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MBR Bookwatch

Volume 8, Number 7 July 2009 Home | MBW Index

Table of Contents

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

Cowper's Bookshelf

Want It, See It, Get It!
Gini Graham Scott
Outskirts Press
10940 S Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9780814412985, $15.00,

The mind is a powerful thing - if you think you're a failure, you'll fail. If you think you'll succeed, you'll succeed. "Want It, See It, Get It! Visualize Your Way to Success" is a business manual emphasizing the need to visualize one's success and push oneself and one's business to a more effective path through that vision. Advising short term goals, more effective problem solving methods, the power of creativity, and more, "Want It, See It, Get It!" is an excellent business manual.

To Serve My Country
Jenna Turnipseed Publishing
PO Box 9949, College Station, TX 77842
9781602643543, $12.95

Proud soldier Jenna Turnipseed presents To Serve My Country, her dramatic true-life with a focus on her service as an American soldier. Seeking to give as vivid and truthful a picture as possible of the triumphs, trials, tribulations, annoyances, and camaraderie of military life, To Serve My Country is a fluid, first-person testimony without excess embellishment. Highly recommended. "My husband and I first met on active duty. I met him as Turnipseed, not as John. To this day, I have yet to call him by his first name in uniform. I had it explained to me by one Guardsman, on why they didn't care about names: they prefer to focus on what's important."

The Empty House
Faith Shearin
Word Press
PO Box 541106, Cincinnati, OH 45254-1106
9781934999370, $18.00

Award-winning author Faith Shearin presents her second collection of poetry in The Empty House, a free-verse anthology with a theme of transition. Simple and poignant, The Empty House reaches out to the reader, resonating with the ups and downs of daily life as old days fade and the new horizon draws near. A touch of sharp edged dark humor laces some of the verse, adding extra bite to the emotion. "Hail Baltimore!" Hail Baltimore, city of row houses! / Our hous is within thee. / Blessed art thou among cities, / and blessed are your trees which drop / flower petals over our days. / Heavenly Baltimore, place of back alleys / and fence neighbors and cats who moan, / pray for us as we sleep beneath / your vines, now and next week / when the mortgage is due. / Amen.

Nancy Clark's Food Guide for New Runners
Nancy Clark
Meyer & Meyer Sport
2402 North Shadeland Avenue, Suite A, Indianapolis, IN 46219
9781841262628, $16.95,

A good runner needs more than just training. "Nancy Clark's Food Guide for New Runners: Getting It Right from the Start" is a guide to planning one's diet when starting to run consistently, whether for health, sport, or recreation. Answering many questions that often boggle new runners in trying to achieve optimum health for running, "Nancy Clark's Food Guide for New Runners" is a strong choice for those pursuing their own fitness plan.

The Magical Mrs. Iptweet and Me
Barbara Mayfield
Azro Press
PO Box 342, 1704 Llano Street B, Santa Fe, NM 87505
9781929115181, $16.95,

Children often find mentors in life, but Prudence found one that changed her life. "The Magical Mrs. Iptweet and Me" is a novel following young Prudence Hornby as Mrs. Iptweet moves onto her street and nothing is the same again. An exciting adventure for young readers, sure to instill appreciation for elders and adventure, "The Magical Mrs. Iptweet and Me" is a top pick.

Paralyzed But Not Powerless
Kate Adamson
Nosmada Press
409 North Pacific Coast Highway, PMB 415, Redondo Beach, CA 90277
9780974190709, $19.95

Walking is something so many take for granted, but one can meet life's challenges without it. "Paralyzed But Not Powerless" is the inspiring memoir of a woman with paralysis, and the strength she finds in her life. With extra insight from the famous neurologist Jeffrey Saver, and legal insight that those paralyzed need to know, "Paralyzed but Not Powerless" is something that all stroke or paralysis sufferers should look to as they seek to overcome the difficulties of life.

Requiem for Locusts
Wendy Parciak
Two Canoes Press
PO Box 334, Hopkinton, MA 01748
9781929590087, $27.95,

People, for the most part, live in their own little world. "Requiem for Locusts" follows Marzita Zaferatos, an insane woman who wanders Locust Street. Through her wandering she breaks into the lives of its many residents and pops the isolated bubbles of their worlds. Exploring society through a woman who doesn't understand society's unwritten taboos, "Requiem for Locusts" is an intriguingly written novel that asks questions and provides interesting answers.

Mary Cowper

Dunford's Bookshelf

Secrets of the Millionaire Inside
Paul McCormick
Miracle Writers Publishing Company
RCM #28550, PO Box 34628, Seattle, WA 98124-1628
Cardinal Publishers Group (publicity)
2402 N. Shadeland Ave., Suite A, Indianapolis, IN 46219
9780979433849, $25.95,

How does one amass so much wealth that one never needs to think about money again? "Secrets of the Millionaire Inside: The 7 Step Formula for Becoming a Millionaire" reveals seven not-so-obvious secrets that one must know when trying to make a fortune. How much of a factor is greed? What's really keeping people in the poor house? How can one keep one's soul while earning immense wealth? "Secrets of the Millionaire Inside" is worth the read for anyone who has dreams of dollar signs and ponders how to make them a reality.

Post Office Jobs, fifth edition
Dennis V. Damp
Bookhaven Press
249 Field Club Circle, McKees Rocks, PA 15136
9780943641270, $24.95

There are careers to be found in the postal service, not just short term jobs. Now in its fifth edition, "Post Office Jobs: Explore & Find Jobs, Prepare for the 473 Postal Exam, and Locate All Job Opportunities" is a guide for those considering the postal service as a career. Postal Service jobs can prove to be very lucrative and comfortable jobs for those willing to put in the effort, and author Dennis V. Damp hopes to inspire readers to do what they need to in order to have a chance at these jobs. Highly recommended.

Snappy Sayings
Bradford Wheler
PO Box 403, Cazenovia, NY 13035
9780982253809, $34.95,

The best wit and wisdom comes from the best minds. "Snappy Sayings" is a compilation of quips from countless brilliant minds throughout history, from hundreds of years ago to the modern day. Divided into the many aspects of human nature and the unique quips delivered from these individuals, "Snappy Sayings" is a collection that will lead to hours of entertainment. "Snappy Sayings" is a top pick for anyone looking for a solid collection of humor.

The Poison in Your Teeth
Tom McGuire
Dental Wellness Institute
321 S. Main St., #503, Sebastopol, CA 94572
9780981563008, $14.95,

A treatment for cavities could make things worse. "The Poison in Your Teeth: Mercury Amalgam (Silver) Filings... Hazardous to Your Health!" is an exploration of silver fillings and how new medical knowledge reveals that these fillings could prove highly hazardous to one's health. The problem could affect more than one's dental health, spreading mercury through the body. "The Poison in Your Teeth" is well worth the read as a cautionary account for those in need of or who have had dental fillings.

Why You Really Hurt
Burton S. Schuler
The La Luz Press
20001 W. 29th Street, Panama City, FL 32405
9780942664027, $16.95,

Every day you place a lot of pressure on your feet, and if they hurt, you hurt. "Why You Really Hurt: It All Starts in the Foot" is an exploration of the ailment known as Morton's Toe. Identifying what Morton's Toe is, who has it, what it can cause and exacerbate throughout the body, and most importantly, how Morton's Toe is an easily treatable ailment that goes so often ignored. "Why You Really Hurt" is a solid read that should be considered to anyone who wants to figure out the origin of their pain.

Humming Eternity
Jasen Sousa
J-Rock Publishing
45 Francesca Avenue, Somerville, MA 02144
9780971492660, $11.99,

Poetry can give a different perspective and outlook in life. "Humming Eternity" is the work of Jasen Sousa, a poet with six previous volumes of work before "Humming Eternity". Focusing on everyday life and his reflections, "Humming Eternity" is not a work of your typical academic, and therefore is a fresh read indeed. "80 Proof Water": He approached as I waited for the train,/he stood, but his eyes were barely open./Extending his hand telling me his name,/skinny shoulders, seriously sloping./Skull tattoos covered his trembling arms, his ghostly gray goatee moved as he spoke./Told me tales of his time in Vietnam/and how he had just finished smoking dope./Close to the tracks, he began to wobble,/he spoke to me, "Please don't let me fall in."/Offered vodka from a water bottle,/time seemed to stall as I recall my grin./The train finally came, we both boarded./A man distorted, a man recorded.

John A. Elefteriades
Robot Binaries & Press Corp
704 Spadina Avenue, #134, Toronto, ON, Canada M5S 2S9
9781894689106, $17.95,

What is the life of someone close truly worth? "Transplant" is a medical thriller that asks this question. A doctor is faced with a patient in need of a transplant; the one willing donor is a family member. But the potential donor's life could seriously be jeopardized through the process. "Transplant" makes medical ethics a riveting read from first page to last.

Everyone's Guide to Atoms, Einstein, and the Universe
Robert L. Piccioni
Real Science Publishing
3949 Freshwind Circle, Westlake Village, CA 91361
9780982278079, $54.95,

Einstein was a genius, but true genius is not something only understandable by other genius. "Everyone's Guide to Atoms, Einstein, and the Universe: Real Science for Real People" is the layman's guide to the complicated mathematics and theories behind twentieth and twenty-first century science. Anyone can understand quantum physics, says author Robert L. Piccioni, who then strives to make his point with straightforward, comprehensible explanations. "Everyone's Guide to Atoms, Einstein, and the Universe" is enthusiastically recommended to readers of all backgrounds, as well as to public library collections.

Michael Dunford

Greenspan's Bookshelf

Corporate Secrets
Jerry Gerrish Publishing
PO Box 9949, College Station, TX 77842
9781602643468 $13.95

Author Jerry Gerrish draws upon his personal experience working in Japan in Corporate Secrets: A Novel About Greed, Corruption and Murder, a suspenseful story that lives up to its title and then some. Rick Emerson and his firm are hired to investigate questionable dealings in a joint agreement between aerospace companies to manufacture parts in Japan. Rick learns of the sudden death of an American technical support team, and uncovers evidence of secret, illegal military hardware in Japan. But the sinister plan he gradually uncovers has roots in America as well - a senator and two military officers attempt to dissuade him from further investigation, and more violent means of persuasion may be just around the corner! An exciting, vivid, and all-too-realistic intrigue.

The Big Rip Off (Of Significant Proportions)
Steven Polederos
c/o Buy Books On The Web
1094 New Dehaven Street, #100, West Conshohocken, PA 19428-2713
0741451484 $19.95

The Big Rip Off (Of Significant Proportions) is a dizzying satirical novel, that makes medium rare barbecue out of sacred political cows. Following the idiot non-savant Winchester Buckley Johnson on his addled road to 43rd President of the United States, The Big Rip Off explores the fallout of massive scheming incompetence, political machines on a Terminator-style rampage, insanity and hilarity. A side-splitting, eerily relevant commentary on the crazy side of America's political system, The Big Rip Off compels one to follow its twisted humor to the loopy end - no reader left behind!

101 Cool Ways To Die
Douglas Gillies
East Beach Press
PO Box 6890, Santa Barbara, CA 93160
9780970270528, $15.95

101 Cool Ways To Die is not an ordinary book - each of its two hundred pages contains naught save a short summary of one cool way to die (left-hand page) and a not-cool way to die (right-hand page). The dark humor may raise an eyebrow at times, but 101 Cool Ways To Die is ultimately about getting a few more laughs in life rather than hurtling faster to an early death. Some of the ways to die are actually quotes from famous people, but most are brilliantly simple. For example, suggestion set #63 is "Writing a thriller" (cool way to die) and "Writing a spreadsheet" (uncool way to die). A great gag gift for friends with a sense of humor - a working funny bone is mostly definitely required for this reading!

Under Nuclear Attack
A. J. Cushner
Parker Book Company
8240 Grand Messina, Boynton Beach, FL 33472
9780578016139, $13.95

Written by retired newspaper and magazine columnist A. J. Cushner, Under Nuclear Attack is an exciting novel that puts former CIA analyst Josh Parker back in the thick of mayhem. He must track down and stop the threat of a dirty bomb. His desperate efforts will take him to the wild rivers of Central America, the highways of the United States, and the heart of New York City. An impending holocaust threatens to obliterate the free world in this taut, fast-paced thriller with a sobering warning about America's vulnerability. Under Nuclear Attack never ceases to deliver excitement!

Basketball's Princeton-Style Offense
Derek Sheridan
Equilibrium Books
PO Box 10337, Terre Haute, IN 47801
9781930546929, $16.95,

Basketball is a complex game, but with the right approach. "Basketball's Princeton-Style Offense: A Simplified Approach" is the high school coach's guide to college level strategies to prepare their players for a potential future through their basketball playing talents. With hundreds of diagrams for strategies to apply to any game, "Basketball's Princeton-Style Offense" is a fine entry to any highschool basketball playbook.

Running with the Rhinos
Christian D. Warren
Cirrus Publishing
1800 Pembrook Drive, 3rd Floor, Orlando, FL 32810-6376
9781935010029, $24.95,

The rampaging and dangerous rhino may not seem to have much to teach one about leadership at first glance, but even in the least obvious of things lessons can be learned. "Running with the Rhinos: Courageous Leadership for a Complex World" is a unique approach to the business manual, using the endangered species of the rhino as a model to what a leading business leader should yearn to be in today's society. Intriguing and educational, "Running with the Rhinos" is a very highly recommended manual for those looking for a different sort of role model.

Able Greenspan

Helen's Bookshelf

When I Remember Love
Trish Silver
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781440119569, $19.95,

Fame isn't free. "When I Remember Love" is a simple romance novel of a couple facing ever increasing fame and all the hassles that come with it. Jenna meets Aidan, who is on the rocket to superstardom. Jenna, despite her lack of fame, finds that she has some spotlight of her own as Aidan faces the challenges of a committed handsome man when he's famous across the country. "When I Remember Love" is simply a treat for romance fans who want something new to sink their teeth into.

Second Wind
Lori Davis
Xlibris Corporation
International Plaza II, Suite 340, Philadelphia, PA 19113
9781441507037, $19.99,

Pike Wheeling survived the living hell that was the Confederate prison camp called Andersonville. A place where 13,000 of his fellow Union POWs died under the most wretched of circumstances. What kept Pike alive was his love for Rebecca, and his intention to return to her and create a life together free of all the misery of the Civil War. But when he was able to come home from his incarceration he found Rebecca married to his brother. Shattered, Pike travels to the Indian Territory in search of a new life and healing from an emotional wound more grievous than any physical harm. What Pike doesn't know is that an implacable enemy from prison is going to seek him out. "Second Wind" is an original novel that presents its author, Lori Davis, as a skilled storyteller who is able to weave a complex tale of equally complex characters into a fascinating, entertaining, and highly recommended 'theater of the mind' event for its enthusiastic and appreciative readers.

Not Without Matilda
Karen M. Bertorello
Vantage Press
419 Park Ave. South, New York, NY 10016
9780533160822, $8.95,

Memories remain strong when linked to cherished objects. "Not Without Matilda" is the story of a treasured ragdoll called Matilda. But for young Cobie, there seems to be other memories attached to her favorite toy; Matilda's past owners seem to give Cobie a link to the past of another young girl in a similar situation. "Not Without Matilda" is a charming story about the power even a simple doll can bring into one's life.

What's It Like, Living Green?
Jill Ammon Vanderwood
7290-B Investment Drive, Charleston, SC 29418
9781439224779, $14.99,

Example is perhaps the best way to teach. "What's It Like, Living Green? Kids Teaching Kids, By the Way They Live" is a guide aimed at kids to teach them the value of living green, and how to make family life more environmentally friendly. Telling many stories of children, teenagers, and young people leading the environmental charge, "What's It Like, Living Green?" gives examples that many young readers will be inspired to live by.

An American Entrepreneur
Margaret Benedict
Author House
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781438905723, $14.95,

Hallmark cards have become an American icon, almost the generic term for simple greeting cards. "An American Entrepreneur: Mr. Joyce Clyde Hall - Founder of Hallmark Cards Inc." tells the story of the founder of Hallmark cards. Joyce Hall built his empire and legacy through greeting cards, and his corporation remains the leading producer of those cards today. "An American Entrepreneur" is well worth the read.

Unstoppable Confidence
Astrid Harris
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Road 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432738556, $20.95,

Confidence is such a powerful thing, but it eludes so many. "Unstoppable Confidence: A Life-Changing Workbook" is a workbook and self help guide designed for instilling oneself with the desired confidence one needs to do what they want to do in life. Teaching that failure is something that will happen and is not something to be feared every step of the way. "Unstoppable Confidence" is well worth the read for those with confidence issues.

Helen Dumont

Klausner's Bookshelf

Rachel Vincent
9780778326816 $7.99

Werecat enforcer Faythe Sanders and her Pride are in Atlanta escorting were-tabby Manx to her hearing. While there she runs into hunter partner and lover Marc Ramos, who was exiled from their pride. They barely purr hi to each other when strays attacked them. Both are fortunate to survive. Before they can get a second purr together, Faythe is ordered home to deal with teenage tabby Kaci Dillon who refuses to shift; which is suicidal to a were.

Faythe makes some headway with stubborn Kaci when she learns Marc was abducted and probably killed based on the blood at the crime scene. Faythe believes she would know if her mate is dead so with her new partner Parker begins a quest to find and rescue Marc. They soon uncover a conspiracy challenging her father's alpha authority by insidious means, werecat civil war seems imminent.

The latest Faythe urban fantasy (see PRIDE, STRAY and ROGUE) is a terrific entry as the heroine tells the tale of being yanked in several directions at the same time so that she feels she never finishes anything (including quality time with Marc) to the level she expects of herself. The story line is fast-paced from the onset and Faythe is a wonderful center of gravity. Fans will enjoy the latest werecat enforcer thriller as the stakes have gotten much higher with claws open and pointed at everyone.

Dust to Dust
Heather Graham
9780778326540 $7.99

In Los Angeles, graphic artist Scott Bryant parties with two buddies. After a ton of alcohol they head back to their hotel, only to intercede when an elderly couple is being mugged. Scott gets close to the male victim to see if he is okay, but something odd happens. He abruptly for no known reason has gained super strength. That night, he dreams of a dead zone in which the deceased live.

Dog trainer Melanie Regan has the same dark nightmares as Scott suffers from. She has an uncanny skill of being able to draw to the minutest detail pending disasters before they occur though she could never draw until recently. They meet and soon travel to Rome in find the mysterious oracle. There the duo unites with Rainier Montenegro to fight a demon. They have taken their first baby steps to prevent the inevitable apocalypse.

This is an exciting atmospheric romantic suspense urban fantasy that launches a new Heather Graham paranormal series. The story line comes across as realistic though slow due to Scott's struggles to learn and understand what his happening to him and what overall is going on; his plunge into the Graham realm of blood darkness is not easy for him and to a lesser degree for Mel. Fans of the author will appreciate this fine opening act as the author sets the stage for what looks like a terrific saga.

Joan Johnston
9780778325741 $7.99

Ben Benedict works for the Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) branch of Homeland Security after a stint as an army sniper. He currently works with the Washington DC Police Department's gang unit while seeking an al Qaeda operative allegedly planning a biochemical attack. Still suffering from nightmares from his overseas duty, Ben is mortified when he must shoot a teen.

Ben is assigned to receive counseling from therapist, Dr. Anna Schuster, but remains on the job seeking the terrorist. He wants nothing to do with the shrink and refuses to cooperate insisting he is not crazy. She refuses to quit though she is concerned about breeching doctor-patient ethics when she finds she is attracted to him. As they fall in love and make love, they team up to prevent a killer from harming potentially millions.

Ben makes this exciting homeland security romantic suspense seem relevant as he personal struggles with demons he brought back from the war compounded by his shooting the teen is real as the army and marines besieged by suicides to the military's credit are trying to help the soldiers. Thus his at his first encounter with Anna he is nasty as he rejects the concept of needing outside help. The hunt for the terrorist is entertaining though the use of key flukes of luck detracts from a deep character driven thriller.

The Mist
Carla Neggers
9780778326243 $24.95

Billionaire Norman Estabrook is charged with money laundering and abetting drug traffickers but his wealth allows him house arrest on his Montana ranch. Used to doing whatever he wants, Estabrook targets a killing list of those who interfered with his lifestyle. At the top are FBI director John March and Agent Simon Cahill; he also wants to murder the not so anonymous snitch, hotel owner Lizzie Rush and Cahill's lover Kiera Sullivan as well as other loved ones.

Rush believes Estabrook is a deadly predator who will hunt down his adversaries in a thrill seeker equivalent of the Deadliest Game. She goes to Ireland to warn Sullivan and meets SIS Agent Lord Will Davenport. In Boston, March's daughter Abigail Browning vanishes following a bombing of the house she lives in with her fiance. The Feds know Estabrook arranged the hit, but are unaware that the wealthy psychopath has begun his contest using mercenaries.

The latest Carla Neggers FBI romantic suspense thriller (see THE WIDOW, ABANDON and especially THE ANGEL) is an enjoyable tale filled with a gloomy atmosphere as the audience and the heroes expect the worse. The story line is fast-paced but does not spin far away from Richard Connell's The Most Dangerous Game but fans of Ms. Neggers will enjoy the hunt.

Happiness Key
Emilie Richards
9780778326601 $13.95

Following the incarceration of her former spouse in a federal pen Tracy Deloche takes over managing his property Happiness Key. However, she is shocked to find the five Gold Coast acres contains five dilapidated shacks with a tenant in four of the beach cottages; she moves into the vacant one. Her renters are an eccentric group of seemingly losers. Still she tries to be nice to the oddball runaways who pay to lease a dump from her. Wanda Gray is fleeing a broken marriage; Janya Kapur is fleeing an arranged family marriage before she must wed; Alice Brooks is a widow who is becoming increasingly forgetful but does not want her son-in-law and granddaughter living with her; and the only male is hermit Herb Krause.

When Herb dies, Tracy leads the other three women in search of his family so they will know and if they want to arrange his funeral. As the four seemingly different women forge friendships on their mission, they begin to help one another.

This is an interesting character study focusing on four diverse females who come togetehr when the fifth person in their tiny community dies. The storyline is well written but the plot extremely thin. Still Emilie Richards enables the audience to get inside the fearsome foursome females enabling us to understand what motivates them to "hide" at dumpy Happiness Key and yet turn these five single dumps into a community.

Red Blooded Murder
Laura Caldwell
9780778326588 $7.99

Six months ago the embezzlement scandal left thirtyish entertainment attorney Isabel McNeil unemployed and no longer engaged to Sam Hollings. That is until Trial TV hires her and she is seeing younger hunk Theo Jameson. In other words, Izzy is moving on past that dizzy spell.

That is until her friend Jane Augustine, who got her the Trial TV job, is murdered. Izzy finds her corpse and as happened with the missing $30 million, Chicago police considers her the prime suspect especially since she replaced Jane on a TV show. Izzy has learned the hard way not to trust anyone particularly pigheaded police so she investigates who would want Jane dead; unprepared to learn what she does about her late friend.

The return of Izzy (See RED HOT LIES) as a prime suspect again will elate Laura Caldwell fans as the lawyer who learned the hard way not to trust cops sets out to prove her innocence by uncovering the identity of the killer. The amateur sleuth investigation into the whodunit is well written. However, what makes the tale enjoyable is Izzy's first person dialogue that turns RED BLOOD MURDER into an amusing anti-noir.

Fan Mail
P.D. Martin
9780778326137 $7.99

Her last act at Quantico before reassigning to the West Coast, Australian expatriate FBI profiler Sophie Anderson escorts renowned crime writer Loretta Black and her assistant on a tour of the Behavioral Analysis Unit. Soon afterward, Sophie starts her new field assignment in L.A. She also finds out that someone sexually mutilated and murdered Loretta in her Beverly Hills home; eerily similar to a victim in one the author's novels.

Beverly Hills homicide detective Dave Sorrell leads the inquiry. However, soon afterward more authors are brutally murdered. The evidence includes a frightening fan mail to the novelists just before they are killed. Sophie assists David on the investigation, as she searches for clues trying to "profile" the novels while also horrifically yet heroically uses her premonition skill to mentally see future murders, but unaware a cold case of hers is the missing link.

This super police procedural is loaded with plausible twists that will keep the audience guessing who the killer is throughout although serial killer themes have flooded the market including Sophie (see THE MURDERER'S CLUB and BODY COUNT). Sophie is terrific as she investigates with David. Though similar in tone to her previous killer caseload, fans will enjoy P.D. Martin's exhilarating efforts of the Aussie profiler trying to prevent the next writer's death.

Red's Hot Honky-Tonk Bar
Pamela Morsi
9780778327295 $13.95

In San Antonio forty-six years old Red Cullen, owner of Red's Hot Honky-Tonk Bar, has no belief that she is capable of taking care of young children. So when her daughter Bridge calls explaining she is being deployed to Iraq, Red needs to care for her two grandchildren nine year old Olivia and six year old David. Bridge further explains her former mother-in-law is incapacitated by a stroke end ex husband Mike is in Korea serving in the military, making Red look responsible and compassionate leave.

Red is appalled that she is stuck with the brats for a few months; for that matter Olivia and David are just as ill having to spend time with their tattooed grandma. However Red's musician boyfriend Cam Early is not just delighted he provides the kids and granny his home for use and enchants the youngsters. Red is stunned that she is having fun with little kids and that she is considering keeping the younger fiddler permanently instead of her usual kick them to the curb though a bake sale seems a bit too much to ask of her.

Red makes this an interesting family drama as she is suddenly thrust into caring for her grandchildren though she feels incapable of performing the deed; a sort of female Uncle Buck. The support cast especially the kids and cam seem genuine and hence the deep look at a middle age vulnerable adult whose image is that of a tough broad but Olivia, David and Cam prove otherwise. They turn RED'S HOT HONKY-TONK BAR into a passionate strong contemporary.

Love Finds You In Liberty, Indiana
Melanie Dobson
Summerside Press
11024 Quebec Circle, Bloomington, MN 55438
9781934770740 $12.99

In 1850 Liberty, Indiana Anna Brent and her father are conductors on the Underground Railroad helping runaway slaves escape to freedom. She and her dad know they are breaking the law, but their Quaker beliefs insist on assisting those suppressed.

Newspaper editor Daniel Stanton opposes slavery and says so all the time in his paper with strong opinions. At the same he overtly and she covertly work to end slavery, someone apparently has uncovered Anna's secret work. Her only hope to stay out of jail or perhaps even something much worse rests with Daniel whom she trusts with her heart and soul with her secret and her life.

The setting of escaped slaves and Indiana Quakers as Conductors on the Underground Railroad make for a fantastic historical thriller with the romance well written but intended to support the heroic efforts of those risking their lives especially the lead couple. Anna and Daniel are a wonderful pairing as each faces danger with courage. Fans who relish a profound vivid look back at a period of brave people willing to die for basic human rights will enjoy LOVE FINDS YOU IN LIBERTY, INDIANA.

The Little Book
Selden Edwards
9780452295513 $15.00

In 1988 San Francisco, following a nasty assault, rock and roll Buddy Holly disciple "Wheeler" Burden somehow lands in Vienna, Austria circa 1897. He is bewildered by his landing, but feels euphoric as he has dreamed of the gilded age ever since he was a teen baseball player walking off the mound one pitch shy of a perfect game; instead preferring the tales of his history teacher Arnauld Esterhazy singing elegance about the city.

Wheeler hopes somehow he can meet the legends. Freud is working his psychology theories; Mahler is writing and conducting symphonies; Mayor Karl Lueger creates a new age anti-Semitism that influenced future generations especially when combined with Nietzsche's Superman theory of Thus Spake Zarathustra. The visitor from the future encounters Twain who is on a European tour to avoid bankruptcy and Churchill just starting to make it as a smoking politician. However, instead of these notables and notorious, Wheeler is most euphoric over meeting his grandparents and his younger than him father.

Using time travel paradoxes like a magician, Selden Edwards provides a fascinating philosophical look at the "People's Century" through the eyes of the traveling Burdens especially Wheeler who begins to understand the yin yang of reality as balance and symmetry is realism. Thus, for every success of the modern era there is a counter failure. Readers who relish something rather different will want to read this extremely convoluted chronicle that push readers from the comfort of linear cause and effect thinking to an interweaving ebbs and flows out of sequence story line.

In Ashes Lie
Marie Brennan
9780316020329 $14.99

In 1666 having survived the Great Plague of last year, England is now wracked by civil war as King Charles II and the Parliament battle over who is in charge. Underneath, ironically the faerie Onyx Court faces an uncertain future as the Ancient ways that have sustained them for ages is ripping apart.

In London a baker Thomas Farynor has banked the fires of his ovens to go sleep. While he is sleeping, a spark escapes turning London into an inferno. He and his daughter Hanna flee into the night. At the same that the city is burning down, another threat has arisen to both the human and Fae occupants of greater London. This annihilator destroys anything in its path; to survive and perhaps defeat this invincible foe, the mortals and the fairies must unite, but neither side trusts the other.

Based on the real event of the Great Fire of 1666, IN ASHES LIE is a superb historical urban fantasy that grips readers who will feel transported back in time due to the vivid atmosphere that makes the seventeenth century human and Fae London seem alive and real. The story line is fast-paced as a deadly inferno threatens the mortal Londoners and an even deadlier malevolence threatens both species. Sub-genre fans will relish this exhilarating Restoration Era thriller and seek its prequel (see the Elizabethan Era MIDNIGHT NEVER COMES).

Fall of Thanes
Brian Ruckley
9780316067713 $14.99

With the monumental defeats at the hands of the more powerful Black Road armies, the True Bloods are in trouble. Adding to their seemingly inevitable annihilation is the alliance collapsed as each Blood Line chooses to save itself. At the same time Aeglyss' mental state seems increasingly deranged.

Blood Thane Orisian realistically understands what he and his people face as he has few shieldmen warriors left with his line nearing extinction. While his sister Anyara remains with Aewult the Bloodheir of the Haig Blood who are also in trouble, Orisian travels with Ess'yr the Fox Kyrinin and her brother. He knows he is falling in love with Ess'yr, but must defeat Aeglyss. At the same time, Kanin the Horin-Gyre Thane raises a heretical force of half-breed soldiers to fight Aeglyss.

The third and final Godless World epic fantasy is a great ending to an overall terrific saga. The story line is fast-paced along several well written fault lines that ultimately converge in an anticipated epic center confrontation. However, the key to this entire trilogy is the cast. No one is a John Wayne like hero as everyone has prejudice and a willingness to sacrifice those they consider lesser. The battles are graphic and the other scenes vivid as history on this world seem destined to repeat itself with the flow of the True Bloods almost defiantly heading to extinction. With the exception of needing a glossary handy, Brian Ruckley completes his chronicle with a wonderful winner.

Warren Fahy
9780553807530 $25.00

On board the ship Trident are the crew of the reality TV show SeaLife and several scientists who were promised a year of sort of Darwin like research into the exotic ocean and island life on the planet in exchange for filming the contacts. So far, the voyage into the South pacific has been filled with ennui until a beacon help signal comes from nearby Henders Island. The vessel heads there to assist those in need.

However, what greets the seafarers is a shocker. There is flora and fauna like nothing ever seen anywhere else on the planet. As several scientists are killed by the intelligent animal life, botanist Nell Duckworth realizes what has happened on this remote island; evolution took a different path approximately a half billion years ago and miraculously survived. As the US Navy blockades the island and quarantines the Trident fearing anything escaping could prove hazardous to the rest of the world's ecosystem, the natives prove sentient and resourceful as they seek off the island.

Though an obvious link to Jurassic Park, FRAGMENT takes a different scientific spin using evolution as the basis of what lives on the island. Warren Fahy provides an exciting story line yet loads his narrative with scientific terminology and theories without dumbing it down. Readers will appreciate this super science fiction thriller that explains the evolution of reproduction and the possibility of such an island like Henders existing with the unique marsupial population of Australia that superseded mammals as the dominant species. Science and fiction rarely blend together better than this winning thriller.

Matters of the Heart
Danielle Steele
0385340273 $27.00

Ever since MOMA showed an exhibit of her photography when she was thirty-eight, Hope Dunne has become famous. She was recently in India and Tibet, but now is back in her Manhattan Soho loft just before Christmas. Hope enjoys her lifestyle though at times misses the intimacy she once had when she was married for over two decades to sexagenarian Paul who suffers from Parkinson's disease; but Hope especially misses her late daughter. She captures that combination of serenity and passion though a camera lens.

Her agent Mark Webber asks if she would like to do a shoot of popular Irish-American author Finn O'Neill; she agrees. She meets her assistant on the job Fiona Casey and they travel to Ireland together. Hope finds the bodacious warm Finn a delightfully charming opposite of her quiet manner. He seems attracted to her and overtly displays his feelings as he tries to sweep her off her feet. At his remote estate, she falls in love only to begin to unravel his tale of omissions and lies, but mostly it is his jealous rage when there is no remote reason bothers her. She realizes she is acting schizoid as her heart tells her to trust Finn, but her brain tells her to flee back to Manhattan before it is too late. She wonders if he is an overly concerned somewhat possessive lover, a sociopath, or worse.

This is a typical Danielle Steele contemporary character driven thriller that fans of the author will devour once Finn enters the picture as the audience will wonder if he is a villain or hero; if he is a hero than Hope is paranoid. The story line is filled with angst, perhaps too much as everyone carries tons of baggage even secondary players like Robert. Yet readers will relish Hope's dilemmas she believes she has found love but fears she has found obsessive love; either way she understands it is MATTERS OF THE HEART dictating to the mind how to feel and act.

Karin Slaughter
9780385341967 $26.00

Henry and Judith Codfield are driving home one night when they run into what he assumes was a deer; it turns out to be person hurt badly enough that they take the injured party to Atlanta's Grady Hospital. Trauma center physician Dr. Sara Linton treats the patient; stabilizing her for surgery. She is shocked at the tortured body of Anna Lindsey whom she tries to save.

Meanwhile as the local police work the burbs for clues, Georgia Bureau of Investigation Detectives Will Trent looks for the site where the torture takes place. When he finds it he realizes another woman was there with the tortured woman. He finds the body of the second woman who was tortured before she committed suicide. Faith Mitchell and Will think the kidnapping of a woman outsider the supermarket is related to their own inquiry. A fourth female fitting the profile of the other three is also missing. Evidence points to the killer abducting the women in pairs and if they don't find the missing two females within days they will be dead

Once again as in FRACTURED, Will and Faith prove they are a dedicated team who know together they perform much better than separately though they are total opposites; a sort of GBI yin and yang who complement one another by overcoming the other's weaknesses. The current case of a deranged serial killer is not new, but refreshed by the increasingly frantic hunt by the GBI pair. Reader will enjoy UNDONE, as Karin Slaughter provides a tense police procedural in which the clock is ticking while the killer remains on a twisted schedule.

Love, Lies, And Texas Dips
Susan McBride
9780385735209 $9.99

In spite of their doubts about gaining admission into the Glass Slipper Club (see THE DEBS) Laura Delacroix Bell, Michelle "Mac" Mackenzie, Ginger Fore and Jo-Lynn Bidwill are selected Rosebud Debutantes. However gaining a foot into the door does not also mean remaining a member of the GSC; each of the new debs will learn this the hard way.

A big woman with a big pride, Laura is euphoric, but her high turns nightmarish when false rumors about her spread as wide as Texas that could lead to her dismissal from the GSC even if it is a lie. Mac remains in doubt about being a Rosebud as she only joined to honor her late mother; she fears her GSC gig may cost her the friendship of Alex who is dating newcomer Cindy Chow. Ginger looks forward to Rosebud, environmental activism, and the arts, but while sitting for a portrait, she is attracted to the artist who she knew as a bad boy. Jo Lynn wants to kick the trash out of GSC, which means Laura, but seeing her number in Dillon's list angers her further as she starts the rumor.

The second THE DEBS Texas teen tale is an amusing young adult satirical look at high society's superficiality through the still somewhat fearful fearsome foursome. Although Jo Lynn is over the top of Guadalupe Peak as an obsessed villainess, LOVE, LIES, AND TEXAS DIPS is an amusing yet poignant look at teenage upper crust society through four fully developed young women struggling with personal issues that money can't resolve.

Valley of the Shadow
Tom Pawlik
9781414326795 $12.99

Connor Hayden died from a heart attack (see VANISH) and his spirit was sent to Interworld, a place that connects the mortal realm with the spiritual one. Having been resuscitated, Connor checks on those people who died and were resurrected that same night. He finds out about Devon, Mitch and a few others. Some went to the other side. Mitch is in a coma while Devon is in juvenile prison when a stranger, someone he brought back from the other side, helps him escapes and tries to "save him

Mitch is in Interworld with farmer Howard Bristol who is keeping him alive preventing him from moving on thanks to a deal he made with Death. If he keeps him there too long, Mitch's body will die in the mortal world and his spirit go to hell. God has allowed Nathan, a spirit like him, to help him return to his body on the mortal plane. Devon's "helper" orders him to kill but his family and the Good Samaritan makes him hesitate. Connor is led to the Bristol farm to learn the truth of farmer Howard Bristol.

The lesson in VALLEY OF THE SHADOW is that people take actions and must be held responsible and accountable for them even when influenced by malevolence like Howard, the personification of evil who intends to abuse God's will to turn the flock from the lord. This inspirational supernatural thriller never deeply preaches (though more so than its predecessor); as Tom Pawlik subtly uses his cast and story line to bring his message of spiritual choices and healing to the reader. Filled with twists including a great finishing one, this is an emotional uplifting thriller.

Critical Care
Candace Calvert
9781414325439 $12.99

Trauma nurse Claire Avery can no longer work in an emergency room following the death of her brother Kevin in ER. She especially cannot enter that room though she worked there for years. Instead she obtains a position as a nurse educator.

At Sierra Mercy Hospital emergency room, Dr. Logan Caldwell believes a nurse educator is a hooey waste of time as he expects his team to be as tough and cold as he is. Following a horrific explosion at the Little Nugget Day Care, Claire offer counseling to the shocked medical staff as kids die and many are severely burned; Logan demands instead Claire drop the good feelings brouhaha and do real work in ER to save lives of those hurt in the disaster. Still though they differ on medical care, Logan proves he has a heart as he falls in love with Claire who feels the same way about her grouch.

CRITICAL CARE is an enjoyable medical romance starring wounded professionals approaching care giving radically different as each has found a way to cope with trauma and death. Ironically, the exciting story line shows the frantic chaos of a hospital ER/trauma center but so much is going on, it becomes difficult to follow at times. Still with a strong cast who provide insight on how to deal with stress especially when kids are involved and one of your peers is hurt, fans will appreciate Candace Calvert's profound salute to ER community.

Let's Get It On
Jill Nelson
Amistad (HarperCollins)
9780060763305 $24.95

After the success of their Reno brothel and spa (see SEXUAL HEALING) LaShaWanda P. Marshall, Lydia Beaucoup and Acey Allen decide to duplicate their achievement off of Martha's Vineyard. Once again they offer their wealthy female clients "multiorgasmic" sex without the complications". While Acey with Odell assisting her runs the Nevada spa, they set up a luxury floating spa on a yacht off the Cape Cod shore just outside the United States legal limit.

They turn to the black community of Lydia's upper class society godmother Ma Nicol for support as they run into objections from a mobster who demands a piece of the action and groups fostering racism and sexism. Their star performer is Afrodonis who make the ladies salivate. However, making matters even worse is the fundamentalist president calling for a law "No Child, No Behind" that outlaws sex unless a married couple tries to produce an offspring.

The second homage to Marvin Gaye continues Jill Nelson's upbeat message encouraging women to appreciate life by living and loving to the fullest to include seeking sexual satisfaction. The story line is over the top of Afrodonis' staff just the way we like it as LET'S GET IT ON is fun to read with its refrain of sex, sex, and more sex. Although the abstinence crowd will beat the bushes to ban this tale, Ms. Nelson makes a case that sex and politics share the same key element: someone is screwing someone else.

Mating Rituals of The North American Wasp
Lauren Lipton
5 Spot
0446197971 $13.99

Celebrating a night in Las Vegas, Peggy Adams wakes up the next morning to learn she is married to a stranger Luke Sedgwick. His family is old Connecticut money that dates back to colonial times though the fortunes are shrinking rapidly. He is the last of his family except for his elderly Aunt Abigail who he is the caretaker of. Her heritage is listed in the local phonebook.

Peggy comes to the dilapidated Revolutionary War era manor in New Ninevah to get Luke to sign the annulment papers. Abigail is upset being old school as she refuses to allow a divorce without trying to keep them together. She offers them a counter deal to the annulment. If Luke and Peggy remain married for a year, she will give her great nephew permission to sell the elephant they live in and split the money between them. Peggy and Luke agree; as she needs capital to save her failing business and he wants to be a writer, which his current responsibilities will not allow. Neither is prepared for the issues of being married, the misconceptions surrounding many things like his poetry and her boyfriend of seven years Brock Clovis nor the fact they are falling in love with their spouse.

This is an often amusing satirical take on the opposites attract theme starring two nice protagonists and a solid support cast especially his ailing Aunt. Although the basic entertaining story line offers nothing new to the overall topic, fans will laugh at the antics of the cast as Lauren Lipton deftly using hyperbole lampoons the MATING RITUALS OF THE NORTH AMERICAN WASP.

HotHouse Flower and the 9 Plants of Desire
Margot Berwin
9780307377845 $24.00

Thirty two years old New York career woman Lila Nova used to enjoy her advertising job, but lately the divorcee is finding it tedious. However, she perks up when she meets David Exley selling tropical plants at the local farmer's market. She already enjoyed plants, but until now never bought any; she purchases one of his offerings.

She notices at a Laundromat a rare fern in the window. The owner Armand makes friends with Lila and gives her a trimming from the fern. He promises her if the fern grows, he will show her his special nine plants. David sees the fern in her apartment and Lila tells him about Armand. Soon afterward, Armand's plants are stolen and David has vanished. Using guilt and remorse as motivators Armand persuades Lila to accompany him to the Yucatan to obtain new magical plants. There she meets Diego.

This is an intriguing thriller that takes an unexpected magical spin from a New York adventure into a Mexican semi-fantasy tale. The story line is fun in spite of Lila being too loose as she leaps on one man after another and the plot never deciding which genre is on top. Still HOTHOUSE FLOWER AND THE 9 PLANTS OF DESIRE is an engaging odd thriller with one wild twist that takes a bit of adjusting, but worth the effort for those who relish something radically different with their New Yorkers.

DFF: Dead Friends Forever
J. R. Turner
9781590806258 $13.99

In Wisconsin, Marsden Middle School skateboard fanatic Kaylee Hensler wants to skate in the nearby park, but several bullies led by Jimmy the Giant refuse to allow anyone on their turf. She challenges several of the boys to a skate off, but instead Jimmy dares her to enter haunted Larson House and take something form the top floor; though she knows this is insane she accepts.

Her best friend wheelchair bound Davey tells her this is insane and Kaylee agrees. Still she enters the house, goes up to the third floor, finds a mirror, and thinks all is well until a young teenage ghost scares her. She flees, but begins seeing the ghost elsewhere. Davey learns the ghost is probably Isabelle Larson killed in 1897 by Clarence Stillwell. As she tries to help the spirit an evil paranormal essence wants to stop her and her parents, her swimming team coach and her dwindling friends believe Kaylee has lost her mind while Isabelle wants to be her BFF; only neighbor Madame Maggie and Davey understand that there is a paranormal presence.

This is a terrific young adult horror thriller starring an intrepid heroine and a strong support cast including her DFF. The story line is fast-paced with a great finish as Kaylee knows if she survives she still has to explain to rational skeptics. The key characters are fully developed so readers understand them and their motivations. Though her parents are purposely exaggerated so that they come across as how their daughter perceives them, this makes them act stilted. Still fans will enjoy Kaylee's dilemma.

Guilty or Else
Jeff Sherratt
9781590806142 $13.99

In 1972 Downy, California, Judge Johnson gives the case to his former junior LAPD partner, thirty-four years old new lawyer Jimmy with the admonition "Get your client to plead guilty, or else!". His client Mexican gardener Ernesto Rodriguez refuses to plea bargain as he insists he is innocent in the violent murder of twenty-seven year old Gloria Graham, assistant to charismatic State Senator Berry Welch. The case is a sure shot for the prosecution as the evidence starting with the bloody knife and blood in his truck overwhelms anything the defense has. Jimmy pleads with Ernesto that he could get twenty five if he accepts a guilty plea or life if not. Ernesto says his kids will know he is innocent and that will be his plea.

The case makes no sense to Jimmy as the cops caught Ernesto instantly, why would the judge and DA push a plea bargain conviction with the evidence they have and why are two goons following him. Only Deputy DA Roberta Allen, who is running the prosecution case, seems honest as she wants justice to prevail, but she believes Ernesto killed the victim. Jimmy's defense gets off the ground because his friend investigator Sol Silverman helps him for a $1 fee starting with learning that Welch and Graham had a hot affair. Jimmy wonders if Welch who refuses to speak to him is the reason for the lighting quick reaction by the State as he is a rising superstar. Jimmy will learn the answers lies in the garbage of politicians owned by the Mob.

GUILTY OR ELSE is a terrific historical legal Noir starring a strong cast who bring to life how powerful the Mob is controlling much of Southern California. Jimmy is a fabulous lead character who knows he is in over his head but remains a dedicated idealist (he personally thinks idiot) as does his courtroom opponent Roberta. Even with the mob owning politicians and civil unrest still common though not like the sixties, Jeff Sheratt makes the case that there was still room for a Jimmy Stewart to fight windmills in a court of law although the impact is abated somewhat as his adversary is even more an ethical idealist than he is; a win at all costs prosecutor would have locked up Ernesto for life plus.

Crossing the Centerline
Allan E. Ansorge
9781590806357 $13.99

Lake County, Wisconsin's Sheriff's Department Detective Michael McCaffery is boat sitting for his former partner Carl Fletcher who is in Florida taking a one month course and test to become a licensed charter boat captain. Michael notices a leg jutting out of the water by the boat; he calls his office to investigate who the victim is. However this John Doe has five IDs on him with the only evidence of who he is a partial fingerprint that matches one that was found in a deadly hit and run last year in which Carl's fiancee Lauren died, he lost the full use of a leg, and his career in law enforcement ended; the driver the semi was never found until now.

When Carl comes home, Michael briefs him starting with having the One Fine Day moved to a safe place by ship repairer Meyer. The pair begins making inquiries over who wants Carl dead as they suspect that is why the "multiple" John Doe came to the vessel before accidently drowning. Soon the former partners and best friends are joined by Meyer, Sarah the waitress, Bernie the sheriff's department archivist and Carl's mom the Internet General all intent on uncovering whom the culprit is.

CROSSING THE CENTERLINE is an enjoyable investigative tale starring an ensemble cast of professional and amateur sleuths in which each of the teammates are unique and fully developed. The story line is fast-paced from the opening sequence of Michael finding the dangling leg sticking out of the water by the boat and never slows down even when romantic coupling begins to occur. Although I had some issues over why the culprit waited to strike again if it was that urgent to eliminate Carl, fans will appreciate Allan E. Ansorge's exciting Wisconsin mystery and want more stories starring this loyal badger pack.

Sweet Persuasion
Maya Banks
9780425227701 $15.00

For five years, Serena James has filled other people's cravings while ignoring her dreams. Running Fantasy Incorporated has been a full time job so she placed her desires on hold and fulfilled her clients' fantasies.

Now she feels it is her turn to get her itch whipped. She knows whom she wants to dominate her, Damon Roche owner of an exclusive BDSM. Damon is euphoric with a chance to dominate Serena. However he also knows his lovely submissive is thinking short term; he plans on long term domination and tender caring of the woman he loves.

The latest "Sweet" BDSM romance (see SWEET SURRENDER) is a superb contemporary starring two fully developed lead characters whose ardent DS relationship ignites the pages. Serena is the more fascinating of the pair; as she has kept her submissive libido in check while running a fantasy business. Damon is typical of the erotic sub-genre as a strong dominant who controls his partner but makes sure she feels secure under his watch. Is it just me but do these dominants behave like some of the modern alpha werewolves who find their lifemates? Readers will relish Maya Banks' exciting erotic romance.

A Night at the Operation
Jeffrey Cohen
9780425228159 $7.99

New Jersey Comedy Tonight theatre owner Elliot Freed considers his former wife Dr. Sharon Simon, a friend though they are divorced and she is remarried to Dr. Gregory Sandoval; his dream rests on their annual celebration of their wedding anniversary together. With a week plus before this year's dinner and gift exchange, Gregory informs Elliot Sharon will probably not make their dinner as she has vanished without a trace; he further explains she has been irritable, nervous, and so anxious, he feared she was breaking down and her disappearance proves she finally did. Elliot cannot believe how calm his replacement is and hopes that Sharon will dump this idiot to come back to him.

The police visit Elliot questioning him where Sharon is as they investigate the suicide of her wealthy patient Russell Chapman; whose daughter insists Sharon's misdiagnoses led to her father's depression and ultimately suicide when she claimed he had a fatal brain cancer that was proven false. Elliot's parents arrive to help him. Black belt mom joins him on his search for Sharon while passive dad takes over the theater operation vowing to fix the plumbing problem himself. However as Elliot digs deeper into Sharon's lifestyle, he begins to uncover clues that takes his ex-wife off the pedestal he mentally built. He assumes he is on track to find her when his home is broken into and the Russell's corpse is abducted.

The latest Double Feature amateur sleuth is an amusing homage to great comedic movies such as the title nod to A Night at the era. The investigative story line is zany and often over the top of Giant Stadium; while the movie trivia is interwoven into the wild plot. Way out fun, fans who relish a New Jersey screwball romantic mystery will enjoy the Freed tales (see SOME LIKE IT HOT-BUTTERED and It Happened One Knife)

The Lovers
John Connolly
9781416569541 $26.00

With his private investigator's license revoked (see THE REAPERS), Charlie Parker leaves New York City to tend bar in Portland, Maine. The job gives him time think about the other tragedy in his life besides the murders of his wife and daughter that haunts him. When Charlie was fifteen, his father Will an NYPD cop shot dead two teens, who after he kills them learns they were unarmed. Unable cope, Will committed suicide.

As Charlie digs into the background of that traumatic incident, he finds some shocking evidence that makes him wonder if his beloved parents were his biological ones. He decides to return to Manhattan to investigate and avoid the police. At the same time a frightened disturbed woman is on the run from whatever killed her boyfriend. Writer Mickey Wallace investigates the stranger that haunt the Big Apple; as this pair converge on Charlie, two of the undying also come together wanting Parker dead.

Charlie's focus remains on his personal life, but spins to what happened to his father rather than himself. He is at his best as he begins to uncover shocker after shocker as if someone has connected his body to live electrical wires (see the Cheney torture handbook for more details). He makes the LOVERS a great urban Noir fantasy although the paranormal is kept to the minimal. Readers will relish his escapades as Charlie investigates his father's suicide while the undying want to give him an opportunity to question dad in whatever hell the dead old man resides in.

Die for You
Lisa Unger
Shaye Areheart (Crown)
9780307393975 $24.00

Novelist Isabel Connelly and high tech game designer Marcus Raines have been happily married for five years and seem deeply in love. Marcus leaves their Manhattan apartment for work after telling Isabel he loves her. He never made it to work nor comes home. Panic stricken, when she finally receives a call that she assumes was from him, she hears a terrified man screaming. She rushes to the police, but they offer nothing as they insist it is probably a nasty prank by her spouse.

Isabel rejects the official position as she believes her Marcus loves her and would not desert her. She goes to his office only to find the FBI raiding the place; in the melee she is knocked out. She regains consciousness in a hospital where she learns all of Marcus's associates are dead and he remains unaccounted for. She checks their finances only to find zero in their accounts. Police Detective Grady Crowe digs deeper into the background of Isabel's husband only to be shocked that Marcus Unger died years ago.

Mindful of the Goldie Hawn movie Deceived, DIE FOR YOU is an exhilarating thriller starring a fascinating heroine who after the initial shock needs to know who her husband really is and why the deception. When the story line stays focus on disappearances and reactions to it, this is a super tale. However, when the plot contains unnecessary cul de sacs especially about the personal lives of support players, it loses momentum. Still overall Lisa Unger provides an engaging tale of spousal deceit.

East of the Sun
Julia Gregson
9781439101124 $16.00

In 1928 twenty-five years old Viva Holloway is paying her passage to India by escorting three younger travelers; she heads to the "Gem of the Empire" to pick up her late parents per sonal things. Of her three charges: Rose Wetherby is going to marry; Victoria "Tor" Sowerby is her bridesmaid; and teen Guy Glover is going home after being expelled from school. Viva tires to hide her trepidation as she has no experience chaperoning or for that matter traveling as they sail the Kaiser-i-Hind to Bombay.

All four have their own secret agendas. Viva simply wants to survive the ordeal of being the one in charge. Rose hopes her cavalry officer loves her, but she is nervous because she knows nothing about him as they only met a few short chaperoned times. Tor hopes to find a husband on her "fishing fleet" tour. Finally Guy wants these femmes to leave him alone. When he loses his temper and attacks a prominent member of an Indian family, he sets in motion trouble for himself and his temporary guardian.

This is a fascinating historical tale that rotates perspective between the four prime characters so that the audience understands what motivates each of them. The story line starts slow as Julia Gregson introduces her fantastic four, but once the readers feel comfortable with the lead foursome, the plot moves briskly to a strong finish. Fans will enjoy this engaging look at life of young adults between the wars in the British Empire as the sun is starting to set.

Olivia Darling
9780440245148 $7.99

Madeline Arsenault returns to France following the death of her renowned vintner father to save the declining near bankrupt family business. Londoner Kelly Eldon would prefer to sell her inheritance from the father she never met when he was alive, but the will stipulates five years as the owner. Supermodel Christina Morgan received one thing from her former husband that she rejoices in, a California vineyard that she believes will allow her to prove she is not just a has been.

While the three ladies strive to win the prize for best sparkling wine of the year, Mathieu Randon plans to prevent the newcomers from competing fairly with his vintage. Soon the four rivals will understand what vino veritas means.

VINTAGE is an entertaining witty satire that lampoons the fifteen minutes of celebrity fame in modern western society through her strong cast; especially the three female vintners. The story line contains an interesting insider look at winemaking that is interwoven into the prime plot of the contest for the prize. Wickedly clever with its mild mocking of knighting people as the icon of the nanosecond, readers will appreciate Olivia Darling's intelligent contemporary while wondering if VINTAGE will make her a bestselling star.

The Rebel Princess
Judith Koll Healey
9780061673566 $25.95

In October 1207, Princess Alais, sister to King Phillipe of France, waits for the return of her lover, English leader of the Knights Templar William of Caen to complete his mission safely. She impatiently hopes one day they will openly display their love and she can tell his ward Francis that she is his mother and English King Henry I is his sire. Before she can do that first he must leave the order.

William and Francis come to see Alais and her brother to consult with the king re the Cathars breakaway region in the south centered in Toulouse. Phillip rejects the pope's envoys plea to mount a counter offensive; this angers Armand Amary, a church VIP who wants all the Cathars executed as heretics. When Francis is kidnapped, Alais heads to Toulouse risking her life searching for her offspring while William goes on a Pope Innocent III directed mission.

Fans of Sharon Kay Penman and Rebecca Gellis will love this fantastique medieval historical fiction novel with a romantic subplot that enhances the prime court-papal intrigue story line. Readers learn about the Catharism movement focusing on the principles of a Good God and an evil adversary; their tenet of no priests or buildings ultimately led to the Albigensian Crusade. Although Alais does nothing wrong on her quest to save her son, the sequel to THE CANTERBURY PAPERS remains overall an insightful thirteenth century thriller.

The Tehran Conviction
Tom Gabbay
9780061188459 $24.95

In 1953 rookie CIA espionage agent Jack Teller is in Iran posing as an American oil executive. There he makes friends with Iranian government official Yari Fatemi, who is optimistic about the future of his country under the recent free election of Mohammad Mossadegh as Prime Minister. Mossadegh nationalizes the oil industry in an attempt to improve the overall economy, alienating the free marketers of the west. However, not too long afterward he betrays his buddy and his Iranian family as part of the British-American covert Operation Ajax that overthrows the nation's democratically elected Prime Minister and reinstates the figurehead Shah as the prime power.

Over the years Jack has felt remorse and guilt for what he did to his Iranian friend. So in 1979 when the Islamic revolution of Ayatollah Khomeini overthrows the Shah, he is shocked when Yari's sister Zahra, whose eyes accuse him of murder, visits him in New York. She tells him Yari is in prison awaiting state execution. Needing a chance for redemption or die trying, Jack obsesses over returning to Iran to somewhat rectify the betrayal that haunts him twenty-six years after the fact.

The third Teller espionage thriller (see THE BERLIN CONSPIRACY and THE LISBON CROSSING) is a great spy tale that also provides a deep look at two of the three key latter half of the twentieth century events that has shaped current Iranian-American relations. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action in both periods, but its Jack and Yari who bring human faces to both coup d'etat incidents. This may be the best spy novel of the year as Tom Gabbay provides an exciting thriller that also provides the Iranian perspective of the axis of evil is "The Great Satan" (USA) and Britain.

The Last Trials of Clarence Darrow
Donald McRae
9780061161490 $26.99

This is a "novelization" using facts to retell the three LAST TRIALS OF CLARENCE DARROW. In 1911 Mr. Darrow defended the McNamara brothers for firebombing the Los Angeles Times building; the trial ended in a plea bargain for the union activists with their famous lawyer barred from practicing in California due to accusations he rigged the jury. His reputation was shot as he fell off the pedestal of greatness and he barley could practice law. He considered suicide.

Over ten years later, the sexagenarian Darrow decides to go back into the courtroom handling three "trials of the century cases" that rehabilitated his reputation; besides the media frenzy Hollywood helped as all three trials were made into movies. He defended the affluent brilliant Chicago teens Nathan Leopold and Richard Loeb for the cold blooded murder of John Scopes to prove they could get away with a killing. Mr. Darrow took on the Scopes Monkey Trial defending a teacher in Tennessee. Finally he also defended black Dr. Ossian Sweet accused of murder when he fired on an all white mob attacking his home in Detroit. Whether Darrow was an angel or the demon, Donald McRae paints a terrific portrait of the great trail lawyer obtaining redemption long after his career was supposedly dead.

Step by Step
Lawrence Block
9780061721816 $24.99

This is an odd memoir that focuses on the crime writer's enjoyment in participating in distance walking races. Mr. Block makes a point of racing against himself rather than other competitors; as his goal is not so much to win the race though that would be okay if he beat his best time or distance; the ultimate golden goal is to achieve both. In other words he races against himself. The author also discusses traveling with his wife across America or overseas on quests that targets specific offbeat goals like shuffling off to all the Buffalos. The best sections are the personal ones when Mr. Block turns introspective for instance why a non practicing Jew like him refuses to eat pork. These are far apart as much of the bio centers on the walkathons including containing an overwhelming marathon of score keeping that sports statisticians will relish. Not for everyone, fans of the author will want to take a walk with Mr. Block, but keep in mind STEP BY STEP has little to do with his novels and even with this pedestrian drill he provides quite a pace.

Fire and Ice
J.A. Jance
9780061239229 $25.99

Tamos Rivera was ordered by Miguel to kill the woman; pull out her teeth, pour gasoline on her, and light her up. Afraid of what Miguel would do to his family if he failed to carry out this command, Tamos obeys except for failing to remove the teeth. In the Spring as the snow melts in Washington state, her body is found. She is the sixth victim killed in the same way.

State Attorney general's Special Homicide Investigation Team, including J.B. Beaumont and his wife Melissa Majors Soames, investigate the case. Using every method at their disposal, they find the latest victims was living in a trailer using the name Marina Aguirre, but realizes that was not her legal name. The team visits the trailer park owner and learns the deceased left behind $50,000 in her refrigerator before vanishing. The dental records affirm she was Marcella Andramade whose brother and son live in Cochise County, Arizona where Sheriff Joanna Brady works. Her sibling is determined to uncover his sister's killer, but Brody tries to stop him knowing his life would be forfeited too as well as devastating a federal operation in the works for months.

While the main plot centers on the six dead women, Brody has her hands full with her own caseload including the murder of a man ran over by several ATV's and a nursing home scandal that increasingly looks criminal; she also deals with personal problems. Brody has no time to spare for Beaumont's case, but she does though that means even less sleep for the sleep deprived even when the feds tell her to back off. Combining her superstars through an exciting story line, J.A. Jance proves she is one of the best police procedural authors writing today as she balances two states two cops, and the nasty serial killer who connects them.

The Doomsday Key
James Rollins
9780061231407 $27.99

The deadly attack of an agriculture site in Africa makes no sense to Sigma Force director Painter Crowe. He and others high up want to know why even more than who. Part of the reason most of the political establishment is involved is because one of the dead at the experiential station was a son of a senator.

He sends his top unit to Africa. Commander Grayson Pierce along with Monk Kokkalis and Joe Kowalsk are expected to uncover the truth as the attack was way beyond even that of a terrorist cell as the whole area was flattened even after everyone inside was dead. The team quickly learns about something called the Doomsday Key removed from Egypt ages ago and brought to England. This substance allegedly contains a potent unheard of medicine, but in the wrong hands for instance their rivals the Guild could mean the beginning of the end for mankind.

The latest Sigma Force thriller (see THE JUDAS STRAIN, MAP OF BONES and THE LAST ORACLE) is action-packed as Pierce and his teammates run all over Europe trying to prevent further catastrophes while their potent rivals want to use THE DOOMSDAY KEY for their gain. The story line starts off at the speed of light and never decelerates as James Rollins hooks his audience with a wonderful thriller that is based on the concept of how the past impacts the present including the science of today that in turn becomes part of the past impacting the today's of the future. Complex yet filled with fun, the Sigma Force saga is at its best with this winner.

Return to Sullivan's Island
Dorothea Benton Frank
9780061438455 $25.95

Having just graduated from college in Boston, wannabe writer Beth Hayes returns to her family home on Sullivan Island, South Carolina while her mother spends time in Paris; mom had asked her daughter to house-sit while she is in France. Beth looks forward to the quiet time at her family home Island Gamble to contemplate her future and hopefully begin her writing career though she lacks confidence in her skills.

She also looks forward to seeing the extended family, the successful twins Sophie and Allison, Susan, and Uncle Henry; she also plans to hug her Miss Manners-reincarnation Aunt Maggie, her Uncle Timmy and her stepfather Simon before the trio travel to California. Beth soon enjoys her trysts with total opposites Max Mitchell and Woody Morrison, but that will darken her RETURN TO SULLIVAN ISLAND.

Dorothea Benton Frank returns to the Lowcountry with a warm family drama that is filled with humor, compassion, and sadness. The extended cast is solid, but this is clearly Beth's tale as she struggles with a lack of confidence when faced several times with difficult choices. Readers who appreciate deep complicated relationships will enjoy the RETURN TO SULLIVAN ISLAND.

Guardian of Lies
Steve Martini
9780061230905 $26.99

Twenty-six years old Costa Rican expatriate Katia Solaz lives with elderly disturbing Emerson Pike on an estate that is horrifically run down except for a high priced security fence. However, she has had enough of the States and decides to go home.

She leaves Pike's estate heading for the airport. Unbeknownst to her, just after she left, infamous assassin the Mexecutioner breaches Pike's security entering the house to kill any occupants. At about the same time Katia meets Southern California defense attorney Paul Madriani at a grocer. Soon all hell breaks loose as several outlawed groups plans to bring nukes into the United States.

The latest Madriani thriller (see DOUBLE TAP and SHADOW OF POWER) is an over the top of Costa Rica's Mount Chirripo thriller that will still grip the reader even before the heroic attorney meets the Central American expatriate. The contrast between the couple is enlightening as he is a cynic seeing the evil people do while she is an innocent trusting those same people. Insight into the electronic age of wiretapping and surveillance enhances the action-packed story line as several groups and the Mexecutioner converge on Katia with Paul as her only protection.

In The Sanctuary of Outcasts
Neil White
9780061351600 $25.95

In 1993, Neil White confessed to the FBI that he conducted illegal bridge financing to keep his publishing business afloat when he found himself short cash. He spent one year at the experimental federal minimum-security pen in Carville, Louisiana. This facility included convicts and the last leper colony in the forty eight states. This terrific memoir looks deeply at the interactions of pariahs: criminal and health. The felons consisted of murderers, drug dealers, mobsters and a few white collar offenders. On the other hand the lepers ran the gamut of society including a mom whose newborn was removed from her immediately and wise eccentrics like the Earth Mother. Mr. White also scrutinizes the prison's employment staffs who deal similarly with the two radically different incarcerated groups. Crossing the three communities is caring Father Reynolds. This is a fascinating profound year that brings to life a diverse unique prison population.

Boston Scream Pie
Rosemary & Larry Mild
Hilliard & Harris
9781591332640 $16.95

In 1986 in Black Rain on the Chesapeake Bay area of Maryland, teenager Caitlin Neuman suffers from a horrific repetitive nightmare that feels as if it happened to her; two teens are in a car crash during a blizzard. Her beloved grandma Olivia Raphael insists it is just a weird spin from the accident that Caitlin survived when she was seven and her parents and twin sister died.

Caitlin asks retired Baltimore Detective Paco LeSoto to leave his watching of Redskin reruns to investigate her frightening nightmare to ascertain if there is any truth to them. Accompanied by his wife Molly, they follow clues that lead them to the recently extended Boston family where another set of twins live. The merging of two families after Newton Boston married four times wedded Delylah has not gone smooth and soon will turn deadly, but all the answers to the nightmare is inside that home.

BOSTON SCREAM PIE is an enjoyable Chesapeake Bay mystery starring several likable individuals and a few dislikable persons. The characters drive the story line from the onset as each key player is fully developed so that the audience will feel they know the extended families and the LeSoto couple. Although Edwin Newman (perfect homonym) will insist Molly with her "Mollyprops" is a classic example of his contention STRICTLY SPEAKING: WILL AMERICA BE THE DEATH OF ENGLISH, fans will enjoy this lighthearted detective romp.

Ice Song
Kirsten Imani Kasai
Del Rey
9780345508812 $15.00

Engineer Sorykah Minuit is a Trader whose gender changes periodically without her control of the switch. She currently works on a low end job on an ice drilling sub. When she finishes her tour, she goes to meet her infant twins Ayeda and Leander and their nanny Nels in the dangerous ice cap town Ostara. However, they fail to show up.

To keep from freezing she enters a Somatics' bar; a place unsafe for Traders as the hybrid human-beasts prefers no mingling with outsiders. Rava an octopus-lady takes her into her zone while informing a distraught Sorykah that the Trader Matuk the Collector abducted them in his quest to dissect unique individuals seeking a cure for his repulsive mentally disturbed daughter the W ild Wood Beast Radhe. Sorykah goes into Erun Forest to rescue her children, but switches gender losing most of the essence that made her who she was including memories of being a caring mother.

ICE SONG is an exciting futuristic science fiction thriller that extrapolates modern day genetic engineering and HG Wells' The Island of Dr. Moreau with a brilliant gender-memory twist. The story line is fast-paced yet the three prime locales are vivid in a dark gloomy way as readers will anticipate pending doom. Sorykah is a terrific lead protagonist who changes from hard worker to desperate distraught mother to confused male and does so in a believable manner. Kirsten Imani Kasai provides a fascinating well written cautionary tale.

Moon Burn
Alisa Sheckley
Del Rey
9780345505880 $6.99

After what happened with her cheating husband in Manhattan last year (see THE BETTER TO HOLD YOU), veterinarian Abra Barrow relocates to Northside so that she can study the lycan infection he brought back from Romania and gave to her. She understands the problem of leaving a smog urban center for the pristine small-town air is that a full moon is a full moon for three days of uncontrolled behavior by a werewolf.

However, just as she has become comfortable with herself; Abra becomes emotional even with a full sun shining. She easily turns angry and shockingly drops her scores of inhibitions at any time of day or night; a behavior she only previously did when the moon is full. The local male population is all enthralled with her except her boyfriend shape-shifting expert Red Mallin, who knows what is happening to her, but is too busy to help her as he is totally focused on weird beasts apparently crossing the dimensional divide. Having been bitten last year by someone she trusted and now unable to rely on even herself; Abra feels fearful and doubtful amplified by her out of control emotions. Making matters stranger for her is a creature from the other side showing her an entirely different realm.

The second Barrow werewolf thriller is a fast-paced exciting tale in which Alisa Sheckley makes her magical world seems genuine starting with the lycan infection. The story line fast-paced starring a terrific heroine who feels her grip is slipping. Readers will enjoy her escapades as Abra struggles to regain her equilibrium while Red is preoccupied. MOON BURN is an enjoyable small-town fantasy.

Star Wars: Fate of the Jedi: Omen
Christie Golden
Del Rey
9780345509123 $27.00

The Galactic Alliance and the Order of the Jedi have their home base on Coruscant existing in an uneasy peace. The leader of the Alliance government Chief of State Natasi Daala wants the Jedi under her control. The Jedi are giving her plenty of ammunition that enables her to paint them in a bad light. Three of the Knights went insane performing unacceptable inexplicable acts that have led to being frozen in carbonite. One of the fallen was able to see the future (called flow-walking) enabling a person to make counter moves against an "adversary".

This is a unique part of the force that previously was known by only the late Jacen Solo, who became Darth Caedus when he turned to the dark side killing millions as a Sith Lord. Luke Skywalker and his son Ben continue seeking Jacen's secrets, which leads them to isolated xenophobic Aing-Tii. Luke is banned from Coruscant for a decade or when he learns how and why Jacen's turn to the dark. Luke and Ben travel to the planet seeking clues of why Jacen turned evil. With a civil war imminent, the Aing-Tii allow father and son on the orb. Meanwhile the Sith are near extinct and those few survivors are in hiding except for a group that crashed on Kesh a millennia ago. A ship arrives giving them access once again to the stars and the ability to take it to their enemies, the Alliance and the Order.

The second of nine books in this Star Wars arc (see OUTCAST) takes place obviously after Vader and the Sith were defeated. Peace in our time seems shaky as the two prime groups distrust one another and ambitious Daala sees an opportunity to size more power as people are once again disenchanted with the Jedi due to Caedus and now crazed Knights. Christie Golden moves from Star Trek to Star Wars with this solid entry that does not move forward the big picture, but instead sets up several major subplots for the overarching saga; making OMEN a more critical read to followers than OUTCAST.

The Dresden Files: Storm Front
Jim Butcher
Adaptation by Mark Powers
illustrated by Ardian Syaf
Del Rey
9780345506399 $22.95

On Harry Dresden's Earth, beings such as fairies, trolls, and vampires roam the planet. Wizards also exist, as Harry knows firsthand, being such a creature. Harry has listed himself in the yellow pages as the only in the open practicing wizard in the country. Harry has even helped the Chicago police on a case or two though most officers reject the arcane.

Harry is in bad standing with the White Council that governs wizards because he survived an incident in which he killed someone in self-defense using magic. He is under the Doom of Damocles in which if he breaks any rules, he will be executed. This makes his present situation a bit touchy. He is working a case involving the use of deadly magic that requires Harry to reconstruct the original spell in order to identify the murderer. If his watchdog who loathes him catches him performing an inkling of dark magic, he will be obliterated. Feeling he has no choice, Harry soon finds himself on the abyss by the dark magic he encounters.

This is a fine graphic comic book of the first Dresden urban fantasy originally released in 2000. Mark Powers' story line feels fresh yet adheres nicely to the original thriller, but also seems so much darker; partly because of the Ardian Syaf arcane vision of Dresden's Chicago. Fans of the saga especially of the TV series will relish Dresden goes comic book as this series converts superbly.

Blind Sight
Terri Persons
9780385526531 $24.95

In Paul Bunyan State Forest, Minnesota a hunter finds the butchered corpse of a teenage girl. FBI Agents Bernadette Saint Clare and Tony Garcia lead the investigation into the horrific homicide made worse by the culprit slicing open the victim's body to remove her nine month old fetus.

The fatality is Lydia Dunton, the found daughter of U.S. senator Magnus Dunton, who has made it publicly clear his scorn for the bureau even before his daughter's death and is even more outraged with the feds. On Lydia's head is an inverted red pentagram, but that somehow vanishes at the morgue. Conducting research into similar recent cases, Saint Clare discovers an identical murder in Wisconsin and proof that Lydia had been at that location recently.

The third Saint Clare Minnesota FBI paranormal police procedural (see BLIND RAGE and BLIND SPOT) is an exciting whodunit enhanced by the abuse of power of the grieving father. The investigation is fun to follow though it predominately goes by the sub-genre's standard operating procedures. What is interesting is Saint Clare's ability to "see" through the eyes of a killer; yet as with BLIND RAGE, this skill is for the most part irrelevant to solving the case. Still Fans will enjoy this entertaining Minnesota murder mystery.

DeKok and the Mask of Death
A.C. Baantjer
9781933108308 $24.00

In Amsterdam, hysterical Richard Netherwood explains to Warmoes Street station Inspectors DeKok and his overly aggressive (in DeKok's mind that is) protege Vledder that his girlfriend Rosalind Evertsoord vanished. Somewhat calming down the incoherent young man, DeKok learns that Richard took Rosalind to Slotervaart Hospital for a neurology appointment, but she simply disappeared while he waited for her to finish her visit.

The two detectives soon learn of other women vanishing at the highly regarded Slotervaart. When they confront the hospital administrators, they are told nobody has vanished at the hospital; and in fact none of these women including Rosalind were ever there as no records exist of any of them. A horde of irate boyfriends say otherwise.

The latest translation of the deKok Dutch police procedural (see DEKOK AND THE MURDER IN BRONZE and DEKOK AND THE DEAD LOVER) is once again an excellent mystery. The investigation is super as the inquiry is loaded with unexpected twists and red herrings. However what makes this tale and the more recent entries even more delightful is the team up of opposites as the seasoned deliberate cop mentors his less experienced somewhat hotheaded junior partner.

Leaden Skies
Ann Parker
Poisoned Pen
1590585771 $24.95

In July 1880 as former President Ulysses S. Grant arrives at the mining town Leadville on a five day visit, Colorado, Silver Queen Saloon co-owner Inez Stannert is divorcing her missing husband while having an affair with Reverend Sands. Being an astute businesswoman, Inez conceals her partnership with Madam Frisco Flo in a brothel.

When Lizzie the prostitute is murdered, Inez becomes worried over her investment. Used to fixing problems before they become catastrophic like she is doing with her marital status, Inez investigates the homicide. She quickly learns of another silent partner but not who. She draws the ire of the town's power brokers from mine owners, to politicians to the reporters. However, that anti-Inez fervor expands when prostitutes and moms become irate with her inquiry. However, the only one she fears alienating is Hatchet the tax collector so as long as she avoids him, she will keep digging.

LEADEN SKIES is a fabulous post Reconstruction Era frontier thriller that brings to life a Colorado mining town at a time when change is occurring with the Union troops having just left the south and women's suffrage losing momentum yet still being pushed in the Rockies. Inez is terrific as she holds the story line together with her inquiry that alienates the entire town of Leadville who want no skeletons rattled while Grant is there. Although the whodunit takes a back seat to one woman's struggle to remain economically independent in the late nineteenth century, Ann Parker writes a wonderful Americana tale.

Murder on a Midsummer Night
Kerry Greenwood
Poisoned Pen
9781590586327 $24.95

In Melbourne in 1929 the drowning death of twenty-nine years old antiques dealer Augustine Manifold is considered a suicide by most of the city including the police. Perhaps the only holdouts are as expected his distraught mom who refuses to believe her son killed himself and wealthy private investigator Phyrne Fisher.

Though her plate seems overflowing with her meeting her socialite demands, raising two adopted daughters, and working several concurrent cases like searching for a missing heir, she agrees to look into Augustine's death and still have time for her Chinese lover. As she digs deeper into the alleged suicide Phyrne begins finding evidence that her gut is right that someone murdered Manifold, but who and proving it seems impossible to uncover.

This terrific Australian Depression Era mystery is perhaps the most complicated entry in the super Fisher saga. The story line is fast-paced but seems initially all over the place until master magician Kerry Greenwood brings the threads together in a brilliant manner. Phyrne is her usual kick butt independent dynamo as she manages a zillion things only to keep adding one more time consumer onto her overflowing plate. The Manifold investigation is top rate as she sets out to prove the suicide was actually MURDER ON A MIDSUMMER NIGHT.

Mary Anna Evans
Poisoned Pen
9781590585917 $24.95

Archeologist Faye Longchamp leads a dig of a plantation adjoined to the Battle of New Orleans locale. During clean-up by the students of the damage Katrina caused to the famous battlefield and the adjacent plantation, a corpse is found. The person would have been considered an unfortunate victim of the Hurricane except for a dumbbell on top of the pelvis.

The police ask Faye and her fiance Joe Wolf Mantooth to help them with the homicide investigation. The victim is identified as archeologist Shelly Broussard who worked with rescue teams following Katrina. Faye and Joe find clues in a local nonfiction account of the hurricane's devastation and in a nineteenth century military engineer's journal as the pair begins to unravel a clever homicide almost buried by the storm of the century.

The latest Faye Longchamp archeological mystery (see FINDINGS, ARTIFACTS, and RELICS) is an engaging whodunit that ties a historical journal to a modern day murder. The story line is character driven by the lead couple and a super support cast. However, the investigation feels somewhat emaciated though in fairness it is fun to read. Fans of the series will enjoy Faye's newest escapades.

Baour: Strands of Death
Dirk Vandereyeken
10307 Chimney Ridge Ct, Louisville, KY 40299
9780982006726 $11.95

In the village Barnsby, Baour the necromancer stands trial for defying the Laws of God by performing death magic. The judge Reald, who is actually a scribe but temporarily appointed in charge of the trial of the century, asks the dark mage how he pleads. Baour shocks the judge, the villagers in attendance and the three priests when he proclaims he is guilty. Reald explains that the King's Law means death if the court agrees with his statement and that he should reconsider his plea; Baour confidently sates he is guilty but will be freed by the trial's end as he insists he is not bound by Gealius Divine authority; the three priests elderly Eldried, middle age Ignetius and young Therionald are insulted and say so.

The first witness is the witch Esmeralda who believes Baour killed her only friend Ewella. She soon explains how the necromancer became her lover, is the most powerful string manipulator she knows, and wasforced by Baour to testify how she broke the law when she brought back Ewella back from the dead. Next on the witness stand is Roaldus the tailor who also places Baour in a mixed light of death and yet no evil. The trial continues.

This super fantasy legal thriller is filled with twists and spins that even Baour did not always anticipate while he orchestrated his trial is a fantastic refreshing tale. The story line is character driven as the witnesses tells what they know of the accused and in between Baour adds to the picture. With a great final twirl that will stun the audience in spite of being interwoven throughout the enjoyable tale, fans will appreciate Dirk Vandereyeken's excellent one sitting saga.

The Island of Eternal Love
Daina Chaviano
1594483795 $16.00

Born in Cuba, Cecilia left in 1994 settling in Miami's Little Havana; she has since become a reporter. Her friends persuade a hesitant Cecilia to accompany them to a club, which she finds totally boring. She is ready to leave when she meets an elderly woman in the back. Amalia begins telling a fascinated Cecilia re her family heritage.

Every night Cecilia returns to hear more about how Amalia's three racial-makeups that consolidated into hybrids in Cuba. The old woman adds plenty of romance, violence and blood along with fairies and imps assaulting the females. Especially cursing her relatives for generations is Martinico the imp who has seemingly harassed her and her family forever.

Using a Sherazade like narrator and fantasy elements also like in the Arabian Nights, Daina Chaviano provides an intriguing creative look at the multicultural roots that merged in Cuba. Thus readers obtain a glimpse at the impact of the Chine and the Spanish and to a lesser degree the African. Fans of historical fiction with a fascinating spin that will require an adjustment will enjoy the deep look at Cuban history and culture.

Beneath Bone Lake
Colleen Thompson
Love Spell
9780843962437 $7.99

After a year in Iraq as a contract bus driver, single mom Ruby Monroe looks forward to coming home to her beloved four year old daughter Zoe and her sister "Aunty" Misty who has been watching her niece. However, instead of the loving kisses and hugs at the Dallas-Fort Worth airport, she finds both have vanished and her home was converted into a meth lab; she fears her past has caught up to her family.

Desperate especially since the tattoo assassin tries to kill her; she turns to her neighbor Sam McCoy, who allegedly has a criminal past, to help her find her family. He wants nothing to do with her because she denotes the law and his history with enforcement types is not quiet friendly. Still her vulnerability touches him and he knows she is in over her head drowning with nasty enemies on all sides especially when a corpse is found BENEATH BONE LAKE.

This is an exhilarating romantic suspense that focuses on the thriller elements with the romance segues deftly handled as hugs to help the heroine keep hope alive. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Ruby comes home to a horror rather than a hug. As Sam conceals what he knows, he falls in love with the feisty heartbroken Ruby while she reciprocates, but her child and then her sister come before her happiness. Colleen Thompson provides a strong chilling thriller that is well crafted and enjoyable.

Christie Craig
Love Spell
9780505527974 $6.99

Macy Tucker knows men leave. First her grandfather died when she was five years old. Then her father deserted her and their family when she was twelve years old. Finally her spouse spent time with his secretary in bed so at twenty-five Macy made him leave. Instead of men she vows to focus on law school

However, the last male in her life, her younger brother Billy gets arrested and sent to prison, but escapes. He fears for the lives of his sister and his girlfriend. Police detective Jake Baldwin is on the case of bringing Billy in and keeping the two women in the young man's life safe. He especially is attracted to the Papa's Pizza delivery girl Macy; she reciprocates enjoying his overbearing protective manner though also fearing once the case ends he will leave.

This amusing police procedural romance engages the audience with a strong cast especially rhe eccentric support characters and an enjoyable lighthearted mystery. Macy is the glue that holds the tale together as she worries about her brother who is the latest male to go missing. Jake has his own woes, starting with keeping his favorite pizza delivery person safe and persuading her he won't leave. With this entertaining frolic Christi Craig will have GOTCHA!

When Sparks Fly
Autumn Dawn
Love Spell
9780505528025 $6.99

On Polaris when their father died his three daughters Gem, Brandy and Xera took over the Spark tavern. Society on the mining planet is very restricted concerning behavior so the three Harris sisters are careful so that their reputations stay intact.

When Hyna Blue started drinking in the tavern, Gem realizes he did hard time as he has special cybernetic implants. She hires him though she assumes he will leave rather soon as he is a wanderer. However, her heated blood over boils whenever she is near Hyna. He feels the same but fears he will lose his cover as an aimless drifter concealing he is and undercover narcotics agent who believes The Spark is a major dealership.

This an excellent futuristic romantic urban Noir that grips the audience from the moment that Gem hires Hyna and never slows down as he works his case while falling in love. The heroine is a perfect Gem as she understands NO WORDS ALONE will explain how the drifter heats her blood with one look. Fans will enjoy this super science fiction romantic suspense as the undercover agent wants to be under the cover with the tavern owner.

Sarah Micklem
9780743265249 $26.00

The slave Firethorn the healer, precognitive sheath and bedmate to her owner is hit by lightning while following her master Sire Galan though she knows she disobeyed his explicit order she wait for his return. Firethorn assumes the god Ardor Wildfire struck her visage; her healing is slow and painful while her face is off center and her memory and speech spotty and incoherent. Additionally she has gained an eerie skill of seeing shades.

Although a bit upset with his bounded healer for disobeying him Sire Galan remains attracted to Firethorn, but has doubts about her unbecoming behavior just before his enemy King Arkhyios Corvus abducts her from the battlefield. Soon after the monarch leads his soldiers in battle against the loyalists of Queenmother Caelum, who wants to take the throne form him. His side contains her vicious Wolf warriors, but he flees across the mountains guided by Firethorn's dreams to the haven Lambanein

The sequel to FIRETHORN is an entertaining fantasy as the intrepid Firethorn continues to grow while undergoing further adventures. The story line is action-packed starting with the heroine's disobedience, but is not quite as fast-paced as the previous novel because there is information overload describing the Gods. Still readers will enjoy WILDFIRE as "the Gods Must Be Crazy" to encourage the latest human fatal mistakes.

The Unscratchables
Cornelius Kane
9781416596417 $14.00

The dominant sentient species on this world are felines and canine. These two groups are natural enemies and keep as far away from each other as possible. Bull Terrier police officer Crusher McNash loathes cats especially Siamese because he was once a POW and they were his torturing tormenters.

His latest case involves the death of two rottweilers who were torn into shreds. The brass believes a feline is the killer, which brings the Feline Bureau of Investigation into the inquiry. To his chagrin Crusher partners with Siamese Cassius Lap who has some counter theories to the homicides. The two cops are at a fight in which the feline contender goes up in height and weight and easily takes down his opponent. There is a link between the fighter and the killer but anyone with information is quickly killed. The answers lie at the highest levels of power; way beyond the reach of either Crusher or Cassius, but as allies and perhaps even friends, they might be able to ferret out the traitors, if they live long enough to achieve their determined goal.

There have been quite a few mysteries in which animals communicate with humans and other animals as well as the Planet of the Apes, but THE UNSCRATCHABLES uses the premise of no homo sapiens on Kane's world though tempered by Anthropomorphism. Instead the dominant species destroying their planet are the canines and felines. The protagonists have human traits used to lampoon the two legged beasts, but there also are clear psychological differences between the felines and canines. The investigation is cleverly devised so that the natural enemies must truly partner if they are to solve the case; even then it may prove that the higher ups are too protected (sounds familiar). Readers will enjoy the adventures of Crusher and Cassius in this satirical crime caper.

Amazon Ink
Lori Devoti
9781439154274 $7.99

A decade ago, her Amazon tribe killed her newborn boy because of his gender; irate with the priestess whom she believed killed her child and outraged by the silence of her warrior band of sisters, Melanippe Saka does the unthinkable and leaves. She takes her daughter Harmony with her; and is pleased when her warrior mom and priestess grandma leave with them.

Mel opens up a tattoo parlor in Madison, Wisconsin. Her idyllic life ends when someone dumps the murdered corpses of two Amazonians on her doorstep; each on a different date. Mel knows someone has given her a warning that she is the target of an unknown predator. She fears for her family especially her teenage daughter, but wonders if it is the priestess, rogue warriors, or someone even more devious. Unsurprisingly, the cops suspect her, but surprisingly her former tribe also suspects her. All this is going on with the vital need being to hire someone; preferably a female, for the shop.

This is an interesting urban fantasy starring a courageous amazon whose fumbling investigation seems apropos for an amateur sleuth as she is like a bull in a china shop once she begins her bungled inquiry. The story line is fast-paced but Mel makes it work as her actions bring the fantasy elements especially the nomadic Amazons alive and well in Madison. With a fabulous late twist, Lori Devoti sets up further AMAZON INK thrillers.

Crazy for the Storm
Norman Ollestad
9780061766725 $25.99

When he was growing up as "The Boy Wonder", Norman Ollestad admired his FBI agent father for his daredevil lifestyle. The older Ollestad was an adrenaline junkie who threw his son into all sorts of wild escapades that often frightened the preteen, but he always dived head first into them anyway. Norman became a Southern California surfer in Malibu as well as a downhill skier. In February 1979 when he was eleven, Norman, his father, his father's girlfriend, and a Cessna pilot were flying a small plane when it crashed into the San Gabriel Mountains during a blizzard. Everyone inside except the tweener was dead. Norman, heeding his father's mantra "never to give up," began a survival t est requiring endurance and fortitude that would have killed most adults, but he made it in spite of the freezing temperatures on the mountain.

Obviously the tragic plane crash and his ultimate survival are the obvious prime events, but CRAZY FOR THE STORM is much more as this memoir focuses on loving relationships especially that of a father and son and on personal courage. Readers will admire Norman Ollestad not because he survived as a tweener an ordeal when he was also grieving, but because of his belief that the brave try when they are afraid; trying when you have no trepidations does not require courage. Fans will enjoy this inspiring memoir that encourages readers to be all we can be by doing.

You or Someone Like You
Chandler Burr
0061715654 $25.95

Jewish Howard Rosenbaum and Christian Anne Hammersmith met at Columbia when both were Ph.D. candidates in literature. They moved to Los Angeles when he became a movie producer and they have a son Sam. Both still love books, but in LA-LA land everyone seems to have "disdain for the written word" except in a script or an expose bio.

Dreamworks CEO Stacey Snider hires Anne to compile a book list for a book club. She selects classics that reflect how she sees her life especially her relationships. Soon everyone who is in wants Anne to pick their next book to read as she becomes more popular in the literary realm than Oprah. Sam goes to Israel to study, but is rejected by the rabbi in charge of admissions as being "unclean" because his mother is a gentile.

This is a very thought-provoking character driven tale that will have readers admire and emulate Anne with reflection on our lives. Interestingly as Sam turns deeply into his father's religion, Anne feels like an outsider kept from the tent by her spouse, her son, and the rabbis in American and Israel; she feels at best second class. YOU OR SOMEONE LIKE YOU is a fabulous deep contemporary that uses literature as an entrance into the soul of Anne the narrator.

The Shimmer
David Morrell
9781593155377 $25.95

Santa Fe police officer Dan Page is on a high speed car chase when the other vehicle an SUV crashes into a tanker; the ensuing explosion emits a fiery blast into the sky. Stunned, he returns home only to find his wife Tori gone. Already filled with remorse and questioning what he could have done different, Dan also fears for his spouse, but pulls himself together and follows her trail.

He tracks her to Rostov, Texas home of an observatory, a highly patrolled top secret science facility. There is unexplained night sky phenomena that make no sense as some people can see lights in the air while others see nothing. He finds Tori standing amidst other people staring into the sky as if she was beckoned there like in that old movie. Before he can figure out what is going on, a massacre follows when someone begins to shoot at the lights.

This is an exciting thriller with several major happenings going on that converge in Rostov, but fail to completely do so in the story line. Filled with action, conspiracy buffs will relish this engaging tale as the audience and the new Mexico sheriff want to know what is going behind the fence, under the ground and in the sky. Sort of combining Roswell with Marfa, David Morrell provides his fans with an entertaining but somewhat disjointed tale.

Whiskey Gulf
Clyde Ford
9781593155223 $24,95

In the waters of Whiskey Gulf in British Columbia, joint naval maneuversby Canada and the United States are going on when the damaged and filling with water sailboat Rebecca Anne enters the exercise zone. The Kinsleys reach the Comax Coast Guard who transfers them to Winchelsea Control before they are cut off and never heard from again. The Kulsham Yacht Club hires former Coast Guard investigator turned maritime private sleuth Charlie Noble to learn what happened to the couple.

He goes to the area in Whisky Gulf where the sailboat allegedly landed and finds fiberglass pieces and other evidence that supports the theory the Rebecca Anne blew up. Charlie sees two torpedoes going through the water near him. Charlie later learns they were used as a decoy to show the buying country Baharin that the guidance system still needs work. Intelligence confirms that the Kinsley's (not their real names) are needed to testify against a terrorist in the States while the Canadians hide them to keep them safe until they do. An assassin is coming to kill them; a person Charlie once called friend until he shot his brother and that former pal plans to take out Charlie too for killing his sibling.

Action, action, and action to the nth degree makes WHISKEY GULF an absorbing thriller filled with characters who for the most part are hyperbole to insure the action never decelerates. Charlie is retired, but feels duty bound to help destroy a terrorist cell. His partner Raven brings depth to Charlie as he is like a father figure to him. Clyde Ford provides a thriller faster than a speeding Mustang filled with surprising twists and revelations.

Little Lamb Lost
Margaret Fenton
9781933515519 $24.95

In Birmingham, Alabama, the police arrest Ashley Hennessy in the death of her infant son Michael, who died from a drug overdose. Although the evidence seems overwhelming especially with Ashley's track record with drugs and alcohol, social worker Claire Conover does not believe her client would even accidentally kill her son. Claire also admits feeling some guilt since she persuaded the court to return Michael to his mother.

Convinced the woman is innocent as she worked extraordinarily hard to become clean, to be a good mother and hold two jobs, Claire investigates the crime believing someone murdered the child. The social worker knows the personal cost could be her job as she crosses the line, but does not care as guilt and justice motivate her to find the killer although she never anticipated the number of viable suspects she would uncover.

LITTLE LAMB LOST is a fabulous regional amateur sleuth starring a caring protagonist who goes way beyond the extra kilometers to prove her instincts re her client is right. The story line is fast-paced while also bringing out a taste of Birmingham. However, the tale is totally owned by the dedicated heroine who risks her career and her life because she believed her client had changed while the cops assumed the culprit remained a trashy drug using loser. Readers will enjoy this intriguing Alabama whodunit.

Haunting Museums: The Strange and Uncanny Stories Behind the Most Mysterious Exhibits
John Schuster
9780765322920 $14.95

This is great fun as John Schuster explores some of the oddest exhibits; in many cases you will ask what were they thinking. These include the Carnegie Sauropods in which for fifty plus years experts pasted the head of a different dinosaur on the body of a different species. There is the Cardiff Giant and Lizzie Bordon B&B. At the Philadelphia Matter Museum of Medical Anomalies one can visit Grover Cleveland's mouth and then there is the infamous 1897 Living Eskimo Exhibit where people performed live and continued even after they died thanks to taxidermy. Curses abound whether they are Elgin Marbles or jewels taken from tombs while haunting are everywhere including at the Utah Museum. At times some of the entries can be verbose, but an interesting examination of the strange and uncanny on display whether it is DC, NY or Fall River. However, perhaps the strangest of all is the Darger art collection (read the artist's story to learn why).

Cold Choices
Larry Bond
9780765318756 $26.95

Nuclear Sub Captain First Rank Aleksey Petrov is ordered to drive out of the Barents Sea any American naval vessel; even those observing the Russian military exercise from international waters. However, due to a human error, the ambitious and overly zealous Petrov watches in horror as his state of the art vessel the Severodvinsk collides with the USS Seawolf, whose mission was to map the seabed below the Russian naval training maneuvers.

While the American vessel can somewhat move on, the Russian sub sinks to the bottom of the sea. Seawolf Commander Jerry Mitchell, (see DANGEROUS GROUND) assumes the Russians gleefully left to gloat at a nearby submarine port. However, he quickly realizes the Severodvinsk has sunk. The brass from both countries want the incident to stay sunk, but Mitchell feels strongly a rescue of his naval comrades is a must regardless of the Pentagon or the Russian equivalent proclaiming otherwise, however he also worries his damaged ship might not be up to the task and could result in the deaths of his crew.

Readers will feel a bit claustrophobic as Larry Bond provides an insightful look at life on a submarine especially during a crisis. The story line is loaded with action and overloaded with gizmos. Although the brass in both capitals act in their usual political expedient manners that have become too common in literature, fans will enjoy the dilemmas of the two captains. Mitchell could not care less what the fat cats several thousand miles away demand, as he must decide between the risks to his crew vs. a rescue. On the other hand Petrov does care what Moscow thinks so he must decide whether to accept help that will end his career but save some of his crew or die with them; the choice is not as easy as it sounds because he does not trust the Americans to rescue them if they collect what they came for.

The Cheater
Nancy Taylor Rosenberg
9780765319029 $24.95

Lily Forester has come a long way from when she killed her daughter's rapist (see Mitigating Circumstances) as she is now a Ventura County judge. She even survived killing the wrong man at that time and her daughter killing the right male (see Buried Evidence).

Recently Lily and lawyer Anne Bradley have become friends. However, Anne has accused Lily's husband Bryce Donnelly of rape in Vegas. Meanwhile FBI profiler Mary Stevens has begun finding a pattern of a female serial killer murdering cheating spouses. She is unaware who even as Alibi Connection inadvertently helps Anne locate cheaters in order to kill them.

THE CHEATER is a fascinating cat and mouse serial killer investigation. The story line is fast-paced and gripping though the readers know who the killer is early on and that man-eater is a zillion kilometers over the top of the Sierras as a psychopath. Mary is a terrific support character as she struggles to profile a female predator while Lily remains tormented and remorseful though she does not prevent her internal demons from doing her job. Fans will enjoy her return and want more profiling from Mary.

Kiss of the Phantom
Julie Leto
9780451227362 $6.99

In Germany, Australian treasure hunter Mariah Hunter gets to the artifact before her top rival, her former lover Ben Rousseau. He warns her that the hidden stone she has found is cursed, but she assumes he is pulling a ruse to steal the find from her.

When she touches the stone, she is shocked. Her caress releases Rafe Forsyth from his rock imprisonment; he and his brothers were incarcerated inside of stone by dark mage Rogan. Needing to provide priceless coins to a dangerous collector she foolishly agreed to work for, Mariah makes a deal with Rafe. She will help him get fully freed from his imprisonment and not just his current nocturnal liberty if in return he helps her find valuable loot to pay her debt. Besides her treacherous client, neither is aware of an enemy of Rafe coming to kill both of them.

The third Phantom urban romantic fantasy (see PHANTOM'S TOUCH and PHANTOM PLEASURES) is an engaging tale due to the lead female, a gender bending rogue who at a minimum stretches the boundaries of the law and ethics. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Mariah touches the prison stone and never slows as she and Rafe take the audience on a series of misadventures as love may not be enough to set him free.

Red Kiss
Deidre Knight
9780451226617 $7.99

The Spartan warrior slave, River Kassandros, is the ultimate weapon as he can turn into any shape and is endowed with Ares' berserker gift that is extremely useful in battle, which is his life. However during the revolt against their god Ares, River fought as a dagger only to be caught and thrown into the sea trapped in that shape forever (see the RED FIRE). His Spartan mates desperately search for him as they understand the curse he now will suffer eternally with his soul gone forever unless the right mortal frees him, but they fail to find him.

Several months later, River makes telepathic contact with psychically gifted mortal Emma Lowery. Attracted to his savior, River fears his emotions as he is unsure he can contain his berserker curse. Ares continues his assault on the Spartans and his efforts to regain control over River. Emma wants River, but knows to chase him could mean her death as he seems to be the focus of some powerful forces beyond her ken.

The second Gods of Midnight romantic fantasy is a terrific tale that once again will have readers believing in the Knight world where Gods and immortals intervene in the lives of expendable humans. The fast-paced story line is filled with plenty of action and passion. The overarching plot of the saga moves forward somewhat as Deirdre Knight provides an intriguing tale as his reason for being was protecting humanity, but now wants to focus his protection on one particular human.

Jacquelyn Frank
9781420104233 $6.99

The Shadowdwellers live underground in a complex metropolis of caves and tunnels underneath the mountains of Alaska. They are the Nightwalkers who avoid the rays of the sun which destroys them with the slightest contact; they thrive in the moonlight. The war is over and the monarchy is restored. There is new hope that the race will become more honorable, tolerant and technologically advanced like the other nightwalker races.

Daenaira has been treated as a slave by her uncle and aunt for eight years, forced to wear a shock collar to enforce her obedience. The day comes when she is sold and before she leaves her aunt's home is shocked into unconsciousness. When she awakens she is in Sanctuary, the church of the Shadowdwellers led by High Priest Magnus who enforces the law and the morals of his people. He informs Dae that the goddess Drenna gave him visions that she was to become his handmaiden. Dae takes awhile but soon trusts Magnus and finds some serenity in Sanctuary even though treachery by unknown people wanting more power has her watching her back. He has enemies who want him dead, but they had not counted on the ferocity of the innocent in love protecting like a lioness her beloved; nor the priest also in love willing to die to keep the former slave safe.

The second Shadowdweller book (see ECSTASY) is more complex and delves deeper into the culture of the Shadowdwellers that is much different than our own. Magnus and Daenaira are a fascinating coupling as he has justifiable doubts about having a hand maiden who has the duties of a wife since the last handmaiden tried to poison him while she fears people after the torture her aunt put her through. .Unlike his former handmaiden who he had for decades and was celibate with, he can't control his desire for the woman the goddess chose for him. Jacquelyn Frank is one of the best paranormal romantic fantasy authors writing today and is a favorite of this reviewer.

Under the Radar
Fern Michaels
9781420106831 $6.99

After the success of their FINAL JUSTICE mission, the seven Sisterhood members return to their mountaintop retreat looking forward to some R&R. One hour later before anyone can fully settle back, the alarm rings. The women react instantly only to their shock mentor Charles and Myra leave together by copter. He leaves behind an enigmatic note for the team.

Almost immediately after the helicopter lifts off, retired judge Pearl Barnes needs their help. She has rescued fourteen pregnant teens from a polygamous sect and needs the Sisterhood to finish their trip to safety. The teammates set forth as they fully support Pearl's Underground Railroad that rescues abused females, but also fear their first project sans Charles.

By removing the mentor for most of the story line, Fern Michaels refreshes her Sisterhood saga as they are on their own for the first time after a dozen previous adventures with Charles available. The Story line is fast-paced from the moment that Pearl calls for their help and never slows down as they try to keep the teens safe. With echoes of the Texas raid last year, fans of the saga will appreciate Fern Michaels' latest twist.

If He's Wicked
Hannah Howell
9781420104608 $6.99

Like generations of her ancestors Chloe Wherlocke has special skills; in her case she has visions. In 1785 she sees her sister dying while giving birth to a stillborn followed by men bringing a living newborn to exchange for the dead baby. In hiding Chloe sees what she envisioned occur. Chloe and her cousin Leo Wherlocke raise baby Anthony.

Three years later they rescue a drunken Julian Kenwood from an assassin. Julian informs the Wherlocke cousins that his man-eating adulteress wife Lady Beatrice and his Uncle Arthur want him dead. He also mentions his wife gave birth a few years ago to a stillborn. He is shocked when he meets his son Anthony and how duplicitous his spouse is having exchanged their live child for a dead infant. Leo offers to protect father and son starting with spreading a rumor that the Earl died and sometime afterward taking the fight to the evil duet. Meanwhile as the two Kenwood males become acquainted, the older falls in love with Chloe, who reciprocates.

This Georgian romantic urban fantasy is an exciting suspenseful tale of love, murder and adultery. The lead pairing of Chloe and Julian is handled smartly to overcome the obvious anticipation that they will fall in love. In spite of the villains being so outrageously vile they are over the top of Big Ben, fans will appreciate Hannah Howell's enjoyable historical as the beleaguered in love heroes try to keep Anthony safe while struggling with staying alive against incredible odds and insane evil.

In the Flesh
Livia Dare
9781420100907 $6.99

For five years, the daughter of the Army's top general, Sapphire the concubine has been numero uno with the King of Sari. However, her popularity with the monarch means Sapphire has a powerful enemy, the queen orders her out of the palace. Her exile to her lavish home includes servants so Sapphire feels good that she no longer is a sex toy.

Crown Prince Wulfric of warring neighboring D'Ashier arrives at her home badly injured. She realizes who he is and once he heals they make love. He wants her in his home, but she is loyal to her nation. However, he rejects her refusal and takes her to his palace where he makes her his top concubine over her second objection. However, as they fall in love, Wulf begins to wonder who the prisoner is.

The first Sapphire other world romantic thriller is a fabulous tale starring a delightful courageous heroine and the stubborn Prince she conquers. Sub-genre fans will appreciate the fast-paced story line from the moment that the Sari Queen exiles her greatest rival into an affluent banishment and never slows down as the heroine is abducted by the royal she saves. With vivid detail to her exotic world that feels like an entry found in the Arabian Nights, Livia Dare provides a strong opening entry in what looks like a wonderful saga.

Robert Ludlam's The Bourne Deception
Eric Van Lustbader
Grand Central
9780446539821 $27.99

Former CIA assassin Jason Bourne believes he killed his Russian equivalent Leonid Arkadin (see THE BOURNE SANCTION) when he pushed his greatest enemy into the ocean. Soon after that incident, a highly placed Fed makes a deal with a Russian to kill Bourne in exchange for killing a terrorist. The Russian is Arkadin who survived his watery grave and in Bali he fires at Bourne, hitting him with the accuracy of the best snipers, but somehow though severely hurt Bourne escapes and lives.

While Arkadin tries to assassinate Bourne, a US commercial airline is shot down over Egypt. The American Secretary of Defense blames that deadly assault on Iranian terrorists sanctioned by that country. War seems imminent, but Bourne is caught in the middle learning the truth about double dealing on personal and state levels.

Fast-paced and very exciting though over the top of the pyramids, the latest Bourne thriller is a fun tale in which action, believable or incredulous, and more action overwhelms the plot as the sum of the subplots is greater than the story line. Additionally, none of the characters including Bourne and Arkadin seem even partially developed; compounded by the hero's limited role; as the feats of daring do supersede all else. This is only for die hard fans of the saga.

Dead Men's Boots
Mike Carey
Grand Central
9780446580328 $25.99

London exorcist Felix "Fix" Castor attends the funeral of his possessed friend John Gittings when a fancy dressed lawyer Maynard Todd arrives with a court order authorizing cremation; the widow Carla asks Fix to prevent the disinterring of her spouse's body. The spirit remains in his body's home.

Fix is at the Magistrate Court supporting the contention of Pam "Pen" Bruckner that she has power of attorney for possessed Rafael Ditko. However, Professor Jenna-Jane Mulbridge has a counter claim insisting Rafi is unsafe to free from her asylum where she researches the paranormal. Judge Runcie realizes there are two issues with his legal focus on a review panel, angering Pam and satisfying Jenna-Jane for now.

Janie Hunter wants to hire Fix to prove her husband Doug did not commit the rape and murder that he has been accused of and arrested for. She insists that American serial killer Myriam Seaforth Kale performed the deeds although she has been dead for four decades. Fix knows the MO in the brutal King's Cross rape-murder is exactly that described of Kale. So he assumes somehow the odious evil came back, but how and where she is stymies the exorcist because he fears a repeat that he wants to prevent. However, Fix's inquiry assisted by Juliet the succubus and Nicky the paranoid zombie leads him to something even darker crossing over.

This London based urban fantasy thriller contains three prime subplots that grip the reader from the moment the body of Gittings is interred and never slows down as every move the exorcist makes seems increasingly dangerous. The story line is fast-paced as Fix works his inquiries. Sub-genre fans will enjoy his escapades and seek his previous two caseloads (see Vicious Circle and THE DEVIL YOU KNOW).

April & Oliver
Tess Callahan
Grand Central
9780446540599 $23.99

In Maine her teenage brother Buddy died in a car accident driving April's vehicle. Despondent and blaming herself for Buddy's death April cannot move on. Her childhood friend Oliver heard of Buddy's death and though he has not seen either sibling he is worried about April so he seeks her out to offer sympathy and solace. He finds her crying hysterically at Bobby's grave.

Oliver is attending law school and though engaged to someone else, he is attracted to his buddy. April feels the same, which adds to her already overwhelming feelings of guilt. April prefers rough bad boys not kind caring men like Oliver. He, in turn, has his future planned as a married lawyer. Yet the attraction between the reflective responsible Oliver and the reckless rash April cannot be ignored.

The relationship between April & Oliver changes subtly throughout this enjoyable contemporary romance yet as the attraction increases, readers remain doubtful whether this pair of opposites can find common ground yet seem fated to be together. In death as he did when they were kids, Buddy reunites the lead couple. Tess Callahan provides a profound intelligent drama that argues love is not enough so April & Oliver ponder to be or not to be together and if to be, how will their teaming truly work beyond the dysfunctional?

Sisters & Husbands
Connie Briscoe
Grand Central
9780446534895 $24.99

In Baltimore Beverly is now thirty-nine years old and been engaged twice before, but broke it off each time. Now she prays three is the lucky charm as she and Julian plan to marry in four weeks. Her two older married sisters and her best friend believe he is the one who will exchange I do with Beverly as he is perfect and they are obviously in love.

However, the commitment phobic Beverly receives three shockers that makes her reconsider marriage. Her two forty something siblings are having marital problems with the oldest Evelyn considers divorce after pretending her spouse is perfect and Charmaine has had enough; both have kids. Her best friend is having an affair with her brother-in-law. Beverly once again doubts marriage as vows mean nothing even to people she respected like her extended family and her former BFF.

A decade in literary terms (fifteen years in real life) has passed since Beverly was a sort of schizoid mix of wanting to marry but somewhat fearful of commitment (see SISTERS AND LOVERS) though her two sisters had husbands and children. The cast is solid as each has personal issues while Beverly holds the story line together with her scrutiny of what is unraveling around her. Although not quite as intense as one would expect from a family drama that looks into marital woes, Connie Briscoe provides a wonderful sequel that her fans will enjoy catching up with Beverly.

A Talent for Sin
Lavinia Kent
9780061734083 $6.99

In 1818 the widow Lady Violet Carrington loves her life with no husband. She is a liberated woman due to her status and her wealth. Although she receives proposals, she rejects all of them because she logically thinks why she would never willingly become a second class citizen again. Besides which she has a younger hunk as her willing lover and she assumes he would never want to wed a woman seven years his senior.

Her male is rich Lord Peter St. John who believes in marriage to one's beloved; in his case Violet, who he knows is recalcitrant about remarrying. Still she owns his heart and he prays he has hers too. Though he knows the risk he proposes; she refuses insisting he needs a virgin sometime in his future. Peter challenges his beloved to be his equal partner placing Violet in emotional peril as she begins to see how much he wants her and how far he is willing to go. Will she take a chance on a second marriage with love as the equalizer or will she choose her current single freedom?

This is a superb Regency romance starring two likeable lead protagonists who both think they know what they want. Violet is especially wonderful as she takes advantage of society' unwritten rules for widows while her lover Peter demands more of her and their relationship. Ironically his being younger than her make a marital match unacceptable by the Ton, but being lovers is fine by the aristocracy. Fans will enjoy this strong poignant historical as Violet must choose between to be or not to be married for that is the question.

Darkness Burning
Delilah Devlin
9780061498206 $13.99

The storm of the century devastated New Orleans leaving the city vulnerable to murders, looters, and other deadly predators. In that environs, one killer should not stick out, but to reporter Mikaelaan evil is walking the streets.

Daywalker Alex Broussard has patiently waited seven centuries for his time to occur. He believes it is now. So he prepares to fight to the death the malevolent demon and the invincible female vampire that head the Undead. The only thing distracting him from his date with death is Miki, who he wants but fears allowing her into his dangerous life at a time he hopes to insure a future for his species; yet knows he can no longer allow her to roam The Crescent City alone.

The third erotic Dark Realm urban fantasy (see INTO THE DARKNESS and SEDUCED BY THE DARKNESS) is a super thriller that fans of the saga will devour faster than an Undead can drink blood. The story line is fast-paced and filled with plenty of action including soft BDSM. Although newcomers will be better suited reading the previous two novels first than diving into an already wrecked New Orleans, sub-genre fans will believe the trip into Delilah Devilin's devilishly delightful Darkness is worth the time.

Forbidden Fantasies
Lynn LaFleur
9780061632723 $13.99

"Celina" and two of her three BFFs get together in Fort Lauderdale on the S.S. Fantasy for a weekend to pay homage to their other close friend Carol who celebrated life with elan but recently died. Celina relishes the pirate-captain fantasy that feels so real that she is ready to repeat it with the ship's captain.

"Elayne" plans on a weekend tryst with the first officer and no more; though the spaceship was out of this world and makes her want to reconsider a third long term relationships after two failed marriages.

"Jasmine" hopes her friends get their fantasies fulfilled, while she plans to do what she always does pay for a weekend until the stranger has her wanting more especially since he seems uninterested in her money.

These three heated erotic romances are lighthearted fun to read as the trio pay their respect to a fallen comrade by doing what she would have done, a weekend of playing out their deepest sexual fantasy.

City of Souls
Vicki Petterson
9780061456787 $7.99

In Las Vegas, Agent of the Light Joanna "Kairos" Archer is a unique warrior battling the forces of evil Shadow as part of her essence is the dark shadow. Currently she is masquerading as her socialite sister Olivia with a need to rescue BFF Vanessa taken and tortured because the enemy want Joanna as they know she as the Kairos is the Chosen One to balance the light and the dark

She learns of a young girl suffering from an unknown horrific illness that somehow the dark side of Joanna caused. As the Kairos she knows what this means; if the child dies the light dies too. Joanna must enter the dark to save the light by saving the child; if she fails Sin City turns neon brighter but soul wise eternally dark even for those who enter from the outside.

The forth Zodiac urban fantasy (see TOUCH OF TWILIGHT, THE TASTE OF NIGHT, and SCENT OF SHADOWS0 is a terrific entry that focuses on how tenuous the balance between light and shadow is as an innocent little girl becomes the center of the war. Joanna is at her best as her mission is very personal this time. Sub-genre fans of the Petterson universe will relish this dark entry as Sin City may no longer be a CITY OF SOULS if the heroine fails on her quest.

Led Astray By A Rake
Sara Bennett
9780061336911 $6.99

In 1837 recent Miss Debenham's Finishing School graduate Miss Lucille Monteith knows she must marry a respectable suitor, but the only man she desires is the unacceptable Lord Dominic "Wicked Nic" Lacey, who proposed to her when she was ten. Olivia swears the scandalous Wicked Nic hides his caring soul from the world, but admits to herself that she may be biased by her feelings and her childhood memories of a kindhearted friend.

Dominic conceals a horrific secret that if revealed would destroy him because his Livy would hate him; thus he avoids her as the Wicked Nic. Still as servants matchmake the pair in that subtle manipulation those under the stairs can do, they fall in love, but each risks their respective heart, she her family's wrath if he stays true to form and he his soul if he reveals what he knows and must tell her.

The first Husband Hunters Club is a terrific early Victorian romance starring a wonderful young lady and a male rake with incredible layers of depth that only his beloved and his caring servant seem to see underneath his façade. In many ways on surface the lead couple steps out of the nineteenth century romance prototype, but deep Dominic with his secret provides the freshness to a strong opening act. Fans will not be led astray by an author with Sara Bennett's talent that shines through in this fine historical.

To Ruin the Duke
Debra Mullins
9780061577857 $6.99

Miranda Fontaine finds the aristocracy useless though she is one of them; albeit from the wrong side of the sheets as her mom was a famous actress. Her opinion of the Ton is further affirmed when her best friend Lettie dies holding her hand while giving birth to the illegitimate son of Lord Wylde. Miranda promises her dead friend she will force Duke Thornton Matherston to claim the newborn James as his.

Thornton has begun hearing rumors of his scandalous behavior as an out of control Wylde who is a womanizing, drinking, and gambling rogue. When Miranda confronts him with his son, he denies siring any offspring. She believes his insistence as evidence mounts someone is impersonating him. They begin to investigate, but as they fall in love, the truth instead of setting them free leaves them in peril.

This entertaining historical romance focuses on identity theft as someone steals the Duke of Wyldehaven's name and destroys his reputation while seemingly having a grand old time. The story line is fast-paced once the heroine challenges the Wylde Duke and never slows down until a final confrontation. Fans will enjoy Debra Mullins delightful nineteenth century romance that showcases the twenty-first century concept of identity theft is not confined to modern day society.

Desire Untamed
Pamela Palmer
9780061667510 $6.99

Preschool teacher Kara MacAllister lives a sedate life until Lyon, leader of the shapeshifting Therian Feral Warriors, tries to abduct her. He and his band of eight guardian warriors need Kara, who as the Radiant has the power to channel energy to them so that these feral Warriors can find, fight, and kill the dreaded draden energy suckers.

Kara is attracted to her kidnapper, but still wants to go home and forget about Feral Warriors even after he tells her she is almost immortal like all Therians and is the chosen one who can save the world from the energy eaters. He further insists she must perform the ritual of mate choosing to accomplish her save the world mission; she wants to say no, but realizes she has no choice.

DESIRES UNTAMED is a fast-paced, graphically violent action-packed urban romantic fantasy. In some ways the exciting thriller feels like a mystery as the Feral Warriors, their Radiant and readers struggle to uncover the identity of their clever enemy. Ironically, the "Untamed" Palmer world is developed as is the passionate relationship between Kara and Lyon; yet none of the key characters including the lead couple, come across as more than two dimensional. Still sub-genre fans who relish a hot romance inside a vivid escapade filled thriller will enjoy reading the opening of Pamela Palmer's "Untamed" world.

One Reckless Summer
Toni Blake
0061429899 $6.99

Jenny Tolliver left her hometown Destiny, Ohio thirteen years ago, but has just returned home after divorcing her cheating spouse. Back then everyone who knew her classified her as a good person who would never cause her parents any aggravation; little miss perfect. Even the town's bad boy and chief hell-raiser back in high school, Mick Brody thought that and still does in spite of a bump and run tryst they share in the woods as a homecoming special.

She relished the sex with Mick that made Ohio's summer heat seem cool in comparison and decides this will be her ONE RECKLESS SUMMER. As Jenny and Mick become a couple, her father the chief of police objects; ironically so does Mick who cannot resist tasting her though he knows he needs to stop imbibing. However, Jenny also knows Mick's hesitation is not just reputations; she assumes he is concealing something from her and is determined to learn what it is.

This is an entertaining contemporary romance starring a good girl deciding the time for a sexual summer is now and a so called bad boy who is her willing heat raiser. They make a fun couple as no one would believe the pairing and her parents raise hell objecting. Well written filled with and a strong small-town Buckeye cast struggling with issues, the tale is summed up poignantly by Miss Ellie who succinctly states: "He's hot".

Holding Out for a Hero
Ana Leigh
9781416551386 $6.99

In 1874 Arizona Rico Fraser is leaving his civilian work for the army to go home to California to visit family though he remains obsessed over one thing; killing cold-blooded gunslinger Ben Slatter. The psychopath, along with his outlaw gang assaulted his mother. Rico has no time for the needs of some obstinate female he meets; instead, he remains fixated on his mission except for a small break to go home.

When Slatter kidnaps that stubborn female Jennifer Burke and her Aunt Andrea; Rico sets out to rescue her before the gang rapes, tortures and kills them. His plan is to save the women and kill the psychopath and as much of the odious gangbangers as he can. However, when he rescues then without completing his quest, he must dump her fast though he also wants her. Jennifer is attracted to him when he acts kind and not when he is a bully. However both reject desire as he remains married to killing his mother's murderer and she does not want an obstinate gunslinger even if justice is on his side.

The latest Fraser brother western romance (see HIS BOOTS UNDER HER BED, THE LAWMAN SAID I DO and THE FRASERS: CLAY) is an entertaining Americana tale that is filled with non-stop action especially in the first half and throughout a gender war. Although the plot somewhat decelerates after the incredible opening pace, the lead couple's bickering which started from their first meeting keeps the story line fun to read. Fans will enjoy this Fraser family reunion as Rico assumes that Jennifer is a pampered American princess and Jennifer assumes Rico is a gun-slinging bounty hunter.

Seduce the Darkness
Gena Showalter
1416531645 $7.99

Targonia Royal House Prince Devyn de bon ci Laci had spent what seemed several lifetimes being in trouble with his royal father for his womanizing of any female of any species in spite of his being betrothed to Princess Mika since birth. Now he is an agent of AIR (Alien Investigation and Removal).

Bride McKellis grew up on the streets rather fast during the Alien-Human war, but now almost eight decades later the vampiric survivalist lives in New Chicago. She smells a special odor that reminds her of her long time friend Aleha Love whom she has not seen in sixteen years. She chases after the aroma, which leads her to the egomaniacal Devyn, still a womanizer and tries to pick her up though he is Targon and she is human; and he takes her underground so she can meet more. He also knows her blood is critical to save some friends of his, but he to his shock is falling in love; she fell in love when they were still on the streets of New Chicago. As Bride begins to comprehend who she truly is, she fears she must choose between love and her destiny to save the world.

SEDUCE THE DARKNESS is a super futuristic romantic thriller that takes an interesting urban fantasy spin from the previous Alien Investigation and Removal science fiction entries (see the Alien Huntress and Teen Alien Huntress saga). The story line is fast-paced but it is the pairing of Devyn and Bride that makes the tale fun to read as ironically the womanizer has finally met his woman, but she is destiny's darling. Gena Showalter fans will enjoy her latest New Chicago tale that twists the series into a wider range of future possibilities.

Drawing In The Dust
Zoe Klein
9781416599128 $25.00

For Twelve years American archeologist Page Brookstone has dug at the biblical site Megiddo, Israel, but is bone weary. She knows she needs a change to rejuvenate her creative juices as the dig has become tedious to her in spite of Norris Anderson, who worked with her late legendary father.

The car of an Arab couple Naima and Ibrahim breaks down near the dig. Page offers them tea inside her tent. They soon invite Page to investigate the two spirits who haunt the ruins under their home in Anatot near Jerusalem. Page's peers suggest it is unsafe, but she assumes they mean an American in an Arab neighborhood. She travels to the site where she and her team unearth an incredible biblical find. She soon realizes incredible is an under exaggeration as Page believes they have found the burial site of the prophet Jeremiah and his beloved Anatiya. Fascinatingly Anatiya has left her version of the times that matches up with the Book of Jeremiah. Soon the find leads to a major brouhaha while Page is attracted to Orthodox Jew Mortichai Master, who opposes the dig.

Rabbi Klein's terrific thriller works for three prime reasons. First it is not another Brownian clone. Second the insightful look at how tedious and methodical a biblical dig is brings authenticity to the plot. Finally, Arabs like Naima and Ibrahim are intelligent highly educated people. Rabbi Klein shows respect and admiration of Israeli and Arab cultures. Fast-paced with a strong support cast, readers will dig the superb DRAWING IN THE DUST as the Prophet Jeremiah comes alive through his writings and that of the woman he loved Anatiya.

The Calling
David Mack
9781416579922 $15.00

In Sawyer, Pennsylvania, Tom Nash is gifted or cursed depending on your perspective with the ability to hear telepathically someone's prayers. He feels a need that borders on obsession to follow-up on the call for help. Thus he drops whatever he is doing and goes to the person in need.

When he hears an eleven year old girl in New York City begging God to save her from her kidnappers, Tom knows he must find and rescue her. He leaves his pregnant wife and his job behind and travels to the Big Apple though he is unsure where the child is being held. Though some would say dumb luck, Tom believes he has been guided to a poster of missing Phaedra Doyle. This leads him to Phaedra's despondent wealthy mom, the widow Anna in Brooklyn. He explains how he found her and she trusts him to help save her daughter while telling him she has been warned to keep law enforcement out or else. .

This is an interesting paranormal thriller starring an intriguing intrepid lead character who "hears" voices of prayers. The story line is fast-paced as Tom terrific courageously does what he believes is his calling in life when he just wants to stay in Pennsylvania with his family. The lack of explanation as to how the champion chooses his involvement and mutes the zillion prayers for divine intervention to keep from going certifiable (think of Rogue of the X-Men without the need to touch someone) detracts from an otherwise super thriller.

The Jewel Box
Anna Davis
1416537368 $15.00

In 1927 London, Grace Rutherford is an advertising copywriter who supports her female only family. However at night Grace turns into the It-Girl of the moment, glamorous weekly gossip columnist Diamond Sharp. Her articles re her adventures amidst the rich and famous are very popular.

Grace loves being the single It-Girl Diamond. However her dual identities run into a bit of a snag that tea or booze will not abate. As Diamond she enjoys her heated trysts with American author Dexter O'Connell; as Grace she enjoys her heated trysts with her neighbor John Cramer. However, Grace learns Dexter and John loathe one another and she is determined to learn why the animosity as she knows it can't be just her because their mutual abhorrence started before she met them.

THE JEWEL BOX is a super Roaring Twenties chick lit novel starring an intriguing heroine in two roles; one as an extrovert while the other is somewhat an introvert. The story line is fast-paced with a few mild but enjoyable twists involving her widow sister and the Rutherford skeletons. Fans will agree that the 1920s make a perfect setting for chick lit as Anna Davis provides a wonderfully entertaining historical.

Don't Bargain With The Devil
Sabrina Jeffries
9781416560814 $7.99

In 1824 famous illusionist Diego Montalvo plans to convert some property, if he can purchase it, into a pleasure garden. He is unconcerned that next door is The School for Heiresses as he figures the students, faculty and owner Charlotte Harris would learn something useful by being peeping Thomasina.

Teacher Lucinda Seton plans to prevent him from putting a scandalous edifice next to the school though she is not sure how to stop him. Actually, he has no interest in the estate or in building a house of pleasure. Instead he has used that as a ploy to get close to Lucinda to determine if she is the granddaughter of a Spanish nobleman; in return for bringing home the heiress, he will regain his family's lost property. To prove she is who he thinks he is Diego must seduce Lucinda in order see if she has a special birthmark on her body. As he plays master magician she proves to be his enchantress when they fall in love. However, he knows when she learns the truth about his mission she will flee back to England while he demands she remain in Spain.

The latest School for Heiresses late Regency romance (see LET SLEEPING DOS LIE, BEWARE A SCOT'S REVENGE and NEVER SEDUCE A SCOUNDREL) contains a terrific early premise with the rogue proclaiming his plan. His scheme places the school in jeopardy as zoning codes probably do not exist or if some do they are very ineffective. The story line takes a twist into more traditional historical themes of falling in love with the lost heiress the hero finds but is kept refreshed by his original ploy. Sabrina Jeffries provides quite an education for her fans with this charmer.

Master of Craving
Karin Tabke
9781439102572 $6.99

In 1067 fighting for King William at the Battle of Hereford in England, Stefan de Valrey leads his band of warriors in combat only to see his side lose. He escapes, but several of his soldiers are captured and held hostage. Stefan owes it to his loyal men to do what it takes to liberate them.

He has his chance when he rescues Saxon Princess Arian from a rapist. He plans to trade the naked woman riding with him in exchange for his men. Arian demands Stefan vow that he will protect her virginity. Stefan agrees though not touching his guest may be the most difficult battle of his life as he rides with more blood in his lower head than his upper head. Still in spite of his desire, his men come first.

The latest Blood Sword Legacy (see MASTER OF TORMENT and MASTER OF SURRENDER) is an enjoyable Conqueror romance starring two obvious enemies falling in love. Although the theme is similar to the previous novels with a Norman knight and a Saxon aristocrat battling one another and their attraction for each other, fans will relish this fine entry as Karin Tabke once again makes it fresh this time focusing on rescuing the captured Norman warriors.

In Over Her Head
Judi Fennell
9781402220012 $6.99

Although she owns a marina on the Jersey shore, Erica Peck suffers from hydrophobia ever since she nearly drowned as a child. When her former boyfriend Joey pushes her into the ocean to retrieve diamonds with sharks everywhere, she panics believing she is about to die. Instead the second son of the underwater King of the Mer Prince Reel Tritone saves her life.

Reel is attracted to the land dweller so he enables her to breathe in the water as he takes her on a tour of his home filled with friendly talking fish, nasty looking monstrosities and a weird colorful terrain. He especially enjoys her lung capacity "shell-fillers" and her in his third leg. Their mutual eyeballing of one another leads to hands on and a night of passion; with both wanting more trysts. However he is a royal from under the sea with responsibilities even if they are only as the spare while she has feared the sea for years.

With a gender bending of the movie Splash, IN OVER HER HEAD is a fun romantic fantasy starring two likable lead characters and a support cast like his pal Chum who makes the undersea kingdom seems real. The tale is fast-paced but somewhat distracted by an over abundance of watery humor that as individual puns are witty, but taken as a whole somewhat dampen the story line. Still Judi Fennell provides a fun under the sea romance.

Bad Things Happen
Harry Dolan
Amy Einhorn Books (Putnam)
9780399155635 $24.95

David Loogan lives and hides in Ann Arbor in hope of moving past a violent history that he knows he will never forget. He begins to write a short story for Gray Streets literary crime-fiction journal. Though he never finishes the project, the magazine publisher Tom Kristoll likes what he has seen. He offers David a position as an editor, which he accepts. David, Tom, and his wife Laura become friends.

Tom obtains David's help in dumping a corpse though the former does not believe the latter's explanation. Soon afterward Tom falls to his death from his office window. AAPD Homicide Detective Elizabeth Waishkey suspects David killed Tom especially when evidence surfaces that he slept with Laura. As other people associated with Gray Streets die, single mom Elizabeth focuses even more intensely on David, who conducts his own inquiry to uncover the killer before he is on trial.

The fun in this terrific twisting serial killer investigative tale is the writers who are intelligent and witty until they become the star of someone else's plot. The story line is fast-paced and the amateur sleuth prime suspect and the obstinate cop chasing him makes for an intriguing duel. Mindful of the movies' Theater of Blood and Murder by Death, but less hammy, fans will enjoy Harry Dolan's fine thriller that as Vincent Price said (in Theatre of Blood) is "much ado about murder".

Killer Summer
Ridley Pearson
9780399155727 $24.95

In Sun Valley, Idaho, Blaine County Sheriff Walt Fleming goes fly fishing with his teenage nephew Kevin so both can escape the extended family woes that would fill up a months worth of Jerry Springer shows; the nastiest to cope with is the suicide of Keith's father. At the same time, international wine experts are in town to bid on the best with the most acclaimed being three bottles that Jefferson gave to Adams.

As the auction begins, a bomb explodes as a cover to the scheme created by genius Christopher Cantell to steal the valuable wine by keeping the law enforcement occupied; as he knows how they will react. As Walt follows clues he feels himself being manipulated by a master puppeteer who has yanked him and his staff in a trillion directions with no leads coming together and following the same path. Meanwhile caught in the middle of the brilliant caper is Kevin who turns out to be the unanticipated fly in the ointment for law enforcement and super thieves.

KILLER SUMMER may be the best police procedural of the year so far as there are so many plausible twists that Walt and readers will wonder if they imbibed. The story line is fast-paced from the moment Walt notices the strange truck while fishing and never decelerates even when the plot takes a spin. Fans will enjoy Ridley Pearson's terrific crime caper as the author keeps readers full attention throughout wondering what next.

The Defector
Daniel Silva
9780399155680 $26.95

It has been six months since Israeli Agent Gabriel Allon got Colonel Grigori Bulganov, Elena Kharkov and her children out of Russia, but not without a blood bath (see MOSCOW RULES). Allon as the Art restorer Alessio Vianelli is with his new wife Chiara on their honeymoon in Umbria while works on a piece for the Vatican. They are shocked to learn that Grigori, who was given asylum in Britain and saved Allon's life in Moscow, has vanished. British intelligence believes he was a double agent who returned to Moscow; they hold Allon culpable for any leaks since he brought him to London vouching for the Russian. Gabriel discounts the theory of that the colonel redefected because if so Grigori should never had saved his life; instead he fears something more sinister occurred.

Gabriel assumes that Elena's irate husband Ivan Kharkov, a billionaire arms dealer and close friend of the Russian President, is behind the kidnapping because he believes Grigori betrayed him professionally and personally. Kharkov is also after Allon, who exposed one of his sales which made him persona non-grata in what the rich Russian considers the civilized nations. The personal stakes are raised dramatically when Kharkov's assassins abduct Chiara knowing Allon will come for her on their turf. Allon with the backing of Israel, American and Britain plans to rescue his spouse and kill her kidnapper.

Gabriel Allon has been and continues to be one of the most fascinating espionage agents for years in perhaps the best thriller series on the market in the past decade. Besides his being a powerhouse, the women in his circle like his wife also an agent are also competent and strong. The follow up to the super MOSCOW RULES is excellent as the saga of Bulganov takes a radical spin turning personal for Allon. Readers will not have seen that coming once they had escaped from Russia, but as always Daniel Silva provides another great entry that will elate fans who will also wonder how the author can top THE DEFECTOR.

Black Hills
Nora Roberts
9780399155819 $26.95

At eleven years old Coop Sullivan was sent for the summer to his grandparents' South Dakota ranch. Although he objected as he never wanted to go, he meets Lil Chance there and he learns to love his relatives who shower him with love back. This was the most wonderful summer of his life and he repeated it for years until he and Lil fell in love. However, they went their separate ways to attend colleges many miles apart until he deserted his Lil and their love.

Now almost a decade later, Coop is at the ranch caring for his grandmother and Lil is back too. The wildlife biologist wants no part of her former lover, the ex police officer turned private investigator. However she needs him when uncontroversial proof surfaces that the man who killed some animals and a man waits for her on her animal refuge. Coop risks his life to keep his beloved Lil safe and hopes the time will give him a chance to make amends for his failure as he now knows with maturity she is the one.

BLACK HILLS is Nora Roberts at her magical best as she constructs what seems on the surface as a formulaic romantic suspense, but in her words turns into a thrilling love story. Lil is terrific as she understands her peril and turns to the only person she trusts to keep her alive when the High Noon confrontation she (and readers) anticipates occurs. Coop would be resolute anyway, but has the additional motive of regaining and retaining Lil in his life. In some ways the killing predator steals the show as he hunts two and four legged beasts. Ms. Roberts shows why she is consistently a best seller author with this super thriller.

Alone in the Crowd
Luiz Alfredo Garcia-Roza
9780805079593 $23.00

At a bank in Rio de Janeiro, pensioner Dona Laureta withdraws her money from the same teller Hugo Breno every month like clockwork. She leaves the bank, goes to the grocery and pharmacy, and then she travels to the police of the Twelfth Precinct in Copacabana. She asks to speak with the chief, but Espinoza is tied up in a meeting. She decides to leave and come back later, but instead is run over by a bus; bystanders believe she was deliberately pushed.

The police interrogate Breno who remains a person of interest. Espinoza has him under surveillance. They learn he has no friends, conducts a fanatical physical exercise program, and walks in dense crowds without speaking to anyone. Espinoza is unaware that Breno has been watching him for decades and even came to the same park when they were children. A memory of a child's death makes the cop wonder if the teller was involved. They meet at a restaurant and Hugo tells his story to Espinoza. A day later Laureta's friend is killed. Espinoza is sure that Breno killed both women, but has no evidence. Both adversaries risk their lives with similar yet differing purposes.

The translation of this novel is executed perfectly (by Benjamin Moser) so that the Brazilian customs come across full of life but different from America and especially how that impacts the way the police do their job in Rio. Ergo readers will feel they are in Brazil and not in their armchair. Inspector Espinoza is a good person doing a good job as he struggles with an investigation that contains a personal twist, but seems to be going nowhere though he is 100 percent positive Breno is the killer. The audience will admire the lead character and want to read his past cases (see BLACKOUT and PURSUIT) as the aptly titled ALONE IN THE CROWD is a super Brazilian police procedural.

The Extra
Elizabeth Sims
9780312377298 $24.95

To pay for law school, single mom of five-year-old Petey, Rita Farmer has been accepting minor acting roles. Currently she is on location as an extra wearing a police uniform. During a break in filming, while still in costume, Rita accidentally frightens off two muggers attacking a black boy as they assume she is the law.

The intended victim turns out to be Kip Cubitt, the grandson of well-respected Amaryllis "Iron Angel" Cubitt, who founded the homeless ABC Mission in South Central Los Angeles. Not long after the incident, someone in a drive-by shoots a cop who looked extremely similar to Rita. When she goes to the Cubitt mission to see if she can find out what is going on before she becomes the next corpse, Rita concludes Dale the Whale, a drug-pin, has something on the the usually energetic Amaryllis that has her tied in knots. With the lmited help of her lover, private investigator George Rowe, whose case is in Canada, and eluding her born to emote sister, Rita goes undercover in the role of her life as a street person in order to learn what sinister happenings is occurring at the mission.

Though no Lillian Byrd, Rita Farmer's second amateur sleuth case (see THE ACTRESS) is an entertaining investigative tale due to the strong support cast as much as the heroine. The story line is fast-paced though a bit thin except when Rita goes easy street as a homeless person in smelly discards. Overall THE EXTRA is an engaging thriller.

Where It Lies
K.J. Egan
9780312538880 $24.95

Single mom of a moody teen Sam, Jenny Chase works as assistant golf pro at the Harbor Terrace Country Club in Poningo, N.Y. She arrives at the course only to be greeted by a horrific site at the cart barn; groundskeeper Rick Gilbert is hanging on a rafter. In spite of being unnerved, Jenny surprisingly stays calm and playing at the nearby Westchester Country Club wins a Women's U.S. Open qualifying tournament that same day.

The police led by Detective George Donahue and youth officer Nick Cirillo rule suicide, which means Rick's widow is ineligible to collect on his life insurance. Jenny cannot believe the official decision, feeling some remorse as Rick called her five times that night, and wanting to help his widow Kit and her autistic son Quint, investigates the death. Meanwhile, Sam gets in trouble with the law for petty theft requiring a lawyer and jeopardizing her custody; still Jenny reluctantly calls her former spouse to help their son with his legal problems.

This is a well written amateur sleuth sports mystery starring a strong support cast and a super lead protagonist. The story line plays fast on and off the greens. Fans will root for Jenny as K.J. Egan easily breaks par with this engaging golf murder mystery.

Lonesome Point
Ian Vasquez
9780312378103 $24.95

In Miami medical technician Leo Varela works at the psych ward of Jefferson Memorial Hospital Mental Health Annex. The pay stinks and actually is an abomination when you consider what Leo and his peers do. He relaxes when he can even on the job smoking weed and writing poetry.

Leo's older brother Patrick is the influential Miami-Dade County Counselor running for mayor in a particularly nasty campaign even by Miami's dirty standards. Both brothers have come a long way from their homeland Belize and even further from their father's illegal business ventures. Everything changes as the past arrives at the hospital. Freddy Robinson, just released from prison, asks Lee to abduct a patient elderly Mr. Massini as his former associates want a chat with him. Lee wants to say no as even his dead end job is better than working with friends of his father, but Freddy knows the dark deadly secret the siblings left in Belize.

This exciting thriller starts off at an incredible pace with Freddy visiting Leo at the hospital, but loses some momentum about halfway in as the plot is never embellished upon from that terrific opening sequence. Still the seemingly opposite brothers tied together by more than DNA are solid characters who seem on the surface total opposites, but in a crisis react somewhat similar. Although the story line is thin, fans will enjoy Ian Vasquez's overall entertaining tale

All That Love Is
Ginger Chambers
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373783168 $5.50

The weekend was an extended family gathering to celebrate the fiftieth anniversary of cherished family members Aunt Maureen and Uncle Ian in San Francisco. However, lonely Jillian Davis has decided instead it is an ending and beginning as she plans on the way home to Lake Tahoe to inform her spouse Brad she is divorcing him.

As they drive in the SUV, she considers what she will say as she does not want to hurt him, but cannot tolerate anymore rejection or worse disregard. However, as they near Lake Tahoe, the snow gets worse and soon an avalanche pushes their vehicle off the road. To survive, they need to depend and trust one another like they did years ago. Each knows the love remains everlasting strong, but the faith in the other has long vanished.

This is a terrific second chance at love romance starring two likable individuals who have drifted apart though they love one another. The story line is driven by the lead couple who no longer believes in the other at a time they need to rely on one another to survive the ordeal. Readers will relish this one sitting tale as Ginger chambers keeps her audience in suspense not so much from the avalanche but with will they reconcile.

Best For The Baby
Ann Evans
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373783144 $5.50

Pregnant Alaina Tillman needs a place to stay temporarily having been abandoned by her boyfriend. She heads to Lake Harmony and breaks into Heron Cove, the vacation home of her former lover Zach Davidson. Even this temporary shelter fails to go right as the local cops arrest her for B&E and trespassing.

The police call Zach, who is excited to see Alaina after two years apart. She fell in love with him when they met as nine years old and him with her as teens. Now they each have a last chance to make it, but both fears rejection.

BEST FOR THE BABY is an engaging second chance at love contemporary romance that has the audience mindful that what is best for the baby who both matchmakes and interferes with the relationship between the lead couple. The key to the sequel to THE MISSING MOM (Alaina's sister as a troubled Tillman) is the realistic trepidations Alaina and Zach have towards starting over. He still hurts from the last break-up and is running scared she will choose her runaway boyfriend if he comes calling; she carries someone else's child and figures men refuse to raise someone else's leftover. Ann Evans provides an enjoyable tale due to the doubting Thomas and Thomasina.

From Friend To Father
Tracy Wolff
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373783137 $5.50

Vanessa and Reece Sandler ask her best friend Sarah Martin to be a surrogate mother, which she agrees to do. Pregnant, Sarah is shocked when Vanessa dies in a car crash. Reece grieves his loss and cannot find the courage to see his daughter Rose after Sarah gives birth; this is her third child as she is the single mother of five years old twins, Johnny and Justin.

Several months later, Reece finally forces himself to meet his infant daughter. He feels remorse as he knows he has been neglecting his responsibility and allowed unfairly for Sarah to shoulder the load of raising Rose. When Rose becomes ill, he panics. Reece moves in to help Sarah raise the three kids. However, an attraction explodes in which love and guilt war for supremacy.

This is an interesting family drama starring a very responsible single mom and a grieving widower unable to move on past the death of his beloved spouse to raise his daughter. The twins add humor with stunts like providing a funeral at sea for their toy Pirate Jack by flushing him down the toilet leading to stuffing the commode. However, it is Reece who makes the angst filled story line work as he knows he needs to move passed his grief to take care of his baby, but feels incompetent and does not want to harm Rose. Fans will root for this quintet to turn into a family of five, but doubt love can overcome grief.

The Chief Ranger
Rebecca Winters
Harlequin American Romance
0373752652 $4.99

Yosemite Park Ranger Vance Rossiter has lived with doubts and guilt for months ever since the failed mission. He was in charge in the attempt to save the Darrow couple trapped on the top of the mountain, but they died; turning their five years old child Nicky into an orphan.

Rachel Darrow's brother and sister-in-law lost their lives on the top of a Yosemite Park mountain a few months ago. Although she would prefer to never go to the scene of the tragedy, her six year old nephew's therapist Dr. Karsh suggests this might be the catharsis that will help bring closure to the traumatized little boy Nicky who never saw his parents' bodies; and even somewhat help her overcome her deep anger, resentment, and fear. Vance and Rachel want to avoid each other, as seeing one another makes the memory worse. However, both go out of their way to help Nicky. Soon love enters the equation, but is that enough to heal three broken souls.

This is a terrific contemporary family drama starring three individuals still disturbed by the same tragedy that changed each of their lives. The trio are fully developed with each haunted by what happened on that fatal day. Dr. Karsh's catharsis for his young patient proves that and much more for all three as Rebecca Winters provides a great tale of grief and love.

The Texas Twins
Tina Leonard
Harlequin American Romance
0373752679 $4.99

"The Billionaire". In No Chance, Texas John Caruth wants to save the rodeo though the townsfolk oppose him. Frustrated, he falls in love with barrel racer attorney Chloe Winters and meets his previously unknown to either of them twin, bull rider Jake Fitzgerald.

"The Bull Rider". Jake accepts work at another rodeo in another town. Erin O'Donovan wants Jake to come home, but he refuses because of her. He can no longer cope with his unrequited love for Erin. He remains ignorant that she reciprocates his feelings for her until danger strikes.

These two interrelated rodeo romances are fun tales with strong lead characters and a solid support cast, mostly the townsfolk of Ni Chance and the traveling rodeo participants. Although too many subplots overwhelm the novellas, fans of contemporary tales will enjoy THE TEXAS TWINS and wish Tina Leonard had written two novels starring twins rather novellas.

Letters From Home
Rhonda Nelson
Harlequin Blaze
9780373794799 $4.00

In Iraq soldier Levi McPherson has been receiving letters from someone who signs them as Ms. X. He looks forward to them while assuming she must be from his Bethel Bay, South Carolina hometown for more than just the post mark. Her descriptions are of home, but it is her confessed attraction for him that has Levi more than anything looking forward to going back to solve the mystery of the unknown woman who wants him.

Natalie Rowland has been in love with Levi since they attended high school. She knows sending him letters filled with desire signed by a pseudonym was childish and impetuous yet whimsical. However, he is coming home and her latest batch of letters to him was franked by her assistant with her return address. She expects humiliating rejection.

This is a fun contemporary romance as the soldier looks forward to meeting his mysterious Ms. X while his pen pal expects abject humiliation when he comes home. She is unaware that she has been the star of his wet dreams for years. Fans will enjoy this entertaining tale while looking forward to his brother's story with a woman who is good for his sorry ass.

Tori Carrington
Harlequin Blaze
9780373794751 $4.00

Brothers Trace and Eric Armstrong own the twenty thousand acres Wildwood Ranch near San Antonio. While Eric has been a marine, Trace has managed the spread by himself for the past six years. However, change is coming as Eric is leaving the service.

Former marine Jo Atchison works as the best wrangler on the ranch. She performs her tasks diligently and superbly demanding respect from her peers and her employer. Jo and another veteran Carter have had an on and off affair, but recently she wants it ended permanently. Instead, she, as does Trace, want one another and share a tryst, which goes against both their credos of work and play not mixing. As they fall in love, Carter insists it is not over.

BRANDED is an intriguing Texas ranch romance starring two captivating bothers and a wonderful female vet who lacks patience yet knows who got her six (butt) protected. Trace is a fascinating character as he drools over his wrangler and though he is elated his brother is coming home from the sandbox safe, he dreads the changes. Jo is his equal and more as she proves a better wrangler than any of his men including himself. Although the climax to the Carter subplot adds unnecessary tension and angst, fans will appreciate this character driven contemporary.

Twin Temptation
Cara Summers
Harlequin Blaze
9780373794782 $4.00

At the reading of her late mom's will Maddie Farrell and Jordan Ware are stunned to learn they are twins. Both will gain half of their deceased mom's large estate. However, attorney Fitzwalter explains to his client their mother placed a stipulation on their inheriting the estate; they must switch places for three weeks. The pair talks and learns their parents separated them at birth, but neither knows why.

Recently, a robbery occurred at their mother's esteemed jewelry designer company, Eva Ware. To keep them safe, Jordan's friend personal security expert Jase Campbell takes charge of the protection of the twins. He and Maddie are attracted to one another and team up looking into the death of her mom and who wants her dead starting with Uncle Carleton who inherits if either sister fails at the switch.

Separated at birth twins are not a new concept (see THE DROWNING RIVER by Kim Byrne or either version of The Parent Trap), yet Cara Summers makes her entry a refreshing tale due mostly to the lead couple as Maddie is used to taking care of herself while Jase is used to taking care of people. Fans will enjoy this fun contemporary while looking forward to double the trouble with Jordan and Maddie's friend.

Wild Highland Magic
Kendra Leigh Castle
Sourcebook Casablanca
9781402218569 $6.99

The Athins were once a powerful clan ruling the Northern Plains. They fell into ruin when Cadmus ruler of the Daemons of the Blighted kingdom visited their High Mage to unite their tribes. To anchor an agreement, Cadmus demanded the High Mage give him his sister, but the Athins' leader refused. Cadmus placed a curse on the Ice Mage males. They are a dying group down to their last male wizard Bastian an Morgaine, who hides away amongst the MacInees shapeshifting pack in Scotland.

Twenty-five years ago a dispute between brothers led to one taking his family across the ocean. Now he wants to reconcile so his daughter Catrionna MacInnes can learn to be a werewolf amidst family. When Cat and Bastion see one another for the first time they are attracted to each other. She recognizes hs as her lifemate; he fears his feelings for her as he believes Cadmus' curse will activate as it did leading to his dad's lament of regretting love and eventually his death.

This is a fast-paced romantic fantasy that sub-genre fans will appreciate. Although a cast of zillions with several major subplots like the feuding brothers add complexity to the tale, the story line belongs to the Cat and Bastian who will have readers humming the Flack version of The First Time Ever I Saw Your Face. WILD HIGHLAND MAGIC is a tremendous romantic fantasy that will send new fans seeking Kendra Leigh Castle's previous Highland stories (see CALL OF THE HIGHLAND MOON and DARK HIGHLAND FIRE; neither read by me).

Cheryl Brooks
Sourcebooks Casablanca
1402218966 $6.99

When his planet Zetith was destroyed, seventeen year old Lynxsander "Lynx" Dackelov survived, but was captured and sold at a slave auction. He became the slave to a horde of female slaves. The women at any time of day or night would enjoy his sexual prowess as he lives up to the legend of the men of Zetith. However, overly abused, he could no longer stand the smell of desire and became inefficient at sex; the women starved him and ridiculed his failure; eventually he became impotent. He was sold to a male owner who freed him after five years of service.

On Terra Minor, pregnant Bonnie Neurath runs a farm by herself. Her man Syler Halen deserted her stealing their money. She needs help on the farm especially with her baby due in a few months. A free man, Lynx arrives on Terra Minor but is broke. He accepts a job on Bonnie's farm, but makes it clear he wants nothing to do with his boss because she is a female. Bonnie is attracted to Lynx and showers him with kindness while he performs his duties outstandingly. As he tries to keep his distance, he smells her desire and worse feels his own desire rising for the first time in years.

The fourth Cat Star Chronicles science fiction romance (see SLAVE, WARRIOR, and ROGUE) is a super entry due to the unique damaged goods hero, who puts quite a spin on being a Zetithian. The sex and the suspense come fairly late, but no one will care as the lead characters control the stage performing superbly. Bonnie is a strong nurturing individual, but the aptly titled OUTCAST owns the novel with his idiosyncrasies forged by abuse by women; he cannot even eat in front of another person. Cheryl Brooks is at the top of her game with this excellent entry that will have her fans purring for more.

President Lincoln's Secret
Steven Wilson
9780758232144 $14.00

In 1863, the explosion at a DuPont Works gunpowder factory in Wilmington worries the President that southern sympathizers sabotaged the plant. To insure it does not happen again, he sends Colonel Thomas Fitzgerald Dunaway to investigate the incident. Thomas' new wife Asia accompanies him on his mission.

In Wilmington, sibling actors Royal and Victoria January support the Confederacy. They have put together a brilliant plan to disrupt the Union. Meanwhile Asia's half-brother Robert Owen loves Victoria and to win her hand he joins their cause; promising to spy on his brother-in-law. As the Dunaways follow clues, they fear time is running out on them as they anticipate a more terrible sabotage on the Delaware city; especially when ironclads expert rebel supporter Professor Phillip Abbott vanishes.

The fun sequel to PRESIDENT LINCOLN'S SPY is an enjoyable Civil War thriller that has the spy couple in Delaware and Canada trying to prevent a bigger terrorist attack. The story line is fast-paced from the explosive opening and never slows down though the plausibility of some of the exciting action is questionable. Although the president makes less appearances than in the first book, fans will enjoy Steven Wilson's enjoyable espionage thriller as I Spy has become We Spy.

Tempting Taylor
Joan Elizabeth Lloyd
Kensington Aphrodisia
0758223730 $14.00

An excited Melissa Bonner tells her friend Taylor Barwick that Dave finally agreed to take her along on a photo shoot for six months. The euphoric Lissa asks Taylor to house sit her Maple Court mansion in Westchester County. Taylor agrees as her life as an art professor has recently lacked color.

Tay meets Pam the widow neighbor who explains that Maple Court caters to all sorts of sexual activity that just thinking about her fantasies heats the newcomer's blood. She soon meets and falls in mutual lust with photographer Justin Karallis; they become lovers. However it is the Club Fantasy that has Tay excited as she joins as one of Pam's high class dream makers that in nearby Manhattan would be called high price prostitutes.

Ironically considering that Tay becomes a hooker, there is much less erotica in this story line than the usual Aphrodisia contains. The plot is not very deep as several fetishes amidst the wealthy in the burbs are never fully explored and for that matter neither are the limited heterosexual encounters. Still fans will like Tay as she goes from total ennui to a woman of pleasure.

In Bed With A Stranger
Mary Wine
Kensington Brava
9780758234636 $14.00

In 1602, twenty-four years old Anne Cooper is the daughter of the Earl of Warwickshire, but born on the wrong side of the sheets. She lives with the family, but is treated no better than a servant by his wife Philipa and daughter Mary at Warwick Castle.

In Scotland, Brodick McJames worries about his clan collapsing so to prevent that he needs a special wife, a daughter of a powerful England lord. He chooses Mary sight unseen as the offspring of an Earl, but the spoiled woman rejects being married to a barbarian. Instead she orders her half sister Anne to pretend to be Mary and marry the brute. Anne arrives at Broderick's home Alcaon and quickly becomes a favorite of his clan with her kind ways. She and the laird are attracted to one another from the onset; and she proves a worthy partner. When the Warwickshire females realize Anne's switch they vow to kill Brodrick's wife and replace her with Mary.

With homage to Cinderella, Mary Wine provides a wonderful early seventeenth century romance starring two likable caring lead protagonists and two avarice merciless villainesses. Fans will root for Anne while hissing at the legitimate Warwick females whose odious antics make for a strong tale.

Watch Over Me
Lucy Monroe
Kensington Brava
9780758229175 $14.00

In Southern California, Environmental Technology Research and Design (ETRD) research scientist Lana Ericson has a worthy goal to end world hunger. However, a drug kingpin believes she and her work are worth a fortune so he plans to kidnap her. Thus ultra top secret Goddard Project Agency Director Whitmore wants her protected.

ETRD security consultant Elle Grant and head scientist Frank Ingram also are worried for Lana's safety taking the threats seriously. Though he fired Elle from field work, Whit hires her big brother Mykola "Myk" Chernichenko to protect the firm's key scientist. Myk agrees to end his vacation from INS and undercover DEA work to watch over the lab-coated nerd because he fears for his sister's life if unscrupulous thugs make an attempted snatch. As Lana and Myk fall in love, they must outmaneuver a persistent villain who has no qualms about killing innocents.

The latest Chernichenko espionage romance (see THE SPY WHO WANTS ME) is a fun tale as the reflective scientist and the hit first ask questions operative fall in love. The villain is over the top of Space Mountain, but no one will care as the nerd and the bad boy fall in love.

A Thread of Truth
Marie Bostwick
9780758232151 $15.00

Ivy Peterman left an abusive marriage to insure her children six years old Bethany and eighteen months old Bobby are safe from their father Hodge. She relocated with her kids in historic New Bern, Connecticut hiding their destination from her raging husband back in Pennsylvania. At a shelter there, women's shelter philanthropist Abigail Burgess Wynne arranges with Cobbled Court Quilts owner Evelyn Dixon to hire her to work part-time at the shop.

However, her idyllic world crashes when a TV show Quilt Pink Day is filmed at the popular store. Her former spouse Hodge sees Ivy on TV and is coming to beat the snot out of his wife and make her and the kids go home with him. His anger is fueled by eighteen months of her not being his punching dummy. He may be a tough bully, but he is unprepared for the knitting sisterhood protecting his former frightened family and kicking him to the curb.

The second New Bern England quilters' tale series (see A Single Thread) is a wonderful story that looks at the impact of abuse on the victims as Marie Bostwick makes a case that it takes a community of caring people to stop the violence. Readers will enjoy learning how the knitting circle is doing especially Evelyn who battled breast cancer with the support of her friends. However, this is Ivy's saga as she chose flight twice before (from her stepfather and her spouse), but with the support of the Cobbled Court crew she chooses fight this time to the cheering of readers.

From This Day Forward
Candace Camp, Gina Wilkins and Allison Leigh
9780373837328 $5.99

"No Regrets" by Candace Camp. Claire and Jackson Murphy will celebrate their diamond wedding anniversary with their grandchildren by telling them about their wild WWII courtship.

"Always the Groomsman" by Gina Wilkins. Wedding planner Rebecca Murphy is working with Bridezilla as she arranges her second cousin Melanie's wedding. However that proves easier than dealing with her attraction to groomsman Ryan Fuller, her ex.

"The Daddy Track" by Allison Leigh. Aldrich-Chelsey Financial Corp businessman Nate Aldrich grieves the loss of his business partner and best friend Luke; his depression is compounded by guilt as he was the reason Luke and Jess Chelsey were on the highway. When Luke's sister, restaurant owner Jordan asks him to stay in Amarillo for now to help her with some problems that just surfaced; neither was prepared for what else surfaced.

FROM THIS DAY FORWARD contains three fun romances starring strong lead couples. Each of the novellas provide differing story lines especially Candace Camp's "historical", but the trio are super as duets tango and tangle in love.

Start Me Up
Victoria Dahl
9780373773909 $7.99

Lori Love had dreamed forever to travel the world. Instead she remains in Tumble Creek, Colorado running her late dad's garage. Her best friend Molly Jennings suggests to Lori she needs a wild vacation with the proper hunk. Madcap Molly suggests her brother, Quinn, whom she knows Lori had the hots for when they were teens.

Lori is a bit frightened by the insane idea but also likes having a taste of her two dreams: travel and Quinn. On the hand the architect has no time for courting so is quite amiable to have Lori jump into bed with him. However, as he proves more prolific than the hunks in her romance novels, they fall in love, but both agreed no strings so who will say first tether please.

The return to Tumble Creed (see TALK ME DOWN) is an entertaining contemporary romance starring a woman who believes life and love has passed her by; mindful of Sandra Bullock in While You Were Sleeping. Quinn is delighted with his second chance as he wants to make the dreams of his beloved come true. Although the plot is rather straightforward, the lead pair seems so incredibly real they make START ME UP into a fine character driven tale.

Straight From the Hip
Susan Mallory
9780373773831 $7.99

The oil platform explosion left Izzy Titan with only 30% sight and mentally shattered; she had been the daredevil of the three Titan sisters and now she lives in shadowy fear. Making her even more frightened is the fact that she believes her half-brother Garth deliberately caused the incident and he will return to finish the job. Still she has to decide on a risky surgery that could restore her sight or leave her permanently blind.

Izzy's concerned sisters Skye and Lexi hire survivor training specialist Nick Hollister to abduct their sibling; he takes her to his ranch. Irate by his cavalier attitude, Izzy lets Nick know what she thinks of him although she quietly tells herself she is attracted to the hunk. Nick feels the same way about Izzy especially as he watches her working with his horses; however regretfully he has ties to Garth.

The third Titan romantic suspense thriller (see Skye in LIP SERVICE and Lexi in UNDER HER SKIN) stars the traumatized Izzy and a man who admires her courage. Their relationship is heat and biting as they are attracted to one another, but she amusingly rips his skin for being part of her sisters' plot. When he insists he loves her; she calmly claims he is a victim of Stockholm Syndrome. With Garth still causing trouble, fans will relish this fine entry as Nick must explain himself to the siblings and the woman he loves; none will listen to him.

Bending the Rules
Susan Andersen
9780373773930 $7.99

In Seattle, three teenage graffiti artists are caught by the cops vandalizing storefronts. Artist Poppy Calloway suggests that besides cleaning up the spray paint mess they made, they receive community service to paint a neighborhood mural. Police detective Jason de Sanges is outraged with her soft response to the crime; he wants them punished as a deterrent from them committing future acts of vandalism.

Jase is further upset when his superiors think Poppy's idea is terrific. Making matters even more poisonous to the cop is he is named to supervise the teen artists. Finally the topper to his anger is his attraction to Poppy upsets him further. That is until a series of accidents that he believes were intentional makes him feel the need to keep his pain in the butt woman safe even if she is a flying liberal.

The incredibly deep cast including tertiary characters makes for a strong upbeat good contemporary romantic suspense. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the lead pair butt heads and never slows down as free spirit Polly teaches by the book Jason CUTTING LOOSE (Poppy's friend Jane's story) is okay in moderation unlike the men in his family who spent time in jail while he grew up in foster care. Though similar in tone to CUTTING LOOSE even with the suspense subplot, fans will enjoy the education of Jason.

The Scandals of an Innocent
Nicola Cornick
9780373773893 $7.99

When her employee died, he left his housemaid Alice Lister with his fortune. One year ago, Miles Vickery courted Alice, but dumped her for a more affluent heiress; he left her heart broken and distrustful. However, his latest moneyed aristocrat leaves Miles for someone else.

Miles has become the Marquess of Drum, inheriting a mountain of debt that he cannot pay off. He is back in Fortunes Folly for the Crown, but he wonders if Alice will give a second chance as he remains attracted to her and her money. However, he is taken aback when he learns the stipulation of her inheritance. For three months her betrothed must never lie, which she assumes is impossible as a rogue lives on not telling the truth. As he struggles with honesty and desire, she sees what he could be if he only let himself move past what haunts him.

This second chance at love historical romance hooks the audience from the moment brazen Miles decides to go after Alice a second time and never looks back as the rakish gold-digger finds his charm does not immunize him from love. The story line is driven by the relationship between the rogue and the former housekeeper as she still loves her scoundrel and he falls in love with his innocent. Fans will enjoy the return to Fortune's Folly with the latest Brides of Fortune tale (see CONFESSIONS OF A DUCHESS).

Death Wore White
Jim Kelly
9780312570811 $24.95

In Norfolk, partners Detective Inspector Peter Shaw and Detective Sergeant George Valentine find a corpse on an inflatable raft on a beach. However, the pair cannot do much as a blizzard has closed many roads. A detour fails due to a downed tree causing an accident involving eight vehicles.

The first driver Harvey Ellis is dead with a screwdriver buried into his eye. Whoever killed Harvey escaped leaving no footprints in the snow unless the driver of the second car did it; but he died at the scene from an apparent heart attack. More corpses are found and no witness interviewed by the cops seems to be forthright with the truth. While the pair investigate that case, Peter also opens up the cold case Tessier inquiry that destroyed his later father's reputation as a cop and took down his partner George too.

Loaded with twists that make San Francisco's Lombard Street appear to be a straight line, DEATH WORE WHITE is a tremendous police procedural that will keep readers up late wondering what next and whodunit. The story line is fast-paced from the discovery of the first corpse and never slows down until several more bodies accumulate. Kim Kelly provides one of the year's best mysteries and hopefully brings back his dynamic police duo.

The Odds
Kathleen George
9780312549992 $24.95

At a time when Pittsburgh PD Homicide Chief Richard Christie is in the hospital, two of his homicide detectives Colleen Greer and John Potocki assist the Narcotics Division on an investigation into the death of a young user from an overdose. At the same time the four Philips siblings are abandoned, but reject the idea of being split into foster homes.

Just released from prison Nick Banks gives food to the four kids; a young teen, two tweeners, and a seven years old. Later he pays a street debt that takes him into drug trafficking that leads to his being shot. The four children pay back his kindness keeping Nick safe as he heals while Greer and Potocki follow clues to what went down.

Although there is a well run investigation by the homicide unit while he is on the sidelines, the latest Christie police procedural is totally owned by the four Philips youngsters. They turn Pittsburgh upside down more than a Steeler Superbowl with their fierce loyalty to one another in a sea of mostly adult betrayal and treachery. Fans will root for them while seeking the more standard but super Christie Pittsburgh police procedural (see AFTERIMAGE and TAKEN).

The Magician's Death
Paul Doherty
9780312565626 $24.95

In 1303 French scholars arrives at Corfe Castle in Dorset to decipher the coded writings of Roger Bacon; his tome allegedly contains designs for weapons that would make France or whoever possesses the book the continent's superpower. The Keeper of the Secret Seal of King Edward I, Hugh Corbett has agents who successfully steal a copy of Bacon's book.

They struggle to bring their treasure to Corbett, but someone stalks them trying to kill all the thieves. At the same time, a crossbow killer has murdered women at the castle. Finally several of the scholars have met with lethal suspicions accidents. Corbett begins to see the interconnecting pattern, but ending the murder spree seems impossible as he is targeted for death too.

The latest Hugh Corbett Medieval Mystery (see CORPSE CANDLE and THE TREASON OF THE GHOSTS) is an excellent early fourteenth century whodunit as Corbett's investigations provide an engaging tale while also spotlighting life in the era. The cases are difficult to solve until the hero begins to see the merging of what he originally thought was separate serial killers at work; he remains resolute to solving both though he knows he is on the death list. As always Paul Doherty provides another winner in a strong saga.

The Assailant
James Patrick Hunt
9780312545789 $24.95

St. Louis Police Homicide Lieutenant George Hastings leads the investigation into the strangulation murder of Reesa Woods, a high price call girl paying her way through college as an escort, whose body was found in the muddy banks of the Mississippi. The evidence is near zero and her associates refuse to speak. Soon afterward a second strangulation death, escort Adele Sayers, is found outside the city.

A regional task force is formed with George as number two as he and the team leader SLPD Chief of Detectives Ronnie Wulf bang heads. A third body with a different MO that of realtor Marla Hilsheimer is found clubbed to death. The killer gloats and taunts the cops with tips and clues to the St. Louis Herald reporter Cliff Llewellyn. Teaming up with Woods' associate Rita Liu, George struggles to prevent any more deaths from "Springheel Jim" as the killer calls himself to the media.

The latest Hastings police procedural (see GOODBYE SISTER DISCO and BETRAYERS) is a well written serial killer thriller, but uses the taunting PR fame grabbing by the psychopath that is typical of the sub-genre. The story line is fast-paced as the homicides and the taunting increase. Fans will enjoy the taunting in your face of THE ASSAILANT as even the members of the task force know that without the killer's help the case would remain hot.

Blood Lines
Kathryn Casey
9780312379513 $24.95

Sixteen year old music superstar Cassidy Collins fears for her life from a frightening cyberstalker. Argus knows too much about her and seems be getting to close to the teen leaving her uneasy that he will do something to her. Cassidy believes the creep will make a move at one of concert tours. Texas Ranger Lieutenant Sarah Armstrong and FBI profiler David Garrity investigate the threat.

At the same thirtyish oil heiress Elizabeth Cox apparently committed suicide. Her sister Faith disagrees after receiving an alleged message from her dead sibling; instead she believes someone murdered Elizabeth and made it look like she took her own life. Sarah looks at photos of the death scene and nothing specific sticks out, she agrees with Elizabeth that the entire picture is to perfect as if someone set the stage. Meanwhile Elizabeth's niece Maggie acts peculiar as if she somehow she moved past her mother's death by worrying about her pregnant ailing horse; her reaction also has Sarah wondering.

The latest Sarah Armstrong Texas Rangers police procedural (see SINGULARITY) is an enjoyable two-case mystery in which the reader obtains an in depth look at the downside of celebrity status. The Collins stalking is a fast-paced strong subplot while the Cox death never fully holds up its end as that probe never fully gels. Still BLOOD LINES is overall a fine combination of who done it and who is doing it.

Greedy Bones
Carolyn Haines
9780312377106 $24.95

The CDC agents come to Zinnia, Mississippi where a nasty illness is leaving people in comas on the brink of death. A drama queen by DNA, Sarah Booth Delaney also travels to Zinnia, her hometown to help friends and family cope. The actress and private investigator stays at her family's ancestral home while worrying about her P.I. partner and best friend Tinkie Richmond, whose husband Oscar has caught the illness.

Tinkie tells Sarah Booth that Oscar became deathly ill after visiting the Carlisle cotton plantation; a place overwhelmed by weird boll weevils, a mold, and a curse. Sarah Booth intrigued by the horror film like script of reality; has her Hollywood boyfriend Graf Milieu take a breather preferably on the West Coast. She prefers one hunk at a time and that is handsome Sheriff Coleman Peters who she teams up with to investigate while the deaths pile up; ironically not from the disease, but from the usual southern custom of shootings and hangings.

The latest Sarah Booth tale may be the best in this fun lighthearted paranormal mystery series (see WISHBONES). The story line is fast-paced while the heroine is her usual courageous madcap investigative self; who knows that all native Mississippians understand you heed the family haint's advice though you do not understand what in hell the spirit is saying, you distrust Fed or state theories but trust intelligent design theories of mama, and you avoid cursed plantations as if they are quarantined. Fans will enjoy GREEDY BONES as Sarah Booth is on the case.

Ken Bruen
9780312384418 $24.95

Although former Irish Garda Siochana guard Jack Taylor drinks in America when he falls off the wagon, he is back in Galway because his police partner Cathleen Ridge has breast cancer. She is about the only person he gives a sh*t about.

Someone calling himself Benedictus sends Jack a note with a hit list of planned victims that includes two guards, a judge, a nun and one child. He has no idea who this person is and why he or she is sending him the list. Jack discusses the note with his former friend and current enemy Superintendent Clancy, who says though one person included on the list is dead in a hit and run, he writes off Taylor's serial killer theory as nonsense. Jack still wonders why the killer thought he would understand as he comprehends nothing.

To paraphrase Mark Twain, Jack knows it is easy to stop drinking; he has done it a thousand times. The story line is fast-paced though the ending feels rushed and the hero is a bit "Xanaxed" down than his normal level of belligerency. Still fans of the series will appreciate this tale because we know Jack.

Jelly's Gold
David Housewright
9780312370824 $24.95

Rushmore "Mac" McKenzie retired from the St. Paul police department, but unexpected wealth allows him not to work to supplement his pension. He does investigative jobs as a private investigator for friends or if a case sounds interesting.

Graduate students Ivy Flynn (see TIN CITY) and her boyfriend Josh Berglund peak Mac's interest with the information they found on a 1933 bank heist of gold bars perpetuated by Frank "Jelly" Nash, who died soon afterward in the infamous Kansas City Massacre; the loot was never recovered and thought to be hidden somewhere in the Twin Cities. As the two students and Mac follow clues, they are aware others seek the gold too; some dishonest and some lethal.

The latest Twin Cities P.I. Mac McKenzie investigation (see DEAD BOYFRIENDS and MADMAN ON A DRUM) is a fabulous thriller with a super historical subplot that interweaves with the present Mac adventure. The Depression Era comes alive through a rogue's gallery of infamous criminals including Frank "Jelly" Nash, a real person, as David Housewright paints a picture of corrupt city encouraging the notorious to "vacation" in town. Mac's present day inquiry holds up quite well as he and his two youthful partners follow clues uncovered in archives and interviews while dodging some modern era goons. JELLY'S GOLD is an excellent Twin Cities investigation.

Queen Takes King
Gigi Levangie Grazer
Simon & Schuster
9780743291996 $25.99

After a quarter of a century together, affluent NYC realtor Jackson Power files for divorce from his former ballerina Cynthia. She is particularly irate as she gave up her dance career for him and feels like she wasted her life trying to provide him with love and affection. She vows to take him to the cleaners.

Meanwhile his latest condominium realty project is going bust and the ballet board she is a member of is falling apart due to in-fighting; these add to an already stressful scenario. Their lesbian daughter Vivienne backs her mom insisting she rips her father's heart out because he had been cheating on her with a woman whose ambition is to be wife number two.

QUEEN TAKES KING is a jocular look at a Hollywood family falling apart due the middle age couple drifting away from one another. The key four characters and much of the support seem to come out of Hollywood casting of an artistic affluent family albeit the First Wives Club. Although somewhat padded, Gigi Levangie Grazer provides an amusing saga of love and beyond with a Hollywood ending.

Sarah's Key
Tatiana de Rosnay
St. Martin's
9780312370848 $13.95

In the summer 1942 under the Nazi occupation orders, the French gendarme violently arrest Jewish families. Amongst those brutally rounded up is ten year old Sarah and her parents Wladyslaw and Rywka Starzynski. Before Sarah is grabbed, she hides her four years old younger brother Michel inside the apartment's cupboard expecting to return rather shortly to free him.

On the sixtieth anniversary of the intolerance dark Vel'd'Hivs, fortyish American expatriate journalist Julia Jarmond is assigned to write an article about this day of infamy. Her research finds her connected to Sarah through the apartment she and her womanizing spouse Bertrand Tezac reside in; as that was where the Starzynski family lived before the snatch and the Bertrand brood took occupancy.

This is an incredible look at a dark moment in French history as seen by a reporter six decades later following the tragic footsteps of one Jewish family. The cast especially in WWII is super as the audience will feel they are with Sarah and her family from the moment the cops raid their apartment. Julia is also a terrific protagonist as she refuses to bow to pressure from her in-laws or fiance to end her research or look for someone else. Although Bertrand pales next to the journalist and the Starzynski brood, fans will appreciate Tatiana de Rosnay's haunting profound glimpse at the day Paris sold its soul to the Nazis.

There's Something About St. Tropez
Elizabeth Adler
St. Martin's
9780312385149 $25.95

TV star of Mac Reilly's Malibu Mysteries, real private investigator Mac Reilly and his partner-girlfriend Sunny Alvarez have rented Chez La Violette villa in St. Tropez. They plan to spend the month of June there along with their seven-pawed two canines.

Sunny arrives at their exclusive French Riviera house first only to find they have been conned. Others are as irate perhaps more so at being swindled too. Texas rancher widower Billy Bashford was looking forward to alone vacation time with his eight-year-old daughter, Laureen, and Belinda Lord estranged wife of a Russian mobster needed time to regroup. Mac and Sunny and Mac take a room at the nearby Hotel des Reves. They soon protect Belinda from her husband and get involved with local art thefts while Laureen makes friends with a homeless eleven year old boy.

The sequel to ONE OF THOSE MALIBU NIGHTS is an entertaining tale in which the prime plot is fun but by the book while the two children subplot brings needed angst to freshen up story line. The cast is solid especially the two American sleuths. However, the plot is thin yet no one will care as the Malibu duet take the French Riviera once they settle in their hotel of dreams.

Demons Not Included
Cheyenne McCray
St. Martin's
9780312949600 $7.99

In present day New York City, Half-breed (human and drow elf) Nyx and her purebred human partner Olivia investigate supernatural felonies. At night when her darker elf side takes control, she is an elitist Tracker working for Rodan hunting down demons not included in the Underworld.

Nyx and her Tracker peers are shocked when one of her elite teammates is murdered and a human police liaison vanishes. Nyx fears something nasty is coming at the same she mentors a new Tracker Torin, whose essence she cannot read; something she finds intolerable and distrustful. She also hides her attraction to human police detective Adam Boyd, who is working the case; as she assumes he will reject her drow side. As other Trackers die, Nyx panics that the midnight end is now.

Leaving the "Magic" saga behind, Cheyenne McCray begins a new urban fantasy enchantment series with the first Night Tracker thriller. The story line is fast-paced from the onset, yet Ms. McCray introduces fans to her vision of a paranormal New York City through the investigations. Nyx is a kick butt heroine who keeps the exhilarating plot focused on the inquiry into the serial killing of Trackers. DEMONS NOT INCLUDED is a super extremely dark Manhattan supernatural police procedural.

Post Grad
Emily Cassel
St. Martin's
9780312596262 $13.99

Ryden Malby has so far seen her life strategic plan work perfectly. She graduated high school with grades that enabled her to go to college on a full scholarship. She limited her social activities and focused on her schooling so now she is about to graduate from college. The final objective in her plan is to obtain her dream job at Happerman & Browning, a top Los Angeles based publishing firm.

However, objective four fails to happen when another recent grad prettier, smarter, and aggressive Jessica Bard scores the position Ryden craved. Instead of L.A. Ryden is back in the Valley living and moping in her family home being driven crazy by her parents, grandma, brother and employment rejections. Only her best friend Adam Davies is there for her but she fails him so he reconsiders Columbia Law School.

Although much of the plot is as straight as the Bonneville Salt Flats Speedway, young adult readers will enjoy this sweet enjoyable character study of a recent college grad. Ryden is a wonderful lead who holds the story line together with her struggles over rejection, the eccentricity of her family, and choosing between her long time BF and the hunk next door. POST GRAD is at its best when Ryden goes job hunting as that hits home how difficult it is to score the positions you want coming out of college. Emily Cassel provides a delightful look at the plight of a POST GRAD that can be summed up by Adam who explains the ironies of screwy society that in Ohio it is against the law to hunt whales.

Jeremy Robinson
St. Martin's
9780312540289 $24.95

In Peru the mythological Hydra of Hercules' tasks fame is found in Peru alive though in some form of sleep. Manifold Genetic CEO Richard Ridley wants to awaken the deadly beast as he has a plan to use the creature's DNA to make humans immortal.

His firm steals the find and kidnaps the archaeologist associated with the dig Dr. George Pierce. He has the Hydra and the archeologist taken to a lab he set up on Tristan da Cunha, an island in the South Atlantic. The American government is concerned so it assigns Deep Blue to send in the elite of the Delta Force, the Chess Team unit headed Jack "King" Sigler and the rest of his "pieces" to invade and capture the Hydra and save the archeologist. They soon find themselves battling reengineered reptile like crawlers, and two and four legged beasts that regenerate body parts.

Combining mythology with Jurassic Park, PULSE is an over the top action-packed thriller that will have readers hooked from start to finish as one escapade leads to another and another, etc as the story line never takes a breather. The Chess Team unit knows anyone of them can be turned into an expendable pawn as the mission comes before their individual lives. Readers will enjoy the adventures of the King and his "pieces" as they try to prevent a potential pandemic catastrophe.

Cure Unknown: Inside the Lyme Epidemic
Pamela Weintraub
St. Martin's
9780312378127 $27.95

The four Weintraub's left New York City to live in a dream home in Chappaqua in Westchester County as they thought this would be better for the kids. The parents thought the open woods with deer would prove healthier than the smog city. However, within a very short time from when they relocated, one of the sons becomes ill followed by the other boy. Soon afterward the father and finally the mother became ill also. Each had similar aches and pains that were progressively getting worse. The local physicians considered Lyme disease infection, but decides that was not the cause. The family turned to the best medical facilities in New York and received similar no help responses as the cures were making the disease worse. Desperate, Pamela Weintraub decided to use her skill as a science writer to research the symptoms. What she reports in this insightful frightening book is shocking as she affirms the widening spread of Lyme disease with the medical field in her opinion buried in the sand or ignorant. Ms. Weintraub, whose sons remain very ill, exposes the health system's failure to react to a growing epidemic that could turn pandemic rather shortly. Cure Unknown: Inside the Lyme Epidemic is a well written shocker that makes the case act now before it is too late.

The King James Conspiracy
Phillip DePoy
St. Martin's
9780312377137 $25.95

In 1605, King James I assembles a team of experts to translate the Bible into English under the leadership of Deacon Francis Marbury. However, at the onset, someone brutally murders one of the participating scholars. Marbury asks for an investigator to uncover the identity of the killer before others are murdered.

Pope Clement opposes the project fearing secrets of the Church will be exposed. His agents intercept Marbury's plea for help; the Pope sends Brother Timon to sabotage the translation. Soon others are killed by a vicious predator. Timon begins to wonder if he is on the wrong side as he assumes some agent of the Pope is the serial killer ferociously murdering scholars who are doing their job.

This is an interesting historical thriller in which most of the cast starting with the monarch and the pope on down to the scholars, etc are a Freudian wet dream as everyone seems to have major psychoses. No one is likable as it appears the fringe lunatics are in power. Still in spite of advanced abnormal psychology, readers who enjoy dramatic renditions of key religious events will relish this entertaining look through the bloody lens of homicide and fanatic fundamentalist insanity at King James I bringing the bible to the masses.

Crazy Love
Leslie Morgan Steiner
St. Martin's
9780312377458 $24.95

Twenty-two years old recent Harvard grad, Leslie obtains a job at the magazine Seventeen. On the Manhattan train she meets a nice Wall Street investment banker thirtyish Conor. They begin dating and become engaged. Together just under a year, five days before their wedding, Conor smacks Leslie for cursing at her computer. She goes ahead and marries him, but he continues to hit her. She stayed with him for two years before deciding love was not enough because he will never overcome his violent Boston childhood. The final straw was a horrific beating in which he left her unconscious.

Mindful of a profound scene from the Charlie Sheen movie Good Advice in which the advice columnist answers a woman who asks what to do as her spouse is physically abusive but her family insists she has to save her marriage while the columnists insists she should save her life. This is an intense from the heart memoir that looks at the psychology of why "battered woman" even highly educated females remain in potentially deadly relationships when intellectually they know they must leave. Well written and extremely deep, some of the true life scenes described are so stunning, a reader will want to deny they happened as Leslie Morgan Steiner provides a powerful look into abuse and why a person stays in a dangerous harmful (physically and mentally) relationship.

Storm Cycle
Iris Johansen and Roy Johansen
St. Martin's
9780312368036 $26.99

In Houston computer guru Rachel Kirby is obsessed with her research into finding a cure for the nervous system disorder Krabbe's disease. Her efforts are personal as the horrifying degenerating and often fatal but rare disorder is devastating her sister, Allie.

To her shock, someone tries to assassinate Rachel; she was fortunate the sniper missed. Soon afterward she receives an odd email from a total stranger. John Tavak insists he is trapped inside an ancient Egyptian tomb with physician Peseshet, who was a physician to the great pharaohs. He signs off saying he believes Peseshet has a cure for Krabbe's disease. Though Rachel assumes this is a cruel hoax, she is desperate so she and her sibling travel to where Tavak claims to be entombed while obtaining unexpected assistance from arrogant billionaire Hal Demanski.

When the story line focuses on the two siblings racing to and in Egypt while assassins give chase, STORM CYCLE is an exhilarating thriller. When the plot takes a double romantic spin, it feels contrived and forced as if this is expected of at least the mother part of the Johansen writing team (sort of like Hitchcock cameo appearances). Still the tale is action-packed from the moment someone tries to shoot Rachel and never slows down as she and Allie courageously seek the cure that Tavak swears is available. The second Johansen mom-son collaboration (see SILENT THUNDER) is a fun adventure tale.

Street Magic
Caitlin Kittredge
St. Martin's
9780312943615 $6.99

In London, sixteen year old Pete Caldecott met handsome mage Jack Winter. The punk rocker showed off his magical skills trying to impress the teen. However, Pete witnessed more than she wanted to see when a spirit he summoned killed Jack. Over time Pete assumed Jack used an illusion to fool her as magic is not physics since it does not exist.

A dozen years layer Detective Inspector Pete receives a tip about a kidnapped girl Bridget. The tip proves reliable, but the informant shocks the DI to her DNA core; somehow Jack is back or at least a heroin addicted version of him. He insists there is a parallel realm the Black. With several more abductions of children, Jack convinces Pete to cross over to fight against an evil kidnapper with paranormal power. She agrees to travel to the shadow realm and learn how to use spells if he detoxes

Leaving Nocturne City for now, Caitlin Kittredge proves she has STREET MAGIC with the super first Black London urban fantasy. Inspector Pete is a terrific center of gravity as a police detective who holds the eerie exciting story line together, but it is the dark gritty streets of London that she works enhanced by shadowy Jack that owns the tale. A sort of cross between Simon Green's Nightside and Jim Butcher's Dresden, sub-genre fans will appreciate Ms. Kittredge's view of a gloomy paranormal London.

The Devil's Queen
Jeanne Kalogridis
St. Martin's
9780312368432 $24.95

In 1533 her powerful Florence family arranges the marriage between Catherine de Medici and heir to the French throne Henry who will become King Henry II as a political convenience; both are fourteen at the time. However, Catherine vows to make the best of her unwanted marriage by supporting her spouse and his kingdom so her heir inherits the throne. Over the years reality proves not as nice as her dream as she finds her husband is more interested in his consort, the manipulative Diane de Poitiers

Though superstitious Catherine is a de Medici so is used to acting against enemies like the mistress, whom she arranges a marriage with a prince. She consults with the astrologer Ruggieri who persuades her to commit horrors including a major role in the St. Bartholomew's Day Massacre so that her children well inherit what she believes is rightfully hers and theirs as her husband simply ignores her since she gave him the heir and the spare.

Moving from the fifteenth century Italy (see I, MONA LISA and THE BORGIA BRIDE) to sixteenth century mostly France, historical fiction writer Jeanne Kalogridis provides a strong biographical novel of the aptly titled Catherine de Medici. The lead is an intriguing character painted by most historians as a devil, but Ms. Kalogridis provdes an interesting counter-theory that claims instead Catherine was not the evil one, but lost the PR war by choosing to do what she was trained to perform as her duty as a wife and mother to the monarchy. Although well written, readers will still come away with the belief that Catherine was THE DEVIL'S QUEEN though accepting she was doing what was expected of her (doing one's job is no excuse for crimes against humanity).

The Unseen
Alexandra Sokoloff
St. Martin's
9780312384708 $24.95

Duke University psychology professors Laurel MacDonald and Brendan Cody uncover the results of a study done five decades ago by the Rhine parapsychology lab at Folger House. Apparently, researchers were looking into poltergeist activity, but what the found was concealed. Eerily those who participated either died soon after, vanished without a trace or went insane. In fact Laurel's uncle was one of the parapsychologists, but he went stark crazy.

Laurel and Brandon see the data as an opportunity for them to make a name at Duke. They persuade two students with indications of extrasensory skills to be monitored while spending time at Folger House. However, almost as soon as they enter, something evil begins an assault; Laurel and Brandon fear their ambition may have awakened the dormant cause behind what happened in 1965, but each wonders if the UNSEEN is human or something else.

THE UNSEEN is a super thriller that has the audience hooked almost from the onset and maintains that grip throughout. Readers will wonder whether something from the paranormal or from the psychological world is occurring. The two investigators are perfect foibles as their ambition, naivete, and desires collide with the UNSEEN inside the infamous Folger House.

Finger Lickin' Fifteen
Janet Evanovich
St. Martin's
9780312383282 $27.95

Bond enforcement officer Stephanie Plum is inside Uncle Vinnie's bail bonds office when her co-worker Lula arrives screaming hysterically that she saw two thugs decapitate chef Stanley Chipotle; a former hooker she is used to giving head not have a head bounce next to her. They know she can identify them so they try to kill her by leaving a bomb in Stephanie's car, which blows up. Next they firebomb Stephanie's house because Lula is living there. A bail jumper ruins her car twice. Both vehicles actually belong to Ranger who accepts the loss of his cars with a scary calm detachment since he knows her car was blown to smithereens.

Stephanie helps Ranger in a professional capacity as he hires her to be an extra set of eyes to help him figure out who is robbing his clients. His security business has been taking an exorbitant amount of hits by an insider who knows the protection codes. While trying to bring in people who missed their court dates, Stephanie helps Lula and Grandma Mazur who entered a barbeque contest sponsored by the company who the man who lost his dead worked for. The thugs try to kill them again; Stephanie is tired of being shot at, cars blown up, and her house firebombed. She intends to kick butt and solve who is wrecking Ranger's business.

FINGER LICKIN' FIFTEEN is a funny laugh out loud crime thriller filled with plenty of out of control action. The heroine is put through the wringer and rinsed several times she should be suffering from PTSD, but instead she suffers from PISSED OFF. There are several other zany subplots besides those above as Janet Evanovich provides her usual over the edge of the Hudson plum of a tale.

Blue Moon
Alyson Noel
St. Martin's
9780312532765 $9.95

Ever and her entire family died in a car cash but the six hundred years old Immortal Damen brought her back to life by making her an Immortal too. They have loved one another for centuries, but each time they get close to each other, his wife Drina kills Ever. She reanimates; he finds her; they renew their love and his wife murders her. The cycle seemed endless until now when Ever changes the triangular interrelation dynamics by killing Drina.

A new student enters the night school; Ever instinctively distrusts Roman with his bonhomie and surface good will thoughts. Damen becomes ill and when he recovers he treats Ever as an enemy and a stalker. The student body dissolves their differences and become one group who loathe Ever. She knows somehow Roman is behind the animosity and believes he is an Immortal. As Damen begins to age and die, Ever journeys to Summerland, the dimension between dimensions, seeking a cure for her eternal beloved. There she learns she can go back in time to save her family. As she decides what to do, she vows no matter what she will save Damon and reverse the aging process.

BLUE MOON, the second Immortals saga (see EVERMORE) is an outstanding teen fantasy in the tradition of Kelly Armstrong and Stephanie Meyers. Ever struggles with becoming a pariah at school and cope with Damen's dire health problems and she is a firecracker who intends to obtain the knowledge needed to save her beloved and return the student body back to the normal rivalries and bickering. She has several obstacles to overcome starting with her lack of experience with what to do and no one to turn to that she feels she can trust; adding to her issues is one wrong choice means tragedy.

The Glassblower of Murano
Marina Florato
St. Martin's
9780312386986 $13.95

In 1681 in the Republic of Venice, glassblowing is the major industry; throughout the continent everyone especially the wealthy demands Venetian glass and mirrors. The Council of Ten controls the city-state's glassblowing guild to the point they will kill to keep scabs out. The most famous Venetian artist Corradino Manin is forced to sell his secret methods to French King Louis XIV in order to keep his hidden daughter safe though by doing so the cost is his heart and soul.

Centuries later, descendant, Leonora Manin leaves a broken marriage and London having obtained work as a modern day apprentice glassblower in the Venetian suburb Murano. Her boss knows of her connection to the greatest glassblower ever and plans to take advantage of her illustrious ancestry. Jealousy as it did several hundred years ago leaves the British expatriate in trouble with her vocation and with hAlessandro Bardolino; however, as she researches her great ancestor she realizes her troubles are minor envies compared to what Corradino faced from invidious villains.

The descriptions of seventeenth century Venice as a literally backstabbing dangerous place will hook the audience even as the contemporary subplot is exciting and well written. The story line is fast-paced as the two Manin's three plus centuries apart face some of the seven deadly sins though the difference in how deadly what each confronts is quite startling as his lethal to the body and the soul while hers is more spiritual. Marina Florato provides a strong thriller.

Therese Fowler
9780345499707 $22.00

As she nears forty, Chicago based talk show host Blue Reynolds knows she has come a long way from when she was the impoverished Harmony Blue Kucharski. However, she has kept one secret that she hid from her mom and sister that has left her filled with remorse. When she was nineteen she loved English Professor Mitch Forrester but he rejected her advances. On a rebound fling she got pregnant. She could not raise the child nor tell her family and abortion was not an option at least for her; so she arranged through her midwife to have her baby adopted in what was probably an illegal deal. Filled with regret, she hires a private investigator to find her son although her career and reputation will probably be trashed.

On location in Key West taping her show, Blue and Mitch meet on his show Literary Lions. They still desire one another, but his thirtyish year old son international reporter Julian objects. However Julian is confused though he does not hide his scorn for his dad's celebrity floozy; Julian is unsure whether he objects because she is closer to his age than that of his dad or because he wants her.

REUNION is an engaging family drama as the past resurfaces because people in the present remember the great, the bad and the ugly times. The key triangle seems real as all three involved have flaws and remorse while the support cast like her family and his grandparents enhance the plot. As each of the trio learns, with love a person can do just about anything.

A Wild Affair
Gemma Townley
9780345499820 $13.00

Jessica Wild and Max Wainwright are engaged. Currently the Milton Advertising pair is working together on a top secret bank merger as well as their personal merger as both look forward to exchanging their vows. However, Jessica notices that Max seems distant lately, but assumes he is a bit nervous about the marriage and somewhat distracted about the bank job.

Jessica picks up Max's phone only to hear a sexy voice on the end. Frightened he may be stepping out on her, she tracks the voice only to find Max hugging a sexy woman. She leaves hysterical and getting drunk. The next morning she awakens in the bed of Max's rival Hugh Barter. Vino veritas costs Max his lucrative deal and Jessica her Max; she and her BFFs try to learn just who the woman is.

The sequel to THE IMPORTANCE OF BEING MARRIED is an engaging contemporary tale starring an insecure protagonist who never gives Max a chance to explain until she nukes their relationship. The support cast enhances the somewhat thin plot by either adding humor, trouble, or both. Although the ending seems too simple, Gemma Townley provides a fun tale of a major detour on the way to the aisle.

Summer World
Bernd Heinrich
9780060742171 $26.99

This engaging look at nature in Vermont and Maine during the summer will have even couch potatoes searching their neighbor for fauna and flora as Bernd Heinrich makes it fun to investigate the birds, bees, and beasts including humans. He and Crackle the grackle tackle local science with passion though I would avoid visiting the nearby wasp nest with a weapon of mass destruction the toilet paper hole-stuffer. The author entreats readers to sing on a tree dais with birds, watch caterpillars dine on fast food while marveling how human are aviary-like migratory either by being snowbirds living in the south in winter or by creating an indoor climate. Obviously Mr. Heinrich is concerned with the impact on the ecosystem of not just global warming and hoping to get some activation by getting people up and out with an enjoyable entertaining trip outside. This is fun as fans of all ages will dance in their backyard with the stars of nature in this super insightful look at the SUMMER WORLD of northern New England.

The Way Home
George Pelecanos
Little, Brown
9780316156493 $24.95

In DC, seventeen year old Chris Flynn knows he grew up in a comfortable home with loving parents nurturing him. Somehow along the way "Bad Chris" emerged as a rebel seeking trouble: "Good Chris" goes dormant. On drugs, he gets into a car accident and almost kills the other driver when they discuss the cause. He gives the cops a run for their money, but eventually is sent to Pine Ridge juvenile detention facility; his angry perturbed father seeks to blame someone else while his mother is devastated. At Pine Ridge, Chris makes friends with other troubled youth who teach him how to hide "Bad Chris" from civilians and when to allow "Bad Chris" to take control.

A decade later, Chris seems to have straightened himself out. One day he and his peer find money that he thinks they should ignore. Soon afterward two killers demand Chris hand over what he stole or else. He knows that to survive he needs to free "Bad Chris".

THE WAY HOME is an exciting character study of a young male who struggles with inner demons while knowing he has let down his mom, fears he will let down his nice girlfriend, and is not sure whether he cares that he lets down his dad. Although a key element to the lead character's behavior is his relationship with his father; that disturbed link is explored on a surface level without digging deep into either's psyche re this issue. Ironically George Pelecanos does enable his audience to understand "Good and Bad Chris", just not what either side of the protagonist thinks of his dad beyond the shallow musings. Still aptly titled, fans will enjoy Mr. Pelecanos' profound look at a troubled person

The Genesis Secret
Tom Knox
9780670020881 $26.95

British reporter Rob Luttrell was up front and too close as he eye witnessed a suicide bomber in Iraq executing a grisly mass murder. Rob survived and his London based editor sends him to Tel Aviv for a mental health breather.

Ready to get back to work, he is sent to report on a safe assignment, an excavation in the Kurdish sector of Turkey led by German archeologist Franz Breitner. The dig at Gobekli Tepe has uncovered incredible evidence of edifices somewhere between ten and eleven millennium old; at least twice the age of the previous known oldest structure. However, the excavation is not without controversy as the local population is outraged by the outsiders' blasphemy; they curse those working there. Soon afterward, Breitner is killed when an accident left him pierced by a pole. Rob and biological anthropologist Christine Meyer investigate what each assumes is a mortal murder even as rumors spread that this locale is the Garden of Eden before they are deported back to England where trouble awaits them and his daughter for what they know about Gobekli Tepe.

The premise of ancient secrets uncovered is as old as say ancient times, but Tom Knox refreshes the concept with an interesting amateur sleuth inquiry. The story line is fast-paced with the opening sequences when the reporter first arrives at the Turkish dig are excellent and brisk. The plot spins more to the usual thugs chasing the heroes about half way in although in fairness that is exciting and well written. Fans will enjoy THE GENESIS SECRET, but will also consider what if Mr. Knox stayed the initial course.

The Morgue and Me
John C. Ford
9780670010967 $17.99

In Petoskey, Michigan eighteen year old Christopher Newell may be his high school Valedictorian and won a regents Scholarship to Northwestern Michigan University, but he plans to become a spy though he has no idea how one applies for the job; only that it is cool and a woman magnet vocation. Meanwhile he obtains a job for the summer at the morgue so he can receive on the job training in forensic pathology.

While most of his job is filing and clean up, he comes across some odd information involving the cover up by crooked politicians hiding a toxic disaster. As he digs deeper, Christopher begins connecting further dots including a tie to a local felon. However, now that he has enough information to bring down a conspiracy fostered by a criminal industrial political complex, he has no idea who to turn to with his information as he distrusts everyone except a classmate he wants to date. Soon Christopher believes that someone is watching his every move; either that he figures or he has become paranoid.

THE MORGUE AND ME opens with the teen explaining how he just shot someone and now is seeing a shrink who accuses him of disassociation; not a good thing for a cop or an espionage agent. The story line just takes off from there as Christopher explains what happened during the craziest but most wonderful summer of his life as the young hero begins to tie together the conspiracy that engulfs Petoskey. Young adult fans will relish the class valedictorian turn hard boiled teen detective Mindful of the teen noir movie Brick, fans will enjoy the most insane summer of Christopher's young life.

The Missing Ink
Karen E. Olson
9780451227461 $6.99

In Las Vegas, Brett Kavanaugh owns the Painted Lady tattoo parlor. A girl enters her shop to have a devotion tattoo of her fiance's name in a heart engraved on her. Brett gives the young girl an appointment but she fails to keep it, which is not unusual as people have second thoughts. Two days later, stoic hard boiled cop Willis shows a picture and asks if Brett seen the girl in the photo; not good with police except her brother Tim, Brett shrugs her shoulders but conceals that is the girl who failed to show up for her appointment.

Tim asks Brett to help investigate the missing girl case because of ties to his sister's artistic profession. She agrees and as she follows the needles as clues Brett soon finds herself involved with homicide, hotel manager Simon Chase, and of course this being Vegas Elvis.

This is a fun amateur sleuth starring a delightful tour guide who escorts readers to another side of Vegas where tattoo parlors come in all levels of quality and are hygienically safe (or not). The story line is fast-paced from the moment the cop arrives at the Painted Lady with Brett's attitude established when she calmly explains this is a tattoo shop not a brothel to his looking for a girl comment. Fans will enjoy THE MISSING INK as Brett tattoos Sin City's underbelly.

Secondhand Spirits
Juliet Blackwell
045122745X $6.99

Lily Ivory is a bona fide witch; a powerful mage who can feel the vibrations emitted from old clothing, can smell and sense auras, and can cast spells through brewing. She has been on the run for most of her life; hiding her "witchiness" skills by never allowing anyone to get to close to her so that one would think she is a freak. However, now thirty-one Lily feels a need to settle down so she moves to San Francisco assuming she can fit in best in the City on the Bay. There she opens up a vintage women's clothing shop Aunt Cora's Closet.

Her friend Maya takes Lily to the home of Frances Potts who has a ton of beautiful vintage clothing. Lily senses evil directed at Frances by the demon La Llorona. Late that same night Lily returns to Frances' home to cast a protection spell against La Llorana. The next day the woman is dead and a child is missing presumably by La Llorona who feeds on the souls of children. The magical community rallies around Lily who uses her skills to hopefully bring the child back and send the demon back to the Texas/Mexico border where she came from.

Readers who anxiously await the next works of Victoria Laurie or Madelyn Alt will appreciate SECOND HAND SPIRITS, an enchanting mystery that enables the audience to believe in the supernatural. A mysterious male witch Aiden welcomes her to the neighborhood by giving her a familiar, a goblin disguised as a pot bellied pig. Lily is a great character; a strong woman who believes in doing what she feels is ethically right though it might cost her. Juliet Blackwell provides a terrific urban fantasy with the opening of the Witchcraft Mystery series.

Where Petals Fall
Shirley Wells
9781569475720 $25.00

Two boys find a female corpse in a nearby quarry. Her neck was slashed, a red ribbon with a wedding ring tied to the victim, who was wrapped in a white sheet. Forensic psychologist Jill Kennedy and Lancashire Detective Chief Inspector Max Trentham are shocked by the MO; five years ago the pair brought an end to the murdering horror of the serial killer the Undertaker; the suspect Eddie Marshall died in a police car chase when his vehicle went over a cliff. Although his corpse was never found, the killings ceased until now.

Jill and Max look back at their conclusions to the Undertaker case wondering whether the original profile was wrong and Marshall was an innocent, but using Holmesian logic ask why then did he run? They also ponder whether he could somehow have survived going over the cliff, which both agree is impossible. Neither premise seems right leading to the profiler and the cop to wonder if Marshall mentored his replacement.

The third Kennedy-Trentham police procedural (see INTO THE SHADOWS and A DARKER SIDE) is an engaging serial killer whodunit. The tone differs from the previous books because this time the relationship between the lead couple never connects as each is much more introspective due to the fears they fumbled the case five years ago. Readers will wonder did they make a tragic mistake or was Marshall preparing his replacement.

Thy Neighbor's Wife
Gay Talese
9780061665431 $14.99

This is a reprint with some updating of Gay Talese's 1981 report on sexual activities in America. In some ways the book feels historical as it was published prior to the AIDs epidemic whose impact may have changed the openness that was increasing. Mr. Talese escorts (pun intended) his audience to famous hot spots like the Sandstone Retreat, the Playboy Mansion, and others. Much of the sexual revolution is a simple awareness led by magazines like Playboy, Penthouse and Hustler, etc.; some comes from movies. Mr. Talese looks closely at Supreme Court decisions such as the I Am Curious Yellow (a boring Swedish import) case and the Comstack Laws forbidding pornography transmitted through the mail. The reporter takes a lesser look at sexual freedom before WW II and the 1960s with the effect of the pill freeing women to have multiple partners if desired, but fails to dig deep at this major revelation. Though also brief, Mr. Talese takes a glimpse at the beginnings of coming out of the closet by homosexuals. Filled with interviews and a glossary, THY NEIGHBOR'S WIFE remains a fascinating but narrow look at mostly male heterosexual preferences predominantly between the 1950s and 1970s.

Bright Shiny Morning
James Frey
9780061573170 $15.99

They come by foot, by car, by bus or plane to Los Angeles. They are looking to start anew, looking to vanish, or just looking. They arrive from all walks of life, from all religions, and from all races. Los Angeles is a magnet as the twenty-first century melting pot city.

Amberton Parker has become a Hollywood legend living the American dream with plenty of money, a lovely wife and three children who adore him but he also has a risky side as his sexual preference is legal age young males. Two teenagers Dylan and Maddie fled abusive households hoping to make it on love. Espernaza pays for her college education by working as a maid for a rich bitch. Homeless alcoholic Old Joe skips asking passerby for loose change when he becomes a Good Samaritan trying to help a young addict.

BRIGHT SHINY MORNING feels like three novellas of life in Los Angeles that cross over each other yet somehow never quite interweave into a cohesive novel sort of as if the expressways that connect the metropolis never touch one another. Each tale is well written with real characters somewhat hyperbolized to portray aspects of a city that James Frey satirically describes as craving to become the twenty-first century number one international metropolis (in spite of NFL meaning not for Los Angeles). Fans who relish a sharp sardonic saga will want to read Mr. Frey's lampooning of Los Angeles, a city with an identity crisis.

Love Begins in Winter
Simon Van Booy
9780061661471 $13.99

"Love Begins in Winter". Concert cellist Brunno is a loner who never moved past his sister's death; Hannah is a shop owner who never moved past her brother's death. Neither normally would make the first move yet this couple both make the first move when they meet in Beverly Hills.

"Tiger, Tiger". In her thirties, her boyfriend's parents insist on meeting her. A pediatrician she is indifferent so she goes out to the Hamptons where Alan and Jennifer welcome her. However, in spite of eighteen months with Brian, she finds herself attracted to and fascinated by his mother until Dorothy takes a bite.

"The Missing Statues". In St. Peter's Square, Max the diplomat cries as he knows how far he has come from his childhood growing without a father up in the sordid hidden side of Las Vegas; yet part of his tears are his way of thanking the person who gave him the courage to move on and up.

"The Coming and Going of Strangers". The Irish gypsy saves the orphan Canadian child's life. Two decades later his son watches from a distance keeping her safe even as he loves her.

"The City of Windy Trees". The letter shook George to the core. Chomping on Raisinets while sitting on his toilet, he ponders going from New York to meet his daughter in Sweden.

These are five well written relationship dramas starring fully developed couples in each. The entries are fun to read, but suggest spread them out over a week or so even though the collection can easily be read in a night; by doing one say every two days, the protagonist remains front and center rather than the late gripping spin that the reader will expect by "The Missing Statues". LOVE BEGINS IN WINTER is an enjoyable reflective anthology.

Sisterchicks In Wooden Shoes
Robin Jones Gunn
9781601420091 $13.99

Summer Finley takes every grenade life tosses at her with calmness, a requirement of a mother of six, until she receives the results of a medical test. Upset she informs her pen pal since fourth grade Noelle Van Zandt that it is time for them to meet in person; Noelle ecstatically agrees.

Summer comes to Amsterdam and the buddies via letters and email hit it off in person. Noelle takes her American friend around the country as she shows her the canals and the chocolate. Both become BFFs as Summer informs Noelle of her medical results and Noelle confides her own heartache to her pal.

The latest Sisterchicks tale is a strong entry that focuses on the importance of friendship to humans, regardless of the original source of how the pals meet. The two women come across as real while touring Holland, but especially when each tells the other their personal woe. Fans will enjoy seeing the Netherlands along side of Summer as her BFF Noelle guides the trip that heals both their souls.

The Shore
Robert Dunbar
084396166X $7.99

Edge Harbor is a small seaside town that gets its resources from the tourists during the summer; in winter the place is almost like Wall Street on a Sunday as it is practically deserted with only locals residing there. Barry Hobbs, a stranger arrives in town in the winter. He has been tracking for months a young man Perry and he intends to take him alive to a place where he can receive help. Although the town is empty, Barry finds it impossible to ascertain where Perry is hiding. The lad is holding Stella hostage or it seems as if he is.

A woman's body washes up on the shore with her back savagely torn to pieces and her car having claw marks ripped into the metal. Barry knows his prey is holed up in town, but he remains ignorant that someone else is hunting Perry and Stella; that predator has no problem with collateral damage even eradicating a town. Officer Kit Lonigan joins forces with Barry after he explains why he seeks Perry though she finds his tale implausible: that is, until the truth slaps her in the face. She wants to kill Perry, but Barry is on a mission to take Perry to a safe place; that if they survive a hurricane and the unknown apparently inhuman adversary.

Robert Dunbar knows how to scare his readers into leaving the lights on especially while we are sleeping. THE SHORE is gothic in many respects with a semi deserted town cut off by a surging hurricane. Barry is on a mission he believes strongly in as he risks his life to accomplish it. Kit's needs are simpler as she just wants to save her town by killing the peril. Character driven yet filled with action, Mr. Dunbar provides a terrifying horror thriller.

A.J. Mendon
9780505527875 $6.99

When she was twelve years old Mindy was sent to boarding school on another planet. Years later she returned to earth and ultimately obtained a mechanical engineering position with the super Elite Hands of Justice. Over time her mechanical brilliance has led her to be called TEKGRRL.

Almost thirty, she has recently suffered from headaches, bursts of recovered memories including a trip on a flying saucer, and the sudden appearance of telekinetic skills, something she never displayed in her three decades of living. She conceals her fears of a voice inside her head while her former teammate who is now the new Secretary for Superhero Affairs, Simon Leasure claims EHJ is a vigilante criminal unit.

The latest EHJ lighthearted superhero romance is faster than a speeding bullet and more powerful than a locomotive. Mindy is a wonderful focus of the tale as she struggles between her attraction to the enemy Simon while even more difficult and complex is her internal tussle with what happened when her parents sent her off world almost two decades ago and her related current awakening of superpowers. Readers will enjoy the exploits of TEKGRRL and her super love for Simon, who reciprocates her feelings, but feels strongly making their world safe comes first.

McAlistair's Fortune
Alissa Johnson
9780843962512 $6.99

Miss Evie Cole knows eavesdropping is unladylike behavior, but relishes listening in to other people's conversations anyway. However, she has overheard a discussion between her guardians that gives her the shivers; they plan to find her a spouse. Evie has vowed to never get married so she must find away to disrupt the scheme.

Her guardians take an alleged threat to her seriously by hiring former government assassin James McAlistair as Evie's bodyguard. However, she knows he is a ploy as there is no threat to her. Still she never forgot his kiss from ages ago and would not mind more from him. When the fake threat turns real with incidents made to look like accidents, James vows to keep his beloved safe; Evie feels safe with her beloved protecting her.

The follow-up to the amusing Regency romances (see AS LUCK WOULD HAVE IT and TEMPTING FATE) is once again a fun frolic although with a different twist to the woman in peril saga. The lead couple is a wonderful pairing as both sing the refrain "I'm Not in Love", but cannot resist the lure of the other. Talented Alissa Johnson provides her fans with a great historical filled with jocularity and suspense.

The Finishing Touches
Hester Browne
9781416540076 $24.00

Almost three decades ago in London, a mom left her baby in front of the exclusive finishing school, the Phillimore Academy. An expensive golden brooch contained a pleading note to care for her baby. The owners Lord and Lady Phillimore and the staff raised Betsy Cooper Phillimore. Over time Betsy wanted only to become an Academy girl. However, her mentors told her to study math as her skills are super. Heartbroken, she left her "family" behind.

When Lady Franny passes away, Betsy returns to the school that was her home for her "mom's" memorable service; having not been back since she left. Betsy is stunned as the once elegant facility is in state of shabby condition, its reputation gone and the enrollment not just down but no longer attracting the elite. Lord P is despondent over what has happened to what he and his late spouse cherished even as he grieves; he turns to Betsy who has a degree in math to save the school as he believes she is a business consultant instead of running a shoe store in Edinburgh which she actually is. Betsy agrees, but also looks forward to seeing the man she likes while a shy employee likes her.

This is an entertaining chick lit tale starring a strong female who sees saving the academy as a way of thanking the Phillimore's and as a chance to perhaps learn who her biological mother is. Betsy is terrific as she holds the story line together while proving London swings like a pendulum as her emotions do likewise. Fans will enjoy reading about her efforts to save the school while actually finding herself.

The Love Of Her Life
Harriet Evans
9781439113158 $15.00

In London Kate Miller loves her job and her fiance Sean. However, she learns some truths about the man she was planning to marry and decides to end their engagement, quit her job, and cross the pond. She knows she will miss her home, her family her friends, and especially Mac who under other circumstances might have been the one.

After two years in the States, Kate comes home after her stepmom calls to say her dad wants to see her as he recuperates from an emergency kidney transplant operation. Her return has her looking back at what if she chose fight not flight, but not for Sean; she considers her running away cost her Mac and her family yet maybe it is time to run away again to avoid being rejected.

THE LOVE OF HER LIFE is a fascinating character study of a woman who chooses flight and fright over fight. Kate is an interesting protagonist who detests confrontation so avoids it even if that means moving across the Atlantic. Although the opening chapters are difficult to classify in terms of time, readers will enjoy watching the "Old Kate" evolve into the "New Kate" though in fact they are the same essence with just a little more maturity.

World's End
Mark Chadbourn
9781591027393 $15.98

Archeologist Jack Churchill knows he has failed to move on as his grief over the suicide death of his girlfriend Marianne two years ago haunts him whether he is awake or sleeping as he wonders what he could have done different. Clients and peers assume solicitor Ruth Gallagher has her act together but she hides her fears with a cloak of confidence that she knows is a sham.

Church and Ruth meet when they come to the aid of a mugging victim under London's Albert Bridge. However, when they see the hideous culprit, both faint. Each wants to forget what happened blaming it on an out of control imagination fueled by loneliness and fear, but neither can ignore the truth especially after software designer and total stranger Laura duSantiago sends an email insisting she can explain the eerie bridge incident. On the way to see her they are attacked by a creature similar to the mugger. An unkempt hippie Tom (Learmont) rescues them and explains the earth is returning to its roots when demons and other mythological characters roamed freely as the Age of Reason is ending. The trio sans Tom and two others forge an unlikely counterinsurgency the Brothers and Sisters of Dragons in an effort to locate four artifacts from before time to liberate the incarcerated gods, who normally could not care less about humanity and if freed may do nothing, but remain the only hope mankind has of surviving the evil invasion.

The first book of The Age of Misrule is a terrific urban fantasy thriller that brings Celtic mythology into modern day London. The story line is fast-paced from the opening encounter at the bridge and never slows down as the champions are on the run. The keys to the opening gamut are major plots are completed though the next tale is set up and the quintet has flaws that make each unlikely heroes and poor choices for membership on a fantastic five team. Readers will enjoy this fine beginning and look forward to more malice from Mark Chadbourne.

Purses and Poison
Dorothy Howell
0758223765 $22.00

She comes from a life of wealth and privilege and would do just about anything to buy a $2,000 Judith Leiber handbag. She is on very good terms with her parents and is a fashionista who would love to have stylish designer brands in clothing and jewelry. Instead twentyish Haley Randolph works for minimum wage at Holt's Department Store while attending classes at the local college. Her goal is to own a wardrobe she could be proud of.

Her sort of boyfriend is store owner Ty Cameron who stands her up at times as he seems always to be busy working. At the employee's luncheon and fashion show advertising the store's new attire, Haley notices one of the models is sick. Haley volunteers to replace her and shortly after a fashion model who was Ty's ex girlfriend Claudia Gray is found dead. The police determine the victim was poisoned. Haley vows to find the killer as her mom's catering is the source and since she went missing for a time, she knows she is a suspect.

This book is a hoot with the heroine's amusing asides re fashion and her efforts to obtain a hand bag that is the real thing that leads her into all sorts of trouble including with the police. Ironically in spite of her quest, Haley is not a vacuous beauty as she is clearly is intelligent though fixated somewhat. She uses her brains to investigate the homicide as she knows she is at the top of the suspect list. Fans will enjoy her escapades as she is as obstinate to obtain the designer handbag as she is to obtain the killer's identity.

Blood Deep
Sharon Page
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758228796 $13.95

In 1807 Miranda Bond possesses a unique paranormal skill that few if anyone else can perform. She can return souls to dead people.

However, the Royal Society for the Investigation of Mysterious Phenomena looks at her gift with one member in particular believing she is evil and what she does is an abomination. Without receiving official permission this betrayer of the society's code of ethics wants to kill her and sets out to do so. Acting like highwaymen members Zayan and Lukos kidnap the betrothed Miranda in an effort to keep her safe from a renegade associate. However, each is attracted to her and wants her as his; they vie with one another trying to win Miranda's heart and soul; not an easy task when allegedly vampires do not have a soul and hide their heart.

The latest "Blood erotic Regency romantic fantasy is a terrific page turner that will hook the audience from the onset and never releases the reader from literary bondage until the final climax. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action in and out of the boudoir. Although numerous returns to previous heroes from BLOOD RED and BLOOD ROSE will confuse newcomers, Sharon page provides another winner with this deep suspense.

Behind the Red Door
Jackie Barbosa
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758234582 $13.95

"Wickedly Ever After". Lord Grenville maintains his image as a wastrel while hiding his fondness for translating Roman poetry from the Ton; that is until he meets and kisses Eleanor Palmer BEHIND THE RED DOOR as she loves poetry and the Marquess.

"Sinfully Ever After". Captain Jack Prescott has been haunted by horrific memories until he meets courtesan Calliope whose erotic treatment BEHIND THE RED DOOR gives him new memories and hopes for future memories.

"Scandalously Ever After". Lady Jane St. Clair accepts the proposal from the rake Lord Chester, Gerard Nash, as she has loved him forever, but decides to go BEHIND THE RED DOOR to fulfill their fantasies before and after the wedding.

These are three exciting erotic Regency romances starring fully developed lead protagonists who take readers to the chambers BEHIND THE RED DOOR.

Pleasure Island
Lorie O'Clare
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758234476 $13.95

Attorney Natalie Green arrives at the island resort expecting an erotic vacation. She meets two hunks Nicolas and Tomas who seem too devoted to her in such a short time. Their constant attentiveness frightens her because they pleasure her taking Natalie to orgasms like never before.

Soon afterward she meets hermit Malachai in a taboo zone while she explored the island. They are attracted to one another from the first look and soon make love. Malachai wonders if his beloved is the impetus for him to return to the world while her two other lovers keep intruding.

This is a fascinating erotic romance starring four solid (no pun intended re the men) protagonists. The sex is exotic and erotic leaving readers wondering throughout whom, if any, ends up with Natalie. Although too many subplots are crammed into the tale, fans will enjoy the interlude on PLEASURE ISLAND.

Most Wanted
Sasha White
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758228628 $13.95

Hidden Cravings". One year has passed since Devon Kaye has visited Lexy Signorino, but now he asks the private investigator to find his missing cousin; she looks forward to collecting her special fee.

"Unrestricted Access". Jill Furst and Jack Barrows live up the hill from one another and enjoy exchanging teasing barbs until she pushes the envelop with a sensuous letter as she wants much more from him.

"No Angel". Anna Blair has the power of a demon literally who wants her, but she wants Gabe as her loving Mann.

Sasha White shows her skills to cross sub-genres with these three enjoyable erotic romances.

How to Seduce a Texan
Karen Kelley
Kensington Brava
9780758225740 $14.00

Following his latest breakup that the media and not just the sports segment devoured, football star Cal Braxton needs a breather from the feeding frenzy of the intrusive press. He hides out at his brother's dude ranch in Texas.

Her editor assigns reporter Nikki "The Barracuda" Scott to go undercover to uncover Cal's secrets. To do this Nikki becomes a guest at the ranch. Although she assumes he played football without a helmet and thus has a Grand Canyon where his brain should be, he knows he has a journalist snooping in his affairs. Instead of his sibling's ranch, he takes her to the family's rundown homestead with a cabin that looks like OSHA and EPA would condemn even before the Housing crowd got involved. He figures with no electricity, no Internet, no water and an outhouse, the city flicker will flee for the nearest urban hill. Instead she handles every dirty farm trick and cow chip he throws at her and tosses them back while a ghost tries to regain solo occupation of the abode. As his game plan fails to execute properly, Cal feels sacked as he goes from anger to admiration to attraction to love seemingly before the first fifteen plays occurred.

HOW TO SEDUCE A TEXAN is an amusing contemporary gender war romance. The lead couple is a fabulous pairing between an obstinate reporter known as the Barracuda for a reason and a football star known for his womanizing ways who matches her stubbornness all the way. Readers will relish Karen Kelley's fun tale while wondering by the two minute warning whether love will prove enough with this pig-headed pair.

Succubus Heat
Richelle Mead
9780758231994 $15.00

In Seattle succubus Georgina Kincaid remains stunned by the betrayal of her boyfriend writer Seth Mortensen who slept with her best friend Maddie; make that ex boyfriend and ex BFF (see SUCCUBUS DREAM). However, her boss archdemon Jerome is tired of her negativity as a succubus must be upbeat and her inability to suck souls as that is why a succubus lives so he exiles her to Vancouver to work for a less tolerant rival with instructions to perform industrial espionage.

However, back in Seattle, a Satanist cult has performed some spectacular seemingly supernatural events. Several of her peers and paranormal associates have vanished including Jerome. Currently more human than hell spawn, Georgina knows she must act starting with finding and saving Jerome before civil war breaks out over who's in charge. Also Seth wants a second chance with his beloved to include sex; she considers going for it with her on top since she no longer can suck his soul from him.

The latest Succubus urban fantasy (see SUCCUBUS DREAMS and SUCCUBUS BLUES) is an engaging Seattle thriller starring the intelligent but frazzled Georgina. Nothing goes right for the heroine as she has lost her skill, her boyfriend, her best friend, and her boss. However, instead of wallowing in self pity, she searches for Jerome to keep the political-industrial hell spawn complex from overt hostilities. Although the story line contains too many cul de sacs, which in fairness adds realism to the heroine's probe, fans of the series will enjoy Georgina amateur sleuth.

A Little Light Magic
Joy Nash
9780505526939 $7.99

Victoria "Tori" Morgan has been alone for a long time; her parents are dead and recently Great-Aunt Millie Whitaker passed away. She has no one so it did not take much of a decision to move to the house she inherited from her late Great Aunt on the Jersey shore. Her plan is to convert the dilapidated "pachyderm", at least the front, into a new age shop selling tarot cards, candles and crystals, etc. She hires contractor Nick Santangelo to renovate the edifice to state code.

Tori believes that Nick agreed to take on her job due to a magician Cajun candle given to her by a witch. Nick has enough flakes in his household without dealing with another one though he is attracted to her. His teenage daughter insists she is in forever love; his Nonna is a shoplifter; his brother works for him though they differ on the meaning of work as he wants to be a starving actor living off his brother until he gets his break; mom has menopause issues that make her a walking time bomb. Finally there is Tori who wants him to sire her baby, but does not want him.

The magic of this joyful romance is the changes in the lead couple. Initially Tori comes across as an eccentric flake with no concept of business or relationships while Nick appears as a nasty know it all; as they become acquainted with A LIGHT LITTLE MAGIC called love, they seem to blossom. Although the plot is thin, fans will enjoy this fine character driven tale as the whole is greater than the sum of the parts.

Undead and Unwelcome
MaryJanice Davidson
0425227731 $24.95

The vampire king and queen, newlyweds Eric Sinclair and Betsy Taylor feel obligated to accompany the corpse of werewolf Antonia back to his New England-based Wyndham Pack since he died saving her undead life. They leave the twin Cities for the Cape with Betsy grieving and feeling survivor guilt while her spouse fears a cross paranormal species war is coming.

50,000 plus howling werewolves scream for their blood so the werewolf council demands an accounting as to why one of their own died protecting a vampire. In St. Paul, Betsy's half sister Laura fears for her sibling's life and being the daughter of the devil plans to take action against her enemies. The Minnesota royal supporters struggle to keep her from going over the deep end and causing the hostilities to heat up which Eric hopes to prevent from happening. Alas adding to the cross paranormal mess is the royals' legal ward of her infant half-brother BabyJon who has fangs flying everywhere; hell even Eric who did not want to be a daddy for a few more centuries is over the edge when it comes to the baby.

The latest Undead and … tale is a fast-paced wild ride filled with much darker but as hilarious humor as its predecessors. Now two years as the queen, Betsy still struggles with the intra and inter etiquette between the supernatural species as well as with humans and vamps; she especially struggles with those who pee and those who never urinate (don't ask what is left). The story line is loaded with off beat zaniness as Eric expects an unwelcome greeting in Cape Cod while St. Paul is out of control. Betsy puts the potential cross species war in proper perspective: her shoes have no scratches so far.

The Girl From Junchow
Kate Furnivall
9780425227640 $15.00

Fleeing with her mom from the Bolsheviks and believing her dad is dead, Russian expatriate Lydia Ivanova still struggles to adapt to being alone in Junchow, China since her mom was killed (see THE RUSSIAN CONCUBINE). Now in 1929 she learns the impossible that her father is alive though incarcerated in a labor prison.

Leaving behind her native lover Communist Chang An Lo, Lydia and stepbrother Alexei search for her father by returning to Moscow in hope of liberating him. However, during their quest, Alexei vanishes leaving Lydia to believe he left her for expedient selfish reasons. Lo arrives to keep Lydia safe while hiding what he knows about her father, but his concealment does not prevent her from learning shockers re her family.

THE GIRL FROM JUNCHOW is a fascinating historical sequel that brings to life time and place (China and Russia) as the heroine goes full circle returning home. Ironically the vivid descriptions that showcase 1929 Junchow, Moscow, and other locales often overwhelms the suspense subplots of Lydia's search for her dad and Lo search for Lydia. Still fans of early twentieth century tales will want to read this deep tale and its fine prequel, THE RUSSIAN CONCUBINE.

Witch Fury
Anya Bast
9780425228692 $7.99

After watching the woman attend the funeral of her foster mother, Duskoff International CEO Stefan Faucheux kidnaps the grieving Sarafina Connell and her dog Gossett. He insists she is a fire witch; she laughs at him thinking a madman has abducted her. However, his assertion has her thinking back to when her insane biological mom died in a fire.

A coven led by earth witch Theo Winters storms Faucheaux's compound. They take Sarafina with them as their prisoner. Theo and his cohorts assume she is in cahoots with the vile CEO. Sarafina informs her hosts that her former host had Bai an Atrika demon with him. The coven panics because Bai should never have been able to cross the barrier between the mortal and demon realms while also wondering why they are interested in Sarafina. Theo knows deep in his gut why he is interested in Sarafina besides her connection to Faucheux though he denies it even to himself.

The final Elemental Witches urban romantic fantasy (see WITCH HEART, WITCH FIRE, and WITCH BLOOD) is an excellent finish to a strong saga. The story line is action packed from just after Sarafina buries her foster mother and never slows down as the major strings (mostly paranormal) from the previous three tales are tied up nicely. Though newcomers would be better off starting with the previous novels to better understand the overarching plot that WITCH FURY closes, Anya Bast is at her best with the final Elemental Witch thriller.

Immortal Outlaw
Lisa Hendrix
9780425228340 $7.99

Four hundred years ago Cwen the sorceress cursed marauding Viking warriors; the cursed ones live half of a day as human and the other half as a beast; each being a different animal. Ivo is a daytime eagle (see IMMORTAL WARRIOR); Brand is a daytime bear, Ari is a nighttime raven; and Steinarr the Proud spends his night roaring as a lion while roaming Nottingham Forest as the king of the beasts. He avoids human contact as much as possible as he knows they are a treacherous lot.

When he meets half-siblings Marian and Robin Fitzwalter, he learns they seek a concealed treasure that will prove the lad is the rightful owner of his family's lands. Marian asks Steinarr to help them, but his distrust of humans leads to his refusal. She kisses the lion king and implies passion will follow. Though he expects betrayal, he helps them even as a legend of the outlaw Robin Hood and his band of merry men grows. As Marian falls in love with Steinarr; Cwen the sorceress plans to kill the half beast.

The second Immortal Brotherhood medieval romantic fantasy uses a spin on the Robin Hood- Lady Marian legend to tell the tale of Steinarr. The story line is filled with action in Nottingham as the Viking King of the Beasts falls in love with the legendary Lady Marian while Cwen is coming to destroy both of them and the Merry Men. The audience will relish Lisa Hendrix's enjoyable entry while wondering if literary greats like Sir Gawain and Ivanhoe will join future half beasts.

Touched by Light
Catherine Spangler
9780425226377 $7.99

Adam Masters needs the help of Dr. Julia Reynolds on his quest to find a sentinel. Her precognitive skills are critical as they enhance his extrasensory gifts. However, Adam also knows the highly probable cost to her if he loses to his deadly enemy; Julia will die horribly.

Julia wants nothing to do with Adam or any man for that matter as she struggles with knowing the animal who raped her has just been freed from prison. However, she understands Adam's plea and reluctantly agrees to help him. Adam feels guilty that he may be endangering this kind woman he is attracted to while Julia struggles between her fear of the male beast and her attraction to her new teammate.

The latest Sentinel "Touched" paranormal romantic suspense (see TOUCHED BY FIRE and TOUCHED BY DARKNESS) is an enjoyable thriller starring two interesting lead characters. Julia is especially a fresh face as she is at times is out right nasty towards the hero though she likes him, desires him, and supports his goal. Adam is somewhat similar in personality to the Sentinel heroes of the previous tales Damien Morgan and Luke Paxton. Fans will enjoy this fine entry yet ponder why Julia's precognitive skills work so well to help her and Adam have a chance at surviving his quest, but failed to warn her about the rapist. Catherine Spangler provides an engaging tale in her strong Sentinel saga.

The Widow Season
Laura Brody
9780425227657 $14.00

Sarah McConnell sees her husband wearing his Yankees cap at the grocery store. She is shocked as David drowned kayaking three months ago though his body was never found. Later Sarah senses David is near and is not scared because she knows he will not harm her. She realizes as she sees him on the couch, she is not mourning him, but what they lost in the last few years of their marriage. He tells her they need a revival like what happened to him on the river when the storm suddenly hit and tipped over his kayak. He got to shore and made it back to their cabin, but felt it was too late to call Sarah. Instead he started painting.

Her brother-in-law Nate and Sarah are there for each other in grief but soon make love, but she is upset in the morning filled with guilt. Sarah comes to the cabin to see David and pick up paintings for a show a gallery owner is putting on of his works. David is thankful Sarah has not given up on him while Sarah is thankful she has a second chance to spend time with David until he asks her if he is dead to her. David wants Sarah to join him in a warm spot, but will she?

The premise of this fine paranormal contemporary, his visiting his widow after his death, is intriguing and well executed so that readers will believe David came back. The cast is extremely strong especially the lead characters and the brother. Though Sarah's affair with her brother-in-law is intended for the audience to understand two grieving people finding some solace with one another; instead it feels more of a shocker device to upset David. THE WIDOW SEASON is a wonderful relationship drama as a couple drifting apart in life reached out to each other in death.

Tails of Love
Lori Foster (editor)
0425227685 $15.00

These ten tails showcase the love of significant others whose stories make for fun engaging tales. None of the contributions are clinkers as most avoid the simplicity of cuteness only like when whether a male human competes with Houdini the goat for the affection of his woman in "Norah's Arc by Kate Angell or Dickens and Madeline debating eating flies and how to train their new pet person Rose in Stella Cameron's "A Knotty Tail". Lori Foster's "Man's Best Friend" proves a puppy is also a woman's best friend. Readers will appreciate these four legged romances as the stars demonstrate why they are the significant others of their respective pet persons; affirmed by the monkey "Atticus saves Lisa" by Ann Christopher.

James A Moore
9780425228210 $7.99

As the New England seafaring season is almost over, the professor Dr. Martin Ward come to Bowden's Point to hire Captain Joe Bierden to take him and his three associates to Devil's Reef near the town of Golden Cove so they can explore an underwater cave. Although he, his wife Belle and his best friend and first mate Charlie Moncrief want to refuse the offer, the money is too good to say no.

On his biggest yacht Isabella's Dream, Joe, Charlie and a couple of local teens take the customers for their month long exploration. The crew is shocked by the hostility of the townsfolk. As the professor, his athletic assistant Diana and a TV famous parapsychologist along with Jacob and Mary Parsons explore Devil's Reef seeking evidence of a city Innsmouth rumored to be destroyed by the Feds, ghost ships and Deep Ones oceanic humanoids attack the crew and clients.

This is an excellent horror thriller due to a fully developed cast (human and paranormal) who seem genuine so that when the impossible occurs, James A. Moore makes it feels possible. Filled with action and suspense, DEEPER hooks readers into a one sitting tale as fans will wonder who will be left swimming in the ever increasingly darker and sinister aptly titled Golden Cove.

Kiss & Hell
Dakota Cassidy
9780425227855 $15.00

Fifteen years ago Delaney Markham met the devil and sort of survived with her soul intact. Since that hellish encounter, Delaney has been able to communicate with spirits at the cost of friendships and boyfriends as everyone who meets her assumes she is playing electronic hearts with herself. Her only pal is Marcella the kindhearted demon.

Of course there is Clyde Atwell, a rookie demon, who the devil has sent to harass Delaney. Though she feels sorry for the tyro, she wishes he would return to whence he came. However, he refuses and not because his superior vows to burn him for eternity if he fails at his mission; ironically he has fallen in love. For that matter Delaney is beginning to realize there is more to Clyde than meets the devil's eye and decides his contention that he does not belong in hell or a hand-basket might actually be true; so how the hell did he end up there.

Delaney with her amusing sarcastic asides makes for an entertaining romantic fantasy with a wonderful mystery subplot. The story line is breezy from the opening chime and never slows down as Markham knows the world is in a hand basket traveling to hell. She never slows down even when she is passionately kissing her significant other, which has quite a meaning in this fun tale. Readers will relish this lighthearted jocular frolic while humming "The Devil Went Down to Georgia" by the Charlie Daniels Band even though the heroine's herb store is in Manhattan's East Village.

Demon Mistress
Yasmine Galenorn
9780425228647 $7.99

In Seattle, Menolly D'Atigo still adjusts to being a vampire while working with her sisters Camille the witch (see DRAGON WYTCH) and Delilah the shapeshifting Death Maiden (see NIGHT HUNTER) for the Otherworld Intelligence Agency. However, while cleaning the bar where she works, she finds fascinating items left behind by the elf bartender who returned to Otherworld. A diary the elf kept insists he felt he was stalked and implies he may have been killed instead of going home.

However, while Menolly considers what to do, a new radically different demonic assault begins to absorb the life force out of the fae. There appears no counterattack to prevent this threat from succeeding and evidence mounts that a quisling human group is abetting the demon Lord Shadow Wing.

The latest Otherworld urban romantic fantasy is a super entry as Menolly leads the charge this time. Once again there is a ton of support players allies and villains that make the well written numerous subplots even more complex. Fans will enjoy the latest D'Atigo sister's take on their adventures as this time the trio tries solve the mystery of the bartending elf while also attempting to keep two worlds safe from the demon horde.

Kissing Midnight
Emma Holly
9780425223390 $7.99

In 1933 Edmund Fitz Clare conceals the fact that he is a shapeshifting upyr vampire from everyone. He hides his secret from the orphans he has adopted, from his best friend, and mostly concealing it from his buddy's daughter Estelle Berenger who he is attracted to. His goal is redemption to make up for nefarious deeds he once committed. He remains ignorant that Estelle hides her new odd abilities she gained ever since lightning hit her.

In London, hostilities are growing amongst vampires. War seems imminent. To survive along with his wards, Edmund and Estelle will need to depend on one another. Togetherness in Bedford Square allows their attraction to become love.

The latest "Midnight" historical urban romantic fantasy is a terrific tale that plays on several fronts including M15 Graham Fitz Clare's activities as well as the above. The story line is fast-paced, but even with paranormal species and elements, Emma Holly provides her audience with a strong sense of time and place. Edmund and Estelle are fabulous lead characters whose love seems impossible to turn into a relationship as time means something different for the pair. Ms. Holly writes another winner in her strong saga (see COURTING MIDNIGHT)

Atlantis Unleashed
Alyssa Day
9780425220412 $7.99

To save the life of his brother, Lord Justice volunteered to become the prisoner of evil vampire goddess Anubisa. She was elated to take the hybrid Atlantan and Nereid as her special guest. His sacrifice has begun to take its toll on his sanity as he has no outlet for his dueling natures.

Archaeologist Dr. Keely McDermott uses her extrasensory skill psychometry to learn what occurred to inanimate objects. She excavates a carving that when she touches it she finds herself linked to its creator; to her shock, that individual is alive though the carving is old and in torment. Their tie enables Justice to escape his bondage. With Anubisa giving chase, they team up seeking the Star of Artemis jewel of Atlantis, needed with the rest of the jewels to destroy Anubisa.

This is super Warriors of Poseidon urban fantasy entry starring perhaps the most tormented of the warriors and a courageous human who risk their lives to defy Anubisa. The story line is filled with Alyssa Day's trademark action in several locals. However, it is the lead couple who make this a terrific romantic fantasy thriller as the scientist and the seemingly insane paranormal half-breed team up in love.

Desolate Angel
Chaz McGee
9780425228739 $6.99

Heaven does not want him and Hell is not calling either. In life Kevin Fahey was a lousy cheating husband and an absentee father; these were his better traits. As a cop he failed to solve most of his cases. As a spirit wandering his town, he believes he is still on earth to earn redemption though he has no earthly idea how.

One day the ghost of Alissa Hayes appears and leads him to the corpse of a woman who was positioned in the exact manner of her murder that he solved. Kevin now knows he was so drunk and incompetent he let an innocent young man get sent to prison .Kevin is drawn to the lead detective on the case who shine with a pure light; Maggie Gunn quickly connects the homicide of Alissa to that of Victoria Meeks. Fahey is Maggie's persistent yet invisible companion; he smells evil while she senses it. Maggie figures out who the killer is, but lacks evidence for a conviction. She, as does Fahey, knows he must be taken down because he will torture and slowly kill others. Although Maggie can not sense Fahey's presence, somehow she feels connected to him. He intends to keep her on the right road so a tragedy can be averted.

As a roaming ghost, Fahey is a much better person than he was as a living being. He sees the beauty of nature, the joy in loving relationships of all kinds, and bitterly regrets how he lived his life. He needs to make reparations and is elated to finally have found a way to do so. Fahey feels he is doing a higher calling and embraces this with a fervor he lacked when he breathed. His feelings for Maggie are not quite defined at this time but emit an interesting aura as he obviously cares what happens to her; a first for him. The investigation is top rate as Chaz McGee has written a mesmerizing paranormal police procedural.

The Scot and I
Elizabeth Thornton
9780425228326 $7.99

In 1885 Her Majesty's Secret Service psychic agent Alex Hepburn is part of a unit that successfully prevents an assassination of Queen Victoria. However, though he and his team achieved its goal, group messenger Mahri Scot vanishes. Alex uses his extrasensory skills to follow her, but each time he believes he has caught up to her, he finds she remains missing while he keeps running into a lad.

Knowing he is missing something obvious, he finally realizes the boy is Mahri in disguise. As they fall in love, the military and the assassins chase after them with only his extrasensory abilities keeping them alive. Both know they must learn the identity of the leader of the anti Victorian terrorists before they become victims.

THE SCOT AND I is an excellent late Victorian romantic suspense thriller with a small dose of fantasy elements enhancing the fun tale. The story line is action-paced from the onset and accelerates as Alex starts his search for Mahri. With strong lead characters and solid support players who anchor time and place, sub-genre fans will enjoy their escapades as they fall in love ever since she was a young male.

Dirty Sexy Knitting
Christie Ridgeway
9780425228296 $7.99

The media frenzy at times felt like a tsunami, but Cassandra Riley, owner of Malibu & Ewe knitting shop, survives the sperm donor ado as does her sisters heiress Honor Witherspoon (see UNRAVEL ME) and chef Nikki Carmichael (see HOW TO KNIT A WILD BIKINI). However, what she struggles with is seeing her neighbor Gabe drunk every day as he uses alcohol to bury the pain of grief, having interred his family.

However, Cassandra feels lonely with her siblings having significant others. Turning thirty just adds to her depression. When people she has seen in forever show up and accidents begin occurring, Cassandra is confused. However, not as bewildered as she feels when she wakes up with Gabe sharing her bed.

The final complex Malibu and Ewe contemporary romance is a fun finish that like its predecessors emphasizes how convoluted modern day families have become. The lead couple is a charming match up as Cassandra feels like singing Alone Again, Naturally (Gilbert O'Sullivan) while Gabe has turned to alcohol to numb the pain of his losses. Although it helps to have read the first two novels to better understand Cassandra's self pity, fans will enjoy the final knitting of relationships.

Child of the South
Joanna Catherine Scott
9780425226025 $14.00

With the Civil War over, half-breed Eugenia May Spotswood returns home searching for family especially the one her mother to belong to, but mostly finding hate between her two worlds of black and white. One noted exception is a black North Carolina senator who befriends Eugenia May giving her powerful backing.

A former slave Tom served as a spy for the Union while Clyde Bricket fought for the Confederacy. They come home to North Carolina where they meet in poverty as neither has much of anything except Tom is free and Clyde is crippled. If they can get past their prejudice and forge a team, they can rebuild their homes; separately neither can stand up to those who want the new South to remain devastated.

The sequel to THE ROAD FROM CHAPEL HILL (not read by me) is a profound look at the South struggling to recover from the ravages of the Civil War, mostly fought below the Mason-Dixon Line. The characters are fully developed so that the good, the bad, and the ugly compete for how the New South will be shaped. With more subplots than above that merge into a deep look at the aftermath of the Civil War, Joanna Catherine Scott provides a powerful historical.

Fair Game
Jasmine Haynes
9780425227596 $15.00

In San Francisco, Castle Heavy Mining program manager Josie Tybook works hard to prove she deserves her position and that her family connections with her dad on the board have had nothing to do with her getting and keeping her job. She also uses men for one night stands when she wants no strings sex; relationships are something she does not desire. The prime rule for Josie is work and sex do not mix.

In a crowded elevator in the SMG Industries high-rise, Josie cops a feel of stranger Kyle Perry; both enjoy the naughty foreplay better than caffeine and each wants to play more erotica games, but business comes first. However, Josie almost immediately learns Kyle has a work connection to her, the Coyote project. She wants to end their sexual activities before they begin, but knows that will prove hard (pun intended) as he wants to play sexual games that she also wants to keep playing with him

FAIR GAME is a fun heated contemporary romance starring two interesting lead protagonists and the return of characters from some of Jasmine Haynes' previous tales. Although each turns introspective too often especially following a sexual exploit, the antics of Josie and Kyle as gamesters and pranksters are amusing. Yet despite their teenage like immaturity, fans will enjoy their inane sexcapades as few can ride an elevator like this couple although many whish they could.

The Accidental Bestseller
Wendy Wax
9780425227671 $15.00

A decade ago Kendall Aims, Mallory St. James, Faye Truett and Tanya Mason attended a wannabe writer's conference and became friends. Still BFFs, each has gone down differing paths. Mallory has become a bestselling author whose husband feels they have no relationship as she is too busy for him. Faye writes inspirational romances as expected of the wife of a televangelist. Tanya is a failed author who works two jobs while raising two kids as a single mom. Kendall is falling off the cliff as her writing career has tanked with falling sales and a new editor who wants to dump her; her marriage is in worse shape than her vocation.

She needs a hit rather quickly to meet the deadline for the final book on her contract. Her three BFFs join with her to write a book about their lives. Each assumes no one will tie fiction with fact. To the surprise of all, the book becomes a bestseller racing up all the charts. However each of the BFFs fear scandal as readers, fans, and the media dig deep into each character.

The key to this entertaining contemporary fiction is that each of the four BFFs come across as genuine real people but with differing personalities, desires and fears. Character driven as the quartet learn how simpler it is to convert personal truisms into fiction as proven by THE ACCIDENTAL BESTSELLER, fans will enjoy the importance of friendship.

Where There's a Witch
Madelyn Alt
9780425228715 $7.99

Nobody visiting Stony Mill, Indiana would believe there is a witch living there. Veteran Felicity Dow is mentoring rookie witch Maggie O'Neal, who is an intuitive, sensitive and a strong empath. Felicity gives her the gift of Maggie finally understanding there is nothing mentally wrong with her because her hunches that seem to always come true and her ability to separate emotions and thoughts of others always frightened her; now she knows she is not alone and what her skill means.

A carnival is operating as a fundraiser to enlarge the Baptist Church. The highlight comes when the machines start digging the first hole but almost immediately they must stop. A hole is found in the ground that leads to a room. The outside is decorated with all kinds of crosses. The next day they find the body of Ronnie Maddox who Maggie overhead in a violent argument with Tyler Barnett. An Ouija reading conjures up the spirit of Elias, a child who died in the underground room; he attaches himself to Maggie who has no earthly idea the danger she is about to face.

There is a certain magic brought to this fine book by caring Maggie, but she is not the only psychic in this eerie part of Indiana. Her interactions with the spirit are fascinating as the reader tries to comprehend what he wants of her. There is a strange case of conservatism and fundamentalism in the Baptist Church as they mount a hate campaign to ostracize and demonize Felicity and her friends. This breeds an atmosphere of hate and distrust of which the new witch on the block could a victim. Madelyn Alt places a social spin with hate crime in the middle of her terrific Hoosier fantasy that will have readers not just believing in the spirit world, but walking along aside the heroine in the spirit world.

Albrim's Curse
Trevis Powell
BlackWyrm Publishing
Chimney Ridge Ct, Louisville, KY 40299
9780982006740 $11.95

As he has done at other villages recently, Lord Ferule's heir Sir Garen arrives in Cobble to draft archers to hunt a new breed of bigger wolf, obviously created by the evil Quarg, who recently killed one human in Spicer. Master bowman Borel will lead the Cobble contingent of fourteen that includes his excited son Albrim who recently turned fifteen so has become a fighter's age; half the town's warriors are left behind to protect the villagers.

Sixteen days later, Albrim is bored having met no enemy. Word arrives that a werewolf has been part of the assault. Albrim and his dad rush back to Cobble to find a war zone. Borel is killed by the werewolf who also bites off Albrim's arm before town leader Gran kills the evil beast with silver. Albrim is left in a wooded area near the cove of a giant, who takes him into his home, but ties up the ex archer to insure he cannot harm him when he changes. Albrim dubs the silent giant Mute who soon brings the Dwarf to the encampment. Dwarf places a special silver piece on Albrim to prevent the conversion; leaves him books on the were, and warns him hunters go after werewolves. Albrim who once dreamed of becoming like his dad who was the town's best archer has begun a different adventure.

ALBRIM'S CURSE starts off as a typical medieval like fantasy, but takes a shocking exhilarating twist as the expected teen hero becomes Cursed. The cast is powerful as the audience will believe in werewolves, Cursed, spells, and much more, but obviously the despondent, angry Albrim and the silent brilliant communicator own the tale. Readers who enjoy a terrific refreshing twist to the coming of age hero fantasy will want to join Albrim's journey to battle the Quarg as long as the lad wears the silver and Mute is nearby to kick butt. This book is pure magic, a special novel that enchants the audience

Plague of Secrets
John Lescroart
9780525950929 $26.95

In San Francisco, an unknown sniper shoots and kills Bay Beans West coffee shop manager Dylan Volger. The police find Dylan carrying marijuana and growing weed in his home; they also find his clientele includes highly placed local politicians.

The cops suspect the Haight-Ashbury coffee shop owner, Maya Townshend as the culprit. Besides being the niece of the city's mayor and her sister being a city supervisor, Maya was paying her ex-convict manager an exorbitant salary to run a coffee shop. The investigators Bracco and Schiff think she tired to kill her former college lover to end his blackmailing of her related to his marijuana sales that U.S. District attorney Jerry Glass insists paid for her expensive home as she was the senior weed mover. Glass sees a boost to his career especially if he adds asset forfeiture to convicting her. Defense attorney Dismas Hardy defends his client whom the media has hung as a drug dealing adulteress killer on two murder counts, drug dealing and more based on motive and no physical evidence.

This is a terrific Hardy-Glitsky tale with several exciting subplots including Abe's son in a coma and the cop being at the courtroom for a final sort of like Perry Mason twist (without the confession) from out of the headlines in Georgia. The story line is fast-paced, but it is the characters especially the plausible support cast to include the two murder victims who turn PLAGUE OF SECRETS into a super legal thriller.

The Memory Collectors
Meg Gardiner
9780525950752 $25.95

At a San Francisco Airport, forensic psychiatrist Jo Beckett examines an upset airline passenger Ian Kanan who has just returned from Africa. She concludes he apparently suffers from a form of short term amnesia that does not allow him to make new memories more than five minutes old though his pre-flight remain okay. Despondent and hyper with anxiety Ian is rushed to the hospital. Unable to calm down, he insists his family was abducted and in trouble, and someone poisoned him. He soon vanishes from the hospital to go after those he feels harmed him and his family.

Beckett investigates Kanan's background and learns he was a security consultant for Chira-Sayf, a nanotechnology company. She finds out he also may be the accidental victim of an experimental biological weapon Slick. She fears those who Kanan referred to plan to gracefully emit Slick on the city. With her boyfriend Gabe Quintana and SFPD Police Lieutenant Amy Tang accompanying her, Beckett hopes to prevent a terrorist tragedy as the disease is spreading.

The second Beckett thriller (see THE DIRTY SECRETS CLUB) is an action-packed, fast-paced tale in which the audience will not have time to breath. The story line starts at hyperspeed and never slows down so that readers will want to join the ride (wear seat belts). However, the frantic speed keeps character development to a thin level, but no one will care as the enjoyable adventures are faster than the speed of light.

War Games: Kill Zone
Vicki Hinze
9781934755617 $7.95

The Secret Assignment Security Specialists' Special Abilities Team (SAT) consists of three members, Dr. Morgan Cabot, Jazie Craig and Taylor Lee with intuitive psychologist Morgan as the head. Their current assignment is to bring down the deadly Group Resources for Individual Development (GRID) led by brilliant lethal operative Thomas Kunz.

GRID barely conceals its terrorist activities as they work from inside the American government by doppelganger agents in positions of power in order to obtain top secret information. The SAT unit believes the next target is one or both of the Stern brothers; USAF Captain Jackson Stern or his recently arrested on spousal murder charges sibling Bruce Stern; either that or they are traitors. Morgan, Jazie and Taylor understand the mission is to bring down deadly Kunz ASAP.

With a nod to Charlie's Angels, but with an ESP spin, fans will enjoy the fast-paced and well-written KILL ZONE though the track of the story line is very obvious. The villain's traits are purposely hyperbole, but that makes for the fun in the tale as Kunz is a solid foil to the heroic trio as super agents need super opponents. Filled with misinformation and disinformation by those allegedly on the side of SAT, readers will enjoy the first War Games with its paranormal battle front. Vicki Hinze is a brilliant suspense writer.

House Secrets
Mike Lawson
Atlantic Monthly
9780802118851 $22.00

The drowning at Lake Anna of the Washington Post investigative reporter Terry Finley has shaken up his father, a former Congressman who suspects foul play. Former Congressman Finley asks Speaker of the House John Mahoney for a favor to investigate his last surviving son's death; his other boy died years ago due to JFK's fiasco in Nam. Mahoney orders his investigator Joe DeMarco to look into the drowning death.

DeMarco intevriews the retired Congressman who explains why he has doubts that an accident occurred as his son, a workaholic, was on a major story and would not have left town for a swim. The journalist was looking into the US Senator from NY Paul Morelli, the liberal front-runner for the Democratic Party nomination for president. Accepting the premise of a homicide though he doubts that happened, DeMarco assumes an embarrassing story needed to be silent, which means politicians and none better than a presidential front-runner. The sleuth soon learns that Morelli is a nasty drunk who turns into a rapist after downing a few. Worse he finds out that the senator offers to pay off his victims to silence them or if they refuse hush money silence them by having his goons kill them. Reporting his finding to Mahoney, the speaker tells him to trap the bastard only DeMarco's allies on a perfect sting are being murdered one at a time with two Feds following the Speaker's sleuth..

The latest Joe DeMarco DC investigative thriller (see HOUSE RULES) is a fantastic tale filled with twists and spins that seem plausible. The underlying concept to the exhilarating story line is Lord Acton's commentary that "Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely". Fans will enjoy DeMarco's efforts to bring down a DC giant only to soon wonder if he will survive long enough to see Morelli in spite of the evidence living in the White House. Mike Lawson's DeMarco Speaker investigations are a consistently great series.

The Art of Evil
Daryn Parke
Five Star
1594147868 $25.95

After falling from the third floor and having her FBI partner-lover Eric die in the same incident, Special Agent Aurora "Rory" Travis is on sick leave healing in Sarasota, Florida at the Ritz-Carlton suite rented by her wealthy great-Aunt Hyacinth. Rory is a volunteer tram driver two days a week at the nearby Bellman Museum.

However, the place proves far from calm starting with the apparent suicide of Honors College student Tim Mundell. Soon after during a thunder storm, mysterious Josh Thomas leaps into her tram. Additionally someone is pulling pranks that Rory believes is being done by security and art student Billie Bellman. Police Detective Ken Parrish investigates the pranks that soon turn to homicide.

This is an engaging Florida investigative thriller starring a likable cast to include eccentric seniors especially Aunt Hy, polar opposite sleuths with an in common interest in Rory, and a terrific heroine struggling to regain her sea legs who needs to dump her psychic power that seems more of a handicap than help. The story line is fast-paced, but shifts scenes unexpectedly without smooth transitions. Still this is fun mystery due to the strong characterizations as readers will wonder who is behind the murders and the pranks; and who will Rory choose, if anyone?

The Benefactor
John Moran
Five Star
9781594147715 $25.95

In Connecticut forty-one year old widow Kay Daniels does not grieve the death of her spouse Bernard in a car accident. He had become an ugly alcoholic abusing her to the point she had to take out a restraining order. Kay feared mostly for her daughter Kelley. Bernard's death left her free of his violence and wealthy as she inherits all.

A few months later, a stranger Nikolas Seifer demands she give him half of the estate. He explains that he is a businessman who arranges accidental deaths to eliminate abusive partners so that the survivor, his unwitting client, inherits. Nikolas shows her proof that if she failed to cooperate he will give to the cops, especially New Croyden Homicide Detective Frank Sinclair who suspects her of killing her husband. The Nebraska phone number of the driver Marilyn Jarvis who killed Bernard in a vehicular accident is listed on Kay's AT&T bill just before the death and they were in the same hotel the night before. Kay is stunned as she wants to tell Nikolas to go to hell, but fears he has her trapped. Just before leaving her, Nikolas says he will not be back after she remits her one payment because he does not want her bankrupt so that she talks to the law; but also warns her if she fails to remit his fee, there will be repercussions.

THE BENEFACTOR will hook readers with the fresh extortion scheme from the onset as Nikolas visits Kay and never slows down even with a romantic subplot that actually enhances the tense thriller. Nikolas the assassin arranger owns the novel though his appearances are somewhat limited compared to the beleaguered heroine; he is a terrific psychopath whose brilliant calm coldness sets the tone of this fast-paced story line. Readers will enjoy John Moran's exhilarating tale and in a macabre fascination with the villain will relish more Seifer kills; perhaps some of those he presented to sell his case to Kay.

The Last Resort
April Star
Five Star
159414768X $25.95

David and Laura Jennings are on their "rv'ing" honeymoon which seems appropriate as they met, fell in love, and solved a murder case at the Big Pine Key RV Resort run by her (see TROPICAL WARNINGS). They stop at Harbor Lights RV Park on Anastasia Island in St. Augustine. There they romantically walk the beach only to find a bottle washed ashore; instead of a message inside they find odd colored sand.

They soon learn the former manager Patricia Marsh recently was murdered by someone who set her body aflame on the beach. Her daughter Gracie found the corpse. Being a private investigator David cannot stop himself from making inquiries while Laura, having obtained a taste for investigation, joins him. They meet and team up with another couple staying at the park; Katie and Jeremy as he is a retired NYC forensic anthropologist who finds out the bottle content is Patricia's burned bone pieces. The prime suspects are Patricia's husbands, abusive Ken Schaffer and her younger second spouse Cory Marsh but finding out which one proves impossible for reasons the sleuths have not yet uncovered.

The whodunit is terrific as is the insider's look at an RV park, which brings out a horde of differing characters who enhance the investigation. The story line is fast-paced and fun to follow, but fans will want the lead couple to move past the overly honeyed honeymoon stage. THE LAST RESORT is an enjoyable mystery with a wonderful late twist.

Colorado Secrets
Jacquie Greenfield
Five Star
1594147922 $25.95

In Colorado Springs, thirty-nine years old divorcee Brad Dalton misses his two teen daughters who live in Denver with their mom. When they were younger, he was too busy earning money as an architect trying to overcome the incident that shaped his life. As a child he intervened in the assault on younger Kara Smith, but afterward was accused as the attacker. His abusive stepfather cut a deal with Kara's dad that sent Brad to work as a slave on his uncle's remote ranch. He was not allowed to come home for four years.

At the Lucky Horseshoes and Riding Academy, in which he is redesigning the place, he meets widow and mother of four Kara. He recognizes her from the assault and from the Middleton HS tennis teams they both were on as he had a crush on her but she was seeing David Garrison; she fails to recognize him. He later learns she and Dave married and had four kids before he died. She needs a job so he hires her temporarily while his office assistant is away. After she completes her week at his firm, they begin to date and fall in love as he is there four her troubled kids and she hopes to do likewise with his older brother. However, the assault when she was twelve remains between them for it much more personal than just his intervention.

COLORADO SECRETS is an enjoyable contemporary romance starring two amiable lead characters with a shared past that threatens a second chance at love for them. The story line is character driven though there is too much resolved angst as the several complicated situations nicely set up are too smoothly determined. Still with a strong secondary cast and a wonderful prime couple, fans will enjoy this Colorado romance.

Brandilyn Collins
9780310276432 $14.99

Rationally Kaycee Raye knows her fears are irrational; she has told herself that logically nothing is out there at least a zillion times, but thinking everything is okay never works at least for her. The fear factor of breathing is greater than any rational thought in her mind and gut. All her life she has been psychotically paranoid; she even plausibly believes it is in her DNA as her mom was insane. Kaycee knows how screwed up she is as does everyone in her hometown of Wilmore, Kentucky and elsewhere since she writes a popular self-deprecating newspaper column lampooning her fears as her form of confronting the foolishness of them.

Kaycee arrives home to find a camera in her kitchen; she wonders how it got there. However, the camera contains a photograph of a dead man. She calls the police hysterically, but when they arrive the camera is gone. The cops write it off to her well known mental illness though they confuse schizoid with paranoia. Soon other disturbing events happen to her and she begins having dreams that feel more like memory recall because they are so vivid.

This is an exciting character driven psychological thriller that grips readers from the onset with a need to know if it is the heroine's paranoia or is there someone sinister proving sometimes they are out to get you. Kaycee is terrific as the heroine in peril, but readers are not sure whether she going insane or if an unknown adversary is after her. With a fabulous final spin set up throughout the plot yet just not obvious and a brilliant use of faith, Brandilyn Collins provides a great tale of how fear can take control of a person. Capturing how crippling an anxiety disorder can be, those still skeptical also should read THE EARL CAMPBELL STORY: A FOOTBALL GREAT'S BATTLE WITH PANIC DISORDER.

Royal Flush
Rhys Bowen
9780425227886 $24.95

In 1932, impoverished Lady Georgiana decides to start an escort business. However, her definition of escort and that of her first client do not match. Being thirty-fourth in line to the throne, the family hierarchy decides to exile Georgie for a while so she does not bring scandal and embarrassment to the royals.

Georgie is sent to Castle Ronnoch in Scotland where she is told to rusticate; stay out of trouble; keep a divorcee away from the Prince of Wales who is staying at the castle while on a hunting trip; and by Scotland Yard to perform unpaid volunteered surveillance to insure no on stalks the royals. However, several accidents followed by a homicide in residence makes it clear someone wants the royal family dead.

The third royal historical amateur sleuth throne (see HER ROYAL SPYNESS and A ROYAL PAIN) is a terrific Depression Era mystery starring a likable heroine and a strong supporting cast; many of whom are real personas. Georgie's obnoxious sister-in-law and wuss brother provide comic relief by driving her to the point of considering killing both of them and knowing she would beat the rap (think of Lemmon's How to Murder Your Wife). The assaults set up a fine inquiry by Georgie as Rhys Bowen provides a super 1930s whodunit.

Dean Koontz
9780553807141 $27.00

The latest book by bestselling author Cullen "Cubby" Greenwich receives rave reviews from fans and critics except reviewer Shearman Waxx. Cubby is outraged by the so called "nation's premier literary critic" ripping his work because he doubts the man even read it as the review is loaded with factual errors about the story line. On a whim, he goes with his six year old son Milla to confront Waxx at a restaurant in Newport Beach, California. In the bathroom Cubby's son almost urinates on Waxx so the critic has one word to say to the writer: "Doom

Cubby soon sees Waxx has been in his house, disabling security system and cutting off electricity and the phone lines. Soon afterward the house explodes though the family gets out in time. Cubby receives a warning from another author whom claims Waxx killed his parents, wife and children over an unfair disputed review. In order to keep his family safe, Cubby must kill Waxx and those conspirators abetting the man's terrorist campaign especially the leader of this silent group of deadly operatives; however he only knows of Waxx.

Conspiracy buffs will enjoy Dean Koontz's exciting thriller even if the secret society does not ring true and Waxx's motives never fully surface. Milo in some ways steals the show with his "Inspector Gadget" gizmos that even his parents are awed by him and unsure what he will do next. He may be a prodigy, but he has vulnerabilities and fears. Fans of Mr. Koontz and those willing to accept an over the Sierra Mountains plot with an even higher over the stratosphere villain will enjoy RELENTLESS as Waxx and company leave a violent calling card.

Not Quite A Husband
Sherry Thomas
9780553592436 $6.99

In 1893 although Bryony Asquith married Leo Marsden because she loved him (she even proposed), she expects him to leave as he is a society darling and she is a pariah for becoming a doctor. Her prophecy proves right when a misunderstanding based on what she assumes is his betrayal has her demanding an annulment.

Heartbroken and unable to cope with a scandal, Bryony leaves England to practice medicine while Leo stays in England conducting advanced mathematics lectures. However, he still loves Bryony and so in 1897 with her father dying, he vows to bring her home to say goodbye to him. He goes to India as malaria and rebellion threaten everyone, but he remains steadfast about escorting her home; preferably as his wife as he still loves her and never cheated on her nor would he as his mistress is mathematics.

NOT QUITE A HUSBAND is a terrific late Victorian romance starring two stubborn lead protagonists who both understand the shortest distance between two points is not a straight line but instead a curve if those points are people and the line is love. Loaded with interesting interwoven subplots that bring to life India in 1897, fans will enjoy the antics of the latest Marsden (see DELICIOUS) and his beloved female doctor as love defies the plane rules of Euclidian geometry.

The Burning Skies
David J. Williams
9780553385427 $14.00

In 2110 the North American Empire and the Eurasian Coalition are at war over who controls the asteroids revolving around earth. Both sides use cyber-warfare using "razors" to more than just hack the other side's systems. They also use ground "mech" warriors to kill the enemy. Peace seems out of reach because of the value of the inhabited asteroids. Neither side will compromise as that is a sign of weakness. Instead allies are distrusted because the golden rule is to do unto others before they do unto you; treachery is the norm as the hostilities go back and forth between a Cold and a Hot war.

U.S. counter cyber terrorism agent Claire Haskell has learned the hard way that a third group Autumn Rain has resurfaced with a new plan to rule humanity by destroying the Net, which should heat up the war between the alliances. They also plan to assassinate leaders starting with the American president. At least that is what Agent Haskell's memories insist will happen after she was betrayed from inside her agency and her lover is dead due to that treachery. She is not sure her recall is accurate or been placed in her mind because everyone knows Autumn Rain was eradicated (see THE MIRRORED HEAVENS).

The constant shifting viewpoints lead to a difficult futurisitc science fiction thriller to follow, but also enhances the concept of Machiavellian betrayals and treachery by friends as a normal way of life; trust no one not even mom. The story line is action-packed moving from the moon to the earth and in between and back as Claire and others play a deadly game of chess with the grandmaster not in sight. Fans of the first tale will enjoy this early twnety-second thriller, but newcomers need to read THE MIRRORED HEAVEN as much of what occurs in the exciting THE BURNING SKIES is built from that initial foundation.

The Pretend Wife
Bridget Asher
9780385341912 $24.00

Although she is married to kindhearted Peter, Gwen Merchant agrees to help out her former college boyfriend Elliott Hull; his mother Vivian is dying and wants to meet his fiancee before she passes away. Gwen hides from Elliot that she looks forward to escaping the loving smothering of her spouse of three years who brings his profession into their marital relationship: anesthesiologist.

However, Gwen never expected her weekend masquerade would lead her to falling in love with Elliott and liking his family; especially his sister and her children. She also notices how Vivian scrutinizes and probably knows her relationship with Elliot is a sham even as she wonders if her late mom who drowned when Gwen was five would do likewise.

Until the unacceptable climax (at least to me), THE PRETEND WIFE is a superb profound look at relationships; not just that of Gwen with her spouse, her sham spouse, her widower dad and others, but also Elliot with his mom and sister.. The story line is character driven filled with pathos and humor while exploring human needs for companionship. Gwen makes the tale work with her energy and enthusiasm as the weekend provides her insightful revelations about life's shortness making every relationship matter.

Norse Code
Greg van Eekhout
9780553592139 $7.99

Civilization everywhere is in total collapse with no hope for any survival. In that environs the Valkyrie expecting Ragnarok apply NORSE CODE genetic testing to choose the army of the dead.

Due to a tragedy that left her sister dead, Valkyrie perfect warrior Mist nee Kathy Carlisle no longer believes in the Ragnarok plan. Instead she does the unexpected by simply vanishing. At the same time she dispears from the Odin project group's Valkyrie sect, the deity Hermod investigates signs of the end of days in California. He and Mist meet and travel to the afterlife of Helheim for differing reasons. Whereas she wants to rescue her sibling, he wants to rescue a world. Apocalypse increasingly seems imminent as the unlikely pair try to prevent the end but increasingly they expect to fail. Instead ancient prophecies are being manipulated by conniving Gods trying to regain the lost power they once yielded.

NORSE CODE is a fresh combining of genome research with Norse mythology. Mist and Hermod are a terrific pairing as she is on a personal quest no longer believing in prophesies, Gods, or science; while he is a nothing God who when he had some power he still was in the bottom rung of the pantheon food chain. This couple only has a world to save starting perhaps with her sister. Mindful of the Marvel comic books Thor premise, Greg van Eekhout provides his imprint with this terrific mythological science fiction thriller.

A Hint of Wicked
Jennifer Haymore
9780446540292 $6.99

Seven years ago her husband went off to war, but never came back. The Duchess of Carlton Sophie assumed he died as did everyone else, but she remained patient. Finally after all that time, the court declares Lord Carlton dead.

In 1823 Sophie marries her late spouse's cousin and best friend Tristan who inherited the ducal title. However, soon afterward her first husband Garrett comes home; he suffered from amnesia after the Battle of Waterloo. Garrett feels betrayed by Tristan as he claims his title and his wife. The squabble between the two men is over Sophie who cares for both of them; she must choose one, but fears the impact on her children and for the one she rejects as fate has created for her an untenable triangle.

Though a spouse declared legally dead coming home to find his or her mate married to someone else has been done many times (for instance the movies Move Over Darling and My Favorite Wife), HINT OF WICKED is an exhilarating regency romance refreshed by the era and the strong triangular cast. The trio are real kindhearted people struggling with reality of loving and caring for one and concern over the kids. Jennifer Haymore provides a thrilling historical that will have sub-genre fans wondering who is Sophie's choice.

My Forbidden Desire
Carolyn Jewel
9780446178242 $6.99

Witch Alexandrine Marit has lived her life knowing her magical skills were limited. Thus, she will try anything to enhance her abilities including a cracking amulet that allegedly can heighten a mage's power. When her brother Harsh the doctor appears talking on an I-phone, she reacts with anger and joy as she thought he died ten years ago. He explains he came to keep her safe and demands she acquiesce to accepting the protection from mageheld demon Xia.

Alexandrine is confused by what is going on in her life since she donned the amulet. She knows her bodyguard loathes all witches as that breed enslaves his species. In fact that is how Harsh "persuaded" Xia to guard his sister from her biological father, who wants the amulet. His predicament makes him even more furious because he is falling in love with his natural enemy.

MY FORBIDDEN DESIRE has a jewel of a premise that the author backs up with an exhilarating romantic urban fantasy story line starring two natural enemies. Readers will appreciate that the respective species imprints demand a witch and a demon are antagonistic enemies after generations of hostilities. Fans will wonder whether love can conquer hate as Carolyn Jewel provides a wonderful return to her paranormal world (see MY WICKED ENEMY).

How to Score
Robin Wells
9780446618427 $6.99

For the safety of the Tulsa male population, museum curator Sammi Matthews knows she must stop dating; any man who goes out with her somehow gets injured due to her clumsiness. That is what has happened to her three victims. A desperate Sammi decides her lack of self-esteem when it comes to relationships has made her Ms Murphy's law. She seeks help so she hires life coach Luke Jones as an over the phone cheerleader building up her confidence.

However, the FBI has the life coach in the witness protection program as he will soon testify against the mob. His brother Chase, an FBI agent, has filled in with Luke's clients, who are driving him crazy with their loser's attitude and self pity; he reaches the point of scorn that he fears for the future of the human race. That is until he meets Sammi. As Luke he coaches her; as Chase he dates her. He knows he owes her the truth, but fears her reaction as he pities himself ever since his L word mantra switched from logical to lovable.

HOW TO SCORE is an amusing over the top of Black Mesa madcap romance filled with zany incidents and an eccentric cast including a former by the book FBI agent who finds love with Ms Klutz; if he can survive dating her. The story line is played totally for laughs so that secondary players have specific pigeon holed roles to enhance the comedy. Although readers should leave plausibly at the beginning, fans will relish this laugh out loud throwback to the 1930s screwball romantic comedies updated to twenty-first century Oklahoma.

Last Night in Montreal
Emily St. John Mandel
9781932961683 $24.95

In Brooklyn, Eli Jacobs works on his thesis on dead and dying languages. Bored but disciplined, he fails to notice until he stops late in the day that his girlfriend dishwasher Lilia Albert, who went out for a paper never came home. Worried about Lila, he has no idea what happened.

One month later, a stranger Michaela sends Eli a postcard from Montreal telling him that Lilia is living there. Relieved she is okay and leaving his intellectual snobbish friends back in the city, he heads to Canada to see Lila. Eli learns from Michaela that when Lila was seven years old her absentee affluent American father whom she never met before kidnapped her from her home with her Canadian mom and brother. Michaela is the daughter of private investigator Christopher Graydon who worked and obsessed over the abduction case; she resents Lila's intrusion through her dad's fixation in her family for almost two decades.

LAST NIGHT IN MONTREAL is an interesting character driven tale starring three wounded souls. Lilia has all sorts of relationships issues, which has led to her running away even before she and Eli moved in together. Eli remains hurt due to Lilia's abrupt abandonment. Finally Michaela feels her father abandoned her when he lived for the missing child case. Although at times the story line feels forced to bring out the neurosis, the cast makes for a profound look at the downside of relationships when forlorn adults feel loved ones deserted them.

Holy Roller
Julie Lyons
9781400074952 $18.99

Dallas reporter Julie Lyons was researching an article in the South Dallas slum involving former crack drug addicts claiming they had been miraculously healed at The Body of Christ Assembly Church. She finds the dilapidated church in an off the main road street of the ghetto. The minister especially welcomed anyone in search of God whether they were possessed, criminals, addicts, hookers or the homeless. Instead of telling them to leave, he prayed for their souls. Her article on the church became the front page of the Dallas Times Herald while Jule a middle class white female with a typical Christian upbringing found the Pentecostal Black church healing as she accepts and welcomes "the Holy Ghost and fire."

The best part of this memoir focuses on the impoverished flock and the co-pastors Fredrick Eddington Sr., a former drug addict with schizophrenic tendencies, and his wife Diane, who though legally blind sees life as a war between holy living and hell. The individual portraits clearly show Julie Lyons cares about the congregation and the pastors yet still enables the reader to see deep into the demons that haunt them as well as her own. Although the well written memory goes deep into the soul of each person featured, it lacks a sense of neighborhood beyond the vivid description of decay; there is no major look at the impact of the impact of abject poverty, which eats at the souls of the core flocks on causing sinning. Still this is a fascinating look at a Black Pentecostal Church trying to deliver redemption to its flock.

The Vanishing Sculptor
Donita K. Paul
9781400073399 $13.99

In Chiril, Emerlindian Tipper has been left in charge of their family estate while her father the sculptor is away to the fear and consternation of her mom, his wife. However, she learns some of her actions she thought innocent have had a nasty impact that could destroy her father and ultimately their world.

With her dragon companion Zabeth who fears big snakes (and little ones too), Tipper tries to rectify her mistakes, but finds the endeavor to huge for her. She knows her mom cannot help her or her neighbors as they have nothing to assist her in fixing the errors. Desperate she gathers as allies Beccaroon the giant parrot and Prince Jayrus the dragon rider to help her. They work together to enable father and daughter to flourish under the love of the Creator.

THE VANISHING SCULPTOR is a super fantasy in a different land but the same world as that of the DragonKeeper Chronicles. The story line is fast-paced once the heroine knows what she must undo or at least mend. In some ways a relationship drama that focuses on a daughter who is chip off the old block of her father, readers will enjoy Donita K. Paul's expansion of her realm to a place where the people are about to learn just who Wulder is and what he can do.

The Sweetgum Ladies Knit For Love
Beth Pattillo
9781400073955 $13.99

The ladies of the Sweetgum Knit Lit Society are reading and discussing some of the great fictional romances. This leads them to debate what love is at least to each of them.

At the Sweetgum Christian Church over the year that they review love stories, each of the Sweetgum Knit Lit Society members face some personal crisis that has them reconsider the definition of true love. Eugenie is a newlywed, but her relationship with her new spouse has weakened. Hannah has begun to date but is unsure of herself when it comes to male relationships. Finally Camille rejects a man she is attracted to out of fear she will never escape Sweetgum. What the women have to help them through their confusion are friends to read and knit with.

The return of the Sweetgum Knit Lit Society is an entertaining tale that focuses on the issues the women face especially relationship with men. They turn to their BFFs as well as romance novel leads for guidance. That is the fun in this entry as the women ask each other for support and advice while each confronts their own version of to commit or not to commit that is the question. Although the story line slows down at times adding depth to the ladies and their maybe beaus, fans will enjoy knitting and reading with the Sweetgum crowd.

Never the Bride
Cheryl McKay and Rene Gutteridge
9780307444981 $13.99

For eternity (at least that is how it has felt to Jessie Stone), she has written, edited, and rewritten her perfect marriage proposal. However, not even her worst proposal has occurred as no one has asked Jessie to marry them. One day, God visits the realtor and asks for her permission to rewrite the marriage proposal; she agrees.

Jessie concludes God wants her to quit as a realtor and assist men in writing the right customized proposal. She is shocked when her new venture is a radical success as male customers and a few daring females become her clients. She believes she is doing God's will, but has misconstrued the message as God wants to help guide her to love.

NEVER THE BRIDE uses a unique take on a modern day mortal chatting with "Almighty" God as Cheryl McKay and Rene Gutteridge has the Lord serve as a matchmaker providing divine guidance. Whimsical as the heroine fails to heed what God is telling her (instead she assumes he is a lousy matchmaker); she argues with the Lord as if God is her BFF. Amusing yet poignant though some fundamentalists might inanely claim blasphemous, fans will enjoy this humorous frolic of God in the modern world.

The Confidential Life of Eugenia Cooper
Kathleen Y'Barbo
9780307444745 $9.99

Her affluent father arranged almost at her birth for his socialite daughter Eugenia "Gennie" Cooper to marry banker Chandler Dodd. However, though she hides them from her family and fiance, Gennie has doubts about marriage now. She would like to go on an adventure just like her heroine Mae Winslow in the Dime Novels she loves to read; one perilous adventure before settling down.

In 1880 an opportunity arises for Gennie to go to the Wild West when she allegedly is taking the train to Boston; she leaps at the opportunity by replacing temporally a servant Fiona who was to take care of silver baron Daniel Beck and his daughter Charlotte. After meeting the pair, she falls in love with both. However back home in New York waiting for her is Chandler while here in the Rocky Mountains there is danger from angry miners, his late wife's odious family the Becks, and a probable rejection by Daniel who conceals his nasty past from the easterner he loves.

This is an enjoyable western romance starring an urbanite who proves worthy of her heroine when she goes west. The story line is fast-paced and filled with action though the plot has terrific humorous, poignant and romantic moments. Fans will relish Gennie's excellent adventure as she struggles with choices exponentially made difficult by the obstinate man she loves and her even more stubborn father whom she also loves.

Man of Fate
Rochelle Alers
9780373831609 $6.99

Somewhat distracted as she is driving to an emergency meeting with a client, social worker Ava Warrick crashes into the vehicle driven by attorney Kyle Chatham. Instead of seeing her client, Ava ends up in the hospital with a concussion. Kyle takes responsibility to insure she gets the best care though he did not cause the accident. He believes fate led to a fender bender meeting, but Ava scoffs at his kismet theory.

Ironically, neither wants a relationship, but both are attracted to one another. Soon the attorney and the social worker begin to fall in love. However, whereas his feelings accentuate his belief they are destiny's darlings, she has doubts; he must persuade his beloved that he is her MAN OF FATE.

The first Best Men tale is a terrific contemporary that starts with a bang as Kyle and Ava learn a basic physics 101 lesson that two objects sharing the same place is a fender bender. As their relationship changes, they learn advanced physics in which two hearts beat as one. Clearly character driven (even inside his Jag), Rochelle Alers provides her audience with a fabulous contemporary New York romance and the anticipation that Kyle's best friends and brownstone partners Duncan and Ivan will soon follow.

Killing Red
Henry Perez
9780786020324 $6.99

Kenneth Lee Grubb kidnapped and killed nine children he believed were demons and also sanctioned by God's blessing needed to send back to hell. Only Annie Sykes escaped his execution; she gave the police his description and directions to his home. He was caught, tried and convicted to die.

Reporter Alex Chapa covered the gruesome story for the Tri-Cities Bulletin fifteen years ago. That story gave him recognition that led to his current position with the more prestigious Chicago Record. Six days before the State executes him, Grubb calls Chapa inviting him to interview him. In between his boasts of being a weapon for the good of mankind, he informs him that a copy cat serial killer is repeating his murders; only this predator plans to finish the job he failed to complete, killing "Red" as he calls Sykes. Alex quickly learns there are nine people dead as homage by someone to Grubb. Chapa vows to find and keep Annie safe not fully understanding the devilish scheme of Grubb's "protege".

Readers will enjoy Henry Perez's strong first tale because the key characters come across as real. Grubb especially is a fascinating antagonist in a macabre sense as he invokes the need to be rid of demons for killing the children. Alex is a solid reporter, but proves he is made of the right stuff as he follows up on Grubb's rant risking his life to keep a woman he does not know outside of her childhood testimony safe. Fast-paced from the onset, readers will enjoy this action-packed riveting thriller as murder is done in the name of getting rid of demons that look like children.

No Mercy
John Gilstrap
9780786020874 $6.99

Wealthy private investigator Jonathan Grave takes on cases he finds interesting and using the state of the art equipment that no one else knows exists. He can afford to strive to meet his long term strategic vision of killing terrorists who he admires for their desire to die for their Cause. He hides his identity as he does not want kudos when he rescues innocent victims of predators.

His current case is a bit more personal than usual. He searches for missing investigative reporter Tibor Rothman, married to Grave's ex-wife, Ellen. At the same time Samson, Indiana Sheriff Gail Bonneville wants to bring in Grave for his role in a shootout during a hostage rescue mission of an Indiana college student that turned ugly.

Over the top of Hoosier Hill, NO MERCY is an enjoyable action-packed thriller starring stereotypical characters, villains and heroes, who turn the exciting tale into a fun Indy run. The story line is ultra fast-paced yet also loaded with non stop violence as vengeance is the name of the game. John Gilstrap provides an exhilarating accelerated thriller that lives up to its title as there is NO MERCY when it comes to revenging an alleged wrong.

Darkness Calls
Marjorie M. Liu
9780441017300 $7.99

For generations, her female bloodline was nomadic never making emotional relationships especially with men. Instead each one hunted the demons until they birthed the next generation hunter and consequently die. Thus the current demon hunter Maxine Kiss has a problem as she has fallen in love with the former priest Grant, the last Lightbringer.

How much an issue an emotional entanglement can cause ignites when the Avatars attack Grant fearing his power. Instead of staying out of the fracas as her ancestors would have done, Maxine and her living tattoos enter the fight to protect her beloved. Now the Avatars have a bigger fear that the Lightbringer and the demon Hunter will unite in love and bring what to the world.

The second Kiss urban fantasy (see THE IRON HUNT) is a fabulous action-packed thriller starring a strong female superhero who is humanized by her love for Grant. The story line is fast-paced from the moment the Avatars attack and never slows down as Maxine risks her life for love; an unheard of action by any generation demon hunter. Marjorie M. Liu provides a powerful complex tale in which she makes her vivid paranormal world seem real.

No Fear
Allie Harrison
9781933417486 $14.00

Medusa's Island is a tourist attraction with pristine beaches making it look like a paradise. However, five years ago this seemingly Eden was hell. A vampire was killing females, turning them into his kind; the only human to escape was Emma gray who does not remember that Chief of Police James Winchester saved her life. James actually came to this island because as a vampire slayer and vampire he sensed evil, but he failed to kill the master vampire.

Emma remains fearful of the dark, never goes out at night and refuses to allow any male into her home. James has diligently watched over her for the past five years because she is his soul mate even though she keeps him at a distance. He finally breaks through the barriers she constructed around her heart, but conceals the fact he is a vampire as he is unsure how to break the news to her so he decides to let her become more comfortable with him and hopefully fall in love with him. However, before he can complete his plan, the evil returns with both him and Emma sensing the malevolent presence who has come for Emma.

Allie Harrison has written a sensually interesting vampire romance in which the supernatural species consists of evil and good members. James is a perfect hero willing to kill his own kind to save humans; his patience with Emma will have fans adoring him. He has killed hundreds of malevolent vampires while his protecting mortals makes him feel somewhat human again. Readers will enjoy this terrific thriller anticipating how Emma will react to her protector when she learns the truth that he is the same species as the predator coming for her.

Greg Cox
9780441017188 $15.00

The New Gods live on two different worlds: the paradise New Genesis and the hell hole Apokolips that makes Dante's description seem mild. The ruler of Apokolips is Darkseid, who intends to destroy the multiverse that consists of fifty-two universes; in the end he plans to rule over a new multiverse. There are opposition forces trying to prevent his cataclysmic scheme from happening, but he is currently maneuvering former super humans as expendable chess pawns furthering his chances of success.

Jimmy Olsen suddenly develops super powers that activates when his life is in danger. The Monitor Solomon kidnaps Donna "Wonder Girl" Troy and former Robin, Jason Todd, a bitter young man,. They need to find Ray "Atom" Palmer who vanished due to grief after his wife became mentally insane and became a killer. The Atom holds the key to the survival of all fifty-two multiverses.

This follow-up to INFINITE CRISIS and 52 continues the story of the War between the New Gods with the COUNTDOWN to the end of the multiverse as "we" know it. There are several subplots besides those above including one involving Mary Marvel coming out of a coma and Catwoman coming out of enforced retirement (as did Todd and Troy). Fun and exciting especially for DC fans of the older Crisis on Infinite Earth saga and the Jack Kirby's New Gods pantheon will enjoy the latest novelization of the end of the multiverse; newcomers will be as confused as the original baby boomers were back in the post Silver Age.

Faith Hunter
0451462807 $7.99

In 1962 vampires were outed when Marilyn Monroe was caught trying to turn the president of the United States, but instead the Secret Service staked her. The press learned of the incident and follow-up investigations led to the knowledge that vampires exist. Not long afterward, real witches were revealed as genuine. Vampires do not possess the same civil rights as mortals have; legislation is being proposed to make the vampires adapt their culture to the masses; which would prohibit the practice of owning blood slaves and indentured blood servants amongst other differences.

Jane Yellowrock, a skinwalker of Cherokee descent, can change into any animals she chooses; her preference is the panther, the form of Beast whose soul resides in her body. She is stronger and faster than a human and she hunts rogue (insane) vamps as a slayer. In New Orleans, ancient vampire Katherine Fontaneau, Madame Katie of Katie's Ladies, hires her to kill a powerful rogue vampire who is committing genocide against his species. Jane follows the murderous scent in her human and panther bodies, but Beast believes the predator is not a vampire, but instead a liver-eater who is much more dangerous than vampires or witches combined.

Beast and Jane have their own chapters which emphasizes their different values and perspective, which is key to believing that two essences share the same body as opposed to the heroine having multiple personality disorder. Their differences are fascinating and at time often amusing as each come to a scenario with a different agenda similar to that of the comedy All of Me starring Martin-Tomlin, but Jane-Beast are in a lethal world. The killer is super while Jane and Beast feel they are always one corpse behind. With a great unique premise on outing the supernatural, Faith Hunter gives her Rogue Mage Thorn St. Croix a respite as she starts a super new and thrilling urban fantasy series.

Winter Duty
E.E. Knight
9780451462749 $24.95

In 2076 AD or the fifty-sixth year of the Kurian Order, the Kur reside inside heavily fortified fortresses while their Reapers harvest human by drinking blood and transmitting the core essences of the people they kill back to their masters. A rebellion is slowly taking back the land from their reaper occupiers, but in Kentucky, Operation Javelin failed and now only a small regiment led by Major David Valentine control Fort Seng and little else.

They prove enough to enable the people of Kentucky to vote whether the state should be a free zone or part of the Kurian Order as some of Valentine's former allies prefer. A modern day Bleeding Kansas explodes the state into civil war as the voters choose the free zone option. A preacher and a Kurian realize the Order will not tolerate a free sate inside their realm nor invade a second time; instead the Overlords have chosen Kentucky as an example for rebels with plans to exterminate the state. David and his men leave their refuge try to save the people who were wounded in the failed operation as the Reapers supported by the Moondagger try and destroy the rebels. A blizzard makes things worse for the rebels.

The latest Vampire Earth novel is an entertaining entry in a terrific saga. The action is not-stop filled with setbacks for the heroes as former friends choose to end their revolt with what they believe are a peace in our times solution while the Order selects mass termination. Valentine and his unit prove they are heroes as they risk their lives to overthrow the occupation force even as they are being called by their former partners, obstinate insurgents. The plot contains shockers and twists as E.E. Knight provides a powerful thought provoking suspense thriller that will keep fans up late into the night.

Hot In Here
Sophie Renwick
9780451226914 $15.00

Celebrity chef Bryce Ryder has known Jenna McCabe forever. The womanizer has never had sexual thoughts about his reticent neighbor, but lately cannot stop from thinking of Jenna. He considers making a move on her, but fears he would not be able to deal with it and does not wish to risk their friendship.

However he reconsiders his belief she is a major introvert when he receives bad publicity and she charges into the fray like a lioness protecting her cub. He likes this side of Jenna and soon begins teaching her tricks in the kitchen and just about every other room as a reluctant Jenna no longer conceals her cravings for him though she fears he will turn her heart into burnt toast.

The kitchen is heated, but not as hot as the lead couple, whose partnering makes for a terrific contemporary romance. Each of the protagonists comes into their changing relationship with doubts because both fervently want the passion and much more but fear the risk of ending their friendship; thus Jenna and Bryce weigh the opportunity cost of following up on falling in love. Sophie Renwick's tale is very entertaining and fans will rejoice that more Ryder siblings will follow.

Baggage Claim
Tanya Michna
9780451224989 $15.00

Beth Overton and Dr. Carlotta Frazer accidentally took each other's luggage at the Hartsfield Airport in Atlanta. However, upon meeting to exchange their bags they chat and realize they can help one another. After staying at home to raise her child, Beth needs a job to pay off the debts her husband Allen accumulated as he screwed up their finances. A divorcee, the assistant history professor at Ramson Neil College, Carly needs someone to care for her battered mother Helene recovering from a brutal car accident that left her with a torn MCL and a concussion while also killing Carly's dad.

Beth considers ending her marriage while Carly hides as a workaholic so she does not have to consider her single status. As the two become friends, they realize they can depend on the other for support.

BAGGAGE CLAIM is a terrific character study that follows the lives of two different people who initially interact over the baggage mishap. The novel contains two subplots as Beth and Carly star in separate family dramas, but the story lines intermingle effortlessly. Readers who appreciate a fine contemporary will enjoy spending time in places like Alpharetta, just north of Atlanta

The Affinity Bridge
George Mann
9780765323200 $24.95

In 1901 London, automatons have taken over most of the manual labor replacing humans. In that environs British Museum anthropologist Sir Maurice Newbury and his assistant Miss Veronica Hobbes investigate the crash of a zeppelin piloted by a cyborg in which pilot error is statistically impossible yet in this case somehow appears plausible.

At the same time, a plague is spreading throughout the city's poorest sectors turning people into zombies. These revenants pose a major threat of destroying the British Empire from within. An expert on the occult, Maurice with Veronica's able help connects the two incidents in between Earl Grey time.

THE AFFINITY BRIDGE is an odd alternate earth historical thriller that combines elements of horror, science fiction and mystery in a London at the start of the twentieth century filled with robot and zombies; yet in some ways sort of remains the same as our earth as there is always time for a bit of tea. That combination adds some realism to the story line, but tea for two is fun for the participants however can be tedious to the reader. Still filled with plenty of blood, the occult and automatons, George Mann provides his audience with overall an enjoyable tale of a London out of control except for the tea time outs that seem mindful of Holmes-Watson.

Jordan Summers
9780765359155 $6.99

The war left much of the globe in dangerous chaos and many areas became deserts by 2010. During the hostilities scientists genetically engineered the Others; species with super or para normal skills like vampires, shifters and special elite Captain America soldiers. In the twenty-second century, on a mission sanctioned by her grandfather to Nuria, Arizona, super soldier Gina "Red" Santiago learns she is a werewolf (see RED) and remains in the town where she has fallen in love with the Sheriff alpha werewolf Morgan Hunter. He worries about Red as her survival will depend more on her learning to shift when awake than on him.

A commercial advertises buying clones as a wife, prostitute, child or slave labor. Morgan is shook because the clones in the ad are that of his dead family; he leaves town to find and destroy his late family's cells. Immediately after he departs, someone commits murder; the townsfolk believe Red killed him. Another newcomer inflicts injuries on himself and accuses Gina of beating him up. A vigilante mob demands justice while an enemy from before whom she defeated manipulates behind the scenes emotions of the townsfolk; the goal is the death of Red, who faces everyone alone again, naturally.

The super SCARLET contains two strong subplots; that of Morgan seeking a needle in a deadly haystack and Red under a lethal threat from a nasty villain. The two segments merge into a strong post apocalyptic science fiction thriller that can be summed up by the heroes' understanding that Others have to hide in plain sight as politicians play the genetics card like they used to use race in the twentieth century; especially one ruthless individual with ambitions to rule the world. The story line is filled with action while the lead couple and "Others" insure the decimated earth with paranormal and super species seem genuine.

By Heresies Distressed
David Weber
9780765315038 $27.95

For eight centuries plus on Safehold, the Church of God Awaiting has brutally censored technology. However, recently cybernetic avatar Merlin Athrawes as part of his job to protect the king of Charis introduced technological advances that enabled the island kingdom to accomplish the impossible, defeat the Church.

However, the Church has not run the world with an iron fist for eight hundred years without adapting. Its operatives steal the enemies' weapons to mass produce them, encourage quislings to assassinate the adversary's leadership, and buy mercenaries to massacre rebels and civilians alike. The Kingdom of Charis may find its new freedom not long lasting as the Church of God Awaiting begins a concerted counter insurgency.

The sequel to BY SCHISM RENT ASUNDER, BY HERESIES DISTRESSED is a fantastic science fiction political thriller. The Church demonstrates why it has succeeded for eight centuries with its stealing of the enemy's war technology as well as the usual stirring up the masses with a minor social issue (straight out of the Republican Party playbook) and supplement that with assassins and terrorists (straight out of the Taliban play book to bring hell on earth). The monarchy and their allies cannot agree on anything except their opposition to the Church (straight out of the Democratic Party's humongous tent strategy that invites all to join to get elected but fail to agree on solutions). The cast is solid though with the exception of Merlin and to a lesser degree the King of Charis none stand out; this especially enhances the saga as part of the Church's long term strategy is facelessness except for God as much as possible. David Weber is at his best with this strong profound and relevant look at political plotting.

The Loch
Steve Alten
076536302X $9.99

Marine biologist Zach Wallace is on a National geographic quest to find the famous recluse the Sargasso Sea giant squid when tragedy strikes. He is fortunate to survive though he comes out of the calamity with feelings of Aquaphobia not a good thing for marine biologist and dumped by his fiancee Lisa. He is unsure what is next for him when he is asked to come home. Though he would prefer not returning to his birthplace in Scotland as he remains angry with his father Angus for cheating on his mother who took him to live with her in NYC seventeen years ago, Zach has no choice.

His dad is on trial for killing his business partner John Cialini, Jr. Angus claims he is innocent. He admits they had a fight and he punched John who fell into Loch Ness when something in the water killed his partner. John's wealthy and influential family want blood and England quietly since the terrorist attacks has reinstated capital punishment. Zach investigates his father's claim as do a zillion tourists, adrenaline freaks, scientists, and the media as the Wallace murder case becomes the latest crime of the century. Soon human body parts partially eaten wash ashore, which adds to the Nessy seekers.

This is an enjoyable Loch Ness thriller filled with action. The story line is fast-paced from the misadventures in the Sargasso Sea to the mass of people in the hero's way at Loch Ness. Zach knows he must overcome his feelings of inadequacy and his fear of the water if he is to save his estrange dad's life. Although the Scottish enunciations add a sense of place, I personally find it distracting from what is otherwise another winning watery adventure tale (see the MEG saga).

Alpha Female
April Christofferson
9780765344205 $7.99

In Yellowstone National Park, Annie Peacock is chief justice of the judicial system. She is considered a rule book judge as she opposes judicial activism. Currently Annie has moved on with a divorce but struggles with anti-depressant usage.

Park ranger Will McCarroll feels strongly that the natural habitat and its residents deserve full protection and goes out of way to do so even when judges like Annie try to restrain him. They are squabbling over his protection of bison that she feels is way beyond the requirement. However, the judge and the ranger team up stop sportsmen and poachers from breaking federal law protecting wolves. Instead the outlaws target the ALPHA FEMALE wolf leading her pack and to insure Annie cooperates, they kidnap her mother.

The insight into Yellowstone, especially the superb refreshing look at park politics that emphasizes Tip O'Neill's theory that "all politics is local" and the super romantic subplot, is terrific. However, the thriller elements never gel as they seem to remain in the background even when Will and Annie team up to prevent illegal hunting and to rescue her mom. Still this is an engaging contemporary Yellowstone tale starring two strong, obstinate heroes going from enemies to beloved enemies while uniting in a common cause.

The Gods of Amyrantha
Jennifer Fallon
9780765316837 $27.95

The Ice Duchess of Lebec, wife of the Kingdom of Glaeba's heir Duke Stellan and renowned ancient Amyranthan scholar Arkady Desean determines that the immortal Tide Lords must die as they will never stop their efforts to take control of the world. As she ponders how does a mortal kill an immortal, the kingdom's spymaster Declan Hawkes tests one scheme after another to destroy the Tide Lords.

As Declan's efforts fail, he hides his admiration and desire for Arkady. Meanwhile Tide Lord Cayal courts Arkady while still considering suicide as he has contemplated since the kingdom tried hanging him (see THE IMMORTAL PRINCE). Increasingly the Tide Lord created human-beasts Crasii are secretly defying their masters while the Tide Lords are preparing to walk the earth as its rulers once again..

The second Tide Lords fantasy thriller is overall an exhilarating entry though the overarching theme does not move forward that much. The story line is loaded with subplots in which the best ones involve the big schemes of the Time Lords and their opponents. Some fluff like events in the harem feel underneath the prime level so it only serve as a detractor. Still THE GODS OF AMYRANTHA is a fine entry as the confrontation is coming.

Bone Dance
Emma Bull
Orb (Tor)
9780765321732 $15.95

The nuclear war between the two American continents changed the world dramatically as the aftermath populations in major cities went from seven digits to three digits or less. Yet humanity somewhat someway sort of survived as civilization evolved in a post apocalyptic world; though devolved might be more accurate.

In that new world order in Minnesota, Sparrow works the night Fair stock exchange as a trader. His specialty is pre-nuke videos and CDs that are rare. As a hustler Sparrow knows what to avoid and when to get out. Thus his being wanted by two rival Horsemen surprises him as he knows to stay away from those powerful telepaths who changed the planet when they caused the war. Still in spite of his efforts to simply survive by selling Big Bang ticket items, the androgynous Sparrow is caught for having information on the Horsemen. They separately are coming for him while working on his mind before he can sell to the highest bidder.

This is a reprint of an enjoyable 1991 young adult post apocalyptic chronicle. The story line is fast-paced, but Sparrow makes the tale work as he has adapted to the new world order of surviving by selling the pre-nuke merchandise before he gets caught up in the Horsemen scenario. The tale holds up nicely as Emma Bull used refreshing spins like the war of the Americas. Readers (and not just "technophiles") who enjoy a tense post nuclear world thriller will want to peruse Sparrow's saga of survival.

A Grey Moon Over China
Thomas A. Day
9780765321428 $24.95

In 2027 the world environment has been poisoned to the point of no return and consequently the global economy stands on the verge of total collapse as alternate fuels have either failed or been ignored while the oil supply is nearing depletion. War over oil and water has made for strange bedfellows as for instance a Pacific Rim alliance ties Japan and California together in combat with much of the remaining mainland American states.

Army engineer Eduardo Torres finds the solution when he uncovers plans for a quantum battery that if shared would save the planet. Instead, he decides to keep the technology setting up his own "nation" by buying a mercury force. Following up on an abandoned plan to colonize space, Torres builds starships and enters a wormhole to the Holzstein System. However, he is not welcomed as another humanoid race and aliens attack his fleet.

This grim look at the near future paints a bleak horizon as the earth is consumed by the liquid wars. The cast is powerful and realistic as Darwinism wins over creationism with survival of the most diabolical. Torres and other key characters are not likable, but that is one of the key points of this gloomy cautionary tale in which Thomas A. Day lucidly insures his players are not romantic heroes. With a wild well written military in space clash of cultures that enhance the argument how sentient are we as a species if we commit increasingly faster pandemic suicide. GREY MOON OVER CHINA is a super science fiction thriller warning us that time is running out on mankind.

Pearl North
9780765320964 $17.99

Every year the Eradicants, who believe the written word is evil, come to the Libyrinth to get a segment of books to burn in a bonfire. The Libyrarians believe the Ancients left the Libyrinth so that people can read land earn in order to keep civilization vibrant. Unfortunately, the Libyrinth only has two countries to guard the books and they have orders to sell books for food needed in the winter. They have nothing else of value to pay for sustenance.

The Libyrarian Selene, the clerk Haly who has the unique skill of hearing the books talk to her, and Claudia the servant leave to go to Ilysies in hope of getting help. Selene takes with her The Book of Nights containing the knowledge of the Ancients. The Eradicants want the tome to fulfill a prophecy and now have Haly, who can her the books talk, under their control. Their plan is to destroy all other knowledge except their Song which is their way of transmitting information. However, neither side appreciates Haly's strength and special skill as she becomes to understand the enemy is not evil and her side is inflexible and heading towards annihilation. Haly hopes to get the word out to both sides of the conflict to just listen to one another.

Peal North's world appears to be a former earth colony in which the Ancients were probably the aristocracy and the rest of the Eradicants slaves to them. Revolt led to the current rivalry over controlling knowledge. With nods to Bradbury's Fahrenheit 451 and Orwell's 1984, high school science fiction readers will appreciate Ms. North's strong tale that shows miscommunication and misunderstanding the other side often leads to conflict; in this case a devastating civil war seems imminent unless the heroic Haly can pull off an Ancient miracle.

The Price of Spring
Daniel Abraham
9780765313430 $27.99

Fifteen years have passed since the war to end all wars between the Galt Empire and the Khaiem left both sides as losers as the outcome is all Khaiem females are sterile the poet mages are dead along with their and at magic; while all Galt males were also sterilized (see AN AUTUMN WAR). Desperate the Khaiem Emperor Otah knows the hostilities must end before each nation becomes extinct with no next generation. With that in mind he seeks a political marriage of convenience between his offspring and that of a high ranking Galtish aristocrat.

Meanwhile former poet Maati comes out of hiding, in an attempt at redeeming his soul for what he and his peers caused, breaks tradition to mentor young female students in summoning and controlling the andat essences. His top student Vanjit manages the andat Clarity-of-Sight, but though good intentions the remorseful Maati fails to understand the impact of the great war on survivors; instead of saving her people, the traumatized Vanjit who saw her loved ones massacred becomes a mad dictator.

The final tale in the Long price Quartet saga takes a fantastic spin away from the three previous super but bloody and deadly seasons into a more personal thriller of individuals filled with contempt and guilt willing to pay THE PRICE OF SPRING to renew life. The story line is action-paved, but at a smaller scale yet much more complex as several people who directly caused the cataclysmic war seeks redemption for themselves though each knows they will never overcome what they caused. They also want to bring renewal for others. Daniel Abraham closes out the quartet with a terrific spring entry.

Ken MacLeod
Orb (Tor)
9780765321190 $19.95

Casini Division. By the twenty-fourth century technology has changed many humans into almost Gods. However, a dispute between the humans and the post-humans devastate the planet. The post-humans move off planet but hostilities remain high as a cold war continues though most of the open hostiles have somewhat abated. In that climate, the Casini Division that protects earth plans an assault to eradicate the Post-humans who pose a threat from space. Spaceship Commander Ellen May Ngewthu of the Casini Division seeks an alliance with the interstellar colony New Mars before the post-humans can do so.

Sky Road. In the twentieth century former Communist American expatriate Myra Godwin-Davidova leads her tiny high-tech socialist paradise while others want to conquer it. Her only hope to protect her people lies in obsolete nuclear weapons hidden years ago in the planet's Earth orbit. Several centuries later Clovis colha Gree lives in a utopian world in which violence is non existent; the rustic community fears electronic devices as they remember what happened during the Fall that some insist it was the Deliverance. Now the scientific tinkers are constructing a controversial spaceship; the first since Maya had to decide nuclear war or not.

This is a reprint of the "The Second Half of The Fall Revolution" published in the mid 1990s. Each entry is fast-paced, but focuses on a dismal future for mankind that is cleverly tied back to the politics of the late twentieth century although some might detest the clearly Anti-American stance. .The tales are well written with the military battles in space incredibly vivid and the key cast members coming across as fully developed. Although it pays to at least read THE STONE CANAL before this pair of novels, fans will appreciate the dark science fiction thrillers CASINI DIVISION and SKY ROAD.

Salt And Silver
Anna Katherine
9780765363046 $6.99

It was the innocence of idle affluent youth, but Allie and her friends conjured up an entrance to and from hell in the basement of Sally's Diner in Brooklyn. Feeling responsible but unsure how to close the portal permanently, Allie works at the diner feeding customers and insuring they are not on the menu of some beast as a snack.

Over the past six years since her folly, Allie has fought demons and argued with hunters. The one that frightens her the most is Ryan who blithely moved into the basement. Her door to hell vanishes, and other portals open and close throughout the city. Ryan and Allie finally stop bickering to team up to take the war into hell before hell takes it to earth.

Though urban romantic fantasy has flooded the market especially starring women turning from social deb to superheroine, fans will enjoy the latest entrant and her adventures in Brooklyn as she may not prove a tree grows in the largest borough, but demons do. Allie's war with Ryan the hunter provides humorous asides to the fight they make to keep paranormal evil off the streets of the city. The couple turns Anna Katherine's super entry into the subgenre into a fun thriller.

The Sword-Edged Blade
Alex Bledsoe
9780765362032 $6.99

Retired sword jock soldier, Eddie LaCrosse sets up a private investigative practice in the small-town of Neceda, Muscoida. Ie was run down before a recent flood further devastated the homes of these bottom feeders of society that make up this town. Eddie knows the wealthy prefer his office be in these crappy towns so no one can see them confer with him.

King Felix of Balaton hires Eddie to discreetly investigate the disappearance of his daughter Princess Lila and bring her home. Eddie knows the monarch's trusted wizards failed, which is why the king turns to a bottom feeder like him. As he searches for the missing princess, Eddie's childhood friend King Philip of Arentia pleads with him to investigate the brutal murder of his heir; his wife Queen Rhiannon is the only suspect. Both royal cases tie back to Eddie's own tragic past that he tries to forget by hiding in the mud of a bottom feeder.

This is a terrific sword and sorcery noir starring a sleuth with issues that arise during his inquiries in spite of his efforts to keep them buried. The story line is fast-paced and filled with plenty of action as both case investigations are interesting. However it is the world Alex Bledsoe drew as described by Eddie for hire that makes for a fun mystery fantasy.

Children of the Dawnland
Kathleen O'Neal Gear and W. Michael Gear
Starscape (Tor)
9780765320193 $17.95

12,900 years ago twelve-year-old Twig is a girl living with the Blue Bear Clan of the People of the Dawnland. This is the end of the Ice Ago so the glaciers are melting and receding while rivers and lakes threaten to overflow. Twig's mother is a Spirit Dreamer who can not see the future, and is not nearly as powerful as her daughter whose vivid visions include a ball falling from the sky destroying everything in its path. Riddle refuses to allow Twig to learn how to use her powers or tell anyone in the clan about them.

The clan elders of Baffalobeard Village are more worried about the Thornback people; Chief Nightcrow is destroying all villages in his path hoping his warriors will bring his clan to a safe place. He has the same mission as Twig as he believes a catastrophe from the sky is coming. Twig learns from Spirit Dreamer that she must find the dreamer Cobia who is the last hope to enable the clan to survive.

Taking place during the last ice Age, glaciers are everywhere in what today is the Great Lakes region. The clans are in trouble with a shortage of animals to hunt. Twig eventually tells the village elders that after the catastrophe occurs they will have a place where they will not only survive they will thrive. Nightcrow is determined to find them before they do and after the event will settle in the land of his visions. Readers will appreciate this terrific prehistoric supernatural thriller that combines some fantasy inside a realistic portrayal of survival.

The Stars Blue Yonder
Sandra McDonald
9780765320414 $27.99

When Chief Terry Myell died, he never anticipated coming back as a god; in fact he never expected to return. Resurrection aside, Terry knows his mission is to save humanity from extinction.

However, his family has a mixed reaction to his returning to them. His first wife looks and acts a zillion light-years older than he does. His grandchildren cannot understand how he meets them when they are unborn. His second wife is carrying his child, if mankind survives will begat his grandchildren. However, his spouse Commander Jodenny Scott is having a difficult time comprehending her dead husband Terry's time travel explanation as to how he is here. He also explains the Flying Doctor alien is ready to exterminate mankind. As a fleet attacks the earth, Jodenny is marooned in Australia. Terry prays he can save her and humanity in that order though future history has told him otherwise.

The third extremely complex Stars military science fiction thriller (see THE OUTBACK STARS and THE STARS DOWN UNDER) is an incredibly exciting, fast-paced tale that will shock Sandra McDonald's audience with its clever time travel spin brilliantly executed. The story line is fast-paced as Scot struggles with the return from the dead Terry who simply must save the world that he knows is destroyed. With echoes of the movie Fargo but in a science fiction adventure, THE STARS BLUE YONDER is a fabulous intricate entry to a strong saga as it may be too late to hold out for a hero even for someone with all the time in the world.

Harriet Klausner
Senior Reviewer

Larsen's Bookshelf

Struggle for the Middle Sea: The Great Navies at War in the Mediterranean Theater, 1940-1945
Vincent P. O'Hara
Naval Institute Press
291 Wood Road, Annapolis, MD 21402
9781591146483 $34.95 800-233-8764

What a fine publication and unique approach. The major and minor battles on the Mediterranean Sea 1940-1945. The old stories about Great Britain's advantages, Italy's battleships, Germany's weakness following Italy's surrender, French attempts to secure an independent navy, all explained and put to rest. The depth of detail is amazing.

This book is a primer for study of the Mediterranean naval combat in World War 2. Vincent P. O'Hara makes detail exciting!

I hope I pass the class for I certainly looked at enough notes and thoroughly checked the bibliography for more assets.

Thanks for a great read!

Don Charles Osborne
Vantage Press, Inc.
419 Park Avenue South, New York, New York 10016
9780533158225 $18.95 212-736-1767

Bailout is a strong combat narrative. The focus of the book is on Don Osborne's fourteen missions over France and Germany in World War II, from his first mission August 13, 1944 to October 25, 1944 when, on his 14th mission, his B-17 G was shot down 26,000 feet over Dorum, Germany. Don Osborne bailed out. Six of the nine crew members survived and were taken prisoner by the Germans. He was freed by the Germans April 30, 1945. He arrived home in Taft, California June 30, 1945.

After he was honorably discharged from military service, Don worked for the Santa Fe Energy Company in Fellows, California. He retired from that company in 1984 and currently resides in Taft, California

Vantage Press does a great job on these personal narratives. I hope Bailout finds the large audience it merits.

Sacred Memories: The Civil War Monument Movement in Texas
Kelly Mcmichael
The Texas State Historical Association
Number 19 in the Fred Ryder Cotten Popular History Series
Denton, Texas
9780876112380 $9.95

Some thirty years after the last words of surrender were spoken at Appomattox Court House in Virginia, the women of the Texas Division of the United Daughters of the Confederacy (UDC) was formed in Texas to memorialize Confederate soldiers and their survivors. Sixty Counties answered the call and raised money to build monuments. This book is a guided tour around Texas to examine those monuments, most over 100 years old, the women who raised the funds to build them and those who care for them today.

This is truly an intimate tour through three eras of Texas history, the Civil War, the fading memory of the 1890's and current importance of the memorials. Author McMichael has led us an a wonderful tour of Texas.

Sacred Memories is a fine addition to the distinguished Fred Ryder Cotton Popular History series.

Victory at Risk: Restoring America's Military Power: A New War Plan for the Pentagon
Michael W. Davidson, Major General, U. S. Army, Retired
Zenith Press, an Imprint of Quayside Publishing Group
Suite 300, 400 First Avenue North, Minneapolis, MN 55401
U. S. Publicity John Wurm
9780760335574 $25.00

Major General Michael W. Davidson, U. S. Army, Retired, believes that the overall effectiveness, adaptability and preparedness of the United States military -- at one time the most powerful in the world -- has been in decline. He cites World War II as our last victory, calls Korea a stalemate and Vietnam a chaotic defeat. These defeats have affected the way our military is organized, funded and employed. He says our combat readiness to fight a conventional war is in freefall and asks is the U.S. prepared for the next war.

General Davidson has some suggestions to improve our present status to meet the challenges of the future including a return to citizen soldiers:

Demand of Congress they meet their constitutional duty to declare war
Hold our leaders to a higher standard
Restore senior officers to final defense decision making
Develop a coherent defense strategy and go to war only to defend America's freedom
Our strength is in our ideals --through misuse, we have already misplaced the wisdom of going to war only to defend America's freedom
Trust our citizens to be soldiers
Believe in our values and defend freedom

The General presents his solutions with logic, showing his deep respect for the military. He has served with honor since 1969. It is a very good read.

Richard N. Larsen
Senior Reviewer

Laurel's Bookshelf

As the Wind Walks
Harvey R. Tate
Asylett Press
3616 Devils Three Jump Road, Little Plymouth, VA 23091
1934337536 (E-Book) $4.49 1934337544 (Print) available soon

One of my favorite writers is back, in a change of pace from his previous two books. My first experience with Tate's work was, Voice From the River -- Monongahela, which I read several years ago, followed shortly by his second book, Little Sisters of War. I've been a fan and follower of this writer ever since. No one weaves the beauty of nature with the harsh or difficult realities of life better than Tate.

This book is the perfect culmination of a writer honing his voice as he recreates two separate eras, then blends them into a believable, realistic whole. Edmund Carter is a youth in 1940, that golden year before the bombing of Pearl Harbor dragged America into World War Two. The neighborhoods and residents of 1940 Baltimore are like a snapshot in time as Eddie passes through them in his daily life. Like most young men of his time, Eddie is concerned about war in Europe and determined to enlist if America joins in. His mother hates war and forbids her son's enlistment for reasons she keeps private early on. Eddie turns to his great-grandfather, a Civil War veteran, for advice and enlightenment.

David Werner (Gramps) lied about his age at fourteen and enlisted to fight with the Union Army in 1861. The war stories he shares with his great-grandson are more than fleeting memories. They're detailed recollections of the officers and men on both sides who changed the America of their time. Readers will walk where David Werner walked, from Ohio to Alabama and back, through searing summer heat, freezing winter drizzle, and foggy mountain mornings. They'll watch horrified, as Werner did, the loss of two-thirds of the fighting force to illness and botched medical care. And they'll understand, as Werner does, that War is never as righteous or glorious as it seems at the time.

I couldn't put this book down. Tate took me from the 1940s to the 1860s, backward and forward in time, with such skill that the story took on a life of its own. I suffered with the feisty boy turned Civil War sniper, rejoiced with the 1940s lad as he experienced the first pangs of love, and worried that he might not survive to propagate this amazing family. I cared about the characters, especially Eddie Carter and David Werner, because the author breathed life into them through his exceptional prose. Highly recommended!

Discover the 3 Secrets: To Living Happily Ever After
By Rhonda Rabow, M.A.
Dandelion Books, LLC
1960 West Keating Avenue - Ste. 236, Mesa, Arizona 85202
9781934280720 16.00

Almost 50% of marriages in North America fail. Rhonda Rabow believes such failures are unnecessary and she has the credentials and experience to back it up. For decades, she has practiced as a Counseling Psychologist, a Family Life Educator, and Relationship Therapist. As she worked one-on-one with troubled marriage partners, Ms. Rabow developed a treatment plan that delivers long term results in a short term time period. This book is the culmination of more than 25 years of experience as a marriage counselor. The premise of her counseling plan is simple and straightforward, based on 3 secrets:

1. Focus on your partner's strengths.
2. Learn to listen and communicate.
3. Deal with the problem and then let it go.

Rabow understands that these three steps can be difficult at first. Marital infidelity, for example, breaks hearts and wounds spirits. Ridicule can be equally wounding. In her book, she provides examples of how to apply the secrets to specific issues and of real couples who overcame difficult obstacles by systematically applying the three secrets.

The author also takes readers through the five steps of a successful marriage. No matter what the struggle, a state of happiness and contentment can be reached by communicating and cooperating throughout these five steps:

1. Infatuation
2. Disillusionment
3. Power struggle
4. Acceptance, forgiveness, letting go
5. Happily ever after

Some couples manage to work their way through problems on their own. Most give up in despair, resulting in divorce. Rhonda Rabow has provided simple, helpful, sensible guidelines here for troubled couples. Her book should be required reading for every couple planning marriage. Highly recommended.

Laurel Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Lorraine's Bookshelf

Chickasaw Unconquered and Unconquerable
David G. Fitzgerald, photography
Chickasaw Press
PO Box 1548, Ada, Oklahoma 74820
University of Oklahoma Press (distributor)
2800 Venture Dr., Norman, OK 73069
9781558689923, $34.95,

Featuring an introduction by Bill Anoatubby (Governor of the Chickasaw Nation), "Chickasaw Unconquered and Unconquerable" is a magnificent, vivid retelling of the incredible story of the Chickasaw nation. In the words of Chickasaw nation Governor Bill Anoatubby," The story of the Chickasaw Nation is one of survival, persistence, triumph, achievement, and beauty. It is the story of a people determined not only to survive but to prosper and live well...It is a chronicle of unsurpassed natural splendor and spiritual connectivity to the land that can never be permanently separated from the hearts of Chickasaws."

Richly illustrated by full color photographs and portraits by award-winning photographer David Fitzgerald, plus illustrations by Chickasaw artist Jeannie Barbour, and additional historical paintings and artworks, "Chickasaw Unconquered and Unconquerable" displays the full panorama of a nation's complex 900 -year -plus history. A convenient illustrated timeline appears on Pages 8-9 to guide the reader through stages of the history with significant events such as the 1830 Indian Removal Act and the 1856 Chickasaw constitution written and government established, highlighted. Chapter essays by Jeannie Barbour, Amanda Cobb, and Linda Hogan complete the cultural collection, along with poems, paintings, and more wonderful photographs of living Chickasaw teachers, lawyers, artists, and elders preserving and bestowing their part of the Chickasaw legacy.

"Chickasaw Unconquered and Unconquerable" is more than a beautiful cultural history book, though it is also that; it is a glimpse of a nation's living spirit, resilient, strong, and true to its heart. A resource for Native American studies and art and cultural historians, the book will enlarge, challenge and change previously held opinions of dominant culture expansion.

The closing poem on page 121, "Native and American," by David Ballard perfectly summarizes how the Chickasaw warrior tradition continues today, as shown by the photo portrait of four Chickasaw warriors enlisted U.S. Army personnel, including U.S. Army Major Ted Scribner (retired), Sergeant Thea Stephens, Specialist Bradley J. Barrick, and Chief Warrant Officer jay Mitchell. "From the East to the West, we believe in freedom/ From the North to the South/ It's the Red, White and Blue/ And like the eagle flying high above this land I love/ I'm proud to be Native and American."

Healing Ways
Wade Davies
University of New Mexico Press
MSCO4 2820, 1 University of New Mexico, Albuquerque, NM 87131-0001
9780826322760, $39.95,

"Healing Ways: Navajo Health Care in the Twentieth Century" documents the development of complementary, dual Western and Dine healing traditions and services among the Navajo since World War II. The history is not always harmonious, but a gradual integration of the two main healing philosophies emerges. Author and history professor Davies highlights the determination and flexibility of Dine in "accepting the services of [Western] physicians while keeping the work of traditional healers among their health-care options."

"Healing Ways" adds to the previous work of author Robert Trennert's "White Man's Medicine (1998)," which singly covered the general history of Western medicine among the Navajo before World War II. Both histories add to the present picture of developing cooperative integrations and blendings of traditional Dine health practices into Western medical care systems. It also underlines the pervasive determination of the Dine to reshape their health care in an interactive model that both informs and educates, while preserving the best of both ways of life.

How to Find the Best Eldercare
Marilyn Rantz & Mary Zwygart-Stauffacher
Fairview Press
2450 Riverside Avenue, Minneapolis, MN 55454
9781577491903, $14.95,

"How to Find the Best Eldercare: A 20-Minute Guide to Assisted Living, In-Home Care, Nursing Homes, & Senior Housing In Your Community" is a practical paperback guide to finding and assessing quality eldercare in a variety of community settings. Packed with knowledgeable questions and suggestions, the guide includes summary sheets for comparing facilities, walk-through questions, and lists of suggested questions for interviewing staff, families, and residents in different care settings. Case examples of eldercare placement decisions are described, and practical suggestions are made to help make the placement successful ("it's all about developing and maintaining important relationships with staff and...loved ones"). Another helpful resource is the Chapter Seven listing of ombudsman, state licensure and certification program for all 50 states and related helpful web sites. A helpful feature of "How To Find The Best Eldercare" is the presentation of questions in a survey format, handy to compile objective data for informed decision-making.

The Image Taker
Gerald Hausman & Bob Kapoun, editors
World Wisdom, Inc.
1501 E. Hillside Dr., Bloomington, IN 47401
9781933316703, $26.95,

Featuring an informative foreword by Joe Medicine Crow, "The Image Taker: Selected Stories and Photographs of Edward S. Curtis" is a visually impressive 177-page paperback edition of the pictures, stories and lore of many North American Native American tribes. Divided into areas including the Southwest, Plains, Plateau, Northwest Coast, and Northernmost Coast, chapters cover hundreds of sepia photographs of Native American subjects taken between 1895 and 1926. Review continued of "The Image Taker"

Photographs and stories of over 80 native American tribes and sub-tribes west of the Misssissippi River are presented. The stories are taken from Curtis' monolithic, 20 volume work, "The North American Indian," with 20 accompanying portfolios. One important fact to note about "The Image Taker" is that the photographs chosen for it were frequently not previously chosen for publication because they were in bound volumes that were difficult to reproduce. So here we have essentially fresh photographs of high artistic and historic quality and value re-presented with edited text from a classic encyclopedia of tribal history, lore, mythology, and stories. Additional helpful information is presented in a two page chronology of the life of Edward Curtis, plus sources and notes (from "The North American Indian") of the twelve main chapter areas, and an added bibliography.

"The Image Taker" presents a treasured sampling of text and photographs from over 30 years of Curtis' work as a documentarian of Native American history. It is an invaluable resource to both scholars and those interested in Native American cultural enrichment studies and heritage.

The Earth Made New: Plains Indian Stories of Creation
Paul Goble
Foreword by Joe Medicine Crow
World Wisdom, Inc.
1501 E. Hillside Dr., Bloomington, IN 47401
9781933316673, $17.95,

"The Earth Made New: Plains Indian Stories of Creation" is the recent offering of Caldecott Medal-winning author/artist Paul Goble, creator of "The Girl Who Loved Wild Horses," "Buffalo Woman," and "Mystic Horse." Illustrated throughout with beautiful, crisp, clean colored paintings, "The Earth Made New" tells many of the mysterious details of creation stories of the Plains Indians of North America. The text is spare but haunting, with many starred footnotes added to the pages to enrich the stories with further details or variations, each of which could be imagined to begin another whole story cycle of its own. Thus we have the feeling or effect of the presence of a true teller of the sacred tales when we hold and read "The Earth Made New." Joe Medicine Crow gives high praise in his forward, saying, "Paul Goble has done a good job of presenting the Plains Indian story of creation." "The Earth Made New" will appeal to children (and their parents) age 6 and up.

Nancy Lorraine
Senior Reviewer

Micah's Bookshelf

Searching for Salvation
Albert L. Pike
Outskirts Press
10940 S Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432733988, $15.95,

There is stigma at the mere mention of any medical condition. "Searching for Salvation: From Brokenness to Wholeness" is one man's reflections on trying to find peace in a judgmental society as he copes with his bipolar disorder. Seeking to educate readers on the disorder, "Searching for Salvation" is a unique work of poetry and prose, highly recommended.

Courage, Strength, and Determination
Rovane F. Timmons
Outskirts Press
10940 S Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432726171, $12.95,

Giving up is not an option to some. "Courage, Strength, and Determination" is a spiritual memoir telling of author Rovane Timmons' own challenges in life, hoping to inspire readers with similar conditions to rise above their disabilities to find their own place in society. "Courage, Strength, and Determination" is worthy of consideration to family and friends of the disabled.

Khan in Rasputin's Shadow
Chad Huskins
Outskirts Press
10940 S Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432711085, $32.95,

The most secure facilities in the world hold America's most ruthless criminals. "Khan in Rasputin's Shadow" tells the story of two men who embark on the task of breaking a mysterious figure out of one of America's Super-Maximum security prisons. The task, predictably, is not an easy one. Khan and Rasputin don't see eye to eye either, making this task increasingly difficult, and other outside sources seek to end them as well. "Khan in Rasputin's Shadow" is a top pick for any suspense fan looking for espionage and intrigue.

Experience Heaven on Earth
Outskirts Press
10940 S Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432719845, $29.95,

More than ever before, humanity is connected to one another. "Experience Heaven on Earth: The New Matrix of Life" is a guide for new age spiritualists in using humanity and its greatly united consciousness of the modern day to gain a better understanding of the world. By understanding who people really are, one gains a better understanding of oneself. A highly recommended spirituality guide.

When I Think About Rain
Paul M. Hedeen
Final Thursday Press
815 State St., Cedar Falls, IA 50613
9780974276458, $9.95

Rain is soft, simple, and serene, and leaves many people going into thought. "When I Think About Rain" is a fine collection of poetry from Paul M. Hedeen, reflecting on many topics and issues all over the planet. Emotional and poignant, "When I Think About Rain" is deftly crafted poetry, highly recommended. "The Walking Man": I see him along the road,/a journeyman in all seasons.//His legs are relentless against harshest air,/with the muscled arms pumping, driving his fists upward/toward the visor of his cap.//The black glasses fix their shadows,/showing holes for eyes,/his skull reaching, but never passing,/the limit of my land.//But on some late dawn, I know,/with the scant leaves hardly noted,/he will pass the car's way,/front my small house and bid me/with a toss of his grim chin/to walk the downhill with him.//Or on a road riven by frost,/I shall rush to match his steps,/to heed the dare,/keep the promise,/and take the closing curve.//And so we'll pass at last/in his wise smiled silence,/the pavement's end together.

Paul Kiritsis
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
9780595531684, $11.95,

A scholar of poetry, Paul Kiritsis brings readers a treat with " Origin: Poems from the Crack of Dawn". Focusing on starting again and the tenacity of the human spirit, Kiritsis is vivid in his verse and very creative. "Origin" is moving and excellent poetry, a collection that can't be missed. "Do You Know...?": Do you know/that there is/No moment in time/Where I am/rendered as groundless/As that which is/full of thunder/from the laughter/in your eyes?

Micah Andrew

Shelley's Bookshelf

Gold Digger
Vicki Delany
Napoleon and Company
178 Willowdale Ave., Ste 201, Toronto, CAN M2N 4Y8
9781894917803 $18.95

Vicki Delany is a former systems analyst who chose an early retirement. She now resides in Prince Edward County, Ontario. She has published several psychological suspense novels, as well as the Constable Molly Smith series. She is living her dream.

Set in 1898, Gold Digger takes the reader to the Yukon territory; to the tiny town of Dawson, where buildings are thrown up in a day and anyone who has been in town more than a week is considered to be an established citizen. Fiona MacGillivray is a single woman with a twelve year old son who has made her living using her intelligence. Not only is she the most beautiful woman in Dawson, but she also runs the most popular dance hall, The Savoy. When a dead man is discovered on Fiona's stage, she joins forces with NWMP Constable Richard Sterling, when she's not fighting off her many suitors. In the meantime, her son Angus has decided he wants to be a Mounty when he grows up and has taken to following Sterling all over town and beyond:

"'You can look, Angus,' Sterling said, acknowledging the boy's presence.

'But mind you don't touch anything.'

Angus leaned closer to get a better look, trying to take it all in. His stomach was beginning to settle.

'Had to have gotten a good amount of blood on his clothes,' Sterling said.

'Agreed,' McKnight said.

The doctor arrived in the company of Sergeant Lancaster. Breathing heavily from his exertions, Lancaster took a seat on the bench beside Ray. The doctor walked to the foot of the stage. 'Dead, I'd say.'"

There are some authors who make the reader feel that they are up close and personal, with an exciting plot; memorable characters; and an exotic setting. Ms. Delany is a master at all three aspects of writing. The reader feels transported to another time; another place. Her knowledge of the Upper Yukon Territory during the Gold Rush bespeaks considerable research to fill in details most people would overlook. But it makes her story a compelling experience. Fiona MacGillivray has led a most interesting life, and readers will quickly attach themselves to this strong and adventurous woman.

A Skeleton in the Closet
Judith K. Ivie
Mainly Murder Press
PO Box 290586, Wethersfield, CT 06109-0586
9780615268996 $14.95

Judith Ivie has had a twenty-five plus career writing and editing. As a Connecticut native, she sets her latest Kate Lawrence mystery in Hartford and Wethersfield. She has an eager audience on the East Coast. A SKELETON IN THE CLOSET is her third Kate Lawrence mystery, and she has published three non-fiction books.

Kate Lawrence is undergoing several lifestyle changes at once: her long-time love, Armando, is moving in with her; her daughter is stretching her wings and has a new boyfriend; and her son is incommunicado with new exploits. To add to this, a telephone call from a couple of elderly spinsters who live in a grand old historic mansion reveals an actual skeleton in a closet that has been bricked up for forty some years. Kate is in the real estate business with a couple of lively women partners, and they rush over to be of assistance to the confused little old ladies. But by the time Kate rushes to their aid, the body has disappeared:

"A pile of old bricks, mortar, splintered wood and other debris attested to the recent demolition of a narrow section of wall at the back of a closet next to a huge, ancient furnace. The new opening revealed a narrow space. John's flashlight shone on the pipes leading to the ancient boiler, one of which was leaking visibly. On the floor at the rear of the closet next to the pipes lay something that looked like a rag along with more bits of mortar and brick. I thought the cloth was dark blue, but I couldn't be certain. Except for some shelving filled with books and files along the back wall of the closet-like space, it was empty. I blinked and looked again. No body, no bones, nothing."

A SKELETON IN THE CLOSET is a delightful cozy mystery, New England style. One can almost imagine Kate Lawrence as a younger version of Jessica Fletcher. Her fiery romance with the elegant Armando contributes romance, and her friends and fellow realtors provide glamour and humor. Kate is undergoing a midlife crisis of sorts, which actually grounds her and provides the reader with a glimpse of a middle-aged adventurer. The police appear at appropriate intervals, and life issues pop up to make this a densely packed little read that is both light and entertaining.

Arvin Short
Rogers Publishing and Consulting, Inc.
201 North Austin, Denton, TX 76201
9780981744209 $15.95

Arvin Short is a M.D. in general surgery. He graduated with Southwestern Oklahoma State University and earned his medical degree from the University of Oklahoma. He has lived and practiced medicine in Texas for more than thirty years.

Set in 1954 in small-town Oklahoma, RECKONING is both a tale of coming of age for teenage boys amidst a backdrop of adventure exploring caves during summer vacation. Albie Stone is the unlikely hero of the story, as he is also exploring the depths of his own personality. For a fourteen year old, fitting in and being liked is of paramount importance. Albie has found two best friends, and their attempts to behave like boys are threatened by a murderer on the loose and a ring of hooligan bullies who dog their every step:

"'Hear that, Jason?' Tucker shouted to his friend, who remained on the side of the pool. 'He wants me to leave him alone. Well, I think I'll dunk him good this time!'

Down went Norbert again.

I stood by foolishly, not making any attempt to aid my friend. I felt self-contempt and shame as I realized I was afraid to interfere, because to do so would give Tucker an excuse to turn on me. I watched stupidly as Butch continued to hold the now struggling Norbert under water. As the struggle became more intense and frantic, it dawned on me that the little guy was getting short of air. Tucker made no move to let him up, and soon Norbert was flailing desperately, trying to free himself from the bigger and stronger boy's grasp."

RECKONING is a little like a modern day Huck Finn story with a menacing murderer and lots of adolescent boy activities. Arvin Short has written an entertaining read with an exciting plot line; believable characters; a ghost story that is both tragic and compelling; bullies the reader loves to hate; and, finally, two sorts of reckonings for Albie Stone. One involves his own value system, and one involves the fight of his life. A great read!

Shelley Glodowski
Senior Reviewer

Shirley's Bookshelf

Sea Changes
Gail Graham
Jade Phoenix Publishing
Yorkville Press
1202 Lexington Ave. #315, New York, N. Y. 10028
9780692001004 $15.95

Sarah Andrews lives in Australia, she has two grown children, a son whom she rarely sees, and a daughter who seems to barely tolerate her. She is also a widow, struggling to overcome her grief and move on, but it is fleeting to her. Even with the help of her therapist, her life seems to sink deeper and deeper into despair until one day she decides to end it by drowning.

As she lets herself go in the cool water she looks down and sees the face of a girl named, Bantryd, who becomes an important character in the story. She is led to the bottom of the sea by this young woman and finds another world, and meets Bantryd's uncle, a connection seems to be made between the two. Sarah thinks she has drowned but they quickly assure her that she is very much alive and that she is a vestigant.

I personally to my shame did not know what a vestigant was until I read this story. Interesting.

Sarah returns to our world but soon is drawn back to the sea and finds out that Bantryd's mother is somewhere in our world and she wants Sarah to help find her. Sarah agrees, but when she returns to our world with Bantryd everything turns upside down for them. Bantryd almost dies, and Sarah is accused of kidnapping and murder and must make a decision that will either end her life and send her into eternity or plunge her into the world under the sea.

This book keep me reading from beginning to end. The storyline is complex because it is layered with many twists and turns, emotions, fantasy, and truths all swirled together yet fragmenting off into their own right. It is one of love lost, new love, friendship, family ties and loyalty, regrets and closures, and birthing new beginnings. It is traumatic, yet tender, hopeless, yet hopeful and the ending is a true cliff-hanger. It caused me to think, ponder and wonder. One great read that I am proud to recommend.

Too Tall Alice
Barbara Worton
Great Little Books
PMB #139, 233 Rock Road, Glen Rock, NJ 07452
9780979066115 $15.95

Everyone grows at their own rate, some are tall and some are short, and some are in-between, but what happens when you feel like you are a freak. Alice is four inches taller than the other girls in her class. She hates that; she hates having to stand with the boys when their pictures are taken.she hates everything at this point in her life.

Alice is very sad, and when she hears her parents and their friends call her a string bean, a twig and some other not to flattering things it breaks her heart. Poor Alice.

That night as Alice sleeps she has a dream. In this dream she goes to a house where there are girls who are taller than her. Each one has lived their dream, and their height has not stopped them from being what they wanted to be. They share with her and Alice sees into the future and her present is changed. She truly realizes it is okay to just be herself and she is overjoyed.

We all know that growing up can be difficult, but if you feel that you are different in a 'major' way (at least in your own eyes,) it can be heart-breaking. I have a granddaughter who is very tall for her age. She has shared with me time and time again how she wished that she were shorter. However, she has learned to be who she is. She is a beautiful girl and will become a beautiful woman, and thankfully she is blessed to live in a family that lets her know that. I wish all children did.

This book will show any child dealing with what they might feel is not the norm in their life that they are exactly how they should be. It focuses on the positive of a person, the many opportunities that are before them, and how they can turn what they feel is not quite 'the norm,' into opportunity.

They will walk away from reading this book with a new sense that they can be all they want to be. Powerful illustrations, bold and colorful, great story, with a purpose. All in all a must read for all children, big and small.

The Secret Doorway
Beyond Imagination
Paul Hutchins
Imagination Publishing
Caps Coral, Florida
9780981712338 $34.95

I have to say before I even read one word of this book I was immediately drawn to the majestic photos within the pages. I looked at each and every photo before me, amazed at the beauty and majesty of each one; I was in awe. As I settled back and started the book over I was taken deep into the world of our universe and beyond. Each page of this work gives you a dramatic picture of something out in space, be it a star, galaxy, or the formation of a planet, to name a few, your eyes will feast upon unimaginable sights. Accompanying each picture is an explanation of what you are viewing, and added information, often leaving you with a question to ponder about what you are seeing before you, stirring your imagination and your senses to a new height It was truly exhilarating!.

I sat with my granddaughter after reading this book and shared it with her; she is ten-years old. We looked at each photo and shared the majesty of them As we did, our imagination ran wild just thinking of all that is still out there that man has yet to discover. It was a great experience for both of us to share.

This work is brilliant in so many ways. It is the first book that I have seen to truly take you on a journey of the space around us. It is an eye-opener that penetrates your very being in knowing that we are not here by accident and it reaffirms the knowledge that there is a lot more going on than we could ever imagine and none of it is happening by accident. I am a firm believer that there is a God and that He has and does create everything, this book only confirmed my deepest knowledge of this fact, outstanding.

You will want to have time to truly savor what is inside of this book and you will go back to it time and time again to refresh the awesome vision it produces in your heart and mind of the universe you live in. I recommend this book for everyone, young and old. It will change and enlarge the way you think of your world, your universe and beyond. Excellent job, Mr. Hutchins, thank you for giving this work to us. Very highly recommended.

Dance Me, Daddy
Cindy Morgan
5300 Peterson Ave. SE, Grand Rapids MI 49530
9780310717621 $16.99

This delightful book is based on a song by award-winning singer/songwriter, Cindy Morgan.
It touches the heart of many fathers and their little girls.

Dance Mr, Daddy takes you into the world of an adorable little princess and her King, daddy.
Spinning her on top of his feet, he dances with his little Princess, time and time again. He shares tea-parties, and jokes and he slowly watches her grow. Soon, his little Princess becomes another's but the magic, the love, and the bonding between the two will always be there. Their moments of love that will never disappear.

I was truly touched by this book. It was tender, loving, and brought to life the precious moments that we have with our children, and how quickly they are gone, yet not forgotten. I believe this book will be treasured by many. It will be a reminder to keep making those precious memories, and also a reminder that they will be embedded within that little one's heart forever. Beautiful illustrations, well done work.

Lucio & Meera Santoro
Little Simon
1230 Avenue Of The Americans, New York, NY 10020
9781416954392 $27.99

Who doesn't love a pop-up book? The anticipation of what will pop out at you as you turn each page is always fun and exciting. From my children, and now to my grandchildren, I have enjoyed countless moments sharing giggles and surprised faces from the many pop-up books we have shared.

Now with this new book, "Predators" we have taken a step beyond all that we have ever experienced in the past, and walked into the most realistic, in your face book, that I have ever seen. What a ride!

The quality of the book is seen immediately, it is well constructed and has a Crocodile on the cover that will definitely grab your attention. As you travel inside you will take a journey like none other as you learn about several Spiders, a Bald Eagle, Crocodile, Tiger, and Polar Bear. The pop-up of each is absolutely breath-taking, bringing each to life in a way I have never seen before. Detailed and realistic, you will be amazed at the visual this book brings to you through each pop-up. Outstanding! But this book doesn't stop there, it also has miniature pop-ups on each page that will delight and surprise you. Almost like finding buried treasure.

Don't be mislead, this book is a whole lot more than wonderful pop-ups, and they are wonderful. It is a gem of information on each creature presented such as their habitat, if they are endangered, what they like to chow down on, and so much more. What you learn will surprise, and delight you.

This book is colorful, educational and just plain fun to look at and read. I truly believe anyone from young to old would enjoy this book. Very well done, one of the best pop-up books I have ever seen, and I am pleased to give it my highest recommendations.

Escape of the Mini-Mummy
Lin Oliver
Illustrated by: Stephen Gilpin
Simon & Schuster Children's Publishing
1230 Avenue of The Americans, NY, NY 10020
9781416909590 $14.95

In this tale we meet, Daniel Funk, who can shrink to the size of the fourth toe on his left foot. He also has a brother, Pablo, who was born in his ear, and is the size of the fourth toe. Quite a couple of characters right from the start, and the family of Daniel Funk is definitely interesting as well.
However, Daniel and Pablo are our main players in this read. What a pair...what a story filled with imagination. In this tale no one knows Daniel shrinks, nor do they know about his brother, except their grandma. Daniel is doing a diorama of King Tut's tomb for school, and Pablo decides to disguise himself as the mummy. Daniel is hoping the win, but he has some heavy competition to beat. Unfortunately things get heated up when Daniel shrinks at the worst time, but Pablo helps to save the day.

This is a very cute book that will stimulate the imagination of your child. It has loyalty, friendship, family, the solving of problems, and definitely adventure. It is an easy enjoyable read, one that is sure to bring out a smile, and entertain children (an adults). Very nice book.

Dinosaur Days: A Pop-Up book About Opposites
Matt Mitter
Illustrated by Betsy Snyder

Readers Digest Children's Publishing Limited
124 Walcot Street, Bath, UK
9780794417901 $14.99

The first thing I noticed about this book was the bright, inviting cover. A Dinosaur and her baby greet you on the front cover and you are enticed to touch the colorful foam body of the mom. Great idea to immediately get the little one interested in the characters.

Inside the story is simple, basic, yet very well written. We see how the Dinosaurs' day begins and ends. We travel with them as they wake-up, eat, play, and end their day.

Each page has a fun pop-up to allow the child interaction with the read. The child is also asked to find something on each page that will show opposites. That is always a fun challenge for a little one.

This is an adorable book, educational, colorful, and simple for a child to understand and should keep their attention from page to page. A very nice book.

Baron Thinks Dogs Are People Too!
Laurie Dean
Illustrated by: Kevin Collier
Dragon Pencil/Big Tent Books
24 pages 115 Bluebill Drive, Savanna, GA 31419
9781601310354 $14.00

Baron is a blessed little dog. He has a wonderful family that loves him very much, but something is still lacking in Baron's life. He wants a best friend more than anything in the world. He tries different ways to achieve that goal but all that did was land him in obedience school. Baron comes home a much better behaved dog, but Baron still doesn't have a best friend. And then one day, when he least expects it, something happens and Baron's greatest desire becomes a reality.

This is a really cute book with a great lesson tucked inside for both man and beast. With a little effort a dog can add so much pleasure and friendship to any life, and fulfill a need. The illustrations are bright, colorful and realistic and that certainly adds to this warm and fuzzy story. It is a fun read, that makes you smile and tugs at your heartstrings at the same time. Very nice book. Recommended.

Memoirs of a Fortune Teller
Gary Turcotte
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Rd, Parker, Colorado 80134
978143233421 $13.95

In this book by author, Gary Turcotte, we meet Mary Ann, quite an interesting character. Mary Ann is a fortune teller who travels all over the country with the fair. Wait, before you start shaking your head, let me tell you that this lady is the real-deal. She definitely has a gift that is released when she touches a person, she sees their future and often their past. Mary Ann tells this story and she reveals to the reader what she sees for people, and often in people. Interesting.
Unfortunately for Mary Ann there is a very disturbing evil man who is also traveling with the fair, and as fate would have it, Mary Ann becomes involved in his life in a buzzard way. She is also thrown into the life of a police detective, as murder and mayhem begin to happen all around her.

What does the police detective, George, have to do with Mary Ann? Is he a friend or foe? And just what does the future hold for Mary Ann?

I liked this book. I enjoyed the characters that were brought froth, from Mary Ann to all of her customers. I liked seeing what she saw for them and in them, and when the author weaved the murders and mysteries around the characters I couldn't put the book down. The story truly held my interest., and I was actually disappointed when it ended. However, I am sure the story lives on in other works by this author.

I recommend this book. It is a short read, but one that will definitely hold your attention. Characters are very well developed, settings are described perfectly and you have a taste of mystic and mystery throughout the read. Well done, Mr. Turcotte. Keep them coming.

Forgive My Trespassing
Cynthia Blomquist Gustavson
Blooming Twig Books LLC
PO Box 4668 #66675, New York, NY 10163
No ISBN $12.95

Poetry is always an interesting form of writing to review. I know when I begin the read that I am about to see into the very heart of the author. The words that are placed before me will be words shaped from happenings of things either experienced or seen in the poet's life that usually have left in one way or another a profound mark upon their spirits. To me, poetry is words from the spirit of the author.

As I began this read by, Cynthia Blomquist Gustavson, I read her first poem, "There Is Love There," where she shows the difference between affection and love and seemed to set the pace for the rest of her work. Her poems are those of life, love, relationships, family. They are poems of home, death, passing time and memories and country. Poems of past and present, merge as the author speaks from her spirit. I found these poems both haunting and comforting, interesting and fascinating, as I was given the privilege of peeking for a moment in time into the spirit of the poet as she shares the pictures of her heart.

Shirley Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Taylor's Bookshelf

Before the Fall
Edward Michael Turrian
Vantage Press Inc.
419 Park Avenue South, New York, NY 10016
9780533160136, $11.95,

A religious journey can lead one anywhere. "Before the Fall" follows one man as he journeys through Appalachia in the middle of the nineteenth century, meeting many strange and interesting characters. Offering much thought and insight to the world of spirituality as the human drama unfolds, "Before the Fall" is a work to be highly considered for literary fiction fans.

Travel Within
Jamshid Hosseini
O Books
9781846941337, $19.95,

Spirituality is the focus on the spirit, something that can be embraced on one's own. "Travel Within: The 7 Steps to Wisdom & Inner Peace" is a spirituality manual emphasizing the power of the individual. A key refrain is that the best peace one can find is the peace one finds themselves. With much advice on looking inside oneself to find what one needs for self-empowerment, "Travel Within" is very highly recommended as a useful assist on the path to enlightenment.

Bipolar Bare
Carlton Davis
7290-B Investment Drive, Charleston, SC 29418
9781439220702, $21.95,

Bipolar disorder is an enigma to those who don't have it. Author Carlton Davis brings readers into his world with "Bipolar Bare", a memoir telling his long and storied history that ranges from confused "troublemaker" child, to finding religion, to becoming a drug addict willing to do anything for his fix. With an uplifting finish of some semblance of normalcy, "Bipolar Bare" is an intriguing read sure to entertain and enlighten.

From Stardust to Insanity
James B. Root
Outskirts Press
10940 S Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432715892, $21.95,

What is wrong with America today? "From Stardust to Insanity: The Moral Demise of a Troubled Nation" presents the opinions of author James B. Root, particularly his criticism about the decline of modern society through the selfishness and self-importance promoted by secularists. An intriguing account with some interesting points, "From Stardust to Insanity" is well worth the read for any seeking a fresh perspective on American society.

The Greater Motivator
John Oliver
Privately Published
9780842527323, $22.00,

Decisive people are successful people. "The Greater Motivator: To Be in Command of Your Life, You Must Take Command of Your Thinking" is a guide for readers to become more decisive and assertive in their own lives. Emphasizing the importance of taking control and pursuing one's goals, whether for personal health, gunning for a job promotion, or improving one's social or family life, "The Great Motivator" is packed with tips, tricks, and techniques. "The Greater Motivator" is a top pick for those who want to be at the driver's seat of life.

Collective Bargaining
Kelly Wilken
Author House
1663 Liberty Drive, Suite 200, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781434382214, $14.49,

More money for those who have money is the goal of many a businessman. "Collective Bargaining: Taking Control Away From the Players!" is a novel following James Mitchum IV, owner of the NBA team the Houston Tornados. Concerned about how much he was paying some players based on their potential alone, he revises his payment system, hoping to stick to it and disregarding what the players think. "Collective Bargaining" is a sports novel sure to entertain basketball fans all the way through.

John Taylor

Vicki's Bookshelf

Joyce Moyer Hostetter
Calkins Creek
815 Church St., Honesdale, Penn. 18431
9781590786062 $17.95

Now that Ann Fay is home from the polio hospital and Daddy is back from fighting Hitler, life should be getting back to normal. But her old friends seem to have changed, and Daddy isn't himself anymore either. Everything is falling apart. Ever responsible, Ann Fay tries to fix things - until she finally has to admit that she herself needs fixing. At President Roosevelt's Georgia Warm Springs Foundation, she finds comfort, healing, and even a little romance. In this carefully researched and moving historic fiction sequel to "Blue," Ann Fay faces life with her characteristic resourcefulness, forging new relationships and reevaluating old ones as she establishes her unique place in the community.

Pip: The Story of Olive
Kim Kane
David Fickling Books / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
9780385751711 $15.99

"Pip: The Story of Olive," is a gentle first novel about fitting in and finding the strength to be yourself. Olive is an only child. She lives by the sea in a ramshackle old house with her mother, Mog - successful, busy, and hardly ever at home. Olive is very pale and very quiet and she doesn't quite fit in. But she has a best friend, Mathilda, and that's what matters. And then Mathilda decides to be someone else's best friend. Just as life really can't get much worse, Pip shows up. Brash, loud Pip, who is everything that Olive is not, and is about to cause Olive a whole heap of trouble - and open her up to a whole world of possibilities. Recommended for ages 8-12.

Toby Wheeler: Eighth-Grade Bench Warmer
Thatcher Heldring
Delacorte Press / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
9780440421832 $5.99

When Toby Wheeler has a chance to join the junior high basketball team, he's eager to prove he can keep up with his best friend, JJ. But practice doesn't go quite as Toby has planned, of course, so when the coach announces the team lineup, Toby's hopes of playing ball with JJ are history. He's been benched! Could eighth-grade be any worse? This paperback release of the hardback original will be a slam dunk with sporty middle-graders looking for something to stuff into their back-to-school backpacks this fall. A strong reluctant reader choice, especially for boys ages 9 - 12.

The Treasure Map of Boys
E. Lockhart
Delacorte Press / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
9780385734264 $15.99

In "The Treasure Map of Boys: Noel, Jackson, Finn, Hutch - and me, Ruby Oliver" Ruby is back at Tate Prep for another roller-coaster high school year of breakups and breakdowns. It's her 37th week in the state of "Noboyfriend." Her panic attacks are bad, her love life is even worse, and what's more: Noel is writing her notes, Jackson is giving her frogs, Gideon is helping her cook, and Finn is making her brownies. Rumors are flying, and Ruby's already-sucky reputation is heading downhill. In this companion novel to "The Boyfriend List" and "The Boy Book," Ruby struggles to secure some sort of mental health, to understand what constitutes a real friendship, and to find true a high school sweetheart…if such a thing exists.

Tempo Change
Barbara Hall
Delacorte Press / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
9780385736077 $16.99

"It's tough enough defining your identity - imagine if your father was a rock legend." Blanche Kelly's dad is a famous indie rock icon, but not many people at the private school she attends on scholarship know this. Her father left when she was in the first grade, and she can't quite forgive her mom for not understanding that an artist like her dad needs the time and space to connect to his muse. When Blanche creates an all-girl rock band, their sound captures a wide audience and the band is invited to compete at the Coachella Music Festival. Blanche feels this could be the perfect time for a reunion with her father. Won't he be proud to hear her band? Won't he be happy to get to know his only daughter? Teen girls will make strong emotional connections to the protagonist in this well-wrought YA novel by the creator of the smart television series "Joan of Arcadia."

After the Moment
Garret Freymann-Weyr
Houghton Mifflin
215 Park Ave. So., NY, NY 10003
9780618605729 $16.00

"After the Moment" is a poignant new novel by the Printz Honor author Garret Freymann-Weyr, about a boy who discovers what happens when love fails us - or we fail love. Maia Morland is pretty, only not pretty-pretty. She's smart. She's brave. She's also a self-proclaimed train wreck. Leigh Hunter is smart, popular, and extremely polite. He's also completely and forever in love with Maia Morland. Their young love starts off like a romance novel - full of hope, strength, and passion. But life is not a romance novel and theirs will never become a true romance. For when Maia needs him the most, Leigh betrays both her trust and her love. "After the Moment" is a young adult novel told with compassion and true understanding.

How To Draw Funny
450 Lambert Ave., Palo Alto, CA 94306
9781591746492 $16.95

The crazy minds that brought readers "Quick Draw Flip Books" and "Thumb Doodles" have gotten ambitious. Their latest creation from the drawing board is a how-to book that teaches readers how to draw comics while finding their inner funny person. With clear step-by-step instruction and an extra emphasis on creating humor to tickle readers' funny bones, "How to Draw Funny" is a clever gift package designed to bring a smile to recipients' faces. Comes packaged with three handy markers, a mechanical pencil and eraser for easy, no-nonsense gift giving.

Mare's War
Tanita S. Davis
Knopf / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
9780375857140 $16.99

Octavia and Tali are dreading the road trip their parents are forcing them to take with their grandmother over the summer. First of all, Mare. As she prefers to be called, drives a red sports car and wears stilettos - not typical Grandma material. And let's not forget about those constant big sis v. little sis dramas. But somewhere on the road to Alabama, Octavia and Tali discover there's more to Mare than her ageless attitude. She too was once a willful teenager, but one with more to Mare than her ageless attitude. She too was once a willful teenager, but one with much more to overcome than Octavia and Tali ever knew. Mare escaped her troubled family life in the deep South and lied abut her age to join the 6888th - the famed African-American battalion of the Women's Army Corps during World War II. Told in alternating chapters, half of which follow Mare's experiences as a WAC member and a half of which follow the cross-country trip, this novel introducers a larger-than-life character, and a little known but compelling part of World War II history. Both will stay with readers long after the road trip is over.

The Demon's Lexicon
Sarah Rees Brennan
Margaret K. McElderry Books / Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
9781416963790 $17.99 www.Simon

Nick and his brother, Alan, have spent their lives on the run from magic. Their father was murdered, and their mother was driven mad by magicians and the demons who give them power. The magicians are hunting the Ryves family for a charm that Nick's mother stole -- a charm that keeps her alive -- and they want it badly enough to kill again. Danger draws even closer when a brother and sister come to the Ryves family for help. The boy wears a demon's mark, a sign of death that almost nothing can erase...and when Alan also gets marked by a demon, Nick is desperate to save him. The only way to do that is to kill one of the magicians they have been hiding from for so long. Ensnared in a deadly game of cat and mouse, Nick starts to suspect that his brother is telling him lie after lie about their past. As the magicians' Circle closes in on their family, Nick uncovers the secret that could destroy them all.

Yes I Know The Monkey Man
Dori Hillestad Butler
Peachtree Publishers
1700 Chattahoochee Ave., Atlanta, GA 30318-2112
9781581454792 $16.95

Thirteen-year-old T.J. always believed that her twin sister and her mother were dead because that s what her father had told her. But Mom and Sam are very much alive. And now they want T.J. to be part of their family. Life with Joe, her troubled but well-intentioned father, is all T.J. has ever known. Joe s erratic lifestyle has meant lying to social workers and searching through garbage cans for food. But T.J. loves him and the grandmother who has provided stability in her life. When T.J. reluctantly visits her mom and Sam for the first time, she is stunned by how similar she is to her twin sister in many ways, even though their lives have been very different. But while she is drawn to her new family, she is also wary of becoming attached to them and hurting her father s feelings. When Joe suffers a debilitating accident and tries to ensnare T.J. in another web of lies, however, her loyalties are finally tested. Now she must confront the truth about her family, even if it hurts the people she loves. In this thought-provoking companion to the popular "Do You Know the Monkey Man?" author Dori Hillestad Butler has created a highly readable, complex portrait of a family in crisis. Her skillful portrayal of T. J., a conflicted adolescent struggling with her identity and reacting to family pressures, will resonate with readers.

Sea Change
Aimee Friedman
Point / Scholastic
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
9780439922289 $16.99

Level-headed 16-year-old Miranda Merchant is great at science...and not so great with boys. After major drama with her boyfriend and (now ex) best friend, she's happy to spend the summer on small, mysterious Selkie Island, helping her mother sort out her late grandmother's estate. Stepping off the ferry, she soon discovers it's an island rife with legend, lore, and a past that her scientific mind can't make sense of. There, Miranda finds new friends and a mysterious, mystical history. She also meets Leo, a secretive local boy she is inexplicably drawn to, and who challenges everything she thought she knew about boys, friendship, and reality. But what is Leo hiding from her? Something that she never could have imagined? For ages 12 and up.

I Don't Want to Go To School
Stephanie Blake
Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
9780375856884 $12.99
"No way!" is Simon's mantra when his parents tell him that tomorrow is his first day of school. After he tries to convince himself that he is not scared, Simon calls for help from Mom and Dad, who assure him that he will learn a lot, make new friends, and have a great day at school. And they might just be right! After a day of drawing, playing, eating, resting, and making music, Mom tells Simon that it's time to go home. His answer? "No way!" This spirited new hero of back-to-school jitters will resonate with each child whose superpowers have failed to kick their first-day fears.

Secrets of Deltora
Emily Rodda and Marc McBride
557 Broadway, NY, NY 10012-3999
9780545069335 $15.99

"Secrets of Deltora" is a book for old and new fans of the popular Deltora Quest series. Told from the perspective of Doran the Dragonlover, this mystical travel guide to Deltora, the "land of dragons," couldn't have a better tour guide: Doran is the greatest Deltoran explorer ever and a friend of the dragons. Delving headfirst into this rich fantasy, readers will travel with Doran through the seven gem territories, learning the secrets of Deltora-from its many dangers to its special places and magical creatures. Even fans who think they know everything there is to know about their favorite characters will find they have a lot to learn here. Author Emily Rodda is one of Australia's most successful and popular authors for young readers. She has won the Children's Book Council of Australia Book of the Year Award five times.

Girl Stays in the Picture
Melissa De La Cruz
Simon & Schuster Books for Young Readers
1230 Avenue of the Americas, NY, NY 10020
9781416960966 $16.99

If you can't be a mega-teen superstar sensation then maybe you'll be lucky enough to join her entourage. Devon -- one name only, please -- is the latest and jail-bait-est pop star to hit number one on the Billboard chart, and she's making her big-screen debut in Juicy. But after her stint in rehab, the studio isn't so sure she's their girl anymore. If they cut any more of her lines, she'll be a silent film actress! Can Devon regain her star status? She needs to watch her back and make sure that flash doesn't catch her causing a scene, and we don't mean the kind you can yell "Cut!" after. Livia has lost the weight and gained the attitude in the Hollywood party scene. Her dad's an Oscar-winning producer, and with a hot Beverly Hills boyfriend on her arm as well as her photos all over the pages of, Livia looks like she has a perfect life. But looks can be perfectly deceiving... And there's fresh-faced Casey, who left a job bagging groceries at the Piggly Wiggly to play personal assistant to her best friend...and Devon's rival. She's got the biggest crush on the biggest star of the film -- a hot Brit known for loving and leaving. Will Casey stay true to herself while trying to find a place in his universe? Stars. They're just like us. But what does that mean for the rest of us? Stay tuned, people. For teen fans of "Gossip Girl" and the ilk.

Love, Aubrey
Suzanne LaFleur
Wendy Lamb Books / Random House
1540 Broadway, NY, NY 10036
9780385737746 $15.99

A tragic accident has turned eleven-year-old Aubrey's world upside down. Starting a new life all alone, Aubrey has everything she thinks she needs: SpaghettiOs and Sammy, her new pet fish. She cannot talk about what happened to her. Writing letters is the only thing that feels right to Aubrey, even if no one ever reads them. With the aid of her loving grandmother and new friends, Aubrey learns that she is not alone, and gradually, she finds the words to express feelings that once seemed impossible to describe. The healing powers of friendship, love, and memory help Aubrey take her first steps toward the future. Readers will care for Aubrey from page one and will watch her grow until the very end, when she has to make one of the biggest decisions of her life. "Love, Aubrey" is devastating, brave, honest, funny, and hopeful, and it introduces a remarkable new writer, Suzanne LaFleur. No matter how old you are, this book is not to be missed.

Vicki Arkoff
Senior Reviewer

Vogel's Bookshelf

The Shipwreck of a Nation
H. Peter Nennhaus
Outskirts Press
10940 S Parker Road - 515, Parker, CO 80134
9781432734039, $26.95,

What causes a country to embrace a monster as its leader? "The Shipwreck of a Nation" is a look back at history at someone who lived in Berlin during the rise of one Adolph Hitler. Giving a glimpse of the German people during this time, author H. Peter Nennhaus delivers a perspective not often seen when discussing World War II and thus adds a fascinating side to the debate. "The Shipwreck of a Nation" is well worth the read especially for World War II history buffs.

Tackling America's Toughest Questions
Francis A. Boyle
7290-B Investment Drive, Charleston, SC 29418
9780932863621, $14.95,

Questions only bring more questions and answers are always hard to find. "Tackling America's Toughest Questions: Alternative Media Interviews" is one man's dissection of today's hottest issues and how he believes that the Bush Administration holds much of the blame for today's crisis with international security and impeding social progression. "Tackling America's Toughest Questions" is an intriguing read of one man's high discontent with the past administration.

The Adam Eradication
Richard R. Draude
Privately Published
9781934051146, $16.97,

"The Adam Eradiction" is a science fiction thriller and the story of Kalen MacKenna who is convicted of the bloody murders of his wife and father. The judge sentences Kalen to 25 years in 'cold-stasis' as an alternative to the death penalty. After a quarter of a century, Kalen awakes to find the world a vastly different place than he remembered. After the effects of cold-stasis wear of, Kalen finds himself the target of assassination. All he has to go on to save his life and discovery why someone who seek to kill him is an old prophecy made months prior to his birth. But in this new technologically oriented world, what value has an old prophecy? "The Adam Eradication" is a superbly crafted and complex novel that is especially recommended to science fiction enthusiasts and would make a popular addition to community library Science Fiction/Fantasy collections.

Abraham's Burden
Joseph Crew
Booksurge LLC
7290-B Investment Dr., Charleston, SC 29418
9781439206584, $15.99,

The very best mystery/suspense thrillers are written by authors with real-life experience and expertise to bring the feel of authenticity to their novels. Such is the case with Joseph Crew, author of "Abraham's Burden". Crew is a family therapist and alcohol counselor with a Native American tribe who has also worked in adult and juvenile corrections. This is novel about Native American and Vietnam veteran Charlie Abraham who is charged with the brutal murder of a congresswoman and her lover on an uninhabited reservation island. An alcoholic who suffers from post traumatic stress disorder, Charlie is unable to defend himself against the charge brought against him when he can't remember where he was at the time of the murders, a handgun that was recently fired is discovered in his home, and he is in possession of newspaper clippings citing the congresswoman's anti-India political agenda. But despite the mounting evidence, his family (who have troubles of their own) believes him innocent and joins forces to help Charlie and avoid the death penalty. A gripping, deftly crafted, superbly paced novel, "Abraham's Burden" is highly recommended reading and a welcome addition to any community library Mystery/Suspense collection.

The Mature 64
Nathaniel J. Williams
Privately Published
9780981474236, $29.95,

Maturity is realizing who one is and not hiding it. "The Mature 64: Living Life 8 by 8" breaks down maturity into eight different aspects, such as the individual and politics, and how those eight reflect on eight different topics of life, such as health and relationships with one's family and friends. A self-help book that looks at life as something complicated but understandable with some work, "The Mature 64" is intriguing, helpful, and inspiring.

The Futures Plain and Simple
Roger D. Grubbs
Privately Published
9780981668017, $29.95,

Investment is simple. Put money in what's going to be successful. "The Futures Plain and Simple" is a sound and straightforward investment guide for rookie investors who want to start their foray into trading successfully. With basic simple and straight wisdom to help readers get their start, author Roger Grubbs walks readers through the process with straightforward intelligence. "The Futures Plain and Simple" is just what it says it is - plain and simple.

Paul T. Vogel

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

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