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MBR Bookwatch

Volume 14, Number 7 July 2015 Home | MBW Index

Table of Contents

Cowper's Bookshelf Donovan's Bookshelf Dunford's Bookshelf
Greenspan's Bookshelf Helen's Bookshelf Klausner's Bookshelf
Lorraine's Bookshelf Micah's Bookshelf Richard's Bookshelf
Shirley's Bookshelf Taylor's Bookshelf Vogel's Bookshelf

Cowper's Bookshelf

Do I Need It? (And What if I Do?)
Francesca Camp, M.S.W. with Dale Burg
Archway Publishing
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
c/o The Bohlsen Group (publicity)
9781480803114 $19.95 pbk / $4.99 Kindle

Do I Need It? (And What if I Do?): Answers to All Your Questions About Plastic Surgery is a plain-spoken, no-nonsense guide by independent plastic surgery consultant Francesca Camp, M.S.W. with Dale Burg. Plastic surgery can potentially improve the quality of life of for burn patients, cancer survivors, victims of violence, and some elective surgery patients. But it is not always the best choice to suit one's needs, and the process contains multiple steps each with their own potential pitfalls. Do I Need It? (And What if I Do?) addresses common plastic surgery questions head-on, from where to find a skilled surgeon, what the real health and medical risks are, and most importantly of all, whether one really and truly needs it. Camp's extensive experience and awareness of the strengths, limitations, and costs of plastic surgery make Do I Need It? (And What if I Do?) an absolute "must-read" for anyone considering the process.

Caroline Starts Over
Randi M. Sherman
Privately Published
9781460231760 $20.99

The first of a two-book series, Caroline Starts Over is a skewed, dark comedy about a middle-aged housewife who seeks to renew her life after the abrupt death of her husband. The suddenly widowed Caroline feels liberated, and hopes to renew the freedom and potential her life once had before her stifling marriage. But starting over in her 40's isn't so easy; she's lost more than a few of her social skills, and she has nineteen-year-old twin daughters who have no idea of her smoldering past. Caroline arranges a reunion with a former lesbian lover, Rachel, yet rekindling their relationship proves to be a messy, toxic minefield of buried emotions. Then a disturbing possibility puts a further strain on things: is Caroline's "start over" due purely to coincidence, or was she more directly involved in her husband's untimely death? Witty, tongue-in-cheek writing sparkles in this laugh-out-loud midlife crisis novel. Readers will eagerly anticipate the conclusion of the two-book series, "The Truth About Caroline", which is due to be released in Fall 2015.

Cooked Up
New Internationalist Publications Ltd.
c/o Movement Media (publicity)
3166 Mount Pleasant Street NW
Washington, DC 20010
9781780262147 $16.95

Cooked Up: Food Fiction From Around The World is an anthology of twenty culinary-themed short stories by a diversity of international authors. A literary smorgasbord of universal gastronomic connections, Cooked Up includes tales of a young man who overeats in hope of being found unfit to serve in the military, cookery school students engaged in a wok war, a food bank visitor is in for the surprise of her life, and much more in these tasty tongue-in-cheek morsels. Gustatory connoisseurs will delight in these sometimes funny, sometimes darkly ominous, always appetizing stories!

Born Strong
Dr. Paul Lam with Julie Bawden-Davis
Tai Chi Productions
c/o Author Marketing Experts, Inc.
9780992512828 $18.95 pbk / $9.99 Kindle

Born Strong: From Surviving the Great Famine to Teaching Tai Chi to Millions is the autobiography of a survivor. Author Dr. Paul Lam was born in Vietnam (his given Chinese name translates to "Born Strong"), and only ten months old when left in the care of his grandmother in China. He grew up under the harsh Communist regime of Mao Zedong, and nearly perished in the Great Famine brought about by Zedong's shortsighted policies. Though he was able to escape China and study in Hong Kong, eventually settling in Australia, his prior years of malnutrition left him with a painful legacy of severe osteoarthritis. He learned that Tai Chi helped him manage his condition, and improve the quality of every aspect of his life. To help others, Dr. Lam created the Tai Chi for Health programs, which were open to both Western and Chinese medical knowledge as well as modern teaching methods. Born Strong is an extraordinary and inspirational life story, highly recommended.

Mary Cowper

Donovan's Bookshelf

The Headmaster's Cave
D.S. Allen
ASIN: B00O6E7CD4 170 Pages
Price Kindle: $2.99 Price Paperback: $7.49

Book covers are not usually mentioned in the course of book review - not unless they are truly compelling, as is The Headmaster's Cave, designed to capture young adult attention with the scene of a cave, a raging sea, and a boy hanging on to a cliff edge by his fingertips. One could not wish for a more persuasive reason to find out more; and once immersed in the events, The Headmaster's Cave does not disappoint.

Over a hundred years ago, seven children and their headmaster vanished in the cave - including one of George's ancestors; a fact that has haunted his family for generations. A mysterious email states that the mystery has been solved and invites George, Dougie and Katie to learn more - but only Dougie takes the bait; and when he, too, vanishes, it's up to George and Katie to solve the mystery.

One couldn't ask for better tension in a read recommended for advanced elementary through middle grade readers. There's the influence of years of jokes and bullying among George's peers concerning his family's relationship with The Headmaster's Cave; there're minefields of danger involved in an escapade that involves George drawing on limited knowledge along the way ("He loved to watch wilderness television programmes and read survival books, so he searched through his memory banks on building fires."), and there's a host of difficult possibilities that must be examined and either accepted or discarded in the course of investigations ("What if he were telling the truth? His ancestor had been the killer. It would be unbearable if it was true. That the monster who had stalked his nightmares for so long belonged to his family?").

In the end the truth about The Headmaster's Cave and the events surrounding it will come as a surprise - but not until chapters of thrilling adventures, self-examination, and challenging encounters spice a read designed to draw in even the more reluctant reader, providing a vivid story that explains some events but leaves the door open for further adventures.

The Bullied Anthology: Stories of Success
Author: Multiple Contributors
Reading Harbor
9780692452219 $14.95

The Bullied Anthology: Stories of Success is dedicated to misfits and outcasts - any who have found themselves on the wrong side of popularity - and provides a powerful anthology that's unexpected in its subject: how to turn the results of bullying into a success story.

That's not to say that bullying is condoned: far from it! It IS to say that it's possible to make lemonade out of lemons by translating bullying's effects into positive strengths for meeting life's challenges.

Chapters reveal this process through survivor experiences: "Survivors take the negativity that they were fed and, instead of letting it transform them, transform it. They learn from it and grow from it. They use their experience as fuel to light their inner fire, to motivate them toward their goals. They become smarter, wiser, and kinder - pushing themselves beyond ordinary boundaries. They use their misfortune to propel them forward into a future brimming with success and happiness. These are their stories."

Narratives are diverse and consist of first-person autobiographical pieces outlining the bullying experience and how it was integrated into a bigger picture of strength. These aren't ideals; they are specifics; and herein lies the exceptional approach of this book: "I continued training and even started competing in various tournaments, which built my physical and mental strength. I learned that bullying doesn't have to be a part of anyone's life. I began setting high goals for myself because I knew that if I could overcome bullying early in my life, I could do anything I set my mind on. I gained the clarity, discipline, and confidence that would eventually lead me to go to school to attain my career goal as a paramedic for SWAT. I want to help and protect others in their most vulnerable times of need."

If it's a celebration of the process of translating adversity into success that's desired, then The Bullied Anthology provides the impetus for understanding. Certainly, given the current popularity of this hot topic, the book should be in every educator's collection and provided as a wellspring of inspiration for any who are struggling with bullying in their lives.

Regina Shen: Vigilance
Lance Erlick
Finlee Augare Books
PO Box 1805, Palatine, IL 60078
9781943080014 $12.95 (print), $3.99 (Kindle)

This second novel in the Regina Shen series continues the engrossing post-apocalyptic saga begun in the first book. The setting is a world where the ice caps have melted and created two levels of society, and Regina is one of the outcasts here until authorities discover her unique DNA makeup, which holds possibilities for the continued existence of an increasingly threatened humanity.

Book One set the stage and should really be enjoyed before Vigilance; but even newcomers to this series will be able to quickly absorb its setting and characters, which open with Regina's concerns about her new family and threats to its existence. She's on a mission, hunting for a kidnapped sister - and to do so, she must jump the wall and enter a forbidden world filled with uncertainty and threats.

Part of what drives the action in the Regina Shen series is psychological depth: Regina doesn't just react to events; she strives to understand the people behind them: "Alice was cute in a big-girl way. But she had hunger in her eyes to get what she wanted. In the swamps, I avoided bartering with her type. They tried to steal what you brought, and then steal what little they bartered in exchange. Afterwards, they gloated at your misfortune."

In any fictional account, it's this level of emotional depth and attention to motivations behind actions that elevate the superior read from the mundane nonstop staccato action thriller - and Regina Shen: Vigilance features this in abundance.

From the psyche of the Federation and its different lifestyles (""You want to race?" I asked. "That's Marginal," she whispered. "The Federation promotes Harmony, not competition."") to nefarious plans to exploit Regina's DNA for less than altruistic or survival purposes, the story line is fast-paced but loses none of its tension by exploring different protagonists' motivations and concerns.

The result is a gripping sequel in the series, highly recommended for both prior fans and newcomers to Regina Shen.

Harebrained: It Seemed Like a Good Idea at the Time
Meg Myers Morgan
Gem Publishing
9780692416730 $4.99 Kindle $14.95 Paperback

Meg Myers Morgan is a mother, a professor, and a wife, and her essay collection reflects the duality of her life and its humorous aspects: perfect for readers looking for some light reflective reading blending autobiography with philosophical insight.

Why pick Harebrained over other humor/autobiographical blends? For one thing, it's easy reading: just the ticket for offsetting more complicated works that demand a philosophical, reflective background from its readers. The opening essay, for example, uses one of the author's influential teachers as its subject and clearly shows where the early impetus for writing came from and how adult encouragement leads to ultimate success: "...I felt certain someone as magical and inventive as Mrs. Humble could help me with my biggest goal in life: to write a book. When I told her one day during free time, she pulled down her big, thick glasses, turned and twitched her head like an ostrich, and said: "Well, there's no time like the present!" And she slammed a large stack of blank paper down in front of me."

Ultimately, it's the lessons learned from experience that make the essay - in this case, a child's acceptance of the difficulties involved in writing: "Two important lessons came out of that experience: The first was that it is incredibly arduous to write a quality book filled with interesting and original thoughts. And the second is that it is truly difficult to satisfy the reader. Perhaps impossible."

Expect a free-flowing series of essays (and a play and a poem!) that follow the author's life and highlight transition points and learning experiences. Enjoy a discussion that focuses on success, failures, and family interactions - as in a Thanksgiving that begins with a furious wasp bite and ends with a scalding.

Harebrained is all about connections between community, family, and life's slings and arrows. It's hilarious, easy reading and it's accessible to all as an example of the autobiographical essay form at its best. Speaking of 'best', Morgan's real strength lies in the ability to produce unexpected twists to each essay's conclusion and, ultimately, to take the opening story of the series and neatly sandwich it between layers of fun interaction, concluding with the wellspring of inspiration that opened the collection and ultimately produced a vivid, successful writer.

The Plot to Finally Liberate Cubans From Communism
J. Sydney Davis
Creative Publishing Partners
Prepublication Manuscript: No ETA

The Plot to Finally Liberate Cubans From Communism is historical fiction at its best and tells of how a group of Cuban patriots struggle to overthrow communism and replace it with a democratic government. As such, it requires of its audiences an interest in the political and grassroots movements of Cuba and the lives and welfare of its peoples.

Readers with such an affinity will find the story line vivid and action-packed, focusing on the efforts of a band of fighters to provide a bloodless coup to improve the lives of Cubans.

David Walker 'The Expeditor' has received a half million tax-free dollars from two different groups; one in Miami and one in Washington, to bring the rebels' leader, a double agent, to Miami. this agent is predestined to be the next President of Cuba, after the coup.

The Plot to Finally Liberate Cubans From Communism has 'thriller' written all over it: the intrigue, the plots, the international struggles, and the politics are classic hallmarks of the genre. But one added value elevates this work beyond the usual one-dimensional thriller, and that's its attention to underlying historical detail, which accurately reflects the struggles of Cubans to overthrow Communism.

From fishing villages and ocean pick-ups to embargoes and political ramifications of events, the novel is steeped in background history and provides a moving saga of individual effort and political ramifications: "Americans don't realize it, but Cuba isn't shutoff from the world, the American people are shutoff from Cuba; by our American Government's past policies," said David. "If Andy and his bosses can add the Naval Commander of the Caribbean region and the State Department head to the meeting, I think you should take their deal...""

There's sex and romance, there's intrigue, there's political and social insights: all woven into a story line that ultimately educates the reader about Cuba even as it entertains with a powerful story of a coup's wide-ranging ramifications. What better way to learn about the country's politics and possibilities than through the vivid force of a dramatic novel?

The Color of Our Sky
Amita Trasi
Bloomhill Books
ISBN: 9780986155604 (paperback)
9780986155611 (ebook)
Paperback: $14.99 ebook: $4.99

The Color of Our Sky offers a unique friendship between two girls belonging to two different caste systems in India. It opens steeped in the flavors and color of India : "I could hear the sound of our laughter, smell my childhood - the food Aai used to cook and lovingly feed me - that wafting floral smell of saffron in the pulao, turmeric perfumed dal, the sweet rasgullas. There wasn't any such smell of course, not anymore. All that was left was just a musty odor from closed doors, from buried secrets."

It's a journey undertaken by a ten-year-old girl slated to become a temple prostitute in India, who finds herself part of a foster family in Bombay instead. The friendship between eight-year-old Tara and ten-year-old Mukta will be a bond that will last a long time to come. The feisty tomboy personality of Tara contrasts well with that of the timid Mukta, creating an endearing relationship.

It would have been all too easy for this friendship to be the focus and end of the story - but wait, there's much more! The action actually takes place when Mukta is kidnapped from Tara's home a few years later. Eleven years afterward, Tara (who has always accepted blame for the event) embarks on a journey to India to find out what happened to her childhood friend - and finds that her search leads directly back home, to closely-held family secrets.

Descriptions are well immersed in Indian culture and observation, and bring setting and emotions to life: "In my bedroom, I lay down on my bed and watched the ceiling fan whir above me. This was where I was lying when Mukta got kidnapped. Was the fear I felt today even close to what she must have felt? Did anyone deserve to have a life after they had destroyed someone else's?"

It's this turn of events that truly makes The Color of Our Sky an outstanding story that juxtaposes past and present worlds, two caste systems, a unique friendship, and a search for the truth. The world of human trafficking, the disparate cultural connections between Bombay and Los Angeles, the grief and guilt of lost connections ... all this comes to life in a first-person story not intended for young adults, but for adult readers who will relish Tara and Mukta's journey and its many revelations.

Get Hired!
Mara Braverman
Succeed At Work Press
ISBN 9780990876304 (Kindle)
ISBN 9780990876311 (ePub) $3.99

Ordering Links:


Barnes & Noble:


Get Hired! 20 Steps to Your First Professional Job - from Building Your Resume to Proving You're the Person to Hire at first glance seems to join a host of similar-sounding job-hunting strategy guides; but this book holds an important difference in identifying the process of creating and marketing a professional image, and thus stands out above 'how to write a resume' and 'how to conduct an interview' approaches.

The entire focus is not upon producing content, but on standing out from the crowd to get hired. This involves some twenty different steps that, yes, includes resumes and interviews; but also features the specific approaches that differentiate 'stand-out' from 'average'.

It's easy to say one should present a professional appearance; something else to identify the elements that identify 'professional'. Get Hired! achieves this with chapters of detail that pinpoint these differences and include many considerations other career books miss, such as making sure that one's credit report is powerful and accurate, and making a convincing case to a company that you're the one they should hire over others.

Many elements are involved in handling situations and circumstances to ensure such a polished attitude at all stages of the process: take the phone interview process, as just one example: "Control the setting. Ideally, the phone interview will be scheduled for a time and place where you have privacy and are unlikely to be interrupted. But the call may come at any time, so always carry with you your resume and notes about points you want to make. Arrange a signal with your family and friends that means, "I need privacy and quiet while I take this call." Think ahead about what you'll do if a call comes while you're at your current job. Is there a private place to take the call? Could you step outside? Or would it be better to arrange a time to speak later?

Control extraneous noise. Turn off music, the radio, or TV and close windows and doors. At the start of the interview, apologize for the noise you can't control. For example, "Please excuse the traffic noise. Your call came while I was driving, and I've pulled into a parking space." If the noise is still too loud, ask if you can call back when you've reached a quieter location."

It's all about being not just a 'good fit' for the job, but a great fit. Where other books admonish with generalities, this one offers precise paths to success. Where other books adopt logical processes for producing acceptable results, Get Hired! always identifies the elements that differentiate 'average and acceptable' from 'great'. And, it's these elements that will land the job!

Oranit: Crossed Lines
Michael Benjamin
Amazon Digital Services, Inc.
ASIN: B00WR7WCRS $2.99

Mysteries are usually set in domestic locales for U.S. readers: when they cross international borders, they often turn into 'thrillers' and their tone and approach changes from the mystery format to an emphasis on political interactions; so it's a pleasure to read an approach that keeps the mystery live and cooking in Oranit: Crossed Lines.

Set in the new Israeli settlement of Oranit, the investigation begins when an Arab collaborator's death is hushed up by the Palestinians who discover his body - and who hated him. Plenty of motivation for murder exists, as former Israeli military security member and Oranit resident Jeannie discovers when the cold case is handed to her for defrosting and new inspection.

As her probe uncovers not just motivations for murder but a smuggling operation and ongoing illegal activities tied to the highest levels of social influence in her small community, Jeannie is forced to investigate not just an old crime, but present-day connections that even reach into her family.

It seems that everyone in the community is involved in this matter in one way or another, and the more she tugs on its well-woven string, the more facets and connections are revealed.

What sets a mystery apart from a thriller is its focus on problem-solving and intrigue. What sets a superior mystery apart from a lesser production is an equal attention to action and characterization that brings people and their motives to life.

Be advised: Oranit: Crossed Lines is no light mystery read, but takes an intense, complicated route that is winding, convoluted, and demands reader attention as multiple threads unwind. Strange intimacies and uncertain attractions, family relationships and cryptic messages, and plots brokered by both dubious individuals and community citizens permeate an investigation that leads Jeannie on the chase of her life.

Always, the mystery is the driving force, empowering a read that incorporates element of the thriller genre, with its political focus, but stays true to its course of exploring an Israeli community's hidden undercurrents. And that's Oranit's delight, and strength.

Maddie DeLange
Merchant Blue Publishing
PO Box 82852, Portland, OR 97282
9780996129008 $3.99 e-book; $11.99 trade paperback

Grayland opens with a bang as Marina encounters the dead figure of Rachel in a dreamscape where Marina longs to join her. But Rachel committed suicide, and Marina is left seeking closure, acceptance, or something more.

This 'something else' is what Grayland is all about, moving readers from Marina's process of mourning and grief to living life again in a horrible autumn that seems endless.

Family and friends, beach fires and work, and the ethereal presence of the mysterious gray man always on the edge of Marina's mind wind a slow, lazy smoke trail that only strengthens as chapters explore events of past and present and the threat of a transformation that is taking over Marina's life: "My life has changed again; a shift has taken place, and it's too late to do anything about it."

Grayland 's story line moves deftly through family relationships, interactions, and a growing threat that interferes with carefully-built relationships in Marina's life: "Everything is wrong. My life. The people in it. Me, I'm wrong. Wrong on so many levels. I hate everything."

As the mysterious gray man becomes a more powerful force in her life, Marina faces many choices - and can't confide in anyone about any of them: "Sometimes the gray man is there, or at least I think he is, because upon waking I think about him. About the encounter in the hospital, how grateful I

am for my recovery. About the fact I have two more favors remaining. About his eyes, and how they make me shiver. About the power he has to change my life, and all I have to do is say the words."

As a beach discovery takes over her life, readers are drawn into the compelling saga of Marina's struggles for survival. The story moves full circle through beach, life, family and friends and leads to a place that opens and closes with Rachel and an event that knocked Marina off her feet and threatened her perceptions of the world. What is the force that ties them together, and what does the gray man have to do with it?

Grayland is about life, death, and everything between the two, and is a gently-moving saga of love, dreams, manipulation, and struggle that will enchant novel readers looking for a powerful saga of recovery.

How To Train Your Knight
Stella Marie Alden
Soul Mate Publishing, Macedon, NY 14502
Kindle Unlimited

Most medieval novels don't offer up a steamy romance theme; but then, How To Train Your Knight isn't your usual historical novel, but offers a gripping love story set in 1276 that opens with the bang of a screaming woman accosting Sir Marcus Blackwell, a holy crusader forced into a marriage with a foul-tempered widow.

Lies, ladies, she-witches, murder and love are vividly portrayed as characters are well-developed and dialogue and description nicely done to capture the sounds, scents, feel and lingo of Medieval times (without resorting to confusing vernacular, which makes for an exceptionally smooth read).

Where other romances would fall into modern description, How To Train Your Knight stays true to its times, tailoring its graphic sexual encounters with a sense of the decorum and trappings of Medieval times. From the period clothing of the era which is removed with a different touch ("...finally he undid the leather ties holding the three sheaves, and her knives clunked to the floor.") to a woman's acceptance of the pleasure involved in making babies (which doesn't translate to the usual confession to a priest if a husband is involved), Stella Marie Alden excels at presenting powerful protagonists who both express their sexuality and discover riches of the heart in the process.

Because romance is the key, binding factor in How To Train Your Knight, audiences should be genre readers looking for a healthy dose of history to spice the steamy interludes. These factors contribute to a powerful story line that is as much about sexual awakening and love as it is about the process of becoming a powerful partner and surviving the medieval world.

Purple Haze
K.J. Smiley
Amazon Digital Services. Inc.
9781495150319 Softcover, $9.95 E-book, $6.99

To appreciate the full flavor of Purple Haze, it's first important to understand that it's a novel about awakenings and powerful protagonists, from the sexual discoveries of newly ex-priest (and virgin) Porter and spirited yacht business owner (and sexually experienced) Rachel to her best friend Mary and the cast of characters that swirl around them. Smiley's ability to explore the spiritual evolution of Porter's world without injecting a tone of preachy morality creates a complex, in-depth treatment that is a pleasure to read.

His approach translates to a number of graphic scenes as Porter literally runs into Rachel, the woman of his dreams, and each discovers within the other a wellspring of complimentary sexual and social force. So if candid imagery bothers you, move on: Purple Haze wouldn't be the powerhouse it is without a few steamy encounters between protagonists who use these interactions to grow stronger.

Perhaps one of the strongest facets of Purple Haze is its ability to depict two already-powerful individuals who discover within their attraction the ability to become even stronger and more purposeful. Where other novels about male/female relationships would subtly depict one or the other as the superior force, Purple Haze's attention to an equality of vision, purpose, and experience means that readers are treated to an uncommon attention to detail that will result in a graphic and titillating read for male and female audiences alike.

Don't, however, presume this to be a romance in the usual sense. Smiley adds additional elements of purpose in a yacht business's demands, an evil manipulator/rapist's exploitation of women, and Porter's newfound determination to do something about it and help rectify the social and political wrongs in the world in the process of creating a new company with new vision.

Perhaps that is the strongest facet of Purple Haze - and why this is a top recommendation for novel readers unafraid of stories of sexual and social awakening. Its ability to spin a romance through the bigger picture of social responsibility juxtaposes love, sex and the honing of ethical approaches to life, making Purple Haze a complex but absorbing story all the way around.

Dying Wish
James Raven
Robert Hale, Publisher
9780719816932 $32.95

Dying last wishes aren't usual and are usually honored - unless they involve a strange request to burn down one's house with everything in it, as is the case in local author Grant's last request to his personal assistant Hilary.

Death permeates the story line because Jeff Temple is also struggling with a different kind of death, six years after the death of his beloved wife from cancer, when she was forty-six. While his only daughter is now grown and he's met someone else, Erin is never far from his thoughts, which is why investigator Jeff Temple is in a graveyard but trying to set aside the past and focus on his job's latest case of which involves a couple's disappearance.

The two worlds are about clash in a strange way involving a pristine forest in Britain's Hampshire, a detective's determination to track down a killer, and a dying wish that holds more than a few leads to something darker than either detective or personal assistant can know.

The joy of this Jeff Temple title lies in its ability to stand strongly independently from others in a series, requiring no prior familiarity from readers in order to prove immediately captivating. James Raven's ability to deftly include necessary background history where needed but focus on the immediate picture of the latest puzzle means that readers need have no acquaintance with previous events in order to find Dying Wish immediately accessible; and there's no sense of a plot left hanging at the end, either.

As far as the mystery itself: satisfying (unpredictable) twists and turns keep not only Jeff Temple and readers on their reader immersed in a series of interconnected questions. As one puzzle begins to form a bigger picture, the evidence points to no single truth until much further into the story line, which effectively makes the reader into a silent partner in Jeff Temple's quest for justice and truth.

From the media's ability to involve its readers in possible answers to surprise developments and contrasting witness observations as a result of this media involvement, Dying Wish serves up a satisfying dish of intrigue, interpersonal relationships, and subplots with connected puzzles that all lead up to a grand finale of grim discoveries and a confrontation that may prove Temple's final undoing. To find out, read the story, which is recommended for murder mystery readers who enjoy surprises and will appreciate the slowly evolving human horror permeating and marring the history and pristine atmosphere of New Forest.

Alan Brenham
Black Opal Books
Ebook: 9781626942905 $3.99
Print: 9781626942912 $12.99

This Jason Scarsdale thriller sports a brooding cover of three threatening, hooded figures and a promise of chaos and confrontation which doesn't disappoint in an introductory chapter that opens with the blows of a sledgehammer to a tombstone and just keeps knocking out the hits.

Murder and robbery take place from the beginning, which draws in readers with violence and questions in a harsh world juxtaposed by Detective Scarsdale's family life in Chapter 2, where he's getting his daughter ready for school.

These kinds of contrasts (extreme confrontation, then interludes of relative peace) enhance the story line with a give-and-take tidal feel that takes the time to present characters, outline situations, and then falls back to allow for reflection and insight.

So many thrillers and detective stories abandon this more methodical pursuit in favor of the 'staccato approach' that is nonstop in delivery; and while some readers might prefer that method, Rampage is a good example of the attributes and superior approach of taking the time to develop a story in a manner that mirrors life's realism.

The world doesn't operate in a nonstop action manner. There are pauses and events which are less dramatic and equally insightful, and these are key to presenting a story line that's realistic and involving.

Here they serve Rampage well as the complexities of revenge, murder, family life, a slowly-evolving relationship, and more assume a feel that can only be described as compellingly pragmatic.

Mystery and detective story enthusiasts will thus find Rampage more than a cut above the ordinary, mirroring life's ebbs and flows with a story line that appeals on many levels, from personal relationships to professional challenges, murder and mayhem to complex resolutions. All of this makes it highly recommended.

Oral 7 (TM) Hygiene Instructions Paint Your Mouth
Dr. Garth Pettit, GarGar the Dentist
Your Smile 2 Shine Pty. Ltd.
9780987346285 $4.99

We're all familiar with the admonition to brush your teeth, but dentist Dr. Garth Pettit (a.k.a. GarGar the Dentist)'s Oral 7 (TM) Hygiene Instructions Paint Your Mouth advocates something a little different: the concept of 'painting' one's mouth to not just clean teeth, but cover surfaces with a protective layer of paste, foregoing the usual rinsing that brushing involves.

His prior books presented a colorful range of animals and various approaches to teach very young children how to 'mouth paint'. Oral 7 (TM) Hygiene Instructions Paint Your Mouth foregoes all the simplified animals and directions to appeal to a slightly older audience who doesn't need these devices, but does need the how-to information.

Colorful dental models are used to outline the basics of mouth painting, while accompanying directions not only impart the basics of oral hygiene but delve into tooth anatomy, how plaque develops, the differences between harmful and helpful plaque, and more.

While this is directed to kids, it's provided at a higher level of information than Dr. Pettit's previous books, and holds plenty of information to reach adult audiences, as well, making Oral 7 (TM) Hygiene Instructions Paint Your Mouth an accessible program of care recommended for all audiences.

Murder at the Yeshiva
S. Bird
Dog Ear Publishing
4011 Vincennes Road, Indianapolis, Indiana 46268
9781457538681 $12.97 pbk / $9.99

A Jewish homicide team, murders involving a Yeshiva student, and some unlikely puzzles involving the young man's life are overlaid with Jewish cultural insights from the start, making Murder at the Yeshiva an immediate draw because of its promise of something different in the world of murder mysteries.

'Shuman the Human' is Jewish, part of an investigative dynamic duo, and is assigned to the case because of his heritage - but even his status as a member of the only Jewish homicide team in the City is about to be challenged, because this murder has its roots spread all over the place, and Jewish heritage is but one piece of its evolving puzzle.

As students and rabbis are interviewed and motive remains a puzzle, Shuman finds himself on the wrong end of ignorance with a window of opportunity rapidly closing and more questions than answers evolving.

Add in a drinking problem, the threat of an estranged wife afraid of his increasing alcoholism, an upcoming retirement, and a tenacity on the detective's part that gets him into increasing trouble and you have a plot that begins with a boy's murder and evolves into much more.

Murder at the Yeshiva starts with a simple premise - but murder is seldom simple; especially when it's immersed in subterfuge with concurrently-running subplots and special interests. Slowly, readers become privy to information that Shuman does not know - and just as slowly, the gears of a murder machine begin to come together and ramp up.

Part of the compelling draw of Murder at the Yeshiva is this attention to detail, which takes a relatively straightforward scenario and develops it into something unexpectedly complex. And while readers who want quick action and predictable paths in their murder mysteries may find themselves chafing at the bit of a slower-moving plot than some, the pleasure here lies in this exquisitely delicate evolutionary process.

It's about unsolved murders, cold cases, children and fathers, and new directions in life afforded by retirement and challenge alike. That Jewish culture and family becomes one of the pivot points in the plot from its opening act only makes it that much more full-faceted and engaging.

S. Bird takes the time to build characters, atmosphere, subplots, motives, and mystery. Under his hand the plot thickens like a pudding, carefully stirred and tended until, many chapters into the story, readers find themselves thoroughly immersed in a well-cooked saga that's as much about Shuman's evolution as it is about solving a murder.

Reality Check: Travels in the Australian Ice Hockey League
Will Brodie
Combiner Publishing
4/151 Clarke Street Northcote 3070 Victoria Australia
ISBN 9780646932040 Price: $16.25 USD

Reality Check: Travels in the Australian Ice Hockey League opens in an unusual manner, pairing a map of Australian hockey cities and their vast distances with chapters divided by meet dates and descriptions of action as vivid as: "Raw hockey and earthy delights in the timewarp museum."

A large 'cast of characters' follows before the story begins: enough to warn that there are two prerequisites to appreciating Reality Check: an appreciation for the sport of ice hockey and an ability to enjoy an Australian setting.

Those two prerequisites met, readers can expect a vivid saga about a thriving national ice hockey league that documents interactions between players both within and outside the team and achievements of a little-revealed Australian sports culture.

Chapters stem from the author's personal travels with two such teams and are replete with solid descriptions of the 2014 Australian Ice Hockey League season. From successes to failures, social and political challenges, and the pure sport of ice hockey, both newcomers and those familiar with the AIHL will find much to appreciate in this documentary.

As with any sports coverage, it's the personal insights that make the book, far beyond the technical descriptions of plays and the game - and it's here that Reality Check especially excels: "Pat says Mick didn't yell at the group when he addressed them after that loss Ice Dogs, he just laid down some home truths, and it carried weight coming from him. "You could see he was passionate about it. And this is a guy who really has no ties to the team besides Jack McCoy, who is not even around this year. He just loves it, he comes on his own time, drives us, cooks for us, takes care of us. And aft er he spoke to us, I think we all took a look in the mirror and said 'Why are we here?' And then things started picking up."

The result is satisfying, well-detailed 'must read' for any fan of ice hockey who wants to delve into the world of Australia's ice hockey winners.

Exploring Your Unplanned Pregnancy: Single Motherhood, Adoption, Abortion Questions and Resources
Tyne Traverson
Cairde, Karuna & Hedd Publishing, LLC
c/o Taylor English Duma LLP
1600 Parkwood Circle, Suite 400, Atlanta, Georgia 30339
9780986258305 paperback - $12.95
9780986258312 ebook $3.99
ASIN number: B00UOANN50

Exploring Your Unplanned Pregnancy is designed to be a woman's companion as she explores the choices, consequences, and possibilities of not just a pregnancy, but an unplanned event - and here is where this book differs substantially from other books on pregnancy and motherhood.

It pairs information with discussions of the decision-making processes at every turn, and is carefully couched so as to not promote a set course of action. Considering the social and ethical eggshell-walking this must have involved, this is no light achievement.

Nobody facing an unplanned pregnancy needs to read a book forcing them on a particular path. Ideally, a discussion should be informational and strive for a sense of dispassionate exploration of all the options: in this, Exploring Your Unplanned Pregnancy more than succeeds.

From 'Avoiding Overload' to 'Basic Questions', chapters covering the biological father, abortion, single motherhood, and adoption choices are couched in such a manner as to lend to at-a-glance information and reference as well as browsing or cover-to-cover reading.

Those who already have a sense of the process can use it to review the facts and options, while those newly informed about their pregnancy will find it a virtual treasure trove of detail. From resource chapters to overviews of single motherhood and the types of family dialogues which can take place, this leaves nothing to wonder and should be in every general lending library as an essential reference.

City Times and Other Poems
Vihang Naik
ASIN: B00J2PMXXG $3.99

Most modern poetry collections strive for the emotional connection and the ethereal description of self and place, so it's refreshing to see a different, more philosophical and studied approach, in City Times and Other Poems, a collection well grounded not in observational emotion, but in reflection.

The collection is divided into six segments that, when taken together, read like a travelogue of experience that focus on the urban inhabitants of cityscapes and their lives and meaning.

Between self and observation there are discussions of the paths of wisdom, how human beings mirror their environments, and what transpires in the places between ego and enlightenment. Naik treds lightly in this area and produces a collection that is rooted in the process of reflection and analysis. Perhaps his strongest works are represented in the sections 'Mirrored Men', which takes the image of man and juxtaposes it with creatures in nature (the chameleon, the crab), and his section on wisdom ("Do not touch rainbow/with reason...nor should you/divide the atom further-/you'll end up rhyming/without flavour.")

The short free verse pieces are succinct and loaded meaning: highly recommended works for any poetry reader seeking a more philosophical, observational style and flavor than most modern poets would impart.

Pearls of Destiny
Neil E. Clement
MTCC Publishing Company
9780989537896 $4.99 Kindle, Nook, and Google Books

At first it seems like an accident: a gamma ray hits Planet Irth and destroys all life on it, leaving only its outer colonies as survivors. But as the survivors discover more, they come to realize the event was actually a deliberate attack - and their secret weapon, The Pearls of Destiny, may come into play in a kind of retribution that has not been seen by the universe before.

What does all this have to do with P.I. Jem James Telemachus, who opens the story with a fiery encounter with a disgruntled but striking female stranger? Plenty; because Telemachus has just gotten himself a lucrative contract with a rich client who wants him to locate her sister and bring her home safely. The only trouble is, his new search-and-rescue mission falls directly in the path of a greater danger and calls upon his unusual second sight ability to add an investigate edge to the story.

Science fiction readers should, therefore, expect a plot that toes the line between sci-fi and an investigative detective story. Add more than a light dose of political involvements and intrigue and you have much more than a saga of a world's destruction and resulting revenge: it's a winding, first-person analytical piece that centers around the search for Maggie and the cast of characters involved in her life.

That's not to say that science fiction isn't embedded into the story line ("Humankind has little choice but to leave the nest or face zero possibility of long-term survival. Which might explain why I am now standing in the lead habitat looking out the viewport at the yawning more-than-ten-miles-wide circular mirror surface that is the entry to the worm tunnel that should take us to the vicinity of the star we call Vega.") - only that in many places, it isn't the main attraction.

There are political overtones ("In 2053 the people of the free world became fed up with being subjugated by political power systems clearly favoring the wealthy while simultaneously bleeding and subjugating the masses."), personal lives, and the concerns and relationships of individuals as well as humanity as whole.

All these meld into a story that is complex, changing, and especially recommended for both science fiction and investigative fiction readers looking for something out of the ordinary; something that transcends either of its genres to provide a riveting, remarkable plot that begins with a missing woman and eventually evolves into black hole weaponry and intelligent beings. The Pearls of Destiny covers everything that happens between and, without spoilers, ends with an unexpected bang that draws together Telemachus's concerns and universe-changing events.

Dawn of Wonder (The Wakening, Book 1)
Jonathan Renshaw
Publisher: Jonathan Renshaw
ASIN: B00VV63K22 $3.99

When the opening pages of any given fantasy novel begin with a map and a list of name pronunciations, the reader knows complexity will surely follow - and a delightful, winding style of complexity it is, with Dawn of Wonder taking its time to build character, plot, subplot, and motivation - something all too many modern books miss in the effort to churn out quick formula productions.

Dawn of Wonder centers on a young country-boy adventurer whose world is shaken when startling news reaches his village. It is news that will change all their lives.

True to the genre of epic fantasy, there is a journey; there is a threat to everything Aedan knows, involving an ancient power's rise; and of course the young man gets into trouble and finds himself in way over his head. But these are just the outer layers of a story that is packed with depth and complexity. These layers, when pulled away, just keep revealing more surprises.

If it's a quick-thrills read that's desired, move along. Dawn of Wonder foregoes 'quick and saccharine' for the satisfying choice of 'long and compelling', building the details of a vast production.

I can't wait for Book Two. If this first story is any indicator, it will be along the lines of a Robert Jordan 'Wheel of Time' epic series.

Sean Jackson
Harvard Square Editions
2152 Beachwood Terrace, Hollywood, CA 90068

Haw's very title doesn't give much warning about its contents, much less about its futuristic society setting and a father's struggle to save his son from corruption - and that's just one intriguing facet in a genre replete with dystopian writings, here: one just doesn't anticipate the events coming, in Haw.

Bioengineer Lucas and his son live in a city on the edge of disaster, and so they flee to a rural farming community, where his son falls in love with one of the sons of a family.

There are a lot of contrasts in this story: the gritty urban world versus rural struggles, the different facets of love in a time of disaster, and the choices involved in a commitment to personal and community survival. Against this backdrop, the rough world is deftly portrayed: "All he can think about is water. He's seen rusty tanks and leaky lines, the stagnant reservoir ponds choked with bacteria. Lucas knows the hardships facing his efforts to find enough velocity to scour the city pipes clean to protect the city's fragile supply of drinking water. It's a losing battle. Some are saying it's already lost."

A nuclear reactor's possible collapse with its wide-ranging social and political ramifications that go beyond radiation, choices made while navigating one's way through the ranks to survive socially and politically, and the collapse of individuals, institutions and communities all prove compelling when accompanied by solid observations and protagonists: "Orel does not know of the preacher's sudden and tragic death upstairs. Nor does he know of the new widow's suicide on the heels of this tragedy. And he can never know of the giggling girls' weeping route to troubled family in Kentucky.

Ghost stories are one thing; brutal deaths are another. But he has seen the eerie letters and the words they spell out in his closet. He has an idea, a very good idea, that something went terribly wrong in this church."

With a title such as Haw, it's hard to predict the nature of the yarn to be spun and the stories played out. Ultimately, it's about love, death, and finding peace in a stormy, changing world. Deliciously dark and compelling insights interspersed with moments of enlightenment and hope are the driving force of a novel that focuses on the course of survival and what is lost in that process. Very highly recommended: a powerful read that's hard to put down!

Creating Joy & Meaning for the Dementia Patient
Ronda Parsons
Rowman & Littlefield
4501 Forbes Blvd. #200, Lanham, MD 20706
9781442227552 $38.00

Creating Joy & Meaning for the Dementia Patient offers a positive new approach to handling dementia patients and stems from the author's ten years of experience. It's designed to help fellow caregivers understand the stages of dementia and how to create connections and positive experiences through them all.

This guide is highly recommended for caregivers and professionals who deal with dementia and Alzheimer's patients on a daily basis. Where other guides may talk about communication and management, this book reaches beyond these subjects and addresses the fundamentals of life - joy and meaning - and emphasizes patient individuality; not a 'one size fits all' program.

Chapters empower caregivers by exploring their key roles in defining and imparting this sense of meaning and joy in everyday interactions, and they outline the types of experiences that lend to not just better understanding, but alternative ways of interaction that achieve better, more positive results for everyone.

In many ways Creating Joy & Meaning for the Dementia Patient fills in the gaps created by similar-sounding books by discussing the complications of memory changes and the psychological reactions of patients and caregivers during the process. Each chapter concludes with tangible insights, communication tips that emphasize flexibility and understanding, and approaches that lend dignity and joy into every encounter.

Compelling and satisfyingly specific, Creating Joy & Meaning for the Dementia Patient offers what few others have achieved: a sense of renewed purpose and concrete approaches that go beyond 'handling' and move into areas of positive experiences for all involved.

Desperate for Death
Judy Alter
Turquoise Morning Press
PO Box 43958, Louisville, KY 40253-0958
9781622374052 $3.99 Kindle

Arson. Kidnapping. An unexpected inheritance from one who should have been an enemy. Accidents. An ex who may be involved in more than heartbreak. All this is just what Kelly doesn't need - and just what she gets, in Desperate for Death, which recounts her stormy involvement in not just one, but a series of mysteries that challenge not only her investigative skills, but her life.

One satisfying aspect of Desperate for Death which sets it apart from other murder mysteries is its staccato action in which everything happens at once, little seems connected, and life becomes a series of challenges. Fast-paced action keeps readers involved in not only events, but Kelly's response to them, and in her efforts to keep her head above stormy waters.

Another pleasing point to Judy Alter's approach is that her characters are fully developed: Kelly is a mother, and her interactions with her family are just as compelling as are the mysteries life hands her: ""Why didn't you just google it?" "Because you're sitting right here, and I knew you'd know the answer." Mixed feelings. I was flattered she thought I'd know the answer, but then again I couldn't be doing her homework for her. "Is it in your American history book?" "We don't have a book. We have a syllabus, and we're supposed to use the internet." I bit my tongue to keep from saying, "So why didn't you?" Education was changing too much for me."

It's these interludes from supercharged drama that keep readers immersed, because the realistic personality, obligations and family life of a woman with way too much on her plate translates to a story line that is simply compelling. Too many mysteries pass over this depth and produce one-dimensional characters, but Alter's focus on interactions, choices, and consequence keeps the action firmly centered where it should be: on the psychological impact and connections between all involved.

Add a zany wedding scenario to the mix and you have a murder mystery that's replete with fast action and plenty of compelling personal scenes to provide the 'glue' as events unfold: something that will keep readers riveted, involved, and interested right up to its unexpected conclusion.

Michael J. Bowler
YoungDudes Publishing
64 Windsor Street, Gerdview, Germiston, Gauteng, South Africa, 1401
9781511943086 Paperback price: $18.99; ebook price: $6.99


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Teen Alex is a 'spinner' in more ways than one: he is wheelchair-bound and holds a special ability; but that doesn't mean he's helpless, even though his life is hell between an evil force that stalks him and a sadistic housemother who has uncovered his strange ability and is using him.

And this is only the tip of the iceberg. One satisfying feature of Spinner is that Alex is defined not by his disability but by his abilities; and these strengths, as well as the underlying terror in the story, are far more at the forefront than any of Alex's limitations.

Alex is a "sweet-faced boy" who looks like a nice kid, and so attracts the interest of potential foster parents - but his special ability to 'spin' people keeps him moving from place to place. It seems inevitable that eventually he'll find a place where this power is exposed and then exploited. It seems inevitable that this will lead, in turn, to a greater confrontation than he's ever faced before. And it forms the nexus of a story line that centers around growing evil, Alex's ability to heal those around him, and his inability to connect with those he heals on any kind of meaningful level: "He'd just helped the boy, for the seventh time already, and Juan was still afraid of him."

As with any solid story, the bigger picture is the important piece - and Spinner's strength excels as chapters move from their foundation in Alex's feisty personality and gift to his exploration of a mysterious past and an uncertain future: "Alex had nothing but dreams, shadows of who he was and where he'd come from."

Spinner incorporates elements of horror into a young adult read that is riveting and centered upon powerful protagonists that are well-drawn. Underlying it all is a search for a real home and a place to belong. The 'added value' in this story doesn't lie in its slow buildup of horror: it lies in its slow evolution of Alex's life and in scenes that take the trappings of teen horror and turn them into something much more developed than the usual teen horror story presents.

Young adult to adult readers will find Spinner compelling and vivid: a drama that will surely lend to a future incarnation in film or stage!

Regina Shen: Resilience
Lance Erlick
Finlee Augare Books
P.O. Box 1805, Palatine, IL 60078
9780991464357 $12.95 (print), $3.99 (Kindle)

Regina Shen and her family are outcasts in a world being deluged by rising waters from climate change - but a hurricane is proving to be the least of her problems as The World Federation which has condemned her family discovers that her unique DNA may prove the salvation of humanity itself; and so she goes from an unwanted outcast to a wanted outcast.

Only Regina's knowledge of the swamps and wetlands created by climate change can keep her from the clutches of a savvy and sly Federation: but, for how long? She now has two problems: locating the family lost to her in the storm, and avoiding the bounty hunters and clutches of the Federation that rules her world.

Under a different hand, Regina Shen: Resilience (the first book in a projected series) could have been more one-dimensional (so many young adult dystopian stories are). Using a different approach, it could have focused on the physical challenges of disaster, on a teen girl's coming of age, or on a family's obstacles to survival. But any who expect Regina Shen to be your typical teen disaster story are in for a surprise: it tackles issues of freedom, domination, change in the face of challenge, and a feisty girl whose flexibility and love of learning prove her keys to success.

Regina's acceptance of her world creates a story that is believable and involving on both a political and a personal level - and that's a fine line indeed, incorporating elements of past and present events to create an atmosphere of future reality firmly cemented in present-day fact: " outside the Richmond Swamps seemed unimaginable. This was the only world I knew, unless you counted the literary world of banned books by ancients such as Charles Dickens, Isaac Asimov, and David Brin."

In such a future, the fine lines between 'good' and 'evil' are blurred - but Regina stands out firmly as 'good', even to strangers who encounter her. In such a world, the elements of survival are intrinsically linked to an ability to present a refreshingly honest face to strangers: "Therese couldn't help wondering why the injured girl so interested Antiquities, the Federation, and her. Regina was a tough girl, a survivor, not unpleasant in the way other desperate souls became during and after storms. It had been the lack of guile that convinced Therese to help her..."

It's Regina's perceptions of the wants, needs, and efforts of those around her (strangers she encounters, who become 'family') that drives a story line that is personal as well as political ("Guilt. I'd added burdens on her while she tried to help me stay safe. Already, I thought of the twins as my sisters, though they couldn't replace Colleen. But more bodies meant more heat signatures for patrols and bounty hunters to find."). These elements, together, create a story line that is compelling, vivid, realistic, and with far more psychological depth than the usual young adult dystopian read.

In Regina's world, there's a lot to gain and a lot to lose. Resilience's satisfying conclusion leaves the door open for more Regina stories but provides a logical ending for this particular saga, which makes for both a powerful predecessor to a series and a rewarding stand-alone read.

Twisted: A Tracy Turner Mystery Novel
Keyla Hunter
9781505392272 $12.99

A pro golf course is not your typical setting for murder - but then, other murder mystery writers have placed intrigue in unlikely sports scenarios; so why not Keyla Hunter? Another incongruity is that the investigator protagonist in Twisted is the newly-appointed head of events, so her ordinary purpose doesn't lie in the realm of inquiry, but in publicity. So she may be prepared for the limelight, but not for a murder and the framing of her very best friend just one day into her new position.

Such an opening promises that Twisted will be an involving murder mystery as it brings a relative newcomer to the process of murder investigation and places it squarely in her lap, because nobody will believe her best friend is innocent. That Tracy is ill-prepared for her new role is evident from the first line: ""Oh, Pierre, just do without the truffles!" I said. My high heels clanged across the poolside's black and white checkered tiles as I hurried to the Ethereal Room, where tonight's banquet was being held.""

While Tracy had thought herself unqualified for the new PR job that landed in her lap ("What did I, Tracy Turner, aged twenty-six, five foot nothing, know about heading the PR & Events Department of one of the largest and most prestigious resorts in the world? She is out of her league in the world?"), in this scenario she's truly a fish out of water - and it shows.

Because Ryan has lived a flamboyant gay lifestyle and is deeply in debt, this adds to the evidence against him and makes him not only the prime suspect with a good motivation for murder, but the only suspect. As Tracy learns more about the hidden life of a man she considers her best friend, she becomes more resolved to help him - against all odds, as it turns out. Any good story will cover motivation; and the fact that Hunter probes all kinds of motivations adds to the depth of her production: "I was the one who poured out my heart to him, but he never let on that he had issues of his own. Was I such a lousy friend that he felt that he couldn't confide in me? What else had he hidden from me? As I learned of his troubles, my resolve to help him only grew stronger."

Suspects who are upset about Tracy's questions, connections between old friends, a daring break-in during a search for evidence that reveals only an old shoe, and a long ride in a car trunk when a dangerous man is confronted: these are only a few of the elements that keep Twisted a fast-paced, engrossing saga involving murder mystery fans in a story filled with twists and turns, odd characters, and a healthy dose of the unexpected.

A Journey in Thoughts
Isaac Mack Toney Jr.
1663 Liberty Drive, Bloomington, IN 47403
ISBN: 9781504906494 (sc)
ISBN: 9781504906487 (e)

The first thing to realize about Isaac Mack Toney Jr.'s poetry collection A Journey in Thoughts is that it's free verse which asks questions of life, as evidenced in the first poem 'Why'. Connections between questions of emotions and the heart are drawn which bask in the timeless questions of mankind and love: "Tell me why can't I see the sun through that silver lining?/And tell me why is my heart the one that always needs refining?"

There's some rhyming structure in some of the verses, but one benefit of A Journey in Thoughts is that it allows its thoughts to flow without consideration of hitching itself to a particular iambic pentameter or rhyme format: thus, when the rhymes do occur, they feel natural and not forced.

Toney's topics proceed from inward inspection to wider philosophical contemplation, as in 'On Man and Age', where readers are given a short examination of the aging process: "A man and his age can be left to themselves,/A man and his age can be counted old and satisfied."

If it's contemplative poetic journeys that are desired, spiced with (but not dictated by) rhyme and a personal touch that melds philosophical with psychological elements, then A Journey in Thoughts is the item of choice.

Tokyo's Mystery Deepens
Michael Pronko
Raked Gravel Press
9781942410072 $2.99 Kindle

If Michael Pronko's prior Beauty and Chaos captured the exquisite essence of the urban heartbeat that is Tokyo, then this follow-up essay collection, Tokyo's Mystery Deepens, is its soul, offering up pieces of Tokyo's psyche through the observations of a visitor who became immersed in its culture.

Ask Pronko about the process and he'll say: "My editor keeps saying this book shows how well I've adapted to Tokyo, but I'm not sure that's true. Maybe I have accepted some level of confusion and disorientation, and work around it, just to keep going. I have more Tokyo habits, and find myself reacting at times not like an American, but like a Tokyoite."

Perhaps the bigger question here is: how has Tokyo adapted to Pronko? The answer lies within pages that reveal not only Tokyo's heart and soul, but the process whereby visitors become not just observers, but participants in the city's pulse.

Examples reflect diversity in such vignettes as 'Apology Speed', in which the author mirrors the essential politeness that is the hallmark of Japanese modern culture ("Perhaps

the best sign of adapting to Tokyo life is apology speed. I'll never be a native speaker, but I am already a "native apologizer." On that day, and others, too, I had a sense of pride in doing something so correctly Japanese.") or 'City of Small Gestures', which successfully captures the subtler nuances of the Japanese public persona ("Tokyo body language, slight as it is, keeps the social network flowing with as full and complex a range of meanings as in more openly demonstrative countries like America, where emotion is always on public display.")

As chapters flow through Tokyo cultural experiences, readers receive a rare glimpse of the structure and nature of Tokyo's underlying psyche, whether it be adaptations to rainy seasons, the new culture of youth dragging shopping in wheeled bags and disrupting unspoken public train etiquette and paths of movement, or how compact living in small spaces is achieved.

This collection - along with Beauty and Chaos - should be required reading for any Westerner bound for Japan. It's a powerful, intimate consideration of many aspects of Japanese culture that is difficult to locate elsewhere; much less in a series of lively inspections handily presented under one cover.

To Russia for Love
Kenneth Eade
Times Square Publishing
ASIN: B00TPIPI14 $8.50

Seth Rogan's girlfriend Natasha is on special assignment, working as an undercover agent for the Russian Federal Security Service when she is kidnapped, and Seth finds himself once again in Russia undertaking an uncertain rescue with the aid of dubious operatives who doubt his amateur investigator skills.

To Russia for Love is recommended for readers who enjoy stories of spies, Russian intrigue, and the entwined political interests of the Ukraine and GMO seed company interests, and delves into world of a biologist caught up in a conflict of conspiracy and corruption surrounding GMO foods. It's not a novel for the light thriller reader, but is filled with political insights about the Ukraine and its world relationships in general and GMO activities in particular. As such, it incorporates these realities into a story line packed with action and presenting the desperate efforts of a bad spy to free his woman from government kidnappers.

Action is swift and tension and characterization is well done; but it's the sequence of events that holds attention as Seth moves through this foreign land with relatively few tools, ill-prepared for the role of either rescuer or spy. Despite (or perhaps because of) his lack of professional background in either, he succeeds where more seasoned operatives have failed - and edges ever closer to a bigger truth in the process of uncovering who has captured Natasha, and why.

GMO foods, international politics, and quests for power: steeped in the flavor of modern times, To Russia for Love is international thriller reading at its best.

Diane C. Donovan, Senior Reviewer
Donovan's Literary Services

Dunford's Bookshelf

The Hogeye Clovis Cache
Michael Waters & Thomas Jennings
Texas A&M University Press
4354 TAMU, College Station, TX 77843-4354
9781623492144, $30.00, 156pp,

Synopsis: Roughly thirteen thousand years ago, Clovis hunters cached more than fifty projectile points, preforms, and knives at the toe of a gentle slope near present-day Elgin, Bastrop County, in central Texas. Over the next millennia, deposition buried the cache several meters below the surface. The entombed artifacts lay undisturbed until 2003. A circuitous path brought thirteen of the original thirty-seven Clovis bifaces and points through many hands before reaching the attention of Michael Waters at Texas A&M University. At the site of the original cache, Waters and coauthor Thomas A. Jennings conducted excavations, studied the geology, and dated the geological layers to reconstruct how the cache was buried. "The Hogeye Clovis Cache" provides a well-illustrated, thoroughly analyzed description and discussion of the Hogeye Clovis cache, the projectile points and other artifacts from later occupations, and the geological context of the site, which has yielded evidence of multiple Paleoindian, Archaic, and Late Prehistoric occupations. The cache of tools and weapons at Hogeye, when combined with other sites, allows us to envision a snapshot of life at the end of the last Ice Age.

Critique: A seminal work of truly impressive scholarship, richly illustrated, documents, and extraordinary in organization and presentation, "The Hogeye Clovis Cache" is an essential, critically important, highly recommended addition to professional and academic library American Archaeology reference collections and supplemental studies lists. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "The Hogeye Clovis Cache" is also available in a Kindle edition ($25.65).

The Handy American History Answer Book
David L. Hudson, Jr.
Visible Ink Press
43311 Joy Road, #414, Canton, MI 48187
KT Public Relations
9781578594719, $21.95, 450pp,

Synopsis: The Handy American History Answer Book takes a walk through the economic, political, and social forces, as well as the military conflicts that created, changed, and built the United States. It explains the impact of the biggest events, the wars, the presidents, lesser-known personalities and figures, sports, music, and much more. This handy primer is a captivating, concise, and convenient history of America and Americans. From Washington to the microchip, Columbus to modern terrorist threats, the Anasazi to the iPhone, "The Handy American History Answer Book" traces the development of the nation, including the impact of the Civil War, the discovery of gold in California, the inventions, the political and economic crises, and the technology transforming modern culture today. It answers nearly 900 commonly asked questions and offers fun facts about American, its history, and people, including What was the Lost Colony? Who were the robber barons? Was the U.S. mainland attacked during World War II? What was Reaganomics? How many states recognize same-sex marriages? -- and so much more!

Critique: Impressively well written, deftly organized and presented, informed and informative, "The Handy American History Answer Book" is exceptionally 'reader friendly' throughout and very highly recommended for personal, school, community, and academic library American History reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

The Manservant
Michael Harwood
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
119 West 40th Street, Floor 21, New York, NY 10018-2522
9781617733116, $15.00, 304pp,

Synopsis: Anthony Gowers assists guests at a high-end London hotel with the kind of requests that can't be filled from a room-service menu. His reward: lavish tips and a closet full of cashmere. Then a client's after-hours entertainment ends in a tabloid scandal, and Anthony quickly becomes the city's best-dressed unemployed person. In desperation, Anthony takes a position in the countryside as personal butler to Lord Shanderson. As a former Royal footman, Anthony is well versed in the peerage's peculiar ways. But Castle Beadale conceals an abundance of intrigue behind its stately doors. On the surface, Lord Shanderson is a model English gentleman--with a few personal interests that Anthony is sure the absent Lady Shanderson knows nothing about. But when the horrendously high-maintenance Lady Shanderson returns, tempers will flare, secrets will be exposed, and Anthony must decide whether the perks of privilege he's enjoyed are worth the price he's compelled to pay.

Critique: A superbly crafted novel of wit and wisdom, "The Manservant" by master novelist and professional chef Michael Harwood ( is an enormously entertaining read from beginning to end. Certain to be a popular addition to community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "The Manservant" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

The Death Of Napoleon
Simon Leys
New York Review Books
435 Hudson Street, Suite 300, New York, NY 10014
9781590178423, $14.00, 144pp,

Synopsis: Napoleon has escaped from St. Helena, leaving a double behind him. Now disguised as the cabin hand Eugene Lenormand and enduring the mockery of the crew (Na-po-leon, they laughingly nickname the pudgy, hopelessly clumsy little man), he is on his way back to Europe, ready to make contact with the huge secret organization that will return him to power. But then the ship on which he sails is rerouted from Bordeaux to Antwerp. When Napoleon disembarks, he is on his own. He revisits the battlefield of Waterloo, now a tourist destination. He makes his way to Paris. Mistakes, misunderstandings, and mishaps conduct our puzzled hero deeper and deeper into the mystery of Napoleon.

Critique: A unique and impressively written work of speculative fiction, "The Death Of Napoleon" by the late Simon Leys (1935 - 2014 -- which was the pen name of Pierre Ryckmans) is an inherently fascinating read that is very strongly recommended for community and academic library Literary Fiction collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "The Death Of Napoleon" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Cities, Sagebrush, and Solitude
Dennis R. Judd & Stephanie L. Witt, editors
University of Nevada Press
Mail Stop 0166, Reno, NV, 89557-0166
9780874179699, $34.95, 288pp,

Synopsis: Collaboratively compiled and co-edited by Dennis R. Judd (Professor of Political Science, University of Illinois at Chicago) and Stephanie L. Witt (Professor of Public Policy and Administration at Boise State University), "Cities, Sagebrush, and Solitude: Urbanization and Cultural Conflict in the Great Basin" is comprised of thirteen erudite and informative articles by knowledgeable contributors who explore the transformation of the largest desert in North America, the Great Basin, into America's last urban frontier. In recent decades Las Vegas, Reno, Salt Lake City, and Boise have become the anchors for sprawling metropolitan regions. This population explosion has been fueled by the maturing of Las Vegas as the nation's entertainment capital, the rise of Reno as a magnet for multitudes of California expatriates, the development of Salt Lake City's urban corridor along the Wasatch Range, and the growth of Boise's celebrated high-tech economy and hip urban culture. The blooming of cities in a fragile desert region poses a host of environmental challenges. The policies required to manage their impact, however, often collide with an entrenched political culture that has long resisted cooperative or governmental effort. The alchemical mixture of three ingredients (cities, aridity, and a libertarian political outlook) makes the Great Basin a compelling place to study. "Cities, Sagebrush, and Solitude" addresses a pressing question: are large cities ultimately sustainable in such a fragile environment?

Critique: A seminal collection of informed scholarly articles, "Cities, Sagebrush, and Solitude: Urbanization and Cultural Conflict in the Great Basin" is very highly recommended for community and academic library Urban Studies and Western Environmental Issues reference collections and supplemental studies lists. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Cities, Sagebrush, and Solitude" is also available in a Kindle edition ($29.89).

The Third Chimpanzee for Young People
Jared Diamond
Seven Stories Press
140 Watts Street, New York, NY 10013
9781609806118, $17.95, 368pp,

Synopsis: At some point during the last 100,000 years, humans began exhibiting traits and behavior that distinguished us from other animals, eventually creating language, art, religion, bicycles, spacecraft, and nuclear weapons -- all within a heartbeat of evolutionary time. Now, faced with the threat of nuclear weapons and the effects of climate change, it seems our innate tendencies for violence and invention have led us to a crucial fork in our road. Where did these traits come from? Are they part of our species immutable destiny? Or is there hope for our species' future if we change? With fascinating facts and his unparalleled readability, Jared Diamond (Professor of Geography, University of California - Los Angeles) intended "The Third Chimpanzee for Young People: On the Evolution and Future of the Human Animal to improve the world that today's young people will inherit.

Critique: Impressively well written, organized and presented, Professor Diamond's "The Third Chimpanzee for Young People: On the Evolution and Future of the Human Animal" is thoroughly 'reader friendly' from beginning to end. Informed and informative, "The Third Chimpanzee for Young People" is a very highly recommended addition to school and community collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "The Third Chimpanzee for Young People" is also available in a Kindle edition ($11.99).

The Battle For Britain
Anthony J. Cumming
Naval Institute Press
291 Wood Road, Annapolis, MD 21402
9781612518343, $39.95, 240pp,

Synopsis: "The Battle for Britain: Interservice Rivalry between the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy, 1909-1940" is a provocative reinterpretation of both British air and naval power from 1909 to 1940. Author Anthony Cumming ( winner of the University of London's Julian Corbett Prize for Research in Modern Naval History) challenges the view that the Battle of Britain was a decisive victory won solely by the Royal Air Force through independent airpower operations. By re-evaluating the early stage of the Mediterranean conflict and giving special emphasis to naval battles such as Calabria and Taranto, Cumming persuasively argues that the Royal Navy played an equally important role in defeating Hitler's early advances, buying critical time until the Americans could make a decisive contribution. His argument holds that the RAF's role as an independent arm has been exaggerated and that contemporary strategists can learn from investing too much confidence in independent airpower.

Critique: An inherently fascinating and informative read, "The Battle for Britain: Interservice Rivalry between the Royal Air Force and the Royal Navy, 1909-1940" is a seminal contribution to the growing library of World War II literature and highly recommended for community and academic library 20th Century Military History reference collections and supplemental studies lists. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "The Battle for Britain" is also available in a Kindle edition ($19.22).

Michael Dunford

Greenspan's Bookshelf

The Council of Fifty: A Documentary History
Jedediah S. Rogers, editor
Signature Books
564 West 400 North, Salt Lake City, UT 84116-3411
9781560852247, $49.95, 424pp,

Synopsis: Mormon Church founder Joseph Smith had both millennial and temporal aspirations for the organization he called the Council of Fifty, named after the number of men who were intended to comprise it. Organized a few months before Smith's death in June 1844, it continued under Brigham Young as a secret shadow government until 1851. Minutes from the earliest meetings are closed to researchers but contemporary accounts speak of a deliberative body preparing for Christ's imminent reign. It also helped to sponsor Smith's U.S. presidential bid and oversaw the exodus to present-day Utah.

Critique: A seminal contribution to the study of Mormon History compiled with an introduction by Jedediah S. Rogers (Senior State Historian, Utah Division of State History), "The Council of Fifty: A Documentary History" is comprised of an informative Foreword by Klaus J. Hansen (Professor Emeritus of History, Queen's University, Ontario, Canada), a complete list of the original members of the first Council of Fifty, abbreviations for frequently cited sources, seven historical documents pertaining to the council, two appendices (References to the Official Records; "The Government of God" b Joseph Smith), a twenty-two page Annotated Bibliography, and a nineteen page Index. "The Council of Fifty: A Documentary History" is very highly recommended for academic library Mormon History reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "The Council of Fifty: A Documentary History" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.00).

Drift and Mastery
Walter Lippmann
University of Wisconsin Press
1930 Monroe Street, Third Floor, Madison, WI 53711-2059
9780299304843, $21.95, 206pp,

Synopsis: In 1914, Walter Lippmann was a brilliant young political journalist who published a book arguing that the United States had entered a period of "drift", a condition defined as a lack of control over rapidly changing forces in society. He highlighted the tensions between expansion and consolidation, traditionalism and progressivism, and emotion and rationality. He wrote to convince readers that they could balance these tensions: they could be organized, efficient, and functional without sacrificing impulse, choice, or liberty. Mastery over drift is attainable, Lippmann argued, through diligent attention to facts and making active choices. Democracy, Lippman wrote, is "a use of freedom, an embrace of opportunity ". Walter Lippman's "Drift and Mastery: An Attempt to Diagnose the Current Unrest" became one of the most important and influential documents of the Progressive Movement. It remains a valuable text for understanding the political thought of early twentieth-century America and a lucid exploration of timeless themes in American government and politics. Distinguished historian Walter Leuchtenberg's 1986 introduction and notes are retained in this edition. Ganesh Sitaraman, who has provided a foreword for this centennial edition, suggests that Lippmann's classic still has much to say to twenty-first-century progressives. The underlying solutions for our time, he believes, are similar to those of Lippman's era. Sitaraman contends that American society can regain mastery over drift by reforming finance and reducing inequality, by rethinking the relationship between corporations and workers, and by embracing changes in social life.

Critique: Impressively well written, organized and presented, this new Centennial Edition of a timeless classic 20th Century political science treatise is now available to a whole new generation of appreciative readers. Also available in a Kindle edition ($6.99), "Drift and Mastery: An Attempt to Diagnose the Current Unrest" is very strongly recommended for community and academic library Political Science, American History, and Journalism History reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

Liz / Syndicate Girl
Frank Kane
Stark House Press
1315 H Street, Eureka, CA 95501
9781933586595, $20.95, 276pp,

Synopsis: Frank Kane is most famous as the creator of detective Johnny Liddell, whose escapades thrilled paperback readers throughout the 1950s and 60s. "Liz" and "Syndicate Girl" are two novels that offer a different side of Kane as an author of detective noir fiction. "Liz" is the story of a woman whose road to success is paved with murder. "Syndicate Girl" is a hard-hitting thriller about a corrupt city and the man who stakes his life to clean it up.

Critique: "Liz / Syndicate Girl" offers fans of detective noir stories two timeless classics under one cover by a master of the genre. Terrifically entertaining from beginning to end, "Liz / Syndicate Girl" is very highly recommended for personal reading lists and community library Mystery/Suspense collections.

Textual Exposures
Dan Russek
University of Calgary Press
2500 University Drive, N.W., Calgary, Alberta, Canada T2N 1N4
9781552387832, $34.95, 320pp,

Synopsis: "Textual Exposures: Photography in Twentieth-Century Spanish American Narrative Fiction" examines how twentieth-century Spanish American literature has registered photography's powers and limitations and the creative ways in which writers of this region of the Americas have elaborated the conventions and assumptions of this medium in fictional form. Providing a study of literary criticism, "Textual Exposures" also shows how texts critically reflect upon the media environment in which they were created. Author Dan Russek (Assistant Professor in the Department of Hispanic and Italian Studies at the University of Victoria) examines how other visual technologies that have been historically and aesthetically linked to the photographic medium, such as the x-ray, cinema, illustrated journalism, and television, inform the works of some of the most important writers in Latin America. Methodologically, the close readings of the texts center on the figure of emphasis (defined as the verbal representation of a visual representation). "Textual Exposures" is concerned with the thematic, symbolic, structural, and cultural imprints photography leaves in narrative texts. Professor Russek relies on an immanent approach, reading the selected texts according to their own specificities and making the relevant thematic and structural connections between them, drawing from a variety of sources in the fields of literary criticism and theory and history of photography.

Critique: Impressively researched, deftly organized and presented, informed and informative, "Textual Exposures: Photography in Twentieth-Century Spanish American Narrative Fiction" is a seminal work of outstanding scholarship. Enhanced with the inclusion of a twenty-two page Bibliography; forty pages of Notes; and a ninety-nine page Index, "Textual Exposures" is very highly recommended for academic library Spanish American Literary Studies collections.

The Early Short Stories Of F. Scott Fitzgerald
James Daley, editor
Dover Publications, Inc.
31 East 2nd Street, Mineola, NY 11501
9780486794655, $4.50, 256pp,

Synopsis: Although better known today for his novels, in the 1920s F. Scott Fitzgerald ranked among the top writers of magazine fiction. Fitzgerald represented the dreams and aspirations of the post-World War I generation in his life as well as his works. With his glamorous wife, Zelda, and cosmopolitan social circle, the gifted young wordsmith projected the perfect image for narrating tales of restless youth in a hectic world. The short stories comprising this edition of "The Early Short Stories Of F. Scott Fitzgerald" offer insights into many themes, characters, and techniques that emerged in Fitzgerald's later works. "Winter Dreams," written three years before The Great Gatsby, shares the concept of commitment to an idealized dream. "Babes in the Woods," developed while the author was still a student at Princeton, evidences the roots of This Side of Paradise. A dozen other selections (including "The Curious Case of Benjamin Button," "The Camel's Back," "The Four Fists," and "The Cut-Glass Bowl") offer further insights into the author's growing skills as well as individual examples of his sparkling prose, understated wit, and deft characterizations.

Critique: Now in an inexpensive paperback edition that is ideal for students and non-specialist general readers with an interest in the literary works of an iconic American author, "The Early Short Stories Of F. Scott Fitzgerald" is very highly recommended for personal, community, and academic library Literary Fiction collections.

Lies, Lies and More Lies
iUniverse, Inc.
1663 Liberty Dr. Suite #300, Bloomington, IN 47403
9781491738368, $27.95, 252pp,

Synopsis: The resounding electoral victory of Narendra Modi and the BJP in the Indian elections of 2014 makes it all the more imperative for the Western world in general and academics to get a true picture of what Hindu Nationalism stands for. Driven by the philosophy of Hindu/Indian Nationalism, this entity, more of a movement than a political party, has served to instill in the majority of Indians a sense of confidence and restored lost self-esteem in a people who suffered foreign domination for over a thousand years. Detractors of this ideology have attempted to paint this philosophy as hate rant and supremacist indoctrination. Far from being that, it is the agonizing cry for justice and dignity of a people long suppressed and long tortured; a cry that embodies the agony of the past and a new-found confidence of the present and which together hopes to ensure a secure future. With Hindu/Indian Nationalism continuing to play a dominant role in Indian politics, "Lies, Lies and More Lies: The Campaign to Defame Hindu/Indian Nationalism" is a must for those (businessmen, academics, and others alike) who wish to interact with India and Indians for it enables them to understand the Hindu/Indian psyche better. Further, "Lies, Lies and More Lies" dispels the unsavory view of Hindu Nationalism that has been propagated in the West by vested groups opposed to it.

Critique: The newly updated and expanded second addition is exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Lies, Lies and More Lies: The Campaign to Defame Hindu/Indian Nationalism" is a seminal study of Indian politics. As informed and informative as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking, "Lies, Lies and More Lies" is very highly recommended for academic library International Studies collections in general, and supplemental reading lists for Indian Political Studies in particular. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Lies, Lies and More Lies" is also available in a paperback edition (9781491738351, $17.95) and in a Kindle format ($3.03).

Able Greenspan

Helen's Bookshelf

Tortillas and Butter
David J. Gurule
Sunstone Press
PO Box 2321, Santa Fe NM 87504-2321
9781632930446, $19.95, 126pp,

Synopsis: For Tommy Chavez, growing up in Northern New Mexico had been great. The love he shared for his family was strong and exquisite. His life had been simple and he enjoyed it that way. But one horrific accident changed his life forever. With the help of his girlfriend Melanie and best friend Weasel, Tommy pushes forward as best he can. Follow Tommy through his senior year of high school as he attempts to regain some kind of meaning to this life of his. One thing is certain though: the love of familia is like nothing else in this world.

Critique: As thoughtful and thought-provoking as it is entertaining, "Tortillas and Butter, A Young Man's Quest for a Meaningful Life" is an inherently fascinating and compelling read from beginning to end. Very highly recommended for school and community YA Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Tortillas and Butter, A Young Man's Quest for a Meaningful Life" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

When Kacy Left
Dawn Green
Red Deer Press
c/o Fitzhenry & Whiteside Limited
195 Allstate Parkway, Markham, Ontario, Canada, L3R 4T8
9780889955233, $12.95, 228pp,

Synopsis: Kacey and Sara have been the best of friends since grade three. They did everything together. But then Kacey left and Sara had to learn to cope with her life after that moment. She knows everyone at school is staring and whispering about her behind her back. And the "Obnoxious Counsellor" that her parents force her to meet with thinks writing letters to Kacey in a journal will help Sara deal with her grief. Her parents and teachers are trying to convince her that life needs to get back to normal - but how can anything ever be normal again? She and Kacey had plans to go to college together, have vacations around the world together, and be best friends together forever. But then Kacey chose to end her life and Sara was left to try to understand what it all meant.

Critique: An extraordinary, sensitive, and impressive novel for teens and young adults, "When Kacy Left" by Dawn Green's is one of those stories that will linger in the mind and memory long after the novel itself has been finished and set back upon the shelf. A deftly written, emotional and moving look at a young teenage girl's journey towards understanding after her best friend's suicide, "When Kacy Left" is a very highly recommended addition to school and community library YA Fiction collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "When Kacy Left" is also available in a Kindle edition ($8.11).

Feng Shui and Charlotte Nightingale
Pam Ferderbar
Henschel Haus Publishing
2625 South Greeley Street, Suite 201, Milwaukee, WI 53207
9781595983985, $24.95, 240pp,

Synopsis: Charlotte Nightingale has the worst luck in the world. Every day is a bad hair day. Her boyfriend's a snake, her job blows, and her own family seems to hate her. For over 4,000 years the Chinese have practiced the ancient art of Feng Shui, a complex body of knowledge that reveals how to balance the energies of any given space to assure health, love and good fortune for people inhabiting it. The Chinese never met Charlotte Nightingale. A handsome Chinese food deliveryman and Feng Shui master takes pity on Charlotte and breaks out every tool in his Feng Shui arsenal to bring her some modicum of happiness. It rocks her world all right. Charlotte*s life goes from bad to worse. When everything comes crashing down and run-of-the-mill catastrophes pale in comparison to recent events, Charlotte unwittingly embarks on a great adventure during which she finds romance, a new wardrobe, bags of money and most importantly, herself.

Critique: A deftly crafted novel of wit and whimsey, with memorable characters caught up in a story of unexpected twists and turns, "Feng Shui and Charlotte Nightingale" by Pam Ferderbar is an enormously entertaining read from beginning to end. Certain to be an enduring popular addition to community library General Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Feng Shui and Charlotte Nightingale" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Necessary Fire
KMA Sullivan
Black Lawrence Press
326 Bigham Street, Pittsburgh, PA 15211
9781625579324, $13.95, 91pp,

Synopsis: "Necessary Fire" is KMA Sullivan's debut poetry collection and winner of the St. Lawrence Book Award. "Necessary Fire" opens a window into the world of a woman who is mother, partner, daughter, and lover. Surprising in the variety of moment, wrenching in detail, grounded in grief and care, this collection of verse moves from the innocence and bravery of a young son coming out in a world set to crush him, to playing hymns so a dying mother can plan her funeral service, to witnessing the breaking of a son who had been abused and abandoned in earlier years and cradling an adopted daughter long enough for her to find her own voice, all the while experiencing the fullness and desire and ebullience that comes from loving others and being loved without limit. "Necessary Fire" offers a deluge of image and emotion and experience, a deluge that only a heart on fire can survive.

Critique: 'Circadian Rhythms': Forty-nine years of paying / attention. I've learned / a few things. // But i still don't know / why, when you sleep,/ the morning glories / close their petals as if / they are no longer needed. KMA Sullivan's poetry is of an order that will linger in the mind and memory long after the "Necessary Fire" anthology of her work is closed and set back upon the shelf. Very highly recommended for personal, community and academic library contemporary poetry collections.

Rekindling the Sacred Fire
Chantal Fiola
University of Manitoba Press
301 St. John's College, Winnipeg, MB, Canada, R3T 2M5
9780887557705, $31.95, 288pp,

Synopsis: Why don't more Metis people go to traditional ceremonies? How does going to ceremonies impact Metis identity? In "Rekindling the Sacred Fire: Metis Ancestry and Anishinaabe Spirituality", Chantal Fiola (a Metis Anishinaabe-Kew from the Red River region of Manitoba and Professor of native Studies at the University of Manitoba, Canada) investigates the relationship between Red River Metis ancestry, Anishinaabe spirituality, and identity, bringing into focus the ongoing historical impacts of colonization upon Metis relationships with spirituality on the Canadian prairies. Using a methodology rooted in an indigenous world view, Professor Fiola interviews eighteen people with Metis ancestry or a historic familial connection to the Red River Metis who participate in Anishinaabe ceremonies, sharing stories about family history, self-identification, and their relationships with Aboriginal and euro-Canadian cultures and spiritualities.

Critique: A seminal work of truly impressive scholarship, "Rekindling the Sacred Fire: Metis Ancestry and Anishinaabe Spirituality" is exceptionally well written, organized and presented. Informed and informative, thoughtful and thought-provoking, "Rekindling the Sacred Fire" is an extraordinary and highly recommended addition to academic library Aboriginal Studies reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists. Enhanced with a two page Glossary, eighteen pages of Notes, a fifteen page Bibliography; and a thirty-eight page Index, it should be noted that "Rekindling the Sacred Fire" is also available in a Kindle edition ($25.00).

Never Said
Carol Lynch Williams
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780310746614, $16.99, 256pp,

Synopsis: For as long as she can remember, Sarah's family life has revolved around her twin sister, Annie - the pretty one, the social one, the girl who can do anything. The person everyone seems to wish Sarah (with her crippling shyness) could simply become. When Annie suddenly chops off her hair, quits beauty pageants, and gains weight, the focus changes - Annie is still the star of the family, but for all the wrong reasons. Sarah knows something has happened, but she too is caught in her own spiral after her boyfriend breaks up with her and starts hanging out with one of Annie's old friends. Annie is intent on keeping her painful secret safe. But when she and Sarah start spending time together again for the first time in years, walls start to break on both sides -- and words that had been left unsaid could change everything.

Critique: An exceptional read presented in a unique format showcasing the different perspectives of Sarah and Annie, "Never Said" is as compelling as it is entertaining and documents author Carol Lynch Williams as an impressively skillful novelist. Very highly recommended for community library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Never Said" is also available in a Kindle edition ($5.99).

Love In Every Stitch
Lee Grant
Viva Editions
2246 Sixth Street, Berkeley, CA 94710-2219
9781632280183, $17.95, 244pp,

Synopsis: In "Love in Every Stitch: Stories of Knitting and Healing", master knitter, teacher, and widely published knitwear designer Lee Gant shares real-life stories about the power of knitting. As an employee of three different yarn stores, a teacher of countless knitting classes, and a volunteer with at-risk youth, Lee has had the opportunity to gather diverse stories. The stories Lee shares about herself and fellow knitters from around the world illustrate how each stitch and purl can comfort and calm, heal and renew. A suicidal teenager crochets through pregnancy. A dying woman finds comfort in the company of knitters. A woman finds the courage to face her estranged parents. A woman going blind realizes she can still knit -- and experience life. And Lee's life, riddled with more than just anxiety, has at last become stable and productive. "Love In Every Stitch" includes stories of women, men, and teens who have experienced profound change and enlightenment through knitting and crochet.

Critique: A unique and inherently fascinating read, "Love in Every Stitch: Stories of Knitting and Healing" is thoroughly entertaining from beginning to end. Part self-help inspirational, part needlecraft celebrational, "Love in Every Stitch: Stories of Knitting and Healing" is certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Love in Every Stitch: Stories of Knitting and Healing" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Come Again
Rachel Kramer Bussel
Cleis Press
2246 Sixth Street, Berkeley, CA 94710-2219
9781627781251, $15.95, 224pp,

Synopsis: "Come Again: Sex Toy Erotica" is the latest anthology of short stories compiled and edited Rachel Kramer Bussel. Each story relates to sex toys bringing couples, singles, and strangers to new heights of pleasure. The stories range from two couples who happen to share the same remote controlled device to some very hot rocks, a perfectly icy bed, a Superman dildo, and a day in the life of a very lucky vibrator. This fun collection gives you plenty of ideas for toys you'd like to try, and ones you wish someone would invent! From "The Secret Shopper" to "The Cure for the Common Lay," the stories in Come Again are best read with your favorite sex toy handy. Sex toys are more popular than ever and make life so much more fun! Nowadays, there are sex toys for every occasion and every act, and they come in all sorts of playful designs, from sweet little bunny vibrators to glamorous glittery harnesses. In "Come Again: Sex Toy Erotica", Rachel Kramer Bussel, herself a toy enthusiast and self-confessed spanko, has gathered a delightful set of stories sure to give you ideas to try at home, or wherever your nearest toy box may be!

Critique: Comprised of twenty-four deftly crafted erotic tales by deftly skilled writers, "Come Again: Sex Toy Erotica" is a compelling read that will fire up the mind and imagination of the reader. Very highly recommended for a mature adult readership, it should be noted that "Come Again: Sex Toy Erotica" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Moonlight On Butternut Lake
Mary McNear
William Morrow & Company
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
JKS Communications
9780062283184, $14.99, 384pp,

Synopsis: Mila Jones has fled the big city seeking a safe haven on the serene shores of Butternut Lake. Her position looking after Reid Ford is more than a job. It's a chance at a fresh start. And although her sullen patient does everything he can to make her quit, Mila refuses to give up on him. But Mila isn't the only one needing refuge. Haunted by the car accident that nearly killed him, Reid has hidden himself away. He wants Mila to just leave him alone. And he wishes the whole town would stop looking after his well-being. Against all odds, Mila slowly draws Reid out. Soon they form a tentative, yet increasingly deeper bond with each other, as well as becoming part of the day-to-day fabric of Butternut Lake itself. But the world has a way of intruding, even in such a serene place -- and when Mila's violent husband forces his way back into her life, she and Reid are compelled to face down the past.

Critique: Another terrific romance novel by a master of the genre, Mary McNear's "Moonlight On Butternut Lake" is an exceptional and highly recommended addition to personal reading list and community library romance novel collections. It's interesting to note that in writing her latest novel McNear was inspired by a lifetime of summers she spent with her family at a lake cabin her grandfather built in the Midwest -- and which she still visits with her own children every summer. It should be noted that "Moonlight On Butternut Lake" is also available in a Kindle edition ($10.99).

Bright Dark Madonna
Elizabeth Cunningham
Monkfish Book Publishing Company
22 East Market Street, Suite 304, Rhinebeck NY 12572
9780979882876, $26.00, 400pp,

Synopsis: After playing an intimate role in the mystery of the Resurrection, what is left for Maeve, the Celtic Mary Magdalen? Never a follower, will she emerge as a leader of the early church? Will she retire quietly to mother a sacred bloodline? Will she set sail for France to proselytize and go spelunking? The answer: all and none of the above. No sooner does Maeve open her mouth to preach the gospel her way than a fierce debate begins about what to do with the child she is carrying. Maeve has her own ideas about where best to raise the savior's scion. When she returns to Temple Magdalen, the holy whorehouse she founded, a custody battle of biblical proportions ensues. Maeve, her infant daughter Sara, and Jesus' mother flee to the remote Taurus Mountains where they live in hiding among the Galatians until a mysterious man is dumped on their doorstep more dead than alive. When Maeve discovers the identity of the man she has healed, she is appalled and determined to keep her family's secret. But Maeve has reckoned without the will of her brilliant, angry adolescent daughter who resolves to find out the truth about her father for herself.

Critique: "Bright Dark Madonna" is the deftly crafted sequel to author Elizabeth Cunningham's outstanding novel, "The Passion of Mary Magdalen" (9780976684336, $16.95 PB, $7.99 Kindle). Once again Cunningham proves her impressive storytelling abilities in a complex novel of unexpected twists and turns that grip the reader's rapt attention from beginning to end. A thoroughly entertaining read, "Bright Dark Maddona" is highly recommended for community library Historical Fiction collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Bright Dark Madonna" is also available in a paperback edition (9781939681010, $16.95) and in a Kindle format ($7.99).

Pray for the World
Patrick Johnstone
InterVarsity Press
PO Box 1400, Downers Grove, IL 605151426
9780830836864, $15.00, 331pp,

Synopsis: For decades, Operation World has been the world's leading resource for people who want to impact the nations for Christ through prayer. Its twofold purpose has been to inform for prayer and to mobilize for mission. Now the research team of Operation World offers an abridged version of the 7th edition called "Pray for the World" as an accessible resource to facilitate prayer for the nations. The Operation World researchers asked Christian leaders in every country, "How should the body of Christ throughout the world be praying for your country?" Their responses provide the prayer points in "Pray for the World", with specific ways your prayers can aid the global church. When you hear a country mentioned in the news, you can use "Pray for the World" to pray for it in light of what God is doing there. Each entry includes: Timely challenges for prayer and specific on-the-ground reports of answers to prayer; Population and people group statistics; Charts and maps of demographic trends; Updates on church growth, with a focus on evangelicals; Explanations of major currents in economics, politics and society.

Critique: An extraordinary work, "Pray for the World: A New Prayer Resource from Operation World" is an invaluable contribution to the growing body of Christian Studies literature on the subject of prayer. Very strongly recommended for church, seminary, and academic library collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Pray for the World: A New Prayer Resource from Operation World" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

The Charlemagne Connection
R. M. Cartmel
Crime Scene Books
MM Book Publicity
9780992948627, $13.99, 328pp,

Synopsis: The second in the Commander Truchaud series finds the diffident policeman unravelling yet another mystery in the little French village of Nuits-Saint-Georges. A young German tourist seems to have gone missing. But what at first appears quite a straightforward affair soon turns dark when a decomposing body is found in the woods. "The Charlemagne Connection" reveals another episode of murder, mayhem, violence and villainy in the orderly vineyards of Burgundy.

Critique: An extraordinary and thoroughly entertaining novel from first page to last, "The Charlemagne Connection" documents author R. M. Cartmel as a master of the mystery/suspense genre. "The Charlemagne Connection" is very highly recommended for community library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "The Charlemagne Connection" is also available in a Kindle edition ($7.17).

Helen Dumont

Klausner's Bookshelf

The Body In The Birches
Katherine Hall Page
William Morrow & Company
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780062310828, $24.95,

Over a year ago, elderly Priscilla McAllister, nee Proctor, died. With no children, she left the decision as to who inherits the late nineteenth century Birches estate on Sanpere Island, Maine to her husband Paul McAllister. He finally invites the anxious extended family to the beautiful historical house so that he can select the inheritance "lottery" winner.

At the same time of the Proctor brood gathering, Reverend Thomas Fairchild, his wife and caterer Faith, their two children (Ben and Amy) and their neighbor leave their homes in Aleford, Massachusetts to spend time at the Pines, next door to the Birches. Tom returns home when his mother suffers a heart attack. Following a picnic, the corpse of the long time McAllister housekeeper (here and in Weston) Bev Boynton is found in nearby woods, dead of an apparent heart attack. However, other incidents follow as the competition for the inheritance turns ugly leaving family members and outsiders like the Fairchild brood in danger.

The latest Faith Fairchild amateur sleuth (see The Body in the Boudoir and The Body in the Piazza) is a fascinating whodunit that focuses on how far individuals will go to inherit. Innocent friendly actions by teenage Ben and his younger sister place them, a proxy- contender and her daughter in peril from someone who plans to gain the estate at any cost. The storyline starts leisurely summer breeze, but once Bev is found dead accelerates into a taut suspense.

As Waters Gone By
Cynthia Ruchti
Abingdon Press
PO Box 801, Nashville, TN 37202
9781426787270, $14.99,

Five years ago, an upset Max Ross called his wife Emmalyn to come get him, but she did not pick up the phone. By the time Emmalyn heard his voice message, she was too late. Not long afterward, Max was convicted of driving under the influence vehicular homicide using the clinic's SUV that left a homeless man dead. As he is locked away, Max told his wife to not visit him and to move on with her life.

Five years since she last communicated with her husband, financially and emotionally broken Emmalyn meagerly lives in her spouse's rundown hunting cottage on Lake Superior's Madeline Island. Renovating the dump she calls home, Emmalyn begins to come out of her depression due to her new friends at the Wild Iris Cafe.

This is a profound inspirational drama starring a frazzled female who feels God abandoned her starting with infertility even before Max's incarceration demand left her lonely, depressed and bitter. As Emmalyn regains her faith in life and the Lord due to the welcoming of new friends, she begins to understand what Job meant with "waters go by".

Fiction River: Alchemy & Steam
Kerie L. Hughes, editor
WMG Publishing
PO Box 269, Lincoln City, OR 97367
9781561466276, $15.99,

"The Rites Of Zosimos" by Angela Penrose. In the 1840s, Ionian Catherine, assisted by Newtonian Peter, investigates a boiled corpse.

"Heart" by Leslie Claire Walker. The tweener kills James; leaving it to Sebastian to free the deceased.

"Pennies for Portent" by Diana Benedict. A spirit possesses the siblings' Gypsy Woman" automaton.

"The Order of the Golden Grapefruit" by Sharon Joss. In 1871 Bruxelles Madame Lavender hires Father the re-animator to help her win the best animated chocolate award.

"The Perfect Perfume" by Anthea Sharp. Wanting to become Queen Victoria's perfumer, Charlotte seeks a special ingredient at Dante's Diabolical Diversions.

"The Grand Dangoolie" by Ron Collins. In 1923, Houdini tries to prove Dangoolie is a fraud.

"The Whirring Dreams of Aberrant Blood" by Cindie Geddes. The Aberrant waits the ascension connecting her to Helena the automata.

"St. Jean & The Dragon" by Brenda Carre. In the 1890s Jane and her Jinni investigate abductions.

"Weight In Gold" by Dory Crowe. Teenager McKenzie heads to Boston on the Trans-Atlantic Paddle with books to give to Congressman John Q. Adams.

"Heaven's Flight" by Leigh Sanders. Gizmos inventor Paige learns of a nefarious plot.

"Blood Moon Carnival" by Kim May. The Ringmaster uses alchemy to control his performers.

"Makes The World Go 'Round" by Kelly Cairo. Ten millennia ago, an appointment error led to the present final three days to the end of the world unless Petra finds love.

"Myrtle's Box" by Louisa Swann. In Old San Francisco, Myrtle needs to release the souls that are driving him crazy.

These terrific thirteen short stories deploy alchemy in a steampunk world. My personal favorites are the ones that use real persona and Kelly Cairo's imaginative love story.

Starbase Human: Anniversary Day Saga
Kristine Kathryn Rusch
WMG Publishing
PO Box 269, Lincoln City, OR 97367
9781561466221, $18.99,

Over thirty-five years before the first Anniversary Day terrorist massacre, Takara Hamasaki's heart pounds in fear with a need to leave immediately Starbase Human in the Earth Alliance's Frontier. As bombs explode, she observes eerily identical looking hordes of twenty or more marching in unison like a military parade. As the sole survivor of what apparently was a suicide mission, Takara escapes with a dreaded sense that she just witnessed a live deadly rehearsal.

Seven and half years before the first Anniversary Day terrorist massacre, in the moon's largest city Armstrong, Police Detective Noelle DeRicci investigates a corpse found in a cargo container. The victim is Sonya Mycenae, nanny to notorious criminal kingpin Luc Deshin. Coroner Bradley stuns DeRicci when he informs her that the deceased is a clone as the original is alive on earth. DeRicci shocks Deshin with the revelation that his recently-fired nanny was a clone.

Months after the second Anniversary Day terrorist massacre, everything points to more mass murders to follow and that the Mastermind(s) are Earth Alliance higher-up(s). At the same time Military Division Intelligence Agent Iniko Zagrando flees since his superiors placed a death warrant on his head.

The tremendous seventh Anniversary Day Saga science fiction showcases Ms. Rusch's talent as this next to last entry sets up the anticipated climax; yet also contains three electrifying subplots that tie together while enhancing the readers' understanding of the overarching theme. Starting with the Starbase Human devastation, fans will enjoy this month's thrilling drama while it behooves newbies to start at the beginning (see Vigilantes, The Peyti Crisis, Search & Recovery, Anniversary Day, Blowback and A Murder of Clones).

Cottonmouth And The End
C.S. Fritz
David C. Cook
c/o Cook Communications
4050 Lee Vance View, Colorado Springs, CO 80918
9781434706911, $7.99,

Grieving the loss of his friend Tug the Comforter especially since he sacrificed himself to save his life; Frederick Cottonmouth and his BFF Yellowthroat the small bird walk through the Darkness to the tree they seek that leads to the Big Blue where he prays he can find the girl. They enter the portal that only a child could fit through into more Darkness. However, Yellowthroat leaves Freddie inside the tree to go back and retrieve the egg his youthful companion inadvertently left behind.

Fearing for his buddy, Yellowthroat finds the tree's door disappeared. The desperate bird struggles to locate a new entrance to the Big Blue when he meets friends Gloom and Matilda. They run into Secret who demands payment for informing the trio of another path. Inside the tree, Menson the rat accosts Freddie.

Targeting middle school children, the third Cottonmouth allegory (see Cottonmouth and the River and Cottonmouth and the Great Gift) will remind readers of Narnia. The title character is magnificent and his support cast classified as good (his allies), bad (Secret), ugly (Menson), and heavenly fatherly (Tug). With fabulous drawings like the eerie expanding darkness mindful of the Neverending Story augmenting an enchanting climax, fans will relish the escapades of courageous Cottonmouth as he reaches "The End" knowing now that God accompanied him on every step he took while also remains with him with his new beginning.

Tin Sky
Ben Pastor
Bitter Lemon Press
37 Arundel Gardens, London, W11 2LW, United Kingdom
9781908524515, $14.95,

In 1943 German Major Martin von Bora knows he is fortunate to be alive and also have his mental faculties after the horrors he witnessed at war. Having been transferred from Italy, currently the Wehrmacht Officer Bora serves in Krasny Yar, Northeastern Ukraine.

Using his counter-intelligence position as a cover, Bora investigates what appears to be a series of brutal murders by a deranged most likely villager. However, his superior changes his mission to handle the defection of key Russian Tank Commander General Ghenrikh Tibyetsky just prior to the start of the battle in Kursk. After Bora diligently worked the surrender, the Gestapo swoops in and takes the General with them. Not long after the Gestapo starts their interrogation of the defector, someone murders Tibyetsky and another critical POW. Though the Gestapo ignores the homicides and Bora's command obediently follow their lead, the Major restarts his aborted inquiry as he feels the Tibyetsky's poisoning ties to the Krasny Yar horrific homicides.

The captivating fourth Martin Bora WWII drama (see A Dark Song Of Blood, Liar Moon and Lumen) deploys the investigation as a tool to enable the reader to understand the diverse mindsets of war-weary German and Russian soldiers on the bloody Eastern Front. Bora's efforts engage the audience, but it is Ben Pastor's profound look at the emotional costs of war that makes her novel one of the best historical of the year.

Innocent Blood: A John Jordan Mystery
Michael Lister
Pulpwood, May 5 2015, $26.95
P.O. Box 35038, Panama City, FL 32412
9781888146493, $26.99,

In 1979 tweener John Jordan obsesses over the growing number of Black male children vanishing in the Atlanta area. The latest missing child Edward Hope Smith disappeared after leaving the Greenbriar Skating Rink only to be found dead a week later; other murders followed over the next few years.

In 1980, twelve year old John's parents take him and his two siblings on a vacation in Atlanta. At the Omni Arcade, John intrudes on a man trying to persuade a boy his age to leave with him. Several months later FBI agents question Wayne Williams. Soon after their second interrogation, Williams holds a press conference in which John recognizes him as the creepy adult at the Omni Arcade. He informs his father who works with the task force trying to end the serial killings. After graduating high school, John remains obsessed over the Atlanta Child Murderers in spite of Williams' conviction. Looking closely at problems with the prosecution's case and applying it to a murdered deceased not included on those considered victims of Williams, Jordan investigates.

The keys to the tremendous seventh John Jordan mystery are the plausible inquiry and resolution to the Atlanta Child Murderers that haunted the city thirty-five years ago and the hero's traits remain consistent with his later cases as a chaplain (see Blood Sacrifice and Rivers to Blood). Innocent Blood is an excellent amateur sleuth based on a real serial killing case.

Method 15/33
Shannon Kirk
Oceanview Publishing
595 Bay Isles Road, 120-G, Longboat Key, FL 34228
9781608091454, $26.95,

From the moment the male kidnapped her, the sixteen years old pregnant victim plots her escape. Calling her plan Method 15/33 with the immediate goal of freedom for her and her unborn, and an avenging long term goal afterward; the teen analyzes the strengths and weaknesses of her abductee and his visitors whom she classifies as The Doctor and Mr. and Mrs. Obvious. Quickly she understands their motive is to snatch her trimester baby that she carries. Keeping her wits, she pretends to be a frightened teen while cataloging her potentially available assets to use as weapons against her capturer, his medical partner and their customers; or enablers to get away.

Knowing they will get little to no help from the locals who prefer to classify the cases as runaways especially since these are nonentities with no ransom demands, two FBI agents investigate the serial disappearance of pregnant teens in the Midwest. The Feds currently follow leads re Dorothy Salucci that leads to a rural part of the Hoosier state.

Method 15/33 is an exhilarating thriller that grips the audience from the moment we meet the calm methodical victim whose goal-setting for a life for her and her child after gaining her freedom keeps her going (mindful of Viktor Frankl's premise in Man's Search for Meaning). Her ability to remember all she cataloged may seem implausible; yet the focused protagonist makes it come across as reasonable. Readers will appreciate this refreshing terse drama.

Sam Hawken
Serpent's Tail
3A Exmouth House, Pine Street, London, England, EC1R 0JH
c/o Meryl Zegarek Public Relations
255 West 108th Street, Suite 901, New York, NY 10025
9781846689420, $14.95,

Since his wife Vilma died from cancer, widower Jack Searle raises his two stepdaughters (thirteen years old Lidia and her older teenage sister Marina) in Laredo, Texas. The handyman insures his children never forget their late mom's Mexican heritage by consistently taking them to their maternal relatives across the border in Nuevo Laredo.

The older sibling Marina asks her stepdad if she can attend a concert in Nuevo Laredo with her cousin. His instincts tell him to say no as the cartels own Nuevo Laredo, but Jack reluctantly allows Marina to go. Neither cousin comes home. Filled with dread, Searle allows the city police to search for his missing child. When he realizes they do not care nor want to confront the cartels, frantic Searle loses patience. He dives head first into the city slime in search of his missing Marina.

The latest Sam Hawken Texas-Mexico border crime thriller (see The Dead Women of Juarez and Tequila Sunset) is an action-packed drama that establishes an intriguing background with minor nuances like dinner and phone minutes; and local policing in a "war zone" (similar to the Bridge). Although the prime characters are underdeveloped, the simmering storyline hooks the audience from the moment the two cousins go missing and never slows down particularly when Jack plunges into the cesspool.

Summer On Lovers' Island
Donna Alward
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9781250045188, $7.99,

Accomplishments have always come easy to thirtyish Dr. Lizzie Howard until recently. Her dad's death shook Lizzie and affected her work as Chief of Emergency Medicine in Springfield, Massachusetts. Her boss Dr. Ian Foreman insisted she take a leave of absence and preferably leave town on a needed R&R. Thus Lizzie visits her childhood friend Charlie in Jewell Cove, Maine where temporarily she will take over running the local clinic from her BFF.

Working at the clinic, Dr. Josh Collins wants the big city outsider to go home. However, instead of fleeing back to Massachusetts, Lizzie feels increasingly like she found a perfect fit. As the two doctors fall in love, Josh revises what he wants from Lizzie but like her also fears commitment.

The troubled lead couple and the Maine small-town locale make the third Jewell Cove contemporary (see Treasure on Lilac Lane and House on Blackberry Hill) a charming read. Besides medicine, Lizzie and Josh share in common relationship pain and anguish though the cause and reactions to the big hurt differ. Summer On Lovers' Island is a well-written second chance at contentment through love romance.

Make You Mine
Jackie Ashenden
St. Martin's Press
175 Fifth Avenue, New York, NY 10010
9781250051776, $7.99,

Nine Circles billionaire Alex St. James loves two things, women and gambling; he is successful at both even doubling down. However, he has one secret goal: one day take revenge against the predator who molested him, damaging him emotionally.

Alex has that chance when he receives an extremely rare invitation to play in the fabled Apocalypse poker game at the Four Horsemen Club. Ergo he plans to be in Monte Carlo, but needs his tundra-iced bodyguard Katya Ivanova to pretend to be his lover instead of his protector. To persuade her, he offers to get her fiance Mikhail Vasin, hand-picked by her father the General, out of Chechnya. As they masquerade as a loving couple; she figuratively rips his skin until she reaches his heart, while he thaws the tundra surrounding hers.

The second Nine Circles romance (see Mine to Take) is a tense drama starring fascinating leads especially the seemingly frozen virgin Russian. The underlying premise is explained relatively early by the heroine when she insists a family member does not necessarily denote blood ties and blood ties does not signify a family member.

The End Of Healing
Jim Bailey
The Healthy City
9780985420390, $21.95,

In 2000, Dr. Don Newman works the night shift at University Hospital when a distraught woman brings in her mom. Newman realizes from that first exam that the left half of his new patient Mrs. Bellamy's brain is dead and that she will never walk or talk again; but also knows what is required of him since Medicaid will cover Mrs. Bellamy's care. Over the next three months Newman increasingly feels depressed that costs are run up to make a substantial profit by allowing Mrs. Bellamy to suffer a slow painful death and giving false hope to her grief-stricken daughter.

Although in debt due to high tuition costs, Newman abandons his plan of becoming a money-making cardiologist. Instead he enrolls in Dr. Sampson's Medical Systems at New England's Florence College where he meets nurse practitioner Frances Hunt and wealthy surgeon Bruce Markum. Under Sampson's mentoring, Newman begins to understand the health care-government complex in which the greatest profit rules regardless of the monetary and emotional costs to the patient and his or her loved ones.

The End Of Healing is an insightful condemnation of the American healthcare system in which stunned readers will go through Elisabeth Kubler-Ross model (Denial, Anger, Bargaining, Depression and significantly Acceptance that we can do nil in the macro but plenty in the micro). The fictional subplot is well-written even with the standard romantic triangle. What grips readers is the interwoven denunciating documentation (especially a simplified summary chart) that makes a profound case that the "Do Not Go Gentle Into That Good Night" (Dylan Thomas) is not always the right thing for the patient but always great for the bottom line.

Course of Action: Crossfire
Lindsay McKenna and Merline Lovelace
Harlequin Romantic Suspense
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373279234, $5.50,

The third Course of Action military romance duology contains two action-packed storylines showcasing captivating protagonists.

"Hidden Heart" by Lindsay McKenna. The Taliban ambush forced the 12-man Special Forces team to take shelter in a deserted Shinwari village. Several Americans die including Ben Moore and others like Sergeant Dan Taylor are wounded. Before Ben dies, he extracts a vow from Dan to take care of his sister Cait. This is a difficult mission for Dan who secretly loved Cait for years. In a Pearl Harbor hospital, Dan's physical therapist is the woman he promised to protect; but being near her leaves his "secret love became impatient to be free" (Secret Love by Doris Day).

"Desert Heat" by Merline Lovelace. In Oman on a joint medical rescue exercise set up by Prince Malik, Master Sergeant Pete Winborne oversees the test that everyone afterward is proud of the results. Later he attends an opera performance by singer Riley Fairchild whom he met at the wedding of Josh and Aly (see Course Of Action: The Rescue - Jaguar Night) though she gave him freezer burn. When they are kidnapped in Muscat, Pete and Riley rely on each other to survive. As they fall in love, both believe it is the danger rather than their heart.

Possessed By A Wolf
Sharon Ashwood
Harlequin Nocturne
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373009459, $5.75

In the Palace of Marcari, photographer Lexie Haven works the royal wedding between the Kingdom of Vidon Crown Prince Kyle Adraio and the Kingdom of Marcari Princess Amelie. Shots are fired leaving Lexie and her friend Chloe Anderson (see Possessed By A Warrior) knowing there is no exit. With a gunman on his tail, a wolf suddenly crashes the nuptials. Stunned Lexie recognizes the big beast's markings and eyes as ones she will never forget. Her former boyfriend Faran Kenyon who she has not seen in years; logically Lexie rejects her first conclusion since Faran was an undercover human operative and everyone knows there is no such thing as a real werewolf.

During the perilous turmoil, someone steals a priceless royal ring. Since Lexie was observed photographing the heirloom when the assault began, ergo she is a prime suspect in the theft. As Lexie investigates the crimes to prove her innocence; Faran teams up with her since he knows she is his loving mate entering a world that she only believed were in fantasy novels and movies.

The latest La Compagnie des Mortes romantic urban fantasy (see Possessed By An Immortal) is an engaging second chance drama. The metamorphosis of the heroine from skeptic to true believer anchors the exhilarating storyline. The abundance of supernatural species adds tension and danger, but also requires a scorecard to keep track of who's who. Still readers will feel possessed by a talented author

Marriage Season
Linda Lael Miller
Harlequin HQN
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373779338, $7.99

Over a decade ago in Mustang Creek, Wyoming, the three BFFs (Hadleigh, Bex and Melody) made The Marriage Pact pledge in which each vowed to marry for "true love or nothing." Years of frustration recently ended for Melody (see The Marriage Charm) and Hadleigh (see The Marriage Pact); while Bex Stuart hopes that their good fortune is an omen hers is soon, but doubts she will ever find a new happily ever after since Will died in Afghanistan years ago.

A friend of Hadleigh's Tripp, single dad Tate Calder raises his two sons (Ben and Adam). He is attracted to Bex, but will not act on his desire out of fear what a relationship with the Marathon running woman could do to his boys. She is confused as she wants him too, but feels guilty over moving on from her Will.

The third Brides of Bliss County is a warm amusing contemporary starring a lead couple who never seems to have alone time between hyper kids, well-meaning friends and overexcited canines. Mindful of the cabin scene in the Marx Brothers' A Night at the Opera, Linda Lael Miller writes a lively romance.

Wolf Hunter
Linda Thomas-Sundstrom
Harlequin Nocturne
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373009442, $5.75

Hunter Sam Stark and his Take Them Down minion share one goal: cleanse the human pool by exterminating those Others possessing the Full Moon gene. Having seen first-hand the clawed human corpses in Miami parks, Sam's daughter Abby fears these lethal Lycan. Still loyal to her dad's mission, she diligently conducts surveillance as she possesses the innate ability to sense when a werewolf is near; so that her dad and his goons can kill these predators.

This time a Were outs her. In the park searching for Lycan beasts whose serial murders of humans threaten to expose his race, Cameron Mitchell reminds Abby that this locale has a stratospheric mortality rate. To her chagrin he escorts her home. Even more horrifying Abby is attracted to this seemingly kind monster. As the hunter's daughter and the Lycan fall in love, Abby feels pulled by her father and her soulmate.

The latest Wolf Moons entry (see Wolf Born) is a captivating Romeo and Juliet romantic urban fantasy. Abby's internal struggle between a lifetime of patriarchal indoctrination and her first direct encounter with a caring Beloved Enemy makes for a superb paranormal drama. Although her heart has already decided, she knows she cannot have both men so "must make up (her) mind and pick up on one and leave the other one behind" (Lovin' Spoonful's "Did You Ever Have To Make Up Your Mind?").

Security Breach
Mallory Kane
Harlequin Intrigue
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373698417, $5.50

Grieving for her husband Tristan who died on a Gulf oil rig accident in which his body was not recovered (see Under Suspicion), pregnant Sandy DuChaud returns to Bayou Bonne Chance, Louisiana. Though recovering from injuries he suffered in the near deadly incident, Tristan worries about Sandy's safety due to something he stashed in their house. The undercover Homeland Security agent sneaks into the home to retrieve the item without his spouse seeing him, but Sandy catches him.

Sandy is both furious for him faking his demise and elated to have her beloved spouse alive. When his enemy targets the couple for extermination, Tristan will do just about anything to keep his "widow", their unborn and the country safe.

The second Bayou Bonne Chance thriller is an engaging second chance romantic suspense. Initially the storyline is leisurely-paced; but once the hero returns home the plot accelerates into hyperspeed on two fronts: the lead couple's relationship and the war with those threatening them and the nation.

Navy Seal Newlywed
Elle James
Harlequin Intrigue
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373698370, $5.50

Almost everyone believe that Rip" Cord Schafer died in the live fire exercise at the Stennis Space Center Complex, but he survived (see Navy SEAL Justice). However, since those who wanted him dead including a traitor remain at large; Rip officially remains deceased so that he can go undercover in order to identify who arms terrorists in Honduras and tried to murder him.

Having already helped Rip since one of their operatives James Monahan was a former SEAL Boat team-22 brother in arms who assisted him; Covert Cowboys, Inc. provides him with a perfect cover. Former FBI Agent and first "Cowgirl" Tracie Kosart and Rip masquerade as billionaire newlyweds on a Central America honeymoon. However, in spite of their heated attraction, Tracie distrusts males ever since her Fed fiance used her in his nefarious activities. As the pair struggles to survive the steamy jungle's killers, they fall in love; but she remains steadfast in her denial.

The latest Covert Cowboys Inc. romantic suspense (see Triggered and Taking Aim) is an action-packed thriller from start to finish. Filled with tension (sexual and lethal), Navy Seal Newlywed entertains the audience from the moment the leads enter the rumble in the jungle (unbelievable forty years since Ali-Foreman in Zaire).

Suddenly a Father
Michelle Major
Harlequin Special Edition
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373658909, $5.50

A few days ago, emotionally and financially battered Millie Spencer arrived at the house of her half-sister Olivia Travers. Without a question asked of her sibling, Olivia and her husband Logan welcome distraught Millie into their Crimson, Colorado home.

A few days later, they send her to help Logan's brother, Miles of Medicine humanitarian globetrotting surgeon Dr. Jake Travers take care of his weeping four year old daughter Brooke. Two months ago, Brooke's mother Stacy told Jake he sired a child just before she died in the same Haitian earthquake that left him injured. Blowing away his annoying visitor as a child selling cookies or something until Brooke stops crying while insisting Millie is a real-life fairy; Jake realizes she is a sprite of a woman even if she is Tinker Bell's glittering BFF. As the trio shimmers into a loving family, the two adults hesitate telling each other how they feel for fear of losing what they already have.

This Crimson, Colorado contemporary is a fabulous family drama starring three hurting individuals finding love heals most wounds. The at-times humorous but mostly serious relationships between father and daughter, and that of nanny and daughter bring freshness to the overused premise of a man unaware he sired a child while also prevailing over the connection between the two adults.

Triple Time
Regina Kyle
Harlequin Blaze
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373798544, $5.50

In New York's Rainbow Room, Manhattan's Special Victims Bureau chief Assistant District Attorney Gabe Nelson proposes to his girlfriend of six months Kara Humphries, but she says no as they share no spark. Numb Gabe steps outside only to witness the zany BFF of his sister Holly (see Triple Threat) Devin Padilla beat up someone named Freddie for accosting her. Devin explains Freddie is a patron at the Mark where she sometimes bartends when she is not working at her tattoo parlor. Over her objection Gabe escorts her home. She calls him repressed so he kisses her leaving both stunned by their reaction.

Gabe asks Devin to help him humanize his public image before he runs for the DA position; in exchange he will assist her on her quest to find her autistic brother, who she lost to foster care. Teaming up on their respective goals, neither Devin nor Gabe expected to fall in love.

The second Art of Seduction contemporary is a delightful polar-opposite attract romance. The lead couple makes this madcap Manhattan tale into a wonderful read as each knows the other does not belong in their respective world, but both refuses to retreat from love.

Fevered Nights
Jillian Burns
Harlequin Blaze
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373798520, $5.50

Four months ago, supermodel Piper's headline scandalous arrest in Miami threatened her career. Thus her assistant Ragi Bhagat makes her participate in a charity event in South Beach to change her image. She hands a trophy to a Navy SEAL. When she leans forward to give him a peck on the cheek, Neil Barrow (see Night Maneuvers) slightly moves his face and deeply kisses her to the cheers of the attendees.

Each is surprised by their reaction to the KISS. They begin dating though geography, a stalker, and a secret that shames her threaten their relationship. While he struggles in her jet-setter world, Neil also demands to know what his beloved hides from him. Unable and unwilling to face her dedicated beloved's disappointment she delays telling him she left behind her brother when she escaped India's slums.

Fevered Nights is a fine Uniformly Hot contemporary starring a saint and a sinner in love. Although Neil's commitment to the mission at all costs especially his self-sacrifice attitude makes him too good, readers will enjoy his return as his latest relationship apparently left him battered again.

What the Prince Wants
Jules Bennett
Harlequin Desire
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373733903, $5.25

Galini Isle Prince Mikos Colin Alexander promised his brother King Stefan (see Behind Palace Doors) he would return to the tiny kingdom off of Greece within six months; as required by law to avoid forfeiting his royal standing. The throne's heir needed to escape the media after the accident left his wife dead and him temporarily in a wheelchair. Though physically recovered, the widower remains emotionally shaken even as his marriage had collapsed before his spouse died. The prince and his baby daughter Iris temporarily reside in Los Angeles.

Hiding his royalty, Colin interviews the head of the Loving Hands Children Agency Darcy Cooper for the position of Iris' nanny. Both are surprised by the attraction and the looks of the other; as he expected a grandmother not a curvaceous young beauty and she anticipated a harried tired father not a hunk. Thanks to her ex pilfering money from her firm, Darcy slept in her car until her BFF moved her onto her sofa, and had to let go the entire Loving Hands Children Agency staff. Though she avoided babies, Darcy needs this job to save the business her grandma established. Colin believes she is too young, but gives her one day to prove herself. As Darcy proves a God-send with her nurturing of Iris, she and Colin fall in love; but he has a royal secret that is the hidden elephant in the room.

The latest Billionaires and Babes romance is a pleasant contemporary as the infant's needs come before the desires of the lead adults. Although the climax feels rushed, readers will root for a royal wedding in the Kingdom of Galini.

Fighting For Keeps
Jennifer Snow
Harlequin Heartwarming
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373367238, $6.50

Head nurse Lindsay Harper loves being the favorite aunt of her five tweener and younger nieces and nephews; as she gets to do only fun things with them while breaking the rules. However, that changes when tragedy leaves her brother Nathan and his wife of ten years Rachel dead. Lindsay must adapt to being a parent after years as the best buddy.

MMA warrior Noah Parks loves Lindsay, but though she reciprocates she rejects him for being a dolt; as only an idiot would take beatings for a living. He never told his beloved that he also uses his fighting skills to help at risk teens gain needed internal discipline and guidance though Noah knows that will help him win her heart; as he wants Lindsay to love the entire him and not just the community volunteer. As Lindsay struggles with converting into a responsible parent, Noah is there to help her and her charges; but that and love may not be enough for this couple.

With a nod to the Gary Marshall directed film Raising Helen, Fighting for Keeps is a fine family drama in which the lead adults recognize the needs of the children come before their desires. The metamorphous of fun loving Aunt Lindsay to responsible parent is superbly developed because the desperate heroine adapts her ER skills to raise her grieving wards in spite of their demanding the return of the rabble-rouser. The latest Brookhollow Story (see Mistletoe Melody and Falling For Leah) is a wonderful tale.

Heir to Murder
Elle James
Harlequin Romantic Suspense
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373279173, $5.50

A couple of days ago, thirty-seven year old Noah Scott knew who he was as he worked at the Adair Ranch near San Diego. Then his world imploded when he found out that he is Jackson Adair, the long missing son (and heir) of murdered (four months ago in his office) billionaire Reginald Adair. He struggles with who he is; accepting that his aunt whom he thought was his mom abducted him from his biological parents who he believed were his uncle and aunt; and that he has half-siblings (Landry, Carson and Whit). In other words he remains a Scott, not an Adair.

Noah distrusts everyone especially his acceptance as a brother by those he grew up thinking were cousins but in fact are his half brothers and sister. The only person Noah feels comfortable with is Landry's BFF Rachel Blackstone. When someone targets Rachel, Noah vows to keep the woman he loves safe, but also concludes another loved one betrayed himl when he realizes the horse riding lessons he gave her were a scam for her to go undercover and spy on him for his siblings.

The fourth Adair Affairs romantic suspense (see Secret Agent Boyfriend by Addison Fox, The Marine's Temptation by Jennifer Morey and Carrying His Secret by Marie Ferrarella) is an electrifying climax. The lead couple is a nice pairing but it is the suspenseful revelations re family secrets and the homicide that hook the audience.

Catching Her Rival
Lisa Dyson
Harlequin SuperRomance
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373609109, $6.75

Their mother begs Allie Miller to have her ex Jimmy escort her to her brother Scott's wedding. However, Allie insists she will attend alone; concealing that Jimmy is in prison.

Jack Fletcher planned to bring his girlfriend Brenda to his cousin Emily's Newport wedding, but their relationship ended after he responded. He asks his friend Charlotte Harrington the artist to be his plus one non-date.

At Scott and Emily's ceremony, Providence public relations rivals Allie and Jack meet when he initially thinks she is Charlotte. When Allie and Charlotte run into each other at that gala, each is stunned by how much they look alike and both admit they are adopted. Jack and Allie fall in love but neither want anything permanent as they even approach their vocation differently with her being artsy and him pragmatic. At the same time Allie and Charlotte look into their obviously shared biological background.

This appealing Rhode Island contemporary combines a wonderful romance with the first encounter of separately adopted adult identical twins. The lead trio makes for a captivating drama; as Jack and Allie share in common an attraction, a profession, and seemingly relationship avoidant personalities; while the identical twins, wanting a sisterly relationship, explore how similar they behave and search for their genealogy.

Bound By A Baby Bump
Ellie Darkins
Harlequin Romance
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373743391, $5.99

Rachel Archer has her life totally planned to the neutrino level until she meets wild artist Leo Fairfax. They share an incredible night of sex that has both reeling with a desire for more.

However that tryst leaves Rachel pregnant and her detailed life plan imploded. Whereas she is upset; Leo is ecstatic as he wants to forge a family with their unborn child and the mother he loves. Rachel has doubts re his sincerity since Leo has always run on the wild side. He knows he must convince his doubting Rachel that he loves her and wants a lifetime with her to include raising their child together in a happy home.

Bound By A Baby Bump is a pleasant contemporary; although like Rachel readers will find Leo's turnaround from free spirit to responsible family man too quick and ergo difficult to accept. Still if the audience puts aside its plausibility barometer, Ellie Darkins authors an amusing tale in which a matchmaking unborn nukes the plans of two adults.

Back To Texas
Amanda Renee
Harlequin American
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373755691, $5.50

Magpie waitress Bridgett Jameson remains in shock after almost three decades of lies from her single mom Ruby when she learned that her new friend Abby Winchester is her fraternal twin; though they do not look similar starting with a nine inch height gap (see A Texan for Hire). Adding to her disappointment is finding out that the town's cheap tipper Ramblewood Mayor Darren Fox is her biological father. Finally making matters worse Abby the stranger asks her to be her maid of honor.

After a decade away obtaining stardom and money in the Los Angeles music world under a phony identity until his career imploded, Adam Steele returns to Ramblewood hoping the family he abandoned forgives him. He and Bridgett are attracted to each other from the moment they meet when he enters the Magpie, but he conceals from her who he is. As they fall in love, still reeling from her mom's deception, once the truth comes out Bridgett wants nothing to do with Adam.

The fourth Welcome to Ramblewood (see Home to the Cowboy and Betting On Texas) is an enjoyable small-town romance starring a deceiver and a deceived victim. The captivating storyline centers on whether love can overcome "... a tangled web we weave, when first we practice to deceive!" (Marmion by Sir Walter Scott).

The Sheikh's Pregnancy Proposal
Fiona Brand
Harlequin Desire
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373733873, $5.25

Having failed at marriage to a childhood friend Jasmine, Sheikh Kadin Gabriel ben Kadir is in his mom's hometown Wellington, New Zealand to sign a marital business contract in twenty-four hours that will bring needed funds to his country, Zahir. Having been dumped twice, teacher Sarah Duval still believes in forever love though she wonders if "... love was only true in fairy tales; meant for someone else ..." (I'm A Believer by the Monkees).

On his last day as a bachelor, Gabe and Sarah meet. They share an awesome sexual encounter that leaves both shaken. When she becomes pregnant, he proposes. In love with her Sheikh, Sarah accepts though she doubts he returns her feelings and remains unaware that Gabe plans to never give his heart to her.

Fiona Brand provides a delightful take a chance on love contemporary. Feisty Sarah makes the romance interesting as she doubts whether she should wed the man she cherishes since he appears not to share her feelings; while Gabe is a fascinating individual starting with his parentage.

Running Fire
Lindsay McKenna
Harlequin HQN
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373788934, $7.99

In Afghanistan, U.S. Army 80th Shadow Squadron Captain Brian Larson and Chief Warrant Officer Leah Mackenzie fly a helicopter into a dangerous sector to pick up a SEAL team in the mountainous Hindu Kush one mile from the Pakistan border. However, enemy fire destroys the helicopter killing Larson, but Mackenzie escapes. Watching the crash, Navy SEAL Chief Kell Ballard extracts Mackenzie from the wreckage. Surprised he is a she, Kell carries the unconscious Warrant Officer to safety in a cave he uses while on his mission to eliminate a Taliban terrorist.

Grateful for the rescue, Leah distrusts any military with a Y chromosome; having been abused by her ex-husband. To Leah's shock, Kell shows kindness and compassion towards his cave-mate that leads to the pair sharing wonderful sex. As they fall in love, Kell and Leah know that soon they must run through a Taliban gauntlet. If they make it back alive, they will be greeted by the duplicity of her former spouse to tarnish Leah.

The eighth Shadow Warrior military romantic thriller (see Taking Fire, Never Surrender and Breaking Point) is an exciting suspense. Lindsay McKenna captures the sense of the amorphous front as survival behind enemy lines proves even more difficult than when enemy lines were somewhat fixed rather than ever changing. Although Leah seems too emotionally weak to be a search and rescue pilot in a war zone, Running Fire is an electrifying drama.

Hold Me
Susan Mallery
Harlequin HQN
c/o Harlequin Books
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, Ontario, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780373779970, $7.99

The offspring of two country and western stars, Destiny Mills tries to avoid the limelight though the Paparazzi insures otherwise. Destiny travels the country helping towns with STORMS search-and-rescue software. Accompanied by her teenage half-sister Starr whom she met for the first time ten days ago in Austin, Destiny's latest stop is Fool's Gold, California to assist with the launch of HERO (Help Emergency rescue Operations).

Olympic Gold Medalist Kipling Gilmore's "G-Force" downhill skiing career ended with a serious injury caused by a crash. He came to town to be with his abused sister Shelby who owns Ambrosia Bakery, but has bought into a sport's bar. As Kipling and Destiny work together on implementing the STORMS program and deal with family crisis, they fall in love; an emotion neither craves.

The nineteenth Fool's Gold romance (see Before We Kiss and Until We Touch) is a captivating contemporary starring two individuals who believe "Love Hurts" (Nazareth) so prefer to distant themselves from those undesirable feelings. Although the sister issues seem overly dramatic, Hold Me is a warm drama.

The Knight Of The Swords
Michael Moorcock
Titan Books
144 Southwark Street, London SE1 OUP, UK
9781783291656, $9.95,

As the Mabden begins its ascendancy due to overwhelming hordes; the Vadhagh live in their family community castles on Bro-an Vadhagh and their enemy the Nhadragh reside in their cities on islands. Both ignore any threat from these upstart cattle; as for instance if anyone bothered to capture a specimen, they either would experiment or lock it away in a menagerie. Instead when these ancient races are not internally focused, they concentrate on their million years of loathing for one another.

Vadhagh Prince Khlonskey worries about family extinction; as the Castle Erorn clan diminished from several hundred occupants to the present dozen. He disregards rumors of the sheep Mabden overrunning castles as impossible. Instead Khlonskey assigns his son Prince Corum to seek their race to join them in his family home. Instead a massacre of those he came to persuade at the hands of the Mabden greets Corum; followed by his mutilation at their hands and the deaths of his kin. Once Law-abiding, the insane Corum seeks vengeance; so he barters his soul with Shool the Eye of Rhynn sorcerer to give him the power to take his personal war to the Lords of Chaos manipulators of the Mabden horde, starting with the Knight of the Swords.

This reprint of the 1971 first winner of the British Fantasy Awards for best novel (with the five sequels to follow) focuses on a raging certifiable protagonist who believes revenge is the only dish left for him to serve. The storyline remains entertaining though the hero's allies (sidekick, odd rescuer and lover) fail the test of four plus decades. Still this dark coming of age epic is an enjoyable opening act.

Michelle West
Daw Books, Inc.
c/o Penguin Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780756410094, $25.95,

In the Essalieyan Empire, having survived several magical and otherwise assassination attempts and the betrayal by her treasonous Council (see Battle), House Terafin leader Jewel Markess ATerafin feels trapped between her two prime choices for the immediate future. Jewel knows she must confront the Oracle and its challenge to save her house, the most powerful of the ruling Ten, and consequently her city from the schism that splits both dangerously. However she also fears that while on her odyssey the lethal visions she foresees of the assault from below will expedite the downward spiral to the point of no return. Thus feeling she has no good course of action, Jewel begins her trek as the lesser of two horrific options.

The capital further spins out of control while Jewel travels on her quest. As the city falls increasingly into a death throe; in spite of evidence to the contrary, Jester misreads the truths re Finch. At the same time Birgit becomes a Warden.

The sixth House War (see Skirmish) is an exhilarating entry that focuses more on the Jester and Birgit subplots than Jewel's journey; making the latter's trip feel more as an excuse to get her out of the city though in fairness she achieves much of her objective. Even though Oracle is a thrilling tale, the overarching theme seemingly takes a side step.

The Book of Phoenix
Nnedi Okorafor
Daw Books
c/o Penguin Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780756410193, $24.95,

Created in the top secret Tower 7 research facility in midtown New York three years ago, Phoenix appears to look like she is in her late thirties, early forties. Her behavior is also that of someone with four decades of experience rather than that of a toddler.

Phoenix loves her life in the lab until something horrific observed by her once happy best friend Saeed led to deep depression and eventually suicide. No longer feeling the only home she ever knew is heavenly, Phoenix tries to leave, but is not allowed. Stunned by finally understanding her captivity and beginning to comprehend much more, Phoenix finally escapes after several failures. However, her creators pursue her as a valuable biological weapon that they own.

This interesting prequel to Who Fears Death centers on the salad years of the angry heroine. Like its predecessor, the well-written The Book of Phoenix blends together West African and Western mythologies to provide the reader with a profound unique look at human rights. However, the climax makes this tale feel more as if it is the first part of a much larger fantasy rather than a stand-alone novel.

The Dhulyn and Parno Novels Volume Two
Violette Malan
Daw Books
c/o Penguin Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780756410599, $9.99

"The Storm Witch." In Lesonika, Mercenary Guild partners Dhulyn Wolfshead and Parno Lionsmane learn they are accused of kidnapping and murder. They return to the Tarkin of Hellik's Court to prove their innocence. To achieve their objective, they must investigate the homicide and determine who the real killer is. Their probe is halted when they learn Long Ocean Nomads abducted friends at sea. Loyal to a fault, the duet set off on the rescue overcoming Dhulyn fears of because her visions showing Parno dies at sea.

"Path of the Sun." The Mercenary Brotherhood informs Brothers Dhulyn and Parno that they no longer stand accused of murdering the heir to the throne of the Tegrian Prince since he lives. They assign the exonerated pair to escort the Arderon Princess Cleona to her wedding to the Tarkin of Menoin; which means another ocean voyage for Dhulyn and Parno as the destination is an island. Their Guild also directs them to investigate the disappearance of two members who traveled last year to Menoin, but have not been heard from since. They arrive with their charge in Menoin where Dhulyn and Parno hear rumors of ritual mutilations. When the Princess is murdered, an apparent victim of the ritual killers, her Guild escorts follow clues that lead them into the deadly Path of the Sun labyrinth.

The third and fourth Dhulyn-Parno reprints (see The Dhulyn and Parno Novels Volume One - The Sleeping God and The Soldier King) are sensational sword and sorcery adventures mostly on the high seas. Dhulyn sums up their inquiries with her musing that she prefers a horse after several recent water logged escapades.

Alien Separation
Gini Koch
Daw Books
c/o Penguin Group
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780756409319, $7.99

Kitty Katt-Martini finally comes home after a harrowing odd adventure in a different universe in which she was the alien in two worlds learning in both the identity of the enemy Mastermind; depressingly a trusted close friend (see Universal Alien). However, barely back while at a sudden emergency meeting to discuss what to do re the Mastermind, Kitty and others are teleported to another planet.

They safely land in various potentially hostile locales. Kitty arrives in a purely deep purple realm accompanied by Chuck Reynolds and Christopher White. The trio assumes others from their meeting were sent here too, but as they search they find other sectors are mono-colored but of various hues. As they seek fellow exiles banished to this unknown weird world, each wonders why them and how to get home.

The eleventh Alien madcap science fiction (see Alien In The House and Alien Research) is a frantically-paced and jocular thriller that is fun to read but also frustratingly delays the anticipated confrontation even with a fascinating glimpse at what awaits them at home. The latest realm showcases Gini Koch's imagination and skill as Stranger(s) in a Strange Land (Robert A. Heinlein) seemingly mindful of Peter Max's colorful Pop Art.

Ithaca Falls
Steve Thayer
Conquill Press
9780990846116, $15.00,

In 1929 Cornell University President Hightower introduces his guest John Alden as a time traveler from the future to his extremely skeptical academic audience. Hightower explains to the attendees that John was born in 1968; graduated from Harvard; became an NYPD detective and a criminology professor at the school; and in 2010 while fighting a serial killer fell off the nearby Rickety Bridge into Ithaca Falls only to be rescued by the school president in 1929. He also challenges them to ask questions with all except one involving the future such as the lasting popularity of the new President Hoover, the good times and future world wars. He responds with FDR voted overwhelmingly as president in 1932 due to the soon to occur Wall St. Panic, Great Depression, and a bigger global war in the 1940s. Only Katelyn asks him something personal about his family.

Alden believes his deadly enemy also may have survived the plunge. He fears the killer will change the future by targeting the new Governor of New York for assassination. Believing he went back in time to keep Roosevelt safe, Alden does not know what his "revised" future will be.

Above are the two prime eras that Steve Thayer escorts readers to in this tremendous time travel thriller in which the tone is set by the 1929 academia scoffing at Alden's revelations including those of Hoover, FDR and the science of criminology. With a strong lead keeping the twisting tale centered, historical mystery fans, particularly those who relish a historiographical spin, will want to read this fast-paced and insightful novel.

To Win Her Favor
Tamera Alexander
Zondervan Publishing House
5300 Patterson Avenue, S.E., Grand Rapids, MI 49530
9780310291077, $15.99,

In 1869 Nashville, horsewoman Maggie Linden knows the impact the war has had on her family's finances especially the threat to Lindon Downs. Her hope to save their spread from the Tax and Title Office resides in her three years old filly Bourbon Belle winning the inaugural Peyton Stakes.

Affluent Irishman Cullen McGrath left London in disgrace after a horseracing scandal. He comes to Tennessee hoping to start over though he knows his nationality makes him a pariah amongst the locals, even the fallen, gentry. When an ailing former "aristocrat" offers his daughter in marriage in exchange for saving Lindon Downs, Cullen accepts the deal to wed Maggie as a quick means to some respectability. Though she preferred to say no, Maggie honors her father and marries money. The newlyweds immediately face a major crisis threatening their relationship; he vowed never to get involved with horseracing again, while she vowed to run her thoroughbred in the upcoming race.

The second Belle Meade Plantation homage (see To Whisper Her Name) is an insightful post-Civil War era that brings to life the upheaval of Southerners at a time when race and social status remain the last bedrocks of those who lost their place at the top of the economic food chain. The interesting marriage of convenience romance engages the audience as trust becomes a critical issue between the protagonists; but it is the profound look at the South that grips historical readers.

Phoenix In Shadow
Ryk E. Spoor
Baen Books
PO Box 1188, Wake Forest NC 27588
9781476780375, $15.00,

The assault left the parents of Evanwyl native Kyri Vantage dead and even her country's God Myrionar and the powerful Justiculars could not identify the assailants. Not long after that an assassin murdered her brother. Dying Myrionar fails to answer Kyri's questions, but vaguely tells her to remain true to her pursuit of the truth. In the greatest city Zarathan, now a Justicular Kyri meets Skysand Prince Tobimar Silverun on a quest for his origin and Poplock Duckweed the mage toad. The trio teams up to kill her brother's murderer Thornfalcon, Shrike and two Raiments (see Phoenix Rising).

Condor informs Aron of the death of Thornfalcon at the hands of the apparent True Champion and asks for and receives the power to avenge the person he considered his "father". At the same time the King of Demons Blackster empowers Condor, Kyri believes she owes her companions for their assistance on finding her sibling's killer. Thus, hoping the royal's mission assists her on her hunt for her parents' killers; she and Poplock accompany Tobimar Silverun on his quest that takes them through a path of certain death into a land of lethal monsters.

Whereas the first novel focused on Kyri's coming of age plight, Phoenix In Shadow centers more on Tobimar's efforts to fulfill the prophecy that exiled him with no chance of going home until he answers the question while at the same time Condor menacingly looms. In the fully-developed Spoor realm starring a super lead trio and some nasty foes, this entry is a refreshing quest fantasy.

A Long Time Until Now
Michael Z. Williamson
PO Box 1188, Wake Forest NC 27588
9781476780337, $25.00

During another crappy long day the American military convoy drives on a bad road in Afghanistan. With no warning, abruptly two vehicles with ten on board inexplicably go off road and lose contact with the rest of the unit. Efforts to communicate with the envoy or a nearby base fail. Bewildered First Lieutenant Sean Elliot, as the highest ranking person left behind, looks outside only to recognize nothing.

Frightened because their predicament makes no sense, the astonished soldiers soon meet a seemingly Stone Age tribe, an improbable Roman Century military unit and a few stragglers from diverse other time periods. As the soldiers struggle in a world they do not understand nor mentally, physically or equipped to endure, two individuals more technologically advanced than the confused displaced Americans arrive.

This is a refreshing time travel thriller based on the premise that twenty-first century highly trained and armed soldiers would find survivability in the Paleolithic Era extremely difficult. The leisurely-paced storyline focuses on inter and intra relationships that brings a sense of realism to the thoughtful plot.

Gateway To Never: The John Grimes Saga VI
A. Bertram Chandler
PO Box 1188, Wake Forest NC 27588
9781476780474, $14.00,

"The Gateway to Never." Commodore Grimes blows away the request of Port Forlorn's Chief of Customs; as the bureaucrat wants the naval officer to actively pursue the illegal drug trafficking in the Rim Worlds. However, his wife Sonya Verill persuades him to take on the mission when she mentions ruthless Drongo may be a trafficker.

"The Dark Dimensions." With rival alliances on the same search and knowing the previous attempts ended tragically; Commodore John Grimes leads his Faraway Quest crew to the Rim in search of the Outsider vessel that contains advance alien technology. Though preparing for the worst, Grimes meets something even more horrific than he anticipated.

"The Way Back." Lost in space beyond the Galactic Lens with no welcoming other star vessel anywhere in their vicinity, and compounded by apparently no longer residing in their time period; Grimes and his Faraway Quest crew desperately search for the only way home: Earth. However, in wherever and whenever they are, they learn Earth is a myth that never existed; while the angry crew considers mutiny.

The John Grimes Saga VI contains reprints of the last three novels (as described above) and seven short stories (six of which are at the end of the long run). The novels are pleasant swashbuckling high seas outer space adventures with some fascinating twists.

The Love Like Ours
Becky Wade
Bethany House Publishers
11400 Hampshire Avenue South, Minneapolis, MN 55438
9780764211096, $13.99,

As a child growing up in Holley, Texas Lyndie James knew she loved Jake Porter. Their friendship ended when the preadolescent Lyndie moved to California. Though she has not seen Jake since they were tweener BFFs skipping stones, Lyndie never forgot her first love. Now two decades later Lyndie returns to Holley to take care of her ailing sister.

Iraq War Marine veteran Jake returns home suffering from PTSD. Though he has doubts whether he is ready to hire his childhood buddy to work with thoroughbreds at his family Whispering Creek Ranch, Jake does so anyway. As her enthusiasm for life re-energizes Jake, he reconsiders his lost belief in a God who allowed the horrors he witnessed and participated in the war. Soon the one-time best buddies fall in love, but though this is what she has wanted forever, he feels unworthy.

The third Porter sibling contemporary (Undeniably Yours and Meant to be Mine) is an uplifting Christian romance starring a pert lead female (perhaps to perky) and a fractured former marine. The delightful storyline focuses on hope if a person has faith in the Lord and his/her beloved mate. The flashback to the prime cause of Jake's mental state enhances a wonderful tale.

Hexed: The Sisters of Witchdown
Michael Alan Nelson
c/o Prometheus Books
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228-2197
9781633880566, $14.99,

Gina and her friends sneak into the abandoned Worcester House, but she is the only one to see the woman's reflection in the mirror. Freaked out, a terrorized Gina runs home and turns on every light in her home. Her boyfriend David calls trying to calm her down; and soon afterward her father the cop comes home and realizing her agitation tries likewise. Her dad becomes distracted when he thinks he fleetingly sees a person inside their house, but on further inspection finds no one; unaware that Gina will see her too when it is too late. The woman in the mirror yanks Gina into the looking glass.

Gina's desperate dad Buck Pierce knows whatever happened to his daughter was not a normal kidnapping as she inexplicably was abducted under his nose in their home. He pleads with underage teen thief Luci Jenifer Inacio das Neves, better known as Lucifer, to rescue his child. With David and the other Worcester visitors getting underfoot while trying to help, Lucifer investigates the abnormal abduction. The clues lead to the Seven Sisters of Witchdown who plan ritually to sacrifice their "guest".

Targeting middle and younger high school students, Michael Alan Nelson's transforms his excellent comic book series (published by Boom! Studios with Dan Mora as the artist) into an exhilarating urban fantasy novel. The key is the strong characters especially the heroine (i.e., underage for tattoo removal w/o parental permission) who bring enough realism that readers of all ages will anticipate the confrontation between the good (Lucifer), the Bad (witches) and the stupid (victim's family and friends foolishly in the way).

See Also Murder
Larry D. Sweazy
Seventh Street Books
c/o Prometheus Books
59 John Glenn Drive, Amherst, NY 14228-2197
9781633880061, $15.95,

In 1964 Marjorie and Hank Trumaine live on their farm near Dickinson, North Dakota. Since Hank suffered a horrific hunting accident that left him crippled, blind and totally dependent; Marjorie stoically, with neighbors' help, sees to her husband's every need without complaint. The farmer's wife buries most of her personal desires as a book indexer for H.P. Howard and Sons; though at times when she is idle she dreams of a tryst with a local law enforcement hunk.

Sheriff Hilo Jenkins visits the Trumaine spread to warn Marjorie that an unknown slasher cut the throats of her neighbors Erik and Lida Knudsen. Shook by the trauma, Marjorie wants to hide in a cocoon, but reluctantly conducts research at Hilo's request into a copper amulet that Erik grasped in a death grip. Soon Hilo's wife Ardith while spending time with Hank vanishes and assumed dead, and someone slashes more locals.

The first Marjorie Trumaine regional historical amateur sleuth is a refreshing whodunit starring a unique "detective" who does little detecting as we define it (for instance her case index is awesome). Readers will feel transported to 1964 rustic North Dakota where a serial killer terrorizes a once serene community.

Collar Robber: A Crime Story Featuring Jay Davidovich and Cynthia Jakubek
Hillary Bell Locke
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. First Ave., #103, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
9781464203367, $24.95,

Transoxana Insurance Company assigns loss-prevention specialist Jay Davidovich (see Jail Coach) to insure their client Pittsburgh Museum of Twentieth Century Art wins their case from claimants demanding remittance based on the Nazis forcing their late relative to sell a masterpiece. If they lose, Jay knows his firm would have to cover the $50 million lawsuit.

Also in Pittsburgh, Willy Szulz retains lawyer Cynthia Jakubek (see But Remember Their Names) as an intermediary negotiating a deal with the museum in which he will sell to them proof that the 1938 sale was legit and not under Nazi duress. At the same Sean McGeoghan hires Jakubek to persuade the museum's attorney Tally Rand to annul his Catholic marriage so that Sean can wed his fiancee who happens to be the counsel's estranged wife.

The first merged Davidovich and Jakubek Pittsburgh crime story is an intriguing drama due to avarice amoral miscreants who loathe everyone and everything except money. The tropospheric greed of this support cast dominates the storyline; mindful of "Money" sang by Pink Floyd: "...Money, so they say is the root of all evil today; but if you ask for a rise it's no surprise that they're giving none away."

Murder In Piccadilly: A British Library Crime Classic
Charles Kingston
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. First Ave., #103, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
9781464203732, $12.95

Fearfully Ruby Cheldon tells her snooty brother Massy that her son Bobbie fell in love with and proposed to Nancy Curzon, a dancer in a nightclub. Disgusted with both of his family members, Massy lectures Ruby and his nephew that the latter should bring in income to supplement what his arrogant uncle provides to them (along with her pension) rather than spend it in nightclubs on floozies.

Not long after this family fiasco, someone murders Massy. Scotland Yard Chief Inspector Wake leads the investigation into the homicide of an extremely unpopular snob. Aware that as the spoiled heir to Massy's vast estate Bobbie has the motive to kill his disagreeable uncle; Wake predominantly focuses on him as the only viable suspect though also to a much lesser degree considers Ruby and Nancy.

Murder In Piccadilly is an entertaining Great Depression era police procedural. The leisurely-paced period piece takes a long time to set the stage due to a vivid depiction of 1930s London and an emphasis on the fractured interrelationships between the present and future Cheldon. Once the homicide occurs and the CI takes over the plot, Charles Kingston's whodunit turns into an absorbing murder mystery.

Cafe Europa: An Edna Ferber Mystery
Ed Ifkovic
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. First Ave., #103, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
9781464203923, $24.95

In the summer of 1914, as part of her Grand Tour, Edna Ferber, accompanied by her friend British suffragette Winifred Moss, travels to Budapest. Staying in the grungy Hotel Arpad, Edna notices the fear in the eyes of affluent American Cassandra Blaine who soon will marry Austrian Count Frederic in a money-title exchange arranged by her wealthy parents. At the Cafe Europa Edna, Winifred and Hearst Yellow Journalist Harold Gibbons discuss the once great empire teetering especially in the Balkans, Cassandra and her fiance, and the current mayor who calls his city "Jewdapest".

However, not long afterward someone kills Cassandra. Royal Hungarian Police Inspector Horvath leads the official inquiry targeting the victim's former lover Hungarian Endre Molnar as the only suspect. The two visiting females believe otherwise; and with help from local artists Lajos Tihanyi and Bertalan Por, investigate.

The sixth Edna Ferber historical mystery (see Final Curtain, Downtown Strut and Escape Artist) engages the audience with a fine investigation, a top rate cast and a deep look at the last throes of the Austro-Hungarian Empire just before events spiral out of control. Although the storyline too frequently turns passive with chit chats at the Cafe, Ed Ifkovic authors an overall absorbing pre WWI Hungarian amateur sleuth.

The Sussex Downs Murder: A British Library Crime Classic
John Bude
Poisoned Pen Press
6962 E. First Ave., #103, Scottsdale, AZ 85251
9781464203718, $14.95

John and William Rother reside on their family farm Chalklands in Sussex Downs. Besides working the land, the siblings also operate kilns that convert chalk into quicklime. The older brother John drives away on vacation leaving behind William with his new wife Janet.

However, instead of returning home, John vanishes. His abandoned car is found several miles from the farm, but headed in the wrong direction and inside is blood. Additionally the missing driver apparently used eight times the amount of petro needed to drive from his home to where his vehicle was located. Superintendent William Meredith (see The Lake District Murder and The Cornish Coast Murder) leads the missing person's investigation into what he thinks is a murder without a body. Not long after Meredith begins his inquiry, accompanied by an enthusiastically grateful writer Aldous Barnet. Bones are found in the Chalklands' quicklime.

The third Meredith British police procedural is a delightful Depression Era reprint. With a very vivid setting, Meredith owns the leisurely-paced storyline as he diligently works his inquiry in spite of frustrating seemingly promising clues proving false. Though Barnet at times comes across as a groupie, he provides the audience with insight into the Superintendent, the case and the era. The Sussex Downs Murder is a twisting whodunit.

Rock With Wings (Leaphorn and Chee Mysteries)
Anne Hillerman
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780062270511, $26.99,

Looking forward to a brief vacation with her husband Sergeant Jim Chee at his clan brother's new abode in nearby Monument Valley, Navaho Nation Tribal Officer Bernadette Manuelito stops a speeding car just outside Shiprock, New Mexico. As required Manuelito openly records the traffic stop. The driver Mr. Miller carries an illegal loaded gun in the glove compartment. Increasingly agitated Miller stuns Manuelito when he offers her a bribe to forget the incident especially since the vehicle seems clean of drugs though contained two odd boxes of dirt. Manuelito arrests him for offering her money.

In Monument Valley, Chee accepts a job. Near a movie set, he searches for a reported missing person but finds what appears to be a fresh grave. At the same, his wife struggles with a drug sting that turned ugly and Miller's dirt that may have lasting significant impact on the Navaho and their land. Although still recuperating from recent injuries suffered while helping the married police couple on a case (see Spider Woman's Daughter), their retired mentor former Lieutenant Joe Leaphorn once again guides them on their respective investigations.

Two for two, Anne Hillerman captures the essence of her legendary late father's characters and their locale in her second tremendous Leaphorn and Chee (and Manuelito) Navaho police procedural. The absorbing glimpse into tribal history and customs enhance several fabulous Southwest mysteries.

Black Run
Antonio Manzini, author
Antony Shugaar, translator
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780062310040, $25.99,

Knowing he prefers Rome to ice and snow and wanting him out of their hair, his disgusted superiors banish Deputy Police Chief Rocco Schiavone to Aosta in the Italian Alps due to his scornful attitude. Expecting icy ennui in this frozen tourist tundra, Schiavone has his first major case; the apparent murder of an unidentified person ripped to shreds by a snowcat machine on a ski run. His efforts to learn who the corpse is are hampered by Schiavone feeling he is no longer in Italy as the locals are radically different from the residents of his beloved Rome

Still overcoming the culture shock, Schiavone soon learns the victim is Leone Micchichè, the co-owner along with his pregnant wife Luisa Pec, of Belle Cuneaz trattoria. Luisa explains to the cop that her spouse planned to raise money by selling property that he and his brother own. As Schiavone investigates the case, his focus remains triumphantly returning to Rome while he also demands a cut in the lucrative tourist marijuana market.

The exiled protagonist turns the first Schiavone Italian police procedural into a dark humorous whodunit as his interests are getting back to Nirvana, obtaining a sideline cash flow, women and working the inquiry. The persons of interest seem one-dimensionally interchangeable, but fans will relish the politically incorrect antics of a corrupt yet ironically dedicated cop; who makes Backstrom's behavior seem pristinely by the book.

George's Grand Tour
Caroline Vermalle, author
Anna Aitken, translator
Gallic Books
59 Ebury Street, London, England, SW1W ONZ
Meryl Zegarek Public Relations
9781908313737, $14.95,

With her mom heading to Peru, twenty-something London-based actress Adele calls her octogenarian Grandpa that if he needs anything including a visit he should tell her. Politely George Nicoleau thanks her; even as both know she has not taken the train to Poitier followed by the bus to Chanteloup to his hamlet since her parents' divorce a decade ago.

George reacts with mixed emotions to Adele's call of concern and caring. On the one hand it energizes him to begin the Grand Tour with his eightyish friend Charles, but also worries him that Adele will replace her mom the "inspector" by checking up on him with a visit. As George and Charles conduct their Grand Tour drive, he and Adele rekindle what they once had via texting.

Besides a unique vivid Tour de France ride by the elderly travelers, this is a compassionate and at times amusing (especially George's technology efforts) tale. The quirky storyline reminds readers loved ones matter but in spite of their caring concerns; still to go after fulfilling your dreams by adapting the effort as needed to age, health, technology or other considerations. Readers will want to join George and Charles on their merveilleux pilgrimage.

The Charlemagne Connection
R. M. Cartmel
Crime Scene Books
9780992948627, $13.99,

In Nuits-Saint-Georges, Burgundy, Madame Blanchard informs the Gendarme that German tourist Horst Witter is missing. Constables Lenoir and Montbard find no evidence of foul play so assume Witter found either a companion or a job; so they close the case and move his abandoned camper to their compound.

Vintner Simon Marechale calls Paris-based Commander Truchaud informing him that his Alzheimer's inflicted father urinated on a neighbor's vines. Obtaining time-off, Truchaud heads home to Nuits-Saint-Georges to consult with his widow sister-in-law on what to do. However, though on leave, his supervisor and the town's mayor arrange for Truchaud to fill the vacant Municipal Chief of Police position temporarily. Not long after that, Horst's sister Dagmar and her traveling companion arrive looking for him. Needing someone fluent in German, Truchaud arranges for Paris-based Sergeant Natalie Dutoit to join him. Soon after her arrival, Dutoit and Truchaud investigate what happened to a badly decomposed corpse found in the nearby woods.

The second Commander Truchaud French police procedural (see The Richebourg Affair) is a pleasant leisurely-paced mystery. The sleuthing is limited as Truchard's family and other personal issues supersede the inquiry; which takes off late in the storyline. Feeling more like a transitional middle book, The Charlemagne Connection still provides readers with an interesting glimpse into life amongst the vines of Burgundy.

L.A. Kornetsky
Pocket Books
c/o Simon & Schuster
1230 Avenue of the Americas, 13th fl., New York, NY 10020
9781476750088, $7.99,

Having earned a reputation as part of a team of unlicensed private investigators in Seattle (see Doghouse, Collared and Fixed); Ginny Mallard is thrilled with her first out of town client who wants to use her day job skills as a concierge. Ginny's sleuthing partner Teddy Tonica is concerned over her propensity for trouble, but since she is not detecting he expects no problems.

As Teddy and Penny the cat remain at Mary's where the human manages the establishment, Ginny and Georgie the shar-pei drive to Portland to meet with her new patron. After leaving Georgie at the Pines Hotel, she continues onto her meeting with wheelchair-bound Mrs. Adaowsky. Running late, Ginny rings the bell but no one responds. Finding an unlocked door, Ginny cautiously enters but only a corpse greets her. Calling 911, PPD cops arrive and tell her to go home but remain available if needed for further questioning. Perhaps out of a sense of loyalty, Ginny feels a strong need to investigate. The rest of the sleuthing quartet reluctantly joins her mostly to perform the impossible task of keeping Ginny out of stepping into danger.

The fourth Gin & Tonic Mystery "researchtigations" is an appealing anthropomorphist amateur sleuth that takes the heroine and her entourage out of the comfort zone of the Ballard neighborhood bar and Seattle into a "foreign" location. The lead humans and their animal owners remain fresh protagonists while the Portland homicide case proves once again perilous.

Led Astray & The Devil's Own
Sandra Brown
Mira Books
c/o Harlequin
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780778318569, $7.99,

"Led Astray." Burying her own desires, Jenny Fletcher fully supported her dedicated fiance Hal Hendren. Committed to helping political refugees escape to the United States, Hal heads to Mexico but not before a night of passion with his future wife. When tragedy strikes, the late Hal's wild brother Cage steps in to be there for grieving Jenny. When he shows her what passion truly is; Cage knows he loves Jenny and the unborn she carries even if he may not be the sire.

"The Devil's Own." In a seedy bar dressed as a whore, Kerry Bishop seeks a fearless warrior to rescue nine orphans. She chooses drunken patron Linc O'Neal, whose definition of a shot comes from being an internationally famous photojournalist. Looking forward to leaving the war-ravaged hellhole, Linc revises his plan to go home when Kerry propositions him.

These are two entertaining related 1980s romantic suspense reprints. Although Kerry's behavior is unlikely lunacy, readers will appreciate these early Sandra Brown tales.

What Lies Behind
J.T. Ellison
c/o Harlequin
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780778316503, $24.95

Leaving the perilous law enforcement field work somewhat behind, Dr. Samantha Owens chairs Georgetown University Medical School's Forensic Pathology Department. The FBI also employs her as an expert on cases.

Sirens in her Georgetown neighborhood wake her up. With Thor, Sam goes to look at what is happening so close to her home. Homicide Lieutenant Darren Fletcher leads the investigation into what appears to be a murder-suicide with the latter barely alive rushed to the hospital. Two intoxicated underage students including the deceased male's former girlfriend found the victims. Darren asks Sam to look at the crime scene; the former D.C medical examiner concludes a third person made it look like the man murdered the woman and tried to kill himself.

Sam's boyfriend Xander and his partner Chalk protect affluent British entrepreneur James Denon, while he is on business in America. Their service overlaps with Fletch's inquiry. Meanwhile the Feds order the police detective and his advisor to back down at a time when evidence mounts of a pending bioterrorist attack.

The fourth Samantha Owens mystery (see When Shadows Fall, A Deeper Darkness and Edge of Black) is a very byzantine whodunit that grows exponentially more complicated (to our delight) with every new clue. Incredibly fast-paced, readers will relish this tremendous suspense thriller; while also waiting for the next confrontation between the heroine and a person taunting her.

The Calamity Janes: Gina & Emma
Sheryl Woods
c/o Harlequin
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780778317784, $7.99

"To Catch a Thief." In Manhattan, Tuscany Cafe co-owner Gina Petrillo is stunned by the court order. Her partner Roberto Rinaldi embezzled the funds their investors sunk into the Upper East Side restaurant. Fuming as his mother is one of the victims, Attorney Rafe O'Donnell turns angry when he learns Petrillo filed a delay on submitting her deposition so that she could go home to Winding River, Wyoming. He follows her expecting her to be guilty and also leading him to Rinaldi. Instead he falls in love; as does she.

"The Calamity Janes." Denver-based lawyer Emma Rogers returns to Winding River for a class reunion. When a domestic dispute turns ugly, Emma agrees to defend the accused though that means more time not spent with her six year old daughter Caitlyn. Reporter Ford Hamilton covers the murder trial, but finds Emma very uncooperative in several ways including those of the heart.

Published in 2001, these reprints of the third and fourth Calamity Jane novels (see The Calamity Janes: Cassie and Karen) are engaging romances. Although "To Catch a Thief" contains too many sidebars slowing down the plot; The Calamity Janes provides an intense look at domestic abuse.

Summer By The Sea
Susan Wiggs
c/o Harlequin
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780778318538, $14.95

"Celesta's by the Sea" owner Rosa Capoletti feels good for her BFF Linda whose beloved Jason just proposed to her. However, Rosa's happiness ends when "yachtis" from Newport arrive in her Winslow establishments for drinks. Amongst them is the last person she ever wants to see, her teenage sweetheart Alex Montgomery who left one day without a word, never returning until now.

Her dad was his affluent family gardener; so Rosa assumed theirs was a summer fling that could go nowhere. Thus she focused on her highly regarded restaurant as the love of her life. Alex informs her he is staying at his family summer home that has been vacant for over a decade. She thinks back to when they first met and the subsequent summers afterward; he needs to tell her why he left a dozen years ago. Family tragedies connect the gap.

Though the transition between past and present at times is difficult to follow, this is a reprint of a wonderful 2004 family drama. The twenty-first century Romeo and Juliet couple is an absorbing pairing of old money Yankee and working class Italian-American. Ironically it is not the social class difference that nuked their relationship, but a family tragedy that tore them apart and another family tragedy that may, if each is willing, give them a second chance.

A Match For Marcus Cynster
Stephanie Laurens
c/o Harlequin
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780778318347, $7.99

In 1849 Scotland, Marcus Cynster believes he will soon meet and marry his Fate. Though attracted to independent Niniver Carrick, Marcus believes she cannot be his; as Fate could not so kind.

One year later, with her dad dead, her oldest brother missing and assumed dead like her other male siblings, Niniver learns how bad the clan's finances are. She vows to never marry as she cannot have a spouse interfere with her making it right for Clan Carrick. Knowing unwanted suitors will pursue her, Niniver turns to someone she trusts though fearful of her desire for him, her neighbor Marcus for help. Surrounded by Cynster females, Marcus knows firsthand strong women and believes now that Niniver is his Fate, but she needs to conclude on her own that he is her fate too.

The third Cynster's Next Generation (see By Winter's Light) is an appealing leisurely-paced Victorian romantic suspense that behooves the audience to first read Marcus' twin Lucilla's novel (see The Tempting of Thomas Carrick); which sets up much of the action in this tale. The contemplative, compassionate chats between the leads make their relationship seem real; as Stephanie Laurens authors another winner.

That Summer Place
Debbie Macomber, Susan Wiggs and Jill Barnett
c/o Harlequin
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780778318217, $7.99

"Old Things" by Jill Barnett. In 1997 workaholic San Francisco businesswoman Catherine is burned out and desperately needs a vacation. She decides to return to the place where she spent many happy moments as a child, Washington State's Spruce Island. When she arrives with her two children (Aly and Dana), the single mother meets Michael the local handyman and her first love.

"Private Paradise" by Debbie Macomber. In 1998 Beth and her teenage son Paul travel to the San Juan Islands to meet her friend Mary Jane and her family on her first vacation since her spouse passed away. Mary Jane's husband breaks his leg; so to her chagrin Beth is forced to share her lodging with uptight Dr. John and his angry tweener daughter Nikki.

"Island Time" by Susan Wiggs. Mitch the workaholic disses people wasting their mellow life. However, he has a lobotomy of the soul when he meets Rosie, a laid-back scientific consultant. They teach each other about what they professionally do best, but can each learn how to love in spite of all that Spruce Island Time they share?

These fine family drama romances reprints leave readers wanting to spend more time at mystical old Victorian Rainshadow Lodge on Spruce Island.

The Calamity Janes: Cassie and Karen
Sheryl Woods
c/o Harlequin
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780778317913, $7.99,

"Do You Take This Rebel?" Almost a decade ago in Winding River, Wyoming, pregnant Cassie Collins left town carrying her boyfriend Cole Davis' baby; vowing to raise her child as a single mom. She became a waitress while providing a home for her son Jake. When Jake learns of his mom's ten year high school reunion, he schemes to raise the money so she can attend. Cole never forgave Cassie for abandoning him ten years ago, but when they meet each knows they still love the other. However, Cole demands Cassie tell him who Jake's biological dad is, but she fears money talks in court; as she believes he and his wealthy dad will legally take her beloved son from her.

"Courting the Enemy". Grady Blackhawk wants to buy Karen Hason's ranch. Though she needs the money, Karen stubbornly refuses to sell to him because her late husband made her pledge to do nothing with Grady. Besides wanting the spread once belonging to his ancestors, Grady also wants the widow he loves. However, her doubts hammered home by her deceased spouse leaves her thinking Grady covets the ranch not her.

The reprints of the first two Calamity Janes novels (published in 2001) are pleasant rural romances in which extended family matters, but not necessarily in a positive way.

A Lover's Vow
Brenda Jackson
c/o Harlequin
225 Duncan Mill Road, Don Mills, ON, Canada, M3B 3K9
9780778318002, $7.99

Dalton Granger is very happy for his two brothers who have found love (see Jace in A Brother's Honor and Caden in A Man's Promise), but he chooses to remain a steadfast confirmed bachelor. However, Dalton loathes admitting even to himself let alone his siblings that the mutual hostility between him and private investigator Jules Bradford, sister of Jace's new wife Shana, disturbs him.

Jules investigates the homicide of Dalton's mother over fifteen years ago in which their dad went to prison for committing uxoricide. As Dalton assists Jules, their squabbling ends with respect and love as each realizes that their skirmishes were a defense mechanism to hide from the truth of how they really feel.

The third and final Granger romantic suspense is a rousing climax to an enjoyable miniseries though newbies need to start with the previous releases. The overarching whodunit is superbly handled while the changing relationship between the last standing Granger and the Bradford sister enhances a thrilling finish.

Harriet Klausner

Lorraine's Bookshelf

Jacob's Dream
Ruth Marie Keffer, illustrator
David J. Keffer, author
Poison Pie Publishing House
2207 Island Home Boulevard, Knoxville, Tennessee
9781511500777, $9.99,

"Jacob's Dream" is an unusual, creative interpretation of the Bible verse in Genesis 28:12, about Jacob's dream of a ladder ascending to heaven, with the angels of God ascending and descending on it. Each pair of pages describes a rung of the ladder, starting with the eleventh rung, and ends with a special prayer for the angel of that rung. The facing page is decorated with primitive-style crayoned drawings of miraculous beings. The prayers are most poetic, including a Prayer for Humility, a Prayer for Abandoning a Path of Error, a Prayer for the Tempering of Pleasure, a Prayer for Not Fitting In, a Prayer for Accepting Our Roles, A Prayer for the Untalented, a Prayer for Those Who Dwell in Penumbra, a Prayer for Those Who Go Too Far, an Apocryphal Prayer, a Prayer in the Tongue of Birds, a Prayer of Supplication, a Prayer for Balance, and a Prayer for Dreamers. Perhaps a most moving moment in the prayers comes at the end of the Prayer for Dreamers: "Lord, as with Jacob, signal Your protection and favor in our dreams, for we are all dreamers, who have dreamt of both horror and hope and perceive in hope only the value of our modest contribution." Every page of "Jacob's Dream" is a devotion to be gently tasted and savored. "Jacob's Dream" has elements of childlike wonder and glory in it, but it will deliver many special consolations to the adult reader also.

Nancy Lorraine
Senior Reviewer

Micah's Bookshelf

Brief Peeks Beyond
Bernardo Kastrup
Iff Books
c/o John Hunt Publishing, Ltd.
Laurel House, Station Approach, Alresford, Hants, SO24 9JH, UK
9781785350184, $22.95, 251pp,

Synopsis: In "Brief Peeks Beyond: Critical Essays on Metaphysics, Neuroscience, Free Will, Skepticism and Culture", Bernardo Kastrup presents a multi-faceted exploration and critique of the human condition as it is presently manifested. "Brief Peeks Beyond" addresses science and philosophy, explores the underlying nature of reality, the state of our society and culture, the influence of the mainstream media, the nature of free will and a number of other topics. Each of these examinations contributes an angle to an emerging idea gestalt that challenges present mainstream views and behaviors and offers a sane alternative. "Brief Peeks Beyond" is organized as a series of short and self-contained essays, most of which can be read in under one hour.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, informed, and thought-provoking, "Brief Peeks Beyond: Critical Essays on Metaphysics, Neuroscience, Free Will, Skepticism and Culture" will prove to be of special interest to students of metaphysics, culture, and the human condition. Erudite, articulate, occasionally iconoclastic, but always inherently fascinating, "Brief Peeks Beyond" is a strongly recommended addition to community and academic library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Brief Peeks Beyond" is also available in a Kindle edition ($7.99).

Pop Grenade
Matthew Collin
Zero Books
c/o John Hunt Publishing, Ltd.
Laurel House, Station Approach, Alresford, Hants, SO24 9JH, UK
9781782798316, $22.95, 260pp,

Synopsis: In "Pop Grenade: From Public Enemy to Pussy Riot - Dispatches from Musical Frontlines", author Matthew Collins provides the reader with an adrenalin-charged trip through some of the cultural flashpoints of the past few decades, "Pop Grenade" celebrates the power of music as a force for change. Based on first-hand, personal reportage from raves, riots and rebellions, it explores how music has been used as a weapon in struggles for liberation and attempts to create temporary paradises. From Berlin's anarchic techno scene after the fall of the Wall to outlaw sound systems in wartime Bosnia, from Moscow during the crackdown on Pussy Riot to New York in the militant early years of hip-hop, "Pop Grenade" tells the extraordinary stories of some of the world's most audacious musical freedom fighters, disco visionaries and rock'n'roll rebels with a cause.

Critique: An inherently fascinating read from beginning to end, "Pop Grenade: From Public Enemy to Pussy Riot - Dispatches from Musical Frontlines" offers a unique perspective that will prove to be as compelling as it is informed and informative. Very highly recommended for both community and academic library Pop Culture and Music History reference collections and supplemental studies lists, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Pop Grenade: From Public Enemy to Pussy Riot - Dispatches from Musical Frontlines" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Puzzles, Paradoxes, Controversies, and the Global Economy
Charles Wolf Jr.
Hoover Institution Press
c/o Hoover Institution
434 Galvez Mall, Stanford, CA 94305
9780817918552, $19.95, 272pp,

Synopsis: "Puzzles, Paradoxes, Controversies, and the Global Economy" is comprised of a wide-ranging collection of essays first published between 2007 and 2014, by Charles Wolf Jr. and in which he shares his insights on the world's economies, including those of China, the United States, Japan, Korea, India, and others. First appearing in such periodicals as in Forbes, the Wall Street Journal, and the Weekly Standard, among others, these chapters take on a range of questions about the global economy. Wolf discusses the paradoxes and puzzles within China's political economy and in its interactions with the United States. He analyzes the shortcomings of Keynesian economics as a response to the 2008 recession, as well as the weaknesses of policies and actions inferred from the theory, and compares those weaknesses with those of austerity policies intended to limit government spending and indebtedness. He also offers his views on economic inequality and where its principal sources may truly lay, China's currency and the continuing controversy about whether and when it may become a major international reserve currency, and many more insights on key economic issues affecting the global economy. Bringing these essays together for the first time in a single volume, including two essays not yet published elsewhere, "Puzzles, Paradoxes, Controversies, and the Global Economy" enables the reader to absorb the author's expert perspective during the years in a collection in which the whole is truly greater than the sum of its parts. Each chapter includes a brief "postaudit" in which the author attempts to grade how well or ill the essay seems in retrospect.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Puzzles, Paradoxes, Controversies, and the Global Economy" will prove an important and core addition to professional and academic library Global Economics reference collections and supplemental studies reading lists.

Winning Craps For The Serious Player
J. Edward Allen
Cardoza Publishing
808 South Main Street, Las Vegas, NV 89108-6404
9781580423274, $14.95, 288pp,

Synopsis: Updated and revise with new strategies, this latest edition of "Winning Craps For The Serious Player" is specifically intended as an instruction guide that will prove to be of enduring value for both beginning and experienced craps players alike. "Winning Craps For The Serious Player" is a complete and comprehensive course on how to play and win at craps. Readers learn how and when bets can be placed, the chances of these bets winning, and the odds and payoffs involved. More than 100 pages alone are dedicated to winning strategies for every type of player (conservative, aggressive and super-aggressive) as well as how to bet with and against the dice and for games offering one, two, three and even ten times odds! Packed with tables, charts, examples, anecdotes and insider tips on every aspect of winning.

Critique: Of special note is the section on 'Advanced Bankrolling and Money Management'. Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Winning Craps For The Serious Player" should be considered an essential reference for anyone wanting to play craps whether its in a casino or a home game.

Hidden Strengths
Milo Sindell & Thuy Sindell
Berrett-Koehler Publishers Inc.
1333 Broadway, Suite 1000, Oakland CA, 94612
Smith Publicity
9781626562837, $19.95, 128pp,

Synopsis: In "Hidden Strengths: Unleashing the Crucial Leadership Skills You Already Have", Milo and Thuy Sindell persuasively argue that focusing only on your best abilities neglects a vital development opportunity. They show how to identify hidden strengths that can be quickly elevated into full strengths with attention and focus. Working mainly on your strengths can ultimately make you weaker, you need to continually add new skills, not rely on what you're already good at. And while most people assume that means they should try to turn their weaknesses into usable skills, "Hidden Strengths" reveals that it takes too much time and effort. It's in the neglected middle skills, neither strengths nor weaknesses, that the most potent development opportunities lie. They're close enough to being strengths that putting your energy there can offer a powerful payoff. Using assessments, exercises, and case studies, "Hidden Strengths" will help you identify your most promising middle skills and create a plan to turn them into strengths. In today's work environment, not growing and stretching yourself translates into lack of innovation, stagnation, and obsolescence. Relying upon strengths is like relying upon training wheels -- at a certain point you need to take them off in order to improve and grow.

Critique: Impressively organized, presented and argued, "Hidden Strengths: Unleashing the Crucial Leadership Skills You Already Have" is exceptionally well written and accessible to all non-specialist general readers with an interest in self-improvement. As informed and informative as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking, "Hidden Strengths" is very highly recommended for community and academic library Self-Help/Self-Improvement collections. It should be noted for personal reading lists that "Hidden Strengths" is also available in a Kindle edition ($9.99).

Light a Fire under Your Business
Tom Pandola & James W. Bird
Praeger Publishers
PO Box 1911, Santa Barbara, CA 93116-1911
9781440834585, $37.00, 176pp,

Synopsis: Tom Pandola and Jim Bird discovered that the management and leadership principles they relied on for success and survival during their firefighting careers also lead to success in business as well as in life. "Light a Fire under Your Business: How to Build a Class 1 Corporate Culture through Inspirational Leadership" is specifically intended for people who face challenges in their business or personal lives, for those who feel a sense of purpose is missing in their work, and, especially, for every senior management team in search of a winning corporate culture. "Light a Fire under Your Business: How to Build a Class 1 Corporate Culture through Inspirational Leadership" is organized in three sections that teach business leaders and others how to improve processes, empower employees, and transform a business culture. Principles are demonstrated using actual firefighting experiences (the two authors' practical classroom) to bring lessons to life. Then, those same principles are applied to business situations to demonstrate their real-world application. Throughout, "Light a Fire under Your Business: How to Build a Class 1 Corporate Culture through Inspirational Leadership" shares a success formula that will provide managers and other senior executives with effective planning skills, the vision to solve problems, and the ability to inspire the individuals within an organization to become the best at what they do.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, organized and presented, "Light a Fire under Your Business: How to Build a Class 1 Corporate Culture through Inspirational Leadership" is as informed and informative as it is thoughtful and thought-provoking. An extraordinary read from beginning to end, "Light a Fire under Your Business: How to Build a Class 1 Corporate Culture through Inspirational Leadership" is very strongly recommended for corporate, community, and academic library Business Studies reference collections and supplemental reading lists. Ideal and invaluable reading for anyone seeking to establish or improve their entrepreneurial activities, it should be noted that "Light a Fire under Your Business: How to Build a Class 1 Corporate Culture through Inspirational Leadership" is also available in a Kindle edition ($29.99).

Micah Andrew

Richard's Bookshelf

Straight A's Are Not Enough - Breakthroughs in Learning for College Students
Judy Fishel
Flying Heron Books
516 SW River Point Drive North, Stuart, FL 34994
9780990611202, $17.95, 314 Pages,

Strategies to Enable You to Strengthen, Process, and Implement Your Learning Skills

Award winning teacher, Judy Fishel, packs an amazing amount of invaluable content, instruction, and counsel in her book "Straight A's Are Not Enough - Breakthroughs in Learning for College Students." In Part One Fishel introduces new research on how we learn. Part Two brings together concepts for strengthening learning skills. Part Three discusses strategies for mental processing, and Part Four talks about important skills essential to building your future.

The format, straightforward presentation, reader friendly format, and Judy Fishel's authenticity and writing style all combine to motivate and enable the reader to discover or rediscover the enjoyment of learning and challenge them to take charge of their own education. It will also help professional educators to pass on these learning strategies to their students.

"Straight A's Are Not Enough - Breakthroughs in Learning for College Students" is a book that should be on the reading list of every high school and college counselor. I highly recommend that parents peruse the book; then present a copy to their high school senior on or before their high school graduation so they can take advantage of the summer months to read, assimilate, and begin to apply these principles and strategies

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

Bogus Balance: Your Journey to Real Work/Life Bliss
Deirdre Maloney
Business Solutions Press
113 West G Street, # 647, San Diego, CA 92101
9780984027354, $16.95, 240 Pages,

Motivation for Moving from Bogus to Balance

I knew I was going to enjoy this reading adventure right from the start. Deirdre Maloney challenges traditional expectations in balancing a career, life partnering, family life, other relationships, and personal fulfillment. Her book "Bogus Balance - Your Journey to Real Work/Life Bliss" is divided into three sections.

Maloney found herself caught up in the frenzied and hectic trap of busyness. She invites the reader to join her in her journey to discover a centered balance and the excitement of wholehearted energizing contentment - Bliss. Specific lessons and stories are the result of pointers taken from interviews with select "Blissfuls" through choices that changed the course of their lives.

In Section One Maloney describes the concept and expectation that exists today - the bogus part. In Section Two she introduces and builds up the excitement of the blissful part. Section Three warns of the battle that ensues and provides "sneaky bliss builders."

I found the chapters dealing with being true to self, and the process of discovery and taking intentional action steps especially practical and helpful. The "Bliss Builder Exercises" provide suggestions for integrating self-reflective and interactive responses.

"Bogus Balance" is an important book of anyone "super stressed out," intense, aggressive, and "super miserable" in the rat race of busyness.

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

7 Family Ministry Essentials
Michelle Anthony and Megan Marshman
David C. Cook
c/o Cook Communications
4050 Lee Vance View, Colorado Springs, CO 80918
9780781412971, $15.99, 236 Pages,

Practical Steps for Energizing Children's and Student Ministry in Your Church

Dr. Michelle Anthony and Megan Marshman introduce guidelines for Family Ministry Leaders in the church in an assessment of their current educational programs in light of lifetime faith transformation, a Biblical foundation in an environment of authentic culture change, through exemplary discipleship. They challenge the reader to consider the essentials presented in their book "7 Family Ministry Essentials - A Strategy for Culture Change in Children's and Student Ministries."

The scripture based principles or "ministry essentials" are presented in a logical progression with important ministry assessment exercises provided to help the reader implement theory into live action. They describe the mission of the church as a healing and redemption ministry to the brokenness around us; equipping the community for a ministry of family support.

The authors are knowledgeable, articulate, and unswerving in their passion to implement authentic culture change in children's and student ministry.
Their work is endorsed by well-known and highly respected Christian leaders.

"7 Family Ministry Essentials: A Strategy for Culture Change in Children's and Student Ministries" is a book for Christian ministry leaders concerned for and committed to empowering the family as the most important force in the task of spiritual formation of a lifetime faith for a new generation.

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

Richard R. Blake, Senior Reviewer

Shirley's Bookshelf

Sometimes I Get My Shoes On Backwards
E. Lichael Lunsford
ASIN: BOOOKZUCM $5.95, 88pgs,

I loved this book, it is full of Short Fun Stories that will make you giggle away. Here are a few Titles: Hairy Carrie, The Clone, The Halloween Pumpkin. All are written in rhyme and our author does an excellent job with that. I know how hard it is to rhyme a book unless you have the talent for it and to rhyme all of these stories definitely takes an inner talent where it just comes out of you. I know that for sure. The tales are wonderful, I really enjoyed reading them. I am very happy to recommend this read to you, you will love it and your children will too. It's a fun book that will be enjoyed over and over again. Great for family entertainment. Highly recommended.

I Want A Cat
Darcy Pattison
Amazon Digital Services
$16.58, 36pgs,

I have to say right off this really is a informative read that is put forth in such a way that it is also entertaining. We have two friends who are both going to have a new pet, a cat. They are trying to make a decision on what kind of Cat would best fit in their family and would be the best one for them. As we travel along in the story different Cats are shown with their different personalities and moods as the two friends try to decide which one would be best for them. The reader will also learn how important it is to be a trustworthy care taker of a animal, and how it should fit into the people and other pets that may be in the home. Illustrations are adorable and are a plus to the story. This is a very informative story with a lot of information on cats. It is a fun story for young and old and I am happy to recommend it.

I Want A Dog: My Opinion Essay
Darcy Pattison
$3.99 36pgs, Kindle Edition

Dennis and his Cousin want a dog. His teacher said to write an essay telling why. Denis and Mellie tell what kind of Dog they want and why they want it. They learn that some dogs need more exercise than others and they realize they may not have enough time to give them. Each one of the children have different expectations for their dogs they find out. There were many things to decide before getting a dog. Do they want a big dog, do they have time to play with it enough, do they want a active dog? And the list goes on. This read will help children to understand they must think about many issues before they choice that type of dog is best for them and their family. Good learning story that would be very good for parents to have their children read before settling on any dog to be part of the family. Helpful read and great illustrate

Childrens Book of Magic: 30 Magic Tricks for Young Wizards
Konrad Modzelewski
Amazon Digital Services

This is quite a book, especially for those who love the mystery of Magic. Here you will find many magic tricks revealed to you and you can learn to be the Magician. I was amazed at how these tricks worked since through the years I have been 'tricked' by them myself. My Granddaughter chose a couple of them and tried them out on her friends. they were totally fooled and begged to know how she did them, but she didn't tell. It was a lot of fun for her. The book is very detailed in showing you how to do the tricks, which is great. This is a great book to give to anyone who loves Magic and especially those young or old who would like to play a few tricks on their friends. I'm happy to recommend this, great fun, great read.

The Diary of An Ugly Sweater
Cassie Eubank
Believe & Receive LLC
9780996142106, 198pgs, $14.95,

I want to say right off that I love reading and reviewing a book from a Author who is not afraid to launch out in a way that some may feel is 'different' Personally, I like different..

At first when I received the book and started to read it I thought, Well isn't it sweet a little book for children told by a sweater, how adorable is that and I really meant it. I like reading children's books. However, this book held surprises that amazed me, and blessed me.

Sophie is indeed a sweater who is about to embark on life. We are taken into her world as she leaves her home, the Factory, travels to a store, and finally has a owner. Sophie's entire ambition in life is to be owned and loved, she is excited to begin it, but unfortunately for her things do not turn out the way she thought they should be. Sophie has one friend, her diary, and it is through her writing that we are able to follow her story.

We soon learn that her new owner has bought her to fix up for a contest. Sophie is excited at first, that is until she learns she is going to be in a Ugly Sweater contest. She becomes very depressed trying to understand why her forever owner would do that to her! She becomes sadder and sadder as different Christmas characters are placed on to her sweater. Each one that is placed there becomes a part of Sophie's life. Finally, they share stories, hopes and dreams, and even fears of the future. We are taken down the dark road of desperation, disappointment, anger, and rejection as Sophie confronts a future she does not want to live. It is at that time that she learns many of life's lessons, from her sweater friends, and her forever owner. she also learns that being thankful and positive in a given situation can mean all the difference in the world.

This story is absolutely wonderful for young and old. By being taken into the life of a sweater we allow our imagination to be stretched and open ourselves to 'anything can happen world.' that's an exciting place to be in, but this book gives us more than that. Young and old alike will learn many lessons from this book. Life does not always give us what we want or what we expect, there are always twists and turns but keeping a positive attitude and searching for the good side of any situation brings both growth and character development. This story teaches us that we should not give up when things don't turn out the way we thought they should. From Sophie's experience we learn not to jump to conclusions, to be grateful for what has been given us, and to believe that each day is a new beginning of a wonderful future. You will close the book knowing to never jump to conclusions, never give in to the negative emotions, and always look forward to a new tomorrow. I closed the book with a smile, I think you will too. Excellent read, highly recommended

All Day and a Night
Alafair Burke
Harper Paperbacks
c/o HarperCollins Publishers
10 East 53rd Street, New York, NY 10022-5299
9780062208392, $15.99 pbk / $9.99 Kindle, 368pgs,

When Psychotherapist, Helen Brunswick, is murdered, her loss of life opens up the case of murders from a long time ago. We meet several Police Detectives, each with their own stories. We are drawn into and travel with them through many of their battles in their work and in their personal lives, giving the story a true feeling of realism. I like that, I like to merge with the Characters of a story, making it come alive as I read. The 'who done it' seems to ring bells for some of them who remember other murders that were never laid to rest. That fact is one that can never be let go of for the Detectives. It is a challenge to close the books on these cases at all times. This book walked the reader into the lives of the different characters of the Police force, and the killer and shows just how emotional cases like these can be to all who are involved. Good story line, good character development. It definitely held my attention from beginning to end.

Shirley Priscilla Johnson
Senior Reviewer

Taylor's Bookshelf

I Refuse
Per Petterson
Graywolf Press
250 Third Avenue North, Suite 600, Minneapolis, MN 55401
9781555976996, $25.00, 224pp,

Synopsis: In his signature spare style, Per Petterson's novel "I Refuse" deftly weaves a tale of two men whose accidental meeting one morning recalls their boyhood thirty-five years ago. Back then, Tommy was separated from his sisters after he stood up to their abusive father. Jim was by Tommy's side through it all. But one winter night, a chance event on a frozen lake forever changed the balance of their friendship. Now Jim fishes alone on a bridge as Tommy drives by in a new Mercedes, and it's clear their fortunes have reversed. Over the course of the day, the life of each man will be irrevocably altered.

Critique: Per Petterson's impressive storytelling skills are once again evident in his newest novel, "I Refuse". An extraordinary work, "I Refuse" is especially recommended for community and academic library Literary Fiction collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "I Refuse" is also available in a Kindle edition ($11.99).

War at the Edge of the World
Ian James Ross
The Overlook Press
141 Wooster Street, New York, NY 10012
9781468311211, $16.95, 416pp,

Synopsis: In Ian James Ross historical novel "War at the Edge of the World", a veteran soldier defends the receding borders of the Roman Empire. This epic first volume in a new 'Twilight of Empire" series is set at the end of empire in the reign of the Emperor Constantine, and follows the newly promoted centurion Aurelius Castus into the tumultuous battle for the future of Rome. Once a soldier in an elite legion from the Danube, now stuck in Britain's provincial backwater, Castus believes his glory days are over. But fate is about to intervene. When the king of the Picts, the savage people beyond Hadrian's Wall, dies in mysterious circumstances, Castus is selected to command the bodyguard of a Roman envoy sent to negotiate with the barbarians. But the diplomatic mission ends in bloody tragedy. Castus and his men are soon fighting for their lives and the legionary discovers that nothing about his doomed mission was ever what it seemed.

Critique: A superbly crafted historical novel, "War at the Edge of the World" is a thoroughly entertaining saga that will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to community library collections and leave readers looking eagerly toward the next installment of Ian James Ross' Twilight of Empire series. It should be noted that "War at the Edge of the World" is also available in a Kindle edition ($12.99).

Wages of Rebellion
Chris Hedges
Nation Books
c/o Perseus Book Group
250 W. 57th St., Suite 1500, New York, NY 10107
9781568589664, $26.99, 304pp,

Synopsis: Revolutions come in waves and cycles. We are again riding the crest of a revolutionary epic, much like 1848 or 1917, from the Arab Spring to movements against austerity in Greece to the Occupy movement. In "Wages of Rebellion", award winning journalist Chris Hedges investigates what social and psychological factors cause revolution, rebellion, and resistance. Drawing on an ambitious overview of prominent philosophers, historians, and literary figures he shows not only the harbingers of a coming crisis but also the nascent seeds of rebellion. Hedges' message is clear: popular uprisings in the United States and around the world are inevitable in the face of environmental destruction and wealth polarization. Focusing on the stories of rebels from around the world and throughout history, Hedges investigates what it takes to be a rebel in modern times. Utilizing the work of Reinhold Niebuhr, Hedges describes the motivation that guides the actions of rebels as "sublime madness" -- the state of passion that causes the rebel to engage in an unavailing fight against overwhelmingly powerful and oppressive forces. For Hedges, resistance is carried out not for its success, but as a moral imperative that affirms life. Those who rise up against the odds will be those endowed with this "sublime madness". From South African activists who dedicated their lives to ending apartheid, to contemporary anti-fracking protests in Alberta, Canada, to whistleblowers in pursuit of transparency, "Wages of Rebellion" shows the cost of a life committed to speaking the truth and demanding justice. Hedges has penned an indispensable guide to rebellion.

Critique: An impressive body of meticulous research that is well organized and presented for the benefit of both academia and the general reading public, "Wages of Rebellion" is an extraordinary study and very highly recommended for both community and academic library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Wages of Rebellion" is also available in a Kindle edition ($14.57).

Caliburn: Merlin's Tale
Virgil Renzulli
Bagwyn Books
Arizona State University
PO Box 874402, Tempe, AZ 85287-4402
9780866988087, $14.95, 264pp,

Synopsis: Some thought the old man a specter; at times he represented himself as none other than the Wizard Merlin. Whoever he was, he told a story about Arthur that no one had heard before, a tale of victory and disgrace, love and treachery, arrogance and destiny. It was a time of great turmoil in Britain. A ruthless Saxon warlord was planning to invade. The Norsemen continued their coastal raids. The Picts of north Britain were growing bolder. And the British were not unified. Merlin had groomed young Arthur to deal with threats such as these, but neither master nor pupil was prepared for what they encountered at the annual tournament in Londinium, a beautiful, dark-haired girl named Brenna.

Critique: An inherently fascinating and fully entertaining read, "Caliburn: Merlin's Tale" documents author Virgil Renzulli's truly impressive storytelling skills and will leave his readers looking eagerly toward his next literary effort. Very highly recommended for community and academic library Literary Fiction collections, it should be noted for personal reading lists that "Caliburn: Merlin's Tale" is also available in a Kindle edition ($5.99).

How Real Estate Developers Think
Peter Hendee Brown
University of Pennsylvania Press
3905 Spruce Street, Philadelphia, PA 19104-4112
9780812247053, $79.95, 336pp,

Synopsis: Cities are always changing: streets, infrastructure, public spaces, and buildings are constantly being built, improved, demolished, and replaced. But even when a new project is designed to improve a community, neighborhood residents often find themselves at odds with the real estate developer who proposes it. Savvy developers are willing to work with residents to allay their concerns and gain public support, but at the same time, a real estate development is a business venture financed by private investors who take significant risks. In "How Real Estate Developers Think: Design, Profits, and Community", architect, planner, and development consultant Peter Hendee Brown draws upon his many years of experience and expertise to explain the interests, motives, and actions of real estate developers, using case studies to show how the basic principles of development remain the same everywhere even as practices vary based on climate, local culture, and geography. An understanding of what developers do and why they do it will help community members, elected officials, and others participate more productively in the development process in their own communities. Based on interviews with over a hundred people involved in the real estate development business in Chicago, Miami, Portland (Oregon), and the Twin Cities of Minneapolis and St. Paul, "How Real Estate Developers Think" considers developers from three different perspectives. Brown profiles the careers of individual developers to illustrate the character of the entrepreneur, considers the roles played by innovation, design, marketing, and sales in the production of real estate, and examines the risks and rewards that motivate developers as people. Ultimately, "How Real Estate Developers Think" portrays developers as creative visionaries who are able to imagine future possibilities for our cities and communities and shows that understanding them will lead to better outcomes for neighbors, communities, and cities.

Critique: Exceptionally well written, deftly organized, and impressively presented, "How Real Estate Developers Think: Design, Profits, and Community" is very highly recommended for professional, community, and academic library reference collections and supplemental Real Estate studies. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "How Real Estate Developers Think: Design, Profits, and Community" is also available in a Kindle edition ($63.96).

A World War II Flight Surgeon's Story
S. Carlisle May
Pelican Publishing Company
1000 Burmaster Street, Gretna, LA 70053-2246
9781455620487, $24.95, 256pp,

Synopsis: For the flight surgeons serving the US Army Air Forces in World War II, every day was centered around "keeping them flying." Physicians such as Dr. Lamb Myhr faced a fundamental conflict: the drive to end the war quickly by force warred with concern for the health of the pilots in their care. Dr. Myhr served across Europe and North Africa, using his skills to treat injuries, provide psychological comfort, administer as camp health inspector, and battle exotic diseases. His letters and photographs document pivotal events such as the planning meeting of Generals Clark, Patton, and Eisenhower before the invasion of Sicily, as well as the daily trials of ministering to soldiers and civilians. Dr. Myhr's travels from Africa to Auschwitz are here chronicled with fascinating detail.

Critique: An invaluable contribution to the growing library of World War II military histories, "A World War II Flight Surgeon's Story" is impressively written, organized and presented. Very highly recommended for community and academic library 20th Century American Military History collections, "A World War II Flight Surgeon's Story" is an inherently fascinating and informative read that will be of particular interest to military buffs.

John Taylor

Vogel's Bookshelf

An Evil Day in Georgia
Robert N. Smith
The University of Tennessee Press
110 Conference Center UT, Knoxville, TN 37996
9781621900948, $46.00, 248pp,

Synopsis: On the night of August 5, 1927, someone shot and killed Coleman Osborn, a store owner in Chatsworth, Georgia, in his place of business. Police and neighbors found only circumstantial traces of the murderer: tire tracks, boot prints, shell casings, and five dollars in cash near Osborn's body. That day, three individuals - James Hugh Moss, a black family man locally renowned for his baseball skills; Clifford Thompson, Moss's white friend who grew up in the Smoky Mountains; and Eula Mae Thompson, Clifford's wife and a woman with a troubling history of failed marriages and minor run-ins with the law - left Etowah, Tennessee, unknowingly on a collision course with Deep South justice.

In chilling detail, Robert N. Smith examines the circumstantial evidence and deeply flawed judicial process that led to death sentences for Moss and the Thompsons. Moving hastily in the wake of the crime, investigators determined from the outset that the Tennessee trio, well known as bootleggers, were the culprits. Moss and Clifford Thompson were tried and convicted within a
month of the murder. Eula Mae was tried separately from the other two defendants in February 1928, and her sentence brought her notoriety and celebrity status. On the night of her husband's execution, she recanted her original story and would change it repeatedly in the following years. As reporters from Atlanta and across Georgia descended on Murray County to cover the trials
and convictions, the public perception of Eula Mae changed from that of cold-blooded murderer to victim - one worthy of certain benefits that suited her status as a white woman. Eula Mae Thompson's death sentence was commuted in 1928, thanks in part to numerous press interviews.

Critique: An impressive and throughly researched study, "An Evil Day in Georgia: The Killing of Coleman Osborn and the Death Penalty in the Progressive-Era South" by Robert N. Smith is an inherently fascinating, deftly written, informative, and thoughtful read. Very highly recommended for community and academic library American History and 20th Century Criminology Studies collections, as well as the non-specialist general reader with an interest in issues of justice and capital punishment in the south during the age of a racially segregated culture.

The Essence of Enlightenment
James Swartz
Sentient Publications
1113 Spruce Street, Boulder, CO 80302
9781591812777, $16.95, 250pp,

Synopsis: The counterintuitive, radical message of Vedanta, the ancient science of self-inquiry, is that reality is non-dual consciousness. What this means and how it benefits people in their quest for freedom from limitation is the subject of "The Essence of Enlightenment: Vedanta, the Science of Consciousness". In an accessible style, James Swartz's "The Essence of Enlightenment" develops teachings introduced in his popular first one, "How to Attain Enlightenment" (Sentient publications (9781591810940, $15.95 PB, $13.23 Kindle), covering topics such as values and the enlightened person, dharma and the essence of enlightenment, and the relationship between consciousness, the individual, and the total. Demystifying enlightenment, "The Essence of Enlightenment" makes Vedanta understandable to all.

Critique: Exceptionally 'reader friendly' in organization and presentation, "How to Attain Enlightenment: The Vision of Nonduality" is a thoroughly informed and informative study that will prove to be an enduringly popular addition to community and academic library Metaphysical Studies reference collections, as well as the personal studies of non-specialist general readers with an interest in the Vedanta science of consciousness.

Box 3014
Joseph DiFrancesco
Double Dragon eBooks
PO Box 54016, 1-5762 Highway 7 East
Markham, Ontario, L3P 7Y4, Canada
B00WKLIJ82, $6.99 (Kindle), 214pp,

Synopsis: Trevor Adams is a man being pursued by the past. Once a successful attorney, he abruptly walked away from it all to establish his own antique business. Amidst his change in life direction, an odd affliction, previously dormant, has resurfaced, challenging his ability to focus on the here and now. Soon after he finds the perfect old building for his dreams to take root. Or did the building find him? Journals and memoirs uncovered in storage would suggest something has been waiting a long time for Trevor. Set adrift, he is now a man left foundering somewhere between the past and the present. His lover is losing faith in him. His hypnotherapist is mystified by him. Something long asleep has been awakened, and is demanding Trevor's complete attention. Risking everything he believes in, he gives the matter due diligence, praying his sanity will prevail.

Critique: A unique and deftly crafted novel that will hold the reader's rapt attention from beginning to end, "Box 3014" clearly establishes Joseph DiFrancesco as an unusually skilled and entertaining storyteller. "Box 3014" is very highly recommended as one of those novels that will long linger in the mind and memory -- and leave the reader looking eagerly toward DiFrancesco's next literary effort.

Rodeo Ranch
Max Brand
Five Star Books
10 Water Street, Suite 310, Waterville, ME 04901
9781432828509, $25.95, 184pp,

Synopsis: Doc Willis, despite the nickname, is just an unemployed cowboy in The Valley of Jewels. Daggett Valley holds many secrets from the past, including a now deserted mining camp. It is there that Buck Logan lures Willis with the promise of great riches to be gained. What Doc doesn't even suspect is that he is to play a part in a most subtle feat of deception in which an old man, William Daggett, will be conned into believing that he is reliving his past. Rodeo Ranch is so called because of the rodeos sponsored by Ramon Alvarez. When an attempt is made on Alvarez's life, a rodeo is held, but the only event that interests him is the shooting competition. The event is won by Duds Kobbe, who is hired to be Alvarez's body guard. What Kobbe doesn't realize is that he will be just as much a target as Alvarez.

Critique: Another terrific western novel by a true master of the genre, "Rodeo Ranch" by Max Brand is very highly recommended for community library collections and the personal reading lists for western action/adventure enthusiasts in general -- and Max Brand fans in particular!

Front Yard
Norman Draper
c/o Kensington Publishing Corp.
119 West 40th Street, Floor 21, New York, NY 10018-2522
c/o February Media (publicity)
9781617733079, $15.00, 320pp,

Synopsis: Livia is a quiet Midwestern suburb known for its green-thumbed residents and their impeccable yards--but this summer, they'll be digging up a lot more than weeds! George and Nan Fremont are renowned among their neighbors for their meticulously manicured backyard. Now that the weather's warming up, it's time for them to give their neglected front yard a much-needed makeover. Luckily, their daughter Mary and their gardening intern Shirelle are around to help. But a bevy of meddlers stonewall their latest project before they can even dig in. Shirelle's college advisor, Dr. Brockheimer, is a little too enamored with the Fremonts' gardening prowess. Livia's resident historian, Miss Price, seems to be hiding something about the history of their property. And their nosy neighbor, Jim Graybill, is forever scanning their lawn for buried treasures with his beloved metal detector--but could he actually be onto something for once? Trouble is in full bloom in Livia, but with a trowel in one hand and a glass of merlot in the other, George and Nan count on everything coming up roses.

Critique: A superbly crafted and terrifically entertaining novel by a master storyteller of the first order, "Front Yard" by Norman Draper is very highly recommended for community library General Fiction collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Front Yard" is also available in a Kindle edition ($13.50).

Taking Pity
David Mark
Blue Rider Press
c/o Penguin Group USA
375 Hudson Street, New York, NY 10014
9780399168215, $26.95, 336pp,

Synopsis: They have taken DS Aector McAvoy's family. They have taken DCI Colin Ray's foundation. They have taken DS Trish Pharaoh's fight. Now the ruthless criminal network that has tightened its stranglehold on Hull intends to take everything that remains from those who dare to stand in its way. "Taking Pity" is a police procedural thriller that pulls no punches. It is the story of three officers who can take no more, and a merciless nemesis that takes no chances, no prisoners and no pity.

Critique: Another terrific mystery/suspense novel by a master of the genre, "Taking Pit" by David Mark is certain to be an enduringly popular addition to community library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "Taking Pity" is also available in a Kindle edition ($10.99).

What I Learned About Leadership From My Dog
John Covington
VBW Publishing
PO Box 9949, College Staton, TX 77842
9781621371298, $19.95, 104pp,

Synopsis: "What I Learned About Leadership From My Dog" by John Covington is the story of how, while training his German Shepherd for search and rescue, it became obvious that the relationship building and leadership skills required to work with his dog was exactly the same as when dealing with people. Dogs are great labs to improve our leadership as they give you instant feedback, have little or no ego, and if there is a problem, it's always the human's fault.

Critique: An inherently fascinating and informative read, "What I Learned About Leadership From My Dog" is exceptionally well written, organized and presented, making it a very highly recommended addition for community and academic library collections. For personal reading lists it should be noted that "What I Learned About Leadership From My Dog" is also available in a paperback edition (9781621371106, $12.95) and in a Kindle format ($8.99).

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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