romance in which the readers see up front and personal what makes the stars tick especially the fear of never going back if the romantic relationship fails.

Harriet Klausner
Senior Reviewer

Laurel's Bookshelf

Black Rock & Sage Volume 4 Spring 2005
Idaho State University
Campus Box 8056 , Pocatello ID 83209 rock
No ISBN $7.00 + s & h 69 pages

Black Rock & Sage has a new editor and a new style. The content is still excellent, as it was in earlier volumes, but it now has an eye-pleasing glossy cover. Editor Bern Mulvey's mission is to expand the journal from regional to the national literary community. He's made a fine start with Volume Four, by featuring award winning poets and writers, plus other submissions of merit. For the sake of brevity, I'll mention only the award winning features.

Winner of the Creative Nonfiction Award is Jean Braithwaite for her story, "FAT: The Story of My Life With My Body." Braithwaite teaches at Valdosta State University and has appeared in the New York Times and Mochila Review. This story of one woman's lifelong struggle with being fat in a country that prizes skin and bones is tautly written and enlightening. Braithwaite is a woman lauded for her accomplishments, but in America intelligence and ability are often -- maybe always -- overshadowed by personal appearance. The author shares her childhood wounds, her attempts at starving and exercising away the excess pounds, and her ultimate decision to accept herself whether anyone else does or not.

The Poetry Contest winner is Lyn Barnes for "Punk Rock Girl." Barnes has been published in Ship of Fools and is co-founder and active member of Great Rift Writers in southeast Idaho. Within the poem she describes herself as "talentless but plucky" and a "white trash Emily Dickinson." The following excerpt proves those self-descriptions wrong:

Strong-arming syntax
bullying rhyme
kicking alliteration
right in the ass
maybe I can scare you
into thinking I'm good.

Winner of the Kathy Ray Discovery Award for High School Writers is Kali Borkoski for her poem "Zoo Tiger." Her own instincts and longings and those of a tiger become stark comparisons. Borkoski skillfully weaves her own deep fears and insecurities into every verse as she beholds the tiger's feral being. Although the entire poem is powerful and beautiful, I've chosen one verse in excerpt:

If the life of the forest courses through your veins,
You can't know my illusions of clarity.
When the mists of life are a second fur, you question nothing.
You are the puzzle.
My puzzles are straight and narrow lines, arrested but lashing out at me.
The only mists I encounter are the mysterious fogs of my past.

The Fiction Contest winner is Emily Mills for "Shelter." Mills lives in Wisconsin and leads an active life, including writing short stories, poems, and novels. Her story of a homeless, wheelchair-bound man reflects a gritty courage and optimism despite his desperate situation. Gabe is dying and he knows it, but he wants a choice of where and how to die. That choice is made with humor and determination. Charismatic characters and realistic situations make this story a standout.

The Ford Swetnam Prize submissions were judged by well known poet Margaret Aho. There were two prize winning poems: "The Blue Broad Sway" by Debbi Spencer; and "Essay on Dynamics" by Zachary Vineyard. For each, I chose one verse in excerpt. Spencer was born in New York and now lives in Idaho. Her poem is a piquant patois of sounds and cadences:

New York colored Skyline summertime
of colossus and lofty soot gray, silver pigeon's patina of sunlight shift
stack hard dust red brick, jagged maize void of the towering trade
and reflective glass.

Vineyard lives and writes in Pocatello, Idaho. His poem, also, incorporates sound to accentuate the message:

Small and illicit bounces
on bass strings bury multiple
sounds inside comforting bands,
their symphonic rhetoric identical
to memories of family members
scuttling an old house
when Grandmother calls a reunion.

In addition to these award winners and other fine stories or poems, readers will find an interview with Poet Laureate Ted Kooser. Kudos to Dr. Mulvey, his staff, and all writers featured in Volume Four of Black Rock & Sage. If you haven't read it yet, now is the perfect time to start.

No Room at the Inn
David D. Bell
YA"SOU/Skyline Productions
P.O. Box 77463, Columbus OH 43207
No ISBN $7.00 paperback plus $1.00 s & h 144 pages

Every so often I read a book that stays with me because the story is so engaging, the characters so memorable they take on a life of their own. David D. Bell's seventh book is such a story. In fact, if I had any influence at all, No Room at the Inn would be:

1. picked up immediately by a major New York publisher that would give this book the attention it deserves, and;

2. sent to every member of Congress and the Senate, the President and Vice President, and every elected or appointed politician in each one of these United States, who would be required by law to buy a copy and prove they've read every word. For proof, they could earmark several trillions of the dollars sent overseas to remedy the situation detailed so poignantly in this book. Or they could make the homeless problem their pork barrel project of the day.

That's just for starters.

The idea for his story came to the author vividly in dreams, five nights in a row. In his dream, David Bell and his four-year-old daughter Katlyn are homeless, wandering the snow packed streets of Columbus Ohio in winter. David is a man who has recently lost everything of value to him, except his daughter. The death of his young wife left him reeling, unable to concentrate on work. He lost his job, his savings, his vehicle, his emotional stability, and finally the home they had shared less than a year. David focuses his attention on the protection of Katlyn. What little fortitude he has remaining is used to search for even one night's shelter from the weather and a bit of food to keep them alive. He lives for Katlyn now,

David learns swiftly that life on the streets is frightening, sometimes fatal to the homeless. Shelters packed with everything from criminals to dope addicts to innocent families can be worse than the streets. He must walk through blizzards and sub zero weather from shelter to shelter, carrying his hungry daughter and hoping for one cot, one meal. Katlyn is a happy, sprightly child who tries to cheer him with her energy. Along with being homeless, David must somehow come to grips with his wife's death and the inevitable questions asked by a child who doesn't fully understand death's concept or why they can't go home. Small kindnesses from strangers give him hope, but always with him is the specter of Katlyn dying in the streets, starved or frozen.

Bell writes simply, from the heart, with touching realism. No Room at the Inn strikes a fine balance of hope and despair - from the viewpoint of a homeless man and child invisible to politicians at the state and federal level. Highly recommended.

A Shot to Die For
Libby Fischer Hellmann
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. First Ave. #103, Scottsdale AZ 85251
ISBN 1590581857 $24.95 312 pages

This Libby Fischer Hellmann book is the best one yet, partly because it begins and ends with a mystery. By every possible measure, Hellmann's status as a storyteller has grown. Old fans and new will surely be delighted with this fourth in the Ellie Foreman mystery series.

This time around, Ellie is scouting locations for a documentary video to be shot at Lake Geneva, Wisconsin. Lake Geneva is an enclave populated by powerful, influential "old money" families cocooned inside their mansions for generations. Ellie expects a leisurely shoot, free of the danger and murder she seems to attract like a magnet. As she returns home, her thoughts are on daughter Rachel, now 15 and not so easy for a single mom to handle. At a rest area between Lake Geneva and Chicago, Ellie overhears a cell phone conversation and pauses to converse with a troubled young woman. Seconds later, a pick up truck speeds past and the woman standing beside her is shot. A shaken Ellie vows she won't get involved this time but one clue leads to another until she's up to her eyebrows in a murder mystery germinating for thirty years.

Ellie's widowed father and her best friend Susan Siler try to warn her off the hunt for clues, but she needs a distraction. Ex-husband Barry has his girlfriend du jour. Rachel is spending more time with Barry and his girlfriend than she is at home. Her lover David Linden has been less than attentive. And her old friend Fouad has worries of his own. So sleuthing it is, in the best Ellie Foreman style.

What do the death of a young girl thirty years ago and the recent sniper incident have in common? The deeper Ellie digs for truth the worse it looks for Luke Sutton. The feelings Luke ignites in Ellie are more powerful than anything she ever felt with David. Determined to prove him innocent, she sifts her way through a maze of clues beginning in the 1970s and culminating in several murders in the present. And all the while a murderer is breathing down her neck.

A Shot to Die For is Hellmann at her very best yet. Plot development is masterful as it builds towards a shocking climax. An intriguing cast of realistic characters put Ellie through her paces. And don't forget that closing mystery I mentioned earlier. This book ends with a sly twist that has me itching for the next book in this series.

33 Poesie (33 Poems)
Alessio Zanelli
Starrylink Editrice
Contrada S. Urbano, 14 - 25121 Brescia IT
ISBN 8888847383 $11.50 US / 9.50 Euro 85 pages

Alessio Zanelli is an Italian poet who began studying the English language in the 1980s. He particularly enjoyed reading American, British, and Irish literature and poetry. The writings of Poe, Whitman, Melville, Dickinson, Masters, Blake, Keats, Eliot, Thomas and Yeats were among his early influences. That classic influence is evident in his poetry. Work varies from structured to free form, lyrical to imaginative. Poems are written in both English and Italian, side by side for comparison.

"Burned Fields (That Summer)" is simple but this short poem provokes contemplation in the reader:

That summer,
Those few days of sun,
They burned the arid fields,
And with them,

An Old World influence is found in the wording and imagery of "Leaves Fall and the Swallow Leaves". And although I neither speak nor understand Italian, the wording of this excerpt was equally beautiful in either version:

Summer's gone
To the southern hemisphere
And tardy sunsets
Don't paint anymore
West horizons purple.

Zanelli's images are often gentle with contrasting sharp edges, as in this excerpt from "Bells":

...All can hear your message
When you sadly spread
Your old tolling, a dull metal cry,
All around the village.
Those tolls, as chilly blades,
Reach into our hearts and rip out a bit
Of our secret common soul.

And again, in "By the Bonfire", the poet comforts readers with visions of a bonfire's cozy flames, then stirs an eerie discontent amidst revelry with this excerpt:

And the night has fallen
Raw over the flames
And over us shouting.

In what Zanelli calls Poeticonjectures he muses on a myriad of topics, including American outlaws from the bandit's point of view in this excerpt from "Bandit's Epitaph":

I was badly born in some ghost town
Whose name and site I soon forgot.
I have lived worse, from raid to raid,
And I died in the worst possible way,
In a place where I was seeking repair.

Alessio Zanelli observes the world around him with uncommon empathy, then records his observations simply and eloquently. His work has been widely read in Europe and UK for years so it's time American poetry lovers discovered him.

Loose Sheets
Alessio Zanelli
Graphic House / Up Front Publishing
1, First Drove, Fengate, Peterborough, PE15BJ
ISBN 1844260259 $12.50 US / 7.99 UK 176 pages

This is Alessio Zanelli's first book of poetry, published initially by Minerva Press UK and then released as a second edition by Upfront Publishing UK. Since publication of Loose Sheets, his poetry has been featured in many journals throughout the US, UK, and Europe. Zanelli has the distinction of being an Italian poet who writes and creates in English. His work is an intriguing mix of metaphorical visions and structured lyricism.

Consider, for example, this excerpt from "Before That Night Comes", where Zanelli contemplates the advent of Christmas:

Impalpable, a snowdust
Pauses in the air,
Reminding hearts in anxiety
Of the coming of a Holy Night.
Imperceptible, it spreads
A rare happiness,
Inebriating, an aura
Among the souls of amazed men.

"The Scream of the Deep" is one example of how this poet views the strengths and weaknesses of man. Human interaction can be both sweet and bitter, blind and enlightened:

Blind eyes
Don't see the wonderments of earth,
Yet admire the horrors.
Delighted ears filled with a robin's chirp
Are deaf
To the scream of the deep.

Zanelli's contemplations of love and loss are alternately tender and painful. These two excerpts from "In Your Place" illustrate my point:

There must be a place
Where I can plunge my face
Which be neither my lean hands
Nor your throbbing breast:

There then -- as invisble wires
Binding us in one tight knot --
Tunes will breathe between us...

Alessio Zanelli records life with the heart and spirit of those classic poets from past times. He weaves with appealing effect the real into the metaphorical, and the visionary.

Bloody Mary: A Jacqueline "Jack" Daniels Mystery
J.A. Konrath
77 W. 66th Street, 11th Floor, NY, NY 10023
ISBN 1401300898 $22.05 307 pages

This second in the Jack Daniels series is a top notch read from first page to last. The characters are deliciously human, the dialogue and graphic details realistic, and Konrath tops it off with a rousing plot. I couldn't turn these pages fast enough!

Lt. Jacqueline Daniels -- better known as Jack to her friends -- heads Chicago P.D.'s Violent Crimes Unit. She's forty-something, divorced, and not exactly living la dolce vita. Jack's life is in turmoil. She has a boyfriend who just may be the last good marriage prospect in the midwest. He wants Jack to move in with him. Complicating that romantic scenario are a retired-cop mother needing full time care and an ex-husband who's decided he can't live without Jack. Lt. Daniels is a damn good cop, a hard nosed detective whose personal problems sometimes skew her concentration. Her partner, junk food afficionado Herb Benedict, brings problems of his own to the office. He wants to lose weight and liven up his long term marriage with Viagra. The last thing these two partners need is a serial killer run amok in the Windy City.

Their suspect is a maniacal butcher with the conscience and killing instincts of a shark. He's a madman who blends into daily life invisibly thanks to a facade of normalcy. Halfway through the book we discover who this killer is, but that certainly does not detract from the suspense. Through one sizzling Chicago summer through most of a bitterly cold winter, Jack and Herb track down one disappointing lead after another. Meanwhile, the body count rises. Each butchered corpse is wearing some article that belongs to Jack. And each murder brings a demented killer closer to Jack's front door.

I like J.A. Konrath's writing style. He combines grisly crime, solid police work, and forensics with appealing humor to build suspense in satisfying ways. Fans of the genre will do well to discover Konrath. And they certainly will find an intriguing mystery in Bloody Mary.

Seven Minutes to Noon
Kate Pepper
Signet / Penguin Group Inc.
375 Hudson Street, NY, NY 10014
ISBN 0451215796 $6.99 307 pages

This mystery suspense thriller is one of the best I've ever read. What sets this one apart is Kate Pepper's glorious prose style. While reading, I had the feeling she could write in any genre and make the experience memorable. I could not and did not set this book aside until I'd finished it! Through skillful wordsmithery, appealing characters, and deft plotting, reality becomes far scarier than supernatural hauntings could ever be.

Alice Halpern, Lauren Barnet, and Maggie Blue are close friends, closer than sisters. They live in a cozy Brooklyn neighborhood of tidy brownstones, shade trees, flower gardens and well kept parks. Folks can walk from place to place, visiting small businesses and eateries without fear. Alice and Lauren are both pregnant and excited about the prospect, moreso because the experience is shared by friends. Alice and Maggie co-own an upscale shoe store. Life is good, until a horror none of them could possibly imagine wrecks their comfortable world.

When Lauren fails to meet Alice in the park or pick up her son from school, Maggie and Alice are excited. They just know Lauren has gone into labor. Excitement soon gives way to dread when Lauren can't be found in area hospitals. One day passes, then two and three with no word from their friend. Where could an almost nine month pregnant woman be? Maggie and Alice are on hand when Lauren's decomposing body is pulled from a nearby canal. Her baby has been surgically removed through an amateurish incision in Lauren's abdomen. The sight of her friend's dead body and the missing baby haunts Alice. Who would kill a mother in plain sight and take her baby? And why?

Alice imagines a seedy stranger is following her. She fears for her unborn twins. That fear is shared by detectives with the Brooklyn Police Department because Lauren is not the first pregnant woman to die in such a way. Clues are few and far between. Soon no one is safe from harm, not even Alice's realtor, as a vicious killer stalks them all. The truth, once fully revealed, gave me chills and made my hair stand on end.

The truest horrors are those that invade our secure worlds. Kate Pepper did an amazing job of invading mine with Seven Minutes to Noon. This story is one I won't forget. For lovers of the genre, or readers who crave exemplary writing, it's highly recommended.

Close Case
Alafair Burke
Henry Holt
175 5th Ave., NY, NY 10010
ISBN 0805077847 $22.00 351 pages

Realistic characters living and working in a fascinating mileu, skillful plotting, and an astute prose style make this book a standout. Alafair Burke is a literary comer, no doubt about it.

Deputy DA Samantha Kincaid is a member of the prestigious Major Crimes Unit in Portland, Oregon. Her reputation as a savvy attorney and investigator has been earned in the trenches. Whether law enforcement peers like her or not, they respect her intelligence and instincts. She has a brisk no- nonsense personal style and the uncanny knack of winning when the chips are down. Two unrelated cases put her life and reputation in jeopardy.

The shooting of an unarmed black female civilian by a white cop has Portland's nerves on edge. Angry civilians are convinced the shooting was racially motivated. Then Portland's celebrity muckraker, Percy Crenshaw -- also black -- is bludgeoned to death just outside his apartment. Civilians are outraged by his murder; Kincaid and fellow investigators are mystified, until one suspect confesses to the crime. But will the questionable confession stand up to scrutiny?

Disconnected leads take Samantha from one dead end to another as she investigates both crimes. As she untangles each small clue in Percy Crenshaw's notebooks, it soon becomes apparent that the killings were connected. Even members of the Portland Police Department are suspect, including her boyfriend Det. Chuck Forbes and his loose cannon partner Mike. Regardless of the outcome to her career and love life, Samantha digs for truths that might end up killing her.

Close Case is an exciting suspense thriller, rich with the legal and law enforcement details intelligent readers of the genre crave. Critical praise received for the Samantha Kincaid Series is well-deserved.


Steve Potter is a writer and the editor-in-chief of a new literary journal, The Wandering Hermit Review. I thought his work, and his plans for the new journal would be of interest to writers.

Johnson: Thanks for agreeing to an interview, Steve. For starters, tell us about your writing. What do you write? Where can we find your work?

Steve: Hi Laurel. Thanks for this opportunity to let people know about The Wandering Hermit Review. As for my own work, I mostly write short fiction and poetry some of which has appeared recently in publications such as Arson, Knock, Midnight Mind, Poets West, The Raven Chronicles, Runes, Stringtown, and 3rd Bed. Other poems are forthcoming in Blue Collar Review, California Quarterly, Connecticut River Review and Freefall. Online my work can be found at and

Johnson: Tell us about The Wandering Hermit Review, your philosophy and intended audience.

Steve: The operating philosophy of The Wandering Hermit Review is eclecticism. We're interested in gathering work from poets and writers working in different aesthetic traditions and presenting them between the covers of one magazine. My own taste in literature is broad and that's reflected in The Hermit. I enjoy reading the work of poets and prose writers who are stretching the boundaries of the art, but am equally impressed by those who work in a more traditional vein and do it well. I'd like The Hermit to be a magazine where readers with very particular aesthetic tastes might find work they absolutely love and absolutely hate side by side, a magazine that might get them to question any entrenched beliefs about what makes a work of literary art valid or not. We also plan to present a generous helping of visual art in each issue as well as reviews of independent music, videos and small press books.

Johnson: Do you mind giving us a sneak preview of the first issue's content? Or do you prefer to let that be a surprise?

Steve: With somewhere in the neighborhood of seventy contributors, too many to mention, it'll be difficult to select examples without feeling I'm leaving lots of great stuff out. But I'll give it a shot.

Since 2005 saw the loss of two major American poets, Philip Lamantia and Robert Creeley, issue one begins with some tributes. There are poems for Creeley by Steve Dalachinsky and Ruth Lepson, a prose poem for Lamantia from John Olson, and a personal essay by Chris Stroffolino recounting his first meeting with Creeley.

The next section begins with a visual poem by Portuguese poet Fernando Aguiar, and a translation of Colombian poet Jose Manuel Arango by John Oliver Simon. There are poems in traditional forms from James Bertolino, Lynn Veach Sadler, Kelley J. White, and others, and free verse from dozens of poets including; Joel Allegretti, Polly Buckingham, Sharon Carter, Gary Glazner, Paul Hunter, Dante Micheaux, Duane Locke, Priscilla Long, Frances McCue, Michael Rothenberg, Tom Sheehan, and Ryan G. Van Cleave.

There is poetry in a more experimental vein from Dr. John M. Bennett, Laynie Browne, Alan Catlin, Jeff Harrison, Doug Nufer, John Olson, Dan Raphael, Anthony Seidman, Alan Sondheim and Nico Vassilakis. Three color reproductions of paintings by Seattle painter Suzanne Brooker are presented on facing pages with poems Craig Van Riper has written in response to them.

While issue # 1 is heavy on poetry (issue # 2 will include more short fiction), there is short prose from John DeBoer, Darlene Fife, Cindy Williams Gutierrez, David Hecker and Willie Smith. In addition, there will be quite a few small press books, independently produced CDs, and DVDs reviewed.

Johnson: When can we expect the first issue, and how often will subsequent issues be released?

Steve: Issue # 1 will be available the first week of September 2005. Future issues will be available each April and September.

Johnson: How can writers and poets submit to your journal?

Steve: For the time being we're only accepting submissions via e-mail. The address is The reading periods are September - November and January - March of each year. For guidelines and a better sense of what we are looking for, writers can go to

Johnson: How can readers subscribe to The Wandering Hermit Review?

Steve: To subscribe, or to order a single issue, send a check or money order to:

Wandering Hermit Productions
c/o Steve Potter
317 Harvard Ave. E., # B, Seattle, WA 98102.

Single copies are $10. The subscription prices from now until December 2005 are:

$15 for two issues, $31 for four issues, or $49 for six issues. After that it'll be $18 for two issues, $34 for four issues, or $52 for six issues. Eventually we'll have Pay Pal available at the website, so people can subscribe, order single issues or purchase merchandise online.

Johnson: Seattle, where you live, is an area rich in the literary sense. Tell us about the activities in which you participate.

Steve: I've been involved as an emcee and curator with Red Sky Poetry Theater on and off for the past decade. Red Sky is a weekly open mic reading series that began in 1981 and has been running ever since. While the quality of work presented can be uneven, I like the democratic nature of the open mic format wherein anyone who shows up can have their five minutes of low level 'fame.' I've also read at many of the other venues around Seattle and have performed with now-defunct musical duo 'Bakshish' at The Seattle Poetry Festival, The Seattle Experimental Performance Showcase, and The Arts Edge Festival. This summer I'll be finishing work on a CD in collaboration with some excellent experimental musicians, the guitarist Bill Horist and sax/cello/percussion trio Project W. I'm also getting close to final drafts on a couple of story collections I've been working on for a very long time.

Johnson: Is there any question you wish I had asked or any other bit of information you'd like to share with our readers?

Steve: No, I think you covered all the bases pretty well, Laurel. Thanks.

Johnson: Thank you for your time, Steve. Good luck with The Wandering Hermit.

Steve: Thanks again, Laurel. I appreciate this opportunity to let people know about The Wandering Hermit Review.

Laurel Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Shelley's Bookshelf

The Turquoise Shop
Frances Crane
The Rue Morgue Press
PO Box 4119, Boulder, CO 80306
ISBN: 0915230712 $14.95

Frances Crane had a fascinating history. Frances Kirkwood Crane was expelled from Germany by the Nazis during World War II. She had been married to Ned Crane, an advertising executive with the J. Walter Thompson agency and spent years abroad in England and Germany. Frances was a regular writer for THE NEW YORKER, and specialized in short pieces poking fun at the Brits. She eventually gravitated to Taos, New Mexico and began writing mysteries at the behest of an old editor. Characters from THE TURQUOISE SHOP are loosely based on people Frances knew in Taos, although she sets the story in a fictional town.

Jean Holly is a resident of Santa Maria and is in her twenties. She owns a turquoise shop, which does a modest business, and is considered the center of town for many of Santa Maria's residents. Although Jean tries not to gossip or offend, there are certainly characters in Santa Maria. But the real power is Mona Brandon, who is wealthy and uses her money to try to control many of the residents of this little town. The appearance of Patrick Abbott, a private investigator on vacation, will eventually change Jean's life and involve her in the investigation of murder and a counterfeiting operation that has landed in her beloved haven:

"There were two big skin chairs and a corner seat by the fireplace. My customer put his hat and the portfolio on one chair and took the corner seat, the best place because it looked towards the window. He crossed his long legs and concentrated on the picture. I worked with the rings. It was nothing which taxed the intellect, however, so I was able to concentrate on Mr. Abbott. His eyes were blue-green, deep-set under straight black brows, the flesh of his face was spare, and there were lines in his tanned cheeks and around his eyes from the sun."

Frances Crane had a lovely style of writing, which takes the reader straight into the surroundings of her story. She takes her time, employs lavish descriptions of the Southwest, and then slowly pulls the reader into a web of deceit and murder. Her characters range from oddball starving artists to haughty debutantes. Motives abound, the action is nonstop, and the reading of this little gem is absolutely delightful. THE TURQUOISE SHOP is an excellent little mystery that is ranks Frances Crane with the most popular of the writers from the 1930's to 1960's.

Dishing up Death
Marie Celine
Beachfront Publishing
PO Box 811922, Boca Raton, FL 33481
ISBN: 1892339951 $25.00

What could be more "Hollywood" than a gourmet pet chef? Marie Celine, who loves animals and food, has seen fit to include both in her first mystery. While we don't get the old Valley Girl language per se, Celine still manages to create the aura of Hollywood to perfection.

Kitty Karlyle has managed to begin a business post chef school by cooking delicious meals, complete with cute little recipe cards, for a few select animals in the Hollywood area. Naturally the pet owners all have their idiosyncracies, whether it's an aging rock star with a little too much sexual energy or an old woman with a mysterious past. But when one of Kitty's well intentioned meals kills the stoned rock star, the hunt is on. In the meantime, the major investigating detective has decided that even as Kitty is still a suspect, he's going to marry her. Kitty reacts by concluding that she'd better investigate the rash of odd suspects herself, even as the suspects have evil plans for her undoing:

"Angela went on. 'We keep Kitty Karlyle occupied. And if she is occupied, she will be too busy to ask questions. It's that simple. Ask your friends to hire her to cook for their pets, Fang. I've already begun doing the same. We'll make Kitty Karlyle the most successful pet chef in the business. She'll be too busy making money to make trouble.' Angela smiled at her own wit."

Kitty Karlyle is a darling detective, and her frantic efforts to avoid the amorous Detective Jack only serve to make her a more endearing character. She chases around Los Angeles serving her meals and trying to make sense of a diabolical plot that almost ensnares her at the end.

DISHING UP DEATH is a very cute, well plotted mystery with lots of flair. Marie Celine seems to know her subject well and dishes up characters with enough evil intentions and weird lifestyles to please even the most critical mystery reader. The Los Angeles "thing" permeates the novel, and eccentricity makes this book a thoroughly delightful read. Marie Celine has done a smash-up job on her first novel and has a great idea with the pet chef business. We'll expect to see more mysteries from this very promising new writer. A great job!

Death by Real Estate
Maggie MacLeod
Daybreak Publishing
PO Box 36634, Canton, OH 44735
ISBN: 0974223301 $13.95

Maggie MacLeod is a woman of many talents. Not only does she hold a degree in English and Critical Care Nursing, but she is also a former realtor. She is in a unique position to write the ultimate real estate novel, and DEATH BY REAL ESTATE easily qualifies.

Barb Parker is a veteran in the real estate business. She knows her co-workers well, and takes a neophyte realtor under her wing in the person of Cindy Kilpatrick. Several odd things begin to happen. Someone is robbing houses that are being shown, and it looks like an inside job. Then people in Barb's office begin to die in strange ways. Curiously, Barb finds the love of her life just as she seems to be the logical person to solve the murders. Still, she courageously keeps going even as it seems to odds are stacked against her. There is something eerie about a lakefront property she is showing, and the action seems to center there:

"As Barb stepped forward into the living room, her flashlight suddenly went out. Fighting a growing panic, she smacked it against her palm. The light flickered, then came on, dimly. 'Oh swell,' she said aloud. 'Why didn't I change those batteries?' In the back of her mind, she thought she remembered where the light switch was. In order to conserve what was left of her flashlight batteries, she turned it off and reached toward the wall next to the door. It was an old push-button switch. She pushed it in, but no light responded. THAT ONE COULD BE DEAD. Just to be sure, she gave it another punch. No result. She inched carefully around the wall, trying to locate a lamp."

DEATH BY REAL ESTATE works on virtually every level. The characters are well defined and interesting. Barb Parker is an independent, intelligent woman with a heart and lots of common sense. The action is non-stop, and this whodunit teases the reader until the very end, when all is revealed in a very Agatha way. Barb's relationships with both her family and co-workers are sweet, although tinged with reality. The plot constantly thickens, and the denouement is spine-tingling. All in all, DEATH BY REAL ESTATE is skillful and adept and is a fine read for all age levels. This is an excellent read, adroitly written, and easily visualized. It would make a fine movie!

Shelley Glodowski
Senior Reviewer

Shirley's Bookshelf

The Shadowlands
Michael Sean McGowan
Quiet Storm Publishing
PO Box 1666, Martinsburg, WV
ISBN# 0975857177 $14.95 207 pages

I want to tell you when you begin this book if you feel slightly confused, don't let it stop your reading, keep going because you are about to be drawn into a story packed full of mystery and supernatural that you will not soon forget. The author begins by setting the theme, letting you get a feel of the characters, pulling you into a dark mystic feeling; weird but intriguing all at once.

You are introduced to an ex-cop named Lowe; one who has walked into the land of the living dead and you meet his lover Anastasia. Anastasia is not the normal lover you have read about in other novels, no she is a Caterra, a warrior for the night dwellers. You see, they have a code, one that they live by, and it is her duty to protect that code. Anastasia is a Vampire on a mission. Her relationship with Lowe is both touching and creepy at the same time, actually making for a very good mix in a weird sort of way.

Mr. Lowe is about to be drawn deeper into her world of the living dead as he meets one of her own, a Mr. Geddeck. It seems his love has been murdered, a young mortal woman named Christine. Geddeck wants to know who killed her and why. As Lowe begins his investigation you are pulled between the two co-existing worlds. The story heats up and you find you can't put this book down as one answer to a mystery is unveiled, another question explodes. You have to know who Christine really was and which world killed her and why. Excellent.

I'm telling you the truth; this work is not your normal read, but is absolutely packed full of mystery, suspense, supernatural and strange bedfellows. A read that will keep you on your toes and leave you wondering, is there a Shadowland? A must read for the lovers of mystery and supernatural. Recommended.

Merlin's Door
Mary Triola
Quiet Storm Publishing
PO Box 1666, Martinsburg, WV 25402
ISBN# 0974408433 $11.95 148 pages

I absolutely loved this book; it was perhaps the most enjoyable work I have read in a long,long time. We have two wonderful kids as our main characters, Carter and Penny; and we have the mystical enchanter Merlin. What a trio! Carter's great aunt has died and he accompanies his mom to her house to do inventory on her belongings, it is while they are there that Carter and his friend Penny find out Carter's aunt and the rest of his family are not what we could call the 'norm,' and Penny isn't either. Just what has been going on in this house, and what is the secret of this family? Accidentally, the children release Merlin from his tree prison and the race is on for control and power between good and evil, and what a race it is, packed full of magic and mystery. Just who is friend and who is foe? This story has great characters,some you will love, some you will fear; mystery, supernatural, humor and every element that makes for a just down right fun read. I couldn't put it down.

There are some books that I wish I could put a flashing red light next to the title so people would know just how great they are; this is one of those books. Young and old alike will devour this work and be sorry when it ends. If you want to just kick off your shoes, relax and have the time of your life in a book; this one is for you. Highly, highly recommended.

Chesapeake Crimes Two
Coordinating Editors: Donna Andrews and Maria Y. Lima
Quiet Storm Publishing
PO Box 1666, Martinsburg, WV 25402
ISBN: 0977007006 $23.95 151 pages

I love a good mystery, one you can curl-up with at night and immerse yourself in; I truly found more than my cup of tea in this work. We don't just have one mystery to solve, but fifteen, as some top-notch writers take us from one dark corner to the next in reverting tales of murder, mayhem and mystery. My favorite was,"A Senior Discount On Death." I loved the two main characters, Kate and Marlene and the twist that the story took. At first I felt sorry for them, until I realized it was the 'bad guys,' who needed my pity. I had to chuckle!

However, each story in this book works its own magic, as every author pens their style and talent with excellence. Each story unique, yet brimming with the familiar mystery you anticipated, you will find yourself turning the pages in anticipation and delight. Believe me, you will not be disappointed. More than a great read, many great reads all wrapped up in one. Outstanding, thank you authors for sharing your talent with a hungry audience that will devour every morsel with joy.

Matters of the Blood
Maria Y. Kima
Quiet Storm Publishing
PO Box 1666, Martinsburg, WV
ISBN# 0975857150 $14.95 231 pages

Keira is not your normal woman; she has secrets and a big problem, she is about to change. No, we are not talking about the normal change of life that women experience, for Keira this change involves power. Keira is part of a clan, one that is full of supernatural powers, different powers.

Some Clairvoyant, some healers, some shape-changers, but whatever it maybe, it was Keira's time to find out her gift.Keira lives in the small town of Rio Seco in Texas near her cousin Marty. Marty does not have the family 'gift,' and is but a mere human outcast by the clan, but one entrusted into Keira's keeping until his mortal life is over.

The story begins as animals turn up dead at a new resort called "The Wild Moon;" their heads cut off and Keira fears that it is not a natural hunter who is doing the killing, but one who works in the supernatural as she does. It only worsens when Marty, who held the job of the local undertaker, turns up dead as well; his blood drained completely from his body. Gruesome!

To complicate matters Keira's ex-boyfriend and now Sheriff is back in town to investigate the case and his feelings are still running deep for Keira. A relationship that could never continue, nor should it have ever begun.

All of a sudden Keira's way too complicated life gets worse when she finds out the owner of the Wild Moon is none other than Adam Walker, a heartthrob of Keira's from years ago.

Adam has secrets as well; he is not what he appears to be, nor are the guests that are flooding into his new resort. I loved the way the author built on the suspense concerning these mystery guests in this novel; it gave me a chill. Just what were 90% of the people in Rio Seco, could you even call them human? Creepy!

I really enjoyed this book. Our main character Keira is an extremely likeable woman, her spunk and strong nature add just the right amount of zest to the story. The author does a suburb job in his description of each character that is introduced, from the obnoxious cousin Marty, to the love sick Sheriff, Keira's adorable brother Tucker, and best friend Bea. Not to forget the mysterious Adam Walker and the brother/ sister storekeepers that play such an important role in the conclusion of the read. All of them gave just the right slice of intrigue and their different personalities brought freshness to this work.

Just what or who was killing the animals and who killed cousin Marty? What will Keira's final 'gift' of supernatural power be and is there a future for her and the mysterious Adam Walker?

The questions are many, guiding you from page to page as you hungrily seek the answers.

Mystery, suspense, romance and supernatural all cuddled together in on outstanding read. A sure winner. Recommended.

The Wicked and The Dead
Robert Weibezahl
Quiet Storm Publishing
PO Box 1666, Martinsburg, WV
ISBN# 0975857142 $15.95 284 pages

Billy Winnetka is a writer living in San Francisco; he makes his living selling his works to producers. I liked Billy from the start; the author pens him as a down to earth good guy who you root for in the entire read; a likeable character from beginning to end; but Billy is about to become involved in a quest to find a murderer and take on an adventure that he never dreamed possible.

Harold Clausen owns a Production company and Billy has a meeting with him that would not be kept.

Why? Because Mr.Clausen had an unfortunate car accident and was no more. As Billy goes to give his condolences to Harold's wife Mitzi, he finds himself being asked to investigate a business relationship Harold had with some unsavory people. Wanting to help the widow Billy agrees and as things move along it appears that perhaps Harold's death was not an accident. Mitzi is sure it was not and Billy, drawn by an unquenchable thirst to find out the truth, goes on a quest to find the answers, much to the dismay of one angry cop named Goold, who frowns on Billy's interference.

As the story progresses more and more bodies turn up and the only link that Billy can find between them is that they all worked on one movie, Jesus Agonists. Who was killing these people and why?

Tony, the late Mr. Clausen's assistant joins in the venture and aids Billy in his investigation. However, Tony stumbles upon information that lands him in the hospital and almost takes his life. Pulling through this, Billy takes Tony into his home and finds out that Tony's sexual preferences are different than our Mr. Winnetka. Is this a problem, Billy hopes not and I must admit the way the author dealt with this was very good and added some lightheartedness to a subject that can at times be difficult.

This information becomes quite important to the storyline.

More and more suspects are uncovered in this great story, bridging the gap between victims and killer, as Billy digs deeper and deeper into the victims lives.

The book twists and turns and takes you on side-roads guaranteed to totally obliterate any conclusion you thought you were coming to as far as who done it. Outstanding! I was totally taken back by the revealing of the murderer and never saw it coming, never.

A tight written mystery with captivating characters and an extremely likeable main character that pulls you along for the ride of a lifetime. I have to say I really loved this book and I hope the author will consider taking our Billy into another challenge of solving a mystery in the future. Don't miss this one folks. It's a real page turner with one bang of a finish. Highly, highly recommended.

Green Stone of Healing: The Vision
Book One of a Series
C. Talmadge
Quiet Storm Publishing
PO Box 1666, Martinsburg, WV
ISBN 0974408492 $26.95 240 pages

The Toltecs dominated the island, narrow minded and set on power and domination their rule and their say so was law. They especially were against the Turanians, blue or green eyed people, their hatred ran deep for them, and there was a reason why although we are not fully aware of what it is in this first book of the series.

In the beginning of this read we meet Helen, a doctor in the service of the military, and one of great knowledge, but one that has little respect in the world she lives. Although few can deny her ability in healing; her independent rebellious nature causes anger in some and fear in others.

Helen Andros, daughter of Miriam Andros, a healer, is considered a half-breed, a beautiful woman with green eyes.. A woman who at the beginning of the read does not know who her father is, nor if her mother is alive or dead, after being sent away from her at a young age. The only thing she has is a necklace her mother gave her, one that has a green stone. This stone was given to her mother by Helen's father years ago, and has healing and protective powers, although Helen is not aware of that fact.

Despite the dislike of Helen, her abilities as a physician cannot be denied, and when the Prince falls ill, she is secretly ushered to his side. During this time she is arrested for entering the city without permission and her life begins to change due to one man, Lord Mordecai.

Lord Mordecai holds the title of Lord Protector and is respected among his people, but seeing the green stone that is now the property of Helen and her striking resemblance to her mother he knows she must surely be his daughter. Although he was never aware she existed. A confirmation is also given when a letter is read from Miriam naming him as the father.

A decision must be made by him; does he acknowledge that Helen is his daughter, for if he does it may well be the end of his career or even his life. Yet, he is a man of honor and the love that he still holds for Miriam spills over to his daughter and he saves her from certain death.

In this book you begin to taste the start of the supernatural; powers that some seem to have yet also seem to be hidden. You are given the knowledge that people of different civilizations that are at odds

with one another will soon have their lives altered, although you are not sure how; but you realize that good is desperately trying to override the evil that is present.

I believe this first book is to introduce you to all the characters, their position in the series and their relationship one to another. The author includes a glossary of who's who at the end of the book, and also information of the different areas you will be reading about. This is a great help, because the story is complex and the characters and locations can be confusing, however they all are needed and flow together to begin a somewhat mystic tale.

Did you ever see a movie that has several parts and you have to wait until the next night to see what is going to happen? You sigh, because you say within yourself, " Oh it was just getting good!" that is how I felt when this work ended. The groundwork being laid, the author begins to uncover some secrets, but the answers await you in book two.

Those who love deep intricate stories, full of mystery and action, dripping with power struggles and battles for dominion, this work is for you. Just what is the secret behind the "Green Stone," that Helen wears proudly around her neck? What is the history of this stone; and how will this effect an entire civilization? The answers are in the future.

Sins of The Mother
Deborah Nicholson
Severn House Publishing
595 Madison Avenue, New York, NY 10022
ISBN# 0727862197 $18.45 256 pages

Picking up this book and beginning my read was like visiting with old friends. I smiled as Cam and Katie open the door to see Cam's cousin Carrie standing there. I knew Carrie brought with her the beginning of another great mystery, and I was not disappointed.

Carrie has left her abusive husband Hank and the story begins as Cam and Katie become deeply involved when Carrie is accused of attempted murder at Hanks house. What happened in his house that day? Surely Carrie did not pull the trigger on that gun, who was she trying to protect? Katie knows who the true shooter is, but proving it will be a delicate situation; and one that again puts Katie's life in danger, to the frustration of Cam and the beloved character of Detective Lincoln. It was a joy to see the antics of Katie's youthful helper Graham again, his character brings a delightful air of humor to the read and brings some well timed smiles along the way; and with the happenings at the Plex; I truly was home.

In book three of this outstanding series we get to know Katie and Cam in a more personal way.

Ms. Nicholson opens up their lives as they move closer to making a lifetime commitment to each other.

She gives us more details about Katie, her inward feelings, her outlook on life and love, and her fears.

We are included in a blessed announcement and share with them the tragic loss of the same.

Excellent move on the author's part to draw you deeper into the personalities of the characters and their lives, keeping the characters fresh in your minds eye and inscribed on your heart; yet not letting go of the mystery element that we have come to expect in this series.

All in all this third book in "The Kate Carpenter Series," has it all. Mystery and adventure, suspense and thrills and personal character development, making for one great read. I look forward to the next and the next and the next. Well, you get the picture. Highly recommended!

Too Many Secrets
Laura McClendon
Turn Key Press
2100 Kramer Lane, Suite 300, Austin, Texas 78758
ISBN# 097649812X $13.95 243 pages

There are times when I come across a book that is just pure pleasure to read, such was the case with "Too Many Secrets," by Laura McClendon.

We meet Cassandra Masters, a widowed mom of one child and a woman with an exciting career as a private investigator in upstate New York. You soon find out that she is, as they say, 'one smart cookie,' and has never failed one of her clients, but this case is a tough one.

Dr. Moorehouse is murdered and his wife Eleanor seems the perfect suspect, she desperately needs Cassandra's help to clear her name. The plot has a twist as well, as Eleanor seems to have some strings attached from her past to Cassandra's late husband and her close friend David.

Cassandra accepts the challenge of this case and enlists the help of David and some other very colorful characters and they begin to unravel a not so pretty lifestyle of the late doctor, bringing more and more suspects into the picture around each corner.

I really enjoyed this book. It was packed full of colorful, interesting characters, mystery and twists and turns. As soon as I thought I had everything figured out, our author threw a wrench in the works and I was back to square one. Good job! I liked the way the author worked the characters, making you think for sure that one did the murder and then proving there was no way they could have. I never did quess who the real killer was right up to the end.

I also enjoyed the way Ms. McClendon intertwined Cassandra's business life and her personal life, this gave an overall believable aspect to the story and made it much more personal, and enjoyable.

All in all a great mystery read with a wonderful, likeable, believable main character. I hope there will be more books coming from this author; definitely one talented lady.

Angus and the Forgotten Trails
Steven A. Corirossi
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512 1-800-288-4677
ISBN# 0595340075 $9.95 212 pages

In the beginning of this outstanding young adult read, we find ourselves at the annual school spelling bee and the suspense is on as the children prepare themselves in hopes of winning. When Angus wins, he won for his entire class. The excitement grew as the class learned they were going from Illinois to Arizona to a real working dude ranch. Angus and his friends plotted out their adventure and their main goal, finding gold. Little did they know the true adventure they would have, and the challenges that were before them.

As we travel along the tale, we find ourselves at the ranch and Angus, Andrew and Taylor find themselves trapped in an underground mine in their attempt to find gold.

The adventure truly begins as the two are separated from Angus and they must use their wits to find their way out of the abandoned mine. Little did they know they had help from a very un-believable source; and a delightful surprise at the knowledge of who that source was at the end of the read.

This book has every element of a story that young and old will enjoy. Brimming with mystery, adventure and excitement you will find yourself caught up in the journey these young people are on. The author does an outstanding job in drawing you completely into the storyline and allowing you to become a part of the happenings, from the excitement of the win, to the trip, the raging storm, the lost children and the supernatural rescue, you will hungrily turn each page to devour more of the adventure.

A very enjoyable read, and certainly recommended.

Walking Away From Texas
Sharon Bradley
iUniverse, Inc.
2021 Pine Lake Road, Suite 100, Lincoln, NE 68512
ISBN# 0595326722 $10.95 105 pages

In this work we enjoy meeting Katie Mitchell and Alan Thomas, two young people who have been best friends since kindergarten. Now, in their senior year of high school, they are about to embark on their true journey of life as they each prepare for their college years and their future.
The story mainly focuses on Katie and her struggle to make sense of the many conflicting feelings she is having. Determined to eventually make her way to California to pursue a modeling career; she battles with loyalty to family and friends in her decision. Awakening one day to realize perhaps her feelings for her life-long friend Alan are deeper than platonic, she must face the reality that it might be a one way street. How will this revelation effect Katie and her future?

The author does a very good job in bringing to light the complexity of those who are venturing out to make a life of their own; allowing the raw emotions that are stirring within them to be felt; as the reader participates in the often roller coaster ride that challenges a young person's life in their decision making, and their romantic encounters. The characters are well defined and believable; and although the ending will probably not be what you hoped it would, it certainly shows the way life is. A very good read.

A Thousand Tomorrows
Karen Kingsbury
Time Warner Book Group
1271 Avenue of the Americas, New York, NY 10020
ISBN# 0446529672 $12.95 241 pages

We are introduced to young Cody, who is the son of a NFL player, right at the time when his dad loses his ability to play football anymore and deserts his family.
Cody becomes bitter, blaming his mother for the loss of his dad and as he grows his life is fueled with that anger and resentment, until he meets a young girl named Ali who has the disease, Cystic Fibrosis.

Cody thrust himself into the life of a rodeo bull rider and Ali's determination, despite her illness, to ride her horses bring the couple into a unity like none other; as not only their worlds in the rodeo
Through Ali, Cody learns the true meaning of love, forgiveness and giving of oneself.
This book brings to light the challenges of those with Cystic Fibrosis and the battles they face; it also shows how unforgiveness mars us. if not released, into the person we were never meant to be.

Despite some real tear jerking moments, the book ends with love and hope for tomorrow. A true inspirational read.

Her Backyard
Doreen Lewis
Helm Publishing Inc
3923 Seward Ave., Rockford, Il. 61108
ISBN# 0976091941 $16.95 281 pages

In this outstanding work, we meet Audrey Beane. Audrey lives and works in New York; her life centers around her work, her achievements and advancements and leaves little time for lives small pleasures, but this is about to change. Faced with a family emergency, Audrey must leave her work zone and head to Florida where the heart of true living is about to hit her square in the face. As she struggles to deal with heartbreaking circumstances in Florida, a love she thought was gone forever, and a drawing within her she didn't know existed; her corporate world in New York is moving like a ticking bomb about to explode and shatter her world. She is soon faced with decisions that will be life-changing, will she make the right ones?

Author Doreen Lewis definitely opens up the often hidden world of a workaholic, who buries their heart and soul in their work, often forgetting what life is about. In her storyline, she shakes this world with real life circumstances, heart-felt relationships and raw emotions as our main character collides with life, bringing her to a abrupt stop. This is a wonderful read, that is certainly true to life with an ending that will leave you with a smile. Recommended.

Mr$. Rafton, Sowing and Reaping
Lola C. Hardaway
AuthorHouse Publishing
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, Indiana 47404
ISBN# 1420809024 $19.45 304 pages

When I was asked to review this book I was excited,knowing first hand the abuse that occurs in nursing homes and to elderly; I knew this would be of interest to me. The story revolves around a woman named Sara, whose entire reason for living is money. Sara uses people, and circumstances to her advantage; her heart is cold and uncaring. Sara becomes involved in the business of one nursing home which she called, Mainstream. The promise was a home of loving and caring attendance that was never to be. Sara cut corners everyway she could and the results were hideous to the trusting elderly in her care. Lying, cheating, abuse, death and destruction were the main players in this home and the elderly were their victims.

We then have Mona Lockard; a feisty, wealthy, God-fearing elderly woman with a loving niece Melody. Through a series of circumstances Mona ends up at Mainstream and falls into the abuse nearly losing her life. Fortunately for her, her niece finds her in time to rescue her and save her life. It is because of the near loss of her aunt and the horrible conditions that Melody sees, she decides to go undercover and expose the abuse and corruption that is happening.

The author does an outstanding job in building a great storyline around this truth and weaving in the horrific crimes done to the elderly at the home; and also reminds us that although this is a story we are reading, it relates to what is happening across our country. As you read her book, you realize these people are not just facts, but flesh and blood, feeling human beings, lost and relying upon the mercies of others. Mercies they never received, their fears laid bare to see. You realize that even as you are reading, there are those who are being abused, living in fear and crying unheard for help in almost every nursing home across our nation. Shameful! Ms. Hardaway also brings to light the wonderful law of sowing and reaping. I do not want to give away the ending, but I'll tell you this; our Ms. Sara definitely gets exactly what she sowed; perhaps this should be a reminder to us all.

Everyone one of us will have to deal with growing old in one form or another. Whether it be with a loved one, or ourselves, it is a fact that will not go away. I would advise every person in America to read this book, open their eyes to what is happening and join with others to make a difference for people who may not have a voice that will be heard. I want to take my hat off to author Lola C. Hardaway and thank her for having the courage to write such an outstanding work. I pray that it is kissed by God and touches lives all over our country. Do not miss this work; simply a must read. I give this book my highest recommendation.

INTERVIEW WITH LOLA HARDAWAY, Author of Mr$. Rafton, Sowing and Reaping

I have to say that I was extremely impressed with Ms. Hardaway's work, "Mr$. Rafton, Sowing and Reaping." I know firsthand of the abuse that happens in many nursing homes and I was thrilled to read this book. I wanted to give Ms. Hardaway as much exposure as I could and I hope this interview helps in some small way. Let's begin

SPJ: Ms. Hardaway, I truly enjoyed reading your book, please tell us what made you decide to write this book?

LH: First, thank you so much for taking time to read the "Mr$. Rafton, Sowing and Reaping. Clearly, you've had a connection with the long-term care industry, because your empathy for this all-but-forgotten segment of our society flows through in your review. That in itself is gratifying.
Having said that, there was a time when I thought that it was my idea to write the book. I was thrust into the industry in the 1960's, when a friend of mine promised his client that he would find some good help for her. He knew that I was between jobs, so he insisted that I go to the nursing home for an interview. At the time, the mere thought of working in a nursing home was depressing to me. I had been exposed to only one facility in Indiana, and during that time, there were no state or federal regulations. It was a group home, and absolutely filthy. When I didn't respond to several of his telephone calls by visiting the nursing home for an interview, he literally came to my home and insisted that I go, if for no other reason except to save his reputation. That was during a time in my life when I found it difficult to say no, so I went to protect his reputation, and ended up taking the job as assistant to the administrator. It wasn't long before I witnessed a number of unusual occurrences, and it was then that I vowed that one day I'd write a book. I began documenting these incidents and tucking the notes away.

SPJ: Thank you, that was very interesting. You certainly were being lead for the future when you documented what you saw. May I ask you, what, if any reaction did you receive after your decision to write this book?

LH: I was so young and trusting, I hadn't learned that everyone could not understand or accept my vision. I remember sharing my dream with one of the workers at the nursing home, and she went back and told the administrator. The not-too-happy administrator asked if I was writing a book, and I shirked my response with a big laugh and said, "Now, that's an idea! We could write a best seller, don't you think?" I was clever enough to include her, and she obviously fell for it, because she laughed with me, and never mentioned the book again.

SPJ: It seems again you were given wisdom, that's wonderful. How did you come up with the storyline?

LH: That was easy, and it didn't take long. When I first began working at the nursing home, and I realized how witty and intelligent many of the residents were; and when I began to observe how the facility was run, I knew I had a plot.

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

LH: 23 years from start to completion. While working at the nursing home, I took notes of every occurrence I thought was significant. It was the strangest thing. I took the notes, but never did anything with them. They were kept in a little cardboard box. I moved several times, and out of all the things that were lost or misplaced, paintings, clothing, jewelry, coats, furniture, etc, my notes were always at my side. Then, on December 26, 1981 I had a supernatural experience when I heard the voice of the Lord speak to me directing me to a little book which instructed me to write the book. I began writing the next day, and it was August, 1982 that I wrote THE END. I tried promoting it, and that was when I learned that I had only written a documentary. Not long after that, the Lord told me to stop promoting it, until he gave me the go ahead.

SPJ: Oh yes, don't you just love how the Lord guides us in His timing. Please tell us, what was the most difficult part in writing your work?

LH: I love writing so much, I can't say that the writing was difficult, but I had a problem with character development. I began studying books on how to write a book. Also, I have such a limited vocabulary, I spent hours searching for the right word in the Thesaurus. You must be mindful that back then, most of us didn't have the convenience of the home computers, so my main resource was Rogets Thesaurus.

SPJ: I can say you certainly brought forth a work with very well defined characters and great descriptive words. Did you base your characters on real life people?

LH: For the most part, yes.

SPJ: Is the nursing home based on one that you know of personally?

LH: Yes, the story is based on my personal experience as a nursing home administrator, and a bit of myself is told in the story.

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

LH: My last count, I had 186 rejections, but that included a few agents, too. I saved every one of those cards, notes and letters, because I had confidence that this book would be a success. Notwithstanding those rejections, there were some who offered encouragement. One guy wrote, "This can and will sell, but I'm not the one." Another guy said, "I know I'm going to kick myself for turning this one down," and several others urged me not to give up. After much prayer, one day I heard T.D. Jakes telling the story of his book "Woman, Thou Art Loosed." He said that he took his last dime and published the book himself. It was then that I began looking at self-publishing companies. When I came to Author House (first Books at the time I found it) I instinctively knew that I should select that company.

SPJ: I believe what you are saying is to never give up on your dream, especially when God has placed it within your spirit. Wonderful! What advice would you give to authors who are looking for a publisher?

LH: Unless there's a friend in the marketplace, I advise first-time authors to self-publish. I spent hundreds of hours and dollars in time and postage seeking a publisher, to no avail. This is a market where I feel you have to succeed before a publisher believes you're serious.

SPJ: Thank you Lola, point well taken. If you could speak directly to publishers, what would you tell them?

LH: It seems that the eyes of the publishers are blinded. "To Kill A Mockingbird" is one of the greatest success stories ever told of first-time writers. If these publishing companies are equipped with experts, editors and analysts as they claim, why are they so fearful of acknowledging a good work when it comes across the desk? I'll tell you why: because they don't read the work. Simple as that.

SPJ: Ah! If the truth be told! Tell us, do you have an agent? A publicist?

LH: No and Yes. I don't have an agent, but I'm actively looking for one. Last week, I sent out several letters, and I'll be conducting a follow-up. Phenix and Phenix in Austin, Texas is my publicist.

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

LH: I'm just beginning to promote the book locally. Clearly, it's going to take a great deal of dedication. Once the press kits arrive, I plan to commit all of my time promoting. I think summer is the time people want to catch up on reading. I believe in following success. Although I have just begin promoting, I've checked the Internet and found many great suggestions, such as no cold calls when soliciting bookstores, when making presentation, be sure to use a professional package, etc. These procedures are no doubt updated on a daily basis, so I recommend that when the author needs promotional information, that's the time he or she researches the Internet. Also, many authors are approachable, so do not hesitate to confer with them.

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

LH: Not yet, but I'm looking into ones where I might comfortably fit.

SPJ: What has writing this work done for you and what do you hope it will do for your readers? What do you hope they will take away with them after reading your work?

LH: I'm now convinced that a person can do anything he sets his mind to do. I believe that every secret sin should be exposed, and I'm persuaded that Mr$. Rafton, $owing and Reaping will cause such an awareness within long-term care facilities and regulatory agencies, that the trend for long-term care living will become favorable. For the elder, I'm praying that they will follow the advise of a most renowned Christian physician, Dr. J. Whitaker, by taking control of their own health and bodies. Others, I pray, will understand the universal law of sowing and reaping. As the adage goes, what goes around comes around.

SPJ: Word of Wisdom for sure. How supportive was your family in your writing experience and how important do you think this is to a writer?

LH: The first draft of Mrs. Rafton, Sowing and Reaping was written under its working title, "The Corollary." I was a new divorcee living alone in Chicago. I was also a new Christian, and during my Christian infancy, I experienced awesome supernatural encounters. God had instructed me to write the book, and I wanted to be alone, but my family's concern for my health kept them ringing my doorbell. Finally, I told them God had instructed me to write a book, and I think that was a mistake, because they thought I had lost my mind. My sister would tell folks that I had gone to la la land. They were there, and supportive of me, when I wrote the first draft. But that support was for me, not the book. My family is a close one, so I'm grateful that they loved me enough to be concerned. Of course, I think support for any endeavor is a major plus. Support to a writer could be of monumental significance, providing that support is willing to offer assistance in research, review, editing, etc. On the other hand, if the support can offer no tangible assistance, the lack of that support, in my opinion, will not prove detrimental to the writer.

SPJ: Do you have any other works in progress? If so in what genre and when will they be released?

LH: Yes. As a matter of fact, I'm writing a sequel to "Mr$. Rafton, Sowing and Reaping." There were so many occurrences in the first manuscript, I decided then to follow the Godfather (smile).

SPJ: I look forward to seeing your sequel when it is completed. How many hours a day do you write?

LH: Now, here's an Edith's OOOOOHHHHHHH. (Edith of Archie Bunker) I haven't written anything toward the completion of the second manuscript in a while. I promised myself that once plans for the movie were consummated, I'd sit down and complete the sequel.

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

LH: I've written chapters on planes, beaches, in my study, at my desk, or just about anyplace the mood hits. It isn't the place which inspires me to write, but the frame of mind. If I'm in a writing mood, I can literally write for two or three days unceasingly...for as long as this body will hold up. I simply love to write. My Dad would always boast about my writings, and he just loved listening to me read my homework to him. I recall reading to him a study I conducted for a sociology class. I was supposed to have visited the neighborhood, but Daddy overheard me interview a gentleman by phone. He witnessed me write about the phone interview, and couldn't believe that I had such a vivid imagination. Of course, as a Christian, I couldn't do that today. When my brother-in-law, Harold was dating my sister, he'd write me while he was in the military, to gain brownie points, because he knew how close we were. He said he'd look forward to my letters, because he always felt he was at home when he read them. And then there was my Comp 101 instructor, whose name, I'm embarrassed to say, I don't recall. Mr. Comp read one of my papers and asked me who wrote it. I started to ask him, who read it, but out of respect, I didn't. When I told him I had written the paper, he stated I'd be good at writing. I think these three people were the first to give indelible comments about my writing. Later on, my brother, Bubba and his wife, Pat, were there to encourage me to keep pushing the book. I hit so many walls, but they were always there to encourage me not to give up.

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

LH: The book's only been on the market for a few weeks, and the marketing has just begun. I'm waiting for that moment when I can say that it has made a difference . . . and I know the time will come.

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

LH: I'd love to share my ultimate desire for the book with you personally, and I will; but to share them during this interview is a bit premature. I will say that I do plan to have the sequel written and published, and the movie for Mr$. Rafton produced.

SPJ: I have to say I believe you will. A question a little off the beaten track, do you read and if so what genre is your favorite?

LH: Unlike most writers, I don't find time to enjoy very many fiction authors, because my jobs don't afford me the luxury. I do, however, I'm an avid reader of Christian writings, and it is mandatory that I read the Bible daily.

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

LH: I reside with my mother and one foster brother whom my mother has cared for 33 years. I own and operate Here's To Your Health, a local health food store in Jacksonville, Florida. My main focus, however, is the ministry. I'm an ordained minister, and founder and pastor of In His Image Ministries International in Jacksonville, with a vision for international evangelism. I usually begin my day at 6 AM, and it isn't until 1 AM that I managed to get to bed. I'm praying that this will change. I enjoy reading, writing, and ministry. I once was an professional biker, riding 90 miles daily, and I'm trusting that after semi-retirement, I can at least bike again. I also enjoy swimming.

SPJ: My goodness, you are one busy and blessed lady. Now, please use this space for anything you would like to share with our readers concerning publishing, writing or your publishing experience in general.

LB: Mr$. Rafton, $owing and Reaping is a story revealing corruption within long term care facilities. Although life in a nursing home environment can be a full and dignified alternative for the elderly, there is an epidemic of apathy toward the abandoned aged. There is also an obscured view of one's future, to think that it will never happen to them. Becoming old is inevitable, provided one doesn't die. In the words of Jesus to Peter, "Most assuredly, I say to you, when you were younger, you girded yourself and walked where you wished; but when you are old, you will stretch out your hands, and another will gird you and carry you where you do not wish." It is my prayer that each of your readers will always remember and never forget that what you give is certain to be what you will receive in return.

SPJ: I want to thank Ms. Hardaway for allowing me to do this interview with her. I highly recommend her book and feel everyone should read it. I pray that God uses it to touch lives and make changes. I am sure we will be hearing about Ms. Hardaway in the future and I pray many blessings on her and her works.


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Shirley Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Vicki's Bookshelf

Let Me Play
Karen Blumenthal
Antheneum Books for Young Readers/Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
ISBN 0689859570 $17.95 152 pages,

Can girls play softball? Can they play ice hockey? Can they become lawyers or doctors or engineers? Of course they can today. But just a few decades ago, opportunities for girls were far more limited, not because they weren't capable of playing or didn't want to become doctors or lawyers, but because they weren't allowed to. Then quietly, in 1972, something momentous happened: Congress passed a loaw called "Title IX" which forever changed the lives of American girls. Hundreds of determined lawmakers, teachers, parents, and athletes carefully plotted to ensure that the law was passed, protected and enforced. Time and time again, they were pushed back by fierce opposition. Bit as a result of their perseverance, millions of American girls can now play sports. Young women make up half of the nation's medical and law students, and star on some of the best basketball, soccer, and softball teams in the world. This small law made a huge difference. From the Sibert Honor-winning author of "Six Days in October" comes this powerful tale of courage and persistence, the stories of the people who believed that girls could do anything - and were willing to fight to prove it.

Princess Academy
Shannon Hale
175 Fifth Ave., NY, NY 10010
ISBN 1582349932 $16.95, 314 pages,

High on the slopes of Mount Eskel, Miri's family has lived forever, pounding a meager living from the stone of the mountain itself. Miri dreams of working alongwide the others in the quarry, but she has never been allowed to work there - perhaps, she thing, because she is so small. Then word comes from the lowlands, the king's priests have divined that the prince's bride-to-be - the next princess - will come from Mount Eskel. The prince himself will travel to the village to choose the bride, but first all eligible girls must attend a makeshift academy to prepare for royal lowlander life. At the school, Miri finds herself confronting both bitter competition among the girls and her own conflicted desires to be chosen. Yet when danger comes to the academy, it is Miri, named for a tiny mountain flower, who must find a way to save her classmates - and the chance for the future that each of them is eager to secure as her own. A richly imagined new novel about would-be princesses and the destiny of one small but determined young girl.

Boy Proof
Cecil Castellucci
Candlewick Press
2067 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02140
ISBN 0763623334 $15.99, 204 pages,

Victoria, aka Egg, named herself after the kick-ass heroin of her favorite sci-fi movie, "Terminal Earth." She always knows the right answers, she's always in control, and she can't be bothered with friends - much less members of the opposite sex. As far as she's concerned, she's boy proof. And she likes it that way. Interestingly edgy, modern, and fresh novel for young adults from Cecil Castellucci, an interesting, edgy and modern (and oddly named) young woman - and first-time novelist - herself.

The Dragonology Handbook
Ernest Drake
Candlewick Press
2067 Massachusetts Ave., Cambridge, MA 02140
ISBN 076362814X $12.99, 80 pages,

In case the expansive "Dragonology" book didn't answer all your practical questions about the history, classification, care and handling of dragons, this companion book should do it. One massive hit begets spin-offs, of course, hence "The Dragonology Handbook" offering a practical course in dragons for students. Written by Dr. Ernest Drake "himself," this illustrated textbook guides readers through 21 lessons - from dragon biology and elementary riddle work to how to form a Dragonological Society -- that promise to make one an undisputed expert. Good fun for the dragon-obsessed.

Peter Raven Under Fire
Michael Molloy
The Chicken House / Scholastic
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
ISBN 0439724546 $17.95, 502 pages,

Meet Peter Raven, a bright young midshipman in the Royal Navy of Great Britain, during the time of the Napoleonic Wars. Raven, along with the swashbuckling secret agent Commodore Beaumont, uncovers a reckless scheme devised by none other than Napoleon Bonaparte. "Peter Raven Under Fire" is the earnest story of a young man's efforts to stop the audacious plans of one of history's most famous figureheads. Napoleon, eager to add America to his empire, has made a wicked pact with a murderous pirate known as Count Vallon: a plot discovered by Raven and Beaumont. In exchange for the pirate' s gold, Napoleon will name Vallon "King of America." Raven, Beaumont, and a beautiful young American heiress named Lucy, must do whatever it takes to put a stop to this evil scheme.

A Bear Named Trouble
Marion Dane Baer
Clarion Books / Houghton Mifflin
251 Park Avenue South, NY NY 10003
ISBN 0618517383 $14.00, 120 pages,

Ten-year-old Jonathan practically lives at the Alaska Zoo, where his father is a keeper. He loves animals, and even imagines himself inside their bodies, seeing what they see, feeling what they feel. Meanwhile, a young brown bear is wandering through the woods new Anchorage, alone and hungry. One night, while searching for food, the bear crosses paths with Jonathan, who eagerly follows him onto the zoo grounds. But when the bear accidentally kills Mama Goose, Jonathan's favorite zoo creature, the boy loses the empathy he had felt earlier. He wishes that the bear - now nicknamed Trouble - would meet the same fate as his beloved goose, and he impulsively takes steps to make sure that happens. Based on an actual incident, and told from both the bear's and Jonathan's point of view, this is an involving animal story as well as a thought-provoking investigation into the consequences of one's actions.

Sky Carver
Dean Whitlock
Clarion Books / Houghton Mifflin
251 Park Avenue South, NY NY 10003
ISBN 0618443932 $16.00, 248 pages,

Thomas Painter was born with the wrong name, Though his father was a brilliant painter, Thomas has not apparent skill with a brush. His talent is woodcarving. Yet in a place where one's name dictates his trade, he is forced to be a painter's apprentice. Destiny intervenes when a tree branch falls from the sky. For the branch, at least in Thomas's hands, is a magic wand. Thomas renames himself Carver and leaves his small village behind, setting off downriver in search of someone who can teach him to use the wand. Accompanied by Raven (the bemagicked girl who dropped the wand in the first place) and the bondservant Fireboy, Carver centures into a world filled with wonders, some beautiful, some terrible, and some beyond his imagining. Skillful, evocative writing, a uniquely drawn setting, and richly developed characters mark this fiction debut for fantasy fans.

Shadow Falls
Amy Kathleen Ryan
Delacorte Press / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
ISBN 0385731329 $15.95, 216 pages,

Annie McGraw's world feels drained of color. Nothing seens to matter sine her brother Cody - her hero - died in a climbing accident in South America. She'd be perfectly happy spending the summer in bed but her mom has other plans. Instead she will spend the summer at her Grandpa's cabin in Jackson Hole, Wyoming, surrounded by memories of her beloved brother. Annie will be forced to deal with her grief and confront her demons in "Shadow Falls," the moving story of loss and redemption by first-time author Amy Kathleen Ryan. For as long as she can remember, Annie's relationship with her Grandpa Jack has been strained, and now their grief drives them even further apart. After all, it's Grandpa's fault that Cody died in the first place. When Annie is forced to babysit a seven-year-old, will Annie confront the fears that she so desperately tried to suppress?

The Hidden Child
Isaac Millman
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
19 Union Square West, NY, NY 10003
ISBN 0374330719 $18.00, 80 pages,

After more than 60 years, author/illustrator Isaac Millman has decided to publish his deeply personal story of surviving the Holocaust. "Hidden Child" was inspired by Millman's visit to the Dag Hammarskjold Middle School in East Brunswick, New Jersey, where his young relative was studying the Holocaust. Through text, collage spreads, and family photos that survived the war, Millman recaptures moments etched in his mind, reflecting the immediacy and fear of a young boy. An autobiographical exploration of his childhood in Nazi-occupied France, "Hidden Child" is a tribute to the parents who were taken from him and to the caregivers who risked their safety to protect him. A powerful and poignant story of hope and fear, mindless hate and boundless love, this valuable memoir should be required reading for us all.

The Vacation
Polly Horvath
Farrar, Straus and Giroux
19 Union Square West, NY, NY 10003
ISBN 037438070 $16.00,

Without a destination or itinerary, 12-year-old Henry and his two eccentric aunts, Magnolia and Pigg, set out on a cross-country spur-of-the-moment road trip taking them to locations they have longed to visit, and enabling them to find out something new about themselves - and each other - in asard-winning author Polly Horvath's new middle-grade novel, "The Vacation." Inspired by a revelation by Aunt Magnolia that in her lifetime she has "done NOTHING!" ABSOLUTELY NOTHING," this trek tests the limits of family togetherness. Ms. Horvath has crafted a road novel that proves that the journey is often more rewarding than the destination itself, especially when your unusual aunts are in the driver's seat. Featuring Horvath's delightfully quirky characters and unexpected situations "The Vacation" is a trip to remember for ages 10 and up.

I Ain't Gonna Paint No More
Karen Beaumont and David Catrow
Harcourt Inc.
525 B Street, San Diego, CA 92101
15 E. 26th St., NY, NY 10010
ISBN 0152024883 $16.00, 32 pages,

What child hasn't gone a little crazy with color? Whether the medium is crayon, chalk or paint, a blank canvas is irresistible. In this vibrant new rhyming picture book, an irrepressible child grabs a paintbrush and floods his world with color, painting first the walls, then the ceiling, them himself. Before the feisty artist is through, he's painted his head, back, legs, hands and feet, but stops just short of - well, the rest of him. The zippy text borrows the rhythm of the song "It Ain't Gonna Rain No More," while the zany illustrations turn a familiar childhood activity into raucous story time fun. For ages 3-7.

Whales on Stilts
M.T. Anderson
Harcourt Inc.
525 B Street, San Diego, CA 92101
15 E. 26th St., NY, NY 10010
ISBN 0152053409 $15.00, 192 pages,

"Whales on Stilts!" is the first book in award-winning novelist M.T. Anderson's "Thrilling Tales," a new series of middle grade novels featuring Katie Mulligan, Jasper Dash, and Lily Gelfelty. Katie, beloved by millions as the heroine of the Horror Hollow series, and Jasper, better known as the Boy Technonaut, are both stars of the own middle grade series of novels and are used to all of this hero stuff. But this saving-the-world business is new to Lily, who nonetheless seems to take it in stride. The adventure begins with the gray whales are spotted swimming as close as fifty yards from waterfront piers in Seattle's Elliott Bay. On the other side of the country, a beluga whale is sighted in the Delaware River. Coincidence? Not likely, when the three kids discover an army of laser-beam-eyed, stilt-walking whales being controlled by an evil whale genius bend on world domination. Exciting, funny, tongue-in-cheek pulp fiction ahoy!

The Artsy Smartsy Club
Daniel Pinkwater
Harper Collins
1350 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10019-4703
ISBN 0060535571 $15.99, 166 pages,

It's another hot and endless summer in Hoboken, /New Jersey. About to be seriously bored, next-door neighbors Nick Itch, Loretta Fischetti and Bruno Ugg wander around town trying to teach Nick's 266-pound chicken Henrietta how to juggle marshmallows. When they come upon a series of beautiful and mysterious chalk drawings on the sidewalk, they feel stirrings of desire to make art themselves. With some instructions from pavement artist Lucy Casserole, the kids begin to see the world around them in a different way. A tour of the Frick Museum introduces them to El Greco, Bellini, and Van Gogh, and inspires them to enter a sidewalk art competition. In this third installment of the Hoboken Chicken stories, writer Daniel Pinkwater unravels the mysteries of art and creates a warm and secure world for children to explore. For ages 8-11.

The Nobodies
N.E. Bode
Harper Collins
1350 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10019-4703
ISBN 0060557389 $15.99, 292 pages,

In the hilarious sequel to "The Anybodies," "The Nobodies," Fern Drudger heads to Camp Happy Sunshine Good Times. But this is no regular camp. It's a special one for Anybodies - a rare breed of humans with the power to change shape - and the camp is really weird. One of the counselors has a beak and another seems to have gills. And what's with the blind bus driver? And what about the knapsack-toting mole that everyone tells Fern to stay away from because he's really, really evil? As if these conditions weren't bad enough, Fern begins to be bombarded by desperate messages from people who call themselves the Nobodies. But who are they, and what do they want from Fern? As with the original, "The Nobodies" is peppered with fun references to children's classics from "Alice in Wonderland" to "The Hobbit." For ages 10-13.

Something Special
Terri Cohlene
Illustrated by Doug Keith
Illumination Arts
13256 Northrup Way, Suite 9, Bellevue, WA 98005
ISBN 097401901 $15.95, 32 pages,

In this picture book a curious little from finds a mysterious gift outside his home near the castle moat. What can it be? Young readers join the little frog as he searches high and low for the answer to a puzzling riddle, then discover that is his magical gift is something special indeed. Lap-readers will enjoy guessing the surprise before the frog does in this sentimental story.

Freddy and the French Fried: Fries Alive!
David Baldacci
Little, Brown and Company
1271 Ave. of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
ISBN 0316159980 $12.99, 164 pages,

Bestselling author David Baldacci presents a humorous, fast-paced adventure for elementary school readers. In his first "Freddy and the French Fries" book, fast food is at the center of this super-sized story about a boy and his five fry friends and their battle to save the family business. Yes, fries. The silly concept begins when Freddy T. Funkhowser embarks on an ambitious plan to win new customers for the family restaurant, The Burger Castle. But when his secret invention ends up working better than he'd ever dreamed, his plans go wildly awry as his kooky companions wreck havoc in every corner of Freddy's world.

Golden & Grey
Louise Arnold
Margaret K. McElderry Books / Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
ISBN 0689874731 $15.95, 266 pages, www.Simon

Greg Arthur is a ghost who hasn't found his place in the world. Tom Golden is a boy who doesn't fit in at school. When Tom and Grey mutter the same three words, "Life isn't fair," at exactly the same moment, a connection is made between them. Suddenly Grey knows what he must do: he must become Tom's invisible friend. It seems like such a brilliant idea. Grey can take teasing signs off Tom's back, make sure he has a pen in class, keep the bullies at bay, and generally take care of everything a best friend would do. He feels great satisfaction in helping his new friend (despite the fact that Tom doesn't even know he exists), but then everything changes when an accident gives Tom the ability to see Grey and the rest of the ghost world. Now everyone wants a piece of Tom! Poltergeists, Faintly Reals, Sadness Summoners, Snorgles, Chain Rattlers they're all lined up for their moment with the famous Tom Golden. Add two confused parents, a kidnapping, and a few embarrassing moments at school, and soon Tom and Grey are pushed to their limit, leading them to discover what true friendship is all about. Louise Arnold's fantastic, funny and heart-warming debut will have readers cheering on the two mismatched outcasts.

Heavy Metal and You
Christopher Krovatin
Push / Scholastic
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
ISBN 043973648X $16.95, 186 pages,

So here's the story: Boy listens to lots of loud music and hangs with his friends. Boy meets girl. Boy falls dippy-happy-scared-as-hell in love with girl. Friends meet girl and aren't impressed. Girl meets friends and isn't impressed. Boy meets big dilemma. Boy plays music even louder. Big dilemma meets big, sometimes unexpected decisions. With humor and heart, "Heavy Metal and You" strikes some very loud chords about life, love, sex, and friendship. If Nick Hornby had a metalhead little brother, he'd write a book as clever, music-drenched, and observationally direct as this, Christopher Krovatin's rock-solid debut novel. For young adult readers.

Burning City
Ariel Dorfman
Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
ISBN 0375832033 $15.95,

Award-winning author and human rights activist Ariel Dorfman has collaborated with his 26 year-old son, author and screenwriter Joaquin Dorfman to write on of the summer's hottest must-reads - a powerful, new coming-of-age novel, "Burning City." First published to great accolades in the UK in 2003, "Burning City" probes the cultural and political conditions that gave birth to the 9/11 crisis through the eyes of a 16-year-old bike messenger. The novel delivers a dual message by positioning the coming national pain of the twin towers attack against the quiet personal pains of humans around the world. At the same time, it chronicles a young man's struggle for identity in a city saturated with diversity. The result is a gripping exploration of private lives and the strength people demonstrate in the face of tragedy. Ariel Dorfman brings to the novel his talent with dialogue and sensitivity to the human condition, while Joaquin contributes his youth, emotional truth and knowledge of present-day New York.

My Nest is Best
P.D. Eastman
Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
ISBN 037583267X $8.99, 14 pages,

An adaptation of the classic "The Best Nest," P.D. Eastman's "My Nest Is Best" is the interactive flap version of Mr. And Mrs. Bird's search for the perfect home. Simple and sturdy flaps, wheels and slide tabs bring their journey for the perfect nest to life in this Bright & Early Playtime Book. It seems that the Bird Family is down on their luck after their mailbox-nest gets a delivery and their church-bell nest cling-clangs. But just when Mr. And Mrs. Bird think that they are destined to be nest-less forever, a storm blow them into the best nest of all. And you can guess which one that is! For ages 2-5.

Alex's Lemonade Stand
Jordan Abramson
Running Press
125 South Twenty-Second St., Philadelphia, PA 19103-4399
ISBN 0762425202 $16.95, 48 pages,

Eight-year-old Alexandra "Alex" Scott was diagnosed with neuroblastoma, and aggressive and rare childhood cancer, just before her first birthday. At the age of four, she decided to do something to make a cure more likely, and opened her first lemonade stand with the idea of donating the proceeds to "her hospial." She collected an astounding $2,000 that day. Every year since, Alex held an annual lemonade sale in her front yard. As word spread, donations poured in from around the world to the Alex's Lemonade Stand Foundation. Her fundraising efforts inspired people to improve the world by helping themselves and helping others. Across the country, children began holding their own lemonade stands in Alex's name to fight childhood cancer. To date, more than $1.5 million has been donated to the foundation. Alex lost her battle to cancer in August of 2004, but her legacy is remembered through her foundation and the many lemonade stands that are held in her honor. Running Press Kids and the Scott family are publishing the "Alex's Lemonade Stand: Raise Money to Benefit Alex's Lemonade Stand Fund" to reach a 2005 goal of $5 million by encouraging kids to open their own charity franchise. Each kit comes with a 48-page book, an 8 ounce container of Country Time Lemonade, a collection box, a lemon squeezer, 40 "I supported Alex's Lemonade Stand" stickers and 50 mini thank-you notes to hand out to patrons, 2 giant Alex's Lemonade Stand posters to color and decorate, and the 48-page "Alex's Lemonade Stand" book that explains how to get started and create a true event to benefit a worthy cause.

Encyclopedia of the Presidents and Their Times
David Rubel
Scholastic Reference
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
ISBN 043928323X $19.95, 244 pages,

Scholastic's "Encyclopedia of the Presidents and Their Times" profiles every president who has served in our nation's highest office, including the winner of the 2004 election. This book not only explains the issues and the challenges that each president faced, but also the headlines, people, scandals, and fads that were defining America during each presidency. The history of our nation unfolds through the terms of its presidents with one page for each year that the leader was in office. A special section is devoted to the history of the presidential home: the White House. Includes: biographical details about each president's nickname, birthplace, family, and other trivia; a one-page description of each year that a president served; the headlines, people, scandals, and fads that have defined Americ; and more than 500 illustrative elements.

First Picture Distionary
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
ISBN 0439719933 $14.95, 108 pages,

With more than 800 words and pictures chosen by specialists, this brightly illustrated thematic picture dictionary will help young children easily recognize the world around them. Through the magic of transparent overlays, this dictionary takes on a truly interactive feel as the pages animate chapters that unclude home, school, downtown, the supermarket, and more. Recommended as an excellent reference book introduction for pre-K and kindergarten students.

Jennifer McFann
Scholastic Press
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
ISBN 0439639875 $9.95,

This funny, tongue-in-cheek fantasy adventure novel is from a new - and very young - voice in children's literature: 18-year-old Jennifer McFann, the winner of the Scholastic Art and Writing Awards Novel Contest. In "Laveidem," Jason, a peasant, and Chris, royal assistant to the king (but secretly a gnome), stumble across the kingdom on an urgent mission from the lovely Princess Jennifer. They'll deliver her secret message and win the princess's favor if then can make it past a poisoned omelet, a prophetic desert mirage, the river of firery combustion, and of course, Dr. Troll. A clever and enjoyable departure from somber fantasy tomes for ages 10 and up.

Plastic Angel
Nerissa Nields
Scholastic Press
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
ISBN 043970913X $17.95, 204 pages,

Angela Riddle is almost famous, and Randi Rankin is almost popular. But it' s the summer before high school and "almost" doesn't cut it anymore. Angela (aka Gellie) has been a child model-actress all her life. She's her mom's pride and joy, the celebri-toast of everyone in town - except the kids at school who think she's a snob. Gellie's a natural at posing and acting, but her newfound talent for singing and songwriting is what she loves most. Now, she's been offered a big Hollywood movie in a dream role. It's a dream come true. Trouble is, that's her mother's dream, not Gellie's. Randi is all about her guitar and her music. She has made some inroads into the popular crowd, and this summer, they just might put her on The List, ensuring her status at Clairman High. All she has to do is act, dress, and shop where they do, get a place-saver boyfriend - and drop Gellie as her friend. "Plastic Angle" is a touching story for teen girls who don't want to follow the "how-you-have-to-be rules." Includes a CD by the author, a singer-songwriter herself.

The Great Brain Book
HP Newquist
Scholastic Reference
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
ISBN 0439458951 $18.95, 160 pages,

Noodle, noggin, thinking cap. Ever wonder just what goes on up there? "The Great Brain Book: An Inside Look at the Inside of Your Head" explains it all. Understanding the brain is one of the biggest challenges facing scientists. After centuries of dissection and study, they still don't know how the brain creates thoughts! Author HP Newquist peels back the layers of the brain to explain what it's made of, how it works, and how to make your brain work for you. In addition to history and anatomy, "The Great Brain Book" includes information on learning and memory, the right and left brain, training your brain using memory tricks, phobias, intelligence, and the importance of sleep. An excellent owners manual for ages 9 to 14.

Lucky T
Kate Brian
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
ISBN 0689873514 $14.95, 304 pages,

The latest guilty pleasure read by Kate Brian -- author of the popular The Princess & the Pauper and The V Club - is a perfect beach blanket time-filler for her usual teen girl market. In "Lucky T" Carrie Fitzgerald's mother donates her (you guessed it) lucky tee shirt to an organization called Help India by mistake without asking her. So special is the shirt, that Carrie travels halfway around the globe to get it back! Before she knows it, what begins as a superstitious quest to hold on to her popularity, her cute boyfriend, and her good luck streak, turns into the experience of a lifetime. A fabulous new novel for the nomad in any teen, "Lucky T" is the perfect July read for the beach, a slumber party, or ... while on a trip around the world, though fans and legal representatives of "Sisterhood of the Traveling Pants" may find it a bit familiar.

Lunch Money
Andrew Clements
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
ISBN 068986683-6
$15.95, 222 pages,

Greg Kenton has always had a natural talent for making money - despite the annoying rivalry of his neighbor Maura Shaw. Them, just before sizth grade, Greg makes a discovery: Almost every kid at school has an extra quarter or two to spend almost every day. Multiply a few quarters by a few hundred kids, and for Greg, school suddenly looks like a giant piggy bank. All he need is the right hammer to crack it ipen. Candy and gum? Littke toys? Sure, kids would love to buy stuff like that at school. But would teachers and the principal permit it? Not likely. But how about comic books? Comic books might work. Especially the chunky little ones that Greg writes and illustrates himself. Because everybody knows that school always encourages reading and writing and creativity and individual initiative, right? In this funny and timely novel, Andrew Clements again holds up a mirror to real life, and invites young readers to think about money, school, friendship, and what it means to be a success.

Tokyo Mew Mew A La Mode
Mia Ikumi
5900 Wilshire Blvd. Suite 2000, Los Angeles, CA 90036
ISBN 1595327894 $9.99,

Offering a cool confection just in time for summer, fan-favorite creator Mia Ikumi returns for a second manga helping with the celebrated Mew Mew girls - now stars of their own popular TV show "Mew Mew Power." "Tokyo Mew Mew" tells the story of five girls whose DNA has merged with animals, as part of a secret project called the "Mew Project." Their mission: to protect the planet from aliens who are using animals to attack humans. In "Tokyo Mew Mew a la Mode," a sixth Mew named Berry is about to emerge: the first Mew Mew with two sets of animal genes coursing through her veins. Half cat, half rabbit, she's joining the Mew Mew team just in time as a new set of villains has appeared and its leader just happens to love his wild game well done! New love interests merge with the intoxicating action sequences that were the mainstay of the original series. For ages 10 and up.

Felipe Smith
5900 Wilshire Blvd. Suite 2000, Los Angeles, CA 90036
ISBN 159182236X $9.99,

This manga entry is the first volume in the new series "MBQ" by Rising Stars of Manga (tm) alumnus/creator Felipe Smith. An expansion of his winning entry in Tokyopop's third Rising Stars competition, "MBQ" presents a comedic yet dramatic portrait of a young manga artist trying to find his place in Los Angeles. Set in and around the fictitious burger joint called MBQ, the story follows Omario as he struggles to earn recognition, pay the bills and most importantly, get a chance to make a living through his artistic passion: making manga. Felipe Smith's work keeps a quick and fluid pace with humorous and self-mocking narratives that will resonate with readers trying to be true to themselves in a close-minded world.

Vicki Arkoff
Senior Reviewer

James A. Cox
Midwest Book Review
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