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MBR Bookwatch

Volume 12, Number 7 July 2013 Home | MBW Index

Table of Contents

Cowper's Bookshelf Donovan's Bookshelf Dunford's Bookshelf
Greenspan's Bookshelf Helen's Bookshelf Julie's Bookshelf
Kaveny's Bookshelf Klausner's Bookshelf Laurel's Bookshelf
Lorraine's Bookshelf Mason's Bookshelf Micah's Bookshelf
Richard's Bookshelf Shelley's Bookshelf Shirley's Bookshelf
Taylor's Bookshelf Vogel's Bookshelf  

Cowper's Bookshelf

Who Runs Your House - The Kids or You?
Karen Phillip
Xlibris Corporation
1663 South Liberty Drive
Bloomington, IN 47403-5161
c/o Bohlsen Group (publicity)
9781477140741 $53.49 hc / $32.09 sc / $10.69 ebook / $9.99 Kindle

Author and family counselor of two decades' experience Karen Phillip presents Who Runs Your House - The Kids or You?, a no-nonsense guide for parents struggling with children who throw tantrums, refuse to listen, won't go to bed on time, or engage in other chronic and problematic misbehavior. Chapters offer practical methodologies for dealing with sibling rivalry, determining whether day care is an appropriate option, managing young children during excursions such as shopping trips, and more, all with emphasis on the principle that the parent, not the children, is and should be the one calling the shots. "All children strive for attention, and when we give them good attention, they love it and respond really well. When they misbehave, we may temporarily withdraw some of that attention, and they know they have messed up and do not like the consequence. Reward good behavior, not bad... attention for their bad behavior is still attention, so distancing yourself from them when they display bad behavior can speak a thousand words." Thoroughly accessible from cover to cover, Who Runs Your House - The Kids or You? is highly recommended for parents and child caretakers everywhere.

Every Breath I Take
Claire Wineland with Chynna Bracha Levin
Business Ghost Books
4000 Barranca Parkway, Suite 250
Irvine, CA 92604
9780983640677 $14.95

Every Breath I Take: Surviving and Thriving with Cystic Fibrosis is the true-life story of Claire Wineland, in her own words. Claire has spent her life struggling with Cystic Fibrosis; in 2010, she became septic after a routine surgery and went into complete lung failure. Her parents had her put on an oscillator vent, a machine that no child with CF has ever come off of. She was given a 1% chance for survival, and slipped into a coma for days. Her survival and recovery are nothing short of miraculous, and her candid testimony has earned her a following. Every Breath I Take tells of striving to live as normal a life as possible, in spite of the need for regular treatments and frequent hospitalizations. Ultimately a positive memoir about the importance of concentrating on the gifts and wonders of life, Every Breath I Take is highly recommended. "I hear about kids cutting their wrists in order to feel pain, or starving themselves, or puking after they eat just to be skinny, and it's like a stab in the chest... To hear that kids actually hurt their bodies to look [like photoshopped magazine models] is terrible for me. I was born hurt, and I've spent every waking moment trying to be healthier and survive."

Mary Cowper

Donovan's Bookshelf

The Barista: To Believe Is Not Enough
Elijah G Clark
EC Publishing
9781622092505 $4.99

The Barista: To Believe Is Not Enough is a powerful, gripping Christian saga that centers around George, who survives a near-fatal accident only to find he's left with many questions about his family, his self, and his beliefs.

When George moves from a grounded, successful businessman with a family and job to becoming a wanderer whose purposes in living have been eliminated virtually overnight, spiritual enlightenment and revelation are the next changes he faces. His repeated attempts to contact his family, caught in a disaster on the East coast while he is stranded on the West coast, prove futile (...though one note: though nobody answers their phones in his neighborhood, after a local disaster usually one receives recordings to the tune of 'circuits are all busy').

Lost and unable to go forward or backward, George stumbles on a strange diner called 'A Taste of Heaven' - and embarks on a journey that will ultimately change his life.

One strength of The Barista lies in its powerful chapter headings which take an ordinary-sounding image (i.e. 'The Cup') and adds a subheading packed with power ("You must first empty your cup of what is old and sour before you can fill it with what is good and new.") Thus, chapters relating to coffee and God are written as a brew in preparation with headings such as 'The Cup', 'The Beans', 'Grind the Beans' and 'Tamp the Coffee' offering dual meanings. This focus serves as a foundation for The Barista's goal of probing what's involved in becoming a 'true follower of Christ', using a rich contemporary flavor to draw in readers.

A second strength lies in the novel's overlap of identity crisis with spiritual purpose. When George enters the cafe with an urgent need and many questions, Barista Emmanuel responds with answers that are anything but pat, and dialogues between the two introduce readers to 'foundation questions' about God, prayer, and cause and effect:

"Why are you upset? I only gave you what you asked for. Am I wrong for that? Maybe you should be upset with your expectation, not with me." "I'm not going to worry about it. It's not your fault. I can't expect you to help me and then be upset when you don't," I said before turning to stare out the window."

As other characters enter the picture and interact with George, he progresses rapidly on a path that considers the meaning of true belief, tackling difficult questions that range from doubt to the path of a new believer: ""You need to restore your mind in order to find out what you are. It is the only way to seek direction from God. You must lose your doubt so that you can find peace in awareness of him."

Emmanuel provides George with a 'path of light', George asks questions, and steps are taken to clarify the newfound meaning he perceives in world events, his own life, and the role of God and belief within it. In truth George has been awaiting this introduction (and these answers) for his entire life - and The Barista explores how insight, transformation and true change are perceived and incorporated.

Anticipate a deeply religious Christian novel which offers many twists and turns of thought as it follows George's path through conversion to self-discovery: a path which may best be described as that of 'Everyman'.

No Christian holding (or reader) should miss this accessible and powerful survey of what it ultimately means to be a true believer.

Sisters in Love
Melissa Foster
World Literary Press
$10.00 pbk / $4.99 ebook

Sisters in Love is Book 1 in the 'Snow Sisters' series, and tells of Danica Snow, a smart, practical sister who has become a therapist, participates in a Big Sister program, and who has filled her life with conservative choices.

Enter sexy playboy Blake, whose very different world has been filled with women, adventure, and discarded relationships. When Blake enters Danica's office, an instant attraction between them ensues.

Danica has spent decades cementing her smooth life with conservative choices, so she herself is shaken at the quick link she's forged with a stranger - and she resists those options that will change her life and career path. Despite her efforts she finds herself longing for a life that is less calm and conservative and more passionate, and discovers that her choices are being influenced as much by her relationships with her siblings and their choices in life as by her own secret desires for something more.

As Danica finds their mutual attraction taking over her life, she faces some tough decisions not just on client/therapist professional levels, but on a personal level that will affect and reflect on all of her choices in life to date. She begins to re-examine the nature of love itself and its role in her life; in the process coming to decisions that will ultimately change her life, her relationships with her sister, and her future romances. And as she changes these relationships with clients and friends, so Danica alters her view of her sisters: "Her entire outlook had changed overnight. She was happy for Kaylie's silly, little mannerisms. Maybe she'd been too judgmental of her sister all along. Maybe her criticisms were there because she, herself, wasn't happy. Danica mulled over the truth of her thoughts."

As a romance novel, Sisters in Love is steamy, passionate, and revealing… perfect for readers of romances and stories about motivations and impulses that lead to emotional transitions.

The Volunteer Traveler's Handbook
Shannon O'Donnell
Full Flight Press
9780987706157 $16.99 paperback, $9.99 e-versions
Additional places to order print and online:

The Volunteer Traveler's Handbook should be considered by any reader interested in international travel opportunities who wish for more specifics than general travel guides usually offer. It narrows its focus to a specific topic: international volunteering and sustainable travel; topics usually only lightly touched upon in other travel books.

The Volunteer Traveler's Handbook helps would-be travelers understand their personal motivations behind volunteering and considers travel's impacts upon people and places, identifying volunteer opportunities and their different options and offerings, discerning the differences between student volunteers and skilled worker volunteers, and contrasting long-term travel and volunteering structures. It provides chapters backed with the author's own experiences and helps would-be volunteers avoid many pitfalls in the process.

Shannon O'Donnell joined almost any volunteer opportunity that came her way during her college years and performed all kinds of jobs, from fundraising to serving meals to the homeless. From there she graduated to the non-volunteer work world, where felt her life was hectic but empty - a feel which led her to decide to take time off and travel around the world for a year, volunteering along the way to return to a focus on serving others.

The Volunteer Traveler's Handbook synthesizes her world experiences and provides concrete information, offering fellow would-be volunteer travelers insights on a journey that she originally expected to last for a year, but which turned into a lifestyle of activity and giving.

From misperceptions rampant in the media about third world and developing nations (such as the perception that many live in abject poverty when the reality is "Not every place is defined solely by its poverty.") to the benefits of independent volunteering, The Volunteer Traveler's Handbook is packed with advice and real-world volunteering experiences you simply won't find elsewhere.

Shannon O'Donnell's work in diverse environments around the world over a period of many years lends to insights and realistic experiences for a wide range of volunteering opportunities, from working in a monastery to working with governmental and non-governmental volunteer organizations.

Specifics center around how to choose opportunities within given timeframes (a day, a week, a month, or year), how to match one's skills with volunteering opportunities, how to find personal meaning when considering a specific volunteering option, and how to understand the overall pros and cons of donating versus volunteering abilities.

Another intriguing feature of The Volunteer Traveler's Handbook is its revelations about how the act of volunteering travel reinforces personal goals, values, beliefs and ethical meaning.

Packed with case histories of the author's notable volunteer experience in many different countries and under many different conditions, The Volunteer Traveler's Handbook can be pursued as either a travelogue or as a set of invaluable, real-world-based experiences in the volunteer sector.

Either way, it's a lively and top recommendation sure to appeal to a wide audience!

The Love Bug
Benjamin F. Bleacher III
Enjoy The Journey Press
9780989033909 $2.99 Kindle

What is the meaning of love and belief in a utopian world where everything is perfect? Christian fiction assumes a new form and purpose with Benjamin F. Bleacher III's The Love Bug, a novel that tells of events that evolve from protagonist Jack's simple bug bite. This is no ordinary insect: it's a Love Bug that holds the power to grant unconditional love to any who experience its bite. As a result, Jack loses jealousy, greed and anger and views everyone in the world as part of his extended family, prompting his girlfriend to want a bite also.

Her bug bite provides the same effects - but their desire for world change on a larger scale can't be answered by only a few bugs, no matter how potent; so Jack develops a means for spreading his sense of peace via prayer and food. But his is only a temporary measure: eating the 'prayer food' provides just 24-hours of peace and love, and more Love Bugs are needed to make this effect permanent.

Thus one man's experience expands to a world-changing effort as Jack assembles a team to go out in the world and provide Love Bug bites to any who wish revelation. Others who believe in this cause provide Jack and his crew with lodging, free food and affection: as a result, theirs is a grassroots movement that spreads like wildfire.

THE LOVE BUG is a story of change, goodness and evolution that takes the simple charge of world peace and applies it to a story of how one individual embarks on a journey to change the world on a massive scale. The process reveals many messages about how affection spreads and how love is cultivated from life:

"Yes, I am having the time of my life. I feel like I'm dreaming, but will soon wake up. I don't want to. I'm going to live the rest of my days loving life just like this."

Puzzled, Stephen asked, "What do you mean 'the rest of your days'?" "I'm going to live always in the now and not worry about the past or the future. That's how I'm going to roll - loving life in the Now."

Divine connections, what it means to create and live in a world where crime and conflict are no more, and making the most of the journey are all themes an uplifting account filled with reflections on how to nurture positive forces:

"I just spoke simply what I was going to do, and then just set out to achieve that goal. That's how I operate. Speak it, and then go do it. The way will be shown to you, if you keep that end result in front of you and focus on the goal at hand. Also, always remember, you always want to be operating out of the goodness of your heart."

The result is a spiritually uplifting novel which will appeal to any seeking a whimsical yet powerful story filled with encouragement for positive, spiritual change.

Song of the Yukon
Trisha Sugarek
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781489558206 $14.95

Song of the Yukon is a powerful historical novel that opens in the Yukon in 1923 where LaVerne's new cabin is being erected by a team of helpful neighbors and friends, and tells of one strong woman's long-held dream of homesteading and how the Homestead Act led her to build a new home, sweetened by her discovery of gold on her property.

In the next instant readers are transported to 1921 Washington State, where LaVerne shares a single room with her sisters in a crowded farmhouse and longs for something different in her future. It is here that her dream of a better life in Alaska evolves: an uncrowded life offering opportunities to 'rule and obey', and plenty of space.

Song of the Yukon begins with this dream and works outward as it follows LaVerne's efforts to hone and realize her desires upon discovering that the Alaskan frontier offers her a unique opportunity to " your dreams there, be whoever you want to one telling you what to do and what not to do..."

From boat rides in the Yukon and encounters with native tribes to filing homestead papers and working the land, LaVerne uses newfound frontier wisdom as a basis for expanding both her music and her perceptions: ""No man owns what Mother Spirit does not freely give." What a charming folk tale, LaVerne thought. And Joe seems to believe it. I could use the story in one of my songs."

It is here she encounters her first real friend and learns the realities of frontier life and homesteading: experiences that will shape her life, help her create music, and lead her in directions no woman has explored before.

But Song of the Yukon covers more than music growth, more than homesteading in the wilderness, and even more than testing one's abilities against a foreign environment. Most of all, it's about one woman's determination to achieve her dream against any odds - and it provides readers with not only a solid background in frontier experiences, but a sense of self and accomplishment that heroine LaVerne learns through hard experience.

Song of the Yukon is a powerful saga, recommended for a range of readers.

Politics of Blood
Alex Siegel
Amazon Digital Services
ASIN: B00BLWF59W $2.99 Kindle

Politics of Blood is the eighth book in Alex Siegel's riveting Gray Spear Society saga and opens with the Democratic National Convention's arrival in Chicago, where the President is primed to accept nomination for his second term in office.

Just before his arrival the Society receives a tip about an assassination attempt, and it's up to Aaron and his team to uncover clues that will lead to the perps involved despite a total lack of information.

Politics of Blood opens with insights about the President, who has lost his beloved wife and is facing the usual rigors involving political maneuvering and public curiosity. His budget-cutting decisions place him at odds with the military engine, his decisions on publicity go against his advisors, and his actions leave a variety of possibilities open for retaliation and revenge.

As Aaron's team becomes more involved in the President's culture and politics, they find ever more complex and ominous avenues open up, leading to not just one man or group, but a range of possibilities for retaliation. What evolves is a dangerous, complicated conspiracy cell, well versed in politics and battle, which rarely fails once it has its sights set on a goal. As a team honed in battle yet unfamiliar with political undercurrents, Aaron and his people find themselves up against many new obstacles - not the least of which proves to be the President himself.

As with other Gray Spear Society novels, new characters are introduced who blend well with and expand the team's special talents and objectives. Also as with most of the other titles, romance blossoms despite life-or-death struggles and the presence of experienced assailants who deftly play cat-and-mouse games despite Aaron's team's superior (even extraordinary) abilities.

Eventually Aaron himself is fingered as a possible bomber when his move to detonate a bomb to save lives leads to his imprisonment by the very man he's charged with protecting. Politics of Blood is packed with gripping and fast-paced scenarios that take hold and won't let go. During Aaron's jailbreak the Gray Spear team itself becomes implicated in the very events they are trying to solve, and find themselves embroiled in a conflict that seems to hold no purpose and no end.

The conspiracy reaches into the heart of the Democratic National Convention to threaten the world, and betrayal forces even the President's hand, causing him to overturn the very values he's fighting for.

As events takes unexpected twists and turns, The Gray Spear Society finds even their powers may not prevent the unthinkable - and the battle that ensues will test Aaron, his love, and faith itself.

Failure turns out to be more than an option in this riveting thriller, which offers no pat conclusion and promises further Gray Spear books to answer some tough questions.

Prior fans of the Gray Spear series will find Politics of Blood doesn't disappoint, providing deeper characterization, revealing motivations and political manipulation strategies, and including many new twists and turns to make for an engrossing, fast-paced read.

Diane C. Donovan
Senior Reviewer

Dunford's Bookshelf

My Company 'Tis of Thee
Roger Simmermaker
Consumer Patrotism Corporation
PO Box 780839
Orlando, Florida 32878-0839
9780980118810 $12.95

Roger Simmermaker, founder of the Buy American Project (, wrote My Company 'Tis of Thee: 50 Patriotic American Companies American Consumers Should Know About to inform patriotic American consumers about companies that create American jobs - companies that show their loyalty to America by providing for workers here, rather than fleeing across international borders. Some are product manufacturers; others are retailers (especially online retailers) who dedicate themselves to providing American-made products, such as "America's Virtual General Store". My Company 'Tis of Thee is especially recommended for browsing when looking for just the right gift (that doesn't say "Made in China"), but also has a wealth of recommendations for people shopping for everyday needs! Highly recommended.

Dr. Salerno's Silver Cloud Diet, second edition
Dr. John P. Salerno and Linda West Eckhardt
The Salerno Center
161 Madison Av. #7SW
New York, NYC, NY 10017
9780615415499 $14.99

Now in an updated second edition with new information and more recipes, Dr. Salerno's Silver Cloud Diet teaches readers about a life-changing diet by acclaimed medical expert Dr. John P. Salerno. The Silver Cloud Diet is essentially a low-carb diet, it's not the same as Atkins. "The Silver Cloud Diet is ideal for men and women because it focuses on high quality protein and natural fats, with plenty of vegetables and fresh fruits." Some vitamin supplements are also recommended, but the diet primarily emphasizes organic, unprocessed foods, and making low-carbohydrate and low-glycemic choices. 75 tasty low-carb recipes (such as "Sauteed Shrimp on Red Cabbage with Parsley Sauce" and "Kale with Garlic and Bacon") developed by award-winning cookbook author Linda West Eckhardt round out this practical-minded counter to the unhealthy high-sugar processed foods that saturate all too many American diets. The values of nutritional supplements and bio-identical hormone replacement therapy are also discussed. Dr. Salerno's Silver Cloud Diet is enthusiastically recommended, both for its health advice and for its delicious recipes!

Michael Dunford

Greenspan's Bookshelf

Sylvia Hawthorn-Deppen
Balboa Press
c/o Hay House, Inc.
PO Box 5100, Carlsbad, CA 92018-5100
9781452555652, $17.99,

Chronic pain is pain that has lasted for a long time. In medicine, the distinction between acute and chronic pain has traditionally been determined by an arbitrary interval of time since onset; the two most commonly used markers being 3 months and 6 months since onset, though some theorists and researchers have placed the transition from acute to chronic pain at 12 months. Others apply acute to pain that lasts less than 30 days, chronic to pain of more than six months duration, and subacute to pain that lasts from one to six months. For some, chronic pain to one degree or another is a lifetime event. "Wheel: A Recovery from Chronic Pain and Discovery of New Energy" is the personal story of chronic pain sufferer Sylvia Hawthorn-Deppen who also happens to be a licensed practical nurse. "Wheel" is an insightful and ultimately inspiring memoir of how she learned to live with pain for some 60 years -- but without suffering! This was largely accomplishing by changes in her attitude, personal habits, and general lifestyle. It should be noted that "Wheel" is available in hardcover ($28.74) and in a Kindle edition ($3.99). Candid, informative, encouraging, and motivating, "Wheel" is very highly recommended reading for anyone having to deal with chronic pain within themselves or a loved one. It is also a valued addition to community library Health & Medicine reference collections.

Cuba for the Misinformed
Mick Winter
Westsong Publishing
9780965900096 $16.95

Cuba for the Misinformed: Facts from the Forbidden Island is a highly accessible compilation of information that few Americans know about this island nation. Every year the United Nations demands that the United States end its embargo of Cuba; and Cuba's living standards are notably higher than those of many other developing nations, with a strong emphasis on healthcare and an extremely high rate of literacy, directly because of the government's efforts. Cuba for the Misinformed presents fascinating tidbits bite-by-bite and grouped by general category, from snapshots of Cuban history to economics, to how Cubans prepare for hurricanes, to matters of tourism (although Americans are forbidden to visit Cuba, no other country makes the same prohibition), to natural ecology (Cuba is home to the world's smallest bird, the "bee hummingbird"), Cuba for the Misinformed is extraordinarily educational and enlightening.

Able Greenspan

Helen's Bookshelf

Conversations with the Water
Michelle Linn-Gust, Ph.D.
Chellehead Works
9780972331890 $15.00 pbk / $4.99 Kindle

Michelle Linn-Gust, Ph.D. (whose credentials include the presidency of the American Association of Suicidology) presents Conversations with the Water: A Memoir of Cultivating Hope, in which she speaks of the role of water in her relationship with her younger sister to Denise, whom she lost to suicide. Conversations with the Water is not only about working through tremendous grief, pain, and loss, but also about learning to remember and cherish the good times one shared. Poignant, honest, and heartfelt, Conversations with the Water is highly recommended, especially as a comfort and inspiration to survivors of family tragedy.

The Sins of Peace
Nathaniel Szymkowicz
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781481103534 $13.65 / $2.99 Kindle

First of a prospective trilogy, The Sins of Peace is a novel set amid the aftermath of a galactic war that wreaked holocaust beyond measure. The year is 2585, five years after the war's conclusion, but can the peace hold when it just might be based on a lie? Two soldiers from radically different backgrounds must search for the truth. Can either of them prevent interstellar apocalypse from erupting once more? Far-seeing and thoughtful even as it deals with the darkest of subjects, The Sins of Peace is an independent-minded work of science fiction, highly recommended.

Helen Dumont

Julie's Bookshelf

The Village Sang To The Sea
Bruce McAllister
Aeon Press
9780953478491, $14.95,

Synopsis: During the Cold War a 13-year-old American boy, Brad Lattimer, moves with his family to a fishing village in Northern Italy. It is no ordinary village. But Brad is welcomed like a long-lost cousin. His teacher is a gentle hunchback with a lisp who is more than he seems to be; and there are witches in the olive groves who will poison your cat, but not for the reasons you imagine. In those same groves there is a village so small it shouldn't be a village, its red doorways too short for normal men to pass through easily; and at night, on its narrow cobble street, creatures that should not exist walk while a single baby cries forever. On the sands of the next cove sits a pale girl who somehow knows the poetry of the great Romantic poet Percy Bysshe Shelley and wants you to drown with her, just as Percy drowned near this village over a century ago. This is the village where Brad, too, will start to dream strange dreams and write his first stories; where, he will fall sick because the village's magic has a hold on him: It wants him to become something other than a boy--something that can never leave it--something it can have as its own forever.

Critique: "The Village Sang To The Sea: A Memoir of Magic" is a deftly crafted novel that clearly documents Bruce McAllister as an especially talented and original author. An imaginative storyline populated with memorable characters and featuring an almost lyrical narrative, "The Village Sange To The Sea" is highly entertaining and recommended for both personal and community library collections. It should also be noted that "The Village Sang To The Sea" is also available in a Kindled edition ($8.99).

Storm Flight
Dan Street
Little Devil Books
5139 Maxon Terrace, Sanford, FL 32771
9780985828028, $9.95,

Synopsis: No children allowed out after dark. It's Halloween, and Amy's town is gripped with fear. Two kids are missing and the police have declared a curfew to make sure it doesn't happen again. Meanwhile, Amy's suffering from nightmares. Each evening she's visited by a strange boy in a hooded jacket... He doesn't speak to her. She never sees his face. He seems to want her to follow him... What if there is more to fear on Halloween than ghosts and witches? What if there are real monsters who can steal you away so you're never heard of again? Amy's headstrong friend Hannah thinks she knows the truth about the missing kids. She's certain they've been taken by Wingnut, the strange man who lives by the railway tracks, and she enlists Amy and shy Lucy to help her prove it. But would you sneak out of the house in the dead of night when danger lurks around every corner? Would you creep around Wingnut's crumbling house by the railway tracks? And would you risk life and limb on the moors above the town to uncover the darkest truth of all?

Critique: In "Storm Flight", author Dan Street writes with an especial flair that will especially appeal to young readers ages 10 and older. Deftly crafted characters, a truly suspenseful plot, and a realistic portrayal of a school-age friendship that will easily be identified with by his engaged young readers, make "Storm Flight" truly entertaining and a highly recommended addition to personal, school, and community library collections.

A Diet To Die For
Sarah Steding
Pocket Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 13th fl.
New York, NY 10020
9781451684681, $7.99,

Synopsis: Jen Stevens is a hungry New York City event planner who's 31 years old, 30 pounds overweight, and flirting with disaster when it comes to sticking to her diet. Working for the food-centric Yummy Channel, it's hard to resist temptation. But when there's a crime for Jen to solve, it's easy as pie. . . . Baker extraordinaire Bess Brantwood is one of the Yummy Channel's brightest stars - and biggest divas. Despite the off-camera drama, Jen has to admit that Bess's chocolate buttercream cupcakes drizzled with caramel are simply to die for - and kill for, as it turns out - when Bess's body, like a baked good gone bad, is discovered . . . in a Dumpster. Who iced the cupcake queen? Jen is determined to find out. With the help of her BFFs - fab foodblogger Gabby and lively life coach Elizabeth - she starts sifting for clues. She's got all the ingredients to solve the perfect crime, including one delectable detective, one divalicious diary, and enough industry rivals for a battle of the network stars. But is Jen prepared to risk her life as well as her waistline? No matter how you slice it, revenge is sweet - and loaded with carbs.

Critique: Author Sarah Steding writes with an articulate wit that quickly engages her reader's rapt attention and holds it firmly from first page to last in this original and imaginative mystery. Of special note is the inclusion a few featured recipes at the end of this minor masterpiece of mystery, making "A Diet To Die For" a truly extraordinary, fun and highly recommended read!

Catherine Of Deepdale
Millie Vigor
c/o Ulverscroft Large Print (USA), Inc.
PO Box 1230
West Seneca, NY 14224-1230
9780753191767, $35.50,

Synopsis: When Catherine Jameson leaves Southampton and arrives in Shetland with her husband, Robbie, her dream of an idyllic life on an island is rudely shattered. His home is a croft devoid of any convenience and her mother-in-law does not hide her dislike of her son's English wife. Undaunted, Catherine is determined to adapt to her new life, but when Robbie drowns in a fishing accident, and a short time later she finds she is pregnant, she is devastated. Will she go home to her family? Or will she stay and try to carry out the plans that Robbie had?

Critique: In "Catherine Of Deepdale", author Millie Vigor has superbly crafted a riveting family saga with fully developed characters and an original story line that grasps the readers total attention from beginning to end. This large print ISIS edition is extraordinary and is strongly recommended for community library Large Print Fiction collections and would make an excellent addition to personal recreational reading lists.

Dark Secret Love
Alison Tyler
Cleis Press
2246 Sixth Street
Berkeley, CA 94710-2219
9781573449564, $16.95,

"Dark Secret Love" is 288 page compendium in which author Alison Tyler, "mistress of literary erotica," presents her semi-fictional autobiographical account of truly erotic adventures. Providing candid revelations of her BDSM lifestyle (and based on her personal journal recordings), Alison Tyler draws upon some twenty-five years' experience as a gifted author of erotic literature to create what must be described as a kind of docudrama that commingles personal experiences with a novelist's vivid imagination. The result is a compelling read from first page to last!

K-9 Cop: Case# 1 - The Dreck Report
Erna Mueller
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781480073326, $11.99,

Synopsis: Even after a lifetime of putting dangerous criminals behind bars, heartless cop Spencer needs to redeem himself before he may enter heaven. Only the J.R.P. (Jerk Redemption Program) can help him now. He's sent back to earth in the body of his K-9 partner to help a troubled teenager and his dysfunctional family. Spencer also swallowed an important microchip his killers need to execute their evil plan. Can Spencer maul the shins (and other choice areas) of the criminals and stop them? Can a selfish man find a heart? You bet, he just has to become a dog first.

Critique: Based on this first volume, "K-9 Cop: Case# 1 - The Dreck Report", author Erna Mueller can look forward to an every expanding audience of appreciative readers who will look eagerly toward the next installment of Spencer's adventures as a kind of reincarnated furry cop with four feet, a tail, and a nose to smell out that bad guys. A lively entertainment from first page to last, Erna Mueller's "K-9 Cop: Case# 1 - The Dreck Report" is highly recommended and thoroughly fun reading.

Matched Pearls
Grace Livingston Hill
Barbour Publishing
P.O. Box 719, Uhrichsville, OH 44683
9781620293874, $12.99,

Synopsis: Love endures in a series of Grace Livingston Hill classics. . . A terrible accident brings spoiled beauty Constance Courtland to her knees as she glimpses what truly matters. But can she let go of past prejudices long enough to embrace a new life and love?

Critique: The late Grace Livingston Hill was an influential writer who helped launch the Christian romance fiction genre that has proved to be so enduringly popular as a wholesome literary entertainment. Her grace and skill as an engaging storyteller has seldom been matched and never surpassed. Barbour Publishing has brought back her Christian romance novels and made them available to a whole new generation of appreciative readers. In addition to "Matched Pearls", other very highly recommended Grace Livingston Hill titles for personal reading lists and community library collections include "Amorelle"; "April Gold"; "Job's Niece"; and "Duskin" -- all of which are also available in Kindle editions. Old fans and new enthusiasts of Grace Livingston Hill's Christian romance novels are encouraged to visit the Barbour Publisher web site for a complete listing of all their available Christian romance titles by Grace Livingston Hill and other talented authors in the literary genre which she helped to pioneer.

Sunlight On My Shadow
Judy Liautaud
City Creek Press
PO Box 8415, Minneapolis, MN 55408
9781883841171, $16.95,

Synopsis: "Sunlight on My Shadow" is a candid telling of the damage done by harboring guilt and shame. It is a story of renewal and redemption.

In 1966 when Judy became pregnant at the age of 16, her family kept her plight a secret. She was sent from her all-girls Catholic school to hide in a home for unwed mothers, give birth, and relinquish her baby girl to adoption. The fabricated story of her kidney disease was supposed to undo the impending damage to her reputation. Judy's father instructed her to never look back.

Judy felt the grief and shame as a tangible lump within her body and fought to keep it contained within the shadows of silence. But as an adult, she felt compelled to address the loss by searching for her birth daughter and bringing her story to light. Judy experiences firsthand that: secrets keep your soul hidden in shame and stifle the clarity of your true being.

In the end, Judy sails free from the shadows of silence and experiences a deeper, more compassionate connection with herself and others.

Critique: An engaging, forthright, genuine, and ultimately inspiring personal story, author Judy Liautaud is to be respected for bringing the 'real world' lessons of her life to print in the pages of "Sunlight On My Shadow: Forgiving Myself For Giving My Baby Away In The 60's. Coming to Terms with My Past and Healing From Shame and Secrecy" for the benefit of others who are facing rough patches in the course of their own lives. Of special note is Liautaud's genuine gift for telling her compelling and complex story so well that it keeps the reader's rapt attention from first page to last. "Sunlight On My Shadow" is very highly recommended for both personal reading lists and community library collections.

Julie Summers

Kaveny's Bookshelf

Science Fiction, Imperialism and the Third World: Essays on Postcolonial Literature and Film
Ericka Hoagland and Reema Sarwal, Eds.
Introduction by Andy Sawyer
McFarland Publications
Box 611
Jefferson NC 28640
9780786447893, $35.00

Ericka Hoagland and Reema Sarwal have made have a major and timely contribution to scholarship on the world of the fantastic on a foundational level through the collection which was released in 2010. It is even timelier today. Any of us who follow the current media accounts of political unrest and revolution in former spheres of imperial or colonial influence will find that in 2013 stability is even more an exception rather than the rule than it was three years ago. I would even add that the world is perhaps closer to a technologically enhanced, perhaps even planet killing, catastrophe than it was on the eve of WWI a hundred years ago. Yet it is important to remember that these are essays on science fiction not geopolitics, though the political is inescapable in all these essays as are ethical considerations that intersect with geopolitics. Here, science fiction and science fiction criticism have the moral courage to say not only what is, but what could, might, or should be.

The editors did an outstanding job of putting together this collection of fourteen essays and it should appeal to a broad range of readers all the way from the academic specialist working within the scope of its subject areas to the informed reader who is deeply interested in the expression of really big ideas in a timely and relevant manner. Of course where are there any bigger ideas than in Science Fiction when critically examined? Thus, it I give it my highest recommendation as an essential part of any academic or public library collection.

These essays have functioned for me as an access point to what is broadly characterized as post-colonial science fiction, much of it produced in what the editors reluctantly refer to as third world writers. I was so impressed, then motivated, by Andy Sawyer's references to Caribbean Canadian writers Nalo Hopkinson & Uppinder Mehan's 2004 anthology So Long Been dreaming: Postcolonial Science Fiction and Fantasy in his introduction that I bought the book. I am now reading the kindle edition as I write, and in the process being exposed to some really fascinating writers, who I have sadly neglected. These writers, according to Nalo Hopkinson: "have mastered master's tools to remodel master's house." Having my academic roots in the UW-Madison Vietnam Era protest, I think perhaps we should have pulled down the house.

The four-section format allows their contributors to do analyses, conceptual modeling, and thought experiments while applying various critical methodologies to selected texts, many by third world writers. It also provides cultural space to discuss and reflect on imperialism and post-colonialism not as historical periodization but rather, in the editor's terms, as a broad conceptual lens through which their subjects may be examined. They are examined not only as literary and dramatic representations, but as realities of our lived experience as they affect all aspects of our lives from what we pay at the gas pump to where our loved ones may be forced to fight and die as the American wars in the Middle East move into their third decade, taking on a 'forever war' quality. Yet even that is not the best aspect of the collection. What is best is that it is not about the west the 'royal we,' so to speak, but it is about what the west has constructed or designated as 'other.'

Further contextualizing the essays in a foreword by noted British Science Fiction critic Andy Sawyer, addresses some of the difficulties in using terms as broad as science fiction, imperialism, third world, and postcolonial literature to frame the study. Sawyer, with his usual economy and precision, details the thought behind the title in a way which problematizes, and at the same time operationalizes, the terms as being defined through the process of being used.

It seems to me that critical work of this type has a special relationship to its subject matter. That is because the liminal space between science fiction as a cultural product and science fiction criticism as form of socially necessary labor is like the genre boundary between science fiction and fantasy. That is to say, it is highly permeable barrier. Science fiction criticism at its best is written with literary artistry in spite of the efforts of some in the establishment to make it otherwise. And of course, science fiction is highly politicized in both its hegemonic and counter hegemonic iterations. Fred Pohl has said on a number of occasions science fiction was "the only free press in America in the 1950's." Four times Hugo Award Winner Lois McMaster Bujold told a number of us at an informal dinner that salient attributes of all science fiction is that all works are political. Critic Darko Suvin, who is mentioned and cited several times in this collection is famous for saying "even reading the first sentence of the worst piece of genre trash, is a step towards ending alienation." I was there at University of Wisconsin-Milwaukee in 1977 when he said it in a keynote speech at a Center for 20th Century Studies conference. And of course, many writers like Samuel R. Delany function regularly as both writers and critics.

In the rest of this review I am going to briefly cover the four sections of the collection. Much as I would wish to, I simply do not have the space to address all of the essays so it is best to think of the ones I have chosen as representative of the overall quality of the collection.

In Part One: Reinventing Alternative History, I'd mention "Organization and the Continuum: History in Vandana Singh's 'Delhi'" by Grant Hamilton. This essay was my access point to Vandana Singh's short story "Delhi" and I found Hamilton's understanding of postmodern thought, particularly his application of Foucault, Deleuze, and Said, thought provoking. For example Foucault's challenge of the idea of the historical as record of fact where he argues it is really only the part of the dynamic by which we say what we are not. For example, for most of my life I have identified with an Anglo-American tradition that is not really my past. When my eleven ancestors, all Kavenys, fled from famine Ireland in the winter of black '47 we were not white, we were the population of a colonized country. When my father was born in 1898 we Irish were still not white. Essays on Dune by Gerald Gaylord, Barnes' Lion's Blood and Zulu Heart by Juan F. Elices and The Calcutta Chromosome by Suparno Banerjee are also of great interest.

In the Part Two: Forms of Protest, consider "Body Markets: the Technologies of Global Capitalism and Manjula Padmanabhan's Harvest" by Shital Pravinchandra. This article is one of the jewels in the collection as the author gives just enough of the play, which it is based on dealing with the cultural nuances of the international organ trade, that I almost felt like it was being performed in my head. It provoked me to think how one of the central tenets of early, and now global, capitalism plays out as the worker is only construed to be organic capital and as a component in the productive process, only worth its replacement cost. One can also be enlightened with essays on Pat Murphy's "His Vegetable Wife," by Diana Pharaoh Francis and on apocalypse in speculative fiction by Roslyn Weaver.

In Part Three: Fresh Representations, I was particularly struck by "Critiquing Economic and Environmental Colonization: Globalization and Science Fiction in The Moons of Palmares," by Judith Leggatt. The best thing I want to say about this article is from my perspective as having recently completed some course work Native American studies. I feel that this article would be an excellent starting point in marking a course on representations of Native Americans in science fiction along a historical continuum and as a way of framing the operations of colonial and post-colonial power structures. Other interesting essays included one on SF in Bengal from 1882-1974 by Debjani Sengupta, Robert Heinlein's Moon is a Harsh Mistress by Herbert G. Klein, and Bollywood's Koi by Dominic Alessio and Jessica Langer.

Part Four: Utopia/Dystopia ends with "Octavia Butler's Parable of the Sower: The Third World as Topos for a U.S. Utopia," by Gavin Miller. Highly thought-provoking, even disturbing, it raises issues with the portrayal of the US as a failed state being an opportunity for a kind of inter-galactic evolution and transformation of humankind. Of course, I will have to go back to the text he analyzes for a deeper understanding of the argument. The article evokes, by extension, Canadian cultural critic Naomi Klein's 2007 book The Shock Doctrine: The Rise of Disaster Capitalism so that now Schumpeter's creative destruction ramped up by ideologues like Milton Friedman, raises the ante to planet killing for the sake of a better future. The other two essays, one on a Mexican Cyberpunk novel by Juan Ignacio Munoz Zapata and on shapes of dystopia and the politics of power by Jessica Langer, add both unfamiliar texts and contexts to our knowledge of multilingual speculative fiction.

To conclude, time and space do not allow me to summarize the other ten well written and thought provoking articles by well qualified authors, but only mention them in passing. However, I do want to make one last comment about what philosopher Ludwig Wittgenstein calls the family resemblance between the speculation of science fiction and science and of science fiction and science fiction criticism, and formal speculative philosophy. I feel justified in doing this based on many years of academic stoop labor in the latter field. Both are deeply concerned with really big ideas in all possible worlds. Yet science allows the world of our shared lives to work itself in science fiction. The biggest idea I can think of right now is something P.J. O'Rourke said on in the late 1990s on the Larry King show when asked what he thought Americans in the 21st century would find most unusual. He simply answered that they will find themselves living in a third world country. Cleary, this collection helps American and European, and of course non-Western readers, to envision that world realized. That's what I mean by the socially necessary labor of fiction and criticism.

Animating Space: From Mickey To WALL-E
J.P. Telotte
University of Kentucky Press
663 S Limestone St, Lexington, KY 40508
9780813125862, $40.00

J.P .Telotte is a professor of literature and communication and culture at Georgia Institute of Technology. He has also has a number of major contributions to the subject of the fantastic and science fiction film to his credit. His timely book is both a historical study of animation and a means giving theoretical grounding to it as a product of a cultural industry that has its roots in the late 19th Century and has morphed (as Frederic Jamison might say) its way into the second decade of the 21st.

It is also an excellent and entertaining read, and unlike much criticism I have recently come upon, does not lose its object of study in its attempt at critical tour de-force, thus it is both academic and interesting, something we could use a lot more of. J.P. Telotte starts before the beginning with his chapter "Early Animation of Figures and Spaces" then moves from Winsor "McKay's Warped Spaces" to "Ub Iwerks (Multi) Plane Camera," to "Looking in on Life," and then finally "The Digital Effects of the New Highbred cinema," with a number of fascinating chapters in between.

He covers his subject in a historical and critical manner which reflects his familiarity with the Frankfort school approach to popular media, though he does not limit himself to its structures, or its deprecating approach to the American popular culture. For example, I was delighted to find that the epic Soviet film maker, Sergei Eisenstein took Walt Disney quite seriously. Eisenstein refers to Disney "as an upheaval, a unique protest against the metaphysical immobility of the once- and -forever given" (64). Nor does he ignore the importance of eleven decades of technological advance, now driven, I will note, by the process of accumulated and accelerating computer processing power articulated by "Moore's law," which indicates processing power has doubled at constant cost every eighteen months (since 1966 )with no end in sight. This is something I will be addressing in print more extensively in our essay collection (Picturing Tolkien McFarland June, 2011 Kaveny & Bogstad editors) which became available in late May 2011.

Telotte is made particularly relevant and timely since social media networks like YouTube allow us to engage in a kind of collaborative effort with him and his text. He draws us to his historical, artistic exemplars, and discusses market and technological driven change, and the individuals and artists that were both its product and its agents from the start.

For example the illustration from page fifty with the caption, "A submarine periscope produces a threatening space in Winsor McKay's The Sinking of the Lusitania (1918)" acted as a pointer to take us to the cartoon itself on YouTube which on an essential level still carries the great emotional impact of 1150 lives lost to two torpedo's from German submarine U39 less than a half hour within sight of the coast of Ireland.

Even ninety five years after the event, this first example of a technology enhanced wholesale murder of civilians maintains poignancy in a way that stresses the limits of verbal or typographic expression. Incidentally, within the body of the cartoon itself we are reminded by Winsor McKay that The Sinking of the Lusitania "involved the making and photographing of over twenty five thousand drawings", for its ten minute sequence.

I was captivated by Chapter 7, "What's UP- and Down-Doc, "(note 3 page 161,) in which Telotte shares with us producer Chuck Jones's reaction to his 1957 cartoon What's Opera Doc?, featuring Elmer Fudd as a Wagnerian hero, and Bugs Bunny as his as his betraying temptress. He quotes Jones as saying, "we took the entire Ring of the Niebelungen, which runs I believe sixteen hours ...and condensed it into a six minute picture, a chestnut stew, and (a peasant dish to please aristocrats). Yes as we watch What's Opera Doc on You Tube, we must agree that Chuck Jones made a parody of Wagner- in Wagnerian proportions. As Bugs says, "its opera what did you expect, a happy ending?"

When Who Framed Roger Rabbit swept across the big screen twenty two years ago it made quite a splash because of its Film Noir action played out in the space between the live action movie scene and the world of the animated characters (called toons). Including Roger Rabbit, and his fellow toons, eye pooping and disdainful high heeled, low, cut, amply bosomed, beautifully gowned heart throb, Jessica Rabbit. Yet that world now seems as distant from us as Jessica Rabbit is from Bugs Bunny; if nothing else, because two decades ago there were really only two video outlets- the television and movie screen- and video on demand meant a trip to the video store, but the choices were limited as to what was on the shelf. Now as computer drive memories are measured in terabytes (the word is fifty terabytes) could hold the digitized Library of Congress and video projection on the inside of cyclist's Mirroshades is a fact .The border between the real and the imagined has become as permeable as Berlin Wall in its last weeks before it fell. For those of us who can remember, it feels like we are living inside a Philip K. Dick novel.

The book has something for everyone from the precocious high school student enchanted from his families' last visit to The Magic Kingdom, to a student of the last days of 21st Century neo-liberal global visual rhetoric who wonders how we have come to love the ELECTRIC ECOMAGINATION DANCING ELEPHANT a corporate non-verbal spokes animal who is now dancing across our all screens morphed into an infinite house of mirrors and colonizing what used to be the real.

As I look out my window at here in Eau Claire Wisconsin and marvel at the new fallen snow on the weeping pine boughs as we wait to be to be plowed out, I must comment that the film study was not always so accessible as it is with contemporary social media, and there was a time pre-internet, pre -Blue, Ray, pre VCR when animation was projected by something called projectors onto a medium called a screen (usually a sheet or wall). And one could actually injure oneself moving all that stuff around, as in my case when I stepped of a curb when I was carrying four sixteen millimeter film canisters and two projectors in 1977 the year the first BetaMax VCR came out. I bought one of the first as soon as I got off the crutches.

Phil Kaveny
Senior Reviewer

Klausner's Bookshelf

Erin Healy
Thomas Nelson Publishers
PO Box 141000, Nashville, TN 37214
9781401685522, $15.99,

Architect Vance Nolan designed Eagle's Talon as condos afloat on a peninsula jutting into the Rondeau River. Developer Tony Dean made Nolan's dream reality. Now the construction is almost finished and some of the residences are occupied.

Vance senses something wrong but the usual suspects seem okay until he realizes no longer is there any bird sounds. A sinkhole has begun to form; made worse by horrific storms and subsequently flooding. The survivors huddle in one building arguing over what to do. Nolan says to wait for help to arrive while Dean says leave before it is too late. Single mom Danielle Clement wants to keep her son Simeon safe so insists they remain together.

Afloat is an exciting thriller that grips the audience once the key cast each provides their opening perspective as the trapped people struggle to survive against nature and each other. Although the rotating viewpoint slows down the pace, readers will enjoy Erin Healy's enjoyable disaster tale that would make an engaging Irwin Allen-type movie.

Catch A Falling Star
Beth K Vogt
Howard Books
c/o Simon and Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl.
New York, NY 10020
9781451660272, $14.99,

In Colorado Springs on her thirty-sixth birthday, her mom calls Dr. Kendall Haynes telling her that her younger sister is getting married and the ring bequeathed to her needs to go to her sibling since she has no intended. Upset as she wants a family, Kendall considers Dr. Heath Parker, who just returned from Africa, a perfect match.

Kendall goes to On The Border to celebrate her birthday with friends; only to learn that her buddy Rachel is also engaged. At the restaurant, Kendall notices sixteen year old Ian Walker acting strange. She goes over to his table only to realize Ian suffers from an allergic reaction to avocado. Kendall gives him an EpiPen injection while lecturing his "father" for not knowing his son's allergies. The dad is Ian's older brother Griffin, an air force pilot grounded to desk jockey to raise his sibling ever since their parents died. Suddenly from none, Kendall has two hunks in her life.

This is a refreshing inspirational romance as the triangle is older characters than usual with successful careers. Kendall sets the tone wondering why God's plan seems to leave her single while everyone around her has found their soul mate. Although the storyline follows the path readers expect (even a secondary subplot plot focused on the office assistant does likewise); Catch A Falling Star is an enjoyable Christian contemporary.

A Step of Faith
Richard Paul Evans
Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 14th fl.
New York, NY 10020
9781451628296, $19.99,

Advertising executive Alan Christoffersen left Seattle when his beloved wife died and his partner Kyle Craig destroyed their business leaving the grieving widower with nothing but a need to get as far away as he can from the Pacific Northwest. His goal was to walk to Key West.

Alan awakens in a St, Louis hospital after falling unconscious on a roadside. He finds out that he has been diagnosed with a brain tumor; so heads to Los Angeles for treatment. There his father, his loyal former employee Falene, and Nicole who nursed him after a mugging in Spokane are there for him, but he drives them away as Alan reflects on his life while pondering whether he should give up as he feels like a failed Job or continue his trek until he realizes what he lost.

The fourth Walk saga (see The Walk, Miles to Go and The Road to Grace) is an entertaining entry as Alan realizes what he wrought with his caustic behavior towards those who love him. Except for a visit to a cult that slows down the pacing, for the most part this is a strong character driven tale; as each step on the journey requires faith if the protagonist is to refill his spiritual void.

Sweet Dreams
Carla Stewart
Faith Words
c/o Hachette Publishing Group
237 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10017-0010
9781455504275, $14.99,

In 1962, cousins Dusty and Paisley are best friends though they live different lifestyles. Dusty is the daughter of a Texas oil millionaire who has given her roots and all the material things she desires, but she envies her BFF's freedom as she wants to make meaningful choices. Paisley has the freedom of the road having spent her years traveling with her roaming mom; but envies her cousin-friend's permanent home as she wants real roots.

Dusty wants to go to college, but her dad insists she go to Miss Fontaine's Finishing School. To appease his daughter, he sends Paisley to attend too. As the buddies adapt to the school, they have each other until Jack enters their lives followed by a trauma that shakes the cousins.

Sweet Dreams is an enjoyable historical drama that brings to life Texas in the early 1960s through a diverse but solid cast. With its "grass is always greener on the other side" premise, readers will enjoy this leisurely-paced tale.

Richard Freis
Sartoris Literary Group
9780988947412, $19.95,

As successful attorney George Burden reaches his double-5 birthday, he seems to have the perfect life with a wonderful caring family especially his adoring wife Julia and is a highly regarded member of upper class society in Jackson, Mississippi. However, George feels differently as he knows everything came too easily.

George does the unthinkable by leaving his safe zone to begin an affair with Becca Talbot, divorced mother of a five year old son who is also younger than his youngest child. When George falls in love with his paramour, he decides to obtain a divorce to marry his beloved. He is stunned when Becca refuses his proposal. Raging George goes berserk when he sees his Becca with a man her age and will do anything to make her his wife.

Taking place in under 100 hours, Confession is a taut psychological suspense starring a fascinating violent protagonist who tells his Confession by letter to a priest. Ironically as he confesses his sins (and readers learn his history from his perspective) George has everything except spiritual connections. Richard Freis provides a strong character-driven thriller; as George has achieved the four lower steps of Maslow's Hierarchy, but fails at Self-Actualization and Self-Transcendence leading to his placing his (and his family) Physiological, Safety, Belongingness and Love, and Esteem at risk.

M.J. Rose
Atria Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
9781451621501, $24.00,

Emotional fragile, mythologist Jac L'Etoile was fourteen when she met fellow teen patient Theo Gaspard at the Blixter Rath Clinic and though neither knew the other's surname they were attracted to one another. Now a grieving widower, he explains he read her book and found an intriguing 1855 letter that discusses Druid activity. Theo invites her to join him on Isle of Jersey to find a Hugo missing journal describing his contacts with the Shadow of the Sepulcher; his conversations with Jesus and other notables having been published.

Fascinated by Hugo's efforts to contact his deceased teenage daughter and seeing Theo for the first time in years at his home front, Jac decides to go over the warnings of her therapist. On Jersey, the intrepid but troubled pair begins to unravel the mystery of Victor Hugo and the Shadow of the Sepulcher, but will either mentally survive solving this paranormal case.

The second Jac L'Etoile mythological thriller (see The Book of Lost Fragrances) is an exhilarating tale that rotates between the mid-nineteenth century and the present. Fast-paced in both eras, danger mounts then and now as evil stalks the past and the contemporary human seekers.

Indivisible? The Story of the Second American Civil War
Paul Martin Midden
Wittmann Blair Publishing
9780985922320, $18.99,

In 1861 Abraham Bellamy dedicated his life to the Confederate cause. In 1865 after his side lost, a despondent Abraham proved his dedication by suicide.

In the present, Abraham's descendent Abner Bellamy believes the federal government is a sham tramping on the rights of the states. His mission is to resurrect his ancestor's dream of for the people being not one size fits all but 50 diverse ways and has begun to find powerful supporters who agree with his assertion the government is too powerful. Though their motives differ from Abner as avarice is their driver, wealthy George and David Blinder join the cause. Fundamentalist Daniel Keenan also enlists as he knows the atheist DC government has destroyed religious and family values. Other also throw their lot in with the Sovereign Citizens group whose mission is de-evolution or if need be revolution.

CIA agent Max Grabel and contract workers (and lovers) Marie LeBrun and Samantha Stranger uncover a viable conspiracy to overthrow the United States government and return it to pre-Civil War states domination. Evidence implies this threat unlike previous ones has money, arms, and a wide range of influence. They must identify the diverse cabal of enemies of the USA before it is too late for the Union.

This is an exciting thriller that extrapolates the rage many have against the federal government turning into action to tear down DC. Although a sequel is set up that will disappoint fans wanting a final confrontation, readers will enjoy this fast-paced tale while trying to identify who's who.

Once Upon A Prince
Rachel Hauck
Zondervan Publishing House
5300 Patterson Avenue, S.E.
Grand Rapids, MI 49530
9780310315476, $14.99,

After being together for over a decade dating back to college, Adam ends his relationship with Susanna saying he fell in love with someone else while on his latest Afghan tour. Stunned more than heartbroken, Susanna drives away onto St. Simon's Island wondering about her future when she has to deal with her present, a flat tire near the legendary Lover's Oak

Nate stops his vehicle to gallantly change the damsel in distress' tire. Feeling fickle having her engagement just ended, Susanna is attracted to her chivalrous knight and him to his lady. As they fall in love, he fails to tell Susanna that he is Prince Nathaniel of Brighton; and that as the heir to the throne he must only marry someone from his kingdom.

The first Royal Wedding romance is an engaging tale that begins like a Christian Roman (albeit Georgian) Holiday, but spins into a Christian Princess Diaries. The storyline focuses on whether the lead couple can accept self-sacrifice in order to adhere to God's plan(s) for them. Although the plot follows the anticipated path to include a royal villainess, fans will accept an invitation to the coronation of Nate.

The Crickhowell School For The Muses
Rachel Waxman
Fithian Press
c/o Daniel & Daniel Publishers
PO Box 2790, McKinleyville, CA 95519
9781564745415, $14.95,

The men with wagons arrive at the small village, but are disappointed by the lack of talent until they hear singing. They abduct the source fourteen year old Awen and take her to Miss Nina who, in spite of too many singers, likes the teen's voice. She accepts the frightened child as a student at her Crickhowell School For The Muses; training her under the patronage of Sir Robert Thomas.

Awen is mute as she is escorted around the school. Encouraged by her music teacher Mr. Whitewood, she sings leaving him elated with her golden range. However, she returns to her silent state after leaving the music room. When Awen learns the true nature of the Crickhowell School For The Muses, she knows she must escape before she loses her most beloved possession. Francis the Horseman plans to help her get away.

The Crickhowell School For The Muses is a wonderful fable starring a delightful frightened yet brave female who refuses to be someone's muse instead of being herself. Character driven by the heroine, Rachel Waxman encourages young readers to take smart chances on life in order to soar; as one may fail but cannot make magical music if you don't sing the song.

Cowboy Fever Series
Karen Wiesner
Whiskey Creek Press
PO Box 51052, Casper, WY 82605-1052
9781105199165, $17.99,

"Wings of Love." In Fever, Texas Mac falls in love with interior designer Amanda and asks her to join him on his ranch. However, he finds himself frequently working away from home until an injury forces him back on the ranch only Amanda gave up on him.

"Losses and Gains." Four years ago, rancher Lance lost his wife Colleen and infant in a fire. Like his sister-in-law Janaya, he grieves his loss until each finds comfort (and guilt) with one another.

"For Always." Ranch foreman Jared and Alana loved one another but she married Holt. However, when she needs help from her abusive husband, Jared wants to be there for her.

"Taming April." Rancher Shawn is a ladies' man until his former classmate April comes home for her dad's funeral and asks him to train her father's only possession a horse.

"The Only One." Five years ago, ranch owner Ken and his wife Karla lost their unborn child and their relationship when he acted silently aloof while she anguished. Now Karla comes home seeking either a divorce or his opening up he feelings.

These five fabulous Triple Acres Ranch romances contain strong protagonists struggling with issues while falling in love. Karen "the wonderful writing wizard" Wiesner provides her fans with a terrific Texas anthology.

Rocket Man
William Hazelgrove
Koehler Books
210 60th Street, Virginia Beach, VA 23451
9781938467585, $16.95,

A decade ago, Dale Hammer, Jr. was a successful author. That was ten unproductive years ago as he has lost his place as a writer though he unsuccessfully tries. He, his wife the breadwinning lawyer (except for an apartment building rental with pain in the butt renters) and children move to the burbs where he is the househusband.

Dale's welcome to the expensive financial trap called a subdivision is his angry neighbors accusing him of tearing down the distasteful sign that identified the boundary. Adding to his depression besides his wife hammering him for his inadequacies as a househusband is Dale, Sr. moves into the house while waiting to find his quadrillionth bride. However, the most egregious affront is when the neighborhood assigns Dale the unpopular ignoramus job of Rocket Man organizing the scout troop annual show.

Rocket Man is an intriguing look at when the American dream turns into a nightmare. Filled with a De Mille size cast, but focused on Dale and his interactions with them, readers will enjoy this satire; as bitter Dale learns the hard way what Ferris Bueller tried to show Cameron: "Life moves pretty fast. You don't stop and look around once in a while, you could miss it".

Shadow's Soul
Jami Gray
Black Opal Books
9781937329495, $11.99,

Portland-based Taliesin Security Wraith, Kyn-human hybrid Raine McCord knows she will successfully complete her latest assignment, protecting Northwest Magi leader Cheveyo while he meets with his Southwest counterpart; as the bodyguard assignment is easy compared to the evil she defeated (see Shadow's Edge). Instead, the task turns ugly when a Soul Stealer abducts Cheveyo and almost kills Raine.

Severely injured with her magic damaged, Raine's confidence was destroyed when she failed to prevent the kidnapping. Her Taliesin Security Wraith co-worker Gavin Durand tries to help her recover by refusing to allow her to run from her internal fears to including their feelings for each other though she feels guilty for what happened to him at the hands of the mad scientist (see Shadow's Edge). He insists they investigate the kidnapping in order to rescue the regional chief as someone inside with power abetted the Soul Stealer.

The second Kyn Kronicles urban fantasy is an exciting tale with the relationship between the protagonists heating up during their quest. The entertaining storyline is filled with angst, romance and action within vivid Northwest scenery as various paranormal species come across as real. Readers will enjoy this entry in which the Soul Stealer stole the heroine's confidence while her peer tries to help her bring it back; though one must wonder whether she proves W. C. Fields is right: "If at first you don't succeed, try, try again. Then quit. There's no point in being a damn fool about it."

Jeff Carlson
c/o Amazon Digital Publishing
9781612183640, $14.99,

In 27,000 BC in what is now France, Nim leads his Neanderthal tribe as they tracked reindeer. However, he soon finds the Dead Man Cro-Magnon also hunting the reindeer. Nim knows the enemy has reach and size but his people have stamina. However, the magic of what happens in the sky tips the war towards the Dead Man.

In present day Los Angeles, biologist Emily Flint struggles with an auto accident, her upcoming wedding and an argument over the use of prenatal vaccine and existing conditions. However, also in California, Emily's woes seem irrelevant when Marcus Wolsinger discovers an increasing level of solar flare activity not seen in several millenniums assaulting the earth. At the same time in the South China Sea, Naval Lieutenant Commander Drew Haldane flies his fighter jet to investigate a Chinese electromagnetic pulse weapon. As the world stands on the brink of total collapse into a new Ice Age, Marcus begins to lose control between being a modern man and a Neanderthal throw-back; while Emily's eight year old autistic nephew P.J. suddenly becomes the Southern California Neanderthal leader.

Interrupt is an exhilarating end of the world thriller that takes a whack at science drawing absolute conclusions by filling Grand Canyon size theoretical gaps with speculation. The storyline is fast-paced though the transitions are not smooth. Still readers will enjoy the dawning of a (not so) new dominant species as survival of the fittest takes a strange twist in Jeff Carlson's exciting Ice Age thriller.

Dead Wrong
Allen Wyler
Astor + Blue Editions
419 Lafayette Street, 2nd Floor
New York, NY 10003
9781938231179, $12.99,

As an antiterrorism tool, neurosurgeon Dr. Wyse experiments with transplanting brain tissue from one person to another so that information can be transferred. Confused Seattle resident Bobbie Baker learns the hard way when she panics over her missing baby while her husband Trent says they have no children. At Doctors Hospital also in Seattle, two OSD agents confront neurosurgeon Dr. Tom McCarthy over stealing top secret DARPA experimentation documents. Totally confused by the accusation, he escapes from the Feds.

The CIA want Tom captured or dead while SPD seeks him over the death of a male found in his office. Tom inadvertently drags Dr. Sarah Hamilton, who is treating Bobbie with the wrong medicine, into his mess as the pair eludes law enforcement while wondering why the deadly pursuit.

Dead Wrong is an adrenaline pumping medical thriller that hooks the reader with Bobbie's belief she has a son that her spouse denies they have. Fast-paced, the gripping storyline focuses more on a cat and mouse chase rather than delving deep into the fascinating concept of brain matter and accompanying stored data transference. Still readers will relish Allen Wyler's taut tale.

Yesterday's Echo
Matt Coyle
Oceanview Publishing
595 Bay Isles Road, 120-G
Longboat Key, FL 34228
9781608090761, $26.95,

Eight years ago in Santa Barbara someone murdered Colleen Cahill. The media and the police suspected her husband Rick, a cop. Though never convicted of any crime, feeling guilty Rick was forced to leave the police as pariahs like him never receive back-up.

In the present, his wife's homicide has become a cold case while Rick co-owns with Turk Muldoon's Steak House in La Jolla. When Rick meets TV reporter Melody Malana, he believes he has a second chance until she is arrested for murder. Melody pleads with Rick to help her, but he knows he must say no. Instead, he tries to help her only to become once again the prime suspect in a murder with cops and others hunting him like a rabid dog.

Yesterday's Echo is a terrific thriller starring a protagonist who understands first hand deja vu. Rick's options are surrender, die or find the killer as his ex-peers salivate with a second chance to destroy him; the woman he loves he distrusts; and clues lead him to people who wants secrets kept buried along with him. Readers will enjoy Rick's investigation that also takes him back eight years.

Reign: The Chronicles of Queen Jezebel
Ginger Garrett
David C. Cook
c/o Cook Communications
4050 Lee Vance View
Colorado Springs, CO 80918
9781434765963, $14.99,

Phoenician King Eth-Baal arranges a marriage between his daughter Jezebel and Samarian King Ahab. Jezebel worshiped a pantheon of gods that ordered followers to sacrifice infants. Ahab worships the one God who always lives with us.

The prophet Elijah warns the royal couple, but Queen Jezebel is a non-believer and King Ahab lives to please his beautiful wife. Ahab's top advisor Obadiah begs his king to care for his people's needs and heed the words of the great prophet, but initially fails to move him as his wicked wife has him captured with desire. When Ahab begins to realize how cruel his spouse is; his love turns to loathing especially when she dares to challenge the God of the Jews who she assumes will bend to her will. Elijah accepts her challenge.

The latest Lost Loves of the Bible (see Desired: The Untold Story of Samson and Delilah) is a super rendition of the Old Testament story of Jezebel in which Ginger Garrett fills in the blanks with a reasonable explanation as to how she became the biblical queen of mean. Reign: The Chronicles of Queen Jezebel is a winner.

Not By Sight
Kathy Herman
David C. Cook
c/o Cook Communications
4050 Lee Vance View
Colorado Springs, CO 80918
9780781408042, $14.99,

In Arkansas, Jimmy Dale Oldham goes out hunting as a sign of passage though he loathes killing anything. However, a bearded older man tells the lad he shot and killed a person. The man tells Jimmy Dale to go home while he cleans up the mess.

Five years have passed without a word since the Cummings patriarch Micah and their youngest daughter Riley Jo vanished; leaving behind his wife Kate and three other children. Kate runs the Flutter's Cafe though she has given up hope of her spouse and child coming home and like her kids suffers from a lack of closure. Her oldest child sixteen year old Abby sees a girl who looks like Riley Jo. She takes a picture of the girl just before a bearded man hustles her away. Abby tries to convince her mom with the cellphone picture, but Kate rejects the premise that Riley Jo lives nearby. With her BFF Jay, Abby makes inquiries but soon someone threatens the pair to back off or else.

The first powerful Ozark Mountain inspirational tale is a terrific tense thriller that readers will relish as the incomparable Kathy Herman combines a family tragedy with survivors who gave up on their "unkind God" for abandoning them. Action-packed with a fabulous twist, fans will enjoy Not by Sight as the Cummings brood lost their faith, but Abby, with a foxhole mentality of praying for divine help, refuses to give up on finding her sister and her Daddy.

Pastors' Wives
Lisa Takeuchi Cullen
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780452298828, $16.00,

Protestant Jerry and Catholic Ruthie met at NYU. He became a successful Wall St. executive and thus they led an upper class Manhattan lifestyle until Jerry read the ad for an Associate Pastor at the Greenleaf Evangelical Megachurch in Atlanta and decided he found his calling. Though Ruthie has doubts greater than that reported about Thomas in the bible she honors her husband by going with him.

The Greenleaf Pastor Aaron and his wife Candace lead a major flock. Candace is ferocious when it comes to her family and her church; but also expects total loyalty, obedience and Godly perfection from those she protects. She sets up an Interfaith Council consisting of her husband, an Inman and a Rabbi.

Ginger dreams of being a widow raising her children though she insists she does not want her beloved husband Timothy. She struggles with being his pastor's wife as Timothy who runs Newleaf sees his mother as the ideal and no one can come close to Candace's paragon level; especially someone with Ginger's sordid past.

Pastors' Wives is a deep look at living inside a religious fishbowl in which everyone diligently watches your every move though motives vary from emulation to envy to gotya. Though the males are not as developed as their spouses, fans will enjoy this leisurely paced storyline that rotates the lead as wifely secrets lead to conflict and doubts of faith.

If The Shoe Fits: A Contemporary Fairy Tale
Sandra D. Bricker
River North
9780802406286, $14.99,

In the enchanted village of Cincinnati, BFFs since childhood Julianne and Will are legal partners. Whereas she is pleased with their personal buddies' relationship, he has loved her seemingly forever. With every man she dates, his heart breaks but he remains silent about how he feels.

At a near multiple car crash where she almost played caboose, Jules notices a hunk who she believes is her Prince Charming. He leaves before she can exchange contact information, but she picks up his toolbox and a boot that fell off his vehicle. Jules begins her quest for her charming "Prince" Paul while her desperate partner decides that "where there's a will there's a way to his beloved's heart at the Bar Association gala.

This is an engaging contemporary version of Cinderella with the twist that sometimes you look so hard for the image you fail to see the gallant knight riding a ten speed bike. Although Jules comes across as too pathetic, readers will enjoy this modern day fractured fairy tale romance that pays homage with chivalrous puns to Jay Ward.

Widow of Gettysburg
Jocelyn Green
River North
9780802405777, $14.99,

Two years ago Levi Holloway died at Bull Run. He left behind his grieving wife Liberty and their farm in Adams County, Pennsylvania.

In June of 1863 Liberty lives alone on the farm having learned as a child from the aunt who raised her that she was worthless as even her mom abandoned her. Her only friend is her employee freed slave Bella Jamison as they just have opened up Liberty Inn. With the nearby Black Horse Tavern and Inn filled, a Traveler arrives with no money begging for bread. He conceals from her that he is Silas Ford who was her childhood friend in spite of her odious aunt disallowing her any companions. A student dropout at Gettysburg's Lutheran Seminary, he encourages her to put away the mourning widow weeds she has worn since learning of Levi's death. After Silas leaves, Libbie heeds his advice. On the first of July, the battle at Gettysburg begins. Soon afterward Liberty Inn becomes a hospital for wounded and dying Confederates as Libbie has a chance to help if she listens to God.

The second Heroines Behind the Lines Civil War drama (see Wedded to War) is a powerful look into after the battle impact that should be required reading for those who believe war is the only answer while ignoring the human carnage and true costs to include the aftermath. The storyline is character driven by those who lost loved ones at Gettysburg and other Civil war battles as real people provided first hand statements that add a sense of being there for the horrific aftermath that followed the deadly battle.

The Kill Room
Jeffery Deaver
Grand Central Publishing
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue, 16th Floor
New York, NY 10017
9781455517060, $28.00,

In the Bahamas, a sniper kills American citizen Roberto Moreno who has been a major critic of the States in what appears is a sanctioned government assassination by the National Intelligence and Operations Service (NIOS) director Shreve Metzger issuing a Special Task Order. An investigative panel looks into the implications of the murder of this anti-government American on foreign soil. The team includes wheelchair bound forensics expert Lincoln Rhyme and his partner Amelia Sachs.

Rhyme goes to the murder scene seeking the sniper and to look over firsthand the evidence; while Sachs remains in Manhattan to look at what the victim did while in New York and the use of STOs by the NIOS (and other agencies that raise moral questions about the killing of an American by the government. Several other people work the case from the methodical erasing of all related evidence; with one person going the extra kilometer by eradicating witnesses and moving Rhyme and Sachs to the top of his elimination to do list.

The latest Rhyme-Sachs investigative thriller (see The Burning Wire and The Broken Window) is a great relevant entry with debates in DC over whether killing a U.S. citizen on foreign soil is acceptable as part of the war against terrorists. The gripping storyline is filled with action leading to readers anticipating the final confrontation between an amoral killing patriot and the forensic duet after the trio competed in a lethal intelligent contest throughout the super plot.

Red Moon
Benjamin Percy
Grand Central
9781455501663, $25.99

As his National Guard father deploys on a military peacekeeping mission operation inside the Lupine Republic, which is rich with uranium, teenager Patrick Gamble flies home to be with his mother. While in the air, a lycan goes berserk; killing everyone in the in the seating area except Patrick. He survives the bloody assault by hiding underneath a pile of corpses. The media calls him the "Miracle Boy" while a militant Lycan liberation army claims the attack that shocks the nation.

Soon afterward, Lycan Claire Forrester watches in horror as government agents raid her family home killing her parents and forcing her to flee from her suburban lifestyle as her uncle's militant group claims credit for the air assaults. At the same Oregon Governor Chase Williams takes advantage of Lycan fears to make a run for the White House based on his strong take the fight to the enemy position; though he conceals a secret that would derail his presidential ambitions. As discriminatory laws to control Lycan become increasingly the norm and the voices of rage drown out reason, society proves that "violence is as American as cherry pie" (H. Rap Brown).

The keys to this strong urban fantasy is that the biology and medical causes of the lycan prion seem genuine and the plot's reflections of real American movements from the civil rights to the GWOT, etc. The expected romance between Claire and Patrick adds depth to the de facto racism each has seen as their respective species violently prevent inter-relationships. Filled with gory action, yet loaded with a strong social-political message on basic human rights, Red Moon is a terrific thriller.

The World of the End
Ofir Touche Gafla
c/o Tor/Forge Books
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780765333568, $24.99,

As an expert epilogist, Ben Mendelssohn understands the importance of the right ending to a book or movie. Considered a brilliant "righter" he is in demand to write the climax to fiction.

When his beloved wife Marian dies unexpectedly during odd circumstances, Ben cannot accept that finish to their relationship. Unable to cope with her death, he creates the perfect ending to their romance when he commits suicide to be with her in the afterlife. The bullet in his head leaves him in The Other World; a place with cities filled with the deceased living a second existence expertly managed by the "aliases." Ben finds the Mendelssohn clan all over the place and rejects Marilyn Monroe, but no Marian anywhere. Understanding the need for an expert, a desperate Ben employs the Mad Hop known for finding missing people; unprepared for what he finds out.

The World of the End is a profound twisting parable that looks deep into a person's soul. Readers will relish Ben's trek through the afterlife as he wonders whether the love of his first life is meant to be with him in his second. Filled with humorous encounters, this entertaining metaphysical thriller leaves fans wondering about relationships accepted during life, ended with death and questioned in eternal life when one party wants renewal and the other hesitates.

Cold Killing
Luke Delaney
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street
New York, NY 10022-5299
9780062219466, $14.99,

Sean Corrigan believes the best cop training he had was being a sexual abuse victim as a child. Now the lead Detective Inspector of one of the South London Murder Investigation Teams, Sean personally understands violence, which enables him to "see" much more than his peers or subordinates.

Detective Sergeant Dave Donnelly wakes him at three in the morning telling Sean that a young man Daniel Graydon was viciously beaten and stabbed to death in his flat. Initial reaction is a domestic dispute occurred between a gay couple; but murder scene anomalies including a lack of forensic evidence and Sean's gut say otherwise. Soon Sean looks deeply at financier James Hellier as the suspect while more homicides occur with diverse M.O.s; as the case increasingly disturbs the DI who believes the serial killer keeps him going the wrong way.

The first Corrigan British police procedural is a taut whodunit that grips the reader from the opening murder. Corrigan is a refreshing protagonist as he uses his traumatic childhood to solve cases but also fears his demons will lead him to abuse his children. Although the climax is weak especially after the super strong investigation leading fans there; readers will relish getting inside the head of the troubled DI as he looks into a Cold Killing.

The Body in the Piazza
Katherine Hall Page
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street
New York, NY 10022-5299
9780062065506, $24.99,

Aleford, Massachusetts caterer Faith Fairchild and her husband Reverend Thomas Fairchild head to Tuscany to celebrate their wedding anniversary with her friend Francesca Rossi at her Cucina Della Rossi cooking school. Faith's former assistant in New York Francesca met Thomas and saw her mentor when the couple honeymooned in Italy.

In Rome, British travel writer Freddy Ives charms the Fairchild's. Intoxicated by the city, Faith and Tom stroll hand in hand the streets when in horror they observe a man stab to death Freddy. The vesting American couple wants to solve the homicide, but instead go on to Tuscany as Francesca awaits their arrival. Several people they saw in Rome appear in Tuscany while someone sabotages Francesca's new dining endeavors. Faith plans to resolve all mysteries including learning the secret recipe for Nona Rossi's incredible sauce.

The latest Faith Fairchild amateur sleuth (see The Body in the Boudoir) is a fabulous entry as Tuscany and Rome provide fresh locations while also giving long-time fans a glimpse into the heroine's salad days. Filled with action and mouthwatering delights (cover should include a dieter's warning label), readers will enjoy this strong culinary investigation.

Miss Chartley's Guided Tour
Carla Kelly
Camel Press
c/o Coffeetown Press
PO Box 70515, Seattle, WA 98127
9781603819138, $13.95,

After being jilted at the altar by her fiance Lord Matthew Bering eight years ago, then lady but now Miss Omega Chartley went into self-exile becoming a schoolmistress to sea captains' daughters in Plymouth. She left her town only once to attend her sibling Alpha's wedding. Now she is moving to a new teaching position in Durham teaching the daughters of the mill owners.

However, Omega intervenes when Bow Street runner Timothy Platter chases after runaway orphan Jamie Clevenden as the lad flees an abusive uncle for another uncle. War veteran Hugh Owen and his adopted daughter Angela abet the escape as Omega tours the countryside with the lad dodging the angry runner until they reach the home of his other uncle, Viscount Matthew Bering.

Readers will enjoy the reprint of a fun second chance at love Regency romance due to the misadventures of by the itinerary Miss Chartley. Although the mystery of why Matthew failed to show up at his wedding (nor helped his financially strapped beloved) is over the top, fans will enjoy Miss Chartley's (not so) Guided Tour.

The Fallen Angels Book Club
R. Franklin James
Camel Press
c/o Coffeetown Press
PO Box 70515, Seattle, WA 98127
9781603819176, $14.95,

In the San Francisco Bay area, the Fallen Angels Book Club meets at the San Lucian Library. To become a member, a person must be a "book lover" and a "white-collar ex-felon". Hollis Morgan hosts this month's event on World at Midnight. She meets the requirement as she served half of her three years sentence in prison for insurance fraud; a crime her ex-husband Bill committed but he cut a deal with the DA that sent his ex-wife behind bars.

Hollis' lawyer Clay Boone arranges a meeting for her with the court to pardon her so she can return to law school. Instead, San Lucien police detectives Faber and Lincoln question her about the murder of club member Rory Norris following a book club meeting with the M.O. right out of the World at Midnight (the killer in the novel being a cop). Other killings follow that emulate books. Because of coffee after meetings and no more with the first victim, the cops look at Hollis as the suspect. This time Hollis refuses to sit idly by while the cops (or the DA) use her as the fall gal to close the homicide. Instead she investigates the murder.

The first Fallen Angels Book Club amateur sleuth is an engaging whodunit due to a refreshing protagonist who refuses to be a victim though she knows she could be next on the killer's list. Fast-paced, readers will enjoy Hollis' investigation as she has two advantages over the cops: she read the books and she knows she is innocent; though she also knows the latter does not matter to the justice system that is measured by convictions.

Deep Space
Ian Douglas
Harper Voyager
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street
New York, NY 10022-5299
9780062183804, $7.99,

Two decades have passed since the truce agreement with the Sh'daar ended hostilities and led to a cold war rivalry. The earth hero of that war (see Singularity), then Admiral Alexander Koenig is now president; so remains diligently alert for further combat especially in disputed areas as the enemy is known for its bellicose attitude towards other races.

Lately Sh'daar attacks on the Earth Confederation outposts and vessels have begun. Neither President Koenig or other leaders know why the hostilities have started again though most expected it to occur at some time; nor who the alien ally of their feral foe is as the Sh'daar, who trusts no other species, has deployed advanced weaponry they did not previously possess. Trevor Grey commands the Koenig's old ship the CVS America as he heads into what appears to be the second war zone with neither side cognizant of the Black Rosette.

The fourth exciting Star Carrier science fiction saga (see Center Of Gravity) is an engaging Deep Space thriller as 2424 comes alive in Ian Douglas' entertaining series of two species at each other's throat. The storyline focuses on outer space race relationships and what has happened to key participants in the last war. Although there is too much repetitiveness of events especially slowing down the early storyline, fans will enjoy the heating up of the cold war conflict.

Deadly Harvest
Michael Stanley
Bourbon Street
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street
New York, NY 10022-5299
9780062221520, $14.99,

Botswana Criminal Investigation Department assigns Police Detective Samantha Khama to work a four-month old cold case; the disappearance of ten year old orphan Lesego Betse. The first CID female detective Samantha concludes a witch doctor killed the female to harvest her human remains as key ingredients in Muti medicine.

When another young girl vanishes, CID Assistant Superintendent David "Kubu" Bengu joins Samantha on her investigation as the cold case has become hot. As two cops investigate serial killings tied to Muti, an irate father of one of the victims plans a vengeance murder of a politician who may be using a witch doctor's Muti.

The fourth Detective Kubu police procedural (see Death of the Mantis) is a great gritty investigative thriller that contrasts modern Botswana with its long standing heritage of witch doctors. Adding depth to the storyline is introducing the first female detective who expects to face sexism in spite of her deft handling of the case. Readers will relish this tense suspense as team Michael Stanley provides a super Botswana investigation.

If You Were Here
Alafair Burke
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street
New York, NY 10022-5299
9780062208354, $25.99,

High school star baseball player Nicky Cervantes supplements his mom's income by stealing cell phones. When he takes an iPhone from a woman, she kicks off her shoes and pursues him. Instead of out running her, the female gains ground on Nicky until she catches him. He stumbles onto the tracks with a train coming. The woman grabs him and tosses him back on the platform; picks up her phone and runs away. Another rider catches the whole incident on a cellphone. The media goes crazy trying to identify Superwoman, but though the video is grainy, NYC Magazine writer McKenna Jordan believes she is her friend West Point alumni Susan Hauptmann; who died a decade ago.

As the reporter searches for the woman she thinks is Susan; she also recalls the other terrible incident just prior to Hauptmann vanishing. When McKenna was a Manhattan ADA probing a cop shooting of a teenager, she concluded the victim was unarmed. Her accusation led to her career dying. When her copy of the Superwoman video is stolen from her computer, McKenna expands her search for Hauptmann to also relook at the case that exiled her from the legal system as this reminds her of what happened back then as once gain she risks her career and this time her marriage.

If You Were here is an exciting investigative thriller that grips readers from the onset. Fast-paced, the key to the entertaining storyline is Hauptmann and Jordan come across as real though some of the protagonist's decisions seem plausible but dangerously foolish. Readers will enjoy this super thriller wondering what happened to cause Hauptmann to disappear and whether Jordan reaches too far in seeking the truth.

The Barbed Crown
William Dietrich
9780062194077, $26.99

Crossing to France on the Phantom, American adventurer Ethan Gage feels he owes his one-time employer Napoleon for nearly killing his wife Astiza and kidnapping their young son Harry (see The Emperor Storm). He plans to destroy Napoleon while his spouse schemes to prevent the little dictator from becoming crowned Emperor by using the Crucifixion Crown of Thorns.

When their effort fails to prevent the coronation, the married couple returns to England. Gage stops in Walmer Castle where he joins Sidney Smith, inventors Robert Fulton and William Congreve, and smuggler Tom Johnstone to keep Napoleon from invading England. This escapade soon leads Gage to the Battle of Trafalgar.

The latest Ethan Gage Napoleonic Era thriller (see The Barbary Pirates) is an exciting over the top of the Admiral Nelson Statue and column in Trafalgar Square (built decades after the famous battle). The storyline is fast-paced though the hero's swashbuckling role seems diminished as he is less actively involved than usual with him on the sidelines for the most part during the coronation. Still fans will enjoy this engaging mix of history and action as The Barbed Crown is an enjoyable early nineteenth century tale.

Magician's End
Raymond E. Feist
Harper Voyager
9780061468438, $29.99

With the death of King Gregory, the Congress of Lords meets to select the new ruler of the Kingdom of the Isles. However, there are no blood ties so an obvious frontrunner does not exist. The Congress remains divided as to who should be anointed. While they dither, civil war seems imminent as the royal place in Rillanon is threatened. Hal the Duke of Crydee, his brothers Martin and Brendan, and Jim Dasher Jamison and his grandfather Lord James struggle to prevent the war.

Meanwhile Pug the Master Sorcerer, his son Magnus, Nakor, and Miranda struggle to escape the devious trap sprung by the Adversary. This foe has sent his only viable opponent to a different plane of existence with no chance of ever coming back to periled Midkemia. Inside the impenetrable Grey Tower Mountains, a deadly assault on the Star Elves has begun as the Adversary continues his plan to achieve his only goal: oblivion.

The supposedly final fantasy in the three decade long Riftwars is a fabulous fitting Feisty finish to an overall exciting saga of thirty books. The enjoyable storyline is for the most part fast-paced even with reflective asides and ephemeral encounters with characters not seen in a while. Although the fifth of the Riftwars series targets fans only as Magician's End is no place to start nor is the Chaoswar Saga (see A Kingdom Besieged and A Crown Imperiled), Raymond E. Feist ends with a bang not a whimper.

Creator II: Human Behavior Explored
Allen Pollens
Publicity Department
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781482011067, $14.99,

In 2014, the Guardians of the Universe ordered Professor Thomas Scribner to act as human witness to an inquiry. Seven pass judgment on the eighth, the Creator of planet Earth whose experiment went wrong due to the psychopathic selfishness of the individuals making up the dominant sentient species. If ruled a colossal failure the free will test subjects will be terminated (see Creator: Apocalyptic Sci-Fi Epic, Earth's Human Behavior Confronted).

In 2015, Harvard University History Professor Jeffrey Lerner agrees to go back in time to study human behavior in order to isolate the cause(s) that has led to endless violence; his findings are due to the Guardians of the Universe in 2024. From his home in Sudbury and with help from his teaching assistants Hank and Kathy, he makes his first stop in 3900 BCE, Jerusalem where he meets with Priest Jacob, Saul, David, Judith, Samuel and Laban where he uses the name Jethro and learns about the origins of the True One God religion(s) of Abraham and his offspring as well as female subjection to the rule of man.

The second Creator science fiction epic continues the look at irrational bellicose human behavior throughout history with a focus on key religious events in creating the Abrahamic religions and seeking why women were less than cattle. Though this entry can stand alone, reading book one enhances the understanding of the Guardians especially the Creator. With a fantastic late Hail Mary time travel twist to attempt to save mankind (and his heart), readers will relish this insightful look at humanity beginning with the origin of the Adam and Eve legend; as the Guardians paraphrasing H. Rap Brown believe that "violence is as (human) as cherry pie."

Angel Baby
Richard Lange
Mulholland Books
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10017-0010
9780316219822, $26.00,

In Tijuana, the first time Lutz tried to escape from her violent husband Mexican drug lord Rolando "El Principe"; her dog Pepito paid the price as he viciously stomped to death the toy poodle in front of her. Heartbroken but not totally helpless, Luz knows she must do a much better job with her next attempt. Thus she takes her time working out a plan until she executes it by killing two of his troops and taking his safe's money.

Raging Rolando liberates American "El Apache" from a Mexican prison. He orders him to locate his wife in the States and to bring her back to him; failure or refusal are unacceptable as El Principe threatens to kill the man's wife and child. El Apache knows this is no idle threat so he goes to California seeking Luz who in turn searches for her four years old daughter Isabel whom she left behind in the Los Angeles area.

Angel Baby is a taut thriller as a brutal killer forces a felon to go after his missing wife; fans will shudder at what the psychopath will do if he catches his spouse and what he will do if he does not in This Wicked World of his. Character driven, readers will enjoy this tense tale as increasingly it seems an innocent(s) will be maimed or killed.

Questions of Travel
Michelle de Kretser
Little, Brown
c/o Hachette Book Group
237 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10017-0010
9780316219228, $26.00,

In 1966 in Sydney, Australia, her older twin brothers tried to kill two year old Laura Fraser after her mom died as they blamed this female "alien" for her death. In the 1980s her brother Cameron dies, but she has no grief as he clearly hated her. When the only person who cares about her Aunt Hester died, Laura inherits a lot of money. She begins a travel odyssey around the world seeking someone who would love her.

In the 1970s and 1980s, Ravi Mendis dreamed of seeing the world though he has no hope to escape his Sri Lankan village except perhaps to live in nearby Colombo. He marries and has a daughter, but the brutal civil war forces Ravi to flee his homeland. In 2000s he and Laura meet in Australia.

Questions of Travel is a fascinating look into journeys (of the mind as much as the body). The underlying premise is that the treasure is not always at the end of the rainbow; instead you may trek from and to sh*t. Character driven by the fully-developed lead pair within rotating subplots, readers who appreciate something different will enjoy this tale of leaving home.

Windy City Neighbors Grounded
Neta Jackson and Dave Jackson
Worthy Publishing
134 Franklin Road, Suite 200
Brentwood, TN 37027
9781617950001, $14.99,

Grace Meredith enjoys singing contemporary Christian music. Currently the successful singer travels the country encouraging the young to wait until marriage in her New Year, New You tour. However, as she makes her plea, she suffers from a sore throat and a broken heart. Lozenges and tea help the throat a little, but her fiance Roger, tired of her stay a pure virgin message, ended their engagement.

Grace stops at her home in Chicago only to be grounded by a blizzard. As she thinks about her youthful indiscretions, Grace feels like a con artist peddling her wait theme as she muses over do as I say not as I did. However, as the neighbors she ignored for years like the Bentleys welcome her as a friend not a celebrity and encourage her to live up to her name with the Lord's help, Grace begins to heal.

The first Windy City Neighbors inspirational is an entertaining tale of God giving believers a second chance to do the right thing. Ironically while the opening on tour scenes are slow; once the protagonist becomes Grounded and truly meets her neighbors, the pace accelerates into a warm second chance at a pure life drama.

Silent Voices
Ann Cleeves
Minotaur Books
c/o St. Martin's Publishing Group
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9781250033581, $24.99,

Northumbrian Detective Inspector Vera Stanhope enters the sauna at the Willows Health Club in Newcastle only to be greeted by the corpse of social worker Jenny Lister. Someone strangled the victim. Stanhope and her team interrogate employees at the club and talk with residents of Lister's village Barnard Bridge.

The prime suspect is temporary cleaner Danny Shaw though several other employees and villagers surface with motives for killing Lister. Heeding local gossip, Vera finds a connection between Jenny's work with foster kids and adoptions, and the villagers; which obfuscates the case by increasing the list of potentials who is the killer.

Relocating from the Shetland Islands to Northumbria, Ann Cleeves provides readers with an enjoyable British police procedural (see The Crow Trap). The investigation is a fun mess that makes no sense yet is entertaining due to the crusty, at times irritating alcoholic heroine. Vera keeps the whodunit focused as she and her team works the homicide inquiry using unique listening devices, ears.

Kneading To Die
Liz Mugavero
Kensington Publishing Corp.
119 West 40th Street, Floor 21
NY, NY 10018-2522
9780758284785, $7.99,

When Warner Insurance downsized her public relations position, Kristan "Stan" Connor, accompanied by her significant other Nutty the Maine Coon cat, left West Hartford for a simpler life in Frog Ledge, Connecticut. While her boyfriend Richard wonders if she lost her mind by leaving the big city for Sleepy Hollow, Stan hears the neighbors brawl while she moves into her Victorian.

Stan likes her new neighbors; especially Char Mackey, homeopathic animal nurturer Amara Leonard and "Pet's Last Chance" director Nikki Manning while they seem to welcome her and her special food that she makes for Nutty and soon the other town pets. Town veterinarian, Dr. Carole Morganwick visits Stan demanding she bring Nutty in as a patient before office hours. Though her stomach churns and her mind tells her not to, Stan and Nutty arrive for the early appointment only to find unpopular Morganwick buried dead in kibble. State trooper Jessica Pasquale and the locals look at the newcomer as the suspect when their pets become poisoned; so Stan seeks answers especially the source of what is harming the animals.

The first Pawsitively Organic Gourmet Pet Food amateur sleuth is an engaging whodunit with two mysteries for the heroine to resolve. Although the love of pets feels like a hammer used to frequently to even a cat and dog lover like me, readers will enjoy Stan's investigative asides into the poisoning of pets and as a byproduct the vet's homicide.

Dark Wolf
Kate Douglas
Kensington Aphrodisia
9780758288189, $15.00

Alex Aragut calls his best friend Lily Cheval to tell her another raped and murdered victim was found near the Chanku Pack home in Montana. Living in San Francisco, Lily knows that makes five in her home state and three in her adopted city. She fears the rogue ripping out throats like a wolf will bring the humans agitated by Aldo to hunt her Chanku.

Sebastian and Lily attend the same gala. She wonders if he is shifter and evil like his father. He believes her aura is incredible. Lily is attracted to Sebastian but senses a dark magic yet it is not malevolent like his father. They run as wolves together, but abruptly he acts possessed and goes to rape her. Lily gets Sebastian back to normal. Sebastian is ashamed with what he did though he does not remember it. She shocks him when she invites him to her place for sex as both knows there is a connection beyond heat. However, evidence mounts that he is the rapist-killer.

The first Spirit Wild next generation Chanku romantic fantasy stars a nice surprising pairing as fans expected the two oldest offspring (Alex and Lily) to mate; instead each found a different mate (his being another pack offspring). The underlying premise of whether Sebastian is a murderer-rapist is deftly handled. Although the Chanku leaders failure to follow up on rogue military shifters seem out of character for these extremely cautious individuals, readers will appreciate Kate Douglas continuing her fabulous saga with a super twisting thriller.

Honey Pie
Donna Kauffman
Kensington Brava
9780758280534, $14.00

Honey D'Amourvell inherits Aunt Beavis' store on Sugarberry Island, Georgia. She sees a chance for a fresh start with a place to display her art after avoiding contact with people for years due to her ability to see a person's future after touching them. Thus Honey drives across the country only to have her car break down upon arrival. As her vehicle is being repaired at Ross & Sons, Honey is in shock to see her new store occupied by Cakes By The Cup (see Sugar Rush).

Auto mechanic Dylan Ross is attracted to his newest customer, but she keeps her distance. When he learns why, Dylan stuns Honey as he accepts what she felt a curse is a gift. As they fall in love, he encourages her to join the cupcake club where she makes friends who seem delightfully crazier than her.

The latest Cupcake Club contemporary romance (see Babycakes and Sweet Stuff) is an entertaining tale with a touch of whimsy though the cupcake crew plays minor roles. Fans will enjoy this tactile love story as everybody's normal is not in this couple's future if his kisses can overcome her fear of touching.

Hair Raising
Kevin J. Anderson
9780758277381, $15.00

In the Unnatural Quarter, Rusty the full-time werewolf hires zombie private investigator partner Dan Shamble of Chambeaux and Deyer (he being Chambeaux while Robin the African American lawyer is Deyer) to watch for suspicious behavior during cockatrice fighting family night. The client is especially concerned that Monthlies like bad bikers Scratch and Sniff will cause trouble. Shamble assumes the full-time is paranoid due to the prejudice between his type and the Monthlies. However, the action ends when Officer "McGoo" and other cops arrive.

While Robin assisted by Sheyenne the office assistance ghost work a father rights case for graveyard Steve against the Addams Family Practice; Dan investigates the assaults on werewolves that leaves them humiliatingly hairless. Bald werewolves prove less horrific to Dan than dealing with the human horde attending the Worldwide Horror Convention.

The latest Dan Shamble, Zombie P.I. paranormal investigation (see Unnatural Acts and Death Warmed Over) is once again a superb satirical thriller as Kevin J. Anderson lampoons societal morality in which feuds over microscopic differences are the norm. Readers will enjoy this entry with added twisting freshness coming from the Unnatural Quarter residents fearing the dangerous denizen of paranormal human fans attending a horror convention.

Daniel Palmer
9780758246660, $25.00

The three avid Massachusetts mountain climbers are working the West Ridge in Tibet when an avalanche sends David Clegg and Brooks Hall over the side. The third climber John Bodine quickly realizes he cannot save both men; failing to cut one of their attached lines means all three die. He must choose between Brooks married with no kids and David married with two kids. Twenty-nine years old John knows he will hear the scream for the rest of his life.

Several years later, the love of John's life, his wife Ruby suffers from late stage cancer, but the insurance company refuses to pay for the lifesaving expensive treatment; as it is not included in their plan. Desperate, John learns that Elliot Uretsky has the right insurance so he steals the man's identity to pay for Ruby's treatment. However, serial killer Uretsky orders Bodine to play his game or watch his beloved die while he remains behind bars for insurance fraud. John plays the dangerous contest until he says enough leading to his ruthless opponent killing people he cares about until he rejoins the game.

This is a taut thriller due to the three protagonists coming across as real even with a surreal triangular relationship. Readers will relish this tale as a ruthless Uretsky tests a desperate Bodine's pledge to do anything to save his beloved.

Antiques Chop
Barbara Allan
9780758263629, $24.00

Antique sellers and amateur sleuths, Vivian and Brandy Bourne are starring in a new reality TV show the Antique Sleuths based on this the adventures of this mother and daughter duet. They are filming in Vivian's hometown of Serenity, Iowa at an old house where a cold case axe murder of Archibald Butterworth occurred in 1950.

However, reality becomes too vivid when Brandy's young son Jake proves he is a Bourne when he finds the corpse of producer Bruce Spring at the Butterworth house; the murder weapon is an ax. As the show must go on so the filming continues while Vivian and Brandy stealthily sleuth.

This Trash 'n' Treasures mystery (see Antiques Knock-Off and Antiques Disposal) is an amusing whodunit as the third generation proves to be a Bourne with a nose for trouble. The jocular storyline is fun but the inserted directional commentary rather than wry humor distract from the plot. Still fans will enjoy this all in the family madcap antiques whodunit.

No Strings Attached
Kate Angell
9780758269201, $9.95

In the town of Barefoot William, Florida, the century old Cates and Saunders feud is legendary. Though there are throwback Neanderthals, the hostilities appear ending since Shaye Cates and Trace Saunders married and a child due any day (see No Tan Lines).

International beach volleyball player Dune Cates was a key player in the economic recovery of his hometown, but also paid the price of the Good Samaritan with tendinitis in his wrist. He avoids Trace's sister Sophie as he is a no strings player and she is an attraction. Sophie worships the sand Dune walks on since he heroically rescued her from bullies as a child. However, lacking self-esteem, Sophie knows she cannot compete with the international beauties that flock to Dune, but takes a chance on life for the first time and soon afterward on love.

The latest Barefoot William feuding families' romance is an amusing frolic as a reticent local and a beach volleyball superstar hesitantly admit to themselves (but not ready to tell the other) they are in love. Readers will enjoy this entertaining romp.

Shield of Sea and Space
Erin Hoffman
59 John Glenn Drive
Amherst, NY 14228-2197
9781616147693, $18.00,

The Tesseract magic practitioner Vidarian Rulorat wants to avoid conflict for two powerful motives: his partner Ariadel and their newborn. However, desires do not always happen in real life as Vidarian knows his time at Calphille is ending soonest due to the devious machinations of the Alorean Import Company merchant cabal who want to control all magic on Andover. The affluent diabolical Alorean Import Company has goaded kingdoms into wars leaving nations bankrupt and in debt; forcing Vidarian to leave court seeking allies against the merchant cabal.

Vidarian opened the gate between worlds and freed Starhunter the goddess of chaos. She brought back wild magic to Andovar; leading to shape-changers and elemental technologies. The evil cabal needs to cleanse the realm of most of the newcomers in order to control all of the magic so as to complete their plan to rule the world.

The third Chaos Knight fantasy (see Sword of Fire and Sea and Lance of Earth and Sky) is an exhilarating thriller as a final war will determine the future of a world. With a shot at the military-industrial-congressional complex, fans will relish Kate Hoffman's fabulous mythos as readers will believe in species like gryphons due to the actions of Altair and Khalesh who make the unbelievable believable.

K.D. McEntire
59 John Glenn Drive
Amherst, NY 14228-2197
9781616147716, $17.95,

In the ER as the ghosts watch, Piotr intervenes until the doctor resuscitates Wendy though the teen remains in a coma. Once the Lightbringer, Wendy lost much when the Reaper ripped away her Light. Now she unites with her friends to prevent Lady Walker's evil scheme to allow the malevolence in between realms to enter and destroy Never.

Wendy must also find a way to hinder separate machinations by Reaper Matriarch Elise and Reaper Rogue Jane. To do this she looks to the past at the relationship between her deceased mother and Elise as well as Piotr's background. Wendy may not have her full essence, but she is no quitter as her family and others are in great peril from a world no longer in synch.

The final Lightbringer teen fantasy (see Reaper and Lightbringer) is a fabulous finish to an engaging trilogy as readers learn more about the Reaper heritage while the heroine without much of her power sets out to save the realm. Ironically the fascinating history also intrudes on the thrilling present day end of the world storyline. Still readers will anticipate the multiple confrontations as Never may become no more.

Oscar Wilde and the Murders at Reading Gaol
Gyles Brandreth
Touchstone Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas
New York, NY 10020
9781439153758, $16.00,

In 1895 London, Mr. Justice Wills sentences noted playwright Oscar Wilde to two years of hard labor for gross indecency with young men. While forty year old Oscar head to jail, his wife and two kids flee England and the scandal for the continent, and the production of the Importance of being Earnest continues on stage.

His time in Wandsworth Prison is physically and mentally hell; made worse by his wife's forgiveness visit and the knowledge that he is financially broke. Just before his transfer to Reading Gaol, Warder Braddle comes to his cell in a rage, blaming him for his diseased body just before he dies. In Reading Gaol, Wilde learns of another Warder dying violently. Soon afterward others die so the Governor asks Wilde to look into the Murders at Reading Gaol.

The latest late Oscar Wilde Victorian mystery (see Oscar Wilde and the Vampire Murders, and Oscar Wilde and the Vatican Murders) may be the best in the series, but not because of the clever whodunit. Instead Gyles Brandreth provides a deep look into the two years of Wilde's torturous incarceration and a powerful condemnation of the British gaol in the last decade of the nineteenth century. Wilde's murder inquiry is terrific but it is the jailhouse that rocks.

Dark Star Dawning
Elyse Hendricks
ImaJinn Books
PO Box 74274, Phoenix, AZ 85087-1004
9781610261272, $14.99,

Victoria Hart grew up a wanderer as her mother could not stay in any one place for very long. When Tori managed to stay in a residence for more than a cup of milk, she was with a foster family. She relishes settling at one address in Hope, Ohio where she runs an antique shop.

Widower Captain Reese Taren arrives in Hope seeking the Heart of Destiny, an artifact he does not believe exists but his Emperor sent him to find it to save what is left of his world from alien invaders. He kidnaps Tori who Reese thinks is the key to destroying the feral enemy he loathes for killing his wife, child and others. However, he never expected her to be his Heart of Destiny, but knows what must happen to his beloved to save a world and perhaps a universe.

Dark Star Dawning is an entertaining science fiction romance starring a heroic male and a bewildered female feeling out of her element within a worlds collide setting. Fast-paced, readers will enjoy the dilemma the lead couple confronts as the risk for Tori is almost certain death, but doing nothing means billions die. Although the plot contains several inconsistencies, Elyse Hendricks provides an engaging sci fi love story.

A Beastly Scandal
Shereen Vedam
ImaJinn Books
PO Box 74274, Phoenix, AZ 85087-1004
9781610261241, $14.00,

In 1812 England, Lady Annabelle Marchant enjoyed the balls until she used her psychic powers to save a life, but failed. The man died and she became a pariah.

Lady Terrance pleads with Annabelle to help the ghost of her murdered late husband. Her son Lord Rufus demands Annabelle leave his family manor in Cheshire and preferably the village too as he has no time for frivolous females trying to trap him in marriage. The monarch warned Rufus he will explain his activity to the House of Lords as he is the only suspect in his father's homicide. As Rufus investigates, additional killings occur and an angry ghost is running amuck. Reluctantly, Annabelle and Rufus team up to identify the real killer and enable the late Lord Terrance to obtain some peace before the new lord becomes a victim.

A Beastly Scandal is an entertaining paranormal Victorian amateur sleuth romance. The storyline is fast-paced while also enabling the audience to believe in the heroine's psychic skills and ghosts exist. Although the protagonists' attraction feels intrusive especially early in the otherwise engaging storyline, sub-genre fans will enjoy the exploits of the ghost whisperer and the murder suspect uniting in love to end a killer's reign of terror.

The Jericho Deception
Jeffrey Small
West Hills Press
9781933512440, $15.95,

Dr. Ethan Lightman and Professor Elijah Schiff hypothesize that the brain's left temporal lobe creates religious phenomena. The Yale University pair builds Logos to test their theory. The "God Machine" as they call Logos emits electrical pulses into the part of the brain that Lightman and Schiff believe control religious thought especially extremist behavior. The Neurological Advancement Foundation's Dr. Allen Wolfe funds the project.

Not long after Wolfe provides the money, someone murders Schiff and kidnaps grad student Rachel Riley. Ethan ends up in Egypt where he learns that a Dr. Wolfe, working for the CIA, has deployed Project Jericho using a Logos "clone" to convert Muslims into Christians and end seemingly eternal religious conflict.

The Jericho Deception is a super thriller in which the real scientific research is so compelling, at times overwhelms the action scenes. The cast is solid but it is the references to real experiments that bring a sense of genuineness to this exhilarating tale. Readers will enjoy this taut religious suspense while looking up those factual entities that make Jeffrey Small's saga superbly fresh.

Heart Of Iron
Bec McMaster
Sourcebooks Inc.
1935 Brookdale Road, #139
Naperville, IL 60563
9781402270307, $6.99,

In 1879 London, verwolfen Will "Beast of Whitechapel" Carver diligently continues to risk his life, especially with his being wanted, to protect the Blade ruler of the rookeries. However, danger from the Blade's enemies is insignificant compared with Will's unwanted feelings for Lena Todd that have grown almost out of control over the last three years. Perhaps Lena's turning to the feral Echelon's blue-blood Leo Barrons after Will rejected her offer of love hurts the verwolfen most of all.

Will learns his beloved Lena works undercover delivering coded messages for the Humanists in Whitechapel. He fears she is in danger as war seems imminent between the ruling Echelon and the rebellious Humanists. As Will vows to keep Lena safe, he remains unaware of the insidious threats demanding she betray him and others. Meanwhile the Prince Consort and four members of the council of Dukes seek an his assistance to forge an alliance with the verwolfen Scandinavian clans.

The second paranormal steampunk Victorian romance (see Kiss of Steel) is a fabulous thriller that cleverly uses political intrigue to keep the hero and readers wondering who to trust. Fast-paced, readers will appreciate this masterful historical urban fantasy suspense as falling in love requires a heart of Iron if the couple is to survive the dangerous world of Bec McMaster.

The Roots Of Betrayal
James Forrester
9781402272691, $14.99

In 1564, William "Clarenceux" Harley detests being the keeper of the "Catholic Treasure" document as possession is not conducive to a long happy life span researching coat of arms by the warmth of a fire with his family. Queen Elizabeth's advisor Sir William Cecil entrusted him to safeguard the document so the devoted Catholic herald will do what it takes to keep it secure. Clarenceux understands the significance of what he watches as religious civil war between the Catholics supporting Mary, the Protestants deeming the Pope is the Antichrist, and the compromised Church of England straddling both camps seems probable; with what Harley diligently protects as a fire-starter in the wrong hand.

However, in spite of his efforts, someone steals the Catholic Treasure as betrayal is everywhere. As Clarenceux faces harsh incarceration, stink and torture, he remains steadfast in pursuit of what he lost with his worst adventures on the pirate ship the Davy captained by atheist Raw Carew.

The second sequel Clarenceux historical thriller (see Sacred Treasure) is a powerful action-packed Elizabethan era tale in which gore, filth and violence are as normal as mutton pie (modifying H. Rap Brown quote); combat was a bloody endeavor but so was living in the Reformation Era. Definitely not for anyone with a queasy stomach; James Forrester provides fans with an unromantic picture of mid sixteenth century England as not "the best of all possible worlds" (Voltaire).

Sara Humphreys
9781402258527, $6.99

Depressed by not finding her mate as she passes her thirtieth birthday, Pure-blooded Bear Clan Amoveo Marianna Coltari, a Kodiak bear shapeshifter, feels her powers waning. To avoid her race, she hides at the Vampire owned Coven, but Hayden arrives there anyway as he wants her as his Mate. Meanwhile her twin brother Dante (see Untouched) fears the violent Purists will assault his Pure Blood sibling for remaining Mateless with so many of their kind to breed with. Thus he orders human Pete Castro, a former cop who works at Dante's Inferno Securities, to keep Marianna safe from the Purists.

As they hide from those who want to use Marianna, Pete is attracted to her but will not act on his feelings because his first need is to protect her; besides he believes a purebred human is a lesser species than a purebred Amoveo. Marianna dreams about Pete, which she knows means he is her mate and she will act on her feelings.

The fourth Amoveo Legend paranormal romance (see Untamed and Unleashed) is undeniably a fabulous entry as star-crossed soul mates fall in love while being in the crosshairs of an impending species civil war that will determine dilution or ethnic cleansing purification. With a fully developed cast that makes the Humphreys mythos seem genuine, series fans will appreciate Sara Humphreys' latest super romantic urban fantasy as the Amoveo Legend saga continues to be great.

A Highland Werewolf Wedding
Terry Spear
9781402266836, $6.99

In 1785 St Augustine, her paternal wolf Uncles Tobias and Samson inform their precious recently orphaned (due to murder) niece Elaine that they will arrange a mating for her with ruthless older Kelly Rafferty. Elaine persuades them to allow her to see some of the world before her marriage. However, when they reach St. Andrews, Scotland, the locals plodded by sea merchant Lord Whittington arrest and soon execute the thieving Hawthorn pirates. Highlander wolf Cearnach MacNeill offers her the sanctuary of his clan, but while he brawls with a drunkard she flees.

After a horrid life married to a monster; with his death in the present Elaine returns to Scotland for the first time since her uncles were hung with hopes of finding the loot her relatives hid two centuries ago and that her distant family will welcome her. She gets into a fender bender with Cearnach that leaves his vehicle ditched. Late for his friend's wedding, Cearnach gets Elaine to drive him there. As each recognizes the other as their true mate, she manages to trigger clan feuds.

The latest Heart of the Wolf MacNeill brother paranormal romance (see A Howl for a Highlander and Heart of the Highland Wolf) is a fun thriller due to two alphas falling in love. The two initial meetings between the alphas seem too coincidental while some of the escapades are over the top; yet Terry Spear showcases her talent to tell an exciting howler that her fans will fully enjoy.

Ray of Light
Shelley Shepard Gray
Avon Inspire
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022
9780062204424, $12.99,

Needing to escape his recent family drama (see Daybreak), Roman Keim leaves his New Order Amish community in Berlin, Ohio to spend vacation time at his Uncle Aden's condo in Siesta Key, Florida. He feels like a stalker as he cannot take his eyes away from his neighbor widow Amanda Yoder. She and her four year old child daughter Regina live in the nearby town of Pinecraft where she works at her in-laws' bakery.

They are attracted to each other, but he feels embarrassed when she asks questions about his troubled family back home. As the time together draws to a close, Amanda knows she loves Roman; and he realizes he loves mother and daughter. Now they must decide between one state, a distance courting or ending it now.

The second Days of Redemption is an engaging Amish romance in which the overarching family theme also moves forward with a Ray of Light that the divided Keim clan might be coming together. Although it behooves the audience to read Daybreak first to learn how the schism occurred (as well as a wonderful romance); Shelley Shepard Gray authors another awesome tale.

Lord of Wicked Intentions
Lorraine Heath
9780062100030, $7.99

In 1844 in the freezing Tower of Pembroke Castle, the teen Duke of Keswick Sebastian Easton (see She Tempts The Duke) and his two brothers Rafe and Tristan (see Lord of Temptation) expect to die like their father did at the hands of their Uncle Lord David Easton. Instead their childhood friend Mary Wynne-Jones helps them escape from certain execution though they go separate ways. Rafe survived living in the worst sections of London and employed as a child in the brutal workhouses. However, by 1859, he has seen his siblings restored to their proper places and married.

Illegitimate daughter of an earl, Evelyn Chambers expects her half-brother to take care of her after their father died. . Instead of honoring their late dad's wish, her sibling offers Evelyn for sale. Rafe wins the bidding war, but is shocked when his mistress thinks they will marry, but not as much as she is. As they fall in love, Evelyn tries to understand the demons that possess her beloved's heart and rejection of kind touches.

The third Lost Lords of Pembrook Victorian romance is an entertaining historical starring a wounded warrior and the angel risking her heart to try to heal him. Although one must question whether love is enough to save Rafe's soul as he is the poster-child of AFU, fans will enjoy Evelyn's efforts to simply hug him.

The Devil's Heart
Cathy Maxwell
9780062070241, $7.99

The three Hatton siblings (Neal, Harry and Margaret) swore to never foolishly fall in love as those feelings trigger Fenella the witch's centuries old Chattan Curse that meant dying young. By 1814, Neal fell in love with and married Thea (see Lyon's Bride) and Harry with Portia (see The Scottish Witch). Margaret vows never her as she wants to prevent an early demise by avoiding entanglements of the heart.

However, Margaret needs to do whatever it takes to save the lives of her foolish brothers, which means journeying to Clan Macnachton in Scotland. Laird Heath Macnachton has enough issues to deal with including the murder of his brother, but the obstinate Englishwoman demands he accompany her in her fight against a powerful bewitching enemy. When her efforts begin to show promise identifying his sibling's killer Heath joins her mission. Neither wanted love to bind them.

The third Chattan Curse Regency romance begins slowly but turns hyper once the protagonists team up in search of a killer. Readers will appreciate their adventures in love, curses and a murder investigation.

Half Moon Hill
Toni Blake
9780062024626, $5.99

In Destiny, Ohio, Anna Romo hopes to convert a rundown Victorian house into a Bed and Breakfast. Former biker gang member and ex bar owner Duke Dawson hides in a dilapidated cabin on her property while healing from an accident that has left his body filled with scars and his mind tormented. When Anna and Duke meet, she agrees to say nothing about him to anyone and also allow him to remain in the cabin; while he will help her with renovating the house.

As they work side by side, an attraction flourishes. However, when the town's war hero Jeremy Sheridan returns home, he likes Anna too. She likes both men though they are so different. Anna turns to the old diary she found to understand what love truly is.

The latest Destiny romance is an engaging contemporary as the heroine must make up her mind between two polar opposite males. The return of protagonists from previous tales (see One Reckless Summer, Sugar Creek, Whisper Falls, Holly Lane, and Willow Springs) bring a sense of visiting the small town. Readers will enjoy this heartfelt tale.

Defender of the Flame
Sylvia Engdahl
Ad Stellae Books
9780615804347, $16.50,

Starship pilot Lieutenant Terry Radnor is irate and desolate when Fleet headquarters abruptly without explanation reassign him from his assignment at Centuri Ops Center where he was due to command on his next explorer mission to the desolate training base on Titan. He assumes the brass wants him to instruct future pilots to explore space. Drew Larrson welcomes Terry, but warns him he will go stir crazy like all of the other pilot exiles.

After seeing psychiatrist Dr. Aldren, Admiral Derham asks Terry if he would volunteer to be part of a top secret project involving a new type of psychological and physical training. He signs the life-binding Extraordinary Secrets Acknowledgment agreement, but is quickly transferred to the Shepard. As a contented Terry finds his life-calling and Allison, he suddenly loses everything except his need to regain what he once had in order to protect Ciencia.

The third Flame futuristic science fiction (see Stewards of the Flame and Promise of the Flame) is a fabulous twisting outer space thriller that will keep readers wondering what next will happen to the protagonist. Character driven by Terry, readers will enjoy his exploits and also appreciate his ethics as he learns inconvenient truths that tear his core values asunder.

Cowboy Take Me Away
Jane Graves
Forever Romance
c/o Hachette Publishing Group
237 Park Avenue
New York, NY 10017-0010
9781455515196, $7.99,

Over a decade ago, Luke Dawson left Rainbow Valley, Texas with no looking back or he insists any regrets; not even for the girl he loved. He comes home for the first time in all those years to attend his father's funeral although he does not mourn his dad's death.

Shannon North runs the Rainbow Valley Animal Shelter, but fears not for long as donations have tanked with the economic collapse. With an injured knee temporarily sidelining him from competing for the bull riding championship, Luke helps at Rainbow Valley Animal Shelter where he works for the woman he left behind. Shannon and Luke remain attracted to each other, but her mother makes it clear he is unwanted while he agrees with her; as he fears sharing the same DNA as his abusive father.

The first Rainbow Valley romance is an engaging tale that focuses on love's healing power. The lead couple is a nice pairing especially their work with animals bringing them together although his paternal issue is not a new cause of a split. Readers will enjoy visiting Rainbow valley for this wonderful second chance at love.

Twilight Is Not Good For Maidens
Lou Allin
Dundurn Press
c/o The Dundurn Group
3 Church Street, Suite 500
Toronto, Ontario, Canada, M5E 1M2
9781459706019, $17.99,

In the middle of the night, as the Sooke Detachment will be delayed to get to a crime scene, RCMP Detachment Corporal Holly Martin goes to Vancouver Island's French Beach where someone assaulted a young woman. Her job is to make sure no one is hurt and temporarily secure the location. Due to this being the off season and at night, Holly takes her mutt with her. Not long afterward in another isolated site a female is murdered and once again Holly heads there first.

Sooke takes over both cases. Meanwhile a female driver accuses Constable Chipper Singh, a Sikh, of sexual assault during a traffic stop; he is placed on administrative leave while an inquiry occurs. A third victim is raped; frightening and angering civilians as the cops fail to find the predator while Holly continues to seek clues.

The latest Holly Martin police procedural (see And On The Surface Die and She Felt No Pain) is a strong investigative thriller as a psychopath terrorizes Vancouver Island. The manhunt is fast-paced while the Singh subplot enhances the policing. With deftly interwoven references to literary figures (a personal favorite of mine) and insight into the protagonist's family, fans will enjoy this taut thriller.

A Brother's Honor
Brenda Jackson
Mira Books
c/o Harlequin
225 Duncan Mill Road
Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780778314332, $7.99,

Fifteen years ago, teenagers Jace and Caden, and tweener Dalton sat in a courtroom in which a jury convicted their father Sheppard of first degree murder of their mother Sylvia. Sheppard's only wish is that his three sons believe he is innocent; as he knows his father Richard will take care of his grandsons. As soon as they could each child left Virginia.

In the present, a dying Richard asks his three grandchildren to prove their dad did not kill their mom. The trio vows to save the failing family business Granger Aeronautics and free their father as each knows in their heart he never killed his wife. The oldest Jace hires a crisis management consultant to save the firm. They quickly realize someone from within is sabotaging the firm. As they seek the traitor, Jace and Shana struggle to ignore their attraction while he learns some things about his parents and his ex-wife Eve that shake his core beliefs.

The first Granger Brothers' romantic suspense is a taut thriller that grips the audience from the moment the jury foreman gives the verdict and never slows down until a tense final confrontation. With two siblings to go, readers will enjoy Jace's entry and look forward to more about the Granger family.

Sea Glass Island
Sherryl Woods
9780778314462, $7.99

Actress Samantha Castle feels happy for her sisters (Gabriella in Wind Chime Point and Emily in Sand Castle Bay) who found love when they returned home to Sand Castle Bay, North Carolina to help their grandma Cora Jane with her hurricane battered Castle's by the Sea Restaurant. However, having returned to New York as the only one without a fiance, Samantha misses her family.

Samantha returns to Sand Castle Bay to attend Emily's wedding. Also home is her high school secret crush Ethan Cole who was three years older than her and the heartthrob of teens as the star quarterback and a hunk. His fiancee dumped him when he came home from Afghanistan minus a leg. As the matchmakers led by her Cora Jane try to bring them together, Ethan has doubts about intimate relationships, so they become friends falling in love.

The third Castle Ocean Breeze romance is an engaging contemporary that also allows the audience to see what has happened to the rest of the Castle family. Ethan seems real with his trepidations over commitment having been burned when he needed support. However, resolutions of his phobia and other complex issues seem rushed and too easily resolved. Still fans will enjoy this Castle family drama.

I'll Be Seeing You
Suzanne Hayes and Loretta Nyhan
9780778314950, $14.94

In 1943 fortyish Iowa City, Iowa mom Marguerite "Rita" Vincenzo and Rockport, Massachusetts mom Gloria Whitehall have nothing in common except a fear for their beloved husbands (and Rita's teen son soon to deploy) fighting overseas. They begin a pen pal correspondence though Glory is a youthful free spirit and Rita is a professor's gardening witch wife. Each finds some solace in the letters as they face issues at the home front and fears their spouse will not come home alive.

Using letters as a means to look deeply at the effect of their loved ones in harm's way on two diverse females from two different regions of the country, readers obtain a powerful tale of life at home during a war. With two powerful protagonists anchoring the WWII impact on them, their families and communities, this timely tale reminds readers that someone must pay the piper in blood and money in any war; whether it is on a credit card or not.

Oath Bound
Rachel Vincent
9780778314301, $7.99

Sera Brandt remains below the radar scope as she prefers to hide from her family and even her power. Her father Jake Tower recently died leaving behind a wife and two children, not counting his illegitimate love child Sera. She arrives at her late dad's guarded estate to see his sister, her Aunt Julia, who now runs the corrupt Skilled Tower criminal gang that Jake used to lead.

Kristopher Daniels has struggled to keep his sisters safe from the Tower and Ruben Cavazos' mob; especially his youngest Kenley as her Binder skill is what the syndicates covet (see the other sibling Kori the shadow walker in Shadow Bound). With Kenly abducted, Kris interrupts the meeting between aunt and niece. He kidnaps an irate Sera; unable to explain to even himself his gut wrenching needs to keep her safe. As she concludes she is not a hostage negotiable pawn, Sera chooses his side over her biological family especially after her loved ones are attacked.

The third Unbound romantic fantasy Novel is an exciting action-packed tale. The lead couple is a dynamite pairing as neither trusts the other yet both conclude they need each other to take down the Tower; while each finds their attraction undesirable but overwhelming. Although fans should read the previous two Unbound novels (see Blood Bound) to better understand Vincent's world and the overarching premise, Oath Bound is a fabulous climatic thriller.

The Apple Orchard
Susan Wiggs
9780778314936, $24.95

Hard working Sheffield Auction House provenance specialist Tess Delaney uses her job as an escape from her lonely life. She has no idea who her dad is and rarely sees her wanderlust mother; so she precariously lives through her clients like Annelise Winther who she gave back a WWII precious item or the Krakow Museum in Poland whom she returned Nazi stolen art.

The latter brought her fifteen minutes of fame and a comatose apple orchard owning grandfather Magnus Johansen in Sonoma she never knew existed. Even more shocking to a stunned Tess is when the messenger banker-vintner Dominic Rossi tells her she has been added to Magnus' will to inherit half his Bella Vista orchard along with s with someone else she never heard of, her half-sister Isabel Johansen. Tess and Isabel investigate what happened to the family going back to their grandfather's childhood in Denmark during WWII; while the newcomer and Dominic begin to fall in love though his family stands in their way.

The Apple Orchard is an insightful family drama with a powerful undying moral message of the value of family and memories should supersede material items. Tess now knows to seek true loved ones and make new memories with them. Readers will appreciate learning alongside Tess her ancestry.

A Spear of Summer Grass
Deanna Raybourn
9780778314394, $15.95

In 1923 Paris, affluent American Delilah Drummond sends divorce papers to her third husband. Upon receiving them he kills himself. The reaction from the Parisian upper crust makes Delilah a pariah. Her advisors demand she leave France until some other scandal replaces hers. Thus, accompanied by her cousin Dora, a chagrined Delilah reluctantly travels to her stepfather's Fairlight Plantation in Kenya.

She finds a hedonistic expatriate population in which orgies set to jazz is the only matter. The only exception is Ryder White who takes her on an exhilarating tour of Africa beyond the European-American drunks. Delilah also finds a purpose as she provides nursing skills to the Kikuyu. However, when blood flows, Delilah must choose whose side she is on.

With a nod to Isak Dinesen's Out of Africa though without spanning the decades between the world wars, A Spear of Summer Grass is an enjoyable historical that brings to life the 1920s mostly in Africa. Though the romance feels like a forced requirement, the African adventures are superb as the audience obtain a taste of the White Man's Burden from the licentious perspective of the Generation au Feu.

Against The Edge
Kat Martin
9780778314431, $7.99

In Houston, still in his disheveled tuxedo former Navy SEAL Ben Slocum returns home after too much celebrating the marriage of his friends Alex Justice and Sabrina Eckhart (see Against The Odds). Waiting on his porch for the Atlas Security investigator is social worker Claire Chastain. She shocks him with the news that his former fiancee Laura Schofield nee Thompson is dead and that they have a child fifth grader Sam who Ben never knew he sired. She finishes by telling him nine year old Sam is missing; LAPD and Sam's foster parents assume he is a runaway, but Claire believes Laura's ex-boyfriend Troy Bridger kidnapped the child avenging her kicking him out. Whether the tweener is a runaway or abducted, Ben, after seeing Sam's photo, plans to find his son.

To keep Claire safe from Troy who blames her for interfering in his relationship with Laura, Ben keeps her at his side while he follows clues that lead to a paramilitary encampment. When Troy and his allies learn of Ben's search, they abduct Claire. Now Ben has two people he loves needing his rescuing them and he will risk dying to save them.

The latest Raines of Wind Canyon romantic suspense is a strong entry starring a kick butt hero and a caring female. Although the premise of not knowing you have an offspring is overly used, the drama of his going missing makes for a taut twisting thriller.

Wind Chime Point
Sherryl Woods
9780778314424, $7.99

In Raleigh, public relations expert Gabi Castle cannot believe how fast her life fell apart. Her boss Amanda Warren made the fast-rising ambitious Gabi leave the firm to avoid the scandal of pregnancy. Her being kicked out the office door follows her boyfriend of five years Paul Langley dumping her upon learning she carries his baby. Mentally exhausted, instead of legally challenging Amanda, Gabi returns home to Sand Castle Bay, North Carolina.

Widower Wade Johnson met Gabi when she last came to Sand Castle Bay. They are attracted to each other, but she has doubts any man would love someone else's child especially someone still grieving the death of his wife and unborn in an accident. The pair forges a friendship while falling in love encouraged by her family.

The second Ocean Breeze contemporary romance (see Sand Castle Bay) is a warm second chance at love tale. Although psychological tsuris is settled in a blink, fans will enjoy the return of the Castle brood as they match up one of their own with a sculptor.

Eric Flint and Ryk E. Spoor
Baen Books
PO Box 1188, Wake Forest NC 27588
9781451638967, $25.00,

After the Ceres disaster, the second space race seems over for the privately-owned Ares Corporation (see Threshold) though former Fed Madeline Fathom manages to land their disabled vessel Nebula Storm on Europa. Also crash landing on this moon of Jupiter is the European Union ship Odin. Neither craft can leave Europa though the crew of Nebula Storm hopes to find a way to fix the broken reactor or come up with an alternate solution.

Madeline, paleontologist Dr. Helen Sutter, sensor expert A.J. Baker and the rest of the survivors from both ships know the immediate mission is to stay alive though neither side trusts the other with good reason. At the station on the Martian moon Phobos, grieving the loss of his friends and his wife Helen, Interplanetary Research Institute of the United Nations Director Nicholas Glendale must make decisions on the mission; though he knows the EU caused the deadly explosion he cannot prove it and needs the alliance to remain in place. However, he is taken aback when Madeline sends him an encrypted message saying hello from sunny Europa. Meanwhile the stranded crews must work together as they explore this Jovian moon heading to the icecap seeking water underneath it while dealing with an orb filled with deadly radiation.

Though one must read Threshold and preferably Boundary to understand how the crews landed in this predicament, fans will enjoy this engaging science fiction thriller because much of the storyline focuses on survival and exploration in a hostile environment. However those twin themes also means the overarching plot moves forward slower than a glacier until the last quarter of the epic. Still fans will enjoy surviving on Europa.

Children of the Gates
Andre Norton
9781451638899, $13.00

"Here Abide Monsters:" On this apparent parallel earth where elven roam, creatures in flying saucers abduct and enslave newcomers. Avalon the herald offers safety at a cost to recent travelers from various earth ages who unfortunately fell through the Gate; they must give to him part of their soul.

"Yurth Burden." On the Zacar plains dwell the Raski farmers while in the mountain reside the Yurth with their Upper Sense. The two races are in a constant state of hostility with horrific wars occurring. When a Raski warrior Stans follows a Yurth woman Elossa on her coming of age quest, he knows he must kill her.

Children of the Gates contains reprints of two wonderful 1970s tales. Yurth Burdon is especially timely leaving the audience to ponder the long term impact of racial hatred.

Hope Reborn: The General
David Drake and S. M. Stirling
9781451638776, $13.00

"The Forge." Over a millennium ago, the fall of the Galactic Federation left those civilizations on the fringe like planet Bellevue isolated. In a divided Bellevue, the Priests claimed that sin destroyed the Federation and one day the worshipped Computer Battle Central will return starting a holy enlightenment. In the present, Civil Government soldiers Raj Whitehall and Thom Poplanich explore the catacombs when they find Battle Central. The Computer places Thom is a suspended state while ordering Raj to save the planet. Reluctantly he accepts the mission after Battle Central displays the destruction if he fails to act against the Colonists.

"The Hammer." Two years have passed since Battle Central sent Raj on his military mission. He returns to the catacombs for the first time since he left Thom there. Awakened Thom is stunned to have been left behind and missed so much. Raj argues that a new Southern Territories Expedition is needed though the previous one two decades ago proved a disastrous failure. Now a Brigadier General, Raj leads the expedition while corrupt leaders make success less likely.

The reprint of the first two rousing Raj Whitehall science fiction thrillers are exciting tales as the Bellevue world seems a plausible mix of nineteenth and twentieth century technology within a belligerent Holy Roman Empire feudal society. The battles are realistic especially the dark side of war as civilians are killed, maimed, raped and their assets taken. The insightful look at the worship of the silent Computer who abandoned the people but left behind the bible (manuals) is fabulous; especially the scholarly debates. Readers will enjoy this saga as the divided planet enables Raj opportunities to advance.

Alien In The House
Gini Koch
Daw Books, Inc.
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780756407575, $7.99,

Two Congressmen died in a car crash and a third is expected to pass way from pneumonia. New Mexico's 2nd Congressional District representative dies while attending a gala at the Centaurion Embassy. The odds of Congressional deaths due to accident or natural causes in a few months are extremely doubtful.

A-C married couple Ambassadors Jeff and Kitty Katt-Martini become concerned as she held the Representative's hands just before he died. Kitty's fears multiply when her spouse is named to fill the vacant seat as she wonders if someone targets Congress. As Kitty leads the investigation, she vows that her husband will not join the count.

The latest Alien science fiction (see Alien vs. Alien and Alien Diplomacy) is an exciting A-C thriller that deftly merges humor (due to misunderstandings between the cultures) and peril (from an unknown predator(s). Although the size of the cast has expanded over the course of the fun series to a point of needing a Cecil De Mille scorecard, readers will enjoy Alien in the House of Representatives (Jeff will feel at home with some of the members).

Hearts Of Shadow
Kira Brady
Zebra Books
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
119 West 40th Street, Floor 21
New York, NY 10018-2522
9781420124576, $6.99,

In devastated Seattle, shifters and humans reach a tentative accord to work together to rebuild the city and protect one another. Elite wraith killer Grace Mercer diligently works to keep her species safe, but rejects the latest demand on her time. City officials need her to team up with the dragon shifter regent Leif Asgard.

Realizing her potential, Leif believes Grace is the one who can save humans and shifters from horrific extinction. He wants to mentor her while she wants nothing to do with this abomination. As the threat grows, Grace's skill improves immensely under Leif's tutelage. However, to save their respective species, they must risk merging their souls or die trying.

The latest exciting Deadglass romantic urban fantasy (see Hearts Of Darkness) is an exhilarating thriller as readers will accept diverse paranormal running wild in the streets of Seattle. Fast-paced, sub-genre fans will enjoy this tale from the moment Grace objects to Leif training her and never slows down as each must make the same joint sacrifice to save the world.

Alexandra Ivy, Nina Bangs, Dianne Duvall and Hannah Jayne
9781420125122, $7.99

"Out Of Control" by Alexandra Ivy. Ph.D. candidate Angela Locke is attracted to Professor Nikolo Bartrev. An immortal Sentinel, Nikolo protects Angela whose work on genetics marks her for death from a nasty predator. This begins a new series.

"Ties That Bind" by Nina Bangs. At the Eternal Rest Funeral Home in Philadelphia, Cassie Tyler does a favor for her BFF Felicity only to be rescued from an assault by a man inside a coffin.

"In Still Darkness" by Dianne Duvall. Immortal Guardian Richart d'Alencon saved the female human from a vampire attack and received a kiss from her that has gotten him craving for more. This is an entry in the Immortal Guardians saga.

"High Stakes" by Hannah Jayne. In New York City, vampiric fashionista Nina LaShay hopes to peddle her Drop dead designs at a contest only her prime rival is murdered; she and Pike the photographer are the Underworld Detection Agency's only suspects.

These are four fun romantic vampire urban fantasies.

As Twilight Falls
Amanda Ashley
9781420130393, $7.99

Free-lance writer-photographer Kadie Andrews gets lost in Wyoming while working on a story about ghost towns. She crosses a wooden bridge during a storm but runs out of gas. Her cell phone fails to work. Vampire Darrick Vaughn welcomes her and takes the reluctant human to a tavern for coffee. He then takes her to a vacant house for her to stay. Vaughn claims her as his. However, master vampire Rylan Saintcrow says she belongs to him.

Human Donna tells her no one leaves town. Kadie tries to walk across the bridge but cannot complete the trek. She notices a special house that gives her the chills. At night Vaughn takes her to a restaurant but he does not eat. She joins a reading group where she learns the town contains a vampire coven of eight males and one female. They warn her of Saintcrow who no one has seen in years. Kadie tells Vaughn she wants to leave. He says she cannot and calls her his private stock. Saintcrow arrives and informs her everyone in town belongs to him. Saintcrow wonders why he needs Kadie as she is the first woman he invited into his Blair House. As they fall in love, the couple learns her father is aligned with hunters as he needs Saintcrow's blood to save his dying other daughter.

Readers will believe vampires run a city in which humans cannot leave (the Eagles' Hotel California) though with the horror in Cleveland, the concept becomes much more nightmarish. The star-crossed romance is nicely developed as is the transformation of Saintcrow although he is too powerful; ergo limiting suspense.

Night Terrors
Dennis Palumbo
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. First Ave., #103
Scottsdale, AZ 85251
9781464201318, $24.95,

In Pittsburgh, the FBI quietly asks psychologist Dr. Daniel Rinaldi to help former FBI special agent Lyle Barnes deal with his experiences of hunting serial killers. Barnes was the best because he could get inside the heads of these predators, but now in retirement they get inside his head every time he tries to sleep. Adding to his Night Terrors is a serial killer targeting anyone involved in ending John Jessup's homicidal reign; which includes Barnes who captured the psychopath and by extension Rinaldi may be on the murderer's list.

At the same time, Wes Currim confesses to decapitating businessman Edward Meachem in Wheeling. Wes refuses to show the body unless the shrink who works with the Pittsburgh PD accompanies them. Thus at the request of Chief Block, Daniel arrives in nearby West Virginia as an obviously disturbed Wes takes him and WPD to the severed corpse. Wes' mom Maggie believes her troubled son never killed the victim and pleads with Rinaldi to prove her contention while in Pittsburgh, the Jessup body count rises and Barnes vanishes from federal protective custody.

The third Daniel Rinaldi mystery (see Fever Dream and Mirror Image), is a fabulous police procedural as the protagonist struggles between patient confidentiality and law enforcement needs. Fast-paced throughout, readers will relish this twisting thriller as Wheeling and Pittsburgh keep Dr. Rinaldi and two police departments overworked trying to prevent further homicides.

The Night Detectives
Jon Talton
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. First Ave., #103
Scottsdale, AZ 85251
9781464201325, $24.95,

In Phoenix, Arizona, Felix Smith visits the office of private investigators David Mapstone and Mike Peralta. The former historian and ex-deputy sheriff, and at one time sheriff notice how much the elegantly garbed Smith stands out in their dumpy office. He retains the partners with, $10,000 in cash to look into the reported suicide of Grace Hunter.

In San Diego the retired hooker leaped from a nineteenth floor balcony to her death. Smith admits there is no evidence to the contrary to make a case for an accident or murder. The client leaves only to have his face blown up by an AK-47 in their parking lot. The two sleuths begin their inquiry in San Diego seeking Grace's boyfriend Tim Lewis in Ocean Beach where Mapstone once lived. Tim says Scarlett, as Grace was called in America's Finest City, is his girlfriend and mother of his child; unaware she is dead. He also admits that he and his Scarlett have deadly financial trouble with America's Finest Pimp.

This tense David Mapstone mystery (see South Phoenix Rules) is an exciting whodunit that keeps the audience in suspense wondering what next. Although the bad guys are out of casting 101, readers will relish the two Night Detectives' superb investigation.

A Heartbeat Away
S. Dionne Moore
Abingdon Press
PO Box 801, Nashville, TN 37202
9781426752704, $12.99,

In 1862 at the Battle of South Mountain, Confederate soldier Joe Madison is shot. He is fortunate that runaways brought the severely wounded rebel before he bled out to the farm of Gerta Baumgartner, who provides nursing care to anyone hurt.

Gerta's granddaughter Beth is at the farm over the objection of her parents who prefer she stay out of the war. Instead she wants to help with the healing. However, Beth refuses to nurse a Confederate soldier. Her grandma persuades her that God ignores people's stupid labels as the Lord tends to all his flock. Beth nurses Joe back to health while both work on the quilting blocks her mom gave her as pieces of home.

The latest Quilts of Love inspirational (see Threads of Hope by Christa Allen, Path of Freedom by Jennifer Hudson Taylor, A Wild Goose Chase Christmas by Jennifer AlLee and Beyond the Storm by Carolyn Zane) is a great Civil War drama. The romance between the protagonists deftly supports an insightful look at mid nineteenth century combat medicine as the audience obtains a deep look into soldier pain and suffering as love and death are both A Heartbeat Away.

The Prince's Bride
Julianne MacLean
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9780312552817, $7.99,

In 1815 Paris, the European leaders debate the fate of Napoleon. Amongst those in the city for the political meetings is infamous womanizer Prince Nicholas of Petersbourg. At a ball, he meets the charming masked Veronique. However, instead of a tryst, the rake's head pounds from being drugged as he awakens a prisoner.

Veronique Montagne feels remorse for what she did to Nicholas, but had no choice as she needed to pay her father's gambling debts in order to keep the family off the street. Making her feel worse is her attraction to Nicholas. Although irate at her duplicity, Nicholas wants her too and convinces Veronique to abet his escape. To avoid scandal they marry and head to Petersbourg where the past places both in peril in the present.

The third Royal Trilogy (see Be My Prince and Princess In Love) is an enjoyable Regency era romance in which a French siren and a philandering prince fall in love. Readers will understand Veronique's dilemmas and choices though not necessarily agree with them; but not Nicholas who seems flighty with his mercurial mood swings between to be or not to be with Veronique. Still fans will enjoy touring Paris and Petersbourg just after the defeat of Napoleon.

Midnight Temptations with a Forbidden Lord
Tiffany Clare
St. Martin's
9781250008039, $7.99

In 1846 London, Marquess Tristan Bradley is a charming rake who loves to seduce women. His rep is known throughout the Ton. Thus when debutante Lady Charlotte Lindsey asks him to dance he is taken aback as no innocent would want to be seen with him especially in the beginning of her first season.

Based on three years of intense studying of the Mayfair Chronicles for the ideal Roue, Charlotte thinks Tristan is perfect as she needs the philanderer to ruin her rep so as to avoid an undesirable marriage to a nasty fiance. Tristan thinks Charlotte is perfect as an expendable tool to destroy her fiance, his enemy Mr. Warren. As they fall in love, he suggests they wed, but she has doubts.

The latest Dangerous Rogues early Victorian romance (see Wicked Nights with a Proper Lady) is an enjoyable historical though the protagonists and key support characters never seem quite right with how they behave especially to adversity. Still readers who enjoy a gender war in which the beloved enemies have a common foe (my enemy's enemy is my lover) will want to read bodacious Charlotte's Midnight Temptations with a Forbidden Lord.

Sherrilyn Kenyon
St. Martin's Griffin
9781250002839, $18.99

The Cajun-demon Nick Gautier turned sixteen with concerns that seemingly everyone wants him dead. He has no friends as he learned firsthand to trust no one. The nearest individual to an ally Death wants him dead but warns him even his loved ones will betray him. Stunned Nick confronts his girlfriend Nekoda Kennedy, who confesses she must prevent a future Nick from becoming the Malachai who ended the world by stopping him now. Dumping Nekoda, being a teen Nick turns to Casey the cheerleader.

Enemies attack Nick and his Malachai father with no regard to collateral damage as they rationalize all will die otherwise. However, as their adversaries deploy increasingly deadlier assaults without success, they desperately turn to an ancient they cannot control. Nick soon concludes he must risk his life to stop the abomination threatening the world and also keep the future Nick from ending the world from happening while dating.

The latest Chronicles of Nick (see Infamous, Invisible and Infinity) is an action-packed twisting fantasy as the protagonist struggles to survive, save the world and find a date who does not want to kill him. Action-packed, fans will enjoy this entry although feel frustrated with the abrupt cliffhanger climax requiring a wait for book five.

Dark Days
Caitlin Kittredge
St. Martin's
9780312388263, $7.99

The Prince of Hell Belial pleads with Jack Winter to help him remain on his throne in Hell; the demon's best argument is that his pretender opponent is much worse. Jack prefers to refuse as he knows never to deal with a demon as lying is natural for Hell's denizen; but visions warn him that the demonic rival is the most powerful ever known and plans to cement control by causing the barrier between the Black and the human realms to shatter. However, it is one detail in the omen that has Jack agreeing to assist Belial; he sees his beloved wife Pete Caldecott dead if the adversary takes the throne.

To succeed in saving Pete's life, Jack realizes he has only one option. Breaking a personal vow of never, Jack pledges allegiance to a malevolence worse than Belial though he knows the likely cost will be never seeing Pete or their cherished daughter again; but he also believes that is the only way she lives.

The latest Jack Winter urban fantasy (see Devil's Business, Street Magic and Bone Gods) is a dark violent affair in which enemies become allies without any trust. Dark Days (and nights) is a strong entry as Caitlin Kittredge sends our hero through a Hell of a story as the noble Jack stubbornly struggles to more than just survive, but to be with his beloved females.

The Sound of One Hand Killing
Teresa Solana, translated by Peter Bush
Bitter Lemon Press
37 Arundel Gardens
London, W11 2LW, United Kingdom
9781908524065, $14.95,

In Barcelona detective twins Eduard Martinez and Borja Masdeu return to their office only to find someone broke in and trashed the place. Heeding the advice of a friend, best-selling noir author Teresa Solana hires the siblings to investigate alternative therapies for a noir she plans to write while she stays in a vacant apartment upstairs.

Instead they find the apartment's occupant Brian Morgan dead inside, but Borja's Assyrian statue, the Lioness of Baghdad, he stashed there remains safe there. Although unaware that the corpse is CIA, the brothers sign up for various New Age classes. Only they find a director Dr. Horaci Bou murdered by a Buddha statue.

The third Borja and Eduard Barcelona satirical Noir (see A Shortcut to Paradise and A Not So Perfect Crime) continues to lampoon the sub-genre while this time also mocking New Age saviors. The enjoyable storyline rotates between the two homicides and Borja's smuggling efforts. However it is the amusing skewing of con artists (especially believers who con themselves) preying on those struggling to find healing for even regular life ills in order to live as a norm in an abnormal land.

Paige Torn
Erynn Mangum
c/o NavPress
PO Box 35001, Colorado Springs, CO 80935
9781612912981, $14.99,

In Texas, Paige has no time for herself not even to properly sleep, eat or read the bible. She works at an adoption agency, teaches Sunday school, and volunteers/volunteered for all sorts of activity like planning a wedding anniversary party and administering a fund raiser. Now her BFF Layla is engaged to Peter, a man Paige dislikes and wants her to help plan her wedding. Naturally Paige agrees as she cannot say no.

At church, Paige meets new member Tyler. She is attractive to him and though a pensive person by nature he shows his interest in her. However, mentally fatigued Paige has no time to see anyone so she tries to keep her distance.

The first Paige Alder inspirational is a warm look at a person who's DNA insists she help others even at the cost of herself; First lady Nancy Reagan's "just say no" is not in her vocabulary. The message is an addendum to the Golden Rule "Do unto others (and yourself) as you would have them do unto you". Paige needs to learn to take care of her body, mind and spirit while also balancing the demands of others; as God gave us our humanity to treasure as sacred.

The Sisterhood
Helen Bryan
Amazon Publishing
9781611099287, $14.95,

In 1983, Mano del Diablo hurricane hammered the Pacific coast of South America. Many die and the destruction widespread. Miraculously, a naked two year old girl wearing only a religious medal survives by herself in a boat. No one claims her as their child and authorities assume her family died in the torrent so they leave the infant with nuns. Soon afterward Americans adopt her and take her to their home in Laurel Run, Georgia while naming her Menina Walker.

In 2000 Menina falls in love, but her fiance Theo Bonner III rapes her just before the wedding though he calls it sex. Encouraged by her BFF Becky, she ends their engagement; and soon afterward a traumatized Menina travels to Spain conducting research on artist Tristan Mendoza. She finds the centuries old Las Golondrinas Monastery with resident nuns who know who she is. In the sixteenth century while the Spanish inquisition terrorized everyone but especially Jews and Muslims, nuns risked their lives to try to save five little girls (Esperanza, Marisol, Sanchia, Pia and Isabella) who would have been declared heretics.

The Sisterhood is a great thriller that mostly rotates between Menina in 2000 and what happened in the 1550s in Spain to the female quintet. The storyline is action-packed with a super late twist that shakes the foundation of Christianity (and readers). Although her behavior seems too perfect (the Laurel Run adults use her as the paragon), Menina is a fabulous protagonist who keeps the plot focused as she connects the past and present while learning who she is.

Seth Patrick
Thomas Dunne Books
c/o St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9781250021700, $25.99,

Skeptical reporter Daniel Harker looks into the life of medium Eleanor Preston only to learn she is a Reviver who can resuscitate the dearly departed for a short period. Harker breaks the story and becomes a popular affluent writer. However, the living become divided over the practice as the afterlife faction oppose the desecration of death while the pragmatists sees chances for loved ones to say final goodbyes and for solving questions like homicides or missing family heirlooms as "death won't silence them."

Reviver spring up with many being shams, but some like forensic Reviver Jonah Miller works police investigations. When a dead female victim of a horrendous murder implies to Jonah darkness lies waiting behind the practice, the forensic investigator begins to reconsider what he thought was an ideal way to retrieve the truth.

This is a super tale that switches from practical police usage and passionate family revival to a dark horror thriller. Fast-paced throughout even while transitioning, readers will enjoy Seth Patrick's taut storyline as forensic science adds new rules of engagement when interrogating the afterlife to solve cases like that of Nikki Wood.

Forbidden Feast
Joelle Sterling
Strebor Books
9781593094935, $15.00,

In Frombleton, Georgia vampires led by Elson run the town while humans are not even second class citizens. Only one human may have the power to overcome the vampires, but teenager Holland Manning may be a Witch of the First Order, but the Stoneham Academy witchcraft student has little field experience.

However, vampire are not the solo act out the devour humans. Zombies have surfaced making the streets unsafe as they compete with the vampires for the top rung of the food chain; both groups agree on one thing: humans are their sustenance. Leading the zombie pack is Jonas the Haitian who is Holland's true love. Only she can save her species from the violent paranormal that stalk Frombleton, but may have to destroy her beloved zombie rather than save him with a spell Rebecca gave her.

The third Eternal Dead young adult rural fantasy (see Midnight Cravings and Dark Hunger) is a taut teen thriller. The engaging storyline is fast-paced with the focus on Holland's efforts to save her town and on human survival during a cross-species war. Readers will enjoy Joelle Sterling's strong entry.

State of Emergency
Marc Cameron
Pinnacle Books
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
119 West 40th Street, Floor 21
New York, NY 10018-2522
9780786031801, $9.99,

Someone viciously murders agents, Russian Mikhail Polzin and American Riley Cooper in Uzbekistan. In Seattle, college student Taylor Bancroft dies at a hospital from radiation poisoning that she carried inside her when she agreed in Helsinki to deliver drugs back to the States to make some easy money. Less than two minutes apart, bombs explode almost simultaneously at the Embarcadero BART station in San Francisco and at Vikebsk Station in St. Petersburg, Russia; both sites leave many dead and panic of terrorism goes stratospheric. Espionage agencies fear that a cold killer has control of the dreaded mythical Baba Yoga which means cold war nuclear bombs are next.

Air Force OSI agent Jericho Quinn and his unit search for the sinister genius who has gained control of at least two nukes; their mission is to eliminate the threat by retrieving the bombs and killing the adversaries. Aleksandra the Russian operative joins the team who end up in South America where as part of his mission, Quinn rides in the 6,000 mile Dakar Rally motorcycle race.

The latest Jericho Quinn thriller (see Act of Terror and National Security) is an exhilarating over the top of Nevado Sajama tale as time is running out even before the hero, his squad and the Russian begin countermeasures. Fast-paced, readers will enjoy Quinn's sprint to prevent a calamity from two ice-cold terrorists who early on watch the sunset together while Cooper slowly dies at their feet.

The Altarpiece
Sarah Kennedy
Knox Robinson Publishing
34 New House, 67-68 Hatton Garden
London, EC1N 8JY, United Kingdom
9781908483478, $27.99,

In 1535 King Henry VIII sends soldiers to enforce the schism between England and Rome. His agents viciously destroy priories, churches and most remnants of the Catholic Church as the Church of England with the monarch as the Supreme Head has become the official religion of the kingdom. Priests, nuns and monks are tossed brutally onto the streets.

Lord Robert Overton arrives at the Priory of Mount Grace in Havenston, Yorkshire to claim his new property gifted to him by the king. However, he delays kicking the religious occupants out of their home when his younger brother William becomes seriously ill. Instead he orders a nun Catherine Havens the healer to save his sibling's life. When William recovers, he and Catherine search for the missing valuable altarpiece that vanished at the same time as the siblings arrived at the priory; the prime suspects are the healer and her best friend Ann. Catherine and her former patient also investigate strange deaths that may be related to the Altarpiece.

The first Cross and the Crown Tudor thriller provides a deep look at the deaths, destruction and disarray caused by the shutting down of the Roman Church and the creation of the Church of England. The key cast is solid especially Catherine who faces moral dilemmas as she must choose between her past and an uncertain future. The leisurely-paced storyline enables the reader to believe we are there as Sarah Kennedy provides a wonderful spotlight on an age of deadly confusion.

Galia Ryan
Fanny Press
9781603815161, $13.95,

In 1989 France, fortyish Charles knows he should not as he has a fifteen years old daughter, but his Charlotte is a child while his business partner's sixteen year old daughter Stephanie is a beautiful poised adult. Thus he cannot stop himself from offering her Choices between his funding her summer on the Cote d'Azur or her virginity. Both know if she chooses him as her lover, they must hide their tryst from Stephanie's father Alain who has spoiled her as his favorite offspring especially after her mother Ulla abandoned her for a self-discovery quest and from Charles' wife Antoinette.

They become lovers and through him she meets Olivia who mentors the teen on sexing her way to the top of high society. All is great in her world until she meets Giancarlo.

The second Luxuria erotica is a strong character study as Stephanie learns the lesson of social climbing via bedding until Giancarlo teaches her there is more to life than just sex (though slow dance smooching remains near the top of their tango). Readers will enjoy super Stephanie's sexual saga and look forward to more of her sexcapades and that of awesome Anna (see Choices).

Tess Collins
BearCat Press
P.O. Box 642491, San Francisco, CA 94164
9781937356316, $13.00,

Randi Jo Gaylor grew up in the Appalachian hovel Notown, the poorest part of Kentucky. Everyone in impoverished Crimson County knows the hierarchy of Contrary being the "Big Show" all thrive for but few achieve; Quinntown being home to mostly white trash; and Notown residents recognized as retarded white trash.

Amazingly over her forty plus years and having a Seraph Fear Angel as a companion, Randi Jo always sees the glass full. She has been a guardian angel to her kin and friends by covering up homicides and other transgressions. However, someone threatens her and more important her beloved daughter Tallulah who lives with her father Connor Herne and his wife Rory. For the first time in her life, Randi Jo becomes a full citizen of Notown as she plots murder on that day but learns killing is not that easy once the whole truth is known or does knowing just the facts justify slaying a person trying to kill you.

The first Midnight Valley Quartet tale is a leisurely-paced engaging look at growing up in Appalachia. Character driven, readers will enjoy touring Notown with Randi Jo as their guide as she makes delicious Sno Balls seem like a gourmand's delicacy while stalking with a prosthetic legged ally an adversary who wants her dead.

Another Heaven
Annu Subramanian
Apprentice House
9781934074879, $18.95,

In 2009 the nineteen years old female suicide bomber blows up a train in the Seloor District of South India; killing many innocent people. In Ashville, Pennsylvania, Tina Matthew chats with her faculty advisor Dr. Katz about the horrific mass murders in India; as she is soon going to stay with her paternal Aunt Rita and Uncle Theo in Chennai, India while conducting research into the motives of terrorists for her thesis.

In India, religious fanatic Usman seeks desperate victims for his schemes. He easily finds them amongst the downtrodden trafficked and gives them meals, a bed, and a purpose to die for Allah as "the end of all means is the beginning". Meanwhile Tina rides the train to Chennai, but a detour leaves her several hundred kilometers away in Seloor where Usman learns of the American.

This is a strong timely thriller that looks deeply into the motives of suicide bombers and the lethal Svengali who psychologically manipulates these traumatized impoverish giving them "hope" for a better future in Heaven. Putting aside the early coincidence of the protagonist ending up in Seloor, aptly titled Another Heaven is an exciting tale as Annu Subramanian provides a profound yet thrilling story that answers why.

The Right Mr. Wrong
Natalie Anderson
Harlequin Kiss
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road
Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373207169, $4.99,

Her parents and his parents want Victoria and Oliver to marry. Victoria knows he is a steady mate who she planned to accept his proposal until she met his magnetic BFF Liam. He goes on his knees and proposes. Victoria must decide between a lifetime of steady ennui that pleases her family or a lifetime explosive memory that will flame out rather quickly and place her in the family exile category alongside her no-name sister. The Right Mr. Wrong contains two clever related novellas that pivot from Victoria's answer to Oliver's proposal. Both are fun comparative tales as Natalie Anderson makes a strong case that choices matter as the heroine goes down two distinct paths over the next few years.

"The Wedding Dress Diaries" by Aimee Carson is a bonus entry as Amber decides on following her heart for the second time with Parker though she believes he does not feel the same way as her. This is a fun short story included in all the June Kisses.

Too Close For Comfort
Heidi Rice
Harlequin Kiss
9780373207176, $4.99

In a middle of a motel stakeout, private investigator Zane Montoya observes a woman in her early twenties enter the room he has under surveillance. Since his target is a male con artist, he needs her out of there immediately so Zane abducts Iona MacCabe before she destroys his inquiry. Iona explains she entered her ex-husband's room to retrieve her passport. Over her objection, Zane places her under his protection. He also knows he fiercely attracted to the fiery redhead who does not believe the hunt wants her. As they fall in love, his childhood demons and her marital failure threaten to end their relationship. With a nod to the movie Stakeout, Too Close For Comfort is an engaging romantic suspense though several key scenes seem too clever and forced to bring the protagonists together.

"The Wedding Dress Diaries" by Aimee Carson is a bonus entry as Amber decides on following her heart for the second time with Parker though she believes he does not feel the same way as her. This is a fun short story included in all the June Kisses.

The Cowboy's Return
Susan Crosby
Harlequin Special Edition
9780373657483, $4.99

Mitch Ryder has been away from his family ranch in Red Valley, California for three mostly out of country years. His father demanded he come home so after ignoring three previous orders, Mitch returns to Northern California, but he drives past the Ryder Ranch delaying seeing his family a little longer.

When his truck Lulu dies near Barney Barnard's spread, he walks to the house only to have a woman accost him for being late. Instead of going home, he takes a job on a neighbor's farm; but conceals from his employer single mom Annie Barnard who his family is. His work is top rate and her attraction powerful, but his patient tender treatment of her ten year old son Austin makes him perfect. That is until she learns he is the prodigal son of the family trying to buy her farm.

The first Red Valley ranch romance is a terrific contemporary due to the triangle dynamics between the fully developed characters (including Austin). The Cowboy's Return is a wonderful family drama as a lie of omission affirms what Walter Scott said: "Oh what a tangled web we weave, When first we practice to deceive"; especially when the heart becomes involved.

No Strings...
Janelle Denison
Harlequin Blaze
9780373797585, $5.50

For two years, Perry & Associates advertising executives Chloe Reiss and Aiden Landry kept their distance from each other except for harmless flirting as each hides their drooling attraction for the other. Besides the firm's no- sleeping with your work colleagues policy, Chloe and Aiden have had failed relationships that leave each commitment phobic.

Richard Perry sends Chloe and Aiden to St. Raphael singles resort as competitors with separate marketing teams trying to win the account of the singles resort for their company. At St. Raphael, Chloe and Aiden break the no dating rule as they begin a tryst and discuss their relationship failures while falling in love.

Janelle Denison provides her audience with a heated conference room romance starring two driven competitors giving in to their respective libido and hearts in a for lovers' exotic location. Readers will enjoy execs ignoring their No Strings agreement and office policy as two hearts beat as one.

I Cross My Heart
Vicki Lewis Thompson
Harlequin Blaze
9780373797554, $5.50

Following his divorce from Lindsay, Nash Bledsoe looks forward to never hear a quote from self-help author of Happiness Is A Choice Bethany Grace, who his ex-wife kept citing. He leaves California and obtains work at the Last Chance Ranch in Wyoming.

However, fate has a way of nuking the best laid plans of mice and Nash when ranch foreman Emmett Sterling sends him to check out smoke at the vacant neighboring Triple G whose owner Hank Grace drank himself to death. Nash finds the late Hank's grieving daughter Bethany angrily burning her dad's lounger. He agrees to help her fix up the poorly kept house and ranch so she could sell them before returning to the city while she seduces him. By the time he learns that Bethany Grace is Lindsay's Bethany Grace, he has fallen in love.

The latest Sons of Chance ranch romance is an enjoyable tale due to the strong lead characters and the return of the heroes from previous entries (see Feels Like Home and lead Me Home). Although the storyline follows a path straighter than the Bonneville Salt Flats, fans will enjoy the heated irony of Nash falling in love with the woman he never wanted quoted again.

The Sword Dancer
Jeannie Lin
9780373297429, $6.50

In 848 China, Li Feng is a master sword dancer and clever thief in spite of being female in the male-exclusive dominated Tang Dynasty. When she steals treasure from a brutal general to help the rebel cause against this vicious overlord; two thief catchers, legendary Zheng Hao Han and Longxu pursue her. Han realizes Li Feng has skills never displayed by a woman and that she learned them in Wudang Mountain; as her sword dancing is top quality and her effort to escape brilliant. Still he catches her and takes her to the jail where the tribunal at Taining will determine her guilt.

However Han has one problem with dumping the talented Li Feng with the law. She saved his life when he slipped as he chased her on rooftops; she could have escaped and he be dead. Reluctantly because she has skewered his righteous belief in right or wrong, he agrees to help her with her quest to find her family. As they fall in love, the Thief Catcher realizes the thief stole his heart and hopes he stole hers too.

The latest Tang Dynasty romances (see My Fair Concubine, Butterfly Swords, and The Dragon And The Pearl) is an exciting action-packed historical with a fresh heroine who shakes up the heart and soul of the by the book hero. Action-packed, fans will enjoy Jeannie Lin's entertaining ninth century Chinese thriller.

Taming The Demon
Doranna Durgin
Harlequin Nocturne
9780373885701, $5.75

At night her boss Sawyer Compton sends his personal assistant Natalie Chambers to an address in the southwest quarter of Albuquerque that frightens her. While she mumbles to herself, several bad asses accost her. Devin James and his Demon Blade arrive to rescue Natalie.

Compton hires James to protect Chambers. However, he conceals his agenda from his two employees. He hired the thugs who assaulted her to bring Devin into his sphere. His goal is to kill the Demon Blade owner in order to gain control of the power; as Compton denies that the Demon Blade controls Devin equally if not more so in a sort of codependency. However Natalie has modified the equation by providing her rescuer with a needed anchor fueled by love.

This Demon Blade romantic urban fantasy is an exciting thriller that grips the reader from the moment Natalie encounters the first thug and never loosens that hold until the final confrontation. Action-packed, readers will relish this entertaining tense tale, as love may not be enough to prevent Devin from falling to the same fate as his sibling.

Keeper of the Shadows
Alexandra Sokoloff
Harlequin Nocturne
9780373885695, $5.75

Courier crime reporter Barrie Gryffald, like her two cousins Rhiannon Gryffald (see Keeper of the Night by Heather Graham) and Sailor Ann Gryffald (see Keeper of the Moon by Harley Jane Kozak), is a Keeper of the Los Angeles' shapeshifters. When World International Pictures head Saul Mayo dies from an overdose, she thinks good riddance to this former human slug.

However, she changes her tune when she connects his demise to the filming of Otherworld; as fifteen years ago the shooting of that movie led to the murder of an actor that never was solved. More deaths follow while newbie reporter Mick Townsend seems everywhere she goes. He suggests they team up but hides from his partner that he is a shifter who had a part in the original filming of Otherworld and one more personal secret.

The third Keepers: LA romantic urban fantasy is an engaging investigative thriller starring two fascinating protagonists. Their hunt for a diabolical killer makes for a fun paranormal whodunit with kissing interludes.

Second Chance With the Rebel & Her Royal Wedding Wish
Cara Colter
Harlequin Romance
9780373742424, $5.99

"Second Chance with the Rebel." Years ago, Lucy Lindstrom and Macintyre Hudson were an entry, but their different backgrounds and demeanors ended their relationship; especially when he could not commit. Lucy serves as the chief fundraiser for the Mother's Day gala; where Harriet Freda will be honored. She asks Mac to be there for his foster mom. Though he failed her, he would do anything for his beloved foster mom. As they work together to make this the best gala ever, each realizes they remain in love with the other, but though they know so much more about their partner's motives, neither wants to take a second chance on love.

"Her Royal Wedding Wish." The B'Ranasha royalty hires personal protection expert Jake Ronan to provide additional security for the guests at the wedding of Princess Shoshauna. However, an attempt on her life leads to Jake keeping her safe at a secret location for a week. As the Australian soldier and the B'Ranasha princess fall in love, duty supersedes the heart.

Second Chance with the Rebel starts slow and muddled, but once the lead characters begin working the event, the storyline accelerates into a wonderful contemporary romance. With a nod to Roman Holiday, Her Royal Wedding Wish is a reprint of an engaging tale in which love may not be enough.

Cavanaugh On Duty
Marie Ferrarella
Harlequin Romantic Suspense
9780373278213, $5.50

Chief of Detectives Brian Cavanaugh informs Detective Esteban Fernandez that his three years stint undercover as Juan Dominguez ended when Jorge Lopez learned that his dealer was a cop. With a bounty on his head, Brian reassigns Esteban to Homicide in Aurora to replace a retiring veteran. His partner is Brian's newly discovered niece Detective Kari Cavelli-Cavanaugh.

Esteban broods over his failure to take down the cartel who killed his mother and stepbrother and sent his stepfather to prison; and now is assigned to what he deems is a "demotion" especially partnering with Kari which seems like nepotism. Kari prefers working alone, but being flexible she plans to make their teaming a success. She also wonders if Esteban is Steve from high school. As they work cases together, they begin to fall in love, but he knows firsthand that love hurts.

The latest Cavanaugh Justice romantic police procedural (see Cavanaugh Surrender) is an enjoyable suspense; as fans will feel how depressed Esteban is from the onset. Fast-paced and filled with angst, Cavanaugh On Duty is an engaging entry.

The Wyoming Cowboy
Rebecca Winters
Harlequin American
9780373754557, $5.50

At Walter Reed, three wounded warrior marines (Lundgren, Buck and Ross) suffering from survivor guilt and respiratory problems caused by their Afghan deployment agree to convert Carson Lundgren's spread into a dude ranch for the families of fallen servicemen and women. When the trio completes the renovation step, they begin to invite surviving family members of deceased comrades in arms.

In Sandusky, Ohio, Widow Tracy Baretta and her elementary school aged son Johnny accept an invitation to visit the renovated Wyoming ranch for a week where the mom hopes her son will heal somewhat over the loss of his father. Tracy and Carson are attracted to one another upon their first meeting while over the next few days Johnny worships the kind and patient ranch owner. As they fall in love near the Grand Tetons, both adults consider the future with the child's needs most important.

Though the romance is a somewhat standard contemporary, the insight into the mental health of returning soldiers and surviving family members brings freshness to the warm storyline. The lead couple and the child seem real with each struggling to deal with varying degrees of PTSD as Rebecca Winters opens her Daddy Dude Ranch series with a tender family drama.

Jane's Gift
Abby Gaines
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373718504, $5.75

Driving to Pinyon Ridge, Colorado, Jane Slater is late to the funeral of her best and only friend Melissa who had beaten cancer in her twenties only to die at thirty-one when her date crashed in a DUI accident. Melissa wanted Jane to be in her young daughter Daisy's life over the objection of the child's father Pinyon Ridge Mayor Kyle Everson who has full custody.

Kyle has always felt that Jane and her kin were bad influences. However, he admires her gumption as she refuses to quit on her late BFF's request while both place the interests of Daisy over their own desires. As the adults fall in love, each remains in denial while Daisy disagrees with both adults as she has different dreams for the future.

Although the early denying feels overdone, readers will enjoy this romance as Melissa's gift to Jane is love. Character-driven, fans will relish visiting Colorado as Abby Gaines provides a warm family drama.

April Showers
Holly Jacobs
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373718528, $5.75

Former marine Sebastian Bennington takes his injured body and mind home to Valley Ridge, New York to attend his friend Colton's wedding (see You Are Invited...). He also plans to spend time with his grandfather Hank who still runs the diner in town.

However, living in the apartment above the diner is nurse Lily Paul, who loves Hank like a grandfather though she never had anyone like him when she was a child. When Lily and Sebastian meet, she yells at him for ignoring his grandfather who she knows adores his grandson. However, Sebastian is filled with rage and nothing like the happy child his grandfather describes. Lily tries to help him with his mental and physical traumas while he soon loosens up enough to tell her what happened. As they fall in love with Hank's blessing, each has major doubts.

The second VALLEY RIDGE WEDDING contemporary romance is a warm drama starring two wonderful hurting (in different ways) protagonists, a kind grandfather and a caring town overlooking Lake Erie (a Holly Jacobs' delightful trademark). Readers will relish the relationship between the wounded warrior and the wounded nurse series while looking forward to the story of the third amigo.

A Prior Engagement
Karina Bliss
Harlequin SuperRomance
9780373718498, $5.75

New Zealand attorney Juliet Browne is elated to learn that her deceased "fiance" New Zealand SAS officer Lee Davis was coming home after being reported dead in Afghanistan as the Americans rescued him. However, Jules also is concerned over misleading everyone into believing she and Lee were engaged including wearing his ring. In truth she said no to his proposal before he deployed and became a POW.

At the airport, Jules thinks Lee has PTSD-driven amnesia and accepts his latest proposal, but ponders how to tell him the truth. However, she soon concludes he does not suffer from memory loss; but instead is avenging her rejection of him. As each knows they remain in love, Jules and Lee wonder how to tell the other they want the engagement to be real.

The latest New Zealand combat veteran romance (see Bring Him Home) is an engaging second chance at love tale. Lee comes back from the dead (see Here Comes The Groom for his reported demise) to see his family, renew friendships and get even with the woman who hurt him more than the enemy ever did. He and readers learn what he missed while the key to this welcome home party is Lee's PTSD feels genuine and accentuates his ire at Jules.

The Eternity Curse
Julie Kagawa
Harlequin Teen
9780373210695, $16.99

After Allie and her beloved Zeke reached the sanctuary of Eden; she had to leave the island because she was a vampire following a brutal rabid assault forced Kanin the vampire to change her to save her life (see The Immortal Rules). She also has a second reason for her departure from the only known human stronghold as she heeds the call of Kanin's blood.

Sarren the crazed vampire has attacked Kanin. Allie feels a compulsion to rescue her sire. The Vampire Prince Jackal reluctantly joins her on her quest as he prefers to stake her again than ally with her. As she follows her blood's call, she returns to the outer Fringe where she scavenged for scraps as a child. Her welcome home is a new strain of the Red Lung plague that devastated humanity but this strain also threatens vampires.

The second Blood of Eden teenage fantasy continues Allie's journey in a fully developed changing dystopian world. Fast-paced from the moment the heroine follows the blood, readers will relish the twisting storyline as the audience and the protagonist wonder who should she trust.

Karen Ann Hopkins
Harlequin Teen
9780373210817, $9.99

A widower, Dr. Cameron relocated with his children (Rose, Sam and Justin) from suburban Cincinnati to rural Meadowview, Ohio where he accepted the position of a hospital's ER chief. Their Amish neighbors welcome the family. Teenage Rose did not want to leave their home until she met Amish Noah Miller. Attracted to one another, his Amish heritage disallows him to court an Englisher; he would be shunned unless she turns Amish (see Temptation), which she agrees to do.

Hostile Bishop Lambright, his wife and four other men including Noah's dad inform Rose she must learn the Old Amish Ways if she wants to be with Noah. Elderly Ruth Hershberger appears to tell Rose she will live with her as her mentor becoming part of the congregation before Noah does. Additionally she will not see Noah until she proves she is Amish inside and out. No transgressions are allowed.

The second Rose and Noah young adult romance is an intriguing tale as readers observe the brave Englisher's new lifestyle including abandoning her family while rotating with what happens to Noah. The storyline starts leisurely paced as Rose cleans pots and makes new friends. However Noah's former intended Ella, abetted by Levi increases her hostility towards the outsider; which leads to errors by the lead couple in a fun twisting forbidden teen romance.

The Return of the Sheikh
Kristi Gold
Harlequin Desire
9780373732432, $5.25

For several years the Crown Prince of Bajul, Zain Mehdi enjoyed the outside world of the West as the "Playboy Prince" but destroyed his reputation within his country by doing so. Now, he returns home to rule his kingdom. His brother Prince Rafiq understands the need to clean his sibling's tarnished image of a womanizer so he hires media consultant Madison Foster to improve how Zain's subjects see him.

Although he objected to an image consultant, Zain and Madison are attracted to each other. However, both accept the reality that they cannot be more than a short fling as he must marry a royal instead of the woman he loves who secretly carries his child.

This is an enjoyable contemporary romance as two individuals in love have no hope for anything permanent between them. Although the storyline goes as expected, fans will enjoy the Return of the Sheikh to rule his kingdom at the cost of his heart.

Waking Up To You
Leslie Kelly
Harlequin Blaze
9780373797516, $5.50

"Waking Up To You." Costume designer Candace Reid agrees to a five-year marriage to her friend Tommy Shane the actor so he can remain in the closet as coming out or being exposed as gay would end his film career. Before they announce their engagement, she heads to wine country when her Grandpa breaks his hip. Candace meets whistleblowing former prosecutor Oliver McKean the winery groundskeeper. As they fall in love, her promise to Tommy lingers in the way.

"Overexposed." In Chicago, ex-marine Nick Santori knew Isabella Natale when she was little "Izzy" growing up in Little Italy. When he sees her in her family's bakery, Nick thinks she is beautiful and wants her. When she sees Nick in the bakery, her feelings of wanting him as a teen remains as strong as an adult. Nick works as a bodyguard at a night club that some might say is a strip joint. Though confused and wondering how shallow he feels as he desires Izzy, Nick also has the hots for exotic dancer Crimson Rose, whose velvet mask is almost as enticing as her exotic G-string. Crimson Rose knows the new bodyguard as she has desired him since they grew up in Little Italy together. Although as Izzy she does not have the guts to seduce Nick, as her alter-ego Rose she does.

Both romances are entertaining torrid "triangle" contemporaries starring likable protagonists though the premise of each feels over the top. Note that Overexposed is a reprint of a 2007 release.

Northern Rebel
Jennifer LaBrecque
Harlequin Blaze
9780373797523, $5.50

"Northern Rebel." Nurse Delphi Reynolds is professionally blackballed in Atlanta in disbelief after her employer married Dr. DeWitt Zellers makes a move on her that his wife blamed on her. Her friend Dr. Skye Shanahan persuades her to move to Good Riddance, Alaska to work for her. U.S. Marine Lars Reinhardt comes to town to attend his twin brother Liam's wedding (see Northern Renegade). Though attracted to Lars, Delphi wants no relationships especially one night trysts as she fears no place to go if her rep is destroyed again.

"Daring in the Dark." Tawny Edwards and Elliott are engaged, but she has the hots for his BFF Simon Thackeray. Elliot has fallen in love with someone else and plans to end his relationship with Tawny by telling her the truth. He asks Simon to be there when he tells her. However, a blackout strands Elliot in another building so asks Simon to end his engagement to Tawny by telling her he is gay and in love with someone else. Simon decides to tell Tawny the whole truth to include that he loves her.

Though the plots are thin, the Northern Heat Reinhardt sequel is an enjoyable baked Alaskan romance; while Daring in the Dark is a reprint of a 2005 over the top blazer.

Special Forces Father
Mallory Kane
Harlequin Intrigue
9780373696871, $5.50

In New Orleans, Army Special Forces Officer Travis Delancey spent four months in a hell hole as a prisoner of war. Dreaming of his college sweetheart Kate Chalmet kept Travis barely alive. When he escaped he spent a month at Walter Reed before driving from Bethesda shaking all the way to his hometown New Orleans to see his beloved even before his family though he expects a tundra welcoming having deserted Kate twice before.

Psychiatrist Dr. Kate Chalmet looks into whether Senator Myron Stamps was sane when he committed assault by a deadly weapon. However, someone hires professional Bentley Woods to influence the shrink's decision by his kidnapping her four year old child Max. Travis arrives to see Kate for the first time in five years; he angrily learns he has a child and that son was abducted. He, his Delancey brothers and their cousin hunt the kidnapper and those who hired him to rescue Max.

The latest Delancey Dynasty romantic suspense (see Star Witness and Death of a Beauty Queen) is a super tale due to a strong cast especially the protagonists and their offspring. Although the premise of concealing the siring of a child from the biological father is an overused device, the portrayal of Travis, who suffers from physical and mental issues, makes for a strong thriller as he must overcome his problems to save his child he has not met.

Explosive Attraction
Lena Diaz
Harlequin Intrigue
9780373696895, $5.50

St. Augustine police detective and bomb technician Rafe Morgan obsesses over keeping the city streets safe; especially since his wife Shelby died during a home invasion. Shelby's brother Jake, also a bomb technician cop, blames his former brother-in-law for failing to protect his late sister.

Rafe and psychologist Dr. Darby Steele often argue in court as she obsesses over helping troubled people obtain a second chance like she received. However, he arrives when she calls the police to report a threat. A serial bomber has obsessed on Darby. Rafe, with help from his DEA agent brother Nick, vows to keep her safe; as fighting between them turns to love.

Explosive Attraction is a fabulous romantic police procedural as courtroom enemy combatants fall in love while on the run. Rafe feels guilt which Jake constantly reminds him; while Darby is the phobia poster person. Readers will relish this taut suspense and demand Lena Diaz (see The Marshal's Witness) provides tales starring Jake and Nick.

Expecting Fortune's Heir
Cindy Kirk
Harlequin Special Edition
9780373657407, $5.50

In the elegant La Casa Paloma Hotel in Red Rock, Texas, two people alone on New year's Eve meet. Lia and Shane share a midnight kiss that leads to a wonderful one-night stand.

Not long after acting out of character, Natalia Serrano finds herself carrying the stranger's baby. She cannot tell him as she only knows his first name. Shane Fortune returns to Red Rock for the first time since his delightful New Year's Eve tryst with Lia. When they meet for the second time, she tells him she is carrying his baby and just wants him to be a father to their child as she knows it is his hard it is to be raised without a dad. Distrusting everyone since his father recently betrayed him, Shane wonders if Lia is setting him up to pay child support for someone else's kid as he considers that his need for her to be honest may paint her true intentions.

Though a serious dramatic contemporary, Expecting Fortune's Heir will remind readers of the comedic movie Fools Rush In as two cultures collide over a pregnancy. Although the romance feels abruptly rushed at the end, readers will enjoy this engaging tale as The Fortunes of Texas unborn next generation plays matchmaker between two recalcitrant soon to be parents.

It Was Only A Kiss
Joss Wood
Harlequin Kiss
9780373207152, $4.99

In South Africa, confident and cocky marketing intern Jess Sherwood informs Luke Savage his plan for his family's vineyard St. Sylve he recently inherited will fail. To silence the upstart, he kisses her. When she catches her breath, she continues with her tirade until he fires her.

Eight years later, St. Sylve remains in trouble while Jess is an in demand marketing guru. She bids for the St. Sylve job while he prefers anyone else, but hires her anyway. Each remembers that kiss like it was a second ago and both obsess with a need for a repeat while also fearing their lips locking again. As they fall in love, they begin to learn about his late mom who died when he was a child.

The keys to this terrific contemporary romance are the wonderful setting and troubled Luke coming across as real. Readers will relish It Was Only A Kiss that burned inside the respective hearts and minds of the protagonists (and readers).

Anything But Vanilla...
Liz Fielding
Harlequin Kiss
9780373207145, $4.99

In Maybridge, landlord Alexander West has come to shut down bankrupt Knickerbocker Gloria as Ria failed again to organize her specialty ice creams business. Caterer Sorrel Amery arrives to pick up the Jefferson order only instead of the vanished Ria, "Mr. Postcard" Alexander greets her.

Desperate to save her catering firm, sensible Sorrel offers to take over the lease for one month of the bankrupt though not filed ice cream parlor. She detests her attraction to the world wandering landlord who she assumes is Ria's younger lover whenever he is in town, which Sorrel believes is as frequent as Halley's Comet. Still they begin a tryst and soon fall in love. However, Sorrel and Alexander assume once the month is up, their relationship ends or does it as there is plenty of other flavors to try.

With flavors that will stun ice creams connoisseurs, Anything but Vanilla is a wonderful contemporary romance. The lead couple is a fabulous pairing as they fight, fuss and fall in love over Earl Grey granita and champagne sorbet.

All He Ever Dreamed
Shannon Stacey
Harlequin HQN
9780373777587, $7.99

When their father died, Josh Kowalski took over running the family owned Northern Star Lodge in Whitford, Maine while his four older siblings pursued their dreams. Bone weary and resentful that he was left to handle the lodge Josh looks forward to leaving now that his brother agrees to manage the business.

Daughter of the Northern Star Lodge housekeeper Rose Davis, Katie has loved Josh since they were friends in elementary school. However, he thinks of her as one of the guys. However, his feelings become muddled after a passionate evening together. As he falls in love, Katie rejects Josh because she knows firsthand his dream is to leave Whitford, the lodge and consequently her behind.

The latest Kowalski contemporary romance (see All He Ever Desired) is an engaging tale of a wannabe wanderer and the female homesteader who has loved him unrequitedly for years. In some ways their present relationship will remind the audience of the leads in All He Ever Needed though Josh and Katie have a childhood friendship that could prove baggage or foundation. Readers will enjoy Josh's turn at love.

Bare It All
Lori Foster
Harlequin HQN
9780373777617, $7.99

After barely surviving a human trafficking ring abduction (see Trace of Fever), Alice Appleton keeps a low profile allowing no one to get close to her while interceding in keeping the vulnerable safe from the predators. Thus she cannot understand why she lets her neighbor police detective Reese Bareden sleep on her couch and his dog Cash to stay too while his trashed apartment is fixed up. Reese knows unassuming Alice hides a big secret from him and vows to learn what it is as he needs to get to know her. Ironically Reese knows the only time Alice seems to like him is when Cash is nearby begging for treats from her just like him though their treats differ.

Alice tries to rescue a girl, but interferes with a ruthless drug ring's business operations. Reese vows to keep Alice safe though she handles a gun like a pro as he learns firsthand. As they fall in love, Reese struggles with his pledge to keep her safe as Alice seems to be a trouble magnet.

The second Love Undercover romantic suspense (see Run the Risk) is an enjoyable police procedural starring two brave souls. Although secondary character subplots slow the otherwise fast-paced storyline, readers will enjoy the adventures of the tough cop and the good Samaritan.

Harriet Klausner
Senior Reviewer

Laurel's Bookshelf

Carol's Alzheimers Journey
Donald H. Ford and Carol C. Ford
Lulu Publishing
3101 Hillsborough Street
Raleigh, NC 27607-5436
9781300803218, $25.97,

Sometimes the stars align and two people perfect for each other marry. Don and Carol Ford were ideally matched in every way when they married in 1948. The love story aspect here is essential for laying the foundation for Carol's Alzheimer's care later in life. Carol's mother and aunt died of Alzheimer's so the risk of it hung over her head like a dark cloud for decades. Don promised Carol if she got Alzheimer's, he'd care for her at home and make sure their life continued as normally and happily as possible.

Don and Carol's lifelong philosophy had been to accentuate the positive and eliminate the negative. That philosophy did not change when Carol got Alzheimer's. Don used his knowledge of Carol's history, beliefs, strengths, skills, and joys to create a home care program that stressed happiness and meaningful activities. Pictures in the book show Carol smiling and happy in youth. The pictures of her smiling and happy in the late stages of Alzheimer's are a powerful example of her successful home care plan. The plan Mr. Ford developed for his wife could be adapted to private home care or nursing home care with a minimum of modification and one main thought in mind: Treat people with Alzheimer's as whole persons, not patients. The final chapters tell in detail how the home care plan worked.

In life, Carol supported many charities. To honor that spirit of philanthropy, the author pledges all profits from this book will be used to develop or enhance programs for elder care. This is an uplifting story, a hopeful life lesson for anyone dealing with Alzheimer's. Highly recommended.

Shine: How to Walk the Talk
Nancy Segovia
Faith and Reason Publishing
108 S. 4th St. PMB 222
Cabot, AR 72023
9781484858486, $5.99

"With Christ as the Gardener of my soul

I will reap a harvest of living fruit...."

Those lines from the introductory poem by Ms. Segovia illustrate her journey as a Christian. She shares her experiences simply and honestly, in a pleasing prose style that shines. Yes, this book delivers what the title promises.

Each chapter becomes a scripture-based meditation and includes knowledge the author learned through trial and struggle. She freely admits to being an imperfect person, but gives readers hope that God uses imperfections in magnificent ways we can't imagine. Christians are to be a picture of God's love in action. But walking the talk is difficult, especially if we rely on other humans to affirm or confirm our value. Ms. Segovia shares in detail how she struggled with cynical, angry, judgmental tendencies to eventually learn compassion, understanding and mercy through prayer and studying scriptures. The sharing of her personal walk is honest and often humorous as she clearly demonstrates God's simple, sensible plan for us all.

As the simple buttercup takes time to grow and flourish before it can reflect the sunlight, so must a Christian grow in Jesus over time. With sensitivity and grace, Nancy Segovia shares her inspiring journey to Our Lord. This is inspiring and well-written prose, highly recommended.

Laurel Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Lorraine's Bookshelf

The Fantastic Adventures of Krishna
Demi, author/illustrator
Wisdom Tales
1501 E. Hillside Dr., Bloomington, IN 47401
978193778052, $19.95,

"The Fantastic Adventures of Krishna" is a beautiful edition of intricately illustrated retellings of 5 thousand year old Hindu tales of adventures of Krishna, beloved Avatar. When evil demon kings threatened the earth, she visited Lord Vishnu in heaven in the form of a sacred cow to beg for assistance. Lord Vishnu promised he would be reborn as the child Krishna on earth, who would destroy all the evil kings and bring peace back to the earth. This comes to pass and many adventures befall young Krishna in his life on earth, as he destroys evil demons in the form of snakes, cranes, whirlwinds, and more, even fire. Many exciting contests, threats and adventures occur when Krishna is threatened by evil King Kamsa in the form of many terrible demons. Finally Krishna defeats and destroys Kamsa, and restores the rightful King Ugrasena to the throne. Finally, Krishna left the people of this kingdom, asking them to love all beings and promising he would be with them in their hearts. Krishna traveled far and wide teaching people how to live together in peace and happiness. The spectacular Hindu-influenced illustrations demonstrate the joyous heroism of Krishna and his beloved people, gods, and animal friends. "The Fantastic Adventures of Krishna" is perfect for audiences of children age 4-8.

After the Ball Is Over
Larry Youngblood, author/ illustrator
Elizabeth Y. Canik, compiler/editor
Bookstand Publishing
305 Vineyard Town Center Suite 302
Morgan Hill, CA 95037
9781618634306, $15.95,

"After the Ball Is Over: Mardi Gras Designer Larry Youngblood Looks Back on His 50 Years of Costumes and Memories" is a fabulous book of memoirs and collection of over 50 costume design sketches from Mardi Gras celebrations spanning the 50 years from 1946-1996 of the inimitable work of Larry Youngblood. Studded with historic black and white photos of the author at work and play, "After the Ball is Over" is a uniquely transparent legacy gifted in manuscript and interview record form from the author to his niece, editor Elizabeth Canik, with the understanding that he wished his memoirs to be organized and published after his death. The many beautiful costume design sketches are triggers of specific soliloquies and memories of exciting, dramatic happenings that went on behind the massive work of organizing the krewes of each Mardi Gras celebration. Part Hollywood histrionics, part celebrity showcase, laced with Youngblood's own unique ability to bring a fantastic costume design theme to life, "After the Ball is Over" is a treasure that will grace any theatrical or event costume design historic collection, filled with never before shared details of the work and intrigue that underlays each Mardi Gras celebration.

Nuts Greens Fruit Beans
Christopher Crennen, author
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066,
9781483933887, $7.95,

"Nuts Greens Fruit Beans: A Super-Easy Way to Eat A Super-Healthy Diet" is a healthy diet manual that teaches easy, fast, convenient ways to eat a healthy diet using frozen vegetables and a microwave oven. "Nuts Greens Fruits Beans" has a premise that most major diseases and causes of illness and death are food and diet related. A nutrient rich, fiber rich diet of healthy fruits, nuts, beans and greens (and other vegetables) can make a significant difference in the ability to prevent heart disease, stroke, cancers, dementia, diabetes, and obesity. After reviewing food studies and health profiles, dietary goals are suggested and strategies for shopping for food and making healthy, practical meal plans are addressed, including simple formula recipes for easy preparation and consumption. The diet also allows for adaptation within other dietary preferences or restrictions. Finally, the problem of staying motivated is addressed with video resources. "Nuts Greens Fruit Beans" is a simplified approach to healthy eating habits that can extend life, health, and satisfaction.

The Diabetes Motivation Book
Heidi T. Beckman, PH.D.
Privately Published
9781479215225, $9.99,

"The Diabetes Motivation Book: Change One Thing at a Time With the Science of Willpower" is a self help guidebook for diabetics written by a trained clinical psychologist. Having researched both diabetes and its treatment protocols and the behavioral science of willpower, motivation, persistence, and impulse control, author Beckman presents her findings in a compact series of inspirational chapters with specific suggestions for managing positive behavior change, i.e. increasing will power, to improve diabetes control and health. Beginning with definitions of change and goal setting, aligning the individual's change with held/perceived values, using emotions, body, and environment in your favor, keeping energy levels up, and exercising self control muscles are all part of strategies for success in diabetes management. Managing emotional reaction, frustration, discouragement, hopelessness, and other setbacks commonly experienced by diabetics, all are proven powerful self treatment tactics. Finally, the author suggests a firm but compassionate attitude towards the self, challenging excuses but taking advantage of social support to establish resilience, optimism, and to prevent relapse. "The Diabetes Motivation Book" is an excellent tool kit for diabetics who wish to take responsibility for monitoring, treating, and improving their condition and overall health. Especially interesting to this reviewer was the chapter titled Lesson Twelve: Deal with Disappointing Blood Sugar. Here is the example: "Original thought: 'A 280 blood sugar! I just can't get it right!'/ Alternative thoughts: '280 is higher than I would like it to be. But it is just temporary, and I can view it as a learning opportunity. I can go take a walk to improve my reading. A problem-solving approach in this moment is going to help me much more than guilt (p. 73).'"

Nancy Lorraine
Senior Reviewer

Mason's Bookshelf

In the Shadows of a Fallen Wall
Sanford Tweedie
University of Nebraska Press
233 North 8th Street
Lincoln, Nebraska, 68588-0255
9780803271418, $19.95,

Synopsis: Growing up, what Sanford Tweedie knew about East Germany was basically . . . nothing. West Germans were our friends; East Germans, the enemy. In 2000, somewhat better informed, Tweedie took advantage of a Fulbright Scholarship to move his family to the eastern German town of Erfurt for the academic year. Far from home and the familiar, with temporary status and a tenuous grasp of the language, he and his wife were curious to see how they would function shorn of all the rules that governed their daily lives - housing, food acquisition, transportation, and even basic communication. As soon as their taxi delivered them to their grim tan and concrete Soviet-vintage apartment building, they knew their education had begun. Learning about life in the former East Germany, amid the feverish embrace of Western culture and the tenacious legacy of a totalitarian past, Tweedie comes to understand the deeper cultural assumptions through which Americans view the larger world. Part travelogue, part history, part cultural critique, all thoroughly engrossing, the story of his year long experience is one of dislocation and accommodation, making a German town his own and now ours.

Critique: Sanford Tweedie's memoir of life in East Germany provides unique insights into the daily lives of people struggling to recover from the pervasive deprivations (both material and cultural) of life under communist dogmas. It should be noted that "In the Shadows of a Fallen Wall" is also available in a Kindle edition ($10.44). Informed, informative, and exceptionally well written, "In the Shadows of a Fallen Wall" is highly recommended for personal reading lists, as well as academic and community library 20th American Biography reference collections.

The Courage To Kill
Ron Argo
Cliff Edge Publishing
PO Box 450, Cortaro, AZ 85652-4050
9780975576113, $25.95,

Synopsis: A young woman's father is murdered in cold blood after she recovers childhood memories of sexual abuse. When a crime reporter seeks to prove her innocent of her father's murder both he and she become targeted by a homicidal psychopath.

Critique: In "The Courage To Kill", author Ron Argo once again demonstrates and documents himself as a master storyteller with this swiftly paced psychological thriller that will hold and keep the reader's rapt attention from first page to last. A riveting piece of deftly woven fiction as real as today's newspaper headlines, "The Courage To Kill's is highly recommended for personal summer reading lists and community library fiction collections. For those to whom "The Courage To Kill" is their first introduction to author Ron Argo, it should also be noted that his earlier published work: "The Sum of His Worth" is available in a Kindle edition ($5.99).

The Sila Project
John C. Brewer
PlotForge Ltd.
1650 Lake Shore Drive, Suite 225
Columbus, OH 43204
9781937979065, $14.95,

Synopsis: Los Alamos nuclear weapons designer Mitch Weatherby is sentenced to a federal penitentiary for the rest of his life after a botched raid on his home left him unjustly accused of treason and his beloved wife dead in his arms. His government betrays him, the justice system fails him, and his life-long friends abandon him. Plucked from that doom by mysterious North Korean operatives, he faces a world blinded to the truth by their fanatical devotion to their leader, Kim Jong-Il. There, Mitch must decide how far he is willing to go to save himself, his friends and the world. And if he's willing to commit the greatest treason of all.

Critique: "The Sila Project" proved to be a riveting entertainment from first page to last. An imaginative and engaging storyline populated with memorable characters and some cliff-hanger plot twists, clearly author John C. Brewer has a singular gift as a storyteller which will leave his readers looking eagerly towards his next novel.

Fourteenth Colony
Jeff Altabef
Tate Publishing & Enterprises
127 East Trade Center Terrace
Mustang, OK 73064
9781625104526, $21.99 pbk / $8.99 Kindle,

Synopsis: From "Fourteenth Colony" - Jack's heart started pounding. His hands were slippery from sweat as he twisted the grips on the bike. He couldn't help but glance back at the approaching sedans, his gaze drawn toward the danger like a moth to a flame. Jack almost jumped off his bike when he heard a voice through his earpiece. 'Incoming call.' Jack answered, and the same female voice from earlier whispered in his ear.

Critique: The synopsis gives a reliable example of author Jeff Altabef's genuine talent as an articulate and engaging story teller. The "Fourteenth Colony" is an original entertainment from beginning to end and documents its author as a contemporary novelist of considerable merit and imagination. Highly recommended for summer reading lists and community library collections, it should also be noted that "Fourteenth Colony" is also available in a Kindle edition ($8.99).

Jack Mason

Micah's Bookshelf

The Volunteer Traveler's Handbook
Shannon O'Donnell
Full Flight Press
9780987706140 $16.99

The Volunteer Traveler's Handbook: How To Find Ethical and Sustainable International Volunteer Opportunities is an excellent resource ideal for college students (especially those seeking internships or opportunities to study abroad), as well as anyone else seeking to enrich themselves and others through international service. Chapters discuss how to travel sustainably and keep environmental impact to a minimum, the psychology and ethics of volunteering, tips for adjusting to other cultures, safety tips, and even the "reverse culture shock" of returning home. "If you're taking malaria medicine, follow the directions given by your doctor exactly. Some medicines require you to take the pills in advance while others must be taken for several weeks, even after leaving the malaria region." An absolute "must-have" guide to preparing for international volunteer work, The Volunteer Traveler's Handbook is highly recommended.

It's Your Way Or The Hi Way
Brian S. Kagan
Outskirts Press, Inc.
10940 South Parker Road, #515
Parker, CO 80134
9781478717959, $18.95,

The "Hi" in "It's Your Way Or The Hi Way" by Brian S. Kagan stands for "High Impact". This slender 90 page compendium is packed from cover to cover with succinct power point presentations on key ideas and instructive illustrations on how business leaders can effectively manage their organizations for enduringly successful performances. Of special note are the five questions readers are asked to answer before beginning the book. Practical, real-world tested, thoroughly 'reader friendly', informed and informative, "It's Your Way Or The Hi Way" is useful and highly recommended study for anyone charged with the responsibility of leadership in their workplace from the smallest family owned business to the largest international conglomerate.

Micah Andrew

Richard's Bookshelf

Raising a Lady in Waiting
Jackie Kendall
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310
Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768403237, $15.99

Key Principles to Prepare Your Daughter for God's Best in Her Relationships

By the second page of the preface Jackie Kendal had me hooked. As a father, grandfather, and an active member of a church reaching out to young families, I am always on the lookout for books and resources I can recommend to our Christian Education staff, parents of family and friends, and our church librarian. "Raising a Lady in Waiting" will be high on my list of recommendations.

Each of the 10 chapters centers on Biblical principles highlighting an important characteristic of your young "Lady in Waiting" with guidelines for parents and profound questions for discussion. Lessons are drawn from the Biblical story of Ruth and Boaz. Jackie is passionate in her writing, entertaining, with subtle humor and an enjoyable wit, and contagious spirit. She articulates with clarity, as she expresses informed and proven principles.

I only wish that the material addressing Mom's had been more inclusive to address parents or that specific suggestions would be made for Fathers as well. Chapter endnotes provide excellent additional resources for further consideration, study, and implementation.

"Raising a Lady in Waiting" is an important guide for parents to insure that their daughters avoid the pitfalls of bad choices in their relationships while pursuing God's best.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Identity Theft
Ron Cantor
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310
Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768442175, $15.99

A Meaningful Look into Jewish Roots

Ron Cantor has chosen a unique approach to engage the reader in a meaningful look into the background and history of the Jewish people and their roots. In his book "Identity Theft" Ron uses fiction as a platform to present a fresh look into history to bring to light an age old cover up. He skillfully weaves the history of the Jewish people and the brutalities and carnage against them in the name of Christ the Messiah.

An angelic guide, Ariel, time travel, modern technology, and the Jewish scriptures help Cantor's protagonist, David Lebowitz, a young Jewish journalist move from his skepticism to become a serious seeker of the truth of Yeshua.

Careful endnotes clearly detail scholarly comparisons, website references, and other suggested resources for study. These notes also reflect and establish Ron Cantor's credibility and credentials as Messianic Jewish Communicator, and educator.

Cantor's passion to mentor young leaders, to share the Jewish roots message, and to spread the good news of the gospel of Yeshua is apparent throughout his writing. The dramatic scenes from the crucifixion, the Crusades, and from Hitler's treatment of the Jews in World War II combined with the commanding use of dialog lend themselves to adaptation for an impressive movie production.

Informative, entertaining, and memorable - a great read.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

A Touch from Heaven: A Little Boy's Story of Surgery, Heaven and Healing
Neal Pylant and Christopher Pylant
Destiny Image Publishers Inc.
P. O. Box 310
Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768403275, $15.99

A Remarkable Journey of Faith in the Midst of Tests at Every Turn

"A Touch from Heaven" is the amazing story of Christopher Pylant, his complex brain surgery, his account of visits to heaven, his healing, and his parent's astonishing faith.

Neal Pylant and Carol Zinz made their wedding vows in her parents' home in, Baltimore, Maryland on May 19, 1973, before over sixty guests. Rabbi Shusterman officiated. Neal and Carol came from families of very different religious traditions and teachings.

Although Neal took seriously the need to father a son, "a seed for the next generation, a legacy" he was casual in the practice of living out his Christian faith, but strong in his conviction that God would provide the seed. In January of 1981 Christopher O'Neal Pylant was born, God's answer to the promised seed.

In young Christopher's third year it was discovered and confirmed by medical professionals in the field of neurology that he had an inoperable brain tumor. Devastated the Pylant's faced trial after trial and test after test. They tenaciously held to the faith that God would spare Christopher's life and heal him. "A Touch from Heaven" is their story. A story of Carol's conversion and Neal's recommitment to his childhood faith.

Beautifully written, this journey of faith is incredible, a dramatic, unforgettable testimony of a growing faith in a miraculous, loving God. Highly recommended.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

7 Men and the Secret of their Greatness
Eric Metaxas
Thomas Nelson Publishers
501 Nelson Place, Nashville, TN 37214
9781595554697, $24.99,

Word Portraits of Seven Notable Men - Men of Courage, Sacrifice, and True Greatness

"7 Men and the Secret of their Greatness" features short biographical sketches which highlight the lives of seven men who have demonstrated strength in their commitment to a cause, personal conviction, courage in crisis, and bravery in the face of battle. Metaxas has created inspiring positive role models represented by men in government, sports, and church leadership. These men have made significant contributions to social reform, breaking down racial barriers, and religious bias. Eric Metaxas writes with a passion which inspires his reader to pursue excellence, motivate patriotism, and in making right choices.

This may not be the book for real history buffs, however it is suited perfectly for reading together as a part of your family night, included in home school reading assignments, and as a part of every church and Christian school library.

"7 Men and the Secret of their Greatness" is widely endorsed by recognized leaders, is highly readable, and deeply moving. I am recommending it to my family and friends.

Disclosure of Material Connection: A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own. I am disclosing this in accordance with the Federal Trade Commission's 16 CFR, Part 255: "Guides Concerning the Use of Endorsements and Testimonials in Advertising."

Overflowing Success
Todd R. Weaver
Create Space
7290 B Investment Drive
Charleston, SC 29418
978149273591, $18.00,

God's Invitation to Kingdom Living

Todd R. Weaver invites his reader to experience with him a new way of living. Todd relates the story of his own journey of faith, of moving from the thinking of the world's system and its keys to success to enter into experiencing a tangible evidence of God in his life and the principle that right believing leads to right living.

"Overflowing Success: It's Time to Stop Struggling & Enjoy Heaven on Earth...Where Nothing is Impossible" is a book that will challenge you to change your life by changing your thinking, incorporating supernatural keys to achieving personal fulfillment and a higher quality of life through kingdom living.

Weaver's writing has an engaging with an even flow that moves quickly through principles he has adapted from David Ramsey on debt free living, from Joseph on kingdom living, and from Gary and Drenda Keesee and the Faith Line Church on the abundance of God's grace. Todd puts a strong emphasis on the Gospel message and on accepting God's gift of salvation in Jesus, on incorporating Biblical Truths into our daily Christian walk and Christian character.

"Overflowing Success" is written for those willing to commit themselves to making Kingdom living a reality in their lives. Todd Weaver writes with a balance of vision, faith, and action to move from a life of struggling to one of overflowing.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

31 Day Spiritual Mindset Makeover
Carlene B. Charlemagne
Outskirts Press
10940 S. Parker Rd - 57
Parker, CO 80134
9781478711902, $39.95,

Godly Counsel and Heavenly Wisdom for Your Spiritual Journey

Spiritual life coach Carlene B. Charlemagne has designed a program to help the reader develop a spiritual mindset as they focus on the book of Proverbs. Her book "31 Day Spiritual Mindset Makeover: A Journey Through the Book of Proverbs" captures the essence of this Old Testament book of wisdom.

The book is made up of thirty-one individual daily readings, which focus on a chapter from the book of Proverbs, a selected thought provoking verse from the passage which draws attention to a spiritual truth and leads to personal examination, reflection, and implications for personal application. The "Today's Spiritual Mindset" portion includes a journal section and an ends with action plan.

Charlemagne coaches the reader in using a system of journaling to: Develop personal goals, empower positive affirmations, change attitudes, organize priorities, evaluate success, and guide you on step by step on your spiritual journey. A 365 day Bible reading plan is included which encourages reading the complete Bible over the period of the year.

"31 Day Spiritual Mindset Makeover - A Journey through the Book of Proverbs" is for everyone who is serious about finding and living out God's plan and purpose for their life.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

Dr. Bob's Guide to Optimal Health
Dr. Robert DeMaria, DC, DABCO, FASBE, NHD
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310
Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768403282, $19.99

An Updated Edition - A Biblically Based Devotional Guide to Natural Health

"Dr. Bob's Guide to Optimal Health" is a compilation of practical guidelines and life changing health tips designed to help the reader attain and maintain optimal health. This updated and expanded edition of Dr. Robert DeMaria's invites the reader to begin a Biblically based twelve month devotional journey to natural restorative health and wellbeing.

The devotionals are well organized and are made up of 21 day thematic patterns. Each day includes a carefully selected Bible passage or principle for reading and meditation as well as a practical pointer or tip considered a "Natural Prescription for Health." These tips are made up of common sense applications and proven medial results which apply specifically to the emphasized principles of the day.

Another unique feature of the daily devotional is space for recording your personal thoughts, reflections, goals, or for journaling your feelings. I found the Natural Health Assessment questionnaire especially helpful. Dr. DeMaria's research is thorough, well documented, and rich in references for further reading and study.

"Dr. Bob's Guide to Optimal Health" is packed with important guidelines for becoming good stewards of our body, and empowers the reader to make important and necessary changes essential to attaining and maintaining optimal health.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

In The Wilderness - Finding God's Strength When Your World Falls Apart
Ron DiCianni and Lance Wubbles
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310
Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768442168, $9.99

Compassionate Insight into the Purpose of Life's Struggles

Award winning authors Ron DiCianni and Lance Wubbles collaborate in this encouraging collection of insight and inspiration. "In The Wilderness: Finding God's Strength When Your World Falls Apart" combines Biblical examples and real life stories which enable the reader to find help from others who have travelled through the adversity of a wilderness experience.

Selections from the writings of Job, the Psalms, and other scriptures provide comfort in times of pain, confusion, and chaos; and give insight, resolution, and strength through the wilderness seasons. Heartrending stories of the loss of a newborn, the devastating news of a debilitating disease, and shipwreck reveal how the Lord turns pain, turmoil, and sorrow into personal growth, purpose, and compassion for others.

Inspirational quotes from classic devotional writers Thomas a' Kempis, Martin Luther, John Bunyan, Hannah Whitehall Smith, and other well-known writers, including, A. W. Tozer, Brennan Manning, C.S. Lewis, and Oswald Chambers inspire strength and encouragement in times of trauma, grief and uncertainty.

Written with empathy and understanding "In the Wilderness: Finding God's Strength When Your World Falls Apart" is an important source of comfort and empowerment for those experiencing trauma, grief, and suffering. The book is ideal for use in hospital visitation and provides comfort for those going through the pain, and the uncertainty of crippling illness.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions I have expressed are my own.

The Prophetic Generation - Fearless and Uncompromising
Tim Bagwell
Destiny Image Publishers, Inc.
P. O. Box 310
Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768403312, $15.99

A Call to Action - A Prophetic Mandate
"The Prophetic Generation - Fearless and Uncompromising" is a clarion call to Christian's today to participate in this vitally important end times prophetic generation. Dr. Tim Bagwell is known and highly respected internationally for his ministry as a prophetic evangelist. "The Prophetic Generation" reestablishes his calling as "a prophet calling out in the wilderness" to fulfill the mandate to proclaim the message of the gospel of Jesus as a part of this critical end-times generation.

Through shared personal experiences and illustrative study and exposition of the scriptures Bagwell reveals an amazing depth of understanding and a gifted anointing of the teaching and prophetic gifts. The book is formatted in a reader friendly pattern of thematic headings within the chapters and additional subtitles, Biblical quotations, and features prophetic insights,with shaded highlights. I found the Think on This feature at the end of each chapter thought provoking, instructive, and relevant. The chapter end-notes are evidence of careful research and add credibility to the narrative.

"The Prophetic Generation - Fearless and Uncompromising" is convincing and authoritative and demonstrates rare and unusual insight into communicating the scripture to an audience of readers at every level of their Christian walk.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. I was not required to write a positive review. The opinions expressed are my own.

Saved by Angels
Bruce Van Natta
Destiny Image Publications, Inc.
P. O. Box 310
Shippensburg, PA 17257
9780768426519, $17.99

God Talks to Ordinary People - Are You Listening?

"Saved by Angels" is Bruce Van Natta's story of God's intervention his life through a visitation of angels when a logging truck he was repairing fell off its jack and pinned him under the front axle. I was captivated by Bruce's amazing and miraculous testimony; and deeply moved by God's call on his life when I read his book in 2008. Bruce continues to demonstrate how the Lord uses ordinary people to carry out his purposes in everyday occurrences.

This expanded edition of "Saved by Angels" includes study questions for reflection and personal application. The book is designed to be used as a tool to record or describe those times when God has spoken to you through his word, audible or the written; answered prayer; other people; dreams and visions; angels; life circumstances, and the inner whisper of the Holy Spirit. A DVD accompanies the book.

"Your Turn" exercises at the end of each chapter offer a chance "keep track" that is for the reader to note personal incidents in their own lives that relate to the material discussed in the chapter.

Bruce, a mechanic by trade, has a unique conversational writing style that is:

Remarkable in simplicity
Candid and sincere
Amazing in depth
Rich in application
Powerful in impact
Engaging and compelling

"Saved by Angels" is written with the prayer that the reader will be inspired to pursue a deeper relationship with Jesus and incorporate these foundational truths into a lifestyle and spiritual journey that honor him.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Psalmist I Am - Live through the many emotions of a follower, it's OK!
Ray Abner
West Bow Press
A Division of Thomas Nelson
1663 Liberty Drive
Bloomington, IN 47403
9781449786809, $19.95

A Look at the Transparency and Emotions of the Psalmists

Ray Abner skillfully incorporates three important Bible study elements in his book "Psalmist I Am - Live through the many emotions of a follower, it's OK!"

* Carefully selected scriptures from the writers of the Psalms, built around similar basic themes

* Helpful guidelines for discovering and recognizing the relevancy of feelings and emotions of the Psalmist with the commonality of our contemporary ethos

* Opportunity for personal reflection and application of the basic truths highlighted in the chosen passage

The format of each chapter is arranged in a manner that encourages pursuing a reflective reading pace through the use of various font sizes and topical side bars with descriptive sub titles and interesting visual illustrations.

Each thematic chapter is provides the reader with guidance into the art of capturing their thoughts similar to the Psalmist in journal form. Ray gives suggestions for applications in subjects of: Praise and worship, prayer, God's promises, following Him, and salvation in Christ.

"Psalmist I Am - Live through the many emotions of a follower, it's OK!" is ideal for personal devotions and study, easily adaptable for group study, or one on one mentoring.

A complimentary copy of this book was provided for review purposes. The opinions expressed are my own.

Richard R. Blake, Senior Reviewer

Shelley's Bookshelf

Bad Publicity
Joanne Sydney Lessner
Dulcet Press
124 West 93rd St.
New York, NY 10025
9780615777412 $8.99 pbk / $2.99 Kindle,

Joanne Sydney Lessner is the author of PANDORA'S BOTTLE, featuring the world's most expensive bottle of wine, as well as her first Isobel Spice novel entitled THE TEMPORARY DETECTIVE. Lessner is well versed in the theater and opera as a performer in her own right. Her husband is composer/conductor Joshua Rosenblum. She and her husband have written several musicals, including EINSTEIN'S DREAMS and FERMAT'S LAST TANGO. She also wrote a play entitled CRITICAL MASS, which garnered a win from the 2009 Heiress Productions Playwriting Competition. Joanne holds a B.A. in music from Yale.

Isobel Spice is an office temp, presently employed by Dove & Flight Public Relations. She is also a talented singer, spending her time auditioning when not at work. But when a relatively young client is found dead just after Isobel serves him coffee, Isobel feels she must investigate to clear her name. Her temp agent, James Cooke, has more than a passing interest in Isobel and springs to her aide, all the while fighting his own alcoholic demons, as well as his ex-girlfriend; who collides with Isobel at work:

"He wished Isobel had at least warned him that she and Jayla had met.

He might have been better prepared. Better yet, he wouldn't have asked

Jayla to meet him for a drink. He'd struggled with the decision to begin

With, but he had come to feel a strange sense of responsibility for Isobel.

'Go back to what you were saying before,' he continued. 'The police say there was nothing in the coffee?'"

BAD PUBLICITY operates on many levels: as a well-crafted whodunit, as a psychological mystery, and as a glimpse into the worlds of public relations and the theater. Isobel Spice is a plucky heroine who unmasks a nasty killer.

Shelley Glodowski
Senior Reviewer

Shirley's Bookshelf

If You Were Me and Lived In Mexico
Carole P. Roman
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781480209526, $14.95,

Children, and adults for that matter always enjoy reading about the life of those who live in a different country. In this delightful book by author, Carole P Roman we are taken into the country of, Mexico. We start off by seeing where Mexico is on the map, learn the name of their Capital city and some of the buildings there, and find out what names a girl and a boy may be called. We also learn how to say Mom and Dad and what money is called. We learn of a sport they do, some food they eat, and a holiday they celebrate. At the end of the book is a list of several Mexican words and hot to pronounce. Wow....that is a lot for one little book, and its great.

I recommend this book for your child and yourself. It is almost like a mini teaching lesson on Mexico, but one that is highly entertaining while you are learning. The illustrations are bright, colorful, and definitely bring to the minds eye what the words are saying. It will hold anyones attention while reading it and you will be surprised how much of the information that you will retain. Very well done. A great little book.

The Fugitive Grandma
Dmitri Ragano
100 Enterprise Way, Suite A200
Scotts Valley, CA 95066
9781470125370, $9.99,

Unfortunately we live in a society where up is down and down is up, where men's hearts wax cold when it comes to things that matter, this book takes you front and center in this area. We meet Stella, a wonderful grandma who loves her grandson, Johnny, and her son. Stella is fighting cancer and to stay alive she must have medicine that cost more and more each day. Suddenly the insurance she had from her former work place is cut off by the new owners leaving Stella to die. Stella loses everything. But the tide soon turns as Stella and her side kick grandson, who always dreamed of being a hero, begin the ride of their lives to right the wrong and make sure Stella has a chance to live.

I liked this story because it brings out the battles that some actually face in the society we are living in. The characters were well developed, causing me to have some very strong feelings, both good and bad for each one. Although Stella's course of action certainly was not law- abiding, she did what she felt she had to do to survive. I wonder if this is the way others will go in the world we are moving in. Sad but true. All in all this book had a story that is eye-opening, could happen, and leaves you with much to think about. I really liked the ending, and I am pleased to recommend this work.

Healing Oils of The Bible
David Stewart Ph.D
Care Publications
RR4 Box 646 Marble Hill, MO 63764
9780934426985, $12.95,

Did you ever stop to think of all the knowledge that is hidden from us about certain things the Lord has to help us? Some of that knowledge can be found in this exceptional book on the Healing Oils of the Bible. In the past did they truly use certain oils to stop sickness, heal cuts and the likes? You bet they did and this book will help you to know how to use them NOW in your life. It is truly an eye opener, packed full of information and told in a way you will understand. If you are like me and have had some bad experiences with traditional medicine you will enjoy seeing some of the alternative ways you can help your body in this book. Packed full of explanations of different oils that are available for use now. I recommend this read, it is well worth your time.

Alex Kava
Doubleday & Company
c/o The Random House Publishing Group
1745 Broadway, New York, NY 10019
9780385535540, $27.95,

I know as a writer that keeping a series going can be difficult, but Alex Kava seems to master this quite well. In this thriller we meet Maggie and her partner, Tully. Working for the FBI they are tracking a serial killer who moves across the nation's interstate highway system. Why not? It's easy picking and a quick get away. Good choice for a story line.

Now the killer they are looking for is making this investigation personal as he begins to leave clues for Maggie. Just what is his interest in her? As the story continues they discover the killer's burying grounds, a gruesome sight to behold, and the tale moves on as clues begin to come together as you are taken to a nail biting end.

I enjoyed this read, but I love mystery and murder tales. The author does a very job in character description, and local description. I really did feel as if I knew the characters and could see with my minds eye the different locals we were traveling through, and I connected with the characters. The storyline was rich in mystery, brought in the human element, and took you along for the ride. There definitely were some twists and turns in the story, some personal corners that you rode on for a while with the characters, but it was all weaved together for one great ride. I enjoyed this book and am happy to recommend it.

Brood X
Michael Phillip Cash
Red Feather Publishing
9781481843904, $9.99 pbk / $0.99 Kindle

In this read we meet a young couple, Seth and Lara. Lara loves Seth, but is frustrate at his lack of responsibility to the family. Now Lara finds out she is pregnant. She worries, will Seth step up to the plate and be responsible in his care of her and the new baby. Unfortunately something worse is on the horizon. It is reported a swarm of cicada bugs are about to invade the entire Northeast. Most take this lightly, until it begins. Now Seth must save himself, his wife and his unborn child. Will he do it or are they doomed?

This was an interesting read and perhaps not as farfetched of happening as we may hope. A lot is changing in this world of ours, weather, governments and yes even the insects, and wild life. Perhaps what is happening in this tale could well happen one day in the real world. Creepy! Now the challenge is on for Seth to become the man he should have been a long time ago. Will he do it, will he save his wife and child? A different read that I believe you will enjoy, as the author takes you with the characters on a battle that must be won.
Well done.

See A Heart Share A Heart
Eric Telchin
Dial Books
c/o Penguin Group USA
345 Hudson Street, 15th floor
New York, NY 10014
9780803738942, $12.99,

I have to say I was excited when I was asked to review this work. I have a friend who is always finding hearts everywhere and I wanted to see what this book had to offer. Author, Eric Telchin takes us in his world as he shares pictures upon pictures of hearts found in so many interesting places. It seems everywhere there is a heart nearby. To me, and my friend, we feel this is God showing his children His love. It was amazing to see all the pictures he shared and I know I will be looking more everywhere I go.

This is a book with a heart, and I mean that in more ways than pictures. It is one that shares love and tenderness. A different read for sure, but one I highly recommend. You will close the book with a smile on your face. Well done Mr. Telchin.

Shirley Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Taylor's Bookshelf

Right Now Enough Is Enough
Peter Andrew Sacco, Inc.
5726 Cortez Rd W, #349
Bradenton, FL 34210
9781621418917, $18.95,

Addiction is the continued use of a mood altering substance or behavior despite adverse consequences, or a neurological impairment leading to such behaviors. Addictions can include, but are not limited to, drug abuse, exercise addiction, food addiction, sexual addiction, computer addiction, and gambling. Classic hallmarks of addiction include impaired control over substances or behavior, preoccupation with substance or behavior, continued use despite consequences, and denial. Habits and patterns associated with addiction are typically characterized by immediate gratification (short-term reward), coupled with delayed deleterious effects (long-term costs). "Right Now Enough Is Enough!: Overcoming Your Addictions And Bad Habits For Good" by psychologist Peter Andrew Sacco is a 254 page compendium of practical, reliable, do-it-yourself techniques and practices to develop thinking patterns that will overcome addictive behaviors and successfully modify addictive personality predilections. Of special note is the author's opening commentary on the difference between an addiction and a bad habit. Informed and informative, "Right Now Enough Is Enough" is highly recommended for both personal and community library Self-Help instructional reference collections.

Family on the Loose
Bill Richards and E. Ashley Steel
Rumble Books
9780615696539 $13.95

Family on the Loose is a solid, practical-minded to traveling with children. Chapters discuss how to teach one's kids to do their own packing, adjust to jetlag and schedule upsets, the value of travel journaling, setting a realistic and enjoyable itinerary, vacationing on a budget, and much more. Point-by-point advice along with reproducible checklists and activity sheets enrich this "must-have" reference and resource for family vacations! "Resist packing each day with wall-to-wall activities. If you can remember back, it wasn't much fun constantly racing from one site to another when you traveled before kids. Now you have an excuse to put fun first: it's for the kids!"

John Taylor

Vogel's Bookshelf

The Ideal in the West, second edition
David A. Beardsley
Ideograph Media
9781477495186 $14.00 print / $9.99 Kindle

The Ideal in the West is a philosophical exploration of the principle of "the Ideal" is Western culture. Here, "the Ideal" refers to the concept of that which is fundamentally Good, not as defined by opposition to Evil, but rather as a universal font of benevolence, beauty, and justice. The Ideal in the West explores how the concept of the Ideal influenced Western culture from classical Greece to Imperial Rome, the Florentine Renaissance, and America in the 19th century. The Ideal as a way of life is also contemplated, with regard to the natural history of the ego, the concept of the Hero's Quest, and even the art of dying. "...I wish to argue, with Plato, that an understanding of death can be an excellent guide in knowing how to live. We spend so much of our time and attention dealing with ephemera, or trying to keep ourselves entertained or distracted, that the appearance of the prospect of our own death or that of someone we love can automatically give us a larger perspective and a reason to think about what is important, what lasts, why we are here." Written to be thoroughly accessible to readers of all ages and backgrounds, The Ideal in the West is highly recommended especially for philosophy shelves.

One Lost Summer
Richard Godwin
Black Jackal Books Ltd.
9780956711342 $10.95

One Lost Summer is a dark novel of sex, deceit, and abuse. Rex Allen is alone when he moves into a new house; he is estranged from his actress ex-wife, and his daughter has recently died at far too young an age. When he observes his dramatically beautiful neighbor Evangeline Glass, he is at once convinced that she is hiding her true self from everyone, especially her possessive husband. He spies on her, discovers that she has a lover, and even dares to blackmail her. But Rex is not the only one attempting to manipulate people with dangerous secrets, and when his questionable games cross paths with the cold-hearted machinations of a far worse person, his fragile world comes crashing down in a hail of ruin. Raw and gripping, One Lost Summer pulls no punches in its vivid, unforgettable portrayal of disturbed human beings.

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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